In filmmaking, the tone of the film is the way the film makes the audience feel. When scenes or shots don't fit in with the rest of the film, it tends to be jarring for the audience and take them out of it. In this filmmaking tutorials, examples of tone in movies are given, including Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
- I'm excited about this chapter. Here, we're going to look at the movie going on beneath the movie. The symbols, the tones, the themes, and motifs, you know all that stuff that your English teacher gets so excited about. I've mentioned a million times throughout all these training courses about all the humiliating blunders and mistakes that I made, but I think that the stuff in this chapter, the tone, themes, and motifs in The Assurance actually came out pretty well. First up is tone. The tone of the film is essentially the way it feels. It's the vibe, the personality of the piece as a whole or of a particular scene.
It's usually a good idea to create a consistent tone throughout a piece, or at the very least be aware of it, so you can regulate the tone as needed. If everyone in Game of Thrones busted out into a musical song and dance number, that would be an inconsistent tone from what they've established throughout the show. Likewise, it would be a break in tone if someone in A Christmas Story were murdered, or if someone in Rocky broke into the CIA and stole government secrets. Just doesn't fit. In choosing a tone for your film, it's generally a good idea to figure out what fits and what doesn't. Now, some scenes are there purely for tone.
For example, the breakfast scene in Pee-wee's Big Adventure. Just a long, detailed scene of the protagonist just making breakfast. After all this effort, he doesn't even eat much of anything, but that scene is so iconic and I love it so dearly, because it establishes the colorful, playful tone of the movie. Almost like a metaphor for Pee-wee's Big Adventure itself. This breakfast scene was a whole lot of effort. It doesn't serve much of a purpose other than just to be creative, visually stimulating, and really fun. One of the reasons that I chose a dark, fantasy film for this project, was because it was so foreign to me.
All my other films have been comedies, so it stands to reason that the first few drafts that we did of The Assurance had jokes that didn't fit at all with the tone we ended up using for the final version of the film. Some of the moments that we shot were too lighthearted and wouldn't match with the final version of the film. - Tayani, that is a really dumb idea. (laughs) - I do like these moments, but they're just too playful for the final version of the film. Their levity belies what's really going on in this world, and so they don't fit tonally.
As a director, controlling the tone of your film is one of your most important jobs. We'll look more specifically at how to do that in the next tutorial.
Watch and learn how to shoot a script, using visual motifs, atmospherics, framing, and different types of shots to tell the film's story. Find out how to give direction to your crew and be a good leader, while staying on budget and on schedule. Plus, get tips to improve shots during retakes or in post, and to become a better director, storyteller, and communicator.
Note: Like the rest of the Creating a Short Film series, this course was shot during the production of The Assurance. It offers a unique window into the actual struggles and challenges filmmakers have to overcome to get films made. Find the rest of the courses in the series on Chad's author page.
- What a director does
- Interpreting the script
- Scouting locations
- Choosing the tone and theme of the film
- Using motifs
- Shaping the story through visuals
- Being a good leader on set
- Respecting budgets and schedules
- Planning shots
- Moving the camera: on a tripod or dolly or in handheld shots
- Using rolling takes
- Framing shots
- Adding atmospherics
- Directing in post-production
- Becoming a better director