It’s the time of year we talk about horror movies!
It’s the time of year we talk about horror movies!
Our first stop on the Hulu Summer Road Trip is the city of San Francisco and a screening of the 1968 classic crime thriller Bullitt starring Steve McQueen. The movie has become iconic for two main reasons – one of the greatest car chases of all time, and McQueen’s unintentionally stylish wardrobe.
Whether they’re transporting us into a world of fantasy or revealing a deeper truth of our present moment, great films have a way of touching our hearts and changing how we look at the world. Using elements such as sound, cinematography, and lighting, filmmakers are able to tell powerful stories and create moments that are unforgettable. This summer, we’ll be examining these elements of filmmaking through some of the films that employ them best.
Miss a lesson or looking to review one from the past? Well look no further! Here you can find links to all our articles from previous weeks of Hulu Summer Film School. We’ll also be updating this post regularly as the new lessons are released. Happy learning!
And that’s a wrap! This project was put together by a bunch of passionate film buffs at Hulu and we really appreciate you tuning in each week to learn about film. We hope you’ve looked at movies a different way and learned something you didn’t know before!
The Hulu Summer Film School Team
Greetings Hulu Summer Film School students! One of the most powerful tools in a filmmaker’s arsenal is their lighting kit. Through light and color, a cinematographer is able to enhance the mood of a scene and draw the viewer into the world of the character. Even the subtlest changes in light or color can give the most ordinary of objects an entirely new meaning. Explore the role of light and color through the following visual masterpieces.
1) The Red Balloon
Cinematographer: Edmond Séchan
Winning both an Oscar for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) and the Palm d’Or for short films in 1956, writer-director Albert Lamorisse’s The Red Balloon is among the most endearing children’s films ever made. Its elegant and nearly wordless story tells the tale of a young boy named Pascal and his wayward balloon as they navigate the streets of Paris. From early on, it becomes apparent to Pascal (and the audience) that the balloon has a mind of its own — one that is mischievous and surprisingly headstrong – as the pair’s adventure through the city draws bemused looks from adults and the envious gaze of local neighborhood bullies.
Rather than photographing Paris in its traditional beauty, Lamorisse and his cinematographer Edmond Séchan focus on the city’s drabness, highlighting the contrast of dank buildings and alleyways against the vibrancy of the balloon’s deep red color. Lamorisse composes the action in such a way that the balloon is always at the viewer’s center of attention, bobbing and weaving past glorious backdrops as it hovers above Pascal. In one memorable and charming scene, Pascal and his red balloon pass by a little girl with her own balloon, a blue one. As Pascal keeps walking, the red balloon floats towards the little girl and begins to “flirt” with her blue balloon before Pascal ultimately manages to wrangle it back.
The film takes a darker turn when the neighborhood bullies catch up to Pascal and ensnare his red balloon, subjecting it to abuse at the end of a slingshot. But that tonal shift is essential, as it sets up a magical finale that won’t be spoiled here. The Red Balloon achieves rarified air, capturing the essence of childhood innocence, heartbreak, and joy in such little screen time.
Cinematographers: Herbert Cardwell and Frederick Elmes
David Lynch’s first feature film is a surreal meditation on the anxieties of becoming a father, of living in an alienating and dehumanizing world, and of feeling trapped in a life that is fundamentally fated to tragedy. The stark black and white photography and low-key, high-contrast lighting create a world that is apart from reality. Eraserhead might draw formal comparisons to other works and may have influences that inform its technical execution, but the film is timeless in its depiction of Henry (Jack Nance) and Mary (Charlotte Stewart) as they give birth to a child that seems completely alien.
Eraserhead’s cinematography and lighting help create one of the most self-assured, visually-compelling, and visceral portraits of an abstraction ever put on celluloid, and for that alone, it has a place in cinematic history.
