Connecting with an Audience

         A great movie is not just actors on the screen reading a given dialogue. What makes a film so great is its ability to connect with an audience, and film makers are able to do this using effective camera work, costumes, lighting, settings, and sound. These touches can make or break a film.

.          The subtlety of camera work is vital to a good film. By the use of a number of different angles and techniques, a scene can be taken to a new level. Imagine Steven Spielberg’s 1998 Saving Private Ryan, and the battle scene on the beaches of Normandy. Spielberg uses a number of techniques including hand-held cameras, to create the illusion that the audience members are actually there themselves fighting along with Tom Hanks. If Spielberg had chosen to use a simple boom operated camera, the film would not be as effective. A battle scene shot from only one angle does not make a good movie.

         Costumes are also very important when one is making a realistic and entertaining film. With the right costumes a film seems to flow better and makes more sense to the audience. Take Coppola’s 2006 Marie Antoinette, for example. This is a period film set in the late 1700s during the French Revolution. If this film had been released with Kirsten Dunst playing Marie in a poodle skirt, the entire essence and truth of the story would be lost. Costumes are not just important in period films but are vital to other genres too. Would George Lucas’ 1977 Star Wars have been as effective as a science fiction film if Hans Solo and Leia had been dressed as a cowboy and saloon girl? Costumes are an essential part of filmmaking that connects the time period and personality of a character with the audience.

         Lighting on set and in a film is also very important in the filmmaking process. Lighting can create drama to a film, or give a person a heavenly-like glow. I think the most useful effects of lighting is shadow in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 horror classic Psycho, the use of light and shadow is played to perfection. During the first murder scene in the shower when Norman Bates’s “Mother” is slinking toward the shower curtain, all the viewer can see is a shadow. By the backlighting of Norman, this effect was created and helped scare millions of people. Another effective use of lighting can be seen in a film we saw in class, Nosferatu (1922), directed by Max Schrek. In this film lighting is used to illuminate Nosferatu (Max Schrek), giving him a creepy glow. This was done by lighting him from the front while everything else in the background was kept dark.

         Settings for a film are equally as important when creating a scene of time and place for the audience to see and relate too. In early films sets were made simple, but with the growth of studios and the use of back-lots sets for films became more lavish.

         Today with the use of computer-generated sets, the audience can be brought into an entirely new world. In the film What Dreams May Come the setting of the film is so magical that the audience is transported into Robin Williams’ character’s heaven.

         What I think is the most important development with film is music. Since the beginning music has been a part of the film industry. Even the great in the Silent Epics, music was added to break up the silence.

         Music creates a sense of movement for a film and can help give a clue to the impending action of a film. John Williams has mastered the art of scoring for a film. In the first three Harry Potter films, directed by Chris Columbus (2001, 2004) and by Alfonso Cuarón (2005) Williams creates fantasy and movement with his music. With Hedwig’s theme we see Harry’s owl moving through the scene along with the music

.          All of these methods of film making help create emotion that the audience can connect with. Without these techniques a film would not be as exciting to see.

Kimberly Marks

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