As many scenes in our film present groups of students exhibiting identical behavior to create an eery sense of conformity, this scene from Midsommar is a great example of how that cult mentality can be depicted. While the group of people in this particular scene don’t move in perfect synchronization, their movements and their facial expressions still create an unsettling sense of conformity and mindless following.
How could we potentially use a bird’s eye view of a classroom without the capabilities that this film had?
Could a wide angle lens be effective in showing the number of students in the classroom?
Should we show our protagonist/stranger to the cult starting to give into the group behavior or should we only present a rejection of these norms?
Entire scene is completely devoid of music – making the audience uncomfortable with silence
Establishes relationship between cult leaders and followers with costume and set design (different outfits, leaders sit in throne-like chairs)
Slow dolly out to reveal the number of followers involved in this cult
Movements of each follower matches the movements of the leaders – not in perfect unison but still establishing that cult mentality and the weirdness of their mindless nature
As leaders pick up silverware and begin to eat, camera angle changes to a bird’s eye view and then pans across the table set-up to show the consecutive movements of each follower – kind of like a ripple of movement
Character seating placement at table establishes rank
All of the “follower” characters seem to be in a trance throughout the scene, all following the same behavioral patterns and moving based on the leaders’ movements
Even the characters that are strangers to this cult begin to follow the behaviors of the others – giving into that cult mentality and conformity in fear of standing out too much in this foreign environment
Blocking in every shot is almost never focused on one single character – there’s always multiple people in the shot to communicate their belonging to this group/lack of individualism
With the exception of the leaders and the strangers in this scene, the followers are depicted as a group, not as individuals – representing their loss of identity to this brainwashed cult
Sound effects: emphasis on the visible sounds of the scene like forks scraping and the minimal dialog that exists – no presence of external sounds like wind
Majority of characters are entirely emotionless, clearly in a trance
Overall, this scene is a great representation of how to shoot a large group of characters moving simultaneously, as it successfully communicates the lack of individualism in the group and the notion that this is a cult. On top of the various angles, edits, and blocking choices that add to the success of the scene, the lack of music and the emphasis on isolated sounds creates a very eerie and unsettling feeling in the viewer.
Storytelling is joke telling Stories cross the boundaries of time and allow us to connect to each other Stories affirm who we are Make me care with your story The beginning of a story should give a promise that it’s going to go somewhere A well-told promise can propel you through the story
Links into anticipation and building tension – don’t make things predicatable
Storytelling without dialogue is the purest form of storytelling “Make the audience work for their meal [but don’t let them know they’re working for it]” Unifying Theory of 2+2: don’t give them 4, give them 2+2
Every character has an itch they want to scratch – the spine of the character This “itch” could be positive or negative, but we all have it
Can tension be built even in a “dull” scene?
Stories die when things go static, because life is never static “Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty” Anticipation is tension – audience wants to find the conclusion but don’t make it predictable
Links into Hans Zimmer’s idea of finding the “rules” of the film and then breaking them
Storytelling has guidelines, not hard and fast rules A strong theme is always running through a well-told story
In other words, make people connect and care!
Most important part: can you invoke wonder? The best stories are able to infuse wonder in its audience
Draw from what you know Capture a truth from your own experience
Andrew Stanton’s basic, overarching principle of storytelling is to use what you know and make your audience care about what you’re trying to say. Stories are meant to make us feel connected on a deeper level, and according to Stanton, being successful in this means invoking wonder and creating anticipation that keeps an audience engaged.
By May 10th, as part of team 5, I will have added detailed notes to the script and storyboard on music choices and the use of tension building through music using Robin Hoffman’s “What is The Function of Film Music” and MasterClass’ “6 Ways to Create Tension and Release in Music”.
John Williams is one of the most well-known and highly regarded American film composers, having composed over 100 films and having 52 Oscar nominations, five Oscar wins, two Emmy wins, three Golden Globes, and 25 Grammy wins. Some of his most well-known compositions include the score for Jaws, Jurassic Park, E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, the first three Harry Potter films, and nine Star Wars films. Williams’ ten rules for success are mostly related to working hard and finding joy in everything you do. Throughout his career, Williams has stayed incredibly humble despite his extensive success and recognition, as he cares deeply for his work as a musician and finds immense joy in his every interaction with music.
