Wk12_Monster Reflection

Monster from Kai-feng Wang on Vimeo.


In my latest shooting, the original idea is from Johnnie To’s The Mission (1999). Actually, I have learnt something from the gunfire scene in a emporium which I have talked about in my previous posts. This time, I try to achieve a mise-en-scene as Johnnie To have done in his The Mission.

Screenshot 2015-06-03 02.02.01(Johnnie To’s The Mission)




As I mentioned in the last post, the space in the ‘Shopping mall scene’ is expandable because Johnnie To purposely place characters in particular spot creating a 3D space. This idea inspires me that the space in editing suite is very deep and concentrating. Therefore, I position Evelyn in the foreground, Henry in the mid-ground and Aki in the background in order to full fill the space. The composition creates a rhythm that leads audience to watch. Evelyn start retreat away from the stairway, while Henry is approaching forward. Finally, Aki, the furthest one, stands at the end of path way to cover the front.

In addition, the lighting is very dramatic in the editing suite. I just put characters at the spots where the light can highlight them. There are two reason makes me do this. First of all, characters are popped from the dark background. The contrast of brightness and darkness helps audience easily see them. Secondly, the dramatic lighting kind of give me a feeling of intense and horror so I think I should put them there.


Screenshot 2015-06-04 18.11.38

It is interesting that many people think Evelyn’s performance is so great. Robin asked me casting Evelyn is just an accident or your purpose? Of course, it is on my purpose… Honestly, Evelyn gives something special to me. Her serious looking expresses a feeling of sorrow and fear (Well, when she is not laughing), she naturally has a sadness in her eye with which she can communicate with audience emotionally. Robins reveals that the last close up shot on Evelyn evokes a mood of gloomy to him. For the last close up shot, I would like to talk more about it at this point. Before shooting this close up shot, I have shown Evelyn the footage in which a close up on masked monster. To provoke a character’s own emotion, sending a message to their mind is the best way. This technique that I learnt from Errol Morris who show a pictures of something to his interviewer before starting to interview. Perhaps, the subject does not notice how they look like but I believe psychological level would highly influence on superficial way, including body language or facial expression. In other words, what a person thinks of affects how they look like.

It is notable that how I control characters’ performance in my mise-en-scene. Actually, my method is simple. What I did was watching the viewfinder and telling characters that what they do, such as where they should stand, how they should act like. Well, it takes a time and it needs patient to do this. The key of controlling a scene is communication. Personally, I need to communicate with all of my characters, no matter they are the prime actors or just the supportive actors.  I think this interaction is very important. Most of time, actors do not know what director thinks about. Therefore, director should tell the actors the imagination in his mind, mapping out the scene.

Dolly shot (Track in and Track out): 

My investigation aims to explore the effect of camera movement. I consider that the use of dolly shot is building up a tension in the scene of shopping mall in To’s ‘The Mission’. In the scene, To employs a serval of medium close-up shot, he tracks the camera into characters’ face. Then, he uses a wider shot along with tracking away from the characters The main purpose of dolly shot reveals actors position in the scene to show the relationship among them. Therefore, I employ the similar way to construct my monster scene. However, the technique does not work as the same way as Johnnie To’s scene. At this point, the camera movement emphasise on character’s psychological activity. When the close-up shot is tracking in, it evokes a feeling of gloomy rather than a intensive situation. Perhaps, the music and sound effect affects on the image, which we would talk about in the next paragraph. Anyway, I achieve Johnnie To’s style on a technical level, but ‘Monster’, on a conceptual level, is different from Johnnie To’s ‘The shopping mall’.

Video vs Audio


Sometimes, the appropriate audio would achieve a great effect on video. ‘Monster’ provokes audiences’ psychological activity, but my friends tells me the sound effect is so great and it makes me feel scared. I am confused on the relationship between audio and video. I begin to ask myself ‘does my image create meanings? or ‘does the sound change or create the meanings of my image?’

Robin tells me that nothing could work alone. Such an effect achieved not only is due for one aspect, but it is also because other aspects are functioning.

I watch ‘Monster’ again and mute it. As a result of the muse-en-scene effect, the image is still powerful. The video delivery a message to me. The lighting, the performance, the composition, the camera movement create a nervous atmosphere in the scene. But it loses a rhythm of the cuts. Undoubtedly, sometimes audio is more powerful than the video. In this case, it is not.  Music and sound effect enhance the image but audio does not change or create the meanings of the vision.


My project aims to explore the relationship of the camera, characters and space. This idea is inspired by a famous Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To who is famous for manipulating the camera and characters in a particular space. To is able to create an atmosphere that he wants by moving the camera and characters around in the space.

In his very first film, The Mission (1999) is an excellent example to explore how To create a tension in his way of using the camera. ‘The shopping mall scene’ is the most remarkable one throughout the film in which To composes a fantastic scene as he carefully make a plan within the camera, characters and space. The story happens in an off-time emporium where five bodyguards are sending their boss back home. However, someone employs killer to assassinate the boss. Once the first bullet is triggered, the gunfire war starts. At this point, To also begins to build up a tension with his intelligence.

Composition and Character Position
Screenshot 2015-06-03 02.02.01

In one of the shots, To has a brilliant mind as he creates an excellent composition. He utilises a wide shot to cover all characters in the shopping mall. To’s space is expandable and 3D rather than flat and gloomy. A dynamic scene, which consists of four layers, is generated by composing all characters in particular spots.  Placing one bodyguard with a pistol in the front creates the first layer in the foreground. Four individuals are hiding behind pillars in the middle ground as the second and third layers. The last layer is the farthest one in the background by positioning a character in the center of frame.

The space is so expandable because of the illusion that To creates. The importance of character depends on the size of them. The first character occupies most of space in the frame, in other words, he is the most impressive one because he is the biggest. Other people in the second and third layers looks less noticeable. The furthest one is the least considerable one because of the smallest size. To brilliantly creates a rhythm in the space as the gradual change of character’s size.

Camera Movement

Screenshot 2015-06-03 02.02.59

The camera movement gradually builds up a tension in the gunfire scene. It is a combo of dolly shot with which the atmosphere becomes more tense. In fact, To is a director who always moves the camera in his every film. Camera movement is equivalent of Johnnie To’s personal style. Back to the emporium scene, the dolly shot enhances the intensive situation where the bodyguards confront an accidental gunfire war. How does To do that?First of all, he slowly pushes the camera to the characters. Although the characters do not have any body movement, the tracking makes the image dramatic. Secondly, after a few shot of tracking into characters’ face. To cuts to a shot of tracking back that is a wide angle, revealing the unknown space.  A serval of tracking in shots are medium close up that shows characters’ expression but audiences do not know where they are in this space. Therefore,  the function of tracking out shot tells audience the idea that “what is really going on here?.

The spaceScreenshot 2015-06-03 02.02.59 copy

For my final project, I decide to do it in Building 9 basement, the editing suite, because I see the depth of this space. I think the reason that To chooses a space like shopping mall is because he also observe the depth as well. The emporium is wide open and deep enough to create dramatic composition. Compare to the mall, editing suite has only one narrow laneway and is a close space rather than open. However, the space is still deep so that I am able to create something there. I consider the narrowness is not a bad thing at all because less factors bother me. Although wide open space could be more creative, I might do not have such a ability like Johnnie To to manipulate everything in the scene.The scene