Sunday, March 3, 2013

Reflections on visualisation exercise

Which sequences are the most effective and why?  

Given the key elements created by this technique are suspense and emotion, the shopkeeper scene does not really need to be subjective - unless there is to be an armed robbery or something dramatic happening.  Door-knocking seems often seem to be filmed subjectively - not sure why - and again, there would really need to be a purpose to that approach (which is why I tried to make my sequence creepyish).  The Illicit Affair sequence seems to be most suited and therefore most effective.

What makes a convincing subjective sequence?  

No distractions from the key elements of the story.  Any casual looking around must be clearly conveyed as that or the viewer will wonder if there are signposts they should be paying attention to.

What gives the sequence a sense of atmosphere or tension?  

Changes in pace and scale of the scene, close connection between the actor and the viewer, being right at the centre of the action, the viewer's empathy and imagination. 

General thoughts

I feel that I am still rather hampered by my very poor sketching skills on the iPad. This has definitely effected my storyboards. However, I want to keep this part of the process simple and not too time-consuming so I am consciously avoiding drawing anything 'properly' and then having to scan and upload.

Having looked at the work of some of the students on the course, I feel that I could certainly have made some improvements.

I am particularly disappointed that my shop visualisation was so banal. I had not even turned to page 22 in the course notes but managed to come up with the most boring image possible.  

Here is a more interesting interpretation perhaps ...

I am talking to a friend/accomplice down an aisle in a small shop.  We are planning something and don't want anyone to hear and so are whispering. The conversation is getting very heated - he is gesticulating wildly as he is frustrated with not being able to shout.

Emil uses a peephole in the door to add another dimension to his knocking sequence.  He also introduces the feeling of a close escape to his Illicit Affair.  A car passes by and he thinks his wife is driving - I can imagine his heart thumping in his chest - only when he is convinced it is not her does he turn back to his lover.  The tension could be extended by it being his wife in the car but he not being sure if she saw him or not.

Richard conveyed really well how we study things up close in an absent-minded kind of way when we are waiting for something (like a door to be answered). His protagonist examines the lamp and becomes "aware' of the bricks. This is a good device in a film - something essential/startling could be revealed which would not have been seen if the person was not standing and waiting in that place.  Very emotive.

I liked Emily's approach in the illicit affair where the impending disaster (the woman entering the room) is happening behind the lover who is momentarily unaware - this adds good tension and is probably quite realistic.

In Nico's sequence, the letterbox is in view in the first shot but only becomes a focus when it is the cause of the noise - good drama and nicely - simply - presented.  I also like the glance at the watch while he waiting for the door to open - very convincing but would the viewer know if he was late or not from the time? 

Paul starts with a close up of his lover and then when the noise is heard, the attention snaps and a much wider scene opens up.  This could be used to create great dramatic impact.

The subjective POV is all about empathy and a heightened connection between the actor and the observer. We don't see anything until the protagonist does. This adds suspense, drama and emotion.  It can also make us feel very uneasy.  It is a (physically) very narrow approach so can sometimes leave a lot to the imagination of the viewer.  This means the director can also play on prejudices or fears to elicit a response from the viewer.

I watched some excerpts of Peep Show to get a sense of this style of filming in the extreme and found it quite jarring. It succeeds in making very mundane subjects become fascinating as you are dropped straight into the action. It also allows us to hear the thoughts of the lead characters. Not sure of the technical term for this? gives the following examples of use of subjective POV:

Many of Hitchcock's films featured a subjective POV (ie. Scottie Ferguson's (James Stewart) distorting, swirling POV in Vertigo (1958) or Rear Window (1954)), or in Brian DePalma'sBody Double (1984) (pictured); the many POV shots in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) (from computer HAL 9000's POV as well as Dave Bowman's (Keir Dullea)), and John Carpenter's Halloween (1978)) featured POV shots from Michael Myers and Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis)

I should also mention a notable example: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007, dir Julian Schnabel) - the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of Elle France, who suffered a massive stroke and locked-in syndrome.  This technique is used very effectively in Silence of the Lambs (1991, dir Jonathan Demme) to show the scene from Clarice's terrifying point of view.  This also switches so we see through the night-vision glasses of the serial killer as Foster shakes with fear in the darkness.

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