Watching films is a classroom in itself, yet you really have to have the right tools to become a critical viewer. All good directors are students of film. They devour film, looking at the way their peers chose to present the script - their shot choice, transitions, music and form.
Watching films is a classroom in itself, yet you really have to have the right tools to become a critical viewer.
All good directors are students of film. They devour film, looking at the way their peers chose to present the script - their shot choice, transitions, music and form. To get the most out of watching films and glean new ways of shooting scenes and presenting ideas, you have to start with the basic elements that make up any film or video production. In this column, we will look at these various elements and provide a simple guide that you can use to begin your journey into the film classroom.
Before You Start
To really give a film your total critical attention, you have to distance yourself and become a totally objective viewer. This can be difficult to do, especially if the film is well done and pulls you into the story with characters that you begin to care about, thrust into a situation that seems insurmountable. Will they escape? Will they fall in love? Finding the answer pulls you away from your primary task, which is to study the various aspects of the film, so that you may grow in your own filmmaking. There is a very easy solution, though somewhat time-consuming: watch the film twice, once for enjoyment and once for study. Soon, you will be able to do both at the same time, though it does tend to reduce your overall enjoyment of the film.
When you watch the film a second time to study it, break it down into its various scenes, use slow motion and step advancing to go through it, and study edit points and transitions. Watch how the movement of the scene flows from one action to the next. Take note of the director's shot choices, the actors' blocking, the Director of Photography's lighting. Carefully study the film and glean from it as many new ideas as possible.
Start Your FREE Trial Plus Membership To View This Article
Why Become a Plus Member?
As a Plus Member, you'll enjoy:
- Exclusive access to 1,000s of articles, tips, and videos
- Unlimited access to Videomaker Tips & Tricks video series
- Special contests and monthly drawings
- Members only eLetters
- Early online access to the current issue of Videomaker Magazine
- Members only discounts on Videomaker merchandise and more
- Priority status at Videomaker events
- The Expert Hotline: direct email access to our editors. Get answers to questions about any video subject