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How to make your flashbacks distinct?


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#1 Daniel Mooney

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 07:22 AM

Hello Everyone,

I have a short film that I am working on and I am making it in black and white. 

My question is, it has several flashbacks - how can I distinguish them from current story? 

In the past I have made them black and white - hence my dilemma. 

I've considered doing the blinding white washout effect, but I wanted to get others opinions. 

Thanks

Dan


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#2 joshua gallegos

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 09:04 AM

I think the best filmmaker to use the greatest flashbacks is Joseph Mankiewicz, particularly the TRANSITIONS in A Letter To Three Wives, when every wife remembers, and the story flashes back -- he covers it by using a close up and slowly dissolving to that particular moment, in House of Strangers he brought Edward G. Robinson from the dead with one transition! It all depends on the mood you're after or the mood of the movie, but transitions are usually of significant importance.

Edited by joshua gallegos, 03 September 2013 - 09:06 AM.

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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 09:24 AM

Vignette effect with petrolium jelly around a lens. Another option is using a lens baby for it all, more vivid colors, or less vivid colors. There's tons of ways of doing it so long as you stick to it as a motiff you'll be fine.

Were it me, I may go for something like a mixture of tilt/shift lenses (lens baby stuff) as well as selective color emphasis as for me at least when i'm remembering something other things seem to melt away towards a more monochrome background.


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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 11:18 AM

You can do a lot with just having a change of location dress hairstyles etc Audiences are pretty literate regarding flashbacks these days, you don't need big signals. The hard thing is making them work as part of the story because they can distance the audience for a short period, One script guru suggested regarding them as flash forwards in story terms, rather than flashbacks - they have to move the story on, rather than just explain something..  


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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 12:36 AM

There's no rule saying that flashbacks have to be processed or visually stylized, though that makes them more fun to shoot!  Usually just a bit of diffusion is enough to lift them into the feeling of a memory.  In the second season of "Smash", I had an episode with three flashbacks in them -- I was able to use my old Fog #1/4, a sort of retro filter, to give those scenes a bit of a glow that was different than the usual diffusion I was using (mostly a Hollywood Black Magic #1/4, which is lighter than the Fog #1/4, with less loss of sharpness).  I also recorded them with a warm color bias by using a higher color temp setting on the camera than the lighting -- for the tungsten-lit sets, I set the Alexa to 5600K instead of 3200K, but for the day exterior, I set the camera to 5600K but put an 85 filter to warm it up:

 

smash5.jpg

 

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smash7.jpg

 

smash8.jpg


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#6 Franz Salvatierra

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 02:06 PM

I second what David said. I just shot a short film with multiple flashbacks and all we did is pan the camera away, defocus the lens and rack the iris a bit... My theory is that a film's audience is usually passive and if you feed them a visual language, they are likely to understand it. We'll see how it comes together. I also like the flashbacks in "the limey." They shot them the same way as rest of film, just messed with the shutter for effect.


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#7 Daniel Singer

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 03:41 AM

In an interview with Craft Truck, Andrij Parekh said that for the flashback-sequences in Blue Valentine he only used wide-angle lenses. In this case that´s a clear visual statement because the rest of the movie was shot on really tight lenses. It´s a very interesting approach to my mind.


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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 09:41 AM

Sidney Lumet did something similar in "Murder on the Orient Express" for the scenes at the end of the movie that flashback to Poirot's interviews with passengers from earlier -- those flashbacks are shot on wide-angle lenses compared to the original scene.


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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 10:01 AM

You know I wonder if it wouldn't be more interesting to reverse that--- shooting flashbacks on very long lenses to really compress the background-- almost how in memory you tend to just focus on very specific things.


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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 10:45 AM

It's all context and story -- in the case of "Murder on the Orient Express" the wide-angle lenses for the re-telling of information in the interviews not only makes the person talking look more ominous but it also represents Poirot's POV in a small train car.

 

So some of these choices are determined not only by the mood or tone of the flashbacks but whether they are a character's memory.  And some memories are vague, fragmentary, ephemeral and some are stark, clear, and immersive.


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