Novel Translation

The Greatest Showman – Chapter 22

Chapter 22 – Camera Darling

David put his hands on his waist, a hard to contain irritation and helplessness surge in his chest.

Generally speaking, the crew in order to attract good luck, will arrange a simple shot for the first scene, after they successfully get through it, signifies that the next shooting will be smooth. This is also the reason why they chose this scene.

But unexpectedly, the first shot only began a few seconds ago, and out of nowhere a mistake happened, and it was the most basic, amateurish and inexplicable mistake – the actors’ concentration deviated, which really made David angry.

One of the biggest differences between film, television and theater lies in its visual emphasis.

On the stage of theater, the actors’ focus is always aimed at the audience on stage, they need to release their emotions to the audience, and can even look into the eyes of a specific spectator to complete communication and bring visual and auditory impact.

Movies and TV are different because the camera lens is in constant motion, and the director wants to switch between different angles, distances and positions to create a different sense of space, and the colors, light, scenery and characters in the shot are all means of expressing the director’s thoughts, called “lens language”, which means that the actors’ focus should be based on the director. Depending on the director, he might be looking at an empty field, he might be looking at the other actors or he might be looking at the camera.

Many new actors-especially those who have switched from theater-will habitually look at the camera, especially the red light that marks the ongoing operation right atop of the camera and use that as a focal point to adjust their focus and tempo. Such rookie-level mistakes are not uncommon, but they do make people frustrated.

Just now Renly made such a mistake. When the camera moved, Renly’s focus was drawn to the red light, and then he followed the cameraman’s footsteps, which completely ruined the entire feeling of the scene.

David was really angry, the first scene of “The Pacific” was actually disrupted because of such a stupid mistake, and the good omen of the opening of the show is gone. David gritted his teeth fiercely, he could teach this stupid newcomer a good lesson, but when he remembered that this is only the first scene of the shooting, he finally suppressed his anger, “Do not stare at the camera, the first law of the filming, do you understand?” The words were squeezed out from between his teeth, simple words but with an uncontainable impatience, as if he was teasing Renly’s ignorance.

The crew stood at the back of the room, many of the veterans have been talking to each other, with a gloating mocking smile on their faces, regardless of whether the rookie made a mistake, or the newcomer was disciplined, this kind of situation becomes best after-dinner conversation for the crew members. On the first day of shooting for “The Pacific”, Renly was given an affectionate nickname, “the rookie who made a fool of himself”.

Hearing the sound of  “cut”, Renly’s first reaction was to feel a bit bewildered, confident and ambitious to stand in front of the camera, his performance of this scene has been well prepared and calculated, and he thought there would be no problem, he also thought he would able to amaze everyone, but he did not expect, just two seconds after the start, that he was actually going to be shouted to stop.

Subconsciously turning his head, Renly looked for Darin’s figure in the crowd – he just said that it was going to be a medium to long shot, track shooting. Why is the actual shooting close up to medium shot, with a handheld camera shooting? Within his sight he suddenly saw the appearance of the cameraman, and his attention was distracted, coupled with the unfamiliarity of the motion picture camera, instinctively adjusting his focus according to the red dot, which led to the situation.

Renly easily saw Darin, but he was talking in a low voice with the people around him, the relaxed brow and the smile at the corners of his mouth that did not seem to notice anything wrong at all. Realizing Renly’s gaze, Darin raised his head, glanced at him, and like a feather gently halted, and then simply brushed it aside, without any extra emotion, as if Renly was just a small ant, not worth mentioning.

The fact is that Darin is the chief dramaturg of the entire cast and crew, and has all the power and authority behind the scenes; Renly is just a fledgling newcomer, with no power, no roots, no foundation, and only a handful of friends on the set.

Renly didn’t know why Darin was setting him up, but now he finally understood what Rami meant, and what it means to be a “difficult kid”. Not only is there a director and producer who have the authority, but there are also co-stars and behind-the-scenes staff, who may not be able to decide life or death, but “tripping” someone up in the details is enough to make them suffer.

Suppressing the emotions stirring in his chest, Renly didn’t foolishly complain to David about his grievances, nodding his head and openly accepting his mistake, “Sorry. I’ll be careful.” As an actor, there is a simple way to gain respect and that is by conquering the director with a great performance, which is the most direct and effective way.

Readjusting his breathing, to avoid his thoughts being disrupted by this little accident just now, he entered the acting state again.

From Eugene’s case, Renly could not help but think of himself in his last life, after his car accident, coming out of a coma, but finding himself unable to move his body, the panic and fear he felt was like an endless free fall, and then the doctor pronounced his death sentence, the rest of his life he is going to be trapped in that hospital bed. When he turned his head, he saw the children playing in the hospital courtyard, running, laughing and playing unrestrained, the golden sunlight covering everything with a thin layer of light, so beautiful it was heartbreaking.

