Creative method; Dore Schary on production
The creative method the National Association of educational broadcasters presents Dori Sheri on production here first as Lyman Bryson making a motion picture is one of the most technically complicated of creative acts. Where does a motion picture producer begin. I asked this question of Mr. Dori Sheri I suppose it would be proper to say that he starts with the will and the desire to make a film since we are talking about films. Now he begins his search for material and finds it in a variety of places and variety of ways. You're looking for an idea he's looking for a motion picture. He may find it in a novel. He may find it in a play. You may find it in a television show. You may find it in a short story in a magazine article. You may find it in a in an idea of his own that a certain kind of background would make an interesting film.
You're listening to Dory Shari on production. Creative methods. The producer as Creator are one of 10 conversations with creative Americans about the nature of their work. The creative method prepared by WGBH FM in Boston under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center. Now on production and here is Lyman Bryson. Well you got dead working for you up to this moment Mr. Sherry you got an idea in your own head you're working for yourself. You got a writer in whom you have confidence who is going to put this when you begin to put it put this into shape when you begin to think about casting or you don't
begin about you don't begin thinking normally you don't begin to think about cash until you have a motion picture script all finished. You have ideas that you work on the script that is the heart of a script is the script. I saw the icy heart of it. Well now you got it. You get your cast to suit the script after the script is something like satisfactory and you're a director I suppose comes in at the same time as your guest comes in. You know normally the director comes in a little earlier than this he helped in the casting. Yes. You cannot get a director of any stature unless he is very sharply concerned with the casting would be entire setting of the picture and with the script itself. He will want to be heard on the script he will have a point of view. He will have many questions to ask. What is it you want to achieve. How should he interpret the picture. You see one of the most fascinating things I want to get of course the most difficult thing in the making of a picture is the
establishment of a you know. A monitor image. If you watch a motion picture people who've been engaged in making films for a long time you will see that they very often will use their hands when they discuss. It's a wonderful scene. They will say it's a wonderful scene or this can make a wonderful scene and. Almost as a reflex action their hands will frame a picture and they are searching for an image in their own mind. Now the producer may have started with one image. He then has to translate that to the writer or converse Lee the writer if he has come to the producer with a point of view will have to translate that to the producer and hopefully they will see eye to eye. Now the director comes in. And he too now has to discuss with the writer and the producer what they had in mind and then he will make a contribution of his own and hopefully everybody's image is the same. Now you go through the following steps you go through the set designer the wardrobe people
the prop men involved the cast the photographer the electricians all those who are concerned with the lighting of it and everybody hopes. That they all see that same image. That's a very difficult think perhaps to understand but they all are thinking of images as they talk and as they write. And those pictures it turned out best are those that when you go to see them all finished everybody looks at it and says it's exactly what I had in mind. I suppose if you didn't have this capacity to see the idea in pictures we wouldn't be working this job anyhow why you couldn't. This is the basic basic ability you could seek talent. Well now you've got you've got all you're going to all your people Mr. Sherry you got only elements of physical and personnel elements that go together and you got your script and you are hopefully sure that everybody has the same general idea of what is to come in terms of something to look at so I tried
entering the ring on a screen a moving image without you how do you go about turning this idea. Into something that happens on a set which can be photographed. How do you turn it into physical action in the case of the most recent picture. I've been concerned with witches lonely hearts. We started with a book a well-known book by Fanny West which is a rather esoteric but as the years have gone by the book has become much more the book has become better understood perhaps and accepted as a classic. Last season our type 1 dramatized as a play. The play unfortunately was a failure but there were elements in the play that were very attractive to me as a producer and I felt I always felt that the book had something of great interest. I felt however that the book was essentially a literary conceit and I did not think it was a dramatic
story even though the point of view or a point of view in the story always attracted me which was the basic conflict between good and evil. The basic. Conflict between cynicism and faith the play I felt. Fell between two stools that did neither the book which I didn't think it could do and it did not depart enough from the book to make a strong play. Though I was grateful to Theismann for having tried it and I did buy the material. Then I began to refashion as in what I thought I wanted to tell as a producer. The more I studied it I felt that it was a mistake to cast the book or the picture in New York City. When you say when you say you refashioned it now you're looking for that image. I'm looking for the you're not writing a script down there just looking at it looking for the image.
