This week I was concentrating more on my short film in terms of how it would look cinematically. I want to have good visuals and define my style with this short film. Usually when I make short films, I’m both directing and operating the camera. Since I’m the one with the vision, I feel like I would be the best person to capture it. Also having limited resources in the past, I was just conditioned to having to film what I create. After watching Mira Nira’s Masterclass on working with a videographer, I can see the importance of that relationship. It’s hard putting all your trust into a person to be visual responsible to your passion projects, but that relationship is important to have. I now know to communicate well with my videographer to make sure that they have an understanding of what my story is and how I want to tell it. In order to do that I need to make sure I have a solid understanding on proper framing and camera movements that I want in my short film.
Some aids that are helping me with cinematic elements to my short is asking peers what images they picture when they read my script, reading books on cinematography such as “Film Directing Shot by Shot” by Steve Katz, and watching videos/movies.
This week we had to do a script to screen exercise We read the screenplay of a movie and then watched the finish film to compare our initial thoughts of how it would look cinematically to the approach the directors took in the final cut. I chose the movie Joker (2019). Now, I am of no authority to say I would change things to an Academy Award nominated film, but I’m going to anyway! A lot of scenes jumped out to me because they were not how I imagined them when I read the screenplay, but I’ll highlight 3 of them in particular.
1. The Stairway Dancing Scene
This was the scene I was looking forward to the most. I remember when Joker came out everyone talked about it and even went to the staircase to recreate it. When I was reading the screenplay, I was starting to understand the hype. Then I watched the scene on screen and quickly changed my mind. The description of the screenplay made it seem like Joker (Arthur) broke out into a dance number and painted a more intriguing picture. The scene was still shot beautifully and added the element of Arthur stepping in puddles on the step which was a great touch, but it was missing the “wow factor” of theatrics as described in the screenplay. If I was directing that scene I would've had Arthur utilize more of the stairway and perform more theatrical and not just walk down with an occasional dance.
2. Ending Scene
At the very end of the movie, I imaged this scene to be link the origin of the Joker to the character we know him as today. Again, the theatrics of the dance moves were toned down from how they were described from the screenplay but it wasn’t as big of an issue here. The blood footprints was a great addition to the scene, it added some shock value but also plays into the character well. One thing I really loved about the scene was the lighting in the hallway. The script described it as a sunset, but it was a sunlight shining through the window almost over exposed. It had a dream like effect and I liked the way it turned out. If I were directing the scene I would've wanted Joker to act more manic to show his character development from the beginning of the movie until the end. That way, it would link the character development from its origin to how he’s portrayed in the Batman movies.
3. Stand Up Routine Scene
When I was reading through the screenplay, I imagined the scene to make me feel uncomfortable beaus Arthur was bombing his comedy set. The did convey uneasiness through the camera movement and lighting which I really like about the scene. There were tight shots, tilts and pans which helped show that Arthur was uncomfortable because he wasn’t able to stop laughing. If I was directing this scene, I would've relied a lot o sound design in post to help showcase the audience was uninterested in Arthur. Having coughs, glasses being placed on the table, sniffing and other sounds to show that the room was quiet and not amused with Arthur’s set.
My experience reading the screenplay for Joker before I watched it was similar to reading a book before watching the movie. You have high expectations and hope that the world you created in your head is represented in the film, which often isn't the case. This was a good exercise for me with my short film because now I have a better understanding of the importance of visually conveying my script through my direction to make sure the script is translated well on film.
I also made a short video of me prepping to watch Joker. Hope you enjoy!