The Ulrich Seidl Method

  • Shoot fiction films in a documentary setting. So that unexpected moments of reality can meld with the fiction.
  • There is no script in the traditional sense. The script consists of very precisely described scenes – but no dialogue. During shooting the script is continually modified and rewritten. Seidl: ‘I see the filmmaking as a process oriented by what has preceded. In that way the material we’ve shot always determines the further development of the story.’
  • The cast consists of actors and non-actors. During casting equal consideration is given to professionals and non-professionals. Ideally the audience should not be able to say with certainty which roles are played by actors and which by non-actors.
  • The actors have no script on set.
  • Scenes and dialogue are improvised with the actors.
  • The film is shot chronologically, making it possible to continually adapt and develop scenes and dramatic threads. The ending is left open.
  • The film is shot in original locations.
  • Music is present only when it is an integral component of a scene.
  • The ‘open working method’ also applies to editing. Rushes are      evaluated and discarded at the editing table. The film is rewritten at the editing table. Several extended phases of editing are needed to identify what is and isn’t possible for the film. In this way, to take the example of Paradise, what had been planned as a single film became three      separate films, each of which stands on its own, but which can also be      viewed together as a trilogy.
  • In addition to the fiction scenes, so-called ‘Seidl tableaux’ are      filmed – precisely composed shots of people looking into the camera. The      Seidl tableaux (which was born in the director’s first short, One Forty, 1980) has become a trademark of Austrian film and is now used by other documentary and fiction film directors.


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