Life occurs in a long take. Therefore, the best way to portray realism is through long takes. Our group chose to take on the challenge of portraying the reality of college life – the trials and tribulations of being a college student. The opening shot shows two tired and apathetic students being joined, finally, by the third member of the group. The camera follows the latecomer into the room, giving a sense of haste and aligning the audience with his character. The dialogue suggests immediately that Carson is disconnected from the group, a fact that is further emphasized by the close-up of his face wearing a dreamy look, with the universally recognizable gesture of chin-scratching signaling deep thought. The sound in this take is diegetic, further contributing to the sense of realism.
The second take signals the beginning of a daydream. We have de-saturated the footage to make the transition from the real world to the dream world readily apparent to the audience. Like the end of the first take, this second take begins with a close-up of Carson’s face. The graphic match of these two images serves to further align the audience with his character and show that the transition occurred in his mind. The sound in this take is, unlike the first, nondiegetic. This also serves signal a dream world when considering the contrast between the first take and this second.
The third take pays homage to season one, episode six of Mad Men. The music is the same as that used during the lipstick focus group scene of the episode. The framing and speed of our take are different, but Carson makes eye contact with the camera just as Peggy does. The jarring effect that Peggy had upon us the viewer is recreated to at least a small degree in our shot. Additionally, both Peggy’s and Carson’s tasks are mundane and complimented by the music in similar ways. The length of the take and the sensuality with which Carson treats his sandwich are designed to be humorous and make the audience slightly uncomfortable.
The final take presents a somewhat harsh transition out of the dream world, preempting the transition that Carson is about to make. The take is fairly straightforward, recreating the mise en scene of the first take. The sound is once again strictly diegetic. The end of the take functions as yet another homage to season one, episode six of Mad Men. The picture cuts off and the audience is left just with the sounds of the students exiting the room as the credits roll across the screen. While the mood is certainly quite different from that portrayed in Mad Men, we liked the effect and thought that it complemented well the humorous tone of the video.
The unique form of long take allowed our group to better portray a sense of realism, more specifically the reality of film class students here at Middlebury. Our goal to overplay the mundane activity of making and eating a sandwich in Procter through the use of sensual music and odd interactions between actor, sandwich and camera was aided by the awkwardly long duration of long take shots. In our case, the long take structure was humor’s best friend.
Nate Sans, Nick Smaller, Eyal Levy, Sinead Keirans.
We watch Claudia wander while waiting for Sandro and we feel her impatience. Slowly, as she moves through the area we feel her unease as we, and she, realize that men are everywhere. These men observe her and we feel threatened in one moment, like Claudia, as a balcony of men looking down on us is revealed from her perspective. But the next moment we are the spectators as we are watch with the lurking men, conscious of the striking woman’s presence among us.
Or we watch Michaela engage directly with the camera, describing the need for a leader for Public Safety, as we watch Officer Ben draw on the window in the condensation from his own breath and Officer Adam’s great concern with getting coffee. We feel her frustration and her embarrassment at the spectacle behind her as she strives for professionalism.
Whether employed by Michelangelo Antonioni in L’Avventura or by Otter Nonsense Productions in Public Safety, the long take helps viewers to understand and feel the perspective and personality of characters. The virtues of the long take used in these two examples, such as creating discomfort and other emotions for the viewers, aligning them with a character through point of view shots or interactions with others, having something revealed through a pan or a tilt, or having someone speak to the camera, create attachment and understanding of characters. Montage does not allow an audience to connect in that way with a character, to feel for them and with them.
In our short film, we used long take and the elements of mise-en-scene to create this connection. Nate’s speech reveals his desire to be liked, his problems with communication, and his need to please others as he describes his call-in radio show. Eyal’s interview emphasizes his egotism and reveals his careless criticism of other people. Nate’s track jacket shows him to be part of a team and his green flannel shirt (so characteristic of a college student) concisely conveys his desire to fit in. Eyal’s dominance in his dark shots emphasizes his dark personality while Nate is shot in bright light, suggesting his openness, and tends to be dwarfed by his surroundings as he remains in the middle ground showing his powerlessness. The point of view shot when Nate realizes that his girlfriend is with his roommate aligns the audience even more closely with him and they feel his urgency and surprise at this discovery, further emphasized by the violence of the music.
Our film would not have worked in a montage format; montage is not suited to this level of character development and the creation of attachment because the shots hardly allow us to comprehend a character. Quick flashes of personalities do not inspire this same understanding. Thus, long take is superior to montage when the primary concern is character development. We believe that long take was the best way to convey this picture of betrayal and have an audience truly understand it.
Welcome to the course page for FMMC 0101: Aesthetics of the Moving Image. Take some time to dig around and explore the site. Some links on this wordpress blog will bring you to the new course management system, Moodle, which we’ll be test piloting this semester. Just log in with your Middlebury info to gain access to the course Moodle page. Email me (your professor, Louisa) with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org… or just leave a comment in this post. Looking forward to meeting you all on the first day of class.