Media Production Mentoring

Free online film school designed with beginning filmmakers in mind.


Unhappy Angles

I recently buzzed through a rather horrible movie full of uninteresting, annoying, bothersome, despicable, morally repugnant, lame, boring characters in a world as equal to the aforementioned failures. But I did notice that there was one insightful shot in the movie... not a very good shot, mind you, but insightful. The shot was this:

Unhappy Angle

Granted, the actors--playing unhappy and miserable characters--do a good job seething at each other. But what really sells this moment is the way the scene is askew. We're given a dutch angle, where the whole world feels tiled around our characters. Nothing is okay.

Orson Wells, of course, did an even better job with far more subtly in Citizen Kane, such as this moment with Kane and his wife:

Unhappy Couple

How you frame, move, light, and otherwise execute a scene can give your audience powerful insights into what's happening within your characters. But if you set out to make an artsy, navel-gazing, drawn-out character study, please, please, please make your characters interesting and your story compelling. All the fancy angles in the world can't save you from tedium and an unhappy audience.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

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