A short blog again today. And this doesn’t technically have to do with writing – it has to do with camera work and director choices. But it all falls under the heading of “storytelling,” so we’re cool.
I just saw a new film called “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” (which is a great title to quote when people ask, “What movies have you seen lately?”). There’s a scene in a gymnasium where Zach Galifianakis and Keir Gilchrist reveal their inner thoughts over a game of basketball.
Now before I go any further, I’ve got to tell you that I have this “nervous foot syndrome” or whatever it’s called. You know what I’m talking about – when your legs are crossed and one foot is going like a hummingbird’s wings… or both feet are flat on the ground and it looks like you’re playing a fast kick drum. In my case, I don’t think it stems from nervousness so much as antsy-ness. I guess I always feel like I should be getting something more done while I’m sitting. The inability to multi-task at that moment. “Come on, let’s get crackin’, Jymn.” But my foot will also shake when I’m feeling strong emotions – like something big is looming, and I want to get to it. To tackle it. To sort it out. To find the answers.
Back to the movie. So I’m watching Zach Galifianakis reveal some really tough emotions to Keir Gilchrist (and what is it with the plethora of nerdy male characters in films lately?). Anyway, I noticed that my foot was going. I was engaged in Zach’s emotions… I wanted to hear more… I wanted to solve the mystery of why he was in a mental institution. So my foot was mirroring my emotions.
Then suddenly I noticed that the camera was moving. The scene was being shot without a tripod. That handheld documentary-style camera work. And I thought, “Hmm, that’s odd. The camera is acting like my foot. Like it’s antsy. Like it wants answers.” And sure enough, when the emotional scene was over and the guys exited the gym – the film went back to rock-steady tripod camera work. It got me thinking that the director was telling us, “Hey, this scene is important. I’m going to make it jumpy and immediate.” Like my foot, the camera was mirroring the emotions of the characters.
And there we are again with the cardinal rule: Everything in your project has to support the story – the writing, the acting, the costumes, the music, the color scheme… and, yes, even the nervous camera work.