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shooting a cowboy shooting?


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#1 JB Earl

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Posted 15 April 2017 - 08:01 AM

I have a scene to shoot for a zero budget western, where a one guy gets shot by another during a card game in a saloon.  I'm looking for suggestions to jazz it up , or scenes from movies I should watch for inspiration.


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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 15 April 2017 - 08:46 AM

I've done quite a bit of gunfire stuff. Mainly for short films, but I think with reasonable results.

 

The flash and smoke of the gunshot itself can be done reasonably convincingly with postproduction effects. Consider Det Films for your stock footage. The intricacies of comping it all together are a bit much to go into with a forum post, but we can discuss it once you've come to some conclusions. At least, consider shooting against green, or at least a vaguely luma-keyable background, so you can have smoke behind the gun and nearby objects as well as in front of it. This helps a lot.

 

Consider shots before and after the one with the gunfire, as smoke will hang around. Consider dropping a bit of vaguely smoking something down the barrel of your (presumably fake) firearm for convincing post-gunfire smoke.

 

Don't have the actor mime recoil more than just a brief twitch. Consider cutting out frames to increase the violence of that twitch. Consider adding very brief, choppy, motion blurred camera shake, especially if you are close to the gun when it goes off.

 

If the scene is in a darkened area, consider using interactive lighting. A photo flashgun will work if you retake until you get a frame without flash banding, though gel it orange to match the orangish flash people will expect from a nineteenth-century revolver. This helps enormously to make any composited flash effect more convincing. If your gunslinger will fire several times, ensure the smoke is illuminated by the second and following flashes.

 

It is very difficult to make composited bullet hits on people look reasonable. If you are forced to do this, make it mainly a dust effect rather than a blood effect, and either roughly roto the shot or shoot against green or a luma-keyable background so you can have dust both in front of and behind the actor, simulating a through-and-through bullet hit, for more convincing integration.

 

There are lots of physical effects options for blood hits. Most of them are all over YouTube. Compressed air approaches seem reasonable but I have not used them.

 

Finally, don't underestimate the enormous amount of setup time all of this will take. Even with a full crew, unlimited money and all the high end toys, it's slow. Actually, just putting in a bit of interactive lighting is fastest!


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#3 JB Earl

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Posted 15 April 2017 - 03:57 PM

thanks a lot for all the detail.  It's DAY INT, and I don't think we are going to do blood splatter or anything too  dramatic   ; )

 

any scenes I should watch in terms of composition, angles etc?


Edited by JB Earl, 15 April 2017 - 03:58 PM.

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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 15 April 2017 - 04:15 PM

I'm not sure, I'm not really the guy to talk to about westerns.


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#5 Rakesh Malik

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 02:36 PM

Unforgiven comes to mind as an example of a brilliantly executed Western with some gunfights and such in it.

 

Also the Assassination of Jesse James.


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#6 JB Earl

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 03:01 PM

thanks, great suggestions.


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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 April 2017 - 03:14 PM

The Western is such an old genre in movies that practically every cinematic style and film format has been applied to it, so you have to be more specific as to what style you want the piece to have, there have been Westerns that have been more austere than John Ford's and more stylized than Sergio Leone's. Whether a shooting is fast and shocking, without warning, or slowly built-up and then drawn-out all depends on what you are trying to achieve.
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#8 John E Clark

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 11:25 AM

My personal favorite Western, well... except for Sergio Leone's Man With No Name series, is "McCabe & Mrs Miller"(1971). The finale gun battle takes place outdoors in the snow.

 

Not quiet

 

INT. BARROOM/WHEREEVER - DAY

 

...


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#9 JB Earl

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 06:21 PM

the shootee will not die after being shot, until the next scene in a different location, and I don't think we're looking for extremely dramatic or violent, which won't fit the rest of the film.  The shooter accuses the shootee of cheating at cards and just fires.  I'm looking for inspiration as far as (camera)shot design for a sudden shooting.


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#10 Rakesh Malik

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 06:26 PM

That reminds me a bit of the scene in Blade Runner very near the beginning where one of Deckerd's (sp?) colleagues is interrogating someone to determine whether they're human or android.


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#11 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 07:50 PM

Like I said, you've got over 100 years of westerns to be inspired by, it would be helpful if you narrowed things down a bit, are you looking for a sort of John Ford b&w classicism, or something gritty, but poetic and naturalistic ala "McCabe and Mrs. Miller", or something more in the style of Sergio Leone.  "Shane" (George Stevens, director) has moments of sudden loud shooting in a quiet room.


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#12 JB Earl

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 12:56 PM

I do like the look of Shane.  I love Leone's look, but it would be over the top for this film.  "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" has a nice feel, maybe a bit too dark.

Silverado has been one of my favorites.


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#13 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 12:12 AM

What is the tone of the scene supposed to be? There is so many different ways you could go - broadly comedic, low-key dramatic, offbeat ironic, iconic and mannered, distanced and observational, point-of-view dramatic.

It doesn't sound like the inspiration for your scene particularly needs to be based on a Western source - gunplay and gun violence is one of the most common tropes in film. I think the best, most memorable Westerns transcend the genre.
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#14 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 12:17 AM

I think if you want to go low-key, looking at older Hollywood films by directors like Ford, Hawks, Wellman, Boetticher, etc. that were made under the Hays Code would be an interesting way to go. When you can't show graphic violence, it forces you to get creative.
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#15 JB Earl

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Posted 24 April 2017 - 12:57 PM

"so many different ways you could go - broadly comedic, low-key dramatic, offbeat ironic, iconic and mannered, distanced and observational, point-of-view dramatic."

 

"low key dramatic" probably is closest.  

 

David, "Shane" looks like a good model for us and this scene

 

We're talking now about keeping to a CU of the shootee's face when the gun is actually fired, then back to a CU of the smoking gun.(or something like that)  That should keep well within the Hays Code, and eliminate some technical/SFX issues at the same time...


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#16 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 01:49 PM

Based on your description, the final scene in 'Unforgiven' comes immediately to mind. Just simple shot-reverse shot setup that culminates in a long single on the shooter.

If you want it even more low-key, then consider keeping the camera wide to de-emphasize the personal aspect of the violence. Close ups are naturally more dramatic.

There's a scene like this that plays out in a wide shot in 'My Darling Clementine,' where Henry Fonda playing Wyatt Earp is surrounded in a bar by unfriendly guys. After a long scene of quiet tension, one guy goes for his gun and Wyatt quickly pistol-whips him in the face and shoots another man. The action is fast and shocking, while also being low-key, mostly due to the long build-up to violence and the quick brutality with which the conflict ends.
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