A few videos back we spoke about the things you need to know when you are making your first short film.
If you haven’t seen it you can find it here.
For that video, we had to look through some of our past films and took clips from them. I watched them back to back, which is something I’ve never done before, and it made me realise something...
In every film, we have a shot which is centre framed which always happens at a dramatic or key moment.
The masters of centred framing are directors like Wes Anderson and Stanley Kubrick.
So if you want to see some great examples of centre framing go watch and analysis their films instead of this YouTube video, but we are going to talk about it.
Welcome to The Film Look.
For our short film Road, we filmed this shot.
The inspiration for this shot was taken from the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Which is really strange because I don’t really like that film. Hate mail in the comments below.
In our short film Road, our character wakes up in the middle of the road and throughout the film, he finds a pair of shoes, a key, and a telephone. The final thing he finds is a door which stands in the middle of the Road.
Since the road was long and straight when we see the door in the wide shot for the first time, all of the lines of the road lead to a single point, which is the door. Our character has nowhere else to go but through the door.
Cut to the next scene and all of the leading lines are gone and it is a wide open space. Now our character has no path.
I think this is where centre framing works best when you have lines in your set design that lead to a single point. The Shining from Stanley Kubrick, which I do like by the way, is all centre framed. It gives the audience a sense that something isn’t right and to make them feel uneasy.
For Road, I was hoping the audience would feel the same way because a door in the middle of a Road shouldn't be there. The tension in the film is at one of its highest peaks and centering the door right in the middle means the audience has no other distractions.
Next, for our shot film Corpse we filmed this shot.
When we were shooting the scene our actor Dan jumped off a wall, into the sea, which we weren't ready for and had to run to keep up. Since it was an action scene, we just went with it to keep the pace high, and we captured this shot.
This is the opening shot of the film, and it definitely helps to set the tone right away. I don’t think you would get if it wasn’t framed in the centre.
For the last few shots in our short film the Asylum Groove we filmed this.
At this point in the film, we wanted to bring back some order as our character had just been dancing around the room. Centring our character in the frame contributed to bringing back that order, along with the music, and the fact he is now strapped to an electric chair.
The centred frame also allowed us to cut on action and keep the audience's eyes on our character. They have nowhere else to look but at him.
In Mad Max Fury Road, DOP John Seale said “whatever was the centre point of that shot”, in terms of the action happening in the frame, “had to be in the centre of the frame.”
This allowed them to cut faster between each shot because the audience’s eyes don't have to shift around to follow what is happening in each frame.
I would definitely like to film an action scene in this way to see how fast you can cut between the action. So if you want to see us try and experiment doing this hit that like button.
In every film we’ve made there is always a shot or two which is centre framed. I think a few stand out shots is just enough. Centre framing at a significant moment in your film can show a character has more power than before, it can create order with leading lines, helps with fast action cutting, it can deliver impact and most of all, it tells the audience it's the most important thing in the frame by simply placing it dead centre.
There’s loads more resources online about centre framing. In the comments below I’ve added a list of other videos and articles I’ve been looking at.
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