The film features both a mix of subjective and objective shots. I realized that the perspective of the film I tried to pursue a more objective approach similar to Sebastian Schipper‘s Victoria (2015) where the audience is following the two characters in their mischievous adventures.
But I included the occasional subjective shots to get into the mind of the character better during dramatic moments – such as when Hannah challenges Jenny, when Jenny finally feels liberated when she sticks her head out the window or the more intimate moments where Hannah and Jenny opens up.
Opening and Closing Shot
Opening and Closing Shot
There is visual similarity between the opening and closing shot – however the change is more of what happens and is said in the frame than visual.
The opening shot features a two-shot of the characters walking next to each other, only for Hannah to walk ahead. Jenny is reluctant to follow Hannah’s rebellious ways only to be egged on to breaking the rules.
The closing shot features a two-shot of characters sitting in the car with new found friendship/closeness. Jenny is now the one to initiate her way of rule-breaking as she takes the long way back.
Confined Spaces vs Open Spaces
Confined Spaces vs Open Spaces
Through the shots, I show how Jenny transitions from a confined/dark world, to breaking out of the confined into a vast wide open world. Once the night comes to an end, she returns back into the confined world, having new light on the world.
I explored with symmetry through the usage of two shots to show the relationship with the siblings. Through the two shots we see the relationship of the two siblings through how they interact with each other in the frame. Such as when Hannah talks to Jenny and tries to convince her or when Jenny leans on Hannah’s shoulder.
I sat in the car one night returning from a hall event with my friend and a few others whom I’ve not met. I remember it being quite late into the night and the expressway was relatively clear.
“Hey, lets try something,” she says as she winds down the window and turned her music to full. She drove down the expressway and with the wind in our hair I felt a sense of freedom and happiness.
That night, was an inspiration to my film Joyride
Before I began writing, I visited Chinatown to think about my film. I went to a few spots that I really liked going to and snapped a few pictures with a friend. I realized that there was something beautiful about the lights and the wide openess of the place and tried to evoke that in my script and writing.
I realized doing some location photographs and some minor post-production would really help in the bigger picture of production.
Having printed photographs allowed me to communicate my mood, visuals, location, framing and style very effectively to my Director of Photography on top of citing some film examples. During consult, it also allowed me to explain and discuss some tones of the film that are personally achievable. A new practice I will adopt, I suppose.
Overall, I wrote/reworked/redone the script a grand total of eighteen times.
I had a table read with my cast and crew (with Pei Wen sitting in). It was the first time I had a proper look at the script and it was an exciting process as this was a productive opportunity to work the script with the talent and crew. Some changes that were made over the table read include:
Changing the lines to fit the character’s/talent’s speaking style.
Shortening lines and omitting dialogue and actions as they feel it’s unnecessary and out-of-character.
Clarify tone, thoughts, motivations and objectives of the various characters throughout the scene. A sort of how do you say this line?
Overall, it was a good experience and practice that I will do more in future productions with my talent and crew.
I also consulted Jun Ming about some film-vibes he got from reading my script he reccommended some scenes which I have explained in a previous OSS post.
Production day was an exciting but nerve-wrecking part of my film. It was a rare opportunity that I had the luxury of time with pre-production and did a very fast day of shoot for production – each came with it’s pros and cons.
The pros; I had time to explore visuals, location recee, look at similar films and properly plan my time with each location and carefully plan what shots I can do without.
I also had a lot more time to properly look at my script and rework many parts – removing scenes that ruin the pace and changing dialogue so the intention is more subtle and less on-the-nose.
The cons; I rushed my shooting process that totally disregarded some thoughts that I had in mind.
I was very fortunate to have a very committed team in me in this shoot. I remember people asking me…
“What? Only two people? Isn’t that too little?“
Well, yes. But my team was very good in what they do. I met up with my Director of photography and he explained how some equipment he had helped evoked the mood I wanted similar to the films I told him to refer to. And my producer was very committed in helping me manage the time and locations and even at some points helping me with sound. I could focus on the directing of the actors and dedicate myself to setting the mood, tone and vibe of the film and that it really show in the final outcome.
There were of course some personal creative risk-taking involved in creating this film – I learnt to trust my Director of photography and I remember even at one point telling him “do a shot you think works for you” and I was so surprised that the shot executed was one of my most favorite shots of the film.
