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#1 John W. King

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 01:45 PM

Hello, there!

 

I'm a 16 year old director, and have just gotten into cinematography. I'm beginning to develop a style of moving the camera during intense scenes, and framing wide shots by focusing mostly on the background.

 

Please take a look at my latest short film, "The Lake", where I use these principles to heighten the suspense and tell the story.

 

 

 

 

 

John W. King


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#2 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 02:17 PM

I didn't get the point of the story.  Why were these guys shooting at each other?  What was the significance of "The Lake?"  Since he writes it on the note, I assumed there was some other meaning to it than just a location but that wasn't made clear.

 

It's kind of hard to discuss the cinematography without really knowing the point of the story first.


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#3 John W. King

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 08:57 PM

It's a very basic story, I didn't want to explain it visually as it would have taken down the intensity, given that it would only be a six-minute picture. I also didn't see the need for elaboration as it was told from the mind of the main character, and his confusion as to why this man killed another (and in common sense, you would imagine the latter was someone close to him, because why else would he go after the shooter?). 

 

My style of storytelling is one that makes the audience thinks; I don't prefer films that you can sit back, sleep through, and awake at the end knowing every detail. A Lake - a large mass of water that doesn't necessarily move in a given direction, unless stirred by some kind of interference. I use this as a metaphor for the main character's mind - we begin the picture with his stir, he sees his friend/brother/whatever killed, and with a sign that reads "The Lake". Then - we have the direction - he goes to the lake, and hunts down the man responsible for the stir. Once the man is eliminated, we return back to normal (although this is a very simple way to look at it, it's more for thinking rather than explaining). 

 

When I was writing the script for this film, I watched several videos about marine animals (mostly saltwater fish such as sharks and squids) in their environments, and how they interacted with each other. To structure the fight scene for this film, I based it on these videos where these animals would fight each other, especially one between a great white and an octopus. There was a camera crew capturing the whole event, and perhaps they didn't realize it at the time, but I noticed how they were filming it truly added to the suspense of the video. They filmed almost entirely on the shark as he was moving around tirelessly, getting his ass beat, and I barely caught a glimpse of the octopus, until it finally engulfed the shark. Obviously, I didn't structure the events of the scene the exact same as this, but it sparked an idea in me. Also, I modeled my protagonist after a great white shark - when it smells blood/food, it goes after it with no hesitation. It tries taking big bites out of its food, and when in "combat" with another animal, it likes to move around a lot and take chances.

 

Additionally, this film is more of an introduction to a longer film I plan making in the winter where the story will be more elaborated on, contain more characters, and actually have dialogue! (though it will not the same story as this film above). 


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#4 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 07:03 PM

It's a very basic story, I didn't want to explain it visually as it would have taken down the intensity, given that it would only be a six-minute picture. I also didn't see the need for elaboration as it was told from the mind of the main character, and his confusion as to why this man killed another (and in common sense, you would imagine the latter was someone close to him, because why else would he go after the shooter?). 

 

My style of storytelling is one that makes the audience thinks; I don't prefer films that you can sit back, sleep through, and awake at the end knowing every detail. A Lake - a large mass of water that doesn't necessarily move in a given direction, unless stirred by some kind of interference. I use this as a metaphor for the main character's mind - we begin the picture with his stir, he sees his friend/brother/whatever killed, and with a sign that reads "The Lake". Then - we have the direction - he goes to the lake, and hunts down the man responsible for the stir. Once the man is eliminated, we return back to normal (although this is a very simple way to look at it, it's more for thinking rather than explaining). 

 

When I was writing the script for this film, I watched several videos about marine animals (mostly saltwater fish such as sharks and squids) in their environments, and how they interacted with each other. To structure the fight scene for this film, I based it on these videos where these animals would fight each other, especially one between a great white and an octopus. There was a camera crew capturing the whole event, and perhaps they didn't realize it at the time, but I noticed how they were filming it truly added to the suspense of the video. They filmed almost entirely on the shark as he was moving around tirelessly, getting his ass beat, and I barely caught a glimpse of the octopus, until it finally engulfed the shark. Obviously, I didn't structure the events of the scene the exact same as this, but it sparked an idea in me. Also, I modeled my protagonist after a great white shark - when it smells blood/food, it goes after it with no hesitation. It tries taking big bites out of its food, and when in "combat" with another animal, it likes to move around a lot and take chances.

