Method of Working (Part 14)


In recent decades, filmmakers are more inclined to create scenes through single shots, which allows for the director to control the scene’s pacing in editing, and to focus more on the actor’s performance. The director would give a scene a wide format, which has a tendency to place the actor off centre, leaving the scene’s locale visible. Directors focus on the faces of the actors. The mouths, brows and eyes become the principal source of information and emotion. Bordwell goes on to talk about personal coverage styles for directors. Christine Vachon asks directors to shoot both master shot and closer views, because they tend to lean towards shooting important dramatic scenes in a single continuous take, that leaves no room for change of pace or unsteady performances. Bordwell suggests that the “search for something good, from a wide range of angles. will make filmmaker’s more inclined to cut more often.”

Method of Working (Part 13)

To understand framing within a film, I deconstructed the final scene from ‘The Age of Innocence’ directed by Martin Scorsese.The opening shot is a Medium close up with the male actor situated in the left of frame, having the right of frame with more space. Only the man is in focus, however his eyes are looking up into the right side of frame. This is another example of External Composition from my blog post ‘Method of Working (Part 12)’. This shot forms a compositional relationship between this shot and the next. The next shot is of an open window, and the audience suspects that what he is looking at/for is someone inside of the room, as the open windows suggest there is life inside. The shots after this are shot one and two repeated, cutting back an forth between the two. In one shot the light from the window shines on the man’s face, and it initiates memories and flashbacks of a woman. Now the audience knows that this is the woman he is looking for. The male actor always remains to the left of frame due to the action happening to the right of frame through external composition. After the flashbacks a man closes the windows, suggesting the end of something. The end of the flashbacks and an end to this relationship between the two, as the male actor has been shown with a smile on his face, now is shown expressionless. The shot after this is of the man in the center of the frame, taken from a wide shot. Here we see where the man is, and up until now the audience has been completely oblivious to his surroundings. Now it is the only thing we can see, he is drowned out by the black and neutral colours, illustrating his insignificance and loneliness. This shot is a long shot, as the audience sees this character walk out of the frame to end the film. Having him walking away shows how he is closing this part of his life, and it is how the audience says goodbye to the character, along with the film. The last couple of seconds when he is walking away is when the audience sits back and contemplates what just happened and why it did.


This ‘Stair Scene’ was covered through five shots, with three actors. Not one shot is the same or repeated, allowing the scene to be progressive. It is shot within a small space, in a stairwell, that hasn’t got very good lighting. The opening shot is of the two main characters, with their backs to the camera, walking up the stairs towards the door that the audience can see to the top of the frame. The girls walk halfway up the stairs and then turn to face each other. This shot starts from a close up, then ends up at a medium shot, capturing the intimacy between the two friends and articulating the small space they are in. When they turn towards each other the shot cuts into the next, allowing the character’s movements to determine when the shots change. The next shot is the camera looking down on to the girls, nearly seen as an over the shoulder shot of character 1, and there is an emphasis put on the space behind the actors, suggesting to the audience that something else is going to happen here. The conversation between character 1 and character 2 is a bit intense, which results in sharp cuts, and the response of character 2 is a close up, with her expression as the main focus. However, in the background, where the emphasised space is, character 3 is being introduced by walking up the other flight of stairs towards them. In this shot character 2 is in the left of frame to show that something is happening to the right of frame. As character 2 turns her head, the camera cuts to a medium long shot of character 2, from an over the shoulder perspective from character 3. This shot never shows character 3’s face, so the audience creates an expectation that they are creepy. The audience can only see character 2’s expressions, allowing us to create expectations about what we think of character 3, without even seeing them. The final shot is back to a wide shot with character 2 in the foreground of the frame, the stairs in the mid-ground, and character 1 in the background. The stairs have been a main feature throughout this scene, and it is shown through their repetitive appearance. The stairs also determine the spatial continuity, illustrating to the audience that this scene is shot all in the one space. This last scene shows character 2 walking back up to character 1 which is the same as the beginning. This is a motif that determines the start and the finish of the scene, as characters will be always walking up and down the stairs when new parts of the storyline is revealed, no-one is stationary.

