Tag Archives: The Joker

Method Acting

Method Acting

When watching a movie how well you connect with the characters. While we have discussed many factors in screen writing and characterization in the previous Friday Fundas we would look at acting performance by the actor itself. Even though the characterization and environment are perfect if an actor does not act convincingly audience would find it to be clichéd and not connect with it. There are many theories on acting. In this week’s Friday Fundas we would see once such theory which is popular in acting technique known as Method Acting.

Method acting in short relates to a group of techniques using which the actors get into the shoes of the characters they play by establishing an emotional connect with them. These techniques are based on the teachings and concepts of Constanin Stanilavski. His ideas had been adapted by many prominent teachers like Lee Strasberg, Robert Lewis, Sandord Meisner and Stella Adler.

Lee Starsberg’s method acting involved in the use of sensory and affective memory of the actor to bring out the character. He used techniques which involved the actors in imagining a similar emotional situation in their personal life and then enacting it on the screen. Starsberg used the question “What would motivate me, the actor, to behave in a way the character does?”

Sanford Meisner used a different technique in which he devised a technique called as Meisner technique. In this he advocates the actors to immerse themselves in the moment. He found just relying on their personal experiences is very limiting and only allows them to only focus on themselves but not on other characters on the set. His technique helped in overcoming this aspect. He used to run exercises that would enhance the interpersonal connect of the answers in a scene.

Robert Lewis believed the acting cannot be just bought out by focusing on the emotional act but it also involved in training the voice that would suit to the situation. If these are trained separately the output may not be effective.

Stella Adler was an actress herself and she had some of the actors who went onto become some of the greatest actors including Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro and Warren Beaty. She trained directly under Stanilavski which helped her in perfecting the technique a lot better. In her Method acting technique she used the personal memories of the actors as did Starsberg. But along with this she let them practice on creating an “as if” imagination. The actors had to imagine as if they were really in the given situation. This helped them in bringing out the emotions very effectively.

Some of the famous actors who practiced this technique are Christian Bale, Jack Nicholson, Marilyn Monroe, Danny Day Lewis, Al Pacino, Heath Ledger and many more. Not only Hollywood actors but also many of the Indian acting stalwarts like Kamal Haasan, Mammootty, Dilip Kumar and Naseeruddin Shah practice this technique. Now you would be able to appreciate the efforts Heath Ledger has put in for the Joker character much more.

An actor needs to do a lot of homework to get the act right if not the audience would not connect with the character and with the movie.

Friday Fundas: Types of Shots in movies

Friday Fundas: Types of Shots in movies

Based on the distance of the camera from the object the types of shots can be broadly classified into the following categories

  • Close up / Extreme Close up Shot (CU/ECU)
  • Medium Close up Shot (MCU)
  • Medium Shot (MS)
  • Medium Long Shot (MLS)
  • Long Shot (LS)
  • Extreme Long Shot (ELS)

The type of shots are mentioned in the shooting script of a scene. This is determined by the director and cinematographer. Let us look at some examples of the shots from popular English movies

Close up / Extreme Close up: Camera is so close to the object that it fills the entire screen. These shots are used to stress the importance of a character or a moment in the film. The close up shot of the eyes of Uma Thurman in Kill Bill emphasizes her sharp focus and alertness in the fight sequence

Extreme Close up shot
Extreme Close up shot – from Kill Bill

Medium Close up Shot: Close up of one or more characters including their shoulders and head is an example for this shot. This is used mainly when focusing on conversation and dialogues between the characters. Some of the most powerful dialogues in The Dark Knight from Joker has been taken as a Medium Close up Shot.

Medium Close up Shot
Medium Close up Shot from The Dark Knight

Medium Shot: The shot is generally from Waist up or knees down for a character. Usually the character occupies two thirds of the screen. This is mainly used in indoor sequences placing emphasis on a character or relationship between two characters. The medium shot from Amazing spider man when Peter Parker is in his high school is an example of this shot. This shot reveals the physical state of Peter Parker and his feelings for Gwen Stacy.

Medium Shot
Medium Shot from Amazing Spiderman

Medium Long Shot: This shot is between the Medium and Long shot. This reveals almost full length of a character and is used to reveal the relation of the surroundings to the character. The character is usually in the middle of the frame. The focus is also on the entire attire of a character. The shot of Clint Eastwood’s appearance in the movie The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is an example of this shot.

Medium Long Shot
Medium Long Shot from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Long Shot: The characters or object is in full view of the camera and they are seen along with the surroundings. Most of the Action sequences are taken as long shot. The scene from Expendables 2 is an example of this shot. This used a lot of long shots to give importance to the ensemble rather than the single character.

Long Shot
Long Shot from The Expendables 2

Extreme Long Shot: The subject and the characters become the background to the shot and the environment takes precedence over the objects. This is used to reveal the entire atmosphere. Movies like Avatar, Hobbit, Gravity, Jurassic Park used a lot of Extreme long shots to make the audience acclimatized to the environment.

Extreme Close up shot
Extreme long shot from Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Lot of thoughts go in before capturing the visual into a frame. Each shot would place different emphasis on the characters, emotions and surroundings. All these contribute to the viewing experience of the audience. Next time when you are watching a movie, check out for the kind of shots used in various situations.