David Darby


A little look at David Darby - Creating the astonishing final scene of True Rights


Sometimes during the creative process, something magical happens where hard work, diligent preparation, impressive talent and a clear vision all coalesce with the sheer extravagance of good fortune to result in a creation that is truly inspired.


True Rights may be one of these phenomena. 


If you've ever seen the film, you know exactly what scene I'm talking about. As the magnificent firey sunset breaks out over the outlandishly stunning Malibu vistas; as Claudia delivers the performance that causes audiences to concurrently laugh, gasp, squirm and moan; as the camera reveals a  light wind sweeping the hair across an oddly vulnerable dead man's brow; as the viewer's heart fills with admiration, jubilance and disgust while the silhouetted figures dance across the marvelous dusk, True Rights drives like a stampeding herd through strange terrain where no movie has ever before dared to go. And it's beautiful. 


Dave Darby knew that this scene could take True Rights from being a 'clever mockumentary' to an artistic powerhouse. He secured an extremely expensive piece of photographic equipment to use in shooting this critical scene. And he planned to make sure that the scene shot in perfect light would be the only choice available in the cutting room. 


So how does a DP light an outdoor scene? Well, he kinda doesn't. He waits. He hopes. He tries, by using perfect timing, to create a miracle. And he becomes what Meg calls "a professional light tracker." Meg goes on to say, "Dave knows exactly when the sun rises and sets at every point on the map, and to what effect.  His sunset 'miracle' was planned as well as an Apollo launch in some ways. What he didn't overtly plan was skipping the safety 'takes' in mediocre light."


We can only guess at what Dave had in mind when he avoided making safety takes. But he was unmoveable. As the crew waited to do the safeties, Dave insisted that they wait. He became uncharacteristically slapdash; he pretended to fiddle around with his equipment, he said needed to go down the canyon and check out the light here and there, and even disappeared altogether at one point, as the sun began to hint at the spectacular display it had in store. 


At last Dave saw three beams of red light break across the sky, shining like the type of photo people use as a picture of God. As Dave gazed at this performance in the heavens, he touched Meg on the shoulder and uttered in a small, sqeaky voice, "Shoooooooooot. Shooooooooooooot." 


Claudia, Tom, Jack and Richard knew they had only one take. And the magnificent final scene of True Rights became the stuff of legend. Largely due to a DP named David Darby who knows how wait...creatively. 


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