Reflection of Stair Scene

In class we were given a script that had to be shot in a location that had stairs. In my previous blog posts I have covered this scene briefly, however I am now going to reflect upon it and break it down into planning, shooting and editing.

PLANNING: The planning stage was all done on location. As a group we went to the stairwell were the filming will take place, and covered the scene accordingly. We got out the script and deconstructed it into specific shots, then took photos on our phones for the storyboards. With this we acted out the scene, along with the position of the camera, so that we could see how the shots would look, whether they would work, and if it was the best way to cover the scene.

SHOOTING: Having done all of the planning previous to the shoot, the process was much faster and easier, as everyone knew what was happening. With this, our team was able to film all of the scenes that we originally planned, and had enough time to film specific shots with various angles, allowing the editor to have more options to choose from in the edit suites. In the production stage there was an executive and support team, and as this was my team’s scene, we were executive while the other group was our support. With all of this help we were able to create a scene that we were happy with, and agreed that this coverage on the scene would have the greatest impact.

EDITING: Due to have planned well and having the shoot go to plan, this made it easier in the editing stage. There were some continuity issues that were found looking back at the footage in post-production, however by choosing different shots, and by the way the editing was executed, these problems weren’t as obvious. When I got into the editing suites (we had to edit the scene individually) I knew exactly how the scene was meant to look, the result of having an in depth plan. I edited the scene in the way that the character’s actions determined the cuts between the next shot. This meant that the audience wouldn’t be able to pick up on the minor details, because they aren’t in focus.

Epiphanies (week 6)

#1: Wednesday’s class was dedicated to the 3 minute proposal that each student must present in week 7. Paul and Robin (The two Tutors) shared with the class their take on the proposal and what they would include if it was about their own methodology of working. Paul covered filmmakers and their films, applying methodology, what he wants to achieve by the end of the semester, and the shoot he wants to create. Robin talked about filmmaking in general, focusing on coverage and decoupage; asked rhetorical questions; talked about his investigation and the observations he wishes to explore; and how he wishes to shoot his material through coverage. A point that he brought up was the word ellipsis. An ellipsis in narrative is when a portion of the story is left out, and is normally used to condense time. The director does this so that the audience has to fill in the missing story using their imagination, based on the cues the director has given. In film, it is used to suggest what has happened before and after the action being observed. An example of this: A character stands up from a chair, walks the length of the room and then opens a door. Instead, there is no need to show the character walking, so the shots will be the character getting up off the chair, then the next shot would be them opening the door. The audience doesn’t need to see the walking to know what has happened. While Robin was talking about this he showed a scene that demonstrated the ellipsis and the way these movements determine the editing.

#2: The Friday class was spent looking at another camera, which is much smaller compared to the one we have been shooting with all along. With this camera we shot another scene that Paul had given us, however this time there were more constraints. He gave us the instructions of coverage that we had to perform, explaining the types of shots, what they involved, and what was happening in them. With this exercise you could see someone else’s interpretation of the scene and how they wanted it to be executed. One of the main concepts that was taken from this class is the term spatial continuity. In groups, we were given the instructions that involved cheating the camera. We could move the actors around to suggest they are in the same room as one another, a room with the same walls. To achieve this look you would have single shots of the actors on the same wall, and cheat the camera by having an over the shoulder shot of the other actor.

Epiphanies (week 5)

Week 5 consisted of a scene construction within groups, where we had to break into executive team and support team. There was two exercises, therefore we switched roles, so everyone could have a go at different elements. The first exercise we were given a prose, and had to create a long take from this. At the beginning we were encouraged to try roles that we haven’t done much of before so with the first exercise I was sound director. This was difficult to me and with the sound assistant we came across problems where we had to ask Paul, however from this, I learnt how to resolve these problems, and learnt more technical aspects about the equipment. I found that no matter how much I study the sheet full of the sound equipment steps, I wont understand it until I have gone over the equipment myself, flicked all of the switches and tried all of the cords to know exactly what and where everything is. Having problems arise, I believe, is for the best when you are learning because it makes you think twice as hard to find the resolution, and by the time you work out how to fix it, you have learnt what the other functions do as well. This was an accomplishment for me, and when I have to do sound again I will be more confident in what I know, and I can also help others when it comes to the equipment.