And I felt that I would be better off. It would serve me better if I took the book and the play and put it in a Midwestern background. I then began to think in terms of the image of the newspaper itself which is the background of the story. I felt again that the book would be better served by not making it a big high pressure urgent newspaper of the 20th century. So I thought instantly of the kind of a newspaper it would be the actual look of the city room and of the feature role that it would be old and that there would be new devices that were kind of superimposed on this rather old patina. And this is what I began with as a producer and then discuss this great length with the writer of the screenplay which I happen to be myself and we had some very big arguments about what we
want to do and we don't have any rule about who is who made a case like wow a producer always has the last word the producer has the last word but in this instance I decided that the writer was going to have the last word so I just told the producer do I stay out of my affairs for the time being. And I want to hand wrote the screenplay trying to catch this image that I started with in the early stages of it. I discussed it with Winston Donahue who had directed my show sunrise a camp about how he had never done a film I had a feeling he might like this. He did and he then began to make observations and criticisms and I thought they were very helpful indeed and we all we both had the same image all three of us the tourism minister the producer Cherie and the writer dory and Vincent Donahue the director
and before we were finished with the script I felt that more and more as I was writing it that the man I'd like to see play the character of lonely hearts was Montgomery Clift. I had a feeling that everything about him was right for the part. So I called Mr. Clare and told him a little bit about it and he said he'd be glad to read the first 40 50 pages which is all I had and he read it and fortunately liked it very much and said he would play it. So we had our young man and we both agreed on that. That is down to you myself. You had four of your necessary and now we have four. Next we had the problem of getting the city editor or rather the feature editor William shrike and we knew we needed somebody tough. Hard but not in the. Conventional mold we did not. The script was not written to accommodate for the
cliche hardboiled editor is not on the front page no no I didn't talk out of the corner of others mouth it was a highly articulate though bitter and cynical man and the more we thought of it we felt that Robert Ryan would be able to play him to a fare thee well. Again fortunately Bob was visiting here in New York and I asked him I asked if I could see him when he came out. We talked a little bit about it. I read him a couple of the scenes and he said sounds fine with me. Let's go. And I we had our next you're sending these people New York non-Hollywood. Now I was I some of them all here in New York. And then for a Robert Ryan's wife the one I had always felt was right for it was Myrna Loy and she lives here most of the time and I call her our sender a copy of what we had and she said he wanted to do it. We had that mentioned Donahue felt bad
before. One particular role in the film was the role of a housewife a very fascinating and interesting part. She plays a role of a seductress. We wanted to get Marine Stapleton who had never made a film. We met with her she liked what we had done and we signed her. So we hands it reduces never had any trouble getting what they wanted us to share while I'd like to make a point about that in the moment because you asked first how we put this image together and I'll tell you our how lucky I think we were to accomplished all this and how tough it is sometimes to get with what do you want. We were lucky in this instance and when we got back to the coast we then began to cast our other roles. Part of beyond you know when our character parts and so on. And finally we had exactly the people we wanted and we then
went we built the sets at the Golden studio where we would shoot film and we rehearsed our people which was quite unusual too. Normally you don't rehearse a film if you do a play we rehearse the show for two weeks. The whole time the entire thing and everybody saw what everybody else was and everybody else was. And I want everybody else was doing what I ordinarily or do a play that way that you do a film and then you usually do a film and that you see because. You have to do that because most pictures the average picture concerns itself with much more outdoor material and we had this picture of lonely hearts happens to be while contained it was designed to be a different kind of picture and we were able then to rehearse and accomplish what we wanted. And then when we got to shooting it and we shot it day by day we were able to know what we were going to get to a great degree because we had rehearsed we have examined it through camera finders we knew the images we were searching for. And so when we
