Session 5 – Lambeth CLC – 8/12/10

Exercise 2: someone reacting to something outside the frame that the subject doesn’t see.

Suggestions as to what that could be? – laughter / bullying / something scary / ghost

Watch a clip from North by Northwest (as inspired by a student who loves Hitchcock) where Cary Grant is being pursued by a plane in a corn field as a result of mistaken identity.

Discussion on the lack of special effects – the pros and cons. Emma suggests that use of SFX often goes hand in hand with fast cuts, but here the tension is created in a measured, elegant way. We are guided through Cary Grant’s mounting tension with every gesture and facial expression, we are given as much ‘figuring out’ time as he is.

Emma reminds us of Bergala’s comment ref. TV ‘showing everything, showing too much’. Here Hitchcock holds back ref. long pause as Grant goes over to the man waiting for the bus; minimal facial reaction shots = very real, not overtly dramatic; Grant’s slow retreat in reverse away the bystanders and towards his escape – the van – all the while not running.

The boys are encouraged to break down one’s emotional reaction to a shocking event. Often contradictory outward shows of emotion are exhibited in reaction i.e. laughter, chatting to neighbours, shocked into stasis. This could be represented on screen by shots that get closer and closer to the subject’s face, shots of shadows to break things up.

It’s a good idea to film 2 takes even if the first was OK. Don’t forget reaction shots – they may not have been included in storyboards.

It was felt that Group 2’s initial storyboard was more of a plan of action – with lots of writing – so Joe helped them elaborate another version that focussed on individual frames and how the shots would propel the story. See below.

Showing the storyboards, Emma covered up parts of each one and asked the other group what they thought would happen next, encouraging them to ‘interrogate’ the reasons for each others’ choices.

Much debate over who, where and when at the outset of filming which Emma reassuringly suggests is normal on a ‘proper’ set, but she does eventually need to direct some action and have them walk through their initial shots to get them going.

Any displacement activities such as unnecessary fiddling with tripods was discouraged in the name of focussing on the task in hand.

It’s good to give an actor something ‘fake’ to react to in the absence of the real sound… makes it more authentic.

Group 2 is reminded about film-making being a collaborative medium where everyone’s voice is valued and needs to be heard. Joe had suggested they take photos instead of drawing the storyboard, but this wasn’t necessary in the end.

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