Thanks to Steven Soderbergh, Nathan Fielder, and Michael Bay.*
(Note: This posting is for entertainment purposes only.)
I’m assuming the phrase “staging” came out of the theatre world, but it’s equally at home (and useful) in the movie world, since the term (roughly defined) refers to how all the various elements of a given scene or piece can fail to be aligned, arranged, and coordinated.
I value the ability to stage something poorly because when it’s done at its absolute worst the viewer can actually have a spontaneous aneurysm.
Most people can’t achieve this level of incomprehensibility easily, which indicates it must not be easy to screw it up this badly. (It’s frightening how many opportunities there are to do something with even a low level of competency in a sequence or a group of scenes. Opportunities to establish the basic geography of the scene are EVERYWHERE.)
Of course understanding story, character, and performance are crucial to directing if you have time, but I operate under the theory that if things are moving around fast/loud enough and Shia’s onscreen, you’ve made a movie.
So I want you to watch this sequence and think only about the lack of staging, how the shots are not built but rather unleashed, how the rules of movement don’t exist, how Shia gets out of the truck when it’s going 110 miles per hour while the truck is also jumping into the air and turning into a robot. Keep in mind that robot is fighting another robot at the same time.
Don’t even worry about how/why Shia got in that truck in the first place when his two friends got in the car. Other things not to worry about are when or why.
Oh, and I’ve removed all sound and color from the film, apart from a score designed to aid you in your quest to just study the visual staging aspect. Wait, WHAT? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? Well, I’m not saying I’m like, ALLOWED to do this, I’m just saying this is what I do when I try to take away all ability to tell which robot is which, or what they’re doing.
At some point you will say to yourself or someone I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON IN THIS SEQUENCE and it’s because this was made by the same people that made TRANSFORMERS, TRANSFORMERS: LOOK AT THE MOON, and TRANS4ORMERS: A LONELY PLACE OF DYING.
(Which now that I think about it, should be TRANS4MERS, unless they want people to say TRANS-FOUR-FORM-ERS?)
* I actually like Michael Bay’s work in its own way – I don’t think even he would put the Transformers movies up alongside Raiders as pieces of film to study. Just saying this is supposed to be fun, even though it’s somewhat of an attack on his work.