The Rushes

The term "rushes" comes from the fact that the lab rushes a print out in one night for the director and crew to view their day's work on the next day. The print is rough; it isn't perfect. Sometimes it's silent or the sound is of bad quality and certainly not mixed correctly. The labs have small screening rooms, where everyone topples in after a long day's shooting, usually in an exhausted state. Again, the gears shift from the activity of doing to the concentration of watching and accessing.

The director and DP must watch the rushes, or dailies (both terms are used interchangeably), to make sure that what they thought they were capturing during shooting is actually arriving onto the screen. Each department head will be present, each only looking at the work for which his department is responsible. The set decorator looks at the set, the makeup artist at the makeup, the gaffer watches the lights, along with the DP and director, who are watching everything. All of the takes that were requested to be printed of each shot, identified by their slate, will be viewed in succession and scrutinized. Choices will be made and unmade and then made again; the editor will take notes. It is an atmosphere of intense concentration, as everyone goes back over what has been shot and decides what has worked, what to reshoot, and how to proceed.

It could be an atmosphere of relief and elation if things are going well and the movie is starting to emerge. Or it could be an atmosphere of tense depression if it starts to become clear that what everyone thought was crystal clear during shooting has not made it to the screen. At the end of the day, the camera doesn't lie. At this point in the process, only the director and the DP truly know what they intended to accomplish in each shot and if any of the takes serves that purpose.

A piece of film does not exist in a vacuum; it must fit into what goes before it and what comes after it. A take can be wonderful in and of itself, but if it doesn't work in the succession of images that it is supposed to be a part of, if it doesn't fit into its planned purpose in the movie, then it cannot be used. The continuity, the timing, all technical concerns, and the dramatic event must coincide with the vision of the completed film. Many films change radically once their rushes are viewed—a director could realize that something else is emerging before him, something other than he had realized was possible. He might decide to alter his future plans to accommodate this new aspect to the story. It can be a wonderfully creative experience in the best-case scenario, or it can spell disaster and confusion if what emerges as the rushes cannot be woven into the fabric of the finished movie.

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Film Making

Film Making

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