 

Additionally, this film is more of an introduction to a longer film I plan making in the winter where the story will be more elaborated on, contain more characters, and actually have dialogue! (though it will not the same story as this film above). 

 

It's a very basic story, I didn't want to explain it visually as it would have taken down the intensity, given that it would only be a six-minute picture.

 

First of all, film is visual storytelling.

 

You obviously did a lot of prep for the psychology of this film.  And the fact that that it is not reflected in the film should be enough to tell you that you need to structure your storytelling style to be a bit more compelling.  There is making the audience think and then there is making a film with ideas that are a bit too esoteric for them to be accessible to the audience.  For example, I like the connection you draw between the lake and the main character's mindset.  However, without at least alluding to the fact that the main charcter is out for revenge, the audience wonders what his motivations are.  You can't expect the audience to draw all that from the opening shot of the stillness of the lake (a very nice opening, by the way.)  Remember, all of these ideas are in your mind.  You don't want to leave a trail of breadcrmbs for the audience, but you also don't want them to go down the wrong path simply because you didn't provide enough direction.

 

I fully agree with your methodology in that you want to make the audience think.  But you also want to hold their attention.  Stanley Kubrick was a master at balancing the two - as if on a tightrope with anvils in each of his hands - and you should watch some of his early films.  Check out The Killing and Paths of Glory.


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#5 John W. King

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 04:02 PM

 

It's a very basic story, I didn't want to explain it visually as it would have taken down the intensity, given that it would only be a six-minute picture.

 

First of all, film is visual storytelling.

 

You obviously did a lot of prep for the psychology of this film.  And the fact that that it is not reflected in the film should be enough to tell you that you need to structure your storytelling style to be a bit more compelling.  There is making the audience think and then there is making a film with ideas that are a bit too esoteric for them to be accessible to the audience.  For example, I like the connection you draw between the lake and the main character's mindset.  However, without at least alluding to the fact that the main charcter is out for revenge, the audience wonders what his motivations are.  You can't expect the audience to draw all that from the opening shot of the stillness of the lake (a very nice opening, by the way.)  Remember, all of these ideas are in your mind.  You don't want to leave a trail of breadcrmbs for the audience, but you also don't want them to go down the wrong path simply because you didn't provide enough direction.

 

I fully agree with your methodology in that you want to make the audience think.  But you also want to hold their attention.  Stanley Kubrick was a master at balancing the two - as if on a tightrope with anvils in each of his hands - and you should watch some of his early films.  Check out The Killing and Paths of Glory.

I apologize, I wrote this at night after a long day of scriptwriting, and I meant to use a word quite the opposite of "visual".

 

But I know the story (and film itself) could have been 1000x better had I worked longer than a few days on it (we had only a week to complete it for a class competition). But no doubt with what you're saying, and I've got long ways to go before I can truly master manipulating the audience as other directors such as Kubrick have (by the way, those are the only two films I have yet to see by him). 

 

But thank you for your advice, I truly appreciate it!


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#6 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 09:15 PM

Hey, John...I'm still learning too!  For me, that's always been the biggest appeal.  You seem to be way ahead of the game with the concepts you want to convey, as well as the filmmakers you have been studying.  I can't stress how important it is to watch as many films as you possibly can.  You will see what works and what doesn't.

 

As for your film, it was definitely a good effort.  You had some interesting shots in there.  I liked the compositions (nice close-ups in the truck.)  And I particularly liked what looked like a steadicam or glidecam shot when the guy pulls up to the gate.  Very smooth operation.  And now that you explained the character's motivations, the first and final shots were more effective for me.

 

Anyway, keep shooting & welcome to the forum!


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#7 Rajavel Olhiveeran

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Posted 21 September 2014 - 02:16 PM

quite intriguing John! good attempt. i second Bill's thoughts. quite an interesting sound design too. 


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