began to shoot again we were fortunate that we didn't have too much trouble getting what it was we wanted because we had spent all this time designing it carefully and we had none of the problems attendant. A picture let's say like a big country which deals with tremendous scope when you have to go out on locations thousands of miles away and wait perhaps for days on Tolly sun or moon if it's a night shot is in the right place in the cloud formations are proper and you have to wait for action to take place at the right time involving many horses and movement of man or wagons and if one little thing goes wrong you've got to do it all over again it might take you days to get 40 seconds of film that looks perfect and looks is always done quite easily. We didn't have a problem you could have done yours on the stage almost to a degree yes. But is this the real reason Mr Cherie for the fact that in
producing a film you have to do it in rushes in bits and then put them together you don't even do them in the consecutive motion of the drama itself you do them and over again. Is it just this geographical condition that makes that. RS No. Though a large part of it is economic. You see it like that let me give you an illustration. If you let's say you have a minor character who appears in the first scene of you're in the first scene of your picture and he might not reappear until the last scene of the picture in terms of the construction of the story. Now you that actor's work might be two day's work if you consider his two scenes. If you start him on the first day of your picture let's say he's an actor who gets a thousand dollars a week. If you start him on the first day of your picture and if your picture should continue for let's say 12 weeks and you don't use them until last week you would still have to pay
him a thousand dollars a week for each one of those elapsed weeks because he has the term of employment. So what you do. Is you shoot the first scene and then you shoot the second scene. You might do that all in the first week and finish up with the actor and not take on the responsibility of paying him for all that time and you can put him away on ice so to speak until you can feel out of the scene away until you're ready to put it into film. You know I think most people Mr. Sherry are fascinated by the function in this process that you're describing so interesting like a man who cuts the felt. Now we all know that there's a face in the cutting room floor that was was the fall of that guy. Left out how much. What's the relation between the producer in this small. God that sits with the cutting machine and cuts up the rushes. Why why he his function is this far he makes a real contribution because very often he will help you in terms of the pace of the picture his notions about how the film should be
cut. He puts these pieces of film together you view the dailies or the rushes as they come in every day with the cutter with the director and you give him a general sense the director usually says this is what I had in mind this is why I shot this particular angle I had a feeling that the accent should be here and the cutter will know what the director had in mind he then assembles all that film into a sequence. You look at it and you say I think it's good or you say no I think there's something wrong here and he will discuss it and then all the material is still available. Oh yes it isn't thrown away you know that film isn't thrown away until your picture is in release. Then it's finally dispensed with. But he does not make the final decision. The producer the way Motion pictures are constructed today. The producer is the final arbiter the final word. Looks as if the producer had to have about all the talents Mr Sherry and I
suppose that's always true for somebody who occupies so central a place. What kind of talent is most in demand or. I suppose this is not a question one ought to ask but is there ever enough talent in this sort of thing. I was just going to say that when you ask what kind of a talent is needed good talent. And there never is enough good talent there is always room for someone of superior gifts all kind all guys are good writers needed good directors good producers good camera men good everybody. And it requires of course. This indefinable something we call talent. The young person has no way of defining it. Well I suppose you are judging but you don't have to define it. The N people person generally has a feeling Mr. Sherry that they world of the Motion Picture is fascinating and full of dazzling rewards and things like that that almost impenetrable almost impossible to get into.
