… for Visual Effects

Tip #1422: What’s the Best Way to Show Screens?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Screens are everywhere; we need to find ways to integrate them.

Still from R#J. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | Photo by Charles Murphy.

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This article first appeared in NoFilmSchool.com. This is a summary.

Screens are the cigarettes of 2020s cinema, and we’re not going to quit anytime soon. Better figure out how to make the most of them!

As human beings, our daily reality has pretty much fully merged with our screens. Sure, it’s weird that we now have to think of creative ways to show an image of a 2D screen on a 2D screen. It’s almost more weird to purposely exclude phone screens from a story that’s set in the present day. It’s become a quintessential part of daily life. Do we go out of our way to make films without mentioning screens? Or do we find the best, most cinematic way to weave screens into our stories?

Here’s a look at five films at Sundance 2021 that took completely different approaches to screens on screen.

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair moves from computer screens to Skype calls to handheld cameras, and the occasional production camera to paint a picture of a young girl (and her online friend) who is completely absorbed in one small corner of the internet.

R#J

A re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet, taking place through cell phones, in a mash-up of Shakespearean dialogue with current social media communication.

Searchers

The unusual way that Pacho Velez decided to shoot Searchers was to find a way for them to look into the camera as if they were looking through their phone or computer to swipe right—or left!

All Light Everywhere

All Light Everywhere focuses on surveillance as the main device to examine human bias, so naturally, surveillance camera footage and bodycam footage play a central role on screen. “[The camera] changes the person being filmed, and it changes the person who is doing the filming, and I’ve always been interested in that process,” said director Theo Anthony.

Users

Okay, this documentary isn’t strictly a rumination on screens, but the ever-present role of technology in our lives. The camera becomes much the POV of an all-seeing, all-knowing technological God to redefine the perspective of ourselves in the digital age.

The article provides more details, extended interviews and screen shots.


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