Join Bill Dill for an in-depth discussion in this video Choose your own theory of filmmaking, part of Learning Cinematography: 1 Narrative Fundamentals.
- Here's a question you might want to consider. What exactly is a film? Believe it or not, there's broad disagreement among filmmakers, about this basic question. Consider this paraphrasing of a theory of filmmaking, proposed by Director, Steven Spielberg, it goes like this, "At the beginning of the movie, we bring the audience on to the screen. At the end of the movie, but only at the end of the movie, we place them gently back into their seats." This has big implications.
What we want is an immersive experience for the audience. We don't ever want to remind the audience that they're watching a movie. We don't want to call attention to the camera, the lighting, our compositions, our exposures, our use of color, our lenses. We don't want to do anything that would push the audience off the screen, and back into their seats. Otherwise, these things destroy the viewer's experience of our movie. As an example of this theory, in his film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Spielberg, has to introduce the idea of alien visitors, in a way that we can accept as both awe inspiring, but also somewhat expected.
The shape of the mountain where the aliens will land, appears to each of those who will be present at the encounter. In one case, the mountain appears, in the mundane shape of a pile of mashed potatoes. The introduction of this shape, prepares the audience for the shocking appearance, of alien creatures, so the audience isn't thrown back, off the screen, into their seats. In another example, in the Showtime series, House of Lies, Don Cheadle's character routinely does what's called "breaking the fourth wall", which means talking directly to the audience, as a break from the narrative.
This show gets away with it, because as the title of the show implies, a basic narrative objective of the series, is to tell the audience, not to fully trust anything, anyone on the shows says. The audience knows that these little winks at the audience, these isolated moments of candor, will end as soon as we return to the traditional narrative. As with all rules, what you don't want to do, is to be inconsistent, and leave the audience confused, about the rules of the world you're creating.
You can break them, so long as you know you're breaking them, and there's a story motivation for breaking them.
Follow along and learn the fundamentals required to shoot a story with a camera. Learn how to plan your production, assemble a crew, choose the right camera and lenses, and make creative choices that best fit the themes, characters, and story of your film. Bill covers the elements of composition, exposure, optics, lighting, and camera movement. Part 2 (coming in November 2016) will show you how to put all these ideas together on set, and deliver the footage to an editor and director for assembly into a complete, coherent, and compelling story.
- Motion picture history
- Preproduction planning
- Working with a crew and actors
- Understanding the story
- Composition in film
- Working with different types of cameras
- Recording, compression, and storage
- Choosing a lens and focal length
- Finding the correct exposure
- Lighting a scene
- Lighting and grip equipment
- Camera movement