All posts by aaron

oh oscar…

Yet another year has gone by with new formulas for how to make the Oscars exciting. Here’s an idea… stick to the basics. Mainly movie magic!

Yeah big stars are a huge draw… but what makes Hollywood actors so much bigger than TV actors? The Magic! They’re literally larger than life on a giant screen. They portray characters in a world that you enter and immerse yourself in for 90 plus minutes. People don’t get drawn into that world because of actors, it’s because of ACTING and the many, many other disciplines that come together to make a good film.

So when you’re giving out awards to honour the craft, editing, special effects art direction etc. don’t rush through it so much thinking people don’t care. People love movie magic. They gawk at films shot on the street, they go to theme parks dedicated to taking you inside the movies. Take a minute and articulate the details. Give people a little glimpse.

Personally I’d still watch the whole show if Lou Dobbs hosted and presented every award… but I’ve watched it and dreamed about movies every year since I was five… really the thing is 3+ hours long. It HAS to move. If you’re serious about young & hip, hire Andy Samberg + Sarah Silverman. No? Too risque? That’s alright. For now just go for funny. Seriously, it felt like the grown-ups told Franco and Hathaway to be on their best behaviour.

frame as king

A lot of work that I’ve done this fall has brought me back to the classic situation of one camera and a speaker – someone sharing an idea or a story. Sounds simple enough, but it immediately gives rise to some challenges like how to put the person at ease so he/she can be clear, lucid, and interesting. How do you create natural places for editing? And most importantly how to create a visual flow that will carry your subject and keep your viewer’s attention.

People usually solve the problem with a gaze straight at the lens or to a spot left or right and by adding LOTS of visually popping b-roll. I’ve done hours of this kind of work. It’s like home base. And you can take it to an extreme, with split screen montages and lot’s of visuals wizzing by. But refreshingly the story does not end here. I’ve been revisiting the problem from new angles (literally). How can one person on camera feel more like a scene – a dialogue instead of a monologue, a drama instead of a presentation? What if you take away the safety net of hiding your edits with b-roll? What if you limit takes to one… or don’t have takes at all… just talk and subtly bring the conversation back to subjects that you want more coverage of? How natural can you get it? What are the key points that just need a little summary? When do you push a bit? What if you make the frame king–instead of montage? Know you angles by instinct even before the interview starts. Let things thing roll and move naturally, so that you’re covered in such a way that whenever there’s a cut it won’t feel like a bad jump cut. Catch a cut-away gesture or two that make it more like life.

It’s a bit of a different mindset, but if the story is worth telling, does is really need a stream of visual supporting material? Why not make it just like a person telling you something cool.