The statement above is true, as long as the Auteur is of the caliber of Hitchcock, the Old Masters, and of course a few 3D Auteurs who have earned this title; Cameron, Ridley Scott and Martin Scorsese.
What Stanley Kubrick did not take into account was of course the schooling that is needed to be 3D literate before graduating to “Auteur” status in stereoscopic film making.
What is Auteur Theory?
Auteur Theory states that the Director is the the “auteur” (french for Author) of the film being made. It’s the Auteur’s style that shines through or sticks out like a sore thumb (as we shall argue below)
Auteuring in Stereoscopic 3D:
Again, despite the words in Kubric’s statement above, we all know that modern film-making is a collaborative effort with “Directors” of different departments in the film’s machinery, doing their bit to bring the film together.
Of course the more brilliant films then do have the signature of the “Auteur” showing through above all others involved in the film. However the important point to remember is that these Auteurs EARNED this title by proving their mettle. The title was not self awarded nor tacked on by a Studio.
Some less than satisfactory 3D films are, the way they are, because the Auteur’s taste shows and today the word itself and it’s sanctity have little meaning.
While stereoscopic 3D has just made a comeback, it is understandable that a 3D Auteur cannot be expected to show a track record of his/her style in 3D. However, just as a teacher can’t walk up to a classroom and claim to be defining a new “grammar” for the English language… so can’t a film maker waltz into a medium of story telling such as Stereoscopic 3D and claim to be “Auteuring” a new style of 3D storytelling.
What do Ridley Scott, Scorsese and James Cameron have in common? Talent and an un-canny aptitude to adapt and excel in anything new. This of course comes with years of experience in the related world of 2D film-making, but most importantly, this aptitude comes from the talent that Auteurs possess… that, and of planning, building their vocabulary of the language and then trusting their compatriots to do a good job… the result is the (in)visible signature that the audience sees; that of the Auteur.
The Auteur as Scape goat:
Some of today’s un-inspiring use of the language of S3D has further degraded the Auteur theory.
Today the Auteur is made a willing scape goat. That’s an oxymoron if ever there was one!
Let me explain… Willing, because if there is any professional or audience critique of the quality and effectivness of 3D employed in the film, then the Auteur will say that this was his or her intended style of using 3D for the film. That would end most arguments! After all, there are no benchmarks yet for good Auteuring in 3D films (only Avatar, Hugo and Prometheus come readily to recall)
…and scapegoat because, maybe unknow to the Auteur, the compatriots that he may have trusted to do their bit, decide at the end to pass the buck on to the Auteur, saying that this was his/her signature use of 3D. Of course the Studios may also be behind the creation of such an Auteur scape-goat if there is too much public outcry about the films 3D, or lack of it thereof.
I am Auteur:
So what does it take to be an Auteur in 3D film-making?
One does not have to have a track record of the likes of Hitchcock, James Cameron or indeed Ridley Scott to be recognized as a 3D Auteur.
This is a complete green-field playground. Case in point and worth mentioning is Claudio Miranda, the DP who took over Stereographer duties on Tron Legacy.
He just might be the kind of Auteur that I refer to as a Stereo-ma-tographer
Now while I would accord shared Auteur status to DP, Director and VFX (s3d) supervisor for that film, the point that is worth remembering is that the DP did not have a track record of previous great 3D films.
Yet I’m sure he learned the vocabulary and Grammar as best he could, to become 3D literate and then challenge the norm and so with his co-Auteurs, made a film where subtle use of 3D was motivated (2D real world v/s Digital 3D world later)
The Auteurs of Tron used subtle 3D effectively when needed even in the 3D world part of the film. However, they seemed to ‘get’ the difference between subtle 3D and Flat un-inspiring 3D. For an example of what I refer to as bad 3D, read my critique of another film referred to in the Stereomatographer link above.
A movie such as Tron is what subtle 3D is and what Creative use of 3D on a scene by scene basis is to me. It all starts with “Thinking in 3D”
Note: Inspiration for writing this article was from a private email I received from a well known stereoscopic supervisor of a few Hollywood tent-pole 3D films. On his approval I will mention him here later.