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Soul in Cinema: Filming Shaft on Location (1971)

| Short, Documentary
A behind the scenes look at the filming of the movie Shaft (1971). The movie's director, Gordon Parks is seen directing a couple of fight scenes which he wants to get in as few takes as ... See full summary »




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A behind the scenes look at the filming of the movie Shaft (1971). The movie's director, Gordon Parks is seen directing a couple of fight scenes which he wants to get in as few takes as possible due to the set-up time and the danger involved in the stunt work. He is also seen speaking to the composer of the film score, 'Isaac Hayes', about the overlaying of the music over one of those fight scenes, and what he wants musically for another scene involving the lead character, John Shaft, moving through Times Square. The latter would eventually become the movie's iconic theme music. Being a frenetically paced action movie, he also works closely with the film's editor, Hugh A. Robertson. Written by Huggo

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User Reviews

An inside look at one of the first of its kind
30 May 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Turner Classic Movies often plays short subjects. From the dawn of sound until the coming of television these shorts were usually self-contained two reel comedies starring such people as The Three Stooges, Robert Benchley, and Edgar Kennedy. Then the studios started rehashing old material to cut costs, and by the early 60's they were dead altogether.

Then the studios started making one or two reel shorts to promote what they considered were major motion pictures. These would often be behind the scenes type films with a narrator telling you what is going on, and the actors and director in conversation about an upcoming scene. That is what this short is, and I'm glad it's still around and playing occasionally on Turner Classic Movies, because this short talks about "Shaft", which was released in 1971. It stars an African American as private detective John Shaft (Richard Roundtree), who is tough but a positive role model. It was the beginning of not only the low budget blaxpoitation films, but relevant films with African Americans in positive independent leading roles.

Here director Gordon Parks directs Roundtree on how to play a bar scene where the mafia, who have kidnapped Shaft's client's daughter, are sitting. One of the mafiosa gets it in the head with a bottle courtesy of Shaft, and the scene comes off without a hitch. Parks also talks to Isaac Hayes about the kind of music he wants for the scene, and you can see and hear the birth of the film's iconic music. You'd probably recognize it today, 45 years later. You just might not know its origin.

Parks only directed nine films, and this was probably his highest profile directing job. He had previously had a long career in photojournalism at Life Magazine. Born in 1912, he certainly saw lots of changes in his lifetime, living to the ripe old age of 94. Check this short out if you get the chance.

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