Saturday, November 20, 2010

Continued . . . On Using Camera Movement

Once you've set your locations known and had your sets designed, the look of the picture is locked in. I don't care what your cinematographer does. If it is a tiny room, you're photographing tiny spaces. If it is a colorful room, you're making a statement about bright color.

To suddenly say, "I'm starting to shoot this film, now I'll create my visual style," is nonsense. That’s why I said earlier, the Director has to know the location well in advance. The visual look is total ensemble work and it is extremely important that it be set very early on.

The camera and camera movement are part of the vocabulary you use to make your statement. If you overuse camera movement, it's like screaming, "Help, help, help" all the time, or having 25 exclamation points. If you're looking at the eyes and face of a character and they're revealing emotions, why the hell move the camera unless that movement makes a statement?

On the other hand, in Apoorva Sahodharkal (Tamil) while Appu (Kamal Hassan) laughs out loud on the circus ring making others laugh, his huge histrionic speech that's wildly funny, and I pan down to his hands and his fingernails that dig holes into his palms and they bleed, there's a reason for that camera movement.

There’s one shot on Guna when Roshini tries to escape the dilapidated church where she’s kept a prisoner by Guna, as she comes out and runs towards the car, screams: “help, anybody help”. The camera suddenly pans in different directions as we hear her voice coming back. The forest looks lavishly expansive, exaggeratedly careless; and we find her voice coming back to her from all around, as she finds herself a part of eternity.

It was a striking camera move, but it was also making a point: "OMG, how lost the girl is, and how endless can be the journey of escape!"

On Scoring Films Effectively

While writing screenplays, I’m sure we all come up with a music within, which is hardly effable or rather not defined at that point of time; still we can well feel the presence of music, as a writer. But a director, I reckon should have a clear definition with the songs, and more importantly the music score used to highlight emotions in the film. In general, music and sound effects are dangerous weapons because they are over-used so much. Chanakyan (Malayalam) and Kuruthippunal (Tamil) were films wherein songs were not essential but music score was.

In Chanakyan, Mohan Sitara - almost a debutant music composer at those times did a wonderful contribution for Chanakyan; he had composed a score well before the cinematographic shoot was on, so we could use the score as a base to shoot the pictures. The score actually has characterized the lost music inside the character - Johnson, and also gave many modulations to his long-pending revenge.

In Kuruthippunal, the original music of Shri Ilayaraja brought about a sense of danger in domestic fascism, hiding behind symbols of patriotism, as he created a positive, folk-like score. But there's an edge to it. There's something under that cheerful, martial thing that becomes threatening.

In Jillunnu Oru Kadhal, A R Rahman used the score more relatable to baroque, at the same time regional folk music, which brought about a dignity and romantic quality, but controlled with a sense of occasion.

On Choosing Projects

We all go by our ethos as a person, and not as a writer or director, as we pursue this path of creativity. The kind of influence we have had during our childhood does make a weight as to the choice we make in choosing a project to write or direct.

Somewhere, we go back to the fact that we all have obsessions. If we're creative, if we're lucky, we have things that drive us, mysteries that we have to live and re-live and act out and re-enact. And each time, if you're creative and you're lucky, you get a picture or a book or a story out of it. That's what I always tell my colleagues and students at my Screenwriters Academy - ScreenWrite.In


karthik said...

i think the music of kuruthipunal was not illayaraja .... it was composed by the one who composed for nammavar...do not remember his name though

SRamesh said...

It is Mahesh

SRamesh said...

It is Mahesh

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