Thursday, March 11, 2010

Onscreen and Offscreen spaces

Onscreen space is included within a vast scenographic space, it is the window that restricts and guides the viewer to what we are allowed to see.

"Vampire Kiss" -

I'm constantly thinking about how I'm going to be affecting audiences with the kind of camera work in Blindsight. It's so important because it's going to go hand in hand with the way in which they experience and feel about the film. They have to feel the right things in order to understand where I'm going with the characterization, the motifs and the tone- of course. So what I show them in that 10min of film is so important... what's also important is what I don't show them- and why. Because they'll be noticing this too.

This is why offscreen and onscreen space is so important (and the relationship between them). What audiences will be seeing on screen is what I've constructed for them- it's a window I've created that will show them what I want them to see. It's the space I've created.

Space is so important to cinema, as the way in which the camera operates in and translates this space will create different meanings. For example, in Reckless Moment, the camera movements are motivated by character movement. In this way, we share the momentum of the character in question. [In one scene] The character leads us through the house in a long take. This gives us a very restricted view of the space she resides in, and the long take makes it mundane and drawn-out. It creates a sense of confinement and restriction which is an important theme to the film. (Bordwell & Thompson: Film art).

Similarly, there are countless establishing shots in the film to show beauty of the setting it takes place in. This is meant to suggest to the viewer that even in a place of such beauty and wonder, the characters still feel trapped and miserable. The juxtaposition is important to highlight their emotional states, and the irony of all of the ugliness they experience taking place in somewhere that is apparently so beautiful and peaceful looking.

What these decisions expose is: The decisions of the Director- and how the director appears to be a puppeteer, our middle man of our experience of the scenographic space (that fictional world before us). The camera is only a window. We are not the all-seeing-eyes after all.


As discussed earlier in "Close-ups" I will be constructing a film that is made up of predominantly single shots. This is to highlight Peyton's alienation from the world around her. For just over the first half of the film, she is never to be in the same frame as another character. This is the restricted onscreen space which the audience will be experiencing.

What if, through a series of "one-shots" (singles), we could build character relationships? What would it mean to show two characters relating to each other without the classic "two-shot". Traditionally, we would be able to draw our own conclusions as to the nature of two characters' relationship depending on the way in which they are shot in the classic two-shot. But here, we are given a clear disconnection between the two characters- I will be interested to note the way in which audiences react to this.

Relationships and Screen Geography

"Offscreen and onscreen space is bound together and desire meaning from each other. In its relationship, audiences "imagine" or understand the [missing link/ imagined/] offscreen space"

An important note that I constantly come across during my research in cinematography (and space) is the idea of "Screen geography". It is constantly suggested that audiences have to be given detail as to where the scene is taking place, and all of the mise-en-scene in that particular scene. They have to know where the characters are, and where the objects are in relation to the characters. They need to know where this particular scene is taking place in the fictional world of the movie (the scenographic space). Thus, many films employ that "all-important" establishing shot- something that I would rather omit in this film.

Audiences will have to "... "imagine, or understand the [missing link/ imagined/] offscreen space". My hypothesis is that after years of watching traditional cinema, audiences will have no problems piecing together the puzzle... but this remains to be seen.


"The frame is not a neutral border. It is a vantage point"

While David Bordwell and Kirstin Thompson in Film Art suggest that "no one talks about the margins in Moby Dick"; in film, audiences have to think about the margins in film (the frame). It is their vantage point, a window into the scenographic space of the story. It affects the image by means of:
  1. the size and shape of the frame
  2. the way the frame defines onscreen and offscreen space
  3. the way framing controls the distance, angle and height of a vantage point onto the image
  4. the way framing can move in relation to the mise-en-scene
Framing creates meaning through angle, level, height and distance. For example, a shot like this:
Is a tight close-up, high angled and is just above eye level. All the detail we need to register at this time is in this small, restricted space. We get an idea of the intended meaning; something bad has happened to this character, perhaps she is afraid, wounded... perhaps she feels confined, restricted, alone. This is the way she is communicated to us within the frame.
Picking out small details, we notice her fangs- so the small frame draws us in to these otherwise forgotten details. Something sinister is at work here, perhaps now we feel uneasy about how close our viewing proximity is to the character. The closeness is unnatural and unsettling.

A frame does not have to always be rectangle, further meaning can be derived from the dramatic use of masks. For example, peep-holes or spaces in the bookshelf can frame a character.

It creates the notion of voyeurism, and of course that sense of restricted looking/observing. I will be interested in incorporating some of these ideas of framing in my final film.

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