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They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but how much is a few seconds of film worth? A split second of a film can reveal the entire theme or genre to the film – due to the cinematic filming techniques chosen by the director. If you was to see a trailer for a new film with the sound on mute, which was full of close-ups and extreme close-ups of the actors at eye level – you could quite easily assume within a few seconds that the film was of the Horror or possibly the Thriller genre. It is encapsulating to see how a few shots from the film can reveal so much about it. It’s the same with an establishing shot in a film – the minute an audience is introduced to a new setting using an establishing shot, they instinctively feel like it’s a more familiar environment.
Another filming technique I personally adore in films, is the representation of a character’s power – usually portrayed through camera angles. The instant an audience sees a character who the camera is looking up towards, they presume that they are powerful. Within a moment, a camera angle can capture a characters personality – in the similar way that the use of camera shots in a trailer can capture a film’s theme or genre.
Over the past few decades, audiences have become more knowledgable about the Media Industry and how they work. It would be then logical to presume that because of this it would be more difficult for filmmakers to set the mood in a cinema, without the viewers questioning the director’s motives. However, even in todays Media-Savvy society – directors still have the ability to make audiences feel joy, or excitement or fear when watching their films. For example – Horror films use dark scenes in order to connote fear to their audience. This use of lighting works especially well because it plays with our Psychology needs and fears. We are all born with an instinctive irrational fear of the dark and a fear of the unknown – this is why when we see a darker scene or a shadow in a Horror movie, we are immediately fearful. Even if we know it’s only fiction!
In 2009 Avatar astonished it’s viewers using cutting edge motion capture filming technology. CGI films often include actors who are simply voice actors – and we see little more of their acting skills within the film due to the fact that their character has been computer generated. However, Avatar blurred this boundary through filming the actors facial expressions whilst they were reading lines – these images were then later used in the film. It’s not only impressive new technologies that impress audiences – for example in 2010, Inception lured audiences in through it’s narrative structures. Despite having an overall traditional narrative structure, the use of levels of dreams created a new modern twist on the stereotypical narratives of films.
Films have always largely influenced the world around us. The first films shocked audiences with stunning new technology, yet over a century from that – new innovative ideas still surprise the industry, even with todays technologies. This is why I, along with many others adore the Film industry – fads and trends can circle a nation for a limited amount of time, be it a week or a year. Whereas the film industry simply progresses and evolves into something better. Filmmaking is an everlasting art.
By Jack Burrows
Twitter - @jrburrows