Independent Exercise #1 Reflection

The intention behind this exercise was to capture a scene developed from a script out of context. Originally, I had storyboarded these scene for a different room in the house I was using for the shoot, however, recent re-decorating prevented me from capturing exactly what I had storyboarded. My main focus in storyboarding was to avoid having the interaction of the two characters being simply a shot-reverse-shot sequence, which is generally unimaginative and would not be engaging to watch as a short scene. I decided to experiment with characters entering the scene from outside of the frame. I also decided that tracking shots which would be a good way to add dynamic movement and pacing, as well as build suspense.

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My first challenge was adapting the storyboard to the space. The bungalow in which I shot this was an interesting space in the sense that there was a bookshelf built into the desk, as well as curtain, plants and other knick-knacks with which I could occupy the frame. It is, however, significantly smaller than the original space I had in mind which was an obstacle which had to be overcome. A key shot I wanted was to have one character in the frame already, looking about, then have the other character enter, creating a dynamic two shot. I ended up flipping the first frame of the storyboard, having the character enter from left of screen as opposed to the right because there was no space right of screen. The actor (Nadine) entered from offscreen where she was waiting in the doorway, I had her standing just off-screen rather than walking through the door because had she walked through the door it would have indicated she was coming from an outside space as opposed to being present in the room.

With the tracking shot, my intention was to have the character lift the book from the shelf and turn to lean against the bookshelf as she read. There was a couch just behind the actress and so she could not turn around in a way that would appear natural, so the final shot I got was an obscured shot of her face. This was not a huge compromise, although it is unfortunate that there isn’t a decent shot of the characters face in the short scene. Another issue which became more of a problem in post, was how to make the handing of the book appear natural and seamless. I opted to do a J cut as Roger passed the book to Esteban (the actors mixed up the names without me realising until after). The cut masked what would otherwise be an awkward cut of Roger standing, standing, finishing her line then passing the book to Esteban which would have appeared stilted and awkward. I opted for a two shot at the end of a scene, rather than a mid shot of Roger as she delivers her last line to book-end the scene and reaffirm the sense of space.

This exercise was useful in that it forced me to think on my feet on how the scene would look in sequence. The cramped space was challenging in how I could make the eye lines look natural. I also had a bit of fun with lighting. I had 3 lamps to work with. It made the space seem smaller and more intimate. For the mid shot of Esteban (Nadine) I turned one of them off and angled another away so as to not saturate her face. This was a useful experiment, as the light looks similar (if not the same) in the mid shot, but would have looked a lot worse had I not experimented with the lighting.

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