3) Electrick Children
Cinematographer: Mattias Troelstrup
A critical darling at the 2012 SXSW Festival, Electrick Children tells the story of a young fundamentalist Mormon who believes she has been impregnated by a rock song and ventures off to Vegas to find the singer on the tape, whom she believes is her baby’s father. While the plot may seem outlandish to most, the innocent idealism of our main character coupled with the film’s symbolic use of color and light make the whole “pregnant-by-cassette-tape” deal a bit more plausible than it initially comes across.
Throughout the film, a sharp contrast is drawn between the landscape of Rachel’s countryside compound and the urban sprawl of Las Vegas. Cinematographer Mattias Troelstrup capitalizes on the countryside’s natural light, giving each frame a subtle desaturation to reflect a sense of comfort yet also boredom towards the surroundings. The softened grading provides the perfect contrast to Rachel’s subsequent experience in Vegas, a world of bright lights and big personalities. There’s nothing conventionally glamorous about the slacker musicians and the “bummin’ it” lifestyle that Rachel encounters in her Vegas adventure, but through her unexposed eyes, and the subsequent cinematic interpretation from Troelstrup, everything is bathed in a technicolor glow to reflect the child-like wonder that Rachel feels towards this brave new world.
Cinematographer: Sven Nykvist
“Lighting Persona by Michael Koresky
5) Take this Waltz
Cinematographer: Luc Montpellier
6) Red Desert
Cinematographer: Carlo Di Palma
7) Wild Strawberries
Cinematographer: Gunnar Fischer
1) No Film School – A must-read blog for any aspiring cinematographer, No Film School has tons of great tutorials on how you can achieve the perfect lighting set-up for your own film. Check out these recent articles on how to create a three-point light set up with flashlights and magnifying glasses and the tools professional cinematographers use to light their scenes,
2) If it’s Purple, Someone’s Gonna Die: The Power of Color in Visual Storytelling – Besides having the best title in book history, this book has some valuable insights on how color is used to evoke emotion.
3) Sparkles and Wine Teaser – This music video is a testament to just how much lighting and color can affect tone, mood, focus, and perception.
Editor’s Note: This post is in conjunction with a special summer program on Hulu called Hulu Summer Film School. This summer, Hulu is using some of your favorite films to explore how filmmakers use elements such as sound, cinematography, and lighting to tell powerful stories and create moments that are unforgettable. Learn more at hulu.com/film-school.
In Jiro Dreams of Sushi, cinematographer David Gelb uses a variety of angles, framing, and compositions to capture Jiro’s world. Let’s take a closer look at the different camera shots Gelb uses to construct the overall style of Jiro and inject deeper meaning into the images.
1) Medium Close Up - A standard for interviews in the talking head style, the medium close-up frames the subject from just below the shoulders to the top of the head.
2) Wide Shot – In this shot, the entire subject is shown as well as their surrounding area. As a result, we are able to see both Jiro’s son, Yoshikazu, and the actions he is performing.
3) Extreme Wide Shot - Gelb uses this extreme wide shot to establish the subject in relation to the surrounding area.
4) Extreme Close Up - This is a tight shot that focuses on a part of the face. The motivation of the shot is to magnify detail.
5) Dolly Shot - In a dolly shot, the camera is placed on a track and moves forward or backwards to slowly reveal parts of the frame.
6) Tracking Shot – In this shot, the camera moves with the subject, making sure to keep them in frame.
7) Fish Eye Shot – This shot uses a fish eye lens to create an interesting visual distortion. Notice that the center of the image is the widest and the most in focus while the rest of the image is slightly blurred and a bit skinnier.
8) Pan Shot - In the pan shot, the camera stays in the same position, but moves on a tripod from right to left, or in this case, left to right.
9) Tilt Shot – In this shot, the camera stays in the same position, but moves on a tripod from up to down or down to up.
10) Cut-In- The cut-in is a shot that focuses on a part of the subject in detail. In this case, the emphasis of the shot is on Jiro’s hands.
Another beautiful cut-in.
Did we mention this film has beautiful cut-ins?
If a production team were a kitchen staff, then the cinematographer would be its chef. By employing a variety of shots throughout the film, David Gelb is able to capture the beauty of Jiro and his craft, turning each frame into a mouthwatering delight.