STYLE: Color

Color is a very important aspect of film. It can make or break your video depending on how it is used. Most films have a set “Color Pallet” that the entire film follows very closely. Sometimes people will chose to have their film be in black and white. Although this is mostly in older films because of their lack of ability to produce anything in color, there are modern films that purposefully chose to omit color and keep their color pallet simply black, white, and various shades of gray. Two examples of this are “Schindler’s List” and “The Artist.” Both of these films won the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture. Although they were very successful, partly because of their style choice using black and white, it is a very risky form to do.

Colors can be very useful on the opposite end of the color spectrum. A good example of a film that truly used colors in amazing ways was “Limitless” starring Bradley Cooper. This film showed very clearly how to use color pallets very clearly to inform the audience about what is going on psychologically and symbolically within the story. In this film, Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) was struggling to come up with things to write for his new book, and the entire time the colors were very dull and unsaturated. There were a lot of greys, browns, and blues. About thirty minutes into the film, he discovers a pill that will boost his IQ to 1000! Once he takes this pill, he becomes the most intelligent person on the planet, and when this happens, all the colors become saturated. The color pallet changes as well. When he is intelligent, the primary colors are yellow, red, green, and blue; all of which are very bright tones of the colors.

Here is an example of a film that I made attempting to follow a similar style with colors. I have to separate color pallets for the real world, and the game world. See if you can figure out what the colors for each are.

STYLE: Tone

The idea of tone is one of the most confusing styles to understand. It is a mix of many different styles and concepts in the art of film making that really is easiest to be understood if you have worked with film or even photography before. There are a few different key sections to understanding the art of using tone effectively. These are:

- Reflective Control: using controlled set locations or the clothing/make-up of an actor/actress to gain a certain feeling you wish to portray in the visual

- Incident Control: using either sunlight or artificial lighting in various ways (back-light, key light, fill light) to either hide or reveal aspects of the image.

- Exposure: this is controlled in your camera settings using functions such as brightness or ISO, or even using camera lens filters such as an ND filter.

- Contrast/Affinity: contrast simply means “different” while affinity means “similar.” You can use these styles very effectively once mastered.

- Coincidence/Non-Coincidence: This is mainly used with lighting to reveal (coincidence) or hide (non-coincidence) the key focus of the shot.

It is a very uncommon style to think about in major motion pictures, but it is more important than the average movie goer might think. Every visual aspect of a film has a tone and if you don’t control the tone of your film, it will fail to look professional. The nice thing about this style of film, is that once you know how to use it effectively, most of the time you just use it naturally. I guarantee that the average movie goer who beings to understand this idea of tone will not only be able to understand the art of film more, but will appreciate it increasingly as well. Here are two identical pictures, one is being controlled but tone, the other isn’t.

This photo is not controlling the tone of the photo. Even though the photo is still beautiful, it doesn’t have that high quality look with the colors.

Here is the same photo, but this time, they used a different filter (Neutral Density Filter) and was able to really make the colors pop.

Can you see the difference?

In this particular example, you can see that the photographer is mainly using exposure control in the tone of the picture, but is also using minor aspects of incident control (sunlight) and contrast of tone with the various shades of many different colors in the environment.

Here is an example of a video that I created called “Gift” that is primarily focused on controlling the tone of a picture. I mainly used contrast (dark tones), exposure (low ISO), and reflective control (color of clothing and make-up within fall colors), while my incident control was merely carefully placed locations where the sunlight looked the best.

IMDb’s #2 – “The Godfather”

IMDb SYNOPSIS: The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

“The Godfather” was written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. He wrote the screenplay with the help of the author of “The Godfather” novel, Mario Puzo. There were many differences between the film and the book. For example, the book spent a longer period of time talking about Vito Corleone’s childhood, whereas this particular backstory wasn’t shared until “The Godfather: Part II” in the movie trilogy. Another difference is that the book ends with Kay Corleone accepting Michael’s for whom he has become, but the movie shows us a very different response. For those of you who have not seen the movie, I am trying not to give anything away, so you will have to watch to see what I am referring to. As I stated before, Mario Puzo helped in the writing of the screenplay for the movie, so although there were some differences between the two, it stayed somewhat accurate to the original novel.

Here are some fun facts about the movie that you could also find by researching on IMDb:
“The Godfather” starring Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone and Al Pacino as Michael Corleone was based on the classic Italian novel “The Godfather” written by Mario Puzo. The book greatly influenced and inspired Italians in America and gave them a sense of pride and heritage. The fantastic music score in the film was by Nino Rota and the original budget of the film was nearly $6,000,000.

Photobucket
This film was incredible. I do in fact own this movie and have watched it on multiple occasions regardless of its rating (R) or duration (175 minutes). The movie is an all-time masterpiece that will outlive just about every other film of its time. The fact that a film made in 1972 can be so popular and frequently referenced to this day astonishes me. From the opening scene where Don Vito Corleone says, “You didn’t need a friend like me. But, now you come to me, and you say: ‘Don Corleone, give me justice.’ But you don’t ask with respect. You don’t offer friendship. You don’t even think to call me Godfather. Instead, you come into my house on the day my daughter is to be married, and you ask me to do murder for money,” to the infamous horse’s head scene, this film has captured the attention of generations. I love this film. Even though most people do not consciously think about this most of the time when watching a movie, the soundtrack is incredibly powerful and moving. There is no other like it. It is perhaps one of the most memorable soundtracks in the history of major motion pictures.

Does God Fit In?
Absolutely not; however, family values are very important throughout this film. There is one scene where the Don is talking to a young man who is like a son to him, and gives him a rather aggressive pep talk. He goes on to say, “A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” There are a lot of morally questionable scenes in this film including violence, gore, abusive husbands, sex/nudity, and profanity, but if you can look past these controversial factors, you can truly see, appreciate, and possibly even learn a few things about morality and values that this film attempts to instill into its audience about family.

Does this film belong in the “Top 250 Films of All Time” list?
Of course it does! Although there are a few films that I enjoy to watch more than this film, in my mind, “The Godfather” is the number one classic film of all time and will never be dethroned. The film won three Academy Awards in 1973 including Best Actor in a Leading Role (Marlon Brando), Best Screenplay, and Best Picture. It was even nominated for eight other Academy Awards.

This is a picture of me at the Francis For Coppola’s Vineyards in Geyserville, CA.

STYLE: Lines and Shapes

The use of lines and shapes are very important in film. Most people do not realize the roles they play in films; sometimes even the directors themselves don’t consciously realize the shapes they capture. Using lines can help to show depth, distance, perspective, and even measure up the focal point of the image. Shapes can be used in very creative ways. They can be used to constrain the focal point, as well as adding emotion to the scene. For instance, many film makers have used circles in their shots when filming something to add a calming effect. When a film is attempting to create an intense, unsettling feeling, often the use of squares and triangles are used.

This type of use of shapes isn’t always as in “plain sight” as one might think, sometimes the shapes are hidden in clothing, building structures, and even people’s postures. I attempted to portray lines and shapes in a film project of my own. See if you can find the lines and shapes in this short film called “Autistic Architecture”:

Did you see any shapes? Here are the shapes that I saw between the six key shots of the short. Were you able to see these?

Lines and shapes can be a very helpful tool in film, but make sure not to ignore all the other styles and aspects of film as well; this style alone cannot create an award winning feature. If you are merely an admirer of films, see if this new found perspective on film styles impacts the way you watch movies.

IMDb’s #1 – “The Shawshank Redemption”

shawshank

IMDb SYNOPSIS: Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

The Shawshank Redemption was directed by Frank Darabont in 1994. This film has an incredible screenplay that was actually written by Frank Darabont in addition to his role as director, but was this story entirely his own? In fact, one of the reasons that this piece of cinematic genius was so highly acclaimed is because it was based off the short story called “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” by none other than Stephen King (IMDb.com). Now, in case you didn’t know, Stephen King is one of the most famous authors in modern-American literature.

Since this is a blog about the films, I will begin with my opinion of this film as an aspiring film director. This film was near perfection in every category. There weren’t any dialogues that seemed to drag on, the camera composition was smooth, clean, and precise about what it wanted its key focus to be, and the editing was beyond criticism. There were no unnecessary jump cuts, no continuity errors that I could detect (although most films have one or two if someone were to look hard enough), and the picture quality was as clean as can be. My two favorite shots after post-production were the establishing shot of Shawshank Prison and the scene when the crew of convicts were given a case of beer as a payment for Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins) assisting Captain Hadley (played by Clancy Brown) with his financial crisis. The impact of the scenes are incredibly powerful through the editor’s use of contrasting colors, aperture, and saturation between scenes. In this film, each visual style of a scene signify a particular feeling that the director wants his audience to experience. His goal is to make viewers relate and sympathize with Andy and Red.

The first is very affinitive, creating a feeling of emptiness and sorrow.
Photobucket

The second is very bright and saturated, creating a feeling of self worth and pride.
Photobucket

I could go on for pages explaining how great this movie is, but I want my readers to be able to get a good sense of my thoughts about the movie without it feeling like reading an article for research.

On that note, from a viewers perspective, this movie is incredible. I have to give ten stars out of ten because of how intriguing it is. The story was so interesting and the sarcastic narration given by Red (played by Morgan Freeman) was so entertaining and humorous,  as well as heartfelt and sad at times. The entire film is a win. I strongly recommend that everyone sees this film at least once in their life. I personally own this film because it is one of those that I just couldn’t leave out of my collection.

How does God fit in?
I believe that this film does have some Christian values to it. I teaches about honesty and the consequences of the choices we make in life, as well as quoting scripture a few times throughout the film; however, I personally didn’t get much more from it than that. Honestly, if you have children under the age of 10, I would strongly recommend you screening this film before hand due to foul language, violence, and sexual references.

Does this film belong in the “Top 250 Films of All Time” list?
Ummmm….YES!

Don’t believe me? Watch the trailer and decide for yourself.