The second exercise we were given a script, and because my team was the support in exercise1, we were now the executive in this one. Due to the fact that no one in the class has seen me direct, everyone voted me in to do this role. Directing is an area that I haven’t had any experience in, so when I was nominated to do it, at first I was skeptical and wanted to see if anyone else wanted to do it, because 1, I had no clue as to where I was going to begin, and 2, I didn’t know what expectations everyone had on me. What I had to do it step out of the comfort bubble that I have been in, and step up to this role. Everyone looks up to you to see what happens next, and how the scene will be covered. I am only on my first couple of steps to finding my method of working, and I dont know whether it was the scared look on my face, or that Paul just wanted to give me some pointers, but he came over and went through different types of coverage styles. There was the mainstream way of filming, where the entire scene from start to finish is filmed in three different camera positions, or to shoot every shot as an individual one, with each shot construction different. I took the second option, as I thought, I have been put in the shoes of being director so I may as well see what I can do. I may as well use everything that I have learnt so far, and create a piece that will help me learn and grow within this area. After  completing the first two shots you gather momentum and confidence. I was the one making the final decisions, and with the help of my peers, I was able to create a scene that I was really happy with. Not only me, but the people within the group came up to me and said that I did a great job and they were happy with the end result. I was proud of myself for learning by practice and since I have done this role now, I can understand the method of working exercise and can relate to the writings on directing, scene coverage and shot construction.

Method of Working (part 12)

Directing: ‘Film Techniques and Aesthetics’ by Michael Rabiger. 

This book is a manual for those who like to learn by doing. It talk about directing, and creating your own scenes. As a director you must know how to choose a piece of writing for the screen and then know how to shape and develop it. You must now how to critique, deconstruct and reconstruct the chosen piece.

External Composition:

A form of compositional relationships is the momentary relationship between one shot and the next. It is known as external composition, and it is hidden because the audience is unaware of how much the transition between one shot and then next influences our judgements and expectations. A common use for this composition is when a character leaving the frame in one shot leads the audience to the very place in the next shot.

  • An example of this:

“The character Eric enters, stands in front of William, goes to the phone, picks up a book from the table, looks out the window, and then sits on the couch. The whole action has been covered by three camera positions. Making a floor plan for a sequence allows you to: recreate what a whole room or location layout looks like, record how the characters move around, and decide how the camera is placed. This will help you decide where to place your own camera in the future, and it reveals how little of an environment needs to be shown for the audience to create the rest in their imaginations”.


The book goes on to talk about the camera and asks the reader questions about the coverage of the shots.

“Use of Camera

• How many different motivations can you find for the camera to make a movement?

• Does the camera follow the movement of a character?

• Does a car or other moving object permit the camera to pan the length of the street so that camera movement seems to arise from action in the frame?

• How does the camera lay out a landscape or a scene’s geography for the audience?

• When does the camera move in closer to intensify our relationship with someone or something?

• When does the camera move away from someone or something so we see more objectively?

• Does the camera reveal other significant information by moving?

• Is the move really a reframing to accommodate a rearrangement of characters?

• Is the move a reaction—panning to a new speaker, for instance?

• What else might be responsible for motivating this particular camera move?

• When is the camera used subjectively?

• When do we directly experience a character’s point of view?

• Are there special signs that the camera is seeing subjectively? (For example, an unsteady handheld camera used in a combat film to create a running soldier’s point of view.)

• What is the dramatic justification for this?

• Are there changes in camera height?

  • Are they made to accommodate subject matter?
  • Do they make you see in a certain way?
  • Are they done for other reasons?”

Method of Working (part 11)

I am starting to come to the idea that I prefer Anonioni’s way of shooting, such as I construct each shot individually, with a different coverage, and each shot is artistic in its own way. After I directed a scene (Refer to blog post: Epiphanies Week 5) I like the idea of challenging myself and having the creative freedom to create a new coverage for each shot. This way I could see how it will all come together and how each shot will tie in with the next to create a greater impact on the audience. I could have shot the scene from the beginning to the end with three different camera locations, however I chose to have each shot in a new location, almost editing with the camera. This way it allows for a broader range of shots, and less constraints. You can really get involved with the camera, and be the camera yourself, and think about the endless possibilities of where the right shot will be taken from. This is exciting, and I found that when you realise you have the right shot, it encourages you to do the rest at a higher standard. At the moment, at about a third of the way into my Method of working I am surprised at how I have come to terms with the different types of coverage, and come to one that I prefer over the others. This is exciting and inspires me to continue on this path and see if I get as much out of it as I have done so far.

