Ian McKellen Analyzes The “Tomorrow and Tomorrow” speech from Macbeth

As part of an “in-studio master class” on speaking Shakespeare, Ian McKellen talks in depth about the imagery and analysis he used to bring a famous Macbeth speech to life for a production by the Royal Shakespeare Company

Here’s McKellen’s friend Patrick Stewart delivering the same soliloquy in  a 2010 adaptation


What the Heck is a Snoot?

The Slanted Lens tackles the question and explains how Snoots are used on a set.

 A snoot is a funny name for a piece of equipment that fits over a studio light or portable flash and allows the photographer to control the direction or area of coverage of the light. In film, we use black wrap to create snoots – basically black aluminum foil that can be formed into a funnel and molded to the light.

So what is the area of coverage of a snoot? This is a hard question to answer since there are many different sizes from different manufacturers and you can make your own. The one I have is fairly average so let’s look at how it compares to a grid. I shot an image of our subject against a white wall with the light eight feet away and a second on set. The area of coverage is very narrow and the fall out is very sharp. There is a certain amount of fill in the dark areas when we shot on the white wall but I don’t think the snoot was sealed well enough to the instrument. Images using a snoot usually have a very concentrated area of light with no fill in the shadows. Compare this to a shot with the same setup using a 10 degree grid. The edges are softer with the grid, the light falls off much faster and there is a hot spot in the middle.

The quality of light with a snoot is a little bit harder than a grid. It is a very directional light with little or no fill from light bouncing off the sides of the reflector. Because the snoot is so far out in front of the reflector, it has negated any side bounce.

We got some great images with snoots and a hazer. This type of look is very compelling to me. Take a look at a few of the edited color images after the faces and floor were retouched. Snoots are a hard light that create a lot of contrast, which is great for black and white images. It wouldn’t be film noir if the images didn’t look good in B&W, so take a look at the final images after I took them into Silver Efex.

These past two lessons on grids and snoots have been a great exercise for me and has helped me understand the difference between these two pieces of equipment. Grids are harder and more diffused on the edges while a snoot is more directional and keeps a constant exposure throughout the light pattern. Snoots do have the advantage of being any size you want them to be when using black wrap to create them. Grids only have four sizes. They both have a place on set, though, and I hope you learned as much as I did.


IMPROVISING SCREENPLAYS: The Secret to Finding Your Voice

In Improvising Screenplays, improvisational actor Brett Wean shares how the concepts of improvisation can be applied to the work — and play — of writing your script.


If you’re like most aspiring writers, chances are that “finding your voice” is way up there on your “becoming a writer” To-Do list. (Come on, we all have them, pinned to our refrigerator with a little magnet, right next to the chore wheel.) The problem is, “finding your voice” isn’t really a quantifiable task you can accomplish just by planting your butt in the seat for a few days. Some people never find their voice.

Then again, some people never even realize it’s a requirement.

Developing a consistent — and comfortable — pattern to the kind of stories you tell, as well as how you tell them, is a critical factor necessary to your success as a writer.

So how do you find your voice?

Here’s where I go all Yoda on your ass. The “secret” to finding your voice is…there is no secret. The answer is that it’s different for everybody. That’s the secret.

So there is no secret, but there is. (Okay, I’ll stop talking in riddles.)

I do have a few tips for you to try out in your journey.

When I first began studying and performing improv, first at the Upright Citizens Brigade and then at The People’s Improv Theater (The PIT) in New York City, I was surrounded by people emulating the fast, frantic, and often brilliant performances they were watching on stage. These more experienced performers had expertly figured out through years of practice how to utilize all the slow, methodical techniques we were learning in class — such as making eye contact, figuring out their status in relation to their scene partner, etc. — so as to almost seem invisible. They would rush on the stage and all we would see was a flurry of limbs and instant comedy. They were playing slow…they were just doing it too quickly for us to notice.

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