Cinematography Conventions V. Creativity

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    Do certain conventions of shooting, such as continuity coverage, and cross-cutting close-ups stifle creativity in cinematography? Pauline Kael (1963) criticised the use of "standard methods" as a fallback strategy for less creative directors. Bazin (1967) also praised certain filmmakers of the 1930s and 1940s for introducing new ways of filming that avoided standard techniques such as cross-cutting ("shot-reverse-shot").

    Durgnat (1967) divided the ‘construction’ of a film into three parts, the ‘primary’ elements being what takes place in front of the camera, the ‘secondary’ elements “derived from the possibilities of photography” and the ‘tertiary’ elements, which are post-production processes. Durgnat criticizes the under-valuing of the 'secondary' element, in film analysis, which he believes “is actually one of the principal elements of film art”. Durgnat criticised the literary emphasis of early film studies and its obsession with narrative, character and thematic ideas without regard to film form. Carroll (2003) makes an argument for a functional theory of style in individual films, which addresses this issue.

    In terms of cinematography Nilsen (1937) offers a framework as he describes three types of cinematography, reproductional, pictorial and representational. Reproductional technique is simply the recording of events that are happening into front of the camera, Durgnat's notion of 'primary' elements, without any creative consideration given to the cinematography. Nilsen's notion of the representational emblemizes meaning in the way images are constructed, using the 'secondary' elements to communicate meaning to an audience.

    How do we encourage students to explore notions of cinematographic representation and creative risk without penalising them for not employing 'standard industry methods'? This presentation will try to address these issues, with examples of current student work and approaches to teaching the subject of cinematography.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2019
    EventCreativity and Risk Symposium - University of South Wales, Cardiff, United Kingdom
    Duration: 6 Sep 20196 Sep 2019


    ConferenceCreativity and Risk Symposium
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


    • Cinematography
    • Creativity


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