GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS - Part IV
by Eugene Hernandez
To read the third part of this article, click here.
Early in the films’ pre-production process Jim brought in cinematographer
Russell Fine, whom he had worked with on music videos and promos. The two
spent time watching various films, including Dennis Hopper’s “Out of the Blue” which Jim credits with being influential over the vibe of “Girls Town“.
Frederick Wiseman’s “Ballet” also proved influential with regard to the way
that film was essentially shot without lighting. Among the other filmmakers
whose works influenced the look of “Girls Town” were John Cassavetes and
especially Woody Allen, whose work with master shots became an important
influence on the project.
McKay and Fine conceived of a four-and-a-half minute master shot to set up
the main scene in the film and shot no additional coverage of the scene — in
post-production there was nothing to cut, no single shots. McKay explains,
“we had so many scenes where we had no choices in editing.” While he admits
that this was not necessarily wise, it felt like the way they project should
be shot, so they went with it.
Jim and Russell established a good working relationship, and a sense of trust
which allowed the DP to get extra time for a shot, when he felt it was
important. Jim explains that a potential complication was that often the two
did not see a location until the morning of the shoot. Since they did not
have time to rehearse on location, they would simply choose specific shot
locations while the actors were getting ready (the women did their own hair
and makeup). While Jim acknowledges that some of these techniques may be
unconventional, he admits, “the times where we played it the most loose were
some of my favorites.”
The twelve-day shoot for “Girls Town” took place mainly in Queens, with the
filmmakers opting for an “Anytown, USA” feel. In retrospect, he proclaims
“I’m happy with the look, I’m happy with the blow up, I think all things
considered it’s a pretty good looking movie.” McKay is also overwhelmingly
positive about working with Russell. While he admits to initially wanting to
find a female DP for the project, he explains that Russell was ideal for the
job and his vibe was right. He also explains that Russell’s versatility
allowed him to plan ahead, adapt and also be quick on his feet. Jim says
that the DP also understood his own feelings that the look of the film should
be very primitive.
To read the next part of this article, click here.