Here is the premiere episode of The Story of a Movie. It’s about The Thin Red Line.
I’m so sorry I made you wait.
Not that I’m picturing you sitting and actually waiting, with efforts in place to manage your impatience, tapping your fingers and wondering what the hell is taking me so long.
It’s just that I said I’d have it ready by June 1. And then June 8. Well, anyway, I finally delivered.
I’m still new enough to the particular editing tools I’m using that I lost half a day of work in a final phase of editing. It’s a soul-sucking experience to have to go back and recreate work you did when you were fully in the moment and not taking mental notes of exactly what you did. Recreation isn’t the treat that creating is.
But now that it’s done, I have other things to attend to, like figuring out a way in WordPress to put a cool player on the website to actually play the podcast.
At this early stage of developing the show, I’m especially interested in your comments. Did you feel satisfied when it was over? Did I give you something worth your time? Was there too much detail? Too much backstory on Malick before the part where he starts to make The Thin Red Line? Too much profanity? (I think I used the word “fuck” about six times, not counting others in the clips.)
As I listen to it now a couple of days later, I hear things that bother me. I got a case of the mumbles a few times. I’m wondering if my voiceover describing the charge up the grassy hill during the shot was superfluous and pretentious. (Was it obvious the pre-roll was reenacted?) Anything you feel inclined to say that you think might help, I definitely want to hear.
I just realized there may not be an easy way to leave a comment here on the website. Until I get that fixed, you can leave comments on the Facebook page.
And thanks for listening.
“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.”
The deeper I get into prepping this first episode the more I see there is to say about the movie. And I’m really enjoying the process, even more than I expected to. Not to say by producing this podcast I’m doing a great thing, but I’m seeing how I can make it appreciably better with a little more time.
I’ve missed the June 1st deadline for the premiere episode. I’m sorry to disappoint you. I’m now aiming for June 8th.
The movie this time is The Thin Red Line, written and directed by Terrence Malick. If you heard Episode 2 of Book Movie Blurt, the movie part (the middle third) was essentially a preview of this show.
This was the third movie Malick directed and his first in 20 years. Everybody wanted to work with him, except possibly the crew members who walked off the set of his first two movies because they didn’t think he knew what he was doing.
Malick never learned how to make a movie the standard Hollywood way. He figured out how to make movies just like he figured out almost everything else in his creative life–by applying his own ideas, making brilliant mistakes, and then making brilliant corrections to those mistakes.* He made it up as he went along. But unlike most filmmakers, who would crash and burn trying to pull that off, Malick wasn’t trying to make a hit movie. And he wasn’t trying to make a World War II movie either. (He left that to Spielberg–and Spielberg took the Oscar away from him.) He was trying to make a movie about the inexpressible.
He was trying to find images and sounds that spoke of the edges of perception, the limits of strength, and the fringes of understanding. A poet understands he can use a war for that.
Thanks for your patience. The Thin Red Line is a movie so rich in stories behind the scenes it’s taking me longer than expected to do the best ones justice in the podcast. But in about a week I’ll share with you what I was able to find.
More than ever I’m excited about the promise of the podcast and about the content in this first episode.
I can’t wait for you to hear it!
* During editing of Days of Heaven (which took two years), Malick discovered the movie he’d hoped to make couldn’t be assembled from the footage he had, so to save the movie he wrote voiceover material to fill in gaps from scenes he hadn’t shot. He discovered he liked the tone of the voiceovers more than much of the dialogue–so he used more voiceovers than were necessary to fulfill the needs of dramatic exposition. He used them as a periscope into the heart and mind of a character. This was how his unique technique with voiceovers was born–out of necessity. What was tried as an act of desperation became a stylistic signature.
A couple of days ago I put out the second episode of my other podcast, Book Movie Blurt . And it reassured me about the prospects for this one.
My worry at first was that there wouldn’t be enough material available to me for a podcast that looks in-depth at the process of making particular movies. But as I researched The Thin Red Line for BMB, I realized there was far more there than I could possibly use for that podcast. After all, it’s a podcast about three things–a book, a movie, and an idea. There isn’t enough time for the depth of coverage I’m planning to do with this one.
You can be sure the fascinating story of how The Thin Red Line was made will be featured in one of our early episodes.
I’m also remembering some of the lectures I did a few years ago at Mensa conventions in San Diego, Los Angeles, and Portland. One of them was on oners. (And by the way, it’s astonishing to me how many otherwise educated film critics don’t seem to know the difference between a shot and a take when they discuss oners. They call these things “single takes” or “long takes.” But they’re really talking about shots–and not one of them was done in a single take; they’re too complicated.) Anyway, as I now remember preparing for those presentations, I’m reminded there’s a lot of material available if I dig a little bit.
One of my goals with this podcast is to approach the intelligence and production values (and the audience) of Karina Longworth‘s podcast You Must Remember This. I’m a big fan. She calls it “a storytelling podcast about the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.” The Story of a Movie will feature behind-the-scenes stories about movies at least as far back as the 1940’s, but generally my movies will be newer than Katrina’s movies. Most of the people I’ll be talking about are still making movies. Most of the people she talks about are dead.
I’m looking forward to sharing the first episode with you June 1.
I’ve decided I need to do this podcast. I’ve decided the first episode drops June 1, 2018. And I’ve decided to keep you updated on some of the preparation leading up to the premiere.
So far there’s not a lot to tell.
I’ve defined the topic and scope of the podcast. I’ve designed the first version of the logo, which needs a second go. But that will have to do for now as I take care of higher priorities for the show.
I have the equipment and the skills. I had a 17-year career on the air in commercial radio. And the gear in my small home studio is configured pretty well. I’m already using it for my other podcast, Book Movie Blurt.
What’s this Book Movie Blurt, you say?
A book, a movie, and an idea walk into a bar.
The Story of a Movie is a deeper dive into film production than BMB, which is more of a review podcast as far as the movies go. I think that will complement what I’m doing on this one.
I’ve set a premiere date, against my better judgment. I’ve embarrassed myself publicly before by doing this, but this time I think I can meet the deadline.
I say that now.
I’ll try to update you as we get closer to dropping the first episode. I already know which movie I’ll be talking about. But it’s much too early to give everything away.
Thanks for stopping by and taking a look. I hope you like the podcast.