Camera Angles vs. Psychological Distance

While writing, there is always the temptation of writing camera angles and directions in a spec script. Sometimes the vision is so powerful and perfect, fingers try and direct the scene with “ANGLE ON:” “BOOM SHOT:” “HELICOPTER SHOT:” or the horrific, “We move in closer to:” This absolutely takes the reader out of the story and these are to be avoided at near any cost.

But the vision…*sadface*

How can the screenwriter accurately portray the scene/shot in the writer’s mind with out beating it over the reader’s head? Answer: psychological distance. Give the reader the sense of the vision, while still giving them the flexibility of imagining it themselves.

Here is the progression:

  • The sun crests over the horizon and illuminates the ocean as a speedboat splashes its way north.
  • The ocean receives the light of the morning sun as the speedboat splashes its way north.
  • The hull of the speedboat is splashed by waves as it heads north as dawn breaks.
  • The DRIVER of the speedboat grimaces at the dawn as he splashes his way north across the ocean.
  • The DRIVER of the speedboat grits his teeth at the dawn as he splashes his way north across the ocean.

Same elements (hell, even mostly the same words), but different perception. From extreme wide-shot to extreme close-up and the flavors in between, subtly manipulating the energy of the shot.

And each reads so much more fluid then a stark:

EXT. OCEAN – DAWN

ESTABLISHING SHOT – ANGLE ON: SPEEDBOAT

Speedboat heads north. The DRIVER frowns at the sun.

…Ick. We’re writers damn it, we can do better than *THAT*!

And so we should ^_^

Happy writing everyone!!

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About jpdailing

Author and dabbler in nerdy-type stuff. I like cat, red pens, avoid cliches like the plague, and suck at these kinds of bios. View all posts by jpdailing

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