Where has been A LOT of discourse and debate over our choice of shots, cuts and general narrative delivery. I’m confident in the complex direction it’s taking and I for one still believe in taking a risk with going against traditional continuity and doing something challenging and indeed causing stimulation and discussion.
To justify this, Dan and I put together an audience emotion graph to give people a visual impression as to how the audience will react or should react to the situations of the narrative.
Looking draft 5 of the animatic, we are two ‘crescendos’ – house revealed at sea, and walking into the ocean. I see this as our hypothetical 3 act structure. Act 1 establishes the character and conflict (the knock). The build up of tension happens as the audience are intrigued and even slightly put off by the mysterious knock – who is it? what do they want? is the character save?
The invesigation grows the anxiety until we hit a suprising and jarring reveal of the house at sea. The abrupt extreme long shot accentuates the surprise and even disorientates the audience as they have to reassess their surroundings – a house at sea? where is the land? where the person knocking? We even pose a logical question to the audience to insinuate the psychological aspects of the narrative: nobody there, is the knock inside his head? Is he paranoid?
The cut to black then drops the emotional tension in another jarring attempt to pull the audience out of the moment, conveying the distorted emotional lapse of the character. Time goes on but we don’t know how much. But we don’t immediately build the tension immediately again, we want the audience to absorb the information and take time to breathe and consider the events, triggering the intellectually stimulating aspects of the story. The character reflects alongside the audience and their is perpetuated by the slower pace and subtle composition and beautiful night sky. It’s a polar contrast to show the extremity of anxiety.
Although when the knock returns, the audience are sophisticated enough to want to know whats going on, so the emotion increases as the character goes to suspect the knock again with the audience now acknowledging the existence of the house at sea. Effectively, the tension is more distinct and effective because of the added information the audience has. At the start, the tension is low because we’ve only been introduced to this world and the knock only seemed relatively significant – now it matters because it’s been called upon again.
The cutting intensifies in pace, the music heightens dramatically and we make the audience question the intentions of the character as he precedes to walk into the ocean – Suicide? Embrace? We hit our peak as the audience fear for the safety of the character they relate to modestly.
We see the character is now on land, back in reality given the audience is able to make the psychological connection. The contrast to calmness returns as the anxiety reduces. We are in a tranquil, safe and populated area – Happiness? Comfort? The audience return to their emotional starting point.
Effectively, the idea here was to walk through the narrative and extract our intellectual thoughts in exchanges for emotion. Throughout this project, we’ve focused so much of the intellectual extreme when the emotion has been less considered. So this graph was truly important to our development process. Really it should have been done before, but it has informed if our editing and cinematography makes sense. The graph serves as a visual guideline of our artistic development and is something we can continue to draw on as the story continues to bake in the oven.