“Action!” David’s voice rang out again.

“At Pearl Harbor, in the Pacific Islands, in the Philippines, in the Malay Peninsula, in the Dutch East Indies ……” On the radio, Churchill’s speech was recounting the current state of the war crisis, the sound of wood crackling and burning in the fireplace reflected the coldness and silence of the room, Churchill’s voice, which did not have many fluctuations, added a touch of sadness.

Eugene walked down from the second floor, wearing his jacket, his steps couldn’t help but slow down, then he turned his head and saw his father and brother in the living room listening to the radio attentively.

His eyes fell somewhat enviously and eagerly on his brother’s body, who was wearing the military uniform, which shone in the firelight; his father took his pipe, his straight spine slightly bent down, with a heavy face, falling into contemplation. “Only when the United States of America and the British Empire unite to fight against Japan, we can ……”

Older brother noticed Eugene’s appearance first and looked at him with hesitant eyes, then his father also looked up and glanced at Eugene.

Eugene’s feet stiffened completely in place.

He then relaxed his shoulders, as his straight spine tried to support his strength and preserve the last shred of dignity in front of his father and brother.

But, he failed, the misshapen look in his eyes were full of too much weight that fiercely pressed him down, as his heart fiercely held him firmly while almost suffocating him, the hard shoulder line could not help but tremble slightly, revealing a trace of sadness and pain, his struggling persistence was not able to last long, just less than a second and it was all shattered, and then completely collapsed, the shivering vulnerability with despair was floating down, he was losing all of his strength that even his jacket become too heavy for him to wear.

The combination of despair and anger made Eugene’s jaw slightly tense up, as he woefully tried to avoid being seen, but in the end revealing half of his face under the light, face that showed calmness but at the same time indifferences, yet it was also outlined with a touch of sadness that slowly faded away between the sparse halo of light. His thick and long eyelashes dropping in a shadow, gently shaking twice, then turned into countless fragments, falling apart, narrow eyes that were like a layer of hazy sorrow, and like ripples they silently scattered.

Then the father shifted his eyes and became once again immersed with the radio, and his brother’s eyes hesitantly fell on Eugene’s hunched shoulders, burning so hot that they hurt.

Eugene could no longer bear such torment and left the hall with quick steps, striding toward the door, his heavy feet stumbling a bit, but he didn’t pause, instead he got faster and faster, the flames of resentment and hatred blooming in the form of flowers beneath his feet. “Bang”, the door was fiercely closed, the muffled sound snuffed out all emotions and it all ended abruptly.

Sitting in the hall, his father couldn’t help but look up and his eyes were full of sadness

The shooting of the scene ended, from the beginning to the end it lasted only five to seven seconds, it was over very quickly, just a momentary snapshot. However, the set was silent, it was not only David who was silent, but even the other cast members held their breath.

David’s eyes burst with incredible radiance, it is difficult to believe that just in that short five seconds, this rookie has burst out with such amazing energy.

While filming this scene there was not a single line spoken, there was not even a close-up of the face, the whole shot was only Eugene’s back and his side profile, but the delicate changes in the muscles of the back and the slender posture of his body showed despair, anger, grief, pain and regret to its fullest, even in such a narrow window, he still was able to show the changes and ups and downs of Eugene’s emotions, his acting was spot on and in the air one could feel the resonance of the whole scene. Finally, the emotions that were raging in the side profile of his face, is definitely a perfect example of how silence is sometimes better than a sound, and also the interplay of light and shadow seemed as if one could clearly see the traces of time residing in the lines of the face, which was so striking that words lost their meaning.

Renly was like the darling of the camera – the projection of light, the capture of images, the transformation of movement, it was all perfectly and vividly presented in the midst of the camera lens, it seemed that every second of time has been given a meaning. Wonderful, really wonderful! It is a skill, but also a talent, like a blessing from God, he was born for the camera, and he lives for the performance.

Five seconds, just five seconds, this actor showed all the emotions perfectly that David could even sketch out in his mind the vivid image of Eugene’s entire character, a wonderfully, brilliant performance that truly makes people applaud.

“Cut!” David finally found his voice, ending the standstill of the entire set, as the shock arrived like a heavy rainstorm.

T/N – I was sweating a lot while I was translating this chapter haha, as this chapter was really descriptive, so I hope I managed to translate it well. So, the first scene is finally filmed, what do you think about this chapter and the shooting of the whole scene? Personally, I really like the way this author describes scenes and the whole process of shooting. With all that said enjoy this chapter and have a nice day:)


2 thoughts on “The Greatest Showman – Chapter 22”

  1. Thanks for the chapter. Seems like in many fields, there’s always gonna be people who got drunk on power. And since this novel is kind of a wish fullfilment, Renly’s acting is so satisfying to read

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