Friday, 16 November 2012

Microdramas feedback + analysis

Its vital you take good notes from lessons where we're screening + discussing work; the whole point is that you learn from the experience and apply the lessons/insights gained to improving your next production...
Here's a range of s'shots from the 2012 microdramas with points attched, reflecting some of what we discussed in the lesson. I haven't attempted to order them - but having renamed every one as I saved it, s'shots for linked points are in any case ordered together. You'll also see I've kept the YouTube timer in the shot; its useful to have the time reference so you can find sequences if you need to later for reference, use in Eval vids etc.
There are 18 shots below.

TITLES: white font on black signifying serious drama; the titles fade in and fade out of focus, adding visual interest. The graphic also connotes violence/horror

FALSE SCARE:  a common slasher opening convention, this lulls the aud into a false sense of security ... then you hit them with a real scare! These need careful framing + shot variation; if you reveal the impending false scare it won't work

FRAMING/VIOLENT SCENES: The pic below shows that there were better options for framing/positioning killer Jake. We also discussed how long takes are particularly ruinous for violent scenes: the longer a single take of violence is on screen (generally) the less convincing it becomes (it loses verisimilitude). The preferred reading here was lost, and an oppositional reading of comedy generally prevailed.

FRAMING/VIOLENT SCENES: The lighting works to good effect here - tho' better not to have a light on to frame right?

LIGHTING/FRAMING: Always be on the look out for interesting framing: if you took a screenshot at any point in your movie + hung it on the wall, would it look attractive? This shot achieves a strong aesthetic, taking advantage of natural light ("a film-maker's best friend" as Danny Cohen noted) and interesting framing. For those of you with an interest in psychology, there is a psychoanalytic approach to film analysis which might provide a Freudian interpretation of this scene.

HIGH ANGLE/POV: The 'lads' are vulnerable, signified by the HA. We also got a shot from inside the hallway as they approached the front door, a classic technique to signify there might be someone inside (that this is their POV) - see the original Halloween for an influential example of this (Laurie Strode approaches the Myers' old house...).

CREATIVE FRAMING: This scene would work better if the camera was inside the fridge and the door opened. Obviously you have to be careful not to damage the camera, and the lens may struggle to instantly react to the changed lighting condition, but that would make a nice break from the previous shot/scene.

INTERTEXTUALITY/POSTMODERNISM: In Halloween the 1950s flick The Thing plays on the TV while Laurie Strode babysits - another 'thing' lurks outside ... and Carpenter would go on to shoot a remake of The Thing just 2 years later, a great example of postmodernism, specifically intertextuality. In Wes Craven's Scream (1996) Halloween plays on the TV, and events reflect whats happening in the film. Plus we have characters named Loomis in both films ... as we did in Hitchcock's 1960 proto-slasher Psycho!

FRAMING/LIGHTING: As with the tunnel shot above, we get a great effect from natural lighting and the framing is very effective too. A dutch angle might have further accentuated the signification of threat though.

MATCHED CUTS: A missed opportunity: we get a loud click from the light switch, then cut to the living room. If a bottle was set down, in CU, we'd have a matched sound to link the two!

NARRATIVE ENIGMA: Its rarely a good idea to instantly reveal your characters; start with the background, and consider shots of feet etc rather than LSs. Here the suitcases made an interesting sound; we could have had a series of cuts (just like the start of Psycho) gradually getting closer to the house as we hear this noise, and possibly voices too, fading up the sound of these with each cut (a mild transition is also an option with that scenario).

PRIVILEGED POV: While you ruin false scares by revealing too much, giving the audience advance notice of an impending attack cxan be an effective idea. Note the term for this approach.

NEED TO REFRAME/SHOT VARIATION: This scene unfolded with a single long take. The framing is initially effective, but when George enters his head is cropped off, and in any case we need shot variation to sustain audience interest (this is an entertainment medium above all!) - applying the 180 degree rule as we do. Also, the Declan character was meant to be isolated in this scene - so he should be framed separate and alone, with 3-shots for the others signifying their togetherness and Declan as 'the other' (the outsider). When analysing representation this is a key thing to look out for: who is framed as an outsider - the other?

SLASHER CONVENTIONS - CONFINED SPACE: Most slashers require a confined space to function (so the victims can't escape too easily). Forests also work for this: they're cut off from rescue and difficult to get away from.

SOUND + BOOM MIC/DEAD CAT or OVERDUBBING: The wind overwhelmed the diegetic audio, so should have been either re-recorded (record an ambient track of wind, river sound, and separately record Kate's speech) or a boom mic used with a dead cat attached.

SUBJECTIVE POV SIGNIFIES PRESENCE: As mentioned above, this shot carries connotations of a hidden other's presence.

CREATING TV/RADIO CONTENT: Great use of FCProX's titling tools to create a rolling news TV report; verisimilitude achived! Many, many movies use the device of TV/radio reports to provide vital exposition - the trick often is to have a character flicking through radio/TV channels and expressing little interest in the news item, quickly turning it off.

FRAMING VIOLENCE: Angles are key, and you're generally looking to create a claustophobic feel; the more space there is (ELS-MLS) the more sense the victim will/can get away! Hitchcock used a great multiyude of shots in the iconic shower scenes, editing at a frenetic pace.

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