Overall, I really enjoyed the production process. It was an opportunity of many surprises – from giving my talent the freedom to do what they want with what they understood of the characters, and thus creating some little moments that translate so well on film, to cinematic shots that shows the wide open free space of Chinatown. I really was excited to start post production already looking at the rushes.
Thank you to my dedicated team of Joyride. Hannah and Joy as my two leads. Jun Ming as my producer/assistant director/sound and runner Ryan as my director of photography
There were a lot of challenges in post-production. But creating the outer shape of the film was relatively straightforward as I felt moments and pace of the film was pretty much set in the film during production itself.
The montage was an excruciating process. I had to find music for hours and hours until I found a piece that really suited the mood of the film. I then had to consider the pace of the montage. Too fast and I lose the magic of chinatown, too slow and it won’t look exhilarating. Ultimately I reached an in-between of the film and picked the best shots for the moment – a lot of clips did not make it and that will always be a little bummer to me. Just by cutting to the beat of the music, listening it to a few thousand times, and holding on some beats resulted in the montage in the final film.
When I was looking at Forget (my previous assignment), I realized I had this terrible habit of cutting to action, a very common thing that occurs in new editors. I felt that I was constantly directing attention to things – “look here, okay now look here” which I felt was ruining the magic of the subtleties of moments.
The video said one thing that really stuck to me as I was editing the film –how you film and edit two people talking in a room, the most uncinematic thing, defines your style. I was very conscious in my post production to achieve this and I felt it was a small progress – but it worked. I learnt to hold on shots longer and cut in to close-ups to beats. I wanted to take the risk of filming scenes with no close-ups and letting it play out organically, but I felt that was a huge risk that I did not want to take right now. Perhaps something to consider in my future films.
This. This. This always gets me. I always felt my films did not transition scene-to-scene as seamlessly as I hoped. It is a little thing that I tend to neglect a lot which rears it’s ugly head in post production. I have watched numerous videos and tutorials about how some achieved creative transitions but never could find the perfect one that suits my film. Whether it’s visual similarity or audio transitions, I could never get it right. I took a cautious effort to think about how I could transition from scene-to-scene for it to ultimately fumble in post-production so I resorted to the most conventional form of transition in films.
the L and J cut. It is disappointing, personally, but I guess it worked to some extent – but this is an area I could work on in future.
REMOVING A SCENE
I removed this entire scene from Joyride for two main reasons.
It is done in one shot, the scene prior (in the car) was fast cuts and it was a jam break in the pacing and was jarring.
The lines and actions from the characters did not flow well enough to motivate the scene as important.
So ultimately I made the painful decision to remove this scene entirely. Bummer.
On the bright side, it was included in the montage.
I have this bad habit – I take too many shots, I cut too many times and I hide my mistakes by quicker cuts. But I think I should stop that, right?
Enter the Spielberg Oner.
What I like about the Spielberg oner (or the Long Take) is that is gets us through the scene quickly while giving us an omniscient vibe to the shot. The oner allows us to “walk” through the scene as though we are physically present observing the occurrences around us and allow us an immersion into the scene.
But this is done through something that is quite tricky to achieve – which is to remain invisible. When it comes to long takes, when someone notices a shot is dragged on for too long it removes the suspension of disbelief and allows the audience to become suddenly aware that we are watching a scene happen before a camera.
After watching this video, I realized there are some consideration when it comes to a Spielberg oner.
The Rules of a Spielberg Oner.
Move the actors.
Follow that movement of the characters – watch the movements then plan the shots accordingly
Breakdown the shot in a few angles – a oner is linking a few shots into a single moving master.
It works better when you’re not moving the camera at all.
If you need to, shoot a cutaway (this gives you an ability to be tighter if you need to or the start of one and the end of another take)
Keep it short – a oner is meant to get through scenes quickly or get the pace up.
I noticed that this adds a certain vibe to the film – an omniscient or real-time look to the scene and we are watching it unfold in real time than paced cuts.
The film explores the dynamics of two characters – Janice, who wants to forget memories of a previous relationship by returning everything that reminded her of it, and an unknown guy, who wants to get rid of her.
The element of the seen and unseen comes from two characters – the seen, which is Janice, and the unseen, the unknown stranger. The whole reason we do not see this stranger is because we are in the mind of the protagonist, Janice, who seems to be recall this memory and she does not recall his face.
We are thus questioning at the end of the film – are we watching Janice’s memory or are we watching a drama play out before us?
Objective and Subjective Shots
Objective shots are used in this few examples to provide an “observer” perspective, to allow the audience to interpret the situation from an third-party perspective.
The subject shots, however, allows us an insight into the mind of the characters, sometimes we observe the reactions and draw our interpretation from the perspective of the viewer.
Opening and Closing Shots
Opening and Closing Shot
The frame is dimly lit, Janice is framed in isolation and solitude and establishes the mood, genre and POV at the start of the film
The film opens with a one-sided phone call exchange with Janice and the mysterious person. However from her response we can only assume what his response is. From the one-sided dialogue, we establish there is an unknown second character in conflict.
She is constantly framed in an isolated way, to emphasize her solitude and loneliness in the film. We are given a psyche into the mind of the character with the opening frame.
The door closing, literally closes the film, and establishes that the connection that was made between the two characters were severed.
Frame within a Frame
Inspired by Wong Kai Wai’s In the Mood for Love. There are shots with the element of “frame within a frame”, this is to put the characters in a claustrophobic environment where they are locked into this conversation.
Another element inspired by the film is the framing of obscured characters. I got inspired by the way Wong Kai Wai hides characters through framing and negative space, and incorporated my own touch of things by adding things we should see in frame such as the box or Janice’s reactions.
I instructed my casts to wear black and white to juxtapose their personalities and motivations. Janice will always be in the light, however the ex will be in shadow and if he is visible, he will be in black. This further adds visually to their conflict.
Overall, I’ve learnt to really plan out my shots better – to think through what are narrative and acting beats and how to hold a shot longer so that a cut can be earned than convenient. I learnt the importance to be more thorough with my shot planning and to tell as much as I can within a single frame than explaining it over a few frames.
I think I could improve on my directing though – to know what to tell actors to get into the psyche of the character that their little actions will speak of the mind and personality of the character better than to explain them action by action in detail about what I’d like them to do.
For this assignment, I chose to explore the idea of the ‘Seen and Unseen’ in the world of memories.
The theme of the seen and unseen was honestly one of the trickier things I have done. I thought about what could be seen and unseen and thought of memories – how sometimes we remember the events but we don’t remember the specific details, how we remember what happened but we don’t remember who we spent it with. It was a profound concept but I wanted the script to be simple and poignant, like nothing too ambitious (as feedbacked).
I decided to let this film be more of a cinematic study of obscured characters.
To see my marked out script (my personal notes of beats, sound effects, motivations, camera move and editing notes) click here
I started with the script and considered something simple. Why would a character want to forget? I thought long about all the past experiences I wanted to forget and realized they are usuallylinked to some form of loss or something unpleasant. I re-opened a closed door of things I’ve lost and, considering the constrains of my resources, decided to explore the memory of a relationship forgotten.
I realized to let the male character be the antagonist, as with a faceless character we lack a sense of human-touch and thus it is so hard for us to sympathise. I took this further by making him sound harsh and brutal, justified by being woken up at night (because who is happy being woken up). And thus, the perfect unlikable character was born.
I re-watched one of my favorite film, In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar Wai to study the way they portrayed two unseen critical characters of the movie, you can read my research here.
The day started with the most difficult shot, which was the long dialogue shot along the corridor. I ran through the lines and motivations with my casts and guided hannah on the dramatic beats to shift the camera forward and back. It took about 8 takes, but I’m glad I managed to get it done with my team.
After that it was a relatively straightforward shoot. I opted not to use any additional lighting as I was relatively satisfied with how the space was lit. I wanted to focus solely on the cast and their acting while entrusting Hannah to get good shots.
I was grateful that my cast and crew were very observant to minor details such as the placement of props, eye line, little gestures and reactions.
In post-production, I layered dialogues and added the telephone conversation in to establish the moment. I also did some minor color grading to set the mood of the film.
