Week 2 Epiphany – The Scene in Cinema

I found week 2’s practical exercise quite difficult because we were told to ‘edit in camera’, which also meant we were not supposed to re-shoot any shots. This is not something I am used to doing, because I would normally shoot out of sequence and edit the scene in post production to fix any glitches. Furthermore, I would usually do at least three takes of the same shot so that I could decide which one worked best in post production. I don’t think I would chose to shoot a scene using this method again; however, I did discover that shooting in sequence aided the flow of the scene and also improved continuity. For example, because the scene was essentially performed continuously (aside from when we told the performers to freeze and the ‘crew’ would move the camera), there wasn’t any accidental discontinuities in the mise-en-scene e.g. when one shot in a scene shows a girl with her hair behind her ears and in the next shot her hair is over her face. I think that shooting in sequence may be a good way to film a scene (when it is a viable option), however, I believe that unless a scene is one long take it is practically impossible to create a comprehensive sequence without editing in post production.

For this ‘epiphany’ I felt it would also be worthwhile to list my initial thoughts on what this studio will entail:

1. We will be learning about ‘cinema scene coverage’ through doing (to some extent). We will be putting cinema theory into practise by creating our own scenes. I am looking forward to this aspect of the course because I have always thought that film theory and film making are too segregated in high school and university courses. For instance, in my cinema studies course at RMIT, we study the theory of cinema, but never put our research or findings into practice. Similarly with the more practical subjects, the focus of the course is generally to improve technical skills and refine creation processes, instead of looking at the theory behind it. Thus I think this course will be a good opportunity for me to not only study cinema history and research different ways that filmmakers choose to cover their scenes, but actually use that information to aid the creation of my own scenes.

2. We will refine our own filmmaking methodologies. This will be accomplished through practical research and experimentation, as well as looking at how directors and cinematographers have covered scenes in the past and how this has become part of their ‘signature’. This is something that particularly interested me in Week 1’s lecture. Robin asked us what we thought a director actually did, because it is quite a difficult job to define. One thing that he identified as being a director’s responsibility, was the coverage of a scene. Although it may be the cinematographer’s job to control the camera, the way that the camera is choreographed to work with the performers and the environment of the shoot is up to the director. And this is essentially what creates a director’s ‘trademark’: what we think of when we say things like ‘oh that has to be a Tarantino film’, or ‘that is very Blake Edwardsian’. I think that this course will enable us to generate new ideas around ways a scene can be covered as well how we can work as individuals in the actual process of creating a scene.

3. We will concentrate on the coverage of a single scene rather than an entire film. By doing this we need not worry so much about the overall narrative and scripting of a text, but can focus on how best to position cameras, actors and cuts within a scene.

All in all, hopefully we will develop as filmmakers in a technical and intellectual sense over the semester.

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