Cinematography For Directors
Cinematography For Directors is series of short videos dissecting the shot selection and framing used in nine specific scenes in the movie Drinking Games. HUGE thanks to Cinematographer Andrew "Tank" Rivara at TankLightsYouUp.com and AC Chris Falkowski for making it all possible!
My hope is that the ideas expressed in the videos help your decision-making process on your next film. Remember, these are just ideas, a jumping off point, a way to start thinking about picking and framing shots. Hope it's helpful!
***Ep 1 - Slow Dolly***
I discuss why we used a slow dolly into the character of Tom to introduce him, and some ways you can apply this move to your own projects. Full text below.
I'm an independent producer/director with award-winning features distributed in theaters, online and internationally. When I have a new project, I do a lot of Q&A's and with my new feature Drinking Games, I took a lot of questions about the cinematography and shot selection. I thought this type of breakdown would be helpful to other directors like you, so I put in video form. You can check out my films below, they're all available on Hulu, iTunes and Amazon.
Turtle Hill, Brooklyn
***Full Video Text***
It’s important to me to use the opening shots that establish a character to frame who the person is in relation to the world.
The Graduates- as the car comes whipping into everyone’s world, that person is in a location and behaving in a way that will define them for better or worse. Even the color palette at each location is specifically designed to teach us who the character is without any dialog.
Turtle Hill, Brooklyn- Will and Mateo are the two central characters. We introduce them with Will passively lying in bed, waiting to have his day presented to him, and Mateo scurrying around trying to look like the perfect boyfriend. This is also symbolic of how they each deal with the infidelity at the center of the story.
So here, in Drinking Games, Tom is not the central character, but he is an important one, and his arc is basically: he tries to be cool and do things right, but the world is out of his control, and slowly swallows him up in a darkly funny way.
So we tried to mirror that with the camera movement. Using a small jib- 12-feet- we slowly creep forward while the obnoxious kids slowly pick him apart.
Our DP, Tank Rivara guided the jib while our AC Chris Falkowski climbed ninja-like over the first couch, WHILE pulling focus.
Because of the shooting angle, we were not able to have him climb over the second couch, so the actors leapt up as soon as the camera passed and slid the second couch out of Chris’s path.
All of this had to be done with precise timing, and silence. I believe it took 9 takes, the singles most takes of any scene/shot combo.
By the time we were done, the room was in shambles and people were standing everywhere. But the effect is a smooth, creeping attack on Tom, played here by the extremely talented Josh Bragg.
Hope that was interesting. I wanted to talk about some of the decision making process behind certain shots. This one I believe does a great job of complementing Josh’s portrayal of the character, and reflecting Tom’s arc.