"I worked on a film called Swing Dance, so I knew the rhythms, I knew the music. When Husband enters The Savoy, you should feel kind of excited and maybe a little frightened. Here's this country boy entering this special place. I looked at a lot of stills of the actual ballroom when it was empty and that was the first time I had a feeling of the expansive physical space of it. And you should feel that from the scene, you should get that information."
"Some of the scenes in the film are simple. They have one or two setups -- choice of camera angle, shot size and staging. A dance sequence like The Savoy scene was shot with two cameras and many setups. Each setup is labeled A,B,C, and so on. So we shoot the stage, we shoot the dancers, we shoot Husband coming in, we shoot Bucket watching Lou Bessie and Husband and we shoot another set of dancers. I think the setups go to J."
"What you're looking at is part of the Savoy Ballroom sequence. Lou Bessie spots her hometown boyfriend Husband, who has come up to Harlem to find her. Her new boyfriend Bucket watches their encounter from across the ballroom.
In the first version of the scene, I cut back and forth from Lou Bessie and Husband talking to Bucket watching them. But Debbie wanted to emphasize Bucket taking it all in. She wanted the audience to know they should be a little bit afraid of him, to know that he's a bad guy. We shifted the focus to show more of Bucket's side of the room.
Once you've established the fact that Bucket is looking at them, we only see him and his friends. We see Bucket watching them kind of like they're prey. It's more ominous that way because you don't know what he's going to do. You don't relieve the tension by cutting away. Cutaways relieve tension by equalizing the scene.
Most often the director chooses the best performance, the best take. But you're always looking for nuance. In this instance, we don't know what's going on inside of Bucket's head, but we know he's the new man. And the old man has come up to his territory. Bucket is an extremely attractive character, so the audience will respond to that, but they are being asked to look beyond that to what's going on inside. Focussing on him brings out that sense of an interior to be explored."
The script supervisor's annotated script; used by the editor.
The script supervisor's notes; used by the editor.