Method of Working (part 10)

Style and Film Form seen through David Bordwell and Kirstin Thompson:

Form engages the viewer, and the distinctive patterns of technique we find in a film constitute its style, along with artistic decisions. Patterns of technique work within the film’s overall form, shaping the effects the film has on the audience. Tastes, fashion, dominant trends and stylistic norms all influence the restraints whilst making a film. Many filmmakers let stylistic elements cooperate to show different story lines and locations, yet mise-en-scene allow us to keep track of the shots, and when they occur. The filmmaker may discover significant patterns in the process of making the film. The task then leads to ways that enhance those patterns in a way that will give the audience a specific experience. The audience tends to create expectations about the style within a film, and like other kinds of expectations, stylistic ones come from both our experience of the world and our experience to the film and other media elements. A director’s job is not only to direct the cast and crew, but also the audience’s attention, which shapes our reactions to the film. The filmmaker’s technical decisions affect what we perceive and how we respond. Filmmaker’s deliberately design the film style to create parallels or underscore developments in the drama. Style is a subtle sense of narrative progression. Style is connected to the emotions and meaning that the film empresses, and it readjusts the story information, guiding the viewer’s knowledge every moment. Each and every filmmaker has their own style in cinema, and this course is sending us i the direction to find out for ourselves what our own individual style is.

Research: ‘Film Art: An Introduction’ by Borwdell, D and Thompson, K.

Method of Working (part 9)

I now wanted to move into the direction of the coverage of a scene, starting with framing. Framing is carefully considered by the filmmaker to create powerful cinematographic techniques, and allows the director to create a dynamic composition that engages the audience, highlighting the most important features. It defines both onscreen and offscreen space, that creates a vantage point that will create a specific distance, height and angle. The framing will change, depending on what is being filmed. Depending on the ratio of the shot, will determine what the scene will look like, how it will be displayed, and the larger the ratio, the more the director is likely to put more information off centre, so that the viewer can concentrate on that. There is two elements to framing and that is onscreen and offscreen space. Offscreen space is where the audience can tell what is going on when they cant see what is happening outside of the frame. The sounds can be offered as cues as to what is in the space, building up the audiences expectations. This space is created by that of the camera and its surrounding, due to the area around the camera being used imaginatively. Only a couple of cues are needed to suggest to the audience what is happening in and out of the frame. The angle of a shot illustrates how the filmmaker wants the audience to see what is happening, and the level of the shot can either be horizontal or canted, where canted is normally used for a more disruptive effect. Height is determined by the level and angle of the shot, as it is how the filmmaker wants to show the visual style, and capture a certain connotation, depending on how the viewer sees the action unravelling. This is evident in the ‘Oh Lucky man’ final scene that I analysed, where the camera shooting from above the action, illustrating that the audience is seeing the party as an outsider, where the balloons start to fall on everyone, and not in amongst the actors, like the majority of the shots. All of the functions of framing create a clear understanding of what will be shown in the shot and how it will be seen to the audience; this is an important feature in cinema. as it sets up the overall connotation and context. There are distances and angles that form patterns that guide us in building up the story, which is again evident in ‘Oh Lucky Man’, where there is a repetition of specific distances and gales of the shot, that reiterate the action; this makes framing an important motif within the film. Through the movements such as panning, tracking or tilting, the audience becomes aware of the space being shown or implied. The camera shots are taken with a connotation to the rest of the film. very shot has its own meaning, and its own positioning, and the way the camera shots is placed, determines how the audiences sees the scene. We tend to see the camera movement as a substitute for our own movements.

~Research: ‘Film Art: An Introduction’ by David Bordwell and Kirstin Thompson.

Skip to toolbar