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making a character seem alienated, withdrawn, low selfesteme


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#1 Sjur Pollen

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Posted 09 April 2010 - 09:17 PM

I have a shoot coming up, and the main character is working a really dull job at a factory. After loosing her boyfriend in an accident she sort of falls into a state of apathy and misuse of prescription drugs.

My challenge is to make her look uneasy, nervous, slightly drugged, alienated and withdraw. Can you guys help me with some tricks and ideas on camera angles, lenses etc?

I have little trouble deciding between handheld and static camera. Handheld can make things seem uneasy, but perhaps to lively. Static gives the shot a lifeless, dull. I'm uncertain which one to use, as later in the script the blocking and action pick up the pace, and I think it might be a good idea to then go from static to handheld. Any thoughts on that?

Lenses and framing... Long lenses are beautiful. Very long lenses makes for a spying effect. Normal lens is kind of boring, and wide angle is both lively, distorting, intimate and makes the audience more aware of the camera. Also, wide angles have greater depth of field so it's harder to isolate the character from the background. I think to alienate her, it might be wise to use a long lens and isolate her in her own space, without any intruding environments. Any thoughts on this?

I'm also not quite sure about the use of closeups. The character is withdrawn, and I don't know if using closeups is adding or subtracting from that, becuase of the intimate nature of closeups. Any thoughs?

Other things I'm thing about is framing her unatturally, for instance giving her (too) little space in her looking direction, or giving her lots of headspcae to maker her look small and awkward. Anyt houghts?

I know it is a long post, and takes a while to read through. But I hope this is a post where more people than me can learn a great deal, and share perspectives on aproaches.

I would greatly appreciate any replies.
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 10 April 2010 - 03:35 AM

I suspect a lot of this will come from the actor's performance rather than what the camera is doing. Audiences are very quick at picking up body language and doing camera tricks could be over cooking things. Use the style that fits the overall story and don't impose one just to point out information that can easily be seen.

However, you could place the camera at a slightly higher than eye height, so it's slightly looking down or locate the character on the less dominate (left) side of the frame.
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