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Becoming the Subject

Written by Madeleine Wilson ‘23-‘24 Student Board Member

Since the very first film, in 1895, by the Lumière brothers, film and media alike have skyrocketed. Media now takes many forms, in feature length and short films, Tiktok reel videos, even Youtube informational videos and gaming screen recordings. With the advancement of film technology came the advancement of style and artistic exploration. Dolly zooms and dutch angles, the world watched aghast and star-struck!

Let’s take a look from the very, very beginning… At first, there was theatre in Egypt. Simple scenes performed to small crowds, which inspired Greeks to build huge amphitheaters for thousands of viewers. During these gatherings, many plays were shown in a festival setting, not unlike the film and music festivals still around today. However, soon – and by soon I mean thousands of years later – people craved a new kind of entertainment. One that could connect you to the actors from the comfort of your home, that could be watched repeatedly and could get close and personal with the actors. That would be the revolutionary invention of film. 

From an audience perspective, creating media seems quite simple. Grab a camera, sound equipment, a couple of actors and you’re set! Yet what’s not shown is the prep, the detail gone into every aspect of a shot. Including shot angles. 

Shot angles are an extremely powerful tool for any cinematographer, photographer, director, or even writer to consider. For instance, when shooting a boat from below, a worm’s eye view, the shot may give the appearance that something is watching, or approaching its underside, an heir of mystery and uncertainty. Whereas shooting the same moment from above, a bird’s eye view, is clear, there’s either something there or there isn’t, no mystery, but a fool proof way to “show not tell”.

Shot choice can make or break a scene, but with thought and attention to detail, a beautiful scene will emerge in both fun and interesting ways.