A good movie not only entertains a general audience but almost always provides lessons for other filmmakers. Take, for example, Ayesha Jordan’s “Trash to Treasure,” an entry in the 2017 Eye Want Change International Smartphone Film Competition. Jordan’s two-and-a-half minute drama about poverty—and how one person can make a difference—demonstrates many powerful but easy to borrow techniques. Here are six of them:
- Use props. They not only help tell a story but remove the stress that nonprofessional actors sometimes experience.
- Shoot a given action from two or more points of view as Jordan does in the opening walking sequence. The visual variety tells viewers that they’re in the hands of a savvy filmmaker.
- Allow characters to move into and out of the frame. Note for example, when the older girl makes her appearance by coming out of the house. Later, at a very dramatic moment, she enters from behind a wall. Live theater has long been famous for its exits and entrances (Google the phrase). The issue is equal important in movies.
- Show characters looking at things. When we see someone staring at something, we want to stare with them. Note, for example, how often Jordan’s camera lingers on her characters doing nothing but looking.
- Use a character’s point of view. After showing a character looking at something, put the camera into the character’s position and show the audience what the character sees. This is a powerful way to bond the audience with the character. (It works even in horror films.)
- Use over the shoulder shots to bring the audience into the action. A good example is the shot looking over the little girl’s shoulder at the water.
Watch the movie a few times and you’re sure to see other important cinematic storytelling techniques. Feel free to comment on them below.
For more information about Ayesha Jordan, you can follow her on Facebook.
Based in the UK, Eye Want Change promotes smartphone filmmaking while seeking out filmmakers who represent a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. You can find out more about the organization here.
“Trash to Treasure,” which was shot in Trinidad and Tobago, has been chosen as a Mobile Movie of the Week.