Tuesday, 1 March 2011

'Watching' Documentary on film openings

In class, we watched a documentary called 'Watching' explaining the importance of openings. This is what I found:

Thomas Sutcliffe
In the documentary the presenter Thomas Sutcliffe said, "films need to seduce their audience into long term commitment. While there are many types of seduction, the temptation to go for instant arousal is almost irresistible". By this he means that films need to capture the audiences attention immediately to keep them hooked and wanting more. However, at the same time, too much cannot be revealed as the audience will be gradually exposed to the storyline throughout the film. If the opening provides little detail then the audience will be 'seduced' into fining out what happens later on. Director Jean Jacques Beineix also believes that the viewers should not be exposed to the information so quickly, as the film has just begun and they may not maintain their level of interest later on. He states, "a good beginning must make the audience feel that it doesn't know nearly enough yet, and at the same time make sure it doesn't know too little". Beineix believes that this is effective because the audience gain enough information to remain highly tuned in knowing that something will happen later on, and therefore gain and maintain the audiences interest.

Stanley Kauffmann
Critic Stanley Kauffmann argues that the classic opening to a film is most effective. He believes that starting a film with an establishing shot which then leads to the outside of the setting (usually a building) before zooming through the window to begin the scene. This works because the audience is familiar with the setting of the scene even before the scene has actually begun.

Kyle Cooper's title sequence to 'Se7en' tunes the audience in. The opening sequence lets the audience know what type film it is without giving too much away. The movie's psychotic title sequence did this through the use of editing and sound making it very effective. The music plays a big role within the sequence as it reveals the sub-genre of the film itself: psychological.
Here is the title sequence of 'Se7en':

Orson Welles wanted his film 'A Touch of Evil' to create a tension in the opening sequence by jumping straight into the film without the opening credits. However, Universal Studios added on the credits anyway as they felt it didn't follow they typical opening. Their decision left some viewers disappointed as they believe the titles have 'damaged' the film.
Here is the title sequence of 'A Touch of Evil':

'A favourite trick of noir' refers to a trick used in the opening of films, which is when the beginning begins with the end. This works because it draws the audience in by making them wonder how the story began. 'Casino' is a great example of this; the actor, Robert De Niro gets into his cars when it suddenly blows up. Viewers will be desperate to find out how that happened. I think this structure of opening is very effective.
Here is the title sequence of 'Casino':

The opening of 'The Shining' creates suspense as a establishing shot of a car filmed from a helicopter. Although a lot of the mise en scene is of nature, the camera sets its focus on the car as if its following it. This builds suspense as viewers get a sense that the car is lost with keeps them hooked.
Here is the title sequence of 'The Shining':


Overall, I found this documentary very useful as we will be needing these tips for our own thriller opening. Hopefully, our thriller will be effective as the thrillers above.

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