Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Michael Haneke on impeccable preparation

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Michael Haneke

I draw up precise storyboards, and they may not be pretty, but they are ninety-five percent the same as the final film. It is entirely possible that I will end up making small changes even when we’re shooting, but only if there is no way around it. For example, if I can tell that an actor struggles with one particular sentence I will try to find a way for the actor to say it so that it works. That’s preferable to having him say my original sentence badly. But these are exceptions. I am impeccably prepared whenever I turn up on set. I know what I want and how to communicate that.

Again, it’s a question of mindset. Some people like to improvise. I personally hate it. My films aren’t fit for improvisation anyway. A strict form such as mine cannot be achieved through improvisation. When I devise my storyboards, I think long and hard about the right form for a particular scene. That is why drawing up storyboards after having finalized my choice of actors and locations takes me as long as shooting. There are millions of possibilities—for the camera to be here but not there, and so on. In a way, it’s like having to find the solutions before you create the puzzle. And that is the challenge in directing.

Michael Haneke, to The Paris Review

Written by nevalalee

August 17, 2015 at 8:00 am

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