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Pull-Back vs. Push-In: Function?

short film filmmaking storyboard movies film directing cinematography decision

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#1 John W. King

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Posted 23 July 2015 - 11:39 AM

Hello all,

So I'm messing around with shots for a film of mine, and I have a scene where a lot is revealed, emotionally (to be simple: a man shoots his brother for the crime this brother has committed). Anyways, my question is: what functions do a pull-back have in a scene? I have it storyboarded to where we have a push-in on the dead body of the brother and then we cut to a pull-back from the shooter (both are iso shots).

Any suggestions/comments for this function?


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 23 July 2015 - 12:55 PM

Generally a push in is done to intensify a moment by tightening in on a face or important object, etc. pull back therefore can have the opposite effect of relaxing a moment though obviously not always -- you can suggest someone's isolation and vulnerability by pulling away and making them smaller.

A pull back might also be used to reveal information like when pull back from a face to reveal they are holding a gun.

Spielberg is the king of push ins and even pull aways -- there are plenty examples of dramatic push ins in his movies but the pull aways are also interesting. Examples:

In "Close Encounters" at the climax of the movie he has a series of pull backs from different faces to incorporate a crowd of faces to suggest a group experience, an emotional coming together.

In "Raiders" in the beginning sequence he has a push in for suspense as Indiana Jones contemplates how he will remove the golden idol and then a false sense of relaxation with a pull back when he has confidently decided how he is going to do it -- only for things to go wrong after he removes the idol.

A classic example of the pull away to suggest isolation is the crane shot in "High Noon" as Gary Cooper finds himself alone in the street waiting for the showdown to begin.
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