I have it in mind to make a feature length film without a word of dialogue spoken by the principle actors. This idea is inspired by some very well known films wherein sections of the movie play without spoken dialogue. The opening scenes of Le Samouraï directed by Jean-Pierre Melville and starring Alain Delon is a good example of this. So is Rififi, a 1955 French crime film directed by blacklisted American filmmaker Jules Dassin. In these speechless passages, it is clear that the characters know what it is they are doing and their thoughts and emotions are evident making words something of a cinematic contrivance rather than a necessity.
This scene from my Point of Departure could easily have been displayed without the voice-over as the downcast, vacant eyes of the actress speak volumes about the despondent mood of the character. She is on a quest to find someone who, likely, will never appear.
This episode--Kim Rollins (Interview)--starring Victoria Foyt is unusual in that Victoria and I collaborated on the story that was presented in this fictional interview. Marshall Brickman wrote a spec treatment after seeing the episode.
Notice how subtle is her use of interstitial reactions...
Lunch at the Pacific Dining Car in my film Bleeder and Bates. I was thinking of the line from Chinatown spoken by Noah Cross to J.J. Gittes when I created this scene: "You may think you know what you're dealing with but, believe me, you don't."
In Point of Departure, a woman is on a quest to find the man in her life who has gone missing under very suspicious circumstances. One night, I was shooting at midnight on the Piazza del Duomo in Milano, Italy. It was very still and quiet but suddenly the piazza erupted in a cacophony of noise as crowds of celebrating fans from a football match spilled onto the scene.
The quiet introspective moment I was there to shoot would no longer be possible and I made use of the commotion to create a scene of fear and dread for the character who had the sense of unseen and malignant forces focusing their attention on her. As she tries to get away from the crowd, I use jump cuts to accelerate her attempted escape and to imply a sense of futility as I repeat her last few steps three times before cutting to the next scene where she receives further news that adds to the mystery. One can see the use of responsive reactions underscoring the tension of the encounter. The music was composed by Michael Chanslor.
This scene from my film Point of Departure comes near the end of the story after a prolonged interrogation by the French police that has lasted since the beginning of the movie punctuated by flashbacks--I wanted to convey the impact with reactions rather than dialogue which is limited to just three lines...
Traveling back from Ensenada in the mid-80s using a remote rural road that, at times, brought to mind William Friedkin's film Sorcerer, I happened upon a
Lancia like the one pictured here but in better condition. It was parked in front of a house along the road and, instinctively, I knew I wanted the car. I went to the door of the house and knocked having no idea of the reception I would receive but hoping for the best. A man who spoke no English answered and we managed to converse with my smattering of Spanish along with a word or two of English the owner seemed to recognize. I was able to convey the fact that I wanted to buy his car. All the while, I am wondering how a Lancia Appia found its way to a backwater village in rural Mexico.
inspected the car and the paperwork that established the man's ownership. I listened to the sound of that lovely V4 engine and looked for signs of rust in the bodywork. I was falling in love with the car which, though hardly a performance car, was a gem of engineering excellence and the fine touches of Italian elegance could be seen everywhere from the design of the V4 engine to the manner in which the front and rear doors opened --the rear doors being of the 'suicide' configuration. We negotiated a price and I
bought the car on the spot.
I spent the rest of the drive back to Los Angeles savoring my purchase and imagining how this jewel of a car ended up in my path in such an improbable location. I wondered, too, who would have been taking care of servicing the Lancia--when I looked under the hood, I had feared finding a replacement for the Lancia engine and happily that wasn't the case. In my mind, I planned on who I would ask to accompany me back into Mexico to take delivery of the car--probably Gary Wales--and what sort of paperwork I would need to clear customs and satisfy insurance. I had visions of the car fully refurbished gleaming in my driveway.
Inexplicably, I never returned to collect the car. I wonder if it is still there awaiting my arrival...
