The Shot Construction / Next Stage Exercise

I have only looked at the first take from this clip which I was DP/camera operator.

Shot Planning

To start with a similar shot to our static Lenny in the lift meant that we would need to leave the lift at some point and the camera would either have to follow Lenny or shoot from a really high angle because of the reflections. This made me think that would be putting the audience in the perspective of someone who is walking with Lenny supporting her and trying to take care of her but completely incapable of doing so. By characterising the camera this way I could justify moving around into the MCU as she falls into the wall and also the pace with which with we would leave Lenny when tracking back. I was glad that we got the change of pace when Sharon enters and wanted to play with the faster speed of movement getting back to Lenny however, I wasn’t expecting for the whole scene to play out. Without a set plan for the scene, I tried to find a similar OTS we had used in the static Lenny and decided to keep the camera on her because the scene had been entirely about her so far.

Camera Set Up

While setting up the camera I knew that I wouldn’t be able to adjust the focus and that any changes in the framing would come from moving the camera closer or further away. I choose a focal length that I thought would allow me to get the wide angle which would make Lenny appear completely alone and isolated in the corridor, but could also get a reasonable close up without being right on top of her. I knew that having a wider focal length was going to give me more flexibility to keep Lenny in focus with all the movement.

Reflecting on the Shoot

If I were to do this again I would definitely spend more time rehearsing the major camera movements with the actor: finding a way to make the first fall against the wall bigger to help justify the movement from OTS to MCU, finding the timing of the fall (the quality of it, when it would happen and how quickly), getting Lenny to look briefly in the direction that Sharon is expected to come from to help justify the start of the track back, and determining the first and final frames of the long track away with reference to Lenny. I thought too much about Sharon hitting the MCU while still having Lenny in the wide but didn’t consider the how I was going to get there. Needed to get the end frame of the track back with reference to Lenny, got it considering where Sharon would enter but without knowing where Lenny was supposed to be in the frame for the movement caused a lot of awkward adjusting while moving. I’m not sure how to gauge the pace of this track back, it feels too slow, too much like an ending, and considering the Sight & Hearing reading I would probably try compliment the camera movement with a soundtrack of really audible, sharp and pained breathing from Lenny that is particularly fast. This tempo contrast might help to sustain the tension throughout the duration of the movement.

Reflecting on the Footage

I think that some of this is usable, particularly because the quality of the handheld movement is reflective of Lenny’s state at this moment. She isn’t stable, we get a chance to see her point of view when she leaves the lift and is trying to get to the place to meet Sharon, we get the chance to see her inner state in the close up and we get to see the loneliness in the wide once she has fallen to the ground. It needs more rehearsal and I would also probably continue to play with the camera settings. I don’t think that we set a white balance so when we are in the lift the tones are cool and then it warms up before slowly adjusting, the movement helps to mask this and I was lucky that the temperature change happened in the moments before changing the frame. But given that I have these to states, I would probably white balance for the hallway and let the lift interior be more blue.

What Would I Do Differently

The shot that I was able to incorporate was one of the gunshot wound. I couldn’t find the right moment to justify moving to this which is one of the key circumstances of the scene. If I had started with it in the elevator then we probably wouldn’t need to actually be in the elevator because we wouldn’t have the reflections. I could have gone to it instead of going to the MCU of Lenny when she falls against the wall, maybe using her hand to wipe sweat or hair from her face to motivate moving the camera back to her expression. There might have been a moment where she puts her hand up to catch herself against a wall and we could follow the hand that could have been really bloody with her body falling back into frame moving us back to her, and it should be clear from her performance that the blood is hers but it could still be ambiguous, might need her to try to check the wound once she is sitting on the ground to really understand the seriousness of the injury.

I would also like to try a version where the camera continues to track back as the scene plays out rather than following Sharon into the conversation. Sharon would eventually leave storming past the camera (maybe tearing up or fighting the urge to turn back around and help her companion) leaving Lenny, extremely isolated, to deal with the box, collapse and die with no hope of anyone coming to help.

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