There is so much to learn when it comes to filmmaking, and sometimes, especially if you’re learning it for a class like I am, it can be difficult to keep things straight. As we have reached week five of the semester, I find that I have been taking in a ton of information and I’m still having trouble processing it all in context. However, recently I’ve discovered a way to help put the things we are learning into context. Instead of just watching a film and looking for things that we’ve discussed in class, I took one of my favorite films, The Avengers, and I turned on the director’s commentary and then watched the movie. What I found was that Joss Whedon, the director, began to explain things that we had learned in class in reference to the film itself. For example, there is a scene featuring two characters on a mountain top. Whedon tells us that he originally wanted the scene to take place on an actual mountain, authentic setting, but because of the wind that they would encounter on the top of a mountain, they decided to make their own mountain, studio setting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jgRlDNAdUE). He also mentions that much of the film’s background was actually rendered digitally allowing for more flexibility when it came to the visuals. Another scene, one of my favorite scenes, is in Calcutta when we first encounter Bruce Banner. All of that was filmed in Albuquerque, but the costume department and setting of the scene make it look so authentic. Whedon also mentions that the lighting in the scene is very well done. All lighting has a light source on the set, such as street lights or lamps. Many films will add a bluish ‘moon-like’ light that gets cast over the whole scene. In Calcutta, they opted to leave out the moonlight and it produced a feeling of being in a city where the moonlight wouldn’t have been visible anyways (I was unable to find a clip of this particular scene). Whedon also points out many of the camera movements were used primarily because of their 3D visual benefits. 3D visuals work best with movement that compliments the space being shot. Whedon used as many shots as he could that included movement within a space where both the ceiling and floor could be seen. He also mentioned his decision to avoid long lenses because they create a really shallow sense of space. Using a wide angle lens would give the space depth and is much more visually stunning in 3D.
The amount of things that I could mention in this movie that relate back to what we have been studying is truly endless. If you’re interested in seeing, or learning, what goes into the making of a film behind the scenes, I would strongly encourage you to turn on the director’s commentary on your favorite film. It really helps put things into perspective.