Like I’d know…
Following my naïve reflections on the general plan for filming, here are a few hallowed film techniques that Get my Goat:
1) The Ken Burns effect. Don’t get me wrong, his series on jazz is like (sorry) the greatest documentary series ever??? But zooming in slowly to focus on the eyes of a photo is such an insistent habit—bludgeoning the viewer into sharing a profound experience of which the object is innocent.
My brilliant editor Michele Banal (or Michele trivial as he is now known) has educated me in the value of movement in showing photos, but he’s obligingly worked round my wish to keep it subtle and avoid such sentimentalizing.
2) Closeups of hands. In a similar vein, lingering shots of the interviewee’s hands are to be avoided. It may be a desperate measure to paper over a dodgy edit, but again it corrals us all into a conspiracy of profundity. Gnarled, clasped in anguish, elegantly manicured, or not, they’re just hands.
3) Slow-mo. I mean, what’s the point? Sure, used subtly it can sometimes be a useful way round a dodgy bit of filming, but why would we want to see people doing stuff at the wrong speed?
3) Filming while moving backwards as the subject walks towards you. It’s a cliché of many movies, often satirized in the standard corridor scene. Watching most dramas I am quite able to suspend my disbelief, but here I keep thinking, “Hey, how can they not have noticed that there’s this film crew moving backwards in front of them?”
No less irritating is the documentary presenter walking into shot, addressing some earnest words to camera, and then floating off again reflectively. Again, this is well satirized.
For voiceovers, see here.
OK, enough. Next I shall pontificate on canine dentistry…
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