Montage/movie and film making

What’s the difference between ‘Movie’ and ‘Film’?

The word “film” is  undergoing an evolution.

From a technical point of view, film is a format. Film is the actual material that a movie is recorded to in production and projected from in a cinema. Over the last fifteen years there has been an explosion of new digital technology entering the movie production process. Although most cinema movies are still shot and projected on 35mm film, this is no longer universally true. There is also a growing trend in cinema of projecting digitally rather than showing movies film .

It’s important to understand the technical revolution. Although film as a format is in decline, the usage of the word “film” is changing. Thus now, even amongst movie professionals it would be fairly common to hear a  conversation that went “We’re shooting a short film at the weekend” “What are you shooting it on?” “We’re shooting High Def, but we can’t decide between the Sony and the Panasonic.”

The use of the word “film” has ceased to be a purely technical express of format. In fact the expression “digital film” became common, even though from a technical point of view the idea of a “digital film” is idiotic.

Google is another mechanism that brings the terms “movie” and “film” closer together in terms of meaning. These days a great deal of writing is done online about “cinema” and “movies” and “film”.A writer havinging to attract readers sometimes makes the assumption that people will google either “film making for beginners” or “movie making for beginners” in as their request. As a result , it’s now common for writers to use both terms in order to cater for both kinds of searches.

What is MONTAGE?

Montage is a technique in film editing in which a series of short shots are edited into a sequence to condense space, time, and information. The term  was introduced to cinema primarily by Sergey Eisenstein, and early soviet directors used it as a synonym for creative editing. In France the word “montage” simply denotes cutting. The term “montage sequence” has been used primarily by British and American studios.

The montage sequence is usually used to suggest the passage of time, rather than to create symbolic meaning as it does in Soviet montage theory.

From the 1930s to the 1950s, montage sequences often combined numerous short shots with special optical effects (fadesdissolvessplit screensdouble and triple exposures) dance and music. They were usually assembled by someone other than the director or the editor of the movie.

Montage can differentiate the media between what people mights call a “movie”, and what others might call a “film”.

At it’s best it’s the director’s use of metaphor, audio visual speaking within the constrains of the frame.

This refers to the ‘constrains’ of the frame and what the audience experiences during viewing.

What does the use of constraints offer filmmakers? A screenwriter from The National Film School of Denmark suggests: “I love constraints [..]. I think that’s a great relief, because it offers an exercise to your imagination” (Philipsen 2005: 211).

  • Action and performance
  • actors
  • casting camera movement
  • colour
  • costume
  • framing
  • lens
  • lighting
  • media used
  • location
  • props
  • spatiality and debt

Expanded mise-en-scene for meaning includes:

  • editting & montage
  • sound design & music
  • post-prosuction input (titles, special effects)

The Kuleshov Effect

kuleshov-effect

The Kuleshov effect is an effect demonstrated by Lev Kuleshov throught 1910s and 1920s. It is a mental phenomenon by which viewers derive more meaning from the interaction of two sequential shots than from a single shot in isolation.

 

Lev Kuleshov, a Soviet filmmaker, was among the first to dissect the effects of juxtaposition. Through his experiments and research, Kuleshov discovered that depending on how shots are assembled the audience will attach a specific meaning or emotion to it.

The Film Historian’s Insight

In a 1964 interview for the show Telescope, Alfred Hitchcock called this technique “pure cinematics – the assembly of film.” Sir Hitchcock says that if a close-up of a man smiling is cut with a shot of a woman playing with a baby, the man is portrayed as “kindly” and “sympathetic.” By the same token, if the same shot of the smiling man is cut with a girl in a bikini, the man is portrayed as “dirty.

the Kuleshove Experiment were heavily used by Russian filmmakers, especially in respect to the Soviet Montage.

Hitchcocks use of the Kuleshov effect:

kuleshov-effect-1

M (1931 film)

M (German: M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder — “M – A city looks for a murderer”) is a 1931 German drama-thriller film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre. It was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou and was the director’s first sound film.

Fritz Lang’s acute use of objects, symbols, letters, and codes to decrypt a relatively simple narrative remains as perfect an example of pure cinema in the sound era as one is likely to find.               Chris Cabin  2013

As it often is throughout M, Fritz Lang’s genre-establishing penultimate masterpiece (not to mention the Austrian director’s first talkie), the opening image finds itself betrayed, unbound, and sculpted by its sound design rather than simply accompanied by it. A group of children are playing a game in a concrete courtyard and a young girl twirls around and chooses one of her friends to fall. The kids giggle and wear big smiles, but they sing a song that tells of an “evil man in a black coat” coming around to chop up young girls and boys with his “little chopper.” The illusion of peace and tranquility in 1930s Berlin teems with a dark, disturbing terror, manifested by one unfathomable figure. It seems fitting now that M was distributed in the United States in March 1933, the same year the Nazi’s took power and Lang’s star, the inimitable Peter Lorre, a Jew, took flight from Germany to Paris.

Chris Cabin

References:

  • Moura,Gabriel, The Kuleshov Experiment, Elements of Cinema.com: a student's guide to fundamentals of filmmaking 2011 http://www.elementsofcinema.com/editing/kuleshov-effect.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M_(1931_film)
  • Kuleshov effect, Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuleshov_effect
  • Cabin, Chris,Slant, 10 march, 2013, http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/m
  • https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1012928-m/
  • Philipsen, Heidi , Ph.D.,Constraints in Film Making Processes Offer an Exercise to the Imagination- A Pleading Based on Experiences from Denmark,International journal of media, technology and lifelong learning , University of Southern Denmark, 6 Vol. 5 – Issue 1 – 2009 http://www.seminar.net/images/stories/vol5-issue1/philipsen_-_constraints_in_film_making_processes.pdf
    
    Montage (Filmmaking) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montage_(filmmaking)
  • Greg Ferris, Lecture about filmmaking, Art and Design UNSW, October, 2016
  • http://cinecollage.net/soviet-montage.html
    Kuleshov effect, 4th January 2011
    https://bad3maggie.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/kuleshov-effect/
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