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Being proud of Taxi Driver


Michael Chapman Film-maker
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I loathe storyboards; I've never liked them. I think that if they are at all carefully done, they sap energy from the actual shooting, and Marty's [Martin Scorsese] storyboards are an exception. Somewhere I have the original storyboards for Taxi Driver, and if I could go through papers I could find them, but I don't know where they are. But his were very deliberately just diagrams – stick figures and arrows saying, you know, 'and the camera moves like that, and then you boom up', and it was in no way drawn or... or carefully done; they were simply diagrams of energy, and they're wonderful that way. He was the only person I ever saw whose storyboards made sense and were... were real storyboards, you know. Other storyboards are just usually bad art or comic books and they shouldn't be allowed, I don't think. I... some... I guess some guys can use them, I don't know. Goya, for instance, is storyboards; Goya's etchings are storyboards. They're very great storyboards; they're storyboards so... so amazing that you don't need to do the movie, you just got storyboards and you can just... you know, you've got the horrors of war, but they are essentially storyboards, and... and as I said, very successful. Most storyboards... if only they were as good as Goya, you wouldn't have to do any of the movies, but they are, by and large, awful, except for the... the storyboards of Taxi Driver and later Raging Bull that Marty did, and they were marvelous. So we had... we had not every shot, by the way; we improvised and we changed things and we saw stuff –  we saw opportunities that were there, like the famous shot of zooming into the... the bubbling glass of water in the restaurant. That wasn't a storyboard, but... but it was something one of us thought, and I'm sure it was Marty, yes, but we saw it and we did it and it was stolen from Godard, but, so what, great, you know? 'Minor poets are influenced by great poets’ steel,' T.S. Elliot said.

Michael Chapman (1935-2020), an American cinematographer, had a huge influence on contemporary film-making, working on an impressive array of classic films including 'Taxi Driver', 'Raging Bull', 'The Lost Boys' and 'The Fugitive'.

Listeners: Glen Ade Brown

British Director of Photography and Camera Operator Glen Ade Brown settled in Los Angeles 10 years ago.

He has been working on features, commercials and reality TV. He played an instrumental role in the award-winning ABC Family series "Switched" and is also a recipient of the Telly and the Cine Golden Eagle awards for Best Cinematography. He was recently signed by the Judy Marks Agency and is now listed in her commercial roster.

Tags: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Francisco Goya

Duration: 1 minute, 57 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008