Excerpts From An Interview With Stephen Frears,
Director of ďTamara DreweĒ
October 4, 2010
When youíre behind the camera, how do you decide when a ďtakeĒ
is right, and when do you order a re-take?
Itís a matter of the tone. (cupping
his hand to his ear) I have to ďhearĒ it.
: Do you mean literally, or
figuratively, or both?
Well, you have to be able to literally hear it, of course, but Iím
talking about the tone of the conversation. You
know, (Director) John Ford used to turn his back to the actors,
so he could really concentrate on
their tone, while eliminating the visual.
: Do you insist that all the
actors memorize their lines literally before they arrive for the shoot, or
do you encourage some improvisation?
No improv. The
screenplay has to be just right. You
know, the graphic novel, upon which this script was based, was precise,
economical, and just beautifully written.
The actors donít improve on a great script by merely approximating
: If you donít mind the
analogy, I feel the same way about preaching.
I like to preach from a manuscript, and rehearse it several times, so
I can have the structure, the word usage, and the tone just right.
Extemporaneous preaching doesnít allow for that.
Youíre a preacher, really?
: Yes, as a matter of fact, I
Really? Where is your
: About an hour east of here.
Thatís extraordinary. In
all my years of doing this (conducting roundtable interviews with members of
the press), I donít believe Iíve ever met anyone on the other side of
the table whoís identified himself as a preacher.
: Well, you probably expect me
to comment on the morality, but I did notice that there was a certain kind
of justice involving most of the characters.
Oh, in that they kind of got what they deserved?
: (laughs) Well, for the most
part, anyway! How do you decide
how to direct certain people to play particular characters?
Well, I think you have to be engaged and detached at the same time.
You have to know them, but you also have to be able to take a step
back and see them as if from a distance.
Sometimes you literally back up the camera to do that.
: If you donít mind another
analogy, thatís not unlike a pastor relating to his congregation.
You have to be engaged to care about the individuals, but at the same
time, you have to be able to take a step back and analyze, as well.
These analogies between your work and mine would never have occurred
: I really did enjoy the film.
Iím glad to hear that! (laughs)
Now tell your congregation to go see it!
: (laughs) I will, definitely!
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace