Project 5. How to Learn

Look back at a piece of work you have produced so far, including any notes and blog entries
that went with it.
I have chosen both of the alcoholic scenes. POV and Objective.
Subjective POV:
•what did you set out to achieve?
To attempt to show a seemless scene from the POV of the character in question. With limited tools and the need to edit various shots, I attempted to shroud the transitions by placing my hand against the camera lens ( as if rasing a hand to rub eyes ). In addition, I wanted to portray a desperate character, somebody who has yet again succombed to a drinking binge, and for him to attempt to conceal his habit from his offspring.
•how can you identify what you achieved?
The mood is bleak and this is enhanced by the sparse guitar detuned soundtrack. I can see what I have attempted to put across.
•whether you achieved it?
By blending cuts I do believe a bit more tighter control would have made this work. Some of them did so, whilst others not so much. With better lighting and a more untidy room, I do believe the scene would have worked better. Overall I think the desired effect has worked, but with various changes required.
•what have you learned from this?
Spending more time on preparation and with more practice on how to cover-up the edits with my proposed hand movement, I think I would have made this more smoothly. Focusing more on controlling light, especially white-outs and over exposure, would be my next plan. controlling unintentional shadowing and continuity issues also.
•what did you set out to achieve?
To make sure all four camera angles pinpointed in the exercise were carried out. In addition to make the Objective shoot in tandem with the Subjective POV piece. I made a conscious decision to use the same audio and soundtrack of the first piece again. To make it imperative that the mood of the original is carried forward.
•how can you identify what you achieved?
Ticking off in the write-up in my learning log and comparing the shoot to that of its storyboard allowed me to keep in tune with what I wanted to achieve.
•whether you achieved it?
Of the two pieces, I think this one worked better, especially in the fact that I was trying to make sure I had sufficient various camera angles, plus I did not need to worry about trying to achieve seemlessness. I think the desired mood worked efficiently.
•what have you learned from this?
Further pre-planning, making sure I stick to the storyboard as closely as possible. Maintain a flow of angles and try out different shots before commitment.
Now reflect on these important questions:
•Is it better to struggle and improve your weaker areas or should you cut your losses and
focus on your strengths?
I believe that trying to improve weaker areas will allow further confidence and attempt to overthrow any areas that require practice. So long as being aware of my strengths doesn’t allow them to become less so due to lack of practice.
•How can you ever really know what your strengths and weaknesses are?
I think trusted third parties will be able to tell you without prejudice whhich bits work. By showing a few friends who subscribe to my YouTube account, without inviting response, I was delighted to receive good feedback, unprovoked feedback on what worked well. For example, the use of the bleak guitar detuning soundtrack I performed, went down well. I was also surprised to see how many people thought I performed suitably as a struggling drunk. Something I am not that sure I should be pleased with, hehehe.
•How do you know what you need to know if you don’t know what it is yet?
Is it not a case of practice makes perfect, or at least improvement? By just trying out various ideas and thoughts should only prove or disprove that they work or not.
•Who can you ask or where can you find out?
By sharing with other students, responding well to feedback and /or constructive criticism, to note what makes their projects work or not. I find this imperative. By analysing favourite or similar scenes in films. Watching tutorials or visiting film seminars. All of these can only add to skills, and produce further expertise.
•How do you know if you have improved? When is it time to move on?
When you are truly satisfied that you have achieved what you wanted or improved on what you wanted to achieve, is when you can move on. I think, having said that, pre-planning is so important, I have realised. Being thorough from the outset will lessen the chance of disatisfaction later.

Project 4. Camera Angles

The camera angle refers to the position from which the camera, and therefore the audience,
views the subject of the shot. (When I refer to the subject of the shot I mean ‘the thing which
we are primarily looking at’ – it may be a person, plant or inanimate object.)
There are some technical rules that guide the positioning of the camera and therefore the
choice of camera angles, but for now we will concentrate on the effect and meaning of
different angles and how this may affect the feel of a shot.
While talking about camera angles it will be useful to understand the following terms.:
-L/A, Low Angle
A shot taken from below the eyeline of the
subject, or where there is no obvious eyeline from
a position that is ‘looking up.’
-H/A, High Angle
A shot taken from above the eyeline of the
subject, or where there is no obvious eyeline from
a position that is ‘looking down.’
-Canted Frame
(also known as a Dutch angle)
The camera is angled horizontally, so that the
‘normal’ perspective is tilted, e.g. the horizon may
run diagonally across the frame.
-POV Point of View
A shot that represents a subjective viewpoint. It
is understood by the audience to represent a
character’s vision.
In the subjective sequence you produced for Project 3, the camera angle was dictated by the
position of ‘your’ eyes, that is, the eyes of the unseen character whose point of view (POV)
the audience was sharing.
The camera angle provided information about where the character was, whether he was
standing or sitting, and where he was looking. In each of these shots you were able to add
nuance and suggest intensity or emotion through the size of the frame but your decision
about where to place the camera was limited.
In this subjective sequence another camera angle, which didn’t match the POV of the unseen
character, may have suggested another character in the room. The camera angle of these
shots would provide information about them.
For instance a low angle shot – with the
camera near the floor looking up at the
character – may represent a drunken friend
sprawled on the floor.
A high angle – looking down on the
character from behind – may represent
someone standing in the doorway.
Objective angles
In a sequence that includes objective shots the choice of where to place the camera is
greater. The motivation for the camera angle is not directly dictated by the action (as it was
when the character defined their own POV). The angle is motivated by an objective vision of
how the scene should be viewed.
The angle no longer indicates what a character is seeing but how the audience should see
the scene. The camera angle influences how everything within the shot and scene is
-The same sequence can feel very different when viewed from different angles.
At eye level the scene seems quite ‘normal’. The action is fairly flat and the angle itself gives little away.
-The high angle makes the same scene appear more dynamic and exciting. The character
seems less powerful and significant; there may be some threat from a bigger force.
-The low angle shot is also more dynamic and exciting than the eye level. Here the character
seems more powerful; the sense of threat is more likely to come from within the scene,
possibly from the character herself.
Try to find good examples of camera angles used to create atmosphere or alter the meaning
of a scene or shot. As you watch consider whether the angle affects:
– does it indicate a specific POV?
– does it change your relationship with the characters on screen?
– does it indicate the status of the character on screen?
– does it create suspense, tension or expectation? How?
– does it create a particular feeling or mood?
Make notes and, if possible, upload clips or stills to your blog to illustrate them.
1. A Clockwork Orange ( dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1971 )
In particular in this sequence at 02.35 onwards, Patrick Magee plays the writer, who was a victim of Alex’s ( Malcolm MacDowell ) previous violence to him and his late wife. A political activist, the writer takes in Alex, after realising he is a victim of a particular prison reform. Only to discover upon hearing Alex chanting “Singin’ in the Rain” whilst in the bath, a song he sang whilst perpetrating the violence against them previously. (1)
– does it indicate a specific POV?
The angle, an extremely low angle looking ninety degrees up at the writer as he (over)acts  horror upon this discovery. Superlative but also extremely effective, to over-emphasize the moment.
– does it change your relationship with the characters on screen?
Previously the writer was sympathetic to Alex, allowing the latter to feel at home, although he knew exactly where he was, therefore, inadvertantly giving the game away and singing the tune that incriminates Alex beyond doubt. As the film cleverly exploits the viewer’s emotion to sympathise the abhorrent protagonist, it is at this moment, one feels the threat radiated by the writer.
– does it indicate the status of the character on screen?
The apparent friend to Alex, clearly changes course to be that of a foe. The action leans towards a bitter character, finally able to commit vengeance.
– does it create suspense, tension or expectation? How?
Very much so. It portrays the true horror of realising a moment of vengeance, the flood of emotion of being able to carry out revenge against the former antagonist. We sympathise the true horror of what has happened to the victim, this angle clarifies the sheer horror of it.
– does it create a particular feeling or mood?
The first forty five minutes of A Clockwork Orange display in graphic detail, in true cartoon form, how the protagonist Alex commits wanton violence against society. This moment is the crux of retribution, not only for  the writer character, but also that of the future society itself.

Ewan McGregor as Renton in this classic nineties film about the drug scene in Edinburgh has many moments of great camera angles and interesting frames, but the sequence where he overdoses and sinks into the floor, accompanied by Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” is astonishing and striking. From this view we see Swanney ( Peter Mullan ) looking down at him, almost as if Renton were in the early stages of his burial grave, and he says “Perhaps sir would like me to call for a taxi!” (2)
– does it indicate a specific POV?
The viewpoint is the subjective POV, indicating that of the Renton character slipping into overdose, looking up at Swanney and the mouldy cieling beyond.
– does it change your relationship with the characters on screen?
Yes we sympathise as the main protagonist is probably going to die.
– does it indicate the status of the character on screen?
It indicates that Renton is in trouble. Slipping into a grave like position as the floor he is sitting on, symbolically swallows him down.
– does it create suspense, tension or expectation? How?
Yes, the symbol of slipping into a makeshift grave where he fell to the floor in this disgusting flat is poignant and we face a possible exit for him. The film, however amusing and charming is set in a bleak backdrop, with hope or future so strikingly missing. The expectation therefore is dread, but it is that dark mood that highlights the black comedy which is the movie’s main appeal.
– does it create a particular feeling or mood?
Considering the desperate nature of the sequence, it creates an incredibly powerful mood. Alongside the music, the scene is one of the film’s most memorable and pivotal, as close as the protagonist comes to his demise, it signifies a point of change.
Jill  ( Claudia Cardinale ) arrives by train at her home town expecting to meet her ( now deceased ) partner and walks through the station office. The camera watches the scene via the platform window and as she exits to the town side of the building, the crane dolly shot takes the camera up the side of the building and over the roof, revealing the dusty Western town as she steps into, with its usual bustling state. Again accompanied by powerful music ( by Ennio Morricone ) the scene is significantly emotional. One of my favourite sequences in cinema, this “spaghetti” Western is a fine example of the depth of emotion that cinema is capable of procuring. (3)
– does it indicate a specific POV?
It is a High Angle shot.
– does it change your relationship with the characters on screen?
It reveals the harsh wilderness of these fledgling US cities as they are in their infancy. Jill is just being introduced to us in this scene, she is the pivotal character from then on. We have just witnessed the murder of her partner and his family, by the villainous Frank ( Henry Fonda ). This scene, however transitionary, is astonishing in its power.
– does it indicate the status of the character on screen?
She is a tiny cog in this wild west tale, but we will follow her and her grief to discover who is responsible for the slaughter of her family.
– does it create suspense, tension or expectation? How?
It creates a powerful atmosphere. The film is set in a harsh land during a harsh, ruthless time. Henry Fonda’s performance as the callous assassin Frank could be argued to be one of the most hateful characters on screen, the slaughter sequence is heart wrenching and this particular shot of the township is emotional and shows a sense of hardship that these characters endure. I particularly enjoy how immaculate and beautiful Jill’s character appears against the filth, dust and sweat of the surrounding townsfolk as she discovers that things are not what was expected.
– does it create a particular feeling or mood?
It provokes a melancholy. We know what has happened to her love, we assume her future will be of uncertainty and retribution.
Hunter S Thompson’s anarchistic story is brought to the screen with incredible authenticity, the film is infested with canted ( Dutch ) angles in many of its scenes to depict debauchery and hedonistic drug binges. The film follows journalist Raoul Duke and his attorney Dr Gonzo ( Johnny Depp and Benicio del Torro ) on an all expenses paid trip from LA to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle event for Rolling Stone magazine in the early seventies. Chaos ensues. (4)
– does it indicate a specific POV?
Using the image above for example, a view of a hotel receptionist as seen by the characters as they arrive, extremely intoxicated by various substances. The Canted Angle.
– does it change your relationship with the characters on screen?
As the car journey across the desert depicted their binge of illegal narcotics, it is not really until this scene that the resulting disarray is truly apparent.
– does it indicate the status of the character on screen?
It signifies both characters’ intoxication.
– does it create suspense, tension or expectation? How?
The message of the film is the true horror of American consumerism, the dystopic American Dream, seen through the lens of a psychotropic influence.
– does it create a particular feeling or mood?
The film is a black comedy, the mood is for humour, in which it succeeds thoroughly.
(1) A Clockwork Orange on IMDB – accessed 3rd May 2016
Trainspotting on IMDB – accessed 3rd May 2016
(3) Once Upon A Time in the West on IMDB – accessed 3rd May 2016
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on IMDB – accessed 3rd May 2016

Project 4. Exercise: An objective POV

Look back at the sequence you produced in Project 3.
You will now record the same scenario but from an objective point of view.
Again you will need to think very carefully about what you wish to frame; you will then
also need to consider where this is seen from and what camera angle would best suit
your purpose. Also consider what other meanings and feelings will be implied by your
choice of frame and angle.
It will help you if you have an actor, but if not you can either set up the shots carefully
and then perform yourself, or find a substitute model or doll to stand in…
What to do:
•Sketch out some basic storyboards. Ensure that each new angle is justified.
•Record the shots.
•Edit them into a short sequence.
•Upload your sequence to your blog.
•Look back at your finished sequence and reflect on its success. You can also
compare it with other examples on the course discussion site.
What works, what doesn’t work and why this is the case?
Can you think how you could improve the piece?
Make notes in your learning blog.
Alcoholic Project 2
Frame 1.
Low Angle / Eye Level POV.
Camera placed on the floor shooting the awakening character. Upon viewing, the natural lighting, although suitably moody, allows a shadow from the camera itself. Future shoots will involve either a prop in the frame to cast a shadow over this, or place lighting appropriately to remove shadowing. Although the character is not above the camera, and it is in affect, still eye-level, the effect is still successful as this sets the viewpoint at ground level, at the lowest of the lowest, for example.
Frame 2.
High Angle.
View from the door looking down at the character, and also the house cat ( perhaps the POV of frame 1 ! ). This focuses on the character’s desperate situation, in that he passed-out on the floor, still in his dressing gown. He looks degraded and out of control, confused and pathetic.
Frame 3.
Eye Level.
Objective view from the opposite wall in the house, as the character walks into frame. Out of focus in the background, we see the curtains still drawn, during daylight and as he appears, how he is unsteady on his feet and suffering.
Frame 4.
Canted Angle / Low Angle.
The bottle, glass and plate in the foreground, as the character sits down. We clearly see the cause of the desperate status of the protagonist. Using a cross between a canted and a low angle, I hope to achieve a feeling of confusion, the scene of the “crime”.
Frame 5.
Eye Level
Cut to: Daughter outside arriving home, using a shaky hand held shot, giving a moment of uncertainty.
Frame 6.
High Angle.
Still following a shaky handheld, assuming the POV of the daughter, this shot provides the panic of the protagonist almost caught by his daughter in mid drink.
Frame 7.
Low Angle.
Even though the protagonist’s eyes are not in this scene, the camera is at belly height with the empty bottles from the time before this scene in the foreground. We now have proof that more than one drink was consumed recently.
Frame 8.
Eye Level.
Slightly out-of-focus shot of his eyes as he checks to see if the coast is clear ( we get to watch him “listening” with his eyes ) before he moves back into the frame focus and takes a swig from the bottle. Fade out to the sound of swallowing.
The sequence:
With this exercise, I tried to keep focused on what was in the subjective sequence, even using the same soundtrack, to maintain continuity. Not that this was a criteria, I just felt that this would be an interesting idea to base it upon. I had to play the protagonist also, as finding an actor at short notice was not possible. Therefore, filming the shots were made particularly tricky, but certainly not impossible. In fact by being both cameraman and actor I was able to focus completely on the project and not have to worry about third parties. Thankfully I am used to performance.
As with the previous exercise, I wanted to maintain the atmosphere of confusion and the sneaky desperation  that rides with alcoholism. The sequence of trying to hide the bottle from the daughter, particularly important to the piece.
To improve the scene, I think I would play particular attention to the scenery and what is in the background and make sure the set looks more relevant. It is difficult to judge what looks out of place and what doesn’t when you are subjectively looking at your own work. Only others are afforded that luxury. Hence why I find feedback most important.


Project 3. Exercise: Shooting a short sequence

As you plan each shot you should think carefully about what information you wish to draw attention to and how you want each shot to feel. Concentrate on how this can be achieved by your choice of frame. Read the following scenario carefully. Try to imagine yourself in the action and visualise what you would see. Where are the borders of perception drawn in each shot? Try to visualise where your focus would be in the moment defined by the shot and then choose a frame size that best contains that part of the image.

You are an alcoholic alone in your home
• You look around your empty room
• Nothing interests you
• You notice a bottle
• You hold the bottle and unscrew the lid
• Something attracts your attention, you look round
• Nothing happens
• You look back at the bottle and pour yourself a drink.

Sketch out some basic storyboards to remind yourself of the images you visualised. Note what shot sizes you have chosen and what is in the frame.
What information do you need to convey?
Where do you want to focus the attention?
You will probably have about 8 – 10 shots.

Record these shots on your video camera. Try and replicate exactly what you have drawn. Edit them into a short sequence. Upload your sequence to your blog. Look back at your finished sequence (after leaving it a day or two ideally) and reflect on its success. Leave comments alongside your sequence. You can also compare it with examples from other students.

What works, what doesn’t work and why is this the case?
• How did the choice of frame affect the meaning and feel of each shot?
• How you could improve the piece?

Alcoholic Project 1

The directives of the exercise were not strictly adhered to, therefore changing slightly to fit the mood of the scene. For example, the character did not unscrew the lid ( the lid was already removed) and instead of nothing happening when he is distracted by his daughter, I felt it better that he attempts to run off with the bottle into the kitchen.

We start with an out-of-focus view of the back of the sofa as the character awakes lying on the floor. In the background are the beams of sunlight coming from underneath the doorframe. As he comes round, we focus-in on the carpet, followed by the character attempting to get to his feet.
The view is bare, I think the important information is the confusion of “coming round” after such a binge.
As he stands, we see the radiator and the wall. He turns around to view the room, graoning as he does so.
The information here is to show, that the character is at home in the living room, and that he is in a state of confusion ( or pain ).
The main scene of the “carnage of earlier”, after eating breakfast, the character must have had a few wines. He approaches the dining table and sits down. A bottle of wine hardly touched, indicates that other bottles must be about somewhere, given how he has found himself.
The character will be groaning in his hungover state, this will be accompanied by an audible “oh no”.
4 / 5.
The front door opens and his daughter comes in after her day at school, running up the stairs. Panic ensues as he tries to hide the wine from her and escape to the kitchen. As she runs up the stairs, she calls out “Hi Dad!” and he feebly replies to her.
A moment of panic as the unforeseen happens. By the fact she has come home, in her school uniform, the viewer can determine that it is late afternoon and that in her absence, he has been drinking during the day.
Realising she hasn’t noticed, the character affords himself an opportunity to guzzle some of the wine. Fade out, with the sound of his large gulps of wine.

Attempting to portray the images placed in the storyboard, the following is what was shot:


For this exercise, I wanted to convey the subjective POV as seemless as possible, therefore joining any edited frames with seemless transitions. As the character has awoken from a drunken sleep, it would be reasonable to believe that he would rub his eyes or head with his hands. Therefore I decided that using this idea I could shoot the frames seperately and blend them with a hand over the cuts.

As I had noticed that some other students had used GoPro technology, and that those who had not had blended shots with fade in/outs, I wanted to attempt the former with the use of the latter. In particular the technology lends itself perfectly to this particular scenario, but I don’t have a GoPro, and although I would loved to have filmed using one, I had to make do with what I had to hand. I think with further shooting and better precision I could have achieved more fluidly my idea of blending shots using a hand over the camera more effectively. This I may re-shoot in time, but I felt that the effect could work with better raw material. However it would be best to present this on my learning log showing the process of why on this occasion, it did not achieve what I was hoping, especially being plagued by painful “white-outs” as the light hit the camera after removing the hand.

Audio, namely the diegetic sound, was done using seperate equipment, in the form of a portable digital sound recorder and by synching the footage to the audio. I decided to watch the silent footage and record sounds as they appeared. I added a music score, by recording an electric guitar whilst variating the tuning of the low E string, to give the impression of a nauseating and wobbly mood. I think that was successful.

I enjoyed shooting this scene and although a few technical lessons were learned, I am confident if I was to re-shoot, I would focus on overcoming those issues rather than the decisions I had made in the content, of which I am happy.



Project 3. The feel of a frame

Meaning is about more than simple information. Aside from what you show, the way you show it will alter how it is interpreted. The frame can alter the feel and thereby the meaning of a shot. There are no hard and fast rules about how this will work, it depends on the context – what is happening in the scene, whose eyes we are looking through, and what shots came before. In this project you will explore some of the ways framing can influence meaning by filming a short subjective sequence. Frame sizes You are probably familiar with the terms used to describe different shots, e.g. close-up, medium, wide, etc. These terms are of course relative. A close-up of a beetle will be a far closer shot in absolute terms than a close-up of the Earth from space. A good guide to understanding these relative sizes is to think of the wide shot as a reference against which the other sizes are measured.

Frame Sizes.jpg

The frame you choose can alter how you feel about the image it contains. Tight frames feel more intense and claustrophobic, wider frames may feel more open and objective. A character in the centre of a very wide frame will seem small and insignificant; in a tighter frame they may appear to be dominant in their surroundings. Again this is about the information you provide. If the viewer is forced to look closely at one small item it will take on an intense significance. A character seen full screen is important and significant; the same character seen small, surrounded by other significant space, is inevitably less significant.

Storyboards are illustrations representing the shots within your film. Typically each sketch represents the framing and composition of a single shot. Notes describing action, dialogue, camera movement and technical information may also accompany each storyboard cell. You will find some storyboard templates on the website. For now you only need to sketch out what you wish to put in each shot and accompany this with a description that clarifies what you have drawn. If you are skilled at drawing the pictures will probably suffice; if not, basic sketches and notes will do the job just as well. The process of sketching out storyboards, even if you are not a great illustrator, is very useful for focusing your mind on how the shots will work.

• Find some examples of powerful, emotive frames. These can be paintings, photographs or shots from films and upload three or four different examples to your blog.
• For each image provide notes about what feeling you get from it and how the framing has contributed to this.

Probably one of the most notorious images of war photo-journalism, this picture “Saigon Execution” ( Feb 1st, 1968 ) by Eddie Adams (1) for the Associated Press of the fatal shooting of a Viet Cong captive by General Nguyen Ngoc Loan of the Army of the Republic of VietNam, still remains to me one of the most emotive and powerful images I have seen. I first stumbled across this picture in my childhood and the image provoked profound thoughts of anger, disgust, awareness of justice/ injustice and multiple internal moral questions. It lead me to study the conflict in further detail and to challenge my own thoughts of war, political positioning and activism. At the time of this incident, footage was also taken by an NBC cameraman which shows the shocking scene in its entirety.
Framing of this photograph would have been instant, but the image has compiled all that is necessary to portray the action, including enough of the street background to show that this brutal execution was carried out in broad daylight in an urban surround.
I think it is necessary here to note Eddie Adams’ own words on the fall-out of the image itself:
” I won a Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for a photograph of one man shooting another. Two people died in that photograph: the recipient of the bullet and Gen. Nguyen Ngoc Loan. The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapons in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. … What the photograph didn’t say was, ‘What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American people?’…. This picture really messed up his life. He never blamed me. He told me if I hadn’t taken the picture, someone else would have, but I’ve felt bad for him and his family for a long time. … I sent flowers when I heard that he had died and wrote, “I’m sorry. There are tears in my eyes.”
( TIME magazine 24/06/2001 )

Susan Backlinie as Chrissie Watkins in the opening sequence of “Jaws” ( dir. Steven Spielberg, 1975 )(2). 

Although probably not the easiest of frames to set up, requiring under water apparatus, powerful overhead lighting, multiple crew personnel, etc, creates an iconic frame of startling atmosphere and tension with such a simplistic fashion.
The movie’s most intense driving force is the build up of tension and suspense without needing to show the antagonist at all. In fact where the movie does lose its power and credibility is when the monster is finally seen ( previously untested physical special effects that frankly weaken the movie’s strength ). With an infamous music score and excellent story telling, Jaws is a marvel of cinema, successfully using powerful images like this one to tell its very simple tale.
Here, as the monster approaches the figure on the surface, the audience is gripped with a gamut of emotions, ranging from titillation to trepidation to terror and to disgust. The flickering moon light silhouetting her body frame as she treads water, enjoying the summer sea temperature, soon to be dragged down to her agonising death. Still powerful even now in a time of CGI monsters and animated frames.

Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth in “Blue Velvet” ( dir. David Lynch, 1986 ). How to frame the face of  psychopathic behaviour without really trying… Probably winning the first prize for most demented villain in cinema. This disturbing image of the antagonist taking a gas mask full of amyl nitrate ( although originally scripted to be helium ), whilst staring intensely into the camera is a fine example of subjective POV . Frank cooks himself up into an intense stupor of rage, sexual aggression and violence before embarking on a terrifying attack on the movie’s protagonist Jeffrey Beaumont ( Kyle MacLachlan ).
The frame tells all that is needed to tell, spreading dread across the screen, focusing on Frank’s sinister eyes and brow, his intent extremely laid bare. There are other characters in the car but it is YOU ( Jeffrey ) that is the intent of his psychosis. (3)

Donald Sutherland in “Don’t Look Now” ( dir. Nicolas Roeg, 1973 ). I struggle looking at this image, being a father of two young daughters. But I first saw the masterpiece way before then, back in my late teens, and the images and frames in this marvel of cinematography permanently etched its way into my psyche. It really is a fine example of how beautiful horrific scenes can be in cinema, extremely artistic and very powerful. Don’t Look Now is astonishing, truly disturbing as a film and yet intriguing, poignant and suspenseful.
This frame perfectly fires home the anguish of the death of his beloved daughter, in which the whole film remains suspended on.
I love this film, and particularly this frame, how simple the accident was, how heart breaking and emotive the action is. I can barely describe it more. Terrifying. To this day, I still refuse to buy my daughters any red raincoats.

(1) Saigon Execution photograph by Eddie Adams (Feb 1st, 1968) – Eulogy in Time Magazine, 2001 – accessed 22nd April 2016,9171,139659,00.html#ixzz2Tnso3aM5
(2) Cinemablography – Making of the Jaws opening scene by Anthony Watkins, December 2014.  – accessed 22nd April 2016
(3) David Lynch fansite,  – accessed 22nd April 2016
(4) Film School Rejects – Dissecting the Incredible Opening Scene of Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now by Landon Palmer February 2015  – accessed 22nd April 2016

Project 2. Exercise: Visualisation

Find a quiet moment or two and try to imagine the situations described below. Place yourself in the scene; don’t think about what is there objectively but what you would see if you were there.

1. You are talking to someone in a shop
The person is facing you talking in an animated way, using their hands.
2. Knocking on a door.
You knock on the door. You wait. The door is opened. You may have conjured up some images of things you looked at while you were waiting.
3. You are having an illicit affair.
You are alone having a passionate conversation with your loved one. A sudden sound in the background causes you to glance round.

Once you have conjured up mental images for these scenarios go back to each and sketch out some basic impressions of what you see.  Make notes alongside your pictures detailing the elements that you have included. For each element consider why you have included it.
• What was left out at the edges?
• Note the things that you were aware of, but did not choose to ‘see’.
• Why did you leave them out?
• Will the viewer be aware that they are there?

1. You are talking to someone in a shop

FullSizeRender (12)

• What was left out at the edges?
The vast array of drinks, confectionery, tobacco and other products that are available at the Top Chap convenience store is left out.
• Note the things that you were aware of, but did not choose to ‘see’.
The drinks refrigerators, newspaper stands, other customers, shop doorway etc that are also part of the surrounding scenery are not in the frame.
• Why did you leave them out?
The requirement of the scene is to depict the animated shop keeper and focus subjectively on him. He is the object of the action and with that it is essential to close up on to his image.
• Will the viewer be aware that they are there?
By revealing enough of the background, ie, the cash register, samples of his stock, various advertising and posters, the viewer can gather information enough to see who he is and where we are. The remainder of the shop can easily be left to the viewer’s imagination given the information that can be gathered by what IS shown.

2. Knocking on a door.
You knock on the door.FullSizeRender (13)

• What was left out at the edges?
No need to show more than the fist knocking on the door and perhaps the house number and the door itself. We can gather from the shot of what action is being set.
• Note the things that you were aware of, but did not choose to ‘see’.
In my mind I assumed that the number of the house was relevant to the story. The image of the whole house itself.
• Why did you leave them out?
Whether or not the desired occupant is in will add to anticipation and perhaps will lead to suspense as to what exactly is about to happen.
• Will the viewer be aware that they are there?
This is the desired effect. Are they in or are they not, and what will happen.

You wait….
FullSizeRender (14)

• What was left out at the edges?
An opportunity to focus on the newspaper still not collected by the occupant. This can create tension as to whether there is anybody at home or if in fact whether they are able to collect.
• Note the things that you were aware of, but did not choose to ‘see’.
Chose not to see if the occupant is visible by any other means, focusing on the newspaper, dwelling in fact.
• Why did you leave them out?
There is a delay in the door being answered, by emphasizing the newspaper allows uncertainty to gestate.
• Will the viewer be aware that they are there?
As the viewer is being held in a moment of uncertainty, their knowledge of whether the house is empty or not will soon be revealed.

The door is opened.
FullSizeRender (15)

• What was left out at the edges?
Still shown subjectively, the frame shows the woman at home, nervously answering the door. I chose to tie in this exercise section with the following one, in that she is the lover of the illicit affair. Although we cannot see whether she is in the house alone, or whether the two characters are being watched.
• Note the things that you were aware of, but did not choose to ‘see’.
Perhaps this scene is being watched by a third party. By not revealing yet, we continue to strive further information.
• Why did you leave them out?
For the purpose of ambiguity. Focusing on the interplay between the two characters.
• Will the viewer be aware that they are there?
By her obvious uncomfortable demeanour, it appears likely.

3. You are having an illicit affair.
You are alone having a passionate conversation with your loved one.
FullSizeRender (16)

• What was left out at the edges?
The contents of the room. By filling the frame with her beautiful face and the window in the background, these are the most important pieces of information needed.
• Note the things that you were aware of, but did not choose to ‘see’.
Furniture and articles in the room, her belongings.
• Why did you leave them out?
Its her house and passion is growing. The scene requires focus on the tension, the contents of her room is not required.
• Will the viewer be aware that they are there?
Enough information is determined to allow the viewer to gather this is her house.

A sudden sound in the background causes you to glance round.
FullSizeRender (17)

• What was left out at the edges?
The remainder of the room. Enough is shown to explain the shattering of the glass and the bullet hole in the window.
• Note the things that you were aware of, but did not choose to ‘see’.
Her face.
• Why did you leave them out?
Further tension of how she feels…is it terror, expectation, anger…
• Will the viewer be aware that they are there?
The viewer is given a brief moment of uncertainty.


Which sequences are the most effective and why?
I think the usage of the subjective POV is most effective in creating a tense atmosphere, especially highlighted in the wait for the girl to answer the door. A brief glance down at the unattended letterbox, and finally her opening the door with a nervous look, allowing her to access the fourth wall thus giving the viewer the illusion of them being the lover.

What makes a convincing subjective sequence?
Allowing the object character a chance to look straight at you ( the camera lens ) is convincing in that it specifically invites the viewer to engage in the action personally. Suspense is often increased by this type of sequence. Fine examples of this are The Prodigy’sSmack My Bitch Up” (1) , sequences in Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games( 1997 ) (2) and the recent cinema release,Hardcore Henry( dir. Ilya Naishuller, 2015 ) (3) the latter of which utilises this POV for its entirety,  filmed on  Go-Pro Hero 3 Black Edition cameras. Found -footage horror movies of the late nineties onwards are particularly effective using this, however the audience is aware that the POV is that of the “found” camera, notably “The Blair Witch Project” ( dir. Sanchez and Myrick, 1999 ) (4), “Cloverfield” ( dir. Matt Reeves, 2008 ) (5) and “[Rec]” ( dir. Balagueró and Plaza, 2007 ) (6) and not that of the viewer / protagonist.

What gives the sequence a sense of atmosphere or tension?
Using this POV often requires the action to be in real time, thus giving the impression that “anything could happen”..

(1). The promotional music video for “Smack My Bitch Up”, directed by Jonas Åkerlund
(UK 1997), winner of MTV Video Music Awards 1998 for Best Breakthrough Video and Best Dance Video. – accessed 20th April 2016
(2) Funny Games directed by Michael Hanneke (Germany, 1997).  – accessed April 20th 2016
Hardcore Henry directed by Ilya Naishuller (Russia/ USA, 2015) – accessed April 20th 2016
The Blair Witch Project directed by Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick (USA, 1999)
(4.1) Film Art- An Introduction Sixth Edition by David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson University of Wisconsin Press 2001. p228. – accessed April 20th 2016
(4.2) – accessed April 20th 2016
Cloverfield directed by Matt Reeves (USA, 2008) – accessed April 20th 2016
Rec. directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza (Spain, 2007) – accessed April 20th 2016




Project 2. Exercise: Building a story

In this exercise we are asked to

• Choose a picture (either find or create one of your own or choose one from the website).
• Identify a series of smaller frames within the picture that you can use to create a new story.
• Place your new images in order and accompany them with notes outlining your new story. • Upload your image sequence to your blog.


I have selected the oil painting “Girls on 14th Street – Homage to Isabel Bishop” ( 2015 ) by John Alexander Parks,  after much deliberation and trawling. I particularly like the painting in that it conjures up such thoughts of why there are no men in the picture? Why is it so busy at this particular block? The painting is busy and portrays an intense atmosphere, somewhat highlighted by the apparent warm temperature of the time of the day in the scene. New York in the early summer,  perhaps late morning / early afternoon at the weekend.

14th Street Frame1

New York City, Saturday June 11th, 2017.
The women of the city have just attended a speech by political activist Pippa Jeffery, and the crowd are now dispersing.

14th Street Frame2

Miley ( girl in jeans ) hugs Terrie goodbye, it has been a great meeting. Pippa Jeffery hit the nail(s) on the head(s). The new legislation will not be accepted lying down.
We must meet up again soon, y’know, I’ve missed you.
Yeah, its just funerals and protests, these days!
You’ve got my cellphone number or message me on FB?
Sure. I feel ready for this now…
Yeah, me too….

14th Street Frame3

Held up by an incident in the subway at 5th Avenue, Laura’s mum Karen has missed most of Pippa’s speech, and she anticipates Laura will be annoyed at that. She’s gonna think I’m not committed, like she often complains that I am…
Laura spots her mum ( in the blue dress at the top right hand part of the frame ) from afar and waves out to her.
Mom! Mom over here. (THEY MEET UP ) She was great, Mom, did you hear any of it?
Someone jumped the track on Fifth. I was stuck on the train for almost an hour!
( wincing ) That’s awful!
I did hear her attack on the mayor though, that was beautiful!
Oh that was just the tip of the iceberg. C’mon, you buy me a coffee and I’ll tell you the rest of it….

14th Street Frame4

Corrine ( Green dress ) touches her only daughter Lucy’s shoulder ( denim hot-pants ).
Hey I love you sweetie. ( Lucy looks back at her ) Will you be coming to the house this weekend?
I don’t know Mom, I’m really busy.
( Hiding back her disappointment ) Okay sweetheart, call me.
Corrine buries the hurt. She can’t possibly bring herself to tell her precious daughter that there may not be many more weekends left….



I found the search for the picture that may ignite a story in my head more difficult than I was expecting. I was really looking forward to this exercise, all the same. I love to people-watch. I recall spending nearly a day in Buenos Aires, Argentina, sitting on a street corner with a notepad and just filling up the pages with scenarios of what I thought the passers-by could be thinking. I must have drunk an ocean of coffee that day, and the local tea yerba mate. 
I found photographs of days gone by, early 1900s, 1920s, London in the swinging sixties, Budapest in the Soviet occupation, among others. But I wanted to focus on character as well as the images in the frame. This picture stood out above the rest, and soon the characters began to jump out.
With the initial picture being rather busy with various passers-by and characters to choose from, I tried to pick frames that would have people passing both in front of and also behind, still conjuring a hectic scene atmosphere. At first glance the image represents a gathering but noticing that seldom these characters are interacting; it is obvious that this just shows individuals just going by, in a highly populated frame. Hence a lot of action is trapped in small pockets of perhaps just two people at a time. To interlink these frames I needed to conjure a scenario that would suit. What would be happening externally that would draw only one sex to one particular street at one particular time? This lead to the idea of a small rally held for women only.

“Girls, 14th St. (Homage to Isabel Bishop)” 2013 Oil on Linen, 30″ x 40″ Collection: the Artist.
-Accessed April 20th 2016.


Exercise: Telling a story. Part 3

Repeat the process with a story of your own

I thought long and hard as to what story I would tell for this section of the exercise. I had some ideas of scenes in my head that would suit, but I realised that most of them were just vignettes, part of a story, just a short scene, etc. I had noticed that other students had told longer stories, and episodes, even anecdotes. I thought again, trawling through my own mental library of a good story to tell.

What is the story?
I decided upon one that a friend of mine reminded me recently, from my younger past. One perhaps I am not too proud of, but amusing all the same. So cast your mind back to 1990, at the time of the alternative rock music revolution when I was lead vocalist of grunge punk band Allison’s Birthday and we had played a great gig the night before in the Sussex city of Brighton. Early the next day I awoke very hungover so decided some hair of the dog would sort me. Heading down towards the beach with a bottle of fortified wine, and despite the warnings of my band mates not to sit too near the rough sea, I found myself dragged off into the sea by a wave. The journey home in the van, soaking wet, much to the mocking laughter of my bandmates, I will never forget.

What information is conveyed in each frame?
1. It’s morning time and I’m heading off to the beach , with a bottle of strong booze.
2. Half an hour later, laying down on the beach, enjoying the buzz of the drink, oblivious to the waves lapping upon the beach.
3. My band mate and his girlfriend spot me from the promenade and call out to me to be careful.
4. Too late, a big freezing-cold wave, drags me off the beach and into the sea.
5. Surviving my ordeal, but soaked to the bone, I sit in the car with my bass player driving whilst he and his girlfriend mock and laugh at me all the way home.

What information is necessary to understand the story?
Its essential to express that I am drinking rather early in the morning and I’m heading to the beach.  (Might I just say that it is summer time but the weather is overcast and its slightly windy that day.) My friends warn me that it could be dangerous. My drawing skills fail as I attempt Frame 4, but I hope that what I have drawn covers the basic idea of the wave taking me off. Essential also is to show the smiling faces of my mocking friends on the way home. ( I changed the vehicle from a van to a car, simply again from my sketching inability.

What essential information has been left out and/or what is included unnecessarily?
I left out the fact that I was hungover.
Perhaps the wording and maybe the time clocks could appear unnecessary. I invite other students’ comments to ascertain what they felt was missed out/unnecessary.

Washed Away

Exercise: Telling a story. Part 2

Look at other students’ sequences and try to answer these questions:

Once one is aware that the story is a well-known or traditional tale, it is easy to follow the five scene exercise simply because of familiarity to the relevant stories. I have therefore avoided reading any notes or comments that other students have made until AFTER studying their pictures. My intension is to see if I can follow the shots to tell the story and gather which stories they are attempting to tell.

Chloe’s “Hansel and Gretel”

It was easy to ascertain from the first frame which story Chloe had selected, and I was particularly engrossed in her high quality sketching skills ( which of course is not the reason I am studying the piece ). Her frames are clearly explaining the story in adequate detail and I was able to pinpoint the important parts of the story. I did find frame 4 slightly ambiguous and required her notes to set me straight however.
What is the story?
Hansel and Gretel
What information is conveyed in each frame?
1. The children’s father is told by his new partner that the children will have to go ( They are too poor to feed them )
2. A tearful father leaves the children in the deep dark woods.
3. The children discover the house of sweets and are welcomed in by the old lady that lives there.
4. The girl pushes the witch into the oven to allow the children to escape.
5. They are reunited with their father.
What information is necessary to understand the story?
The children banished to the woods by their father as instructed by their new step-mum. The deep woods are scary, and their sanctuary is the sweet-infused cottage which the old lady ( the witch ) resides in. This old lady enslaves the children requiring them to escape.
All is safe and well when they return to their loving father.
What essential information has been left out and/or what is included unnecessarily?
The difficulty to portray the evil intentions of the witch in just five fames for example was successfully described by the frowning old lady. I suppose this is the most complicated part of the story as there are various important points that tell the story in such a concentrated format. She entices the children with the offer of sweets, that she enslaves them to make them work for her and eventually eating them, she is tricked by Gretel and is locked in her own oven whilst they escape. Chloe has managed to tell this well within frames 3 and 4, given the vast amounts of info to portray. With this I cant see any unnecessary information, and information that has been left out can only be conversational or “story-filler” information.

Paul’s “Jack and the Beanstalk”

The sketches are rudimentary and tell the story of JATBS with a clearly defined direction. Very successfully Paul indicated, from the very first frame, I was aware of which traditional tale he had selected.
What is the story?
Jack and the Beanstalk
What information is conveyed in each frame?
1. Jack is instructed by his mother to take the cow to market.
2. He is offered beans as payment for the cow.
3. Jack returns home to a disappointed mother with his bag of beans.
4. Jack is chased down the beanstalk by the giant.
5. Upon reaching the bottom Jack chops down the stalk.
What information is necessary to understand the story?
Facing impoverishment, the mother instructs Jack to take their remaining cow to the market to sell. Jack meets a man that offers beans as payment for the cow, of which he accepts. Upon his return, his furious mother throws the beans away, however the beans take root and a beanstalk then grows. Jack climbs the beanstalk and discovers a giant that lives at the very top. Jack steals a harp and climbs back down the stalk, with the giant in pursuit. Before he is caught, Jack chops down the stalk to exterminate the giant.
What essential information has been left out and/or what is included unnecessarily?
Again the tale is rather busy to tell fully successfully within just five frames. Paul has achieved this to good effect, however. I was unaware, or had forgotten the theft of the harp so I was confused as to why he had a harp attached to him. If the giant’s foot had not been in the shot, I would have assumed that frame 4 was indicating Jack to have been climbing up rather than climbing down the stalk. It was not until I noticed this, that I realised the harp had been taken by Jack. I think perhaps the giant could have been given a bigger “part” in the scene, as only his huge foot is seen, but appreciate that perhaps Paul may have omitted him on purpose ( thus allowing the viewer to fear him more, obscurity breeds uncertainty, and therefore develops tension. )
I noticed no superfluous information in any of the frames.

Ashley’s “Cinderella”

From the outset again, upon noticing the broomstick and a torn raggedy dress that is Cinderella. Easy to follow, I’m intrigued as to whether yet another busy fairytale can be told successfully in just five frames. I think Ashley has succeeded well.
What is the story?
What information is conveyed in each frame?
1. Cinderella is sweeping up as her ugly step sister or Stepmum head out ( to the ball )
2. Her fairy godmother transforms her dress to that of a beautiful ball-gown, followed by the transformation of the pumpkin and the mice.
3. Cinderella successfully “pulls” the handsome prince.
4. Upon the strike of midnight, she flees leaving her glass slipper behind.
5. The prince finds the girl that the slipper fits, much to the dismay of the ugly sisters watching.
What information is necessary to understand the story?
The stepmum and her daughters treat Cinders as a maid and they head off to the ball. The astonishing Fairy Godmother grants her wishes to attend the ball by transforming her clothes, creating a coach and footmen and of course gives her fetching glass footwear on proviso she returns by midnight. Caught up in the romance of the evening she needs to flee urgently as her deadline arrives, leaving her glass slipper behind. The prince seeks out her identity after a nationwide search with the slipper that can only fit his true love.
What essential information has been left out and/or what is included unnecessarily?
Cinderella is a busy tale, there are lots of essential information that tell the story. Ashley successfully includes as much as is necessary and the tale is told with clear detail. Upon further study I do believe there is nothing I can see has been left out and furthermore there are no unneccessary additions.

Project 1. Exercise: Telling a Story

Category Archives: Frames in the film

Exercise: Telling a story

Tell a story using just five frames.

Choose a simple story

  • Try a fairytale or another well-known narrative most people will be familiar with.
  • Sketch out five essential images that will tell the story.
  • Upload your images to your blog and invite comments.



What information is conveyed in each frame?

  1. Humpty Dumpty, somewhat a reckless individual given his fragile condition, attempts to show off his bravado by climbing atop the high wall above the suburban estate that we see behind him. I thought I would bring the traditional tale to the present day, as fables go, the story still has the same message at any given era.
  2. As with the text of the rhyme, Humpty falls off. This time we see him injured at the foot of the wall from the POV of the suburban estate. ( From the other side of the wall as that in Frame 1 ).
  3. The limits of using just five frames meant I had to decide to skip any shots of him being discovered injured, but allowing me to move fluidly to the next idea giving the audience an assumption that passers-by had called for help. An ambulance arrives at A&E. I utilised the phrase “..all the King’s horses and all the King’s men…” spreading it across frame 3 ( ie. the King’s Hospital ) and then in frame 4…
  4. … showing that neither the King’s horses nor the King’s men ( his surgeons ) were fruitful in reviving HD from his tragic accident. (NOTE: Because of my inept drawing skills, I felt the need to clearly point out to the reader with symbols that represent hospitals. A heart monitor, an IV drip, a mask on the king’s “surgeon”, but just to clarify it all, I added the “Nil By Mouth” poster above his bed. Perhaps superfluous, but intentional, due to my lack in confidence of my drawing ability.)
  5. As with all good tragedies, the final frame has the shock ending. The finite image of HD’s grave. I interpreted “…couldn’t put poor Humpty together again” as an indication that he never survived. Showing his grave, but you can see that somebody at least cared for him, they left him flowers, a promise of hope to help lighten the dark mood.INTERESTING THEORY: As stated in the Wikipedia entry for Humpty Dumpty , American cartoonist Robert Ripley ( 1890-1949 ), “posits that Humpty Dumpty is King Richard III of England, depicted in Tudor histories, and particularly in Shakespeare’s play, as humpbacked and who was defeated, despite his armies at Bosworth Field in 1485. (Source: Opie & Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes 1997 )”

What information is necessary to understand the story?

Humpty, sits on the wall, but falls off, hurting himself severly. He is taken away to hospital by the King’s entourage, however they are unsuccessful in saving him.

What essential information has been left out and/or what is included unnecessarily?

I had not included the common belief of Humpty being an anthropomorphic egg, even though the text does not say this either, I had described him as rather a portly young man instead. My decision to portray the story in a modern setting is perhaps unnecessary, but I felt compelled to do so with the ideas that I had in my mind that would tell the same story.


The frame is the fundamental unit of production in a film. Every image within the film is contained within a frame. Every time a shot changes or the camera moves there is a new frame.

In thinking about the function of a frame it is useful to consider its place in the overall structure of the film. In this section you’ll be looking at the elements that build to make a successful frame. It is important to remember that the success of a frame is defined by its function in the completed film.


A film may be broken down into component sections. In the diagram above it has been subdivided into three acts. These sections define the overall structure of the film. The film as a whole and the sections within a film should have some kind of common style, feel and logic.

Beyond this the film can then be broken down into scenes. A scene is a distinct segment within a film that normally takes place in a single location and in a single period of time.

The atmosphere, pace, and style of a scene will be dictated by its own internal logic, the location, the action and information it seeks to convey and its purpose and placement in the overall structure of the film.

The shots that make up each scene need to maintain a continuity that is dictated by the logic of the scene – for example the light levels, colour balance and background sound are likely to be the same for all shots in the same scene. The logic of the space must be continuous. If character A is to the left of character B in one shot, this relationship must appear to be maintained in the next. If character B moves, the audience must be made aware of this. In composing each shot we therefore need to consider the design, composition and logic of the whole scene.

A shot is one continuous image. As soon as the continuity is broken (when there is a cut) the shot ends. Each shot may be a new frame or there may be movement within the shot so that it contains different frames.

Each frame will have its own internal logic; it will reveal something new or affect the audience in a new way. It is only by a series of changes and progressions within and between frames that the film can develop.

Each time we have a new frame all the elements that make up the new image must be reconsidered and carefully composed once more.

Telling a story with frames

What makes film unique among other art forms is that it uses a series of frames to tell a story or convey some kind of meaning or narrative. Painting and photography must contain their narrative or meaning within a single frame.

The type of frame within a film that we have defined above is very small, perhaps only lasting a couple of seconds on screen. Scores of frames may make up a single scene. A sophisticated film is attempting to convey a very complex range of meanings that can change rapidly over time.

To understand the importance and power of each individual frame it is worth considering how much can be said with each one.

Each frame needs to contain enough information for you to understand the essential bones of the story. If you imagine each frame as a shot with some action or dialogue you can see that this would be enough to tell a condensed version of the story. We start with the premise that any story can be told with five pictures.