The streets of Hollywood of course are notoriously walked by millions of young men and women rather than have to go get jobs as shoe salesmen and waiters because they can't show their talents. While I have the feeling that no Rose is born to blush on scene it takes time. In some cases it requires enormous patience just enormous in durance. You have to have the ability to overcome heartbreak disappointment frustration. This is in addition to what we were talking about before which is talent. I think one of the most discouraging things about showbusiness code is the fact that talent and character do not often go hand in hand. I have known some brilliantly talented people but I have absolutely no use for personally. I know some wonderful people. One fortunately are not very
talented but I am convinced that if you have the ability to endure and if you have your eye on a star. And you are willing to pursue it. I'm go through all the pain. And all the all the disappointments that you will face that you will get a chance to show what you have to offer. The star you have your eye on may turn out to be yourself. Wow I really don't think so. From work that I've done in various fields of our I should say from work I've done in biography. I am pretty well convinced that people are very confused about themselves. Someone once said that there are but we all are three different kinds of man. What we think we are what others believe we are and what we really are. And I think most of us live in this kind of
confusion we're never really quite sure it is someone else. In historical terms who finally makes this identification and says this is what he appears to abandon very often. Given that appraisal might be inaccurate because all of us are writing a welter of drivers unspoken ambitions fears courage all the other things are going to making a human being and many of these things most of them I'm convinced are never fully articulated. We go we shuffle off finally down this long corridor of time and nobody really ever knows exactly what we are we can only guess. So referring again to keeping your eye on the star that star that I talked about is perhaps an image of its own. It may be in the image of power might be in the image of fame it might be in the image of
money. It might be in the image of a very noble ambition such as wanting to do something good for your fellow man. It might be related to all 15 20 or 100 different kinds of drives that man had. But it has to be a fixed point and you have to dream about that point and hope that you can reach it. Now you may finally reach that star and find that it's not the one you want. By the time you have found it. You may have changed some of its Some of the points of the star but you have to have that fixed point of view. It helps to get there. May I ask you one more question Mr. Sherry. Do you see the present situation of the motion picture industry. A great artistic future. Are there
other ways of translating ideas into communication into drama and so on crowding the film off the stage so to speak. No films will never be crowded off the motion picture industry has gone through many radical changes in the last 20 years. The elimination of certain secure economic advantages like block booking. Production companies owning theaters which ended with the horsemen the divorcement proceedings. The advent of television the advent of other diversions the fact that a man our audience has much more leisure time has also changed the concept of motion pictures. But man will never stop going to motion pictures because motion pictures isn't just a
passing thing. It is a concept of entertainment television after all it projects an image. It is a motion picture of its own it's a much smaller motion picture but it is a motion picture and it is true that it takes say an event that's going on at the moment and transports it to someone else but does it in terms of a picture. So motion pictures will not. Die away. The number of motion picture houses will diminish the number of films being made are much less today than they were three years ago two years ago a year ago and it is possible that a year from now the number of pictures being made will be less than they are now. But. There will always be theories because people want to congregate. People want to look out wonderful big game engine in the theatre and the proof is that there have been more great successful pictures since television than there were in the years before
television. The audiences have become much more discriminating. Much tougher to deal with. But when you give them a picture that they like more people will go to see it more people will pay more money to see it than they ever did before. Dori Sheri on production and here again is your host and commentator for the creative method Lyman Bryson. Mr. Cherry concluded by expressing persuasively his optimism about the future of the motion picture. We will always want to see pictures on a screen he said. And although theaters may be diminishing in number cannot be so many pictures made the great colossal pictures of the past may not be so numerous in the future. Still the essential artistic future of the Motion Picture is assured because it is a valid art and this optimism is partly explained by Mr. Sherry's answer to the first question which we put up. Where does one start. Where does a producer start in making a picture. When he
starts anywhere he starts with the script. Whether or not they are or whether a character with a setting with a theme and of course above all he must have a theme. Mr Sherry makes it quite clear that no picture can amount to anything unless it says something something that comes sincerely and eloquently from the group that make the picture. This again is a collaborative art in a sense that their future of the Motion Picture is also shared by the fact that there is no danger ever of having too much talent whatever talent we can produce will find its place. He gives a warning however at that point which might be of great interest to young people who are a little bit struck with the glamour of Hollywood talent he says. Without character he's not much good to the producer and not much assurance of a career unless you've got energy. Of course unless you've got talent of course but unless Also you can work together with those in
- Creative method
- Dore Schary on production
- Producing Organization
- WGBH Educational Foundation
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program presents Dore Schary discussing successful creative methods for producing films.
- Other Description
- This companion series for The Creative Mind presents radio essays on a creative activity by an outstanding representative of that activity. Dr. Lyman Bryson hosts.
- Broadcast Date
- Fine Arts
- Media type
Guest: Schary, Dore
Host: Bryson, Lyman, 1888-1959
Interviewer: Cavness, Bill
Producer: Summerfield, Jack D.
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-55-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “Creative method; Dore Schary on production,” 1964-10-09, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 7, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-pv6b700m.
- MLA: “Creative method; Dore Schary on production.” 1964-10-09. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 7, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-pv6b700m>.
- APA: Creative method; Dore Schary on production. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-pv6b700m