Perspective In Film

A person’s point of view changes depending on position, height, or angle. Positioning yourself on a table for example will adjust or change the way you look at the room as opposed to being on the floor. It’s the same with film. Changing the camera angle will alter the way the audience interprets the ideas. In an example where one character looks bigger and more dominant, this could just turn out to be a simple camera trick because if you change the perspective, the scene looks completely different. If perspective causes people to see in one way, then every shot needs a purpose, or else the wrong message could be received. Talent placement is key and positioning them will depend on the goal.

The way we see something is also influenced by what we hear. For example, gargling could just be that gross thing you do before you finish brushing your teeth. The sound could also be substituted for a gurgle or choking noise. This changes the scene completely, from ordinary life to a terrifying situation of death. Everything could be pointing to a specific idea or mood, but is disrupted by one element pointing to something else, making it either hard to understand or distracting. There are multiple elements to getting the right effect and for the best and most effective result; all the layers will have to work together. A bad film will cause you to either misunderstand the idea, or not understand it at all.

We make films to tell stories, and people with different glasses will see it in their own way. So making the story simple and clear to see through the lines is important. What I mean by this, is making the film simple enough for people to understand while at the same time, have different moving parts to help sell the story or make it interesting. Making the story too obvious is a hard balance though. In most cases, experience is king when it comes to understanding how to show something without telling or telling something without showing.

Implying something is very powerful. For you to be able to imply something, you need to know what your audience will be thinking in order to correctly show something without showing it. Here is an example of what I am talking about.

We see that there is a gun involved and it appears as though a robbery in progress. We then see the robber smirk after the person begs for his life and then we cut to the outside of the house, only to see the robber shoot the innocent person. But wait, we didn’t see the shot. We only thought we did. This is a very powerful example of implying an action because this doesn’t only make us think that the robber shot the man, but that it wasn’t a robbery at all. It was revenge, or something of the sort. The victim obviously knew the person; hence he called him by name. The smirk on his face followed by the gunshot could only lead to the conclusion that this was personal. A robber wouldn’t shoot someone with a person in the corner, defenseless, offering everything he has, only to be shot. We don’t even need the perspective of these characters’ backgrounds to know what’s happening.

But there is also an incorrect way of implication. Hollywood action, because many Hollywood actors can’t fight, directors try to cover this up with shots that imply being punched or kicked. This is often done by shaky camera footage, close-ups, or not seeing it at all. Sure this can be cool, but you can’t see the whole fight in which case would sell the realism even more. You might disagree with me, but I don’t think this is as effective as it could be. Many people say that it just helps the mood. I guess they think it’s cool, and it is, but is cool a good substitute for understanding? That’s a short question that has a long answer. Many directors intend this effect however, without the intention of covering up acting, and this can have a great result, with good fighting of course. You just need to be able to see what’s going on. Too many people over exaggerate this.

Take a look at most of Jackie Chan’s films. Notice that most of the time he is completely or mostly in frame. This gives the action a more realistic feel, and a lot of it is real. Jackie wants you to see what’s going on so you feel every hit, punch and kick. He knows that this makes viewing easier and doesn’t confuse the audience. He has also got a great comedic side to his action. If you are unfamiliar with his work, I would highly suggest The Spy next Door.

Take a step back… Remember that you can’t see the whole picture when you are close up. Change your perspective and you may see something completely different, using this to your advantage. Make something for the first time and make it unique.

So when you make a film, keep in mind your targeted audience and what you want to reach them with and how you want to do it. Reaching your audience is one of the most important decisions when it comes to preproduction as it defines the path which the film will travel. Make sure of the goals for your film before shooting as you can say many things with just one word.

Let me know in the comments below what you think about film and its way of conveying messages? How do you see film from your background or culture and how would you change your perspective to suit the goal? I read every comment, so let me know what you think.

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