I acted as composer – my evidence is on slides 25 and 26.
POST-PRODUCTION – REFLECTION
21st Century Skills
Ways of Thinking (Creativity, Innovation, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving)
Considering the number of actors we used in multiple scenes, creativity and problem solving was crucial to the success and completion of our film. The class we were originally going to use in those scenes was unavailable the day of shooting, so we had to problem solve to try and find a new class last minute. We also had to overcome issues related to the time constraint, as we changed our original filming plans and cut hallway running scenes. On top of this, our editor was absent the entire week of editing, so we had to problem solve in order to ensure we had a finished film with all the necessary components.
Ways of Working (Communication & Collaboration)
Throughout the entire production session, our team was in constant communication, which was especially necessary because we are a six person team. When our editor was out for the entire week of our editing process, we all had to collaborate to make sure we ended with a finished, well-done film. Decisions on cutting scenes, sound design, and music were all a collaborative effort, as we checked in with each other every day and each watched our film before publishing it. We also had to communicate during filming to finish our scenes efficiently, and we collaborated by helping each other out with our individual roles when someone was gone or had to be an actor in a scene.
Tools for Working (Info & Media Literacy)
Due to the limited time we had to edit the film, add sound effects, and create music, I had to learn how to use a music composition site other than GarageBand so that I could work in the classroom and from home. The website I used was called Soundtrap, and I had to learn all of the details and specifics of the site in order to make progress on our film’s music and complete the finished product in time. As a learning tool, I read about the purpose and potential of music in film with Robin Hoffman’s article “What is the function of film music?” and researched how I could create conflict and release in my music with MasterClass’ “6 Ways to Create Tension and Release in Music”. As a team, we used Celtx to write the screenplay, Google Drive to share files, and Trello to keep track of our progress.
Ways of Living in the World (Life & Career)
In this production session, I gained a lot of life skills regarding collaboration, teamwork, and general creativity. Because this was our last film and every team was given the same prompt of “community”, my team and I pushed ourselves to come up with something unique and creative that would stand out among all the other films. Especially during our pre-production and brainstorming process, I learned how to effectively collaborate, and express and communicate my creativity and ideas successfully within a group. When new, often conflicting ideas were proposed, we had to blend them together and work through everything as a team, which I feel is a very important skill to have in the real world. In a more specific sense, I continued my learning about music theory and composition, which is a skill I would like to build upon in the future.
Reactions to the Final Version
“The music built very successfully, starting with a wholesome feeling and then shifting as the tone of the film shifted. The inclusion of the heartbeat sound was also really effective to portray the panic of the character, even though it was a smaller, background noise.” – James
“The music flowed really well and matched the tone of the film, which helped move everything along and provide clarity in the plot.” – Moira
Self-Evaluation of Final Version
Our final film was simple, as we only included shots and scenes that were necessary to develop the plot of the film and communicate our story. It was also emotional, as we used sensory language and specific film techniques to instill fear and create suspense with our audience. Additionally, our film was concrete and unexpected, as we shocked our audience with a final plot twist and addressed the prompt of “community” from a unique perspective.
What I Learned and Problems I Solved
During this project, I learned a lot of technical skills, especially regarding music composition and the specificities of the Soundtrap software. Before this production session, I had only ever used GarageBand, but now that I am well-versed in an entirely new program, I feel more prepared for any music I compose in the future. In a more general, real-world sense, I continued to gain skills relating to leadership and group collaboration, which will be very helpful in the future. I also solved many problems alongside my team members during this production session, as we had a large task including nearly 50 actors that needed to be completed within a relatively short period of time.
Grammar and Spelling
Grammarly, Edublogs Spell Check
Story of Film – Episode 3 – The Golden Age of World Cinema