PT 82 LSAT Writing: Filmmaker

The Prompt

A filmmaker is preparing to direct a film that is set at a country estate during the eighteenth century. The filmmaker must choose which of two properties to use as the primary location for filming. Using the facts below, write an essay in which you argue for using one property over the other based on the following two criteria:

  • The location should be conducive to filming scenes that reflect the time and place in which the film is set.
  • The location should minimize any problems that could delay or disrupt filming.

Homestead Manor is a vacant, unfurnished farmhouse one hour's drive from the nearest town. Its architectural style is well-suited to the demands of the film. Some parts of the farmhouse are not in the good condition called for by the script. Certain visually appealing rooms have limited space for film equipment. Homestead Manor's electrical system is dated. Its grounds include a large barn suitable for securing equipment and other supplies. The farmhouse's interior could be styled to the filmmaker's tastes. Minor structural changes, such as adding or removing windows and doors, would be permitted.

Bristol House is a designated historic building and tourist attraction in a mid-sized city. Several hotels and restaurants are nearby, as is the local airport. Bristol House's interior design and furnishings reflect the era in which the film takes place. Furnishings from this era can be very difficult to find. Loud airplane noise is periodically audible inside Bristol House. Because of its historic status, any structural changes would need approval from the local government. Several officials from this government have offered to help facilitate filming. Equipment could not be stored on-site at Bristol House.

My Essay

The filmmaker should choose Homestead Manor because it is more conducive to his film's setting and less prone to disruptions.

Homestead Manor is more conducive to a film set on an eighteenth century country estate because the exterior is eminently suitable and the interior is easy to change. In the hierarchy of the filmmaker's concern, the location's exterior should be pre-eminent. He has little power to change factors like architecture or landscape, so he should choose a location that offers him the look and feel of an eighteenth century country estate. Bristol House [note: this should have said "Homestead Manor"] fits the bill. Its architecture evokes the time period; its surroundings—rural and isolated—are presumably fitting as well, and certainly closer to the mark than the Bristol House's urban environment. And although the Bristol House's interior may be closer to the filmmaker's vision of an eighteenth century manor, Homestead Manor offers one other insuperable advantage: flexibility. The filmmaker has permission to restyle the interior and even, if necessary, make minor structural changes. Thus he should choose Homestead Manor, where the factors that can't be changed don't need to be, and the factors that do need to be changed can be.

Homestead Manor, though imperfect, is also less prone to predictable disruptions. Consider the factors that we know might disrupt the film. Some of Homestead Manor's most appealing rooms are too small for film equipment, yet the filmmaker can rectify the problem by adding windows and doorways. Some of Homestead Manor's rooms are dilapidated, yet the filmmaker has carte blanche to redecorate them. Finally, Homestead Manor has a dated electrical system, but such an obstacle is not insurmountable. The key point is that the filmmaker knows about the electrical system and can plan accordingly.

The Bristol House's known sources of potential disruptions, on the other hand, are much more difficult to mitigate. Unlike Homestead Manor, which has a large barn suitable for storing equipment, Bristol House offers no place to store equipment. Shooting at the hotel will be affected by minor daily delays as the crew brings their equipment to the location, and it will be more vulnerable to city traffic, road closures, or other factors which could prevent them from bringing in their equipment at all. The hotel is situated in a dense urban environment, subject to city noises and possibly even unwelcome intrusions from over-eager tourists. The hotel is close to an airport, and airplane noises are sometimes audible inside. If such a noise disrupts a shoot, what is the filmmaker's recourse? The filmmaker will either have to start the shoot over again or resolve the noise in expensive post-production.

Finally, Homestead Manor, unlike Bristol House, offers the flexibility to mitigate unpredictable disruptions. We have already noted that Homestead Manor is subject to relatively few restrictions vis a vis redecorating or even changing the structure. Bristol House, on the other hand, is a historic landmark. If the filmmaker wants to change something about the structure, his smallest whim will be subject to the caprices of municipal regulatory authorities, notwithstanding the helpful offers of local government officials. A filmmaker's job is, in part, to react to the unpredictable, and it will be much more difficult for the filmmaker to do that at the Bristol House.

Because Homestead Manor offers a more suitable exterior and a more flexible interior, it is the best choice.

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