Some time ago, I attended a film school in Copenhagen, Denmark for two weeks. They were teaching us only film theory, showing us some short parts of movies and discussing them, but there was no filming, shooting, or tutorials on software for editing. But of course we needed the theory before doing anything else, so it was alright.
Here I will share with you some of the notes I was taking during the first days of those 2 weeks. There are some cool things about movies that I haven’t thought about before, some things that now always make me impression when I watch a new movie.
Cause & effect
Something is happening, this something makes other characters to act in other way then what they would have done otherwise. The first thing is cause, the second – an effect. Here is an example: small kid goes in the middle of a high way, a dude who sees it runs to catch it and put in a safe place. This buddy wouldn’t go to risk his life, if it’s not the cause of the kid, so that’s making an effect that he acts like hero. To get a better picture I’ll tell you the example they gave us (it’s better).
- Thief breaks into a house. (cause)
- Woman comes back from work (cause)
- The thief hides in the bath (effect) – because he saw the woman coming home
- The woman goes to take a shower (cause)
- The thief kills the woman (effect) – if she wasn’t going to take a shower he wouldn’t kill her
So that’s kind of sequence of a movie. Kind of a communication between the characters through cause and effect.
Types of situations
Threat: something bad is going to happen, no person (“a meteorite is going to hit the Moon”)
Must / cannot: there is no other way, dude (“a police man must save a hostage”, “the breaks don’t work when he drives with 200km/h”)
Opposition: two sides against each other (“Fred vs Jason”, “Alian vs Predator”, a movie about some sport)
When somebody asks about a what’s the dramatic question of a movie, you can answer that it’s a opposition of the elfes against the bad n ugly orks for example, or that it’s a dramatic omition where bad terrorists are going to drop a bomb on a big city etc.
The dramatic question can have 3 possible solutions – positive, negative and the 3-rd solution. The positive could be, killing the terrorists and preventing the attack, negative – BOOM, and the 3-rd way is most interesting and unexpected, for example dropping the bomb, but the town is evacuated already and nobody dies. Through the whole movie there got to be kind of balance between possibility of avoiding the attack and lose, so that will keep the viewer interested and curious about the ending. Imagine you got a small terrorist dude, against a big squad of FBI or SWAT, SAS soldiers – that’s just going to be plain boring.
Give an expected ending (all those American action movies are so boring for me, so easy to predict everything, like watching one and the same movie over and over again – just that the names are different).
Value categories: personal, relationship, social, global, ethical. Brand certain emotions and values with certain product.
Target group: old customers, competative consumer, new consumer
Few steps to create a commercial
- Decide on the product
- Decide on the target group
- Discuss what values are needed in this target group
- Link the need to the product
- Makes sure that the dramatic question centers around the main “theme value”
- Create a “hook” using one of the four basic techniques (dramatic ommision, a threat, opposition, must/cannot)
- Create a surprising ending in which the product is the solution
- Get money!