About this project
ACTION! a documentary to run 90 to 100 minutes, will be the last film of three produced by The Nicholas Ray Foundation in honor of Nick Ray's 100th birthday.
On any list of the 100 Best Movies of the 20th Century you’re likely to find at least one directed by Nick. Rebel Without A Cause, In A Lonely Place, Johnny Guitar, Bitter Victory, Savage Innocents, Lusty Men—these are classics.
In the three films of the Nicholas Ray Centenary Project, We Can't Go Home Again, Don't Expect Too Much, and ACTION!, we introduce you to the equally brilliant but less well known work of the last ten years of this filmmaker's life, after he left Hollywood and became a teacher. In ACTION! you'll encounter Nick's bigger-than-life presence as he shares his knowledge of what he called "the cathedral of the arts." He'll offer you, in his own words and voice, behind-the-scenes accounts from the sets of his classic films and insights as to how and why he did what he did in the scenes you remember—at the Planetarium in Rebel, for example. He'll share his knowledge of the crafts of filmmaking and acting—how to move with the camera; how to direct the non-actor; how to handle props; how to work with sense memory—along with his often prophetic insights on a range of subjects from the psychology of color to technology and sexuality.
Nick's way of teaching belongs to the tradition going back to the guilds of the Middle Ages by which a craftsman, having mastered his craft, passes it on to his apprentices. He transmits in his teaching a wisdom acquired through hard living, working, loving, and the willingness to own his mistakes; and the vision of someone with an uncanny grasp of the big picture and how it will unfold over future decades.
Once completed, ACTION! will join the other two films of the Centenary Project, creating a unique film triptych that is at once a portrait of the artist, a narrative, a document of the times, and a teaching tool. We believe ACTION! will become a standard for films about filmmaking.
ACTION! will be edited mostly from Nick’s film, video, and audio archive—tens of thousands of feet of picture, and hundreds of hours of audio recordings of interviews, classes, lectures, private conversations, journal entries, and an oral history—with supplementary footage licensed from the studios or acquired through research.
We're seeking $12,500 to cover the costs of digitizing and transcribing about 45 hours of audio recordings from Nick's classes at NYU and the Strasberg Institute and a 30-hour oral history created through interviews with British film historian James Leahy.
Along with the audio, there remains about half the picture in the Ray Archive yet to digitize. Any contributions above the $12,500 needed for digitizing and transcribing audio will go towards digitizing the picture.
These are one-of-a-kind items that once belonged to Nick, that he gave to me, and that I now offer to you as thanks for your support of our film. These have collector's value.
Risks and challenges
Among the risks related to digitizing the audio include the possibility that audio cassettes and reel-to-reel tapes recorded 40 years ago are now too compromised to run through the digitizing equipment; or that, once digitized, the sound itself not be of adequate quality to use in the film.
However, we've assembled a highly skilled restoration crew, one we worked with previously on WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN. We've seen how, in the majority of cases, they know exactly how to handle fragile materials to digitize them successfully and maximize their quality to a level sufficient for use. And if a few of our materials cannot be salvaged, we have enough other materials from which to draw.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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