Filmmaking is an amalgam of people, processes, and perspectives, and a medium that can entertain, inform, inspire and, sometimes, do all three. Since 1895 when the Lumiere brothers made the first ever moving picture, the art of filmmaking has evolved phenomenally (in no small part) because of filmmakers that have pushed the boundaries of story-telling, removing themselves from preconceived notions or ideas, to create something that is transcendental, relevant and, most importantly, thought-provoking. Automatically, certain films and filmmakers come to mind—from the works of Satyajit Ray to Quentin Tarantino, there are universally-accepted ‘great movies’ that find themselves on lists like ’50 Movies to Watch Before You Die’.
But what makes a truly great film? What are the important aspects of filmmaking? Is it the script? Well-developed characters? Cinematography? In fact, it is the combination of all these things—a tight script, a director with a vision, careful casting, lighting, sound and so on—that delivers a significant, unforgettable sensory experience, one that could even last a lifetime.
The sub-parts of a good script are a compelling plot line, a seamless weaving together of places and situations, effective dialogue, the conflict (or unending dilemma that draws you in to a make-believe world) and the final climax. Together, these components can either empower the director or hinder his/her vision.
The craft of tantalising a viewer’s heart and mind at the same time is called acting. This is an essential aspect of filmmaking. From the greatest depression to boundless happiness, a good actor can convincingly convey every emotion and, in a way, carry the film. The minute the illusion breaks, the viewer is jerked back to real-life.
Filmmaking is the greatest exploration of one’s imagination, and films are an audio-visual manifestation of it. So, it follows that, irrespective of genre, visuals are the backbone of any film that is worthy of being admired. Camera work, lighting, props, costumes—all these pieces come together to fuel the director’s narrative and create magic.
Think of your favourite film. It is possible that one of the many reasons you love it is the soundtrack, or the background score—even if you don’t immediately know it. The power of sound to transport audiences smack in the middle of the scene is incredible. The necessary complement to visuals, audio can dramatically enhance your movie-viewing experience.
Timing is everything for the craft of filmmaking. Timing is what makes a joke funny, an ordinary situation scary, or a moment intense. It brings structure to the plot, order to the events, and defines the pace at which the movie continues along.
Hundreds of people come together and work for months on end, to turn one person’s vision into reality. While this doesn’t make him or her the most important person on set, it certainly makes the director the controller of the film. The director guides the process and sets the tone for his or her entire crew. The playmaker, a good director harnesses the work of everyone involved in the making of a film and seals it off with his or her distinct stamp. If you think about it, certain styles of filmmaking will stand out and appeal to you more than others, and you will invariably tend to gravitate towards those movies. This is the director’s greatest success.
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