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SIGIA-L Mail Archives: [Sigia-l] Design Auteurs (was "Graphic" etc)

[Sigia-l] Design Auteurs (was "Graphic" etc)

From: Christopher Fahey (
Date: Mon Jan 09 2006 - 20:40:00 EST

> I don't know any director who hasn't spent countless hours in the editing
> bay *with* his editor.

As an analogy for our industry, the film industry is a mixed bag. You are
advocating the "auteur model" for interactive development, and I totally
agree with that model (at least for the work I like to do). Still, there are
counterexamples galore that show that the inverse can work, too.

Woody Allen is an auteur, and he is almost always the exception not the
rule. He's famously written scripts with some scenes marked "to be shot",
scenes whose outcome will be determined and shot only after shooting *and
editing* other parts of the film, feeling out what should happen next.
That's pretty cool, and most directors are jealous of that power.
Historically, however, countless not-so-powerful directors have been
virtually denied any editing power, some even have been expressly forbidden
from entering the editing room (e.g., Welles's "The Magnificent Ambersons").
Hitchcock would deliberately shoot no more than enough dialogue to achieve
his intended scenes expressly to prevent studio cheifs from later mangling
his work.

Some, including me, would generally consider such stories as evidence of
dysfunctional megalomaniacal studio behavior in action. But then again, it's
hard to find too many movies from Lumiere up to, say, Hitchcock, where the
studio execs weren't effectively the creative bosses -- and this includes
some of the best films ever made. For almost all of classical Hollywood
cinema, for current workaday B-film productions, for lots of television
dramas and movies, and for any productions with quick turnaround times,
editors have a lot of power. To put it generously, it's kind of an
"exquisite corpse" style of production -- or, if you're a little more
cynical, it's an "assembly line". The studio system worked, at least for a

By the way, I'm not arguing with you here. I think auteur movies are the
*best*! And my favorite director is Stanley Kubrick, who is probably the
ultimate auteur. I'm just noting that many perfectly wonderful movies have
been made by committee. It's a weird kind of miracle, really.


Christopher Fahey

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