Over at Polygon, Ben Kuchera suggests that Quentin Tarantino’s secret weapon could be his camera operator. Perhaps that’s overstating things a bit, but the extent of influence a slate operator can have is more significant than you may realize. Take a look at this informational video from RocketJump Film School, to learn more about the function of the slate and the role of the slate operator.
The role of the slate and the slate operator are understated. The slate not only links sound and image but also organizes the filmmaking process. It is a reference tool for the filming that is about to start and the editing that follows. The system of labels keeps track of the order of shots in each sequence. The slate operator opens each scene with the clack. It is the scene’s starter pistol.
The methods of Tarantino’s regular slate operator Geraldine Brezca, who started out as a camera intern on “Jackie Brown,” reveal that the slate operator possesses a role that far exceeds organizational duties. In the “How to Slate” video above, the differences between good and bad slate operators are apparent. However, the video of Brezca’s work, in Tarantino’s films, exemplifies how to be an exceptional slate operator.
There are countless reasons to love Quentin Tarantino’s work. One thing you can always rely on is strong performances. As slate operator, Brezca sets the tone. She has only a few words to do so. She must rely on creativity to come up with a word that corresponds to the letter of that scene’s shot. In the video, watch how she encompasses the tone. She forces the actors and actresses to get into the scene before it even begins. Prepare to be amazed by the art of slate operating: