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11/09/2005 - Larry Turman's Thoughts (No. 13)

Manipulation is a word I simply don't understand, when applied to a film. So many people in the business, and out, use the word "manipulation" to describe a movie they didn't like. I always hear it used perjoratively; so-and-so filmmaker goes for the cheap thrill, the sentimental tear, or the easy laugh. Easy laugh?! There is a famous utterance, "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard." The plain fact is every single movie tries to manipulate, some just do it more subtly, more successfully than others. Every filmmaker, myself included, wants you to feel the emotion he has in mind at any given point in the story and, surely, at the end. Whether to feel happy or sad, nervous or relieved, is designed first in the script, then in the making, ultimately in the editing and music. Even the advertising is designed to make you anticipate and be more amenable to be manipulated. So, far from being perjorative, manipulation is merely the marshalling of all the talent and resources of the filmmakers to make you feel, hopefully, exactly the way they, we, want you to feel. The best producers, the best directors, the best writers, are the best manipulators.

This is my parting shot. I've enjoyed it. I hope at least some of what I've offered was enjoyable, even usable. My book, "So You Want To Be a Producer," contains a lot more of the same.


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