Monday, October 6, 2008

Little Miss Sunshine, Colorblind Scene- Isaac Richter

I'm not sure I'm doing this right, but here it goes. The scene I pickes is from Little Miss Sunshine, a film about a family riding on a yellow VW bus to California so their daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin) can compete in a children's beauty pageant. Her older brother Dwayne (Paul Dano) took a vow of silence until he became a test-pilot for the Air Force, but in this scene, after Olive gives hin a colorblind test, his Uncle Frank (Steve Carrell) informs him he's colorblind and can't fly. Dwayne starts to freak out and Frank tells parents Richard (Greg Kinnear) and Sheryl (Toni Collette) to pull over. They pull over, and this scene starts.
Note, the camera barely moves through most of this scene, except for some indicating reframing and panning, but otherwise, the camera stays still on the action on these 22 shots. Also, many shots are similar, as noted in this list of shots. I picked this scene because it has characters in the background in several shots, and it starts with action in the background.

1. The VW van pulls over in the background, and Dwayne jumps out of the van and runs to the foreground, where he kneels down and yells “Fuck!!!!!!”. The rest of the family get out of the van and stay in the background, where Frank tells Sheryl and Richard that Dwayne is colorblind. The camera reframes as Dwayne runs out of the van and kneels to the ground and where the camera stays steady on his face. The framing is loose, and the lighting is high key with the key light on Dwayne’s left side (right side from the audience’s point of view). The foreground and background are separated by a hill made in the grass path.
2. In the second shot, the van is on the foreground on the right side of the frame, with Richard, Sheryl, Frank and Olive on its left, looking at Dwayne, who is still on the grasspath on the left side of the frame, with mountains in the background. It’s an extreme long shot of the van, with everyone else kept in the background. There’s a curve and a sidewalk making a z-axis on the shot. Loose framing high key lighting, though it’s shot during daylight since the sky is clearly visible.
3. This shot is very similar to shot #1. Sheryl walks from the background to the foreground down the hill and tells Dwayne she’s sorry. Dwayne says he’s not getting on the bus again. Long shot of both Dwayne and Sheryl, with Frank, Richard and Olive in the background next to the van. High-key lighting loose framing. The camera doesn’t move.
4. The camera reframes as Dwayne stands up and approaches his mom, saying “you’re not my family”. It’s a medium shot of Sheryl’s back and hair, and a long shot of Dwayne as he scolds her. There are bushes in the background, and the distance between Sheryl and Dwayne creates the z-axis on the frame. It’s a tight frame, with low contrast lighting.
5. Same setup as 1 and 3. Dwayne has his back to the camera and Sheryl is facing it, both in the foreground, Frank, Richard and Olive face the camera and the background and watch them. Key light is on the right side of the frame, casting a shadow on both actors on the left. Loose framing, the camera doesn’t move.
6. Same as shot #4, Dwayne points at Richard and Frank, unseen in this frame.
7. Long shot of the right side of the van on the left side of the frame, and Richard, Frank and Olive on the left side, facing the camera. Shadows are cast on their left (from our point of view), but it’s low contrast. Z-axis created by the front of the van, created another dimension in the frame. Tight framing, only the sky is in the background.
8. Long shot of Dwayne and Sheryl, facing each other. Dwayne is all the way to the left of the frame, while Sheryl is all the way to the right, and there’s a lot of space between them in the middle, suggesting a loose framing. A shadow of Dwayne on the ground creates the z-axis, and there are houses and trees in the background. A shadow is cast on Dwayne’s face and on Sheryl’s back, low contrast, so the key light is on the left side of the frame. The camera doesn’t move.
9. Extreme long shot, similar to shot #2. Dwayne turns away from Sheryl and kneels back down.
10. Similar to shot #3, same framing, same lighting, same position of the characters.
11. Long shot of Dwayne sitting on the grass, with his back to the camera as Sheryl turns toward the camera and disappears. A shadow is cast behind him, low-key lighting with some natural light from above. Tight framing, taller weeds in the background, creating another frame.
12. Similar to shot #1, Sheryl walks to the background to join the rest of her family saying she doesn’t know what to do. A shadow is cast behind Dwayne and toward most of his face, suggesting a low-key light, but natural daylight is cast from above. Loose framing, the van is still in the background, the camera doesn’t move.
13. Tracking shot follows Sheryl as she joins her family, and it becomes a medium shot of her with the rest of her family from the side, each in a different frame, and the van on another frame, and houses further in the background. Two shadows are cast on the van, but none on the characters. High-key lighting. Tight framing.
14. Similar to shot #7, except Sheryl is now in the shot, all in the same frame. High-key lighting, tight framing, and the only background is the sky, but you can still see the front of the yellow van creating another frame.
15. Starts like shot #13, and then it becomes a tracking shot of Olive as she leaves her frame and walks down the hill. High-key lighting and loose framing. The road is in the background acting as a z-axis.
16. Similar to shot #11, Dwayne is sitting down with his back to the camera, staring at the weed. Same shadow behind him, and the framing is tight.
17. Similar to the first shot in its composition, Olive walks into the foreground, and it reframes as Olive as sits down next to Dwayne and puts her arm around him, and then reframes again as they both stand up and remains steady to watch them walk toward the background. High contrast lighting on their faces but the background is lit by the daylight. Loose framing.
18. The camera pans from left to right as it follows Olive trying to climb up the hill back to the road and then Dwayne carries her up the hill. The elevation of the hill acts as a z-axis. Shadows are cast on both their faces, suggesting there’s a low-key light on the left of the frame. Tight framing. As the camera pans, we get the road back in the background and the van at the right side of the frame.
19. Olive runs to her mother, while Dwayne stays in his own frame in the front, with his back to the camera, Sheryl, Olive and Frank are a frame behind him facing him and the camera, casting shadows on the yellow van next to them, and Richard is a frame behind them, facing the sky. Low-key lighting, tight framing, and the sky in the background. The distance between Dwayne and Richard is diagonal. The camera doesn’t move.
20. Medium shot of Dwayne with the grasspath right behind him as a background. Dwayne is toward the right of the frame, with a loose framing and a shadow on his face, suggesting a low-key light. A tire-track on the path behind him acts as a z-axis for the frame.
21. Same composition as shot #19.
22. The camera pans on a medium shot of Dwayne as he walks up to his mother’s arms. Houses and grass in the background. High-key lighting on the van with low contrast, tight framing and the grass creating the z-axis.

1 comment:

Naima Lowe said...

Yes, you've done this right. You've done a good job of detailing the key formal issues within each shot, and used all of the terms properly. You also picked a scene that is visually dynamic without very much camera movement or any special effects. This really highlights the way that staging and movement within the frame create the story.