Intro to Film: The Director

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Discussion of the role of the director in the filmmaking process. Week 3 Lecture from Intro to Film at Lake Washington Institute of Technology.

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Intro to Film: The Director

  1. 1. Week 3 LectureDirecting
  2. 2. What is the role of the director?
  3. 3. What is the role of the director?• The director determines the artisticvision for the film. They determine howthey want the story to be told, and thevoice that they want the story to be toldin.– What is the voice in a film?• The Auteur Theory• Directors are also sometimes:– The screenwriter – Woody Allen,Christopher Nolan– The Cameraman – Steven Soderbergh– The Editor – The Coen Brothers– The Actor – Mel Gibson– Composer – Clint Eastwood• While Directors are concerned aboutthe artistic direction of the film,producers are primarily concerned withthe films financial matters
  4. 4. Stylistic DecisionsRealism Classicism FormalismRealism Classicism FormalismDocumentaryDocumentary Avant-gardeAvant-gardeFictionFictionHow much control does the director take over the interpretation of reality?How much control does the director take over the interpretation of reality?•Director exerts minimalcontrol over interpretationof reality•Very little style is present•Meaning is interpreted bythe audience•Major concern is with thecontent rather than form•Stories are based in areality that we as anaudience know•Directors use cameraangles and edits narrate usthrough how we shouldinterpret the world•Most films fall in thiscategory•Construction of world iscompletely underdirectors control•Stories are based in aworld that may beunfamiliar to us; differentfrom how we perceivereality•Emphasize Techniqueand expressivenessSpectrum taken from Gianetti’s “Understanding Movies”
  5. 5. A Spectrum of DirectorsRealism Classicism FormalismRealism Classicism Formalism• John Cassavetes• A Woman Under theInfluence (1974)• Francois Trauffaut• 400 Blows (1959)• Michel Gondry• Eternal Sunshine of theSpotless Mind (2004)• Tim Burton• Edward Scissorhands (1990)• Fritz Lang• Metropolis (1927)• Darren Aranofsky• The Fountain (2006)• Stan Brakhage (Avant Garde)• Mothlight (1963)Where do your favorite films/directors fall on this spectrum?
  6. 6. Directorial Decisions: The Shots• Directors are responsible for the individualshots that will be used to tell the story.Overall there are 6 major types of shots.1. Extreme Long Shot / Deep Focus Shot: A shottaken from a great distance.2. Long Shot: To establish place or action3. Full Shot: Used as a master shot, to cover actiontaking place within a scene4. Medium Shot: Knees or waist up. Used fordialogue scenes. Initial dialogue shots.5. Close up: Concentrates on a relatively smallobject such as the face. Used for dialogue toestablish closeness between characters. Is alsofrequently used for cutaways or inserts.6. Extreme close up: Shot of only a small area suchas the eyes or a mouth.• For examples, check out:http://classes.yale.edu/film-analysis/– Note: some of the shot names vary, as there isno set system for naming shots• Why do directors choose shots? How do theycontribute meaning?
  7. 7. Directorial Decisions: Shot Angles• Birds eye view: Photographing fromdirectly overhead. Can make images seemabstract, expressive• High angle shot: Usually done from a crane– Often used to establish a setting for amovie (beginning and ending shots of films)– High angle shots reduce the importance ofthe subject and show that the audience isomniscient with the story• Eye-level shot: Typical shot used in film,places audience on same plane with thestory• Low angle: The viewers seems powerlessagainst the subject. Often used in HorrorMovies.• Oblique or Dutch angle: express adisoriented view of the world
  8. 8. Directorial Decisions: Camera Movement• 7 Basic types of moving camera shots– Pans: Camera pivots on an axis horizontally. Can connecttwo objects that are on screen– Tilts: Vertical movement of the camera on an axis.Connects two objects on a screen in a special way.– Dolly Shots: A stationary camera moving on a horizontalplane– Zoom Shot: Change in framing of scene via telephoto lens.Can make us feel like we are thrust into the action, or togive a reveal– Hand held shot: Makes the camera more versatile. Allowsthe director to follow a wide variety of characters– Crane Shots: Dolly shots in three dimensional space– Aerial Shots: Taken from a Helicopter; Establishes scenes,shows larger action
  9. 9. Directorial Decisions: The Mise en Scéne• Mise En Scéne refers to thearrangement of objects on the screen• Directors need to think about:– The body position of their actors andwhat that communicates to theaudience• Full Front, Quarter Turn, Profile, ThreeQuarters, and Back to Camera– The Proxemic Patterns of the Actors:How close they are to one another• Intimate, Personal, Social, and Public– Open and Closed Forms in the frame• Open: Informal compositions. Noteverything is arranged; objects are oftendirty in frame; the frame is de-emphasized• Closed: More removed from reality;objects are deliberately placed in strategicpositions within the frame; frame isimportant – Ex: Wes Anderson
  10. 10. How do we evaluate directors?• Who are some of your favorite directors? What is itabout those directors films that make you like them?• Who is the author of the film?– Is a film good because it is directed well or because it has agood writer?• What can we look at to evaluate directors?– Style: Are the methods (shots, mise en scene, productiondesign) that the director is using the best way to tell thestory?– How well is the story told?• What do we do if it is just a bad story?• Signature styles

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