Quote for the Day #12 – The Magic of Cinematography with Orson Welles

Today I had my first meeting with my gaffer for ‘Beehive‘, Dimitri Zaunders. We discussed the lighting themes for the film, the overall colour palette and how the cinematography related to the story in regards to production design and locations.
I had such a wonderful time today discussing the look of the film. Shaping it and pretty much trying to look however we want. The magic of movie making!

Citizen Kane

So on that note I thought I would share this little quote with you from the magnificent Orson Welles. Orson Welles was well-known to me long before I went to film school, but it was film school that lodged him in my brain for his breakthrough film ‘Citizen Kane’ (1941). It was with this film that film theory, story-telling and cinematography was demonstrated to me. It is a great movie, so I didn’t mind it being such a strong reference (that being said, I’m not denying there are a lot of films which are strong examples also).

For it’s time Citizen Kane was a knock out. It was the Orson Welles’ first feature in which he directed and starred in. The films story is of epic proportions which is fitting as the main character leads such a big life.
‘The story is a film à clef that examines the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane (Welles). Kane’s career in the publishing world is born of idealistic social service, but gradually evolves into a ruthless pursuit of power. Narrated principally through flashbacks, the story is revealed through the research of a newsreel reporter seeking to solve the mystery of the newspaper magnate’s dying word: “Rosebud”.’ – Wikipedia

Citizen KaneThe cinematography of Citizen Kane is thought to be Welles attempt to create a new style of filmmaking by merging various forms of film making into one. Welles’ love for cinema pushed him to try out new techniques most notably ‘deep focus‘. The way that their cinematographer, Gregg Toland, achieved this is SO interesting. You really should look into it.
Briefly, Toland experimented with a number of techniques to give the ‘deep focus’ look, both in camera and externally. An in camera example would be where the three plains; foreground, mid-ground and background, were each filmed separately with only the wanted plain lit and the others dark. This film was reloaded and then, after resetting the set with the new plain lit, the film was re-recorded over. The end result being the entire shot being in focus. Just incredible.

So since my day has revolved around lighting design I thought it only fitting to quote Welles’, one of the pioneers in visual storytelling.

“A film is never really any good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet”
~ Orson Welles.

Orson Welles

Ehran EdwardsIf you liked this post please ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page and ‘FOLLOW’ my blog. I keep them up to date with; projects I’m involved in, reviews & tutorials and share interesting tid-bits to make you smile.

“With my head in the stars, a twinkle in my eye and a love for cinema and nostalgia, filmmaking is a fun, creative way to express myself.” 


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