Richard Leacock – The feeling of being there

Richard Leacock was a man who introduced some of the most artisitic and innovative takes on documentary filming. What I found in the article was a lesson I am going to keep reminding myself over and over. A lesson on breaking the rules to make some of my own.

Reading this piece, I was sitting there with a pen and paper, ready to jot down the two most interesting points. I ended up filling the page. His description of the inevitable absolute disruption caused during film-making was captivating. I could feel the fast pace and excitement and I want to be there, doing that.

“To capture spontaneity, it must exist and everything you do is liable to destroy it.” Film-making is a difficult difficult field where a lot of things don’t make sense, but make complete sense at the same time. Anurag Kashyap, one of the most famous film-makers in India started out writing scripts with no dialogues. He wrote stories and captured spontaneous dialogues from actors playing the roles.

I think there are a lot of ways to capture spontaneity but it’s risky business all the same. In the last article I read, Pawlikowski said that the best film-makers were the ones who took a lot of time to follow their subjects and I think Richard Leacock was one of these best. I believe, spontaniety can bring about what superb acting cannot and there are some amazing examples of this out there. Sometimes, when we click pictures and we capture a moment in time that no one was posing for or expected, they come out to be some of our best shots which we can look at over time and always have a story to tell. They never get old. It’s an effect I wish we could turn on and off.

I also loved the idea of having more than one perspective to make a film. For his last project, Leacock had three camera men filming from their own point of views, capturing absolutely different senarios within one concert, to one music peice. Using absolutely contrasting images or perspectives opens up an entirely new world of possibilities. At the moment for my class, we are working in pretty large groups and before this I was a little angry that I have footage, all shot in different light, by different people, with different colours and I have to put it together and make it look good. But now I am looking forward to the prospective of doing just that. I guess, you can always think of what the film is going to be, but the journey there changes it and you never know how it will turn out. But I think that’s what Leacock meant when he said “a film should have the feeling of being there.”


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