Tell A Story In One Shot

Telling a story in one shot

In film school I had a course called Fundamentals of Production and in the third week of class we were tasked with telling a story with some pretty strict guidelines. We were given this scenario,

"A guy (or girl) has a poor relationship with their parents. The guy does not like his parents and feels disconnected (not angry, not mad, not happy, not sad) from them. He is justified in feeling this way. His parents have a history of confirming that they are indeed disconnected and thoughtless towards him."

Along with this scene we had specific guidelines to follow,

One shot (You cannot edit shots together) NO HAND HELD Must use a tripod Keep it to one actor No more than 7 written words of telling your audience information. Such as shot of text messages, notes, letters, title cards, and etc. (I want you relying on visual language.) No Dialogue (Show don't tell) The location must be somewhere other than his/her parent's house.

My take on the one shot story

This was the result of coming down to the last day before its due at 9 PM and I was running out of day light. One of the biggest parts for this was that it couldn't be at a house, so I was going to be outside but it had been raining all day.

I waited for the rain to stop and only had about 20 minutes of sunlight to figure out how to shoot it. I decided to do it in the car right outside my house. 

How I moved the camera without being handheld

This couldn't be handheld so I had to figure out how to move the camera around, I didn't have a slider. I propped the camera and tripod on 2 out of 3 of the legs and rose one of the legs up, along with that I also loosened the pan and tilt on the tripod.

Now as I move the camera back and forth I had a dolly effect. I added extra zooming in, in post so I could see as much of the image as I could. I timed it perfectly when I started and stopped pushing in on camera so it looked like one fluid dolly in and dolly out. 

Why I chose black and white

The choice for black and white came in during post. To shoot this I had to shoot at ISO 3200, I didn't have any lights besides the dome light in the car.

With that high of an ISO there;s no way any decent color grading was going to happen so I tinted it black and white and slapped on a layer of film grain to blend in with all the horrid digital noise. 

All in all I'm pretty happy with the result. There definitely is a better way of doing this scene, but I'm happy with all the little tricks I had to use to make it work and with that it became unique. 

I hope you found this interesting, look around the blog for more content on my experiences going through film school and filmmaking.