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Film Directing: Make Your Audience Emotionally Engaged

How to  Make Your Film Audience Emotionally Engaged?

Many film school students make the mistake of thinking that film directing is simply telling a story. That is not true.When you get a script, you want the audience to be emotionally engaged in the film and to do that you need their watching experience to have different layers of fun.

I’m going to talk about something that not many film schools are talking about – Film directing is not just about telling “the facts”. In fact, the facts are just the cover to tell a deeper story with deeper meaning.

Don’t sell yourself

Before we start talking about how to make a film that will thrill your audience, it’s important for me to explain, that I’m not talking about selling  yourself to the audience. Don’t do something just because the audience seems to like it right now. If you don’t believe in your film, your audience will feel it. If you want to make a film that will truly be remembered, You must think about your way of telling the story.

Find a good story

Your first step is to find a good story. Notice that I didn’t write “a good script”. First of all pay attention to the story itself. Does the story work without the stylish dialogues and scenes?
It’s hard to define a good story, but generally speaking, it’s a story that will challenge the audience, but more important a story that interests you. You are about to do a lot of story analyzing, so you better like it. Also, make sure the story’s world has to be reliable and also the characters. It also needs to have the dramatic structure.

Have a good main character

The audience has to connect with your character. I’ve talked about how to do that in the Developing Characters post, but generally, you need to have a character that the audience will care about and that will be strong enough to lead us in throughout the story. The audience should really want her to survive and succeed.

Understand your story

The director needs to be able to make complicated interpretations of the script. To do that he needs first to completely understand the story. The process starts with understanding your story’s structure and the dramatic conflict that is developing throughout the film. Back To The Future is a film that you can see the director knew every little detail about the plot, the characters, and their town.

Your director’s vision

Director’s vision is the director main tool to translate the script into a movie. If you’ll find and completely understand your film director’s vision, you’ll make great films. Your director’s vision will guide you through all the important decisions on set.
Your director’s vision is an outcome of the message you are trying to portray in your film – the film’s premise. Only after understanding your vision, you can start directing actors and camera.

Working within a genre

The genres job is to organize some parts of our life and you can find genres not only in films. If your movie is connected to a genre, make sure the script is following the basic genre rules of its genre. Gener films are great to play with because the audience is ready to see a movie with strict rules. You can take these rules and play with them so you’ll have your own twist on them.
First, see the story within the genre rules and then start playing with them, see what rules can you break or stretch without upsetting your audience.
Playing with a genre rule is fun, but it must be connected somehow to the theme of your film. It has to deliver a message. Breaking the rules just to break the rules is worse than simply following them.

Use production design to make

Production design is a film element that many low budget films tend to forget about, but if you’ll handle it right, it can be one of the most important element of your film. After you developed your characters, you can understand the movie’s atmosphere and theme and you can start working on it.  The production design will create your film’s look and should reflect the characters emotions and the movie’s theme. You can also use a storyboard to make things clearer. If you’ll put your mind (and some cash) to it, it will take your film to the next level.  

Know your audience

What kind of emotion do you want your audience to feel towards the film? Is it love? Is it respect? Do you want to impress the audience with big budget production? There are many ways you can turn the film’s watching experience into something worth remembering, but you need to know who is your audience and what you are trying to get out of him.
Every film director needs to find his own way to touch the audience.
In Blood Simple, the Cohen Brothers are making the audience laugh while feeling revolted. Kubrick makes us feel uncomfortable as he built the violent scenes in A Clockwork Orange so we’ll be shocked on one side, but wouldn’t be able to keep our eyes off.
Every director has his own style and you should find yours. This is why it’s important to shoot shorts as much as you can. That way you can test different things and see what works and what doesn’t.

Make your audience participate

A cool trick to make the watching experience more fun for the audience is to make them
a part of the film. One way of doing that by letting your audience know something that the hero doesn’t know. In the movie Hot Fuzz, the main character suspect there is a murder in the town. Everybody laughs at him, but we know he is right because we’ve seen the killer. Horror movies use that trick a lot. We know something bad is going to happen and that’s what gets us excited -the waiting for it.