In this assignment working with limited shots, there is a lot of pressure on what to shoot and how much can you convey with one frame. This allowed me to think more intimately and in-depth about each and every shot – what was I trying to convey with every shot, what was I trying to speak with the mise-en-scene and how do I include all the little subtle details with each shot, framing and composition?
In this video, they talk about how important it is to think through your opening shot. They mentioned in the video that the opening shot should convey the following.
1. The themes, genre and mood of the film.
2. The POV or main character and their personality.
3. The conflict between characters.
4. Or major plot points.
And there is a lot of things to consider when shooting the first scene – such as who do we show, what is he doing and wearing, where is he at and what elements are in the frame when we do this (why did I use he in all my question? I don’t really know). And thus, it is so important for the first shot to tell us everything because it is essentially our first impression of the film.
This video talks about how various films ends with their final shot. He describes the “cowboy leaving into the sunset” shot is a way to conclude the film whereby the character is returning back into the familiar world. Sometimes it’s a good thing where we see the protagonist’s lives go on in their world, or it can be eerie where a serial killer is assimilated back into society.
Another type of ending would be (also my personal preference in storywriting) where by the first and last shot are related in a way – be it visually similar, contrasting or metaphorically the same. It allows the film to become full circle and allows us to see how there is change from the first scene the character has entered. It works so well because the last shot, being similar to the first shot, has now an entirely different meaning when the story is told, and there will further emphasize the message of the film and emphasize that there is change.
But at the end of the day, the closing shot has to ultimately answer one question – what do you want your audience to walk away from the movie feeling?
Silly me forgot to upload this when I saved it as a draft. But here it is, my artist research.
Made in 2000, Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood for Love tells of a story of a man, Mr Chau and and woman, Mrs Chen, whose spouses have an affair together. However, slowly the two characters falls in love with each other.
It is one of my many favourite films for it’s brilliant cinematography – the mise en scene, the framing, the camerawork, the lighting and the thoughts that go into the frame is just brilliant. I decided to use this film as my reference due to its apparent theme of Seen and Unseen in the spouses that are not seen in the film, but play a key role.
I found it intriguing; how do you show two pivotal characters of the film without actually showing them?
But apart from that, I also explored other distinct stylistic visual elements of the film that I can utilize in my 7 shots.
Frame Within A Frame
The first notable thing about this film is the very strong usage of a frame within a frame.
Firstly, creating a box in a frame creates foreground, midground and background. This creates layers in a frame, thus there is depth in the shot and builds visual interest.
Also, by ‘boxing’ the characters into the scene, we feel claustrophobic and feel like the characters are ‘trapped’ in a situation – this of course builds tension.
Lastly, creating this box illusion is sort of like framing a character into a window. There is a strong tone of of ‘being watched’ in the film with it’s abundance of over-the-shoulder shots, shot through windows or long corridors, these creates a feeling of being an outsider eavesdropping or spying into the private lives of the two characters.
In the movie, it tells the story of infidelity of the partners of two character – Mr Chau and Mrs Chen. However what is interesting about it is, despite the film featuring two characters, the story speaks of four characters. Which are the spouses of two characters as well.
But how we see the the spouses is only through dialogue. Wong Kar Wai establishes a conversation between the two characters without featuring them by playing on our knowledge of the fundamentals of film language – the shot-reverse-shot and eye lines.
We see the character looking at someone and we hear dialogue but never know what the character looks like.
Through the clever use of cinematography, Wong Kar Wai builds an almost one-sided dialogue between the two characters, and by giving them a faceless identity, we are rooting for one character more than the other. But at the same time, he builds interest and curiosity on who this faceless character is, and how he or she might look like.
When the two characters are in dialogue, Wong Kar Wai established dialogue in mostly two ways – one being the classic over the shoulder shot-reverse-shot and the other is dynamic framing where the characters weave between in and out of each other to establish their relationship in terms of space.
It is evident that there is a clear difference between the over-the-shoulder and when the camera is between them.
When the shot is done over-the-shoulder, it feels as though we are eavesdropping on the two characters (which is a prevalent theme for in the mood for love, that being constantly watched and gossiped) and if the shot is placed between the characters and shot on a wide angle, we are part of the conversation, as though we are the speaker, in the situation.
You can watch the full video of the ‘frame within a frame’ being explained here Or watch the ‘shot reverse shot’ concept explained here