Making the Best Shot of Your Life: Behind the Curtains of Movie-Making

In spite of the fact that film industry is rather young compared to the theater or any other spheres of art, it has its own well-established and time-tested theory. With help of numerous tricks movie can look in the most effective and convincing manner. Because of the fact that, shifting camera positions, one can obtain the most efficient perspective, the five-shot technique suggested by Mackendrick has turned out a winning method of filming.

Indeed, getting the most objective picture, the audience starts believing in the movie plot from the very start, which a film-maker aims at. However, it would be quite peculiar to trace the mechanism of the shooting. Learning what makes the shots such efficient technique, one can understand the very essence of the movie-making art.

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The Vision of a Movie

Because of its objectiveness, the five-shot technique reminds of a situation when several points of view clash into a cultural conflict. With help of this peculiar technique, the film-maker can achieve the objectiveness which will absorb the audience attention and take them on a journey into make-believe.

No matter what plot stands behind the very film, the correct visualization of the scene will allow the film-maker to attract the people with the peculiar view that opens in front of them. Once a piece designed to entertain people, a movie this becomes a true life situation to consider with all the seriousness. As a matter of fact, this is the five-shot sequence which makes people consider a movie as a part of the reality – subconsciously, yet rather strongly.

Thus, it cannot be argued that the famous five-shot system proves astonishingly efficient. Now the time has come to see the technique of the famous trick. As it turns out, there are very few secrets – and a lot of logics.

Hitting the Bull’s Eye: Each Shot as It Is

Because of the specifics of cinema art, it is necessary that the audience could have an overview of the whole situation in the movie. Unless the spectators have such opportunity, they will not be interested tin what is going o in the screen. Thus, the five-shot sequence invented by Mackendrick is supposed to draw people’s eyes to the action in the screen.

Creating the overall impression of the scene and giving people the background idea, the master shot allows the audience to make it “full of visual information” (Mackendrick 245) and help people embrace the overall situation in the movie.

Over-the-shoulder shot, “a reverse shot that is from an angle that includes a portion of the other person’s shoulder or head” (Hurbis-Cherrier 65) allows to consider the situation with the eyes of the movie character.

Just think of what could happen if Mackendrick had not discovered his brilliant detail shot! With help of this approach, the secret meaning of the scene can be exposed to the audience without saying a word. With help of this shot, all the peculiarities of the relations between the characters come into the open, and the spectator can see what lurks behind the characters’ faces.

A close-up shot, the shot which snatches a detail from the scene and zooms it into a complete grotesque, is another element suggested by Mackendrick. With help of this method, the idea of the movie can be exposed to the audience in the most exquisite way. Suggesting certain brainwork and containing an element of drama, this way of drawing the audience’s attention to certain details of the movie can be rather crude, but when used only as a hint, it can work wonders.

The last, but not the least, is the complementary shot. To summarize the overall idea of the scene once again and to create a definite impression, the overall shot is used, as a rule, in the final part of the scene.

Diving Deep into Movie-Making

Planning a movie of my own, I would use the theory of the five-shot sequence focusing on the close-up shot. In my interpretation, the close-up scenes capturing the very essence of the scene could be a dramatic pinpoint of the entire movie.

For example, shooting a drama, I would include the scene of thorough and useless search of something extremely important for the leading character, and as the vain attempts would cease, I would take a close-up of the needed object. Thus, making the movie as dramatic and tense as possible, I could create the vision of something strikingly real.

Judging by the time test which the five-shot theory has passed, it proves extremely efficient for the contemporary cinema. Revealing the most incredible pieces of the plot to the audience and making them build their assumptions, it serves as the way to create a little world of make-believe where the audience could feel comfortable, a small model of real life for everybody. Lifting the curtain over the secrets of the movie plot, such technique will remain one of the greatest discoveries in the world of film-making.

Works Cited

Hurbis-Cherrier, Mike. Voice & Vision: A Creative Approach to Narrative Film and DV Production. Burlington, MA: Focal Press, 2007. Print.

Mackendrick, Alexander, and Paul Cronin. On Film-Making: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director. New York, NY: MacMillan Press, 2006. Print.


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