Session 4 – Lambeth CLC – 1/12/10

Watched a clip from the Cohen brothers’ “No Country for Old Men” – in the hotel as the cowboy is pursued by Bardem’s psychotic killer. Tension analysis after the 1st viewing. How is this achieved? Count cuts during 2nd viewing and see how the story is built, every cut counts.

Emma indicates the use of a ‘master shot’ as a base to keep cutting back to. In this instance it was a middle shot of the cowboy sitting on the bed in the dimly lit bedroom. Cut to views of what he’s looking at in the case. Heavy breathing sounds. Camera gradually pulls into his face. Nice sound of phone; it rings out which suggests the guy at reception is already dead. (One of the boys immediately sees the similarity in the Virus short film shown in Session 1, where the girl’s phone remains unanswered because she is dead). Conventional heartbeat sound. Wind sound. Beeping noise and footsteps. Cowboy turns out his bedroom light highlighting an evocative close up of the shadows of Bardem’s feet under the door. The feet pause and then, unexpectedly, they disappear when the light in the corridor goes out.

It’s a continuous stream of intriguing shots to keep you guessing in the semi-darkness, to keep you tense, unsettled and alert to whatever might happen next. The measured, economical editing then gives way to a quick fire succession of gunshots and action.

Final Cut Pro: the boys continue editing their own material started in Session 2 & 3 (no notes for that session) dealing with issues of continuity and the minimal, justified use of effects. Some experiment with reversing sound and slowing down the film. Emma mentions the need not to interfere too much at this point, to step back – editing as an intense learning moment – when the boys are on task. Some boys are enjoying working together with comments such as: “That’s sick!” and “That failed!”. She points out that it’s OK “to lie” while editing to achieve the illusion of continuity and a rich layering/rendering of experience.

One boy likes to talk about film and displays detailed and encyclopedic knowledge of Hitchcock movies. He is encouraged to offer an example clip to examine in the next session.

Each groups’ final edited film exercise is shown and critiqued. Shot choices were discussed and justified. Where there were 2 clips of same footage, which worked better and why? Here are the clips (they are ‘unlisted’ on Youtube and only those with the link address can find it):

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6 Responses to Session 4 – Lambeth CLC – 1/12/10

  1. markreid1895 says:

    The first couple of clips show interesting ways of addressing when and how you introduce information into a story – in a film or other story telling medium. Either you introduce a key piece of info (the shot of the map) at the start, without any clear purpose for it being shown. The audience then realises later on in the sequence what the significance of the shot is.

    The other way round is to withold the vital piece of information (the shot of the map/ plan) until the very end. It’s the difference between setting up an enigma, and revealing a surprise.

    And the third clip just has a great use of slo-mo and slowed down sound – very atmospheric, and keeping the extreme close-up on hands and lower half of the body keeps it suspenseful.

    The last one is a great sight gag! Physical comedy is so hard to do on film – and the choice of music really helps. It’s a clever interpretation of ‘shown/ hidden’.

  2. SteveP says:

    It’s fascinating to see the different interpretations of the same basic idea. Each succeeds in its own way.

    The first two clips are obviously made with the same footage, but, in addition to the difference that markreid1895 points out above, they also have markedly different pace. The latter gets to the point quite quickly and has more of an action pace, whereas the emphasis in the first is clearly on suspense. Both work well in their own way.

    I also agree that the 3rd clip’s use of slow-motion is very effective. I also like the music in the beginning of this. Immediately puts one in the mind of military or espionage, etc with the close up on the hand carrying the metallic briefcase. Very good.

    Also agreed with markreid1895 on the 4th clip. As Wood Allen said (via Alan Alda in Crimes and Misdemeanors): “If it bends, it’s funny. If it breaks, it’s not funny.” In this case it breaks, and it’s funny.

    Computer Programmer, USA

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