The Cinematography of Taxi Driver

Several styles of camerawork in Taxi Driver reveal Travis’s loneliness and his distance from society. Travis ( Robert De Niro) is often framed as the smallest object, with the cityscape of New York rising above him suggesting his own feelings of loneliness and isolation. After Travis applies to be a taxi driver, he walks out of the dispatcher garage, and as he does so, the camera pans from right to left across the screen as the cabs drive right, in the opposite direction. The other taxis seem to be going forward, in the direction we read and in the direction that picture narratives usually move. Travis walks the other way, and he is moving in the wrong direction even faster than the camera, so it takes a few moments for the camera to catch up to him. The shot indicates that something isn’t quite right about Travis. Something about him isn’t going the right way.

Scorsese has said he believes that the most important scene in Taxi Driver is the one showing Travis on a payphone in a hallway, trying to speak to Betsy. As this one-sided conversation takes place, the camera moves from Travis to a shot of an empty hallway around the corner. No people or motion fill the shot, and the hallway has no visual elements to attract the eye. This camera move prevents us from looking at Travis in his shame at losing Betsy, and the fact that neither participant in the phone conversation is visible conveys the fact that no real communication is taking place. The hallway suggests the path the film will take from this point on. Soon after this conversation, Travis changes from any lonely man to “God’s lonely man,” on a path toward what he views as his destiny—a path as straight and narrow as the hallway.

*Spoiler Alert*

The film concludes with a overhead slow motion shot tracking across the room and down the corridor as a way of assessing the damage. The aftermath of carnage is visible as the camera dwells on the blood that splattered on the walls and the floor near Sport’s body. Travis has purged himself by killing this street scum, but his fate is unsettled and his ‘heroism’ is still in question. Immediately following the gunfire, Scorsese’s use of the overhead tracking shot invites the audience to retrace all of the events in slow motion. In effect, the camera permits the viewer to identify the scene in the aftermath where Travis will become a hero. 

Hope this is interesting.

Alex

 

Why Hurry? The Art of Slow Cinema

Slow Cinema is often associated with the world’s most fiercely independent film-makers such as Andrei Tarkovskies Stalker (1979) it is often characterised by ultra long shots and a slender or non-existent narrative, the filmmakers often hail from outside the west, perhaps a reflection of a different pace of life and the movement began in the early 60’s just as the West was being to ‘speed up’, flooded by fastness – cars, food, jukeboxes, multi-channel TV. Fast forward to today in the age of the fibre-optic cable, the velocity of the moving image  is even quicker with everything fighting for our attention.

Slow Cinema often focuses on individual characters how they interact with the world around them such as Time and A Half (1972) which the director shows us a 14-second shot of a working-class man leaving a Milwaukee factory, and slows it down 133 times so that it lasts 31 minutes and becomes a kind of waltz for the failing American industry around him.

Themes of nature also frequently appear, they opt for ambient noises or field recordings rather than bombastic sound design, embrace subdued visual schemes that require the viewer’s eye to do more work, and evoke a sense of mystery that springs from the landscapes and local customs.

 

I would love to hear your thoughts

Alex.

Poker – Mobile Short Film

This is a short film recorded with an iPhone 5s and 4s. We used the FilMic Pro App. We also used a fish eye lens on the 4s to create the CCTV style effect. We then used After Effects to make the “CCTV” footage look “grainy”.

In After Effects we created a mask around the table to blacken the surrounding area. We then turned the footage black & white, then added a noise creation plugin. We also enlarged the footage to reduce the resolution, again to lend to the CCTV aesthetic.

We bought a large black sheet that we used to hang behind the “set”. We did this so you couldn’t see where it was filmed. It created the illusion of a dark and small room.

We used two 800 watt lights. One above not diffused to create the harsh over the head look and one with a red filter to create the subtle (ish) red tint to the shadow areas. We diffused the light of the second light by using a diffusing gel with a red gel.

For audio we used a mixture of camera and a boom mic. A Zoom H4n was used to record the boom mimc via XLR. We used a mic stand to hold the microphone above the table. This allowed us to get boom audio without an extra crew member.

In the app, the camera man, Isaac Dean, exposed using the white of the playing cards. This meant that the background clipped to black and skin tones were preserved (for the most part). Focus, white balance and the exposure can be all be locked in the app. This was essential to maintaining the aesthetic we desired.

To rid the camera of the classic “micro shake” from the camera, Isaac used his shoulder rig, set up in a handheld design. This allowed movement of the camera without so much shake.

We also used warp stabilizer set below 20% on all parameters as well as “detailed analysis . This created a much smoother look without too much artifacting.