After my recent podcast, How to improve the quality of your acting without taking lessons, I was asked what movies I would suggest to actors--this is a list of general viewing suggestions provided to the actors in my repertory company in no particular order:
"All About Eve"
"Some Like It Hot" "Duck Soup" "Bridge on the River Kwai" "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" "The Wizard of Oz" "To Kill a Mockingbird" "Tootsie" "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" "Sunset Boulevard" "Lawrence of Arabia" "Citizen Kane" "The Quiet Man" "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" "My Fair Lady" "Singin' in the Rain" "Take the Money and Run" "Mister Blandings Builds His Dream House" "Rebecca" "The Maltese Falcon" "Casablanca" "The Big Sleep" "The Day the Earth Stood Still" "He Walked by Night" "The Lion in Winter" "The Matrix" "Run Lola Run" "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" "Shaft" (starring Richard Roundtree) "Blade Runner" "Vanishing Point" "Deep Blue Sea" "The English Patient" "Life is Beautiful" "Wings of Desire" "Romper Stomper" "Snatch" "Harold and Maude" "Glengarry Glen Ross" "Sense and Sensibility" "Hamlet" (dir. Kenneth Branagh) "Le Samourai" "Cinema Paradiso" "A Clockwork Orange" "Das Boot" "Manhattan" "The Apartment" "Sleuth" "Vertigo"
How to Shoot a Feature Film in 15 Days (And Survive to See Profits)
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Action/ReAction at Stella Adler
Point of Departure
A Series of ONE...
Stephen and Dragonuk
Stephen Mitchell webinar for Stage 32
A review from my new student Louella
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Ferrari GTO 3987 at speed by Yan denes
Ray D. Shosay's Journal
Dispatches from a (junior) suite in Paris
Ray D. Shosay's Journal (excerpt)
"Saturday, January 27, 2007
They say you can fool some of the people all of the time. Accordingly, I think we should concentrate on this group initially. We can move on to the people you can only fool some of the time at a later date if we deem it necessary. I hope to hear back from my agent about this as soon as he's out of rehab, as I don't think my messages have been getting through."
Ignorance is Bliss by Stephen Mitchell
Kindle or Paperback versions
Exerpt from Ignorance is Bliss
"Out of the corner of his eye, Martin saw Martha shift in her seat. She leaned forward, as though something was about to be decided. This caused her breasts to push up against the neckline of her dress in a way that couldn't be fully appreciated out of the corner of one’s eye. So, Martin turned his head to look directly into the abyss of her cleavage. He was vaguely aware that Murray was talking again."
Carrera Panamericana (1950-54)
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Ferrari GTO 3987
Elysée Wednesday: Drive!
“You ought to meet Steve. The two of you have the same kind of Ferrari.”
Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso
One evening, I was enjoying a John le Carré novel and a glass of Bordeaux...
L'art de l'automobile
My first Lusso prior to restoration
It was only after Sinatra was gone...
Once upon a time...
Meeting Enzo Ferrari
I came across this on a late night stroll in Paris near the Louvre.
Simone Kussatz interviews Stephen Mitchell
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(Interview) version française
Christine Astrup (Interview) version française
Stevie Williams (Interview)
David Gritten reviews (Interview)
With Roy_M Martens at Cannes
The Film Portal
Rebel, Rebel by Marc Sonnery
Ferrari 'Breadvan' trivia
Stephen interviews Marc Sonnery
Ferrari 250GTO by Stephen Mitchell
Ferraris on Mulholland
Ferrari GTOs at Willow Springs &...
Ferrari GTO in Paris
Stephen Mitchell talks with General Richard Wilmot (part 1)
In 1980, Stephen founded an entertainment industry think tank in the guise of a repertory company for film and
television labeled The New Hollywood Studio System. In 1985, Stephen pioneered a unique application of product integration in branded entertainment with his cable TV series (Interview). In 2006, Stephen authored a protocol for the management and marketing of business executives. He is currently producing a documentary on the Ferrari GTO, one of which he owned for several years.