LNS Task 2: practising mise-en-scène

The session is about watching each others’ edits of the last task – to shoot a scene featuring a couple of friends meeting a third party and there’s some awkwardness between them, 4 shots only, see 1st edits here. They suggest improvements that would better fit the brief and then go out and shoot that other group’s scene, actioning the improvements.

First, the boys watch one of the Cinémathèque’s suggested clips, an early scene from Gondry’s The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Jim Carey’s and Kate Winslet’s characters encounter each other with a distant glance on the beach and gradually over a series of staged shots – in the cafe, on the train platform, on the train sitting on opposite sides, on the same side with a seat between them and finally next to each other – the physical space between them erodes while the communication develops. The boys discuss the build up of the couple’s relationship even before any dialogue has taken place, entirely driven by the staging of the shots. More on staging here.

Chris’s reminds the boys that today is about critique, about pulling their own and each others’ work apart, making for better film making. He stresses that keeping to the brief is not about suppressing freedoms but about experiencing the creative process, which arguably means some form of constraint. Debate and disagreement is to be encouraged. Sam reinforces this by reminding the boys that he’s going to be “tight on tiny decisions” in terms of editing.

We watch one of the edits from the last session and collectively decide that some elements are ‘off brief’ and need not have been included. It’s a tough lesson to learn, especially if the clip gets a laugh; sadly this is not what the brief asks and the encouragement of a more serious and focussed attitude invariably results in a better film. In groups they analyse another group’s edit already posted on the film club blog, commenting on what they like, what they don’t like and what improvements they’d make to the staging that would contribute to the story. They come up with examples ranging from who should be in the frame and who not, who could be out of focus or partially in shot, how to position people so as to reflect the sentiment in the scene. They have 30 mins to re-shoot:

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