The opening scene of The Godfather called out to me in terms of lighting used for maximum effect. As we all know, the scene begins in darkness – then we see the face of a man, a troubled man who begins to tell the story of how his daughter was beaten. The light is shining directly above him, only casting light on parts of his face and leaving the rest in shadow. This, to me, conveys that he is doing something wrong. He is in darkness, almost “lurking in the shadows” if you will. He is asking for murder. As the scene progresses, the camera loosens and we see more of the room. It is still dark and the light is only shining on the man in the chair. As the man continues to tell the story, we see a new figure – but only his hand and side profile. This new figure is in the shadows still. The new figure is Don Corleone, The Godfather.
This scene is a great introduction to the film. It immediately gives the audience a sense that the activity that goes on in this group is not what we would call “legal.” The lighting in this scene does a lot for the story. It shows the dark side of the Corleone family, and it becomes more apparent especially when juxtaposed with the following outdoor party scene. The lighting in this first scene is mainly for dramatic effect, to draw attention to the man’s story, as well as the introduction to the darkness and violence that comes along with the Corleone family.
I did my first documentary while as a student at Saint Mary’s College in the East Bay. While I wasn’t thrilled with the topic (it was a group project), I still did my best to find the story in the footage that we gathered. I served as producer/editor for the project, and I sifted through over 3 hours of A-roll and B-roll to find a story that was only 7 minutes long. The most difficult challenge for me was to find my own voice in the project. I watched and re watched the footage, and then it was my job to give it a theme, a story that I was passionate about telling. At first I thought documentaries weren’t really my style; but once I got into it, I was hooked.
The story was about a program for international students that was being cut due to insufficient funds by the College (sounds boring, right?). Nevertheless, I had to put as much creative effort into the project as I possibly could. During the shoots, I did my best to capture the story on a multi-dimensional level. I acted as a consultant for the DP and really tried to get a variety in the types of shots we got from the interviews/B-rolls.
When I started editing the story, I took it into a very controversial direction – placing the entire blame on the deans and College staff who in my original opinion, did not care about this important program for international students. Ultimately, I changed my views and the direction of the documentary to the final version, which I am very proud of. The group and I presented the project at the end of the term, and we received many awards from our peers and the panel of judges at the end of the term “film fest.”
The video is on my laptop. I’m trying to get it onto this blog, but for now I thought I would at least write about it.
Thanks for reading!