Overall, the project went well. However, due to a change of plan we only had a week to write , plan, shoot and edit it. This effected the final product. With more time we could have achieved a more polished look. We may have been able to obtain actor’s, too; actor’s would have greatly improved the film.

Created By;

Isaac DeanPatrick LawrenceRichard Chinn

A Most Wanted Man – Trailer

I Finished reading the book a few weeks back and i’m really looking forward to the realise of the film. Directed by Anton Corbijn and starting Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his last performances.

The movie is based on a book by John le Carré, whose work has provided the source material for slow-burning spy thrillers like The Constant Gardener and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Hoffman plays Günther Bachmann, a German intelligence agent on the trail of a Muslim academic who’s suspected of funding terrorist operations.

 

United 93 – 2006

Fantastic!

Josh Cleary

There are some events which are clearly ingrained into our minds, and especially into the American psyche (or so I would guess, being British myself). Events such as the Apollo 13 mission or JFK conspiracies have both been portrayed on film extremely successfully, and both of these films (“Apollo 13” and “JFK“) seem like the only representations of those events that need to exist. Even if not completely accurate, they are the only films of these events that we need. 9/11 is an event which is still stuck in our memories, and has been portrayed in a countless number of movies. However, having seen “United 93”, I feel like this is the only one that I need to see.

The film does not focus on the two planes that flew into the World Trade Centre, or the one that flew into the Pentagon. It focuses on…

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Filming Ice Hockey

Isaac J. Dean

“Ice Rinks are so cold. Why am I surprised by that?”, was my first thought upon stepping into Altrincham Ice Dome.

Last Sunday (9th), I helped Tom Deegan, Sports Editor for Quays TV News, film the Manchester Minatours Vs Whitley Warriors Ice Hockey game with Alex Arditti who is a fellow blogger and uni colleague. Check out Alex’s most recent post about his favourite documentaries.

Filming ice hockey in Altrincham

A post shared by Isaac Dean (@isaacjdean) on

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Top Documentaries

Source – http://www.christies.com/lotfinderimages/d17564/d1756478r.jpg

Another quick blog post here, a quick list of my favourite feature length documentaries, they can be just as powerful as fictional film and tell a story in a completely different way to the viewer I think in some cases they can be just as aesthetically pleasing as a film especially when they capture a moment of spontaneity or natural beauty. I think a great Documentary should challenge your perceptions and inform at the same time, Also a good documentary doesn’t necessarily have to involve any formal interviews or talking heads although the art of good questioning can make you connect emotionally to a interview and bring out the best or worst in people.

Would love to hear your thoughts and again the list is in no particular order.

1. We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1824254/

Brilliant insight into the world of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Although it has earned significant criticism from Assange’s fans, We Steal Secrets is an insightful documentary, arousing sympathy for the Wikileaks cause while remaining critical of Julian Assange. Informative giving a chronological narrative from Assange’s early years to starting WikiLeaks throught to the Bradley Manning scandal whilst following the organisation through the release of US government cables. Hands down better than The Fifth Estate.

2. Side By Side 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2014338/?ref_=nv_sr_2

Side By Side investigates the history, process and workflow of both digital and photochemical film creation. Interviews with top Directors, Cinematographers, Actors, Colourists and Editors they reveal their experiences and feelings about working with film and digital. Where we are now, how we got here and what the future may bring. the documentary charts the transition from film to digital and and visa versa whether it benefits of hinders the creative process.

3. Exit Through the Gift Shop

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1587707/

The story of how an eccentric French shop keeper and amateur film maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner. The film contains footage of Banksy, Shephard Fairey, Invader and many of the world’s most infamous graffiti artists at work.

 4. War Photographer

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0309061/

Documentary about war photographer James Nachtwey, considered by many the greatest war photographer ever.

 5. Fahrenheit 9/11

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0361596/

Michael Moore’s view on what happened to the United States after September 11; and how the Bush Administration allegedly used the tragic event to push forward its agenda for unjust wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Cheers

Alex A

When War Meets the Movies: Saving Private Ryan

Sunset Boulevard

My earliest memories of Saving Private Ryan are not exactly positive. For one thing, I didn’t even get through the first ten minutes during my first viewing (who would’ve thought one exceedingly long and uncommonly gory battle sequence would be too much for a nine-year old?).

article-0-00114EC600000258-15_468x286When I finally did pluck up the courage to give Saving Private Ryan a second chance, the Normandy landings sequence was still absolutely terrifying, albeit for slightly different reasons. The first time around, I honestly think I was just freaked because it was loud. Watching it as a (relatively) grown-up person now, what got me the most was the utter hopelessness of the situation. One volley of gunfire destroying countless men instantly. The colours of life waning into an ashen echo; that is, save for the tides, which wash blood-red as the camera pans out over the Norman coast.

The film follow a group of soldiers…

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