Guest Blogger: Lamont Jack Pearley
How To: Identify Your Shooting Style
For a good fraction of us, we as independent filmmakers can identify our shooting style early, do to the fact that we “write it, shoot it, and work it” ourselves in many cases. That being said, with full creative control and a very small budget, your thought process should be: how could I tell a compelling visual story with little to know resources… well I’ll tell you. I’ll start with giving you an example of how I shot my independent film KING OF B. There is a scene where my main character has an altercation with Harrison Ford and I don’t know Harrison Ford, nor can I afford Harrison Ford. So my dilemma was, how do I shoot a scene with someone who I don’t have access to and have it play out reasonably enough? Okay, if you’re a true filmmaker you know that production is really nothing more than problem solving, quick problem solving, thinking on your feet, thinking on your glutes, not allowing a situation to disrupt the creation of the project and finding ways out of problems that go beyond dumping money into them.
So I had to think fast, I had to be creative or I could lose my audience. Then it came to me, my movie is a fictional dark comedy about the fictional Kevin Schmitz, an aspiring actor, who takes his craft seriously and believes he is his idol Kurt Russell. Losing all sense of reality, Kevin ends up in a psychiatric facility. In this facility it’s discovered that Kevin has Grandiose Delusional Disorder. Since this is a dark comedy, I made the decision to have my character look directly into the camera and have it out with Harrison Ford, from Ford’s point of view. To do something like this more than once is either a mistake or poor compensation for not having a budget. We don’t make mistakes and we don’t compensate, we create. Now I had to re-think the rest of my film visually. I made that the story style of my film. All the players pretty much had moments where they spoke directly into the camera. This made it a style, a good style that served the story and the characters.
Keep one thing in mind, no matter what you do visually, the basic is and always will be telling a good story, but if you need to alter how you tell the story based on a lack of funding or support from certain individuals (like crew with gear or A-list actors), this can be extremely fun and you can find a shooting technique that you wouldn’t have otherwise discovered.
Contributed exclusively for Film Anthropology by LAMONT JACK PEARLEY | Filmmaker