Sunday, June 24, 2012

What does it take to make your film emotionally felt ?

Recently I saw two movies from two top directors. I call them top director because I see their film as text-books, something to learn from and and get inspired from. I know they will present their stories in ways I haven't seen. They will have mise-en-scenes that are unseen, not just in India but in the world. Atleast that's what I expect.

And well when I saw the film, I was mighty impressed by the world they created. It's always good to get a refresher on how to construct a scene. Their techniques and the density of the film world they created was something that I cannot imagine acheiving in my first 3 films atleast. The "karigari" was of the highest quality.
But after seeing their films and thinking about them, I got a little tensed. Tensed cause inspite of being such brilliantly crafted, I don't know why, I couldn't feel much. I couldn't take that journey with the characters, in their highs and lows. It felt like I was the spectator and a film was unfolding in front of me. It never felt for me that I was myself going through it. Their movie-making craft was not helping their story-telling.

A good contrary example (but rather random) that come to my mind from a scene in Indian cinema is that of Johnny Gaddar when Johny is sitting in front of Dharmendra and Dharmedra has found out that he is the one who killed their team-mate and Johnny shoots at him. He is doing a wrong thing but  I was with that guy. Even my instincts were - kill him. I was one with the character.

In the past too, in one of my films I have failed to make it emotionally felt. Did I not spend enough time in making people register what my character was feeling.Was the problem in the edit, my handling of actors or was the problem in the writing itself where the thoughts in my head didn't reach my paper ?
And how to avoid being in a dissatisfying situation like this ? A story not well-told is dissatisfying for everyone.
I thought this could only be attained by taking care of feeling/emotions in every phase of film-making. Think of "feelings" like a delicate rose petal that I have to take care and transfer it - from my soul, to my mind to my script, to my shots and finally in my edit (& music) and to my viewer's mind and soul.
So these are my recommendations - moreso to myself than to anyone else to help a film convey the emotions I set out to convey.

1) Feel it - If I don't feel to or I never felt it - it will not be born. So feel the threat of being caught, feel the joys of living a life - feel it on my mind, not just in my shots or plots, but feel it in my being.

2) Write about it in script. Make room for it, give instances, experiences to the character so that they can convey their personality traits, give them specificity, give them weirdness, give them nuances, give them scope of presenting spontaneous reactions. Cross check that you have indeed downloaded your thoughts into you script. 

2b) Make those nuances visible in your shot breakdown. Make room for them. Plan shots so that we orient viewers to receive it. (An example from King's speech last shot where the coach is in his room thinking about the King and the King standing, waving people, thinking about the coach - the shot breakdown was very subtly and nicely done and they made room to convey this thought on the script)

3) During shoot- Convey it to your actors. They should be sure and very clear of the story in the point in time of the film. Incase they are not then they will not convey what you envisioned or thought of. It should reflect in their face, their body language, in the vibe or energy they exude. Give actors pauses where he is thinking and stay with him. So much of acting is done in pauses.

4) In the edit, between a good shot and a great feeling, give importance to feelings. Because even a million dollar shot will be of no use if it cannot generate a feeling. So stress on feelings and emotions.

These are my thoughts. However, if someone has pointers on text, case study or subject matter that can help me increase the emotional footprint of my film then please let me know. In the coming months, I will take up some scenes/movies and see what made them tick emotionally. Any recos ?

Update:  After discussing with a colleague, just want to clarify that beingn emotionally felt is not a mandate for any film and people can make any film and enjoy it the way they want.  And that is not the area towards which I want to steer any discussion . It's just a blog on what I feel,  and what I want to achieve with my films.

1 comment:

arati kadav said...

The scene from johnny gaddar that worked:

Noticing the pauses - the way the guy is literally cornered. We take time to go into his psyche.