May 23, 2015

Staging and Blocking Multiple Characters: Lessons from 'About Elly' (2009)

Telling stories through cinema broadly involve two tools that specific to this medium: the Shot and the Cut. What all to keep in a shot, how to compose it, what kind of lens to use, how to coordinate actors' movements and performances, and how long to stay in the shot is what constitutes, briefly, the mise en scene. When to cut the shot, and how to use successive shots to create the desired impact is what constitues montage. A director is expected to have understanding and skill of using both and one major job that is included in these two is the staging and blocking of actors.

Using movement of characters and the camera is a priceless tool to tell your story on film. But it is also a very challenging task, especially when there are multiple characters in every frame. Studying the works of master film-makers can help us tremendously in taking the first steps toward this.

I have just created a 9-minute video essay, which is a brief study of Asghar Farhadi's craft through his film 'About Elly' (2009). Watching it over and over again can make us learn some basics of staging and blocking and inspire us to get ambitious with our own storytelling.

May 11, 2015

The Curious Case of a Movie Director

Years ago, while discussing a favorite new movie with my college-friends, one particular remark always left me slightly uncomfortable. It was not uncommon to hear from them that the film was very well-directed. To my young aspiring film-maker mind, such casual mention of the profession of my dreams was sacrilege. “What do they know about directing?” I wondered within.

As laymen, there are not many professions we so critically remark about. Visiting an amusement park does not make us wonder about the architect’s skill. An electronic good does not make us critical of the engineering that has given the product its merits or flaws. Cinema and cricket seem to be the only professions in our country where almost everyone has a critical reaction. But then, these two are also our people’s favorite passions. So, we cannot really blame them!

Anyway, so I just wrote an article for this online magazine on leadership. And tried to share whatever I have come to realize to be the job of a director. You can read the article by clicking HERE.