Frank Darabont gives one of my favorite commentary tracks. His director’s commentary for ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ can be found on DVD and Blu-ray releases of the film.
“Darabont’s insightful views on his directorial debut grab you and keep you listening to the commentary long after you might usually turn a commentary track off. He goes out of his way to point out how each of these fantastic people affected the film, and you get the feeling he knows the film is great because of the accomplishments of every one involved. Darabont, as a director, knows that although the responsibility of telling the story lies in his hands, the knowledge of how to best tell the story may not be in his abilities — especially for his first film. He points out information that normally would have gone unseen, rants about the problems he had with the Humane Society, and gives some insight to breaking into Hollywood and directing in general.” —Rafe Telsch
“Darabont has a very easygoing manner, and his commentary comes across well. One thing that impresses me about Darabont, is that he does not try to speak above the viewer. He does not go on about how impressed he is about this scene or that scene, but does got into a very casual discussion about the filmmaking process, and throws in a few titbits that many people do not know. For example, whenever you see a scene involving Andy’s hands, they are fact Darabont’s hands, as he prefers to shoot his own hands in what are called ‘insert shots.’ Darabont offers appropriate praise for the many different creative folks, both in front of and behind the camera, and truly gives the listener the correct impression that the success of the film is based upon hundreds of people doing their jobs in an extraordinary manner. As film commentaries go, this one is first-rate.” —Paul Cooke
Frank Darabont’s screenplay for ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is the best screenwriting school you can ever get [pdf]. (NOTE: For educational purposes only)
“If I’m any example, it took me nine years of starving, struggling and honing my craft before I started making my living as a writer. Those were lean years, too, believe me. But in the nine years since then, I haven’t stopped working. I consider myself very lucky, but I also believe you can make your own luck by applying the elbow grease of determination and effort, by nurturing a persistent belief in yourself no matter how bleak your chances seem (this philosophy lurks at the very heart of ‘The Shawshank Redemption,’ and is one of the main reasons I fell in love with King’s story).
My standard joke — actually, I’m fairly serious — is that there are potentially more talented writers and directors than I working in shoe stores and Burger Kings across the nation; the difference is I was willing to put in the nine years of effort and they weren’t. More to the point, it took Thomas Edison a thousand attempts before he got that damn light bulb to turn on. Imagine if he’d gotten discouraged enough to quit after only nine hundred and ninety nine tries. The message here is simple, and John F. Kennedy said it best: ‘We choose to go to the moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard.’ Rough translation? If you have a dream, get up off your ass and start putting one foot in front of the other. Me, I’ll take Kennedy and Edison over Beavis and Butt-head any old day.” —Memo from the Trenches by Frank Darabont
Above: Roger Deakins talks with NPR’s Melissa Block about one of his favorite scenes from ‘The Shawshank Redemption.’
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