Too Much Light Worse than None in Film, Declares Artist.
Atmosphere Is Created by Shadows, Says Will Bradley, Director of “Moongold” — Making Elaborate Sets Conspicuous Detracts From Drama, He Finds.
In marked contrast with the general run of realistic photoplays, a little Pierot and Pierette picture called “Moongold” is being shown at the Criterion Theatre. It runs to soft, pliable lines and dimmed lights. Its musical setting is subdued and romantic and its figures are poetic and dreamy. But its action, though it is pictured with silhouettes and in portrait-like frames, has all the punch of a conventionally directed picture.
The director of “Moongold” is Will Bradley, widely known as an art editor, and he attributes the success of this — his fifth picture — to the application of the rules he has used for years in illustrating magazine stories, keeping in sight the fact that a motion picture must express the action a magazine illustration only suggests.
“Too much light is a common fault of many pictures,” he explained, in discussing his method of making photoplays. “Atmosphere is created by shadows, not by glaring lights. A light in the wrong place detracts from the action and often from the emotion of the picture. Lighting should be applied to the photoplay — like a spotlight picking out the face of the star at a crucial moment in a play — to accentuate the movement of the picture.”
“Now the things that attract attention in pictures, whether they be oil paintings, pen and ink sketches or photographs, are lights, lines and symmetry. The eye catches first the places where light is strongest. The most conspicuous advertisement, for instance, is a white word or symbol in a black background. The eye turns to colors only when it has tired of the light.
“Thus when a motion picture director who has spent thousands of dollars on a beautiful set throws the light full on, so the public will not miss any detail of the costly background, he immediately pulls the attention away from the drama. Of course, the public is impressed with the stupendous amount of labor and money involved. But its mind is taken away from the story. To make the emotions of a picture felt strongly, simplicity is necessary.
“The trend of motion pictures is toward truly human things, and away from mere display of scenic effect. The picture that costs $5,000 may be as successful as the one representing an outlay of a quarter of a million. The human element and the pictorial qualities are what count.
“I try in my pictures to make every pictorial element work for some real end. If action Is to be accentuated, I use my figures in silhouette. If the emotion of the face is most important, I use soft lights.
“The background should be in keeping with the action, if the highest results are to be obtained, and the simpler it is the better.”
Ref: “Too Much Light Worse than None in Film, Declares Artist.” The Evening Telegram [New York] 31 May 1921. FultonHistory.com. Web. 25 June 2015.
Citation: Lindsay, Martin S. Too Much Light Worse than None in Film, Declares Artist.. Website: WillBradley.com. Accessed 23 Mar 2017, <http://willbradley.com/work/film/moongold/ny-evening-telegram-will-h-bradley-interview/>. Bibliography. References.