One of the things that I would like to focus on the most during this term is the use of advanced cinematography to tell really visually stunning and powerful stories. To me, this is where the filmmaker develops the look/feel of the film in post-production as much ( if not more) than during the actual framing and shooting of each shot in a sequence. Wikipedia describes Cinematography as “the art or science of motion picture photography . It is the technique of movie photography, including both the shooting and developing of the film.” And, although this is a matter of personal opinion, who does this better than Wes Anderson. Published on November 14th, 2013, the short film entitled Castello Cavalcanti is just one look into the magic that Wes Anderson brings to the screen.
Right off the bat, Anderson sets the mood of the piece with his typical warm tones as we can see heavily in the establishing shot of the dark cobblestone street. The second shot is a seamless tracking shot, beginning with the women talking and dollying to the right to show a small boy chewing gum and then moving up to see the two men talking. This also acts to establish other characters, because the audience can see the men playing cards in the background, with the table perfectly framed by the two men. Its all about the details! But what I loved the most was when you start to hear the cars honking, the entire dolly shot plays in reverse, moving laterally back through all of the characters we were just introduced to as all of the characters stop what they are doing to focus on the arriving vehicles. The other shot that I thought was very powerful was the shot of Jason Schwartzman’s racecar that has crashed into the statue, which is looming over the enflamed vehicle. That one frame can say a thousand words.
As a whole, I really admire Anderson’s sense of letting a scene play out before he cuts to the next shot, often moving the camera back and forth between the unfolding scenes. Although this is a personalistic style he has created, I admire his use of movement and (there must be a TON of) blocking to maintain an active scene.
From our discussion in Reporting Story, I have been thinking a lot about how we can visually represent the past. Thinking about that, I came across this piece, which successfully utilized photographs as visual aid while discussing past events.
The film utilizes a range of types of photographs and also panned across the images, which supported an active feeling to the piece, helping to keeping the viewer absorbed. In contrast, I noticed how they chose to have some of the current camera shots seem almost like a photo, specifically when showing his paintings. I thought this was a choice to help support connecting the still and moving images and felt that it helped to successfully weave together the old and the new aspects of the story. Another method used for joining the old and new included strategically placing photos to align with current footage so that they felt seamless. An example of this was the shot of him in a gallery and then showed him currently playing the saxophone in a gallery. In this case, I was not sure if this was the same place but it was a nice transition and felt a bit like the photo was coming to life. Lastly, I really enjoyed the use of slow motion with him dancing, slowing this down allowed time to connect with the character.
This video is great for several reasons. First and foremost is that it is about a really compelling, amazing character named Dean Zimmer. I love this guy! This video is not a story in the narrative sense, it is more of a profile piece. But it holds my attention regardless just because I want to know more about Dean. He is a true inspiration.
I think the filmmakers did a good job of capturing Dean’s passion and intensity with the slow-mo jam out scene, where they matched action from many different angles of Dean as he played the drums.
Usually I don’t like to be able to hear the interviewer’s voice, but in this video it didn’t really bother me. I think because the interview didn’t seem super formal, it felt like I was just listening to someone’s conversation.
I posted the trailer for this movie last term, but it looks like the filmmaker made a short short version for Op-docs. I wanted to share it for a couple of reasons. One is that it delves more into the mentorship that happens through these gangs. As one of the older guys in the video notes, he gets excited to see the young guys giving it a go and training now because he knows when they get older they will be accomplished riders. Also, it kinda answers some questions we had on Thursday about why people might participate in these dangerous sports. As one of the characters in the piece notes, they are free when they are riding their bikes, and they can leave behind all the stresses that come with their living situation.
This version of the piece also gives a more complex picture through the different points of view of people living in Baltimore and coming in contact with the 12 O’Clock Boys. You hear the (racist) former police commissioner calling for action against them, the adults in the community questioning their involvement, the older gang members who support the sport and the young kids that get involved, and the younger kids who are excited about being involved because of how it feels and what it means to them. The piece also starts with someone talking negatively about the 12 O’Clock boys and ends with a veteran gang member and newer, younger member talking about what a positive activity it is for them when their aren’t too many positive things in their lives. So, there is a nice resolution or counterpoint within the piece.
My video selection this week is a multimedia reel done by Andrew Hilda, a fellow multimedia journalist in the field. This is a pretty good example of a basic digital resume each of us could potentially produce to share with future employers by the time we are done with the program. In the piece, Hilda features clips from his “micro-documentaries” as well as footage from work he has produced from local media outlets.
Concerning the formatting, you’ll notice that the music is the same the entire way through, helping to weave the pieces together concisely. The font is also simple but well done, big enough to clearly read even if you’re viewing the piece on a small screen. The length is almost five minutes, which seems okay considering he is also including audio in each of the video clips from the stories in order to engage you in the videos in a way a teaser trailer might do. Maybe closer to three minutes would be better, but what do you think?
This week we began thinking about our personal projects, and I intend to continue working on the piece that started with idea to develop a section of North Portland into a Trader Joes. While I don’t know if I will stick with the sole focus of other local businesses who are affected, or expand it to a discussion of North Portland gentrification more generally, I know I will be working around the issue. As part of my research, I came across a film made in 1967 about the Albina neighborhood. It won a regional Emmy in 1967, and I share it in terms of the style of documentary it was. You’ll notice from the beginning to at least minute three, that it has a very strong style of narration that seeks to lay out “the facts.” I think this is a distinct style of filmmaking, and I appreciate it as an example of the times. The narration starts by defining ghetto, and then seeking to explain how they are created. I think the attempt at answering the question is a noble one, and a good example of narrative filmmaking. In the piece I will make, I don’t intend on using this style, but can imagine some remix elements that may incorporate it.