PATIENT 39 is entering a new phase as we come towards the final furlong of the offline edit.I’ve been working with film editor Richard Wilkinson (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1270577/)on the cut and it’s been a fascinating process of seeing it evolve and take shape, all informed by Richard’s fiendishly clever eye and judgement.The edit is a time when your choices are laid bare, and mistakes have to be addressed – but it is also a time when your choices can be reaffirmed, tightened and strengthen.So it is the part of the process when things become coherent, coalesce and the film itself is born.The trick to some extent is to keep your mind open to the possibilities, to the flexibility that still remains, while at the same time being true to the direction you’ve been following.
We shot the film in March (it was snowing on one day!) and I’ve been fortunate to benefit from the help of Justin Cornish at Atomic Arts (http://www.atomicarts.net/) to help magically transform the weather to the blue sky that is so important to the story.
We’ve also been joined on the journey by the brilliant composer Andy Hopkins (http://www.andyhopkins.co.uk/). Andy immediately tuned into the psychological tone of the story and to its moods and turns I am looking forward to sharing the results of his fantastic work with you when the film is completed.
Network screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky for your reading pleasure [pdf]. (NOTE: For educational purposes only)
Network (1976) was written by Paddy Chayefsky (1923-1981) and directed by Sidney Lumet (1924-2011). Paddy Chayefsky said he didn’t write the film as an attack on the television industry (‘it’s not a brutal attack, maybe a murderous attack, but not brutal,’ he laughs in the interview), he just described the world as he saw it around him. He wants to get a message across but if it happens it’ll be a bonus. First and foremost the story has to be entertaining.
“How do you preserve yourself in a world in which life doesn’t really mean much anymore. That’s what I was trying to say, but the trick of course is to say it so that it’s a good movie.”
Chayefsky wrote a lot of fictional TV, and said he enjoyed watching TV but didn’t believe a word that was said on it because of the way everything is condensed, manipulated, and influenced by the ratings game. The audience becomes brutalised because they see violence every day and it makes them indifferent to it. And the country (like most developed countries these days) are television-saturated, most of the population gets their information from television.
“This is what the picture is essentially about — when do we say ‘Hold it! A human life is a hell of a lot more important than your lousy dollar’.”
Chayefsky channelled his frustrations with television into this satire that deals with news operation through the character of Howard Beale. Beale is a news anchor whose rating have been declining and the broadcast network fires him; Beale reacts by announcing that he will commit suicide on air, resulting with him getting his own show and becoming a huge audience success (with good ratings), and Beale uses his power to make revelations about the Communications Corporation.
Paddy Chayefsky won the Oscar for Best Writing for Network.
Chayefsky discusses Network and the way television manipulates truth.
Chayefsky’s notes for Network (New York Public Library):
Paddy Chayefsky created programming for the fictional UBS (New York Public Library):
Howard Beale’s moving speech is timeless: the problems are as relevant today as they were when the film was made.
“The shooting script for Network. Howard Beale’s “Mad as Hell” speech was filmed on Day 1.” — via Dave Itzkoff
STEPHEN SODERBERGH’S ‘STATE OF CINEMA’ ADDRESS TO THE SAN FRANCISCO FILM FESTIVAL
From Producer Ted Hope:
“Cinema is under assault,” Steven Soderbergh told an audience in San Francisco over the weekend. He said that the Hollywood studios are to blame and that moviegoers are their accomplices. “Fewer and fewer executives in the industry love movies,”