Terrence Malick’s Instructions On How To Project ‘The Tree Of Life;’ Plus Another Film From the Director?
Posted on Friday, June 3rd, 2011 by Germain Lussier
Terrence Malick‘s epic dissection of life, love and everything in between, The Tree of Life, continues its limited expansion today, opening in cities like San Francisco, Austin, Atlanta, Boston and Chicago. As more people get to experience Malick’s passion project, the famously reclusive filmmaker is apparently worried about the film’s presentation and he’s written a letter to all the projectionists who will be showing his film, complete with specific directions on how to do so.
Check out Malick’s projection wish list, as well as a hint to when he might shoot his next project (not the Ben Affleck/Rachel McAdams one, another one), after the jump.
We’ll start with the new film. In an article over at the Los Angeles Times, it gives a few details as to what Malick’s Ben Affleck/Rachel McAdams romance might be like (Hint: Visual, ethereal and poetic) but also alerts us to the fact that Malick has instructed his crew to “to keep the summer and fall open for a possible shoot of yet another film.” That suggests that a third new Terrence Malick movie could be shooting in the near future and that we’ll see the currently untitled romance sooner rather than later. Could the third film just be the long rumored Voyage of Time? We’ll have to wait and find out.
Back to Tree of Life….
Malick begins by cushioning his “fraternal salute” by pointing out the obvious: “Proper theatre projection is fast becoming a forgotten art.” He asks projectionists to take into consideration the following points:
- Project the film in it’s proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
- The correct fader setting on Dolby and DTS systems is 7. Malick asks that faders be kept at 7.5 or even 7.7, system permitting.
- The film has no opening credits, and the booth operator is asked to make sure the “lights down cue is well before the opening frame of reel 1.”
- With all the recent talk of “darkier, lousier” images, operators are asked that lamps are at “proper standard (5400 Kelvin)” and that the “foot Lambert level is at Standard 14.”
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that no matter how meticulous a filmmaker is in creating a movie, all of that work can go down the toilet at the projection stage. It’s harder (but not impossible, as we’ve found out) to screw that up digitally but if there’s some snot-nosed kid making $10 bucks an hour screening a Malick movie, why should he care if your Tree of Life experience isn’t everything the filmmaker wants it to be? Most projectionists are obviously more skilled than that, but you get my point.
Do you think more filmmakers should get involved on this level? Do you think the projectionists appreciate the suggestions or take them as an insult?
For a list of when you’ll get to see The Tree of Life (which, love it or hate it, you really should) head to the Fox Searchlight page.