Filmmaking is all about emotions

Personally, I like films that make you think, but if that’s all they do and they don’t have any emotion attached to it, then the movie was a waste of time. Find the emotion you want the audience to feel in each scene. Every scene should have an emotion attached to it and that emotion should dictate all your directing decisions. For example, a close up is a much more emotional shot then medium shot.

Film Directing – The Triple Take Method


Shooting With The Triple Take Method

A few weeks ago we’ve talked about the Master scene method. Now I want to teach you another film directing technique called “The Triple Take method” and sometimes also called “The Overlapping Method”. It’s a very easy method and the purpose of this directing method is to cut in action while maintaining continuity.

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The triple take method is a great method especially when working without a script and for documentaries, but also great for scripted scenes.

How does the film directing technique works?

The main idea here is to start each shot with the last action of the shot before it, so those two actions are now overlapping. Let’s say you have a scene where the actor is opening his house door, entering his home, walking to the TV, opening it and sits on his couch. You will shoot him opening the door and getting inside the house in one angle, then you want to shoot him walking to the TV in a different angle, so you tell the actor to stop, change the angle and now you will shoot him walking towards the TV, but the actor will to go a few steps backwards and start the shot from the part of stepping inside the house, so you will have that action in both angles. Now he is walking to the TV and you want to shoot the part where he turns it on in a different angle, so again, he will take a few steps back and play the action including turning the TV on. Now we want the part of him sitting on the couch in a different angle, so we’ll tell the actor to stop, we’ll change the angle and tell him to start from the part of turning the TV on (which we already filmed in the angle before).
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As I said it’s a very simple method, but I would shoot also a master scene to make sure the editor will have somewhere to turn to if something went wrong and we didn’t notice. Also, remember it’s a very technically scene that might be hard for the actor to work with, so don’t use it on emotional scenes.

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Film Directing- The Master Scene Method

Using The Master Scene Technique

The Master scene method is the first tool you’ll use when you approach a scene. No matter how much you’ve worked on your shooting script, there is always something that can go wrong on set and you’ll miss it . The master shot technique method comes to the rescue in such cases.

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The master scene method is one of the films directing fundamentals techniques that began during the silent movies in the 20’s. It was a time when video editing wasn’t as easy as it is now.

The Master shot method means to shoot the whole scene in one long take in a wide angle ( See types of shots article) with all its important elements and then you can move on to shoot the coverage shots like the over the shoulder, medium shots, close-ups etc.

Now,

In the editing room, if you find you missed a shot, you can go to this cover shot to the rescue.

Master shot method tip
When shooting a scene in a room, the master shot will usually be in the opposite corner. If you are shooting outside, just look for the farthest spot that will cover everything in the shot.

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A few tips about working with master scene method

Before I’ll tell you how to do this the right way, here are some tips you need to know:

  • Start the shooting with the master shot before the coverage shots to prevent problems in the continuity of the scene.

  • When a scene is too long or has a complex movement, it is recommended to break the Master shots into 2 masters.

  • Watch for the 180-degree rule (see rules of the camera) while you shoot the master and the coverage.

  • When you plan the shooting script breakdown, think about the time it will take to change the lightning from the master shot to the coverage shots.

  • Make sure you start the shot from the beginning of the scene until the ending of it.

  • Master shot method can also be used to add a certain atmosphere.

When this method is done properly, the audience will barely feel it was made to cover faults.

Shooting in one take is not as hard as it sounds

Don’t waste too much time on it. It’s not a big deal if the actors make mistakes. It all If an actor gets confused in the middle of the scene, you can take the second take from that point.

So this is a very basic but useful film technique that is used a lot in Film directing.

I recommend to read also about The Triple- Take Technique.

Recommended books on film directing