Friday, October 24, 2014

Stand-offs: How to Know A Character is Winning

It begins with a video catching my eye, the maker catching my interest, and ends with me five hours into the future having watched every other video they’ve made. Luckily, Tony Zhou’s “Every Frame a Painting” series doesn’t go much longer than eleven videos. Each tackles on aspect of filmmaking in a unique and addicting way, but the one I want to focus on specifically is his “The Silence of the Lambs - Who Wins the Scene?”
It’s safe to say that a lot of the content produced by Park students tends to toe the line of action, with a flair for the dramatics. And that isn’t bad. But when it comes down to it, it’s two opposing forces facing off in a figurative showdown, guns drawn and clock tower booming.
Unfortunately, the way this comes across is too overdone by someone who isn’t experienced or knowledgeable in the art of power-dynamics. And in this segment of Zhou’s series we look at the power-play by iconic film figure, Hannibal Lecter. To those who may not feel like sitting through the entire two minutes and fifty-eight seconds, here’s what you need to know:
  • Power comes in the angle - lower is dominant, higher is weak
  • Eyelines matter - two figures looking into the lens are on common ground and when the eyeline shifts then they no longer see eye-to-eye
  • Blocking - a character inserting themselves into a scene (be it over-the-shoulder or otherwise) is setting up a stand-off, confronting both physically and mentally
  • Positioning - When the characters remain in their same power positions on screen they are winning, if the camera forces them to the side they’ve lost

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