Like all visual arts, beauty is paramount in a film. And when an audience escapes the labors of normal life to watch a film, beauty is what it expects to see. And it is the duty of a filmmaker to provide the eyes and the ears with beautiful sensations. A film that fails to deliver on this promise is like a failed painting. It will never be adored by its audiences and history will forget it ever existed. So the important question every filmmaker must answer is that how can he make his film a beautiful experience?
I’ve gathered some directive principles in an answer to this question. These will help you in making your film a feast for the eyes.
Sound must be of good quality – The reason I’ve put this directive first is that bad sound affects the overall visual experience of a film. You might have a visually attractive film but if bad sound accompanies it, the beauty of visuals is dominated by the ugliness of sound.
Composition of your frame should not be a strain on the eye – True beauty shouldn’t be hard to look at. One must feel at ease while watching something beautiful. Same goes for a film. All the elements in the frame must be positioned so there is minimum or no strain in the eyes of your audience.
Colours should be balanced – The image must neither be too vibrant nor too dull. And brightness and darkness in the image should have balanced coverage. Keeping a frame too dark or too bright for too long can cause the audience to lose interest.
Prefer action over dialogue – Actions speak a million decibels over words. Too much dialogue in a scene engages the ear and as a consequence, the audience tends to lose focus on the visual imagery. So use dialogue only when absolutely necessary and convey the rest with action. The audience will never turn their necks from the screen.
Write a great story and stay true to it – Beauty is more elegant when it serves a purpose. In film, the beauty of the frame serves the purpose of connecting the audience to a story. So beautify your frame in order to serve your story. Every element in your frame must serve a higher purpose to the story. Don’t just go beautifying the frame for the sake of it.
These are not rigid frameworks. Art is always flexible and so is film. You can bend the rules or even break them at times. But the only thing you have to remember is that a beautiful film is always a great film.
Everyone has a different motive to watch a film. Some go to the movies to unwind, some watch them for pure entertainment while for a few, cinema is artistic fulfillment. But whatever your purpose for watching a film is, there are a few core aspects of a film that make it great. Be it a chick flick, an action adventure or a gritty arthouse film, a great film is a result of these:
The human connection
The story has to be a good observation of human behavior. There are a lot of things about us that we do not notice in real life and yet when presented on screen, true human behavior is fun to watch. An honest story with believable characters makes the film more relatable – the more empathy you have with a character, the more immersive the experience is for you. It isn’t just a coincidence that history’s greatest films have been those with a strong human connection.
Functional beauty in visuals
Beauty is paramount in every form of visual art. But the difference in other artforms and films is that beauty has a purpose. Every little effort done for beautifying the frame must also serve a greater purpose in the story or message of the film. Beauty without purpose is just lazy film making. When a filmmaker can make every pixel of his frame work towards the message he wants to convey, then you can blindly consider them a great filmmaker.
Sound that captures
It is the job of a sound recordist to capture sound and, it is the job of sound to capture its audiences. Sound gives a new dimension to the visuals. Emotions or feelings that can’t possibly be seen can be conveyed through the use of a good background score. This keeps the audience hooked to the characters on a subconscious level. You can have great visuals, the mightiest human connection and yet if you fall short on the quality of sound, the whole package just seems ugly. Bad sound is the key to bad filmmaking.
These 3 aspects can make or break a film. If you are a filmmaker or are studying filmmaking, keeping these in mind will give you a boost in the quality of your films.
If you want to know more about filmmaking or don’t agree with my opinion, write your suggestions, queries in the comments below or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can get in touch on any of my social profiles – the links are on the right side.
It has been a long boring shift. You’ve been crunching numbers, filing documents and slaving off for the month end paycheque. The monotonicity has taken its toll. You need some color in your life. Then there’s no place like the movie theatre.
You are seated comfortably in an air-conditioned room. Everything is dark – perfect for giving your mind the rest it needs. You turn off your instincts that keep you alert rest of the time. Your nerves are starting to ease up. The tension in your muscles starts to fade away. And then the projector guy puts the movie on.
Watching a movie is a therapeutic experience. You see a fictional story played out in front of your eyes and sometimes the stories are real. But one thing about movies never changes. They refresh your mind. They take you to a distance from your own world. It is then that you see the bigger picture of your life. Being transported to a place beyond reality gives you a clear perspective of your own reality. Of course, some movies are for pure entertainment while some are purely artistic. Some are so scholastically made that you learn a lot from them. But the main essence of watching a movie remains constant – transportation – away from reality. Such is the addiction to this experience that we pay a good price to watch a movie ie. we are paying to get away from our own reality for a while.
When you watch a movie, it’s not just about the movie. It is about you.