For this project I was tasked to do the lighting/cinematography work for my groups Citizen Kane Analysis. I set up our lighting, shots and framing.
For this project we shot on two Canon T3i’s, one with a 50mm Canon Prime and and the other with an 85mm Rokinon Prime. Our 85mm was our fixed master shot and our 50mm was our handheld second angle.
Shot Choice Justification
For this project we originally were planning on shooting in a much more conservative plain location, but due to production obstacles we moved locations to an outdoor spot. This location actually added to our scene giving some more depth to our background and we got to work more with natural lighting. We shot our master as a close up on our narrator, as to not detract from the information he was sharing. Our second angle was shot handheld, giving us visual interest when cutting on important dialogue notes.
Our lighting design was mostly natural light utilizing a bounce to evenly fill our narrators face. Being a documentary, we didn’t want to have any severe or harsh lighting that distracted from the content. We opted for a more filled, flat look with a silver bounce. The look doesn’t distract from the scene but also provided enough dynamic interest with our Depth of Field choice to remain interesting.
Consultation with Editor
We originally shot with more shots oriented around juxtaposition as written by our screenwriter, but as we continued in the editing process my editor and I both agreed that after the look we went for on our interview shots, the other shots felt out of place and didn’t necessarily enhance the overall edit.
We provided coverage that included extreme close ups, a wide introductory shot, cut-ins and of course our master. We opted to use less of the cut-ins to leave time to utilize clips from the actual Citizen Kane clip. Some shots like the one pictured below were left out of our final cut.
Camera Work and Lighting Evaluation
On an artistic level I think I did a good job in taking the typical documentary shot and trying to add a little more dynamic composition to frame as not to lose an audiences attention. On a technical level I think I did a good job in framing for rule of thirds, I avoided mergers with a background that is fairly merger prone by creating a shallow depth of field and also holding sharp focus on our subject.
I think I could have done more with camera movement in our film, whether that be subtle pans, tilts or slider moves to parallax the background to our subject.
Influences from Films
I took some inspiration from Big City Pictures sit down interview for The History Channel. As per usual on The History Channel content is driven with a lot of cutaways to source material, so I figured it would fit well with this project. They used shallow depth of field in an off screen interview style like we did in our project.
What I Learned
I learned a lot about working on projects with a specific role in mine. I hadn’t had a chance to work as only a cinematographer with a screenplay I had not written, so the experience taught me a lot. It gave me the chance to really focus on the camera work as well as understand translating what my screenwriter asked of me to the screen. We did have an issue involving noise pollution from an orchestra class in original planned location. Thinking quickly, we switched locations to another hallway with natural light similar to our original shoot. Being burdened again with more noise pollution from the bustle of students and faculty in the area, we decided to move outdoors, which worked out better than our original plan.