Here at the film look, we love motivated camera moves. They look great, they are fun to pull off, and they connect the cinematography to the story. This is why today we are talking about a motivated camera move we like to call “The Action Hero Entrance”.
It’s probably the most bad ass way to introduce a character on screen - but it’s also much more than that.
Let me show you why this camera move is one of the best ways to introduce a character in YOUR film. Welcome to The Film Look.
The camera move itself is actually quite simple. It begins on the floor as the subject arrives in their car. As they exit the car, the camera slowly pedestals up until it finishes on a medium close up on the subject’s face. They deliver their line then exit the frame.
The shot doesn’t need to involve a car or any dialogue as there are many variations to this camera move but we thought we would go full-on action movie style!
What’s so special about this camera move is actually how much information it delivers without ever needing to cut to another shot.
At first, we have a wide establishing shot of the scene. In this case, it is clearly a back alley. And we’ve all seen enough films to know a back alley is a sketchy place to be. It sets the scene.
A car rolls in. But what type of car? If it was a Lamborghini, you’d guess the character was a bit of a playboy. This car...is a little more modest.
The character steps out and we see a glimpse of their costume - their footwear. In this case, we have a pair of black boots. They mean business. If you replaced the boots with flip flops, it would be a completely different story.
Then we get a little character detail. A cigarette thrown on the ground. Why is the character smoking? Maybe to calm their nerves? But they also discard it, so whatever they plan on doing next, they need to be 100% focused.
Then we’ve got a gun and vest - Police.
We reveal their face. A young cop - detective Rusty Johnson. And he looks nervous!
So with a single 20 second shot performing a very simple pedestal from feet to face, we give the audience an entire character bio without having to resort to any expositional dialogue, on-the-nose cut aways, or title cards.
We give the audience just enough information to want to know more about the character and the scene. But what if we changed some details?
Let’s make the location sunny this time. We can change the costume a little bit, and alter the character’s attitude. We can keep the main beats of the scene and keep the dialogue.
Let’s see how this changes an audience’s perspective of the character.
We’ve transformed the scene from something like True Detective to something more like Narcos just by re-working a few things in the frame.
And this is why this camera move is so powerful: it captures an intriguing character on screen, it grasps the audience’s attention, and sets up their expectations.
The shot literally looks the character up and down.
The equipment in this shot, we feel, is quite important. You CAN do this shot handheld, but something smooth and steady will raise the production value and won’t distract the audience from what is happening on screen.
We shot both of these scenes using a Sony a7s Mark 1 with a Takumar 35mm vintage prime. The camera was rigged up on a Zhiyun Crane 2 with a set of spring-action handle grips from Digital Foto.
We will be reviewing these spring-action handle grips in a video very soon, so get subscribed if you haven’t already.
If you are interested in more motivated camera moves, we have a bunch on the channel. Most of which we found from this book called Master Shots by Christopher Kenworthy. It’s a great book for figuring out what types of shots you can implement for moments in your film.
I’ve put links to the book down below - we get a small kick back for every sale on Amazon, so purchasing it will also help support this channel. Thanks for watching, and remember to achieve it one shot at a time.
This video will show you how to pull off the "action hero entrance" motivated camera move for your next short film. By the end of the video, you'll know what the camera move is all about, how and when to use it, and what equipment you will need to execute it.
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🎬 In case you missed it
Slowly Building Tension: https://youtu.be/WCbTHnanYkY
Coming to a Halt: https://youtu.be/dqdxPcSr1V8
Sony a7s Review: https://youtu.be/Zez-mTmtAO8
Takumar 30mm Lens Review: https://youtu.be/YhPgrN5FtCE
Handheld Camera Gimbals Review: https://youtu.be/8O-d8hNOja4
🎥 This episode's kit/gear/equipment:
Sony a7s: http://amzn.to/2DrEdLb
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Sony a7s: http://amzn.to/2DrEdLb
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