DGMA 5103 11:00
December 5, 2017
How to be Successful in Film
When it comes to the art of film production, anyone can just simply pick up a camera and start recording. As long as they hold it still and keep it focused, they are now a filmmaker. However, in order to make something that truly holds up to the title of this industry, as being something of art, one has to understand what themes and concepts they are putting forth into their production. In this most recent project, my colleagues used two pieces that needed heavy research. The first being a concept, that of the “suspension of disbelief.” The second being a film genre, that of the silent films that began the film industry itself. In the use of an example, this will explain how our use of these concepts have been used to enhance the presentation of our ideas and creative thinking in the work.
One of the main tools used in our video, and one that has been used in many films over the years, is the “suspension of disbelief.” By definition, Suspension of disbelief is “a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.” (Dictionary.com) The creator of the term, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, used this willing suspension of disbelief for his poetry. (Ferri 9) In order for the reader to better interpret the poem, they will need to discard their current conceptions of reality. However, the use of this has gone far beyond just poetry. This idea is necessary for magic acts, and has become a big part for the enjoyment of fictional media as well. Films such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings are all built around making a world, and sometimes an entire galaxy, that is so fantastical that it in order for someone to believe it and enjoy it, needs to think of it as a real occurrence. How suspension of disbelief was used in the video was the use of “hand” guns. How a man can shoot a bullet from his fingertips. The video is more enjoyable when we think it possible that yes, a man can shoot something from his fingers. Not only is the viewer of the work under the suspension of disbelief, but so are a few of the actors in the video are under it as well. In the beginning, they do not believe that a man’s hand can produce a bullet, but after seeing it themselves they eventually try it, to find out that it actually works for them.
Not just a genre but now an entire aesthetic, the silent films of the early 20th century were the groundwork for the film industry. They were the beginning of the art form, they are the reason we have the highly profitable and incredibly well constructed theatrical releases we have today. Now there are a few basic concepts that are associated with silent films. One such concept being that since it was the early use of film, and the films have also grown old and have not aged well, they have fairly dirty and burned up film reels. Another is that these were the first film cameras created, and so they are incredibly basic and not well constructed for creating visual clarity. By visual clarity, it is fair to say that silent films are generally hard to see. They are unsaturated, they have very low contrast, and since there was no way to capture full image colors at this time, it was difficult to differentiate between certain things, and the grays tended to blend together. However even though coloring an image was either difficult or just not possible to do, that doesn’t mean they couldn’t add color. They could put solid color slips in front of the lens in order for the scene to take on a certain mood, blue being for a sad scene, yellow for a fiery passion. These concepts and the use of solid colors were all evident in the 1910 film “Frankenstein.” (Dawley) Not only was color used to explain the visual mood of the scene, but they also used title stills in order to explain the story as well.
Even with all of these tropes that come with silent films, that doesn’t mean that they went deeper than that. Some of these early films even used things like special effects. One such movie being the 1902 French silent film “Le Voyage dans la Lune,” known in English as “A Trip to the Moon.” (Melies) Actors inside of these large, hand drawn sets would interact with things that wouldn’t typically be there, such as a giant cannon that shoots a human-sized bullet filled with scientists into the eye of the moon. (Melies) This film was the first of its kind, animation had been used before, and sometimes it had been done in hand with human interaction, however, it had never been done to enhance the story of a film before. We implemented most of these techniques, the black and white color scheme, the low-quality video, the title cards for explaining story elements and dialogue, and we especially used visual effects, like making a muzzle flash for the finger guns.
The silent films also mixed various themes within them, even though they were limited on storytelling. Famous actor and director Charlie Chaplin did well at this, one example being his 1921 film “The Kid,” which was a comedy film that also mixed in dramatic elements, as a man takes in an orphan child. (Chaplin) These movies do not have to just be flat and 2-dimensional, they can have deep meanings just like current movies do.
Films can be more than just someone pointing and shooting a camera at an object. They are much more than that. In the right hands, Films can be a thing of beauty, crafting the ideas of a creator and expressing their inner thoughts to the world. The use of motion visuals has grown so vast over time, and those that wish to use it effectively should be well knowledgeable in their concepts and themes in order to implement it into their projects.
Ferri, Anthony J. Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Poetic Faith in Film. Lexington Books, 2007.
Frankenstein. Directed by J. Searle Dawley, Edison Manufacturing Co, 1910.
Le Voyage dans la Lune. Directed by Georges Melies, Star Film Company, 1902.
“Suspension of disbelief”. Dictionary.com’s 21st Century Lexicon. Dictionary.com, LLC. 7 Dec. 2017. <Dictionary.com http://www.dictionary.com/browse/suspension-of-disbelief>.
The Kid. Directed by Charlie Chaplin, performance by Charlie Chaplin, First National, 1921.
In my life, I tend to view things as all happening at once around me. In my animations, this view is brought to life. It is a rotten grape that spoils the whole bunch. The characters will try to move a foot while the other one is sliding, they will be reaching for one thing as they are looking up to the object. This is something I have been working on throughout these projects, and I will continue to work on in the future. My attention also needs to go towards my consistency in motions, and use of animation principles. I will have good overlapping and follow through when the character is swinging his arms at a box, but when he stands up his arms will be as stiff as a board.
However when I do use the animation principles, they can work well in my favor, like when a character will swing his arms and the elbow bends after the shoulder, the hand soon to follow. I have an understanding of each of these principles, whether it be staging a character’s jump backwards in fear, or stretching a ball as it falls to the ground. Even with my understanding, It is just the need to practice and use these principles all in random with each other that will help my animations greatly.
The basis for this final video will be an action sequence with a twist. It will begin with A couple of friends having a NERF gun war, having fun and messing around. After some time, a third contender shows up, but without a gun. He holds up his hand, extending his pointer finger and thumb in the symbolic form of a handgun. Then as the ones with the NERF weapons will be amazed by the the finger, as it then fires a laser out and at the wall. They drop the NERF guns and everyone begins to fight with laser fingers. After a few action oriented scenes, a few people will get shot and die. Someone who holds power like a teacher will after walk in and be shot by the final victor.
This video will rely heavily on visual and special effects. The effects are used to create what is the main focus of the video, a “suspension of disbelief.” The main purpose of the video will be to insight some form of a changed reality with the viewer, so they relate more to the fiction setting.
The inspiration for my video will be from the Gorillaz song Double Bass, which appeared as the 9th track on their self-titled debut album. In it is this aspect of duality, whereas the composers of the song were both playing the bass, going off of each other. One playing sharp grimy sounds that connected with the fluid, soft, and bouncy sounds of another. This is relatable to how a single person can have different sides to themselves. Our personalities are not one sided, we have different ways we feel all of the time and it can change constantly as well as instantly. My aesthetic will be the 90s, a sort of urban jungle grime placement. It’s dark and vast, yet it is filled with vibrancy and life. The 90’s were a time of rebellion, which is what the Gorillaz were based off of.
Certain shots I would use is a train track in between some buildings to give the idea of being in a populated area. There will be two people, one on each side of the tracks. They will be the same person, but will have some aspect of themselves that are different. They will stand there in a sort of face off, zooming in to display their visual differences. They will not cross over the tracks, as the distance between each side will remain constant, just as the song Double Bass has no definite end, it just stops.