Term 2 Week 4


In this task I will be looking at how fear is portrayed in scenes from a multitude of movies. The Cambridge Dictionary defines fear as “an unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful, or bad that is happening or might happen”. I thought about looking into horror movies as that would be the most obvious place to find dear in a movie, but I more wanted to investigate characters that instil fear in non horror movies. Being one of my favourite films of the past few years J.K. Simmons’ “Terence Fletcher” in the movie Whiplash(2014) stood out to me as a character who inflicted a lot of fear onto the main character Andrew.

I’m looking into Cinematography and so I wanted to see how the shot types, framing and composition effects the theme of fear in the scene.


The framing of Fletcher looking down on Andrew represents his position of power over him.


The composition of this shot showing Fletcher looking directly at Andrew and Andrew not being able to look at Fletcher shows that he is scared of his teacher and that he is inflicting fear onto him.

The close proximity of Fletcher to Andrew with Fletcher almost shouting into Andrew’s ear raises the level of intensity in the scene, as Fletcher has no regard as to Andrew’s personal space and feelings it’s clear from this point that Fletcher is a different kind of teacher.

The colour palette for this scene has a lot of strong orange and red colours included in it. Red and deep oranges often represent passion and violence. Both of these emotions are clearly represented in this scene through Fletcher’s brutal teaching style and technique to try and filter out the weak students and find the truly talented musicians who can withstand his torment.

At the beginning of this scene the shots can be seen with quite high apertures; being able to see the walls behind Fletcher and other members of the band behind Andrew. However as soon as Fletcher begins his torment of Andrew and is in close proximity suddenly the director has chosen to use a very low depth of field to make us focus on the emotions and performances of the actors to up the intensity. The moment Fletcher walks away from him the depth of field reverts to encompassing the whole room.

Artificial Intelligence

Another form of fear is the fear of artificial intelligence. Common themes of artificial intelligence and whether it can be created, if AI stay loyal to it’s creator and  if AI can be trusted. The film I thought i’d research into is Ex Machina(2015), as I thought it was an excellent portrayal of the relationship between a human and an AI and the fear of what the AI could become.

Stephen Hawking once said “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race” (Hawking, 2014). The director of Ex Machina, “Alex Garland”, talks of how the general population don’t understand the technology behind most of the devices we use today and we don’t know how they work. This is links directly to the invention of AI and how trustworthy it could be around people.

I’ll be looking at the cinematography in this scene from the film between 0:05-1:00. What particularly interests me in this scene is the colouring used; deep red lights are used as the pair of characters engage in powerful conversation after the character of Nathan believe’s that he has figured out his plan to break out the AI, however as the scene continues it comes to light the plan has already taken place and Caleb has duped him.

Throughout the scene the camera is positioned so that Caleb not once looks at Nathan and Nathan is always positioned behind him. Much like in Whiplash where Fletcher towers over Andrew in this scene it’s clear Caleb is shown to have power over Nathan by his positioning.

Research – Unrequited Love

For my practical experiment I want to create some shots that give the feeling of unrequited love. I’ve looