Action! Writing Better Action Using Cinematic Techniques

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Established seller since Seller Inventory IQ Book Description Local Hero Press, Never used! This item is printed on demand. Seller Inventory Book Description Condition: New. Seller Inventory n. Paperback or Softback. Seller Inventory BBS Delivered from our UK warehouse in 4 to 14 business days. In life, things happen, we react, process what happened, and decide on new action. Write one sentence that encapsulates that for each scene. Its purpose is to show my hero, Buck, losing control and scaring the heroine, Angela. Because most of your scenes should mimic overall novel structure, with a beginning, middle, climax, and ending.

The high moment in my midpoint scene comes when Buck goes crazy in an attempt to keep Angela safe. I had established that she is terrified of snakes, and the scene begins just before they run into a mess of rattlers. The high moment is Angela screaming as the snakes strike. Buck shoots his rifle, then slashes in fury at the critters with his knife. I end the scene with Buck a man possessed and Angela more frightened of his behavior than she is of the snakes.

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A great novel will have conflict on every page, sometimes inner, other times outer. Or both. Think of ways to ramp up conflict to the highest stakes possible. Too few writers do this. My rattlesnake scene carries obvious outer conflict: man against snakes. But if that were all, the scene would be lacking. He intends to show courage and his desire to protect her, but it backfires. Literary agent Donald Maass encourages writers to consider how a point-of-view POV character feels before a scene starts and how she feels when the scene ends. Your character should be changed by what happens.

That change can be subtle or huge. It can involve a change of opinion, or it could be a monumental personality shift. But change must occur. Because, for the story to advance, decisions must be made and action instigated. Every event in your novel should impact your characters and foment change. But it must be significant and serve the plot. How will Angela change by the end of the snake scene? Before the scene, she was falling in love. Now, her feelings have been squashed. Whenever you see the camera moving up or down by more than a few feet in a film, it was done with a jib or crane.

The bad news is that cranes are expensive and require specialized operators; the good news is that they are rarely needed and almost never indispensable. Nevertheless, well-executed, well-motivated crane shots can add production value to a production and can definitely improve your reel if they were used to enhance the storytelling rather than to show off random skills. Track-in Shot example taken from a music video I directed.

In a track-in shot the camera moves in on the subject. For best results a Dolly should be used: a Steadicam is really not suited to this kind of shot, unless the ground is uneven and there is no other viable option.

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The example above was filmed using a dolly. A variant of the clean track-in shot involves a foreground object. The significance of this foreground object is that, since it is closer to the camera than the main subject, it increases in size faster than the main subject as the camera moves in.

This gives the shot an enhanced three-dimensional illusion.

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As with all foreground objects, this shot works best when the foreground object is out of focus. The example shown above is taken from a TV spot I directed, and the foreground object in this case is a computer screen. This combines tracking in on the main subject with an over-the-shoulder framing. The example shown above is taken from a TV commercial I directed. Over-the-shoulder track-in shots work best with medium focal lengths — the example above was filmed with an 85mm Zeiss Ultra Prime lens mounted on a RED One camera.

If the focal lens length is much shorter than 85mm, the foreground shoulder will dominate over the main subject; if the focal length is significantly longer than 85mm, the feeling of motion towards the subject is mostly lost. In my experience the sweet spot is a focal length between 85mm and mm. A Dutch angle is a shot that is rotated about the camera axis, resulting in tilted verticals.

The image below, taken from a music video I directed, is an example of a Dutch angle:. Dutch angles are used to elicit a sense of unease and disorientation in the viewer. In music videos anything goes, but in narrative filmmaking, Dutch angles should be used sparingly, reserving them for the rare occasions in which they are narratively appropriate.

When covering a scene with shots and reverse shots, it is good practice to use exactly the same lens for the two complementary shots. If you use a 25mm lens to frame an over-the-shoulder shot, the reverse shot should also use a 25mm lens. There is one important exception to the rule of using the same focal length for complementary shots. If two characters are talking and you cover the scene with complementary over-the-shoulder shots and you want to make one character look a lot more dominant than the other, you can use a wide lens short focal length when shooting over the shoulder of the dominant character, and a significantly longer lens when shooting over the shoulder of the other character.

As a result of the short focal length, when you film over the shoulder of the dominant character, he will dominate the frame because he will look much larger than the other character.

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Conversely, when you use the long lens with the reverse over-the-shoulder shot, the character in the foreground will not dominate the other character, because their relative sizes will be similar this is because the camera will be further away from them to achieve the same framing, thereby reducing the difference in their relative sizes in the frame.

The technique is illustrated below:. This technique only works if the two lenses have very different focal lengths: for example, 25mm for the wide lens and at least mm for the longer lens. If the difference is slight, there will be enough difference to make it look messy, but not enough to make one of the characters look dominant, so you lose on both counts.

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Hello Sir, I am from India. Good filmmaking analysis.

Action!: Writing Better Action Using Cinematic Techniques

You are really helping wannabe filmmakers like me. Thank you for providing tips and information about filmmaking. May god bless you. Hi, This is sure a great site with useful details and examples, I am a film maker my self but although at my age 57 years old I know most of the stuff, but still I have found this site GREAT!!! I am going to direct a 13 episode series as an independent director first time, i directed short fiction films before and worked CAD in serial..

He is the best at shooting long uncut master shots. This was pretty helpful.