Martin Scorsese on Cinematography

I love what he said about deciding what goes into the frame. It’s like he’s treating film as an animation, whereby everything that exists within the frame is created and intentional, it doesn’t just happen to be there.

I also love the point that he said about the limitations of the frame. There’s a lot that you can do with film and a lot that you can’t, and I think limitations aid creativity rather than extinguish it. By understanding your limitations you can try to push the boundaries on what can and can’t be done. For example, you can’t physically touch someone through film, but by putting the right thing in the frame you can elicit the feeling of intimacy and being touched.

I was also excited to read that Scorsese and who he calls the greats all prefer long takes. This is because I do too, and I thought that perhaps it was a naive thing because in film and in particular in TV, directors seem to prefer quick, fancy cuts. This is more technically difficult but easier to cut together, whereas in one take it is easier to set up but harder to execute well. I prefer the latter. As he said “it seems like an older style of filmmaking” which makes me feel that it is old fashioned and unstylish, but it may be classic according to Scorsese.¬†However he is right when it comes to editing in the best shot.

I love his style so it was awesome to read how he goes about constructing a frame, using a normal lens and avoiding zooms and long lens shots. Then he uses an effect, something fancy, something noticeable, whether it be lighting or the aesthetic or a prop etc. It has to be interesting for him and I think that’s a rule I’d like to apply to my own filmmaking, where if the shot doesn’t interest me it isn’t right.

Lighting Class

We noted key light and off key lighting, soft light, diffusion, reflection and hard lighting. We learned to set up lights and dismantle them. How to adjust them and which colour temperatures would work in which scenarios and how to adjust for this, eg blue tones lights or blue gels when working outside in the daylight.

Our project will be difficult to light as we are shooting outside, however half our shoot will be at night so we will definitely need lighting. We’ll be using the handheld LED lights, that have no wires, for safety reasons and convenience.

We will have to use a yellow gel to make the lighting look like artificial street lighting and add warmth. We will also use a C-stand and reflectors, so it is fantastic that through the lectures we learned how to use and dismantle these. As many of our shots will be wide shots the lighting will be diffused as we don’t want it to appear like a spotlight, it must be soft and dreamy.


Lighting Class, Film 1

I am really excited by the fact that the lights are easier than expected to set up and operate. As a videographer who uses natural lighting for all of my work (as a low budget events videographer must) I was used to making do and working with what was there. The idea that I can manipulate lighting, and quite easily, is really exciting and opens up so many possibilities. I know that soft lighting is really dreamy and easier to work with, but I really like the theatrical possibilities of using direct, hard lighting. Films such as Sin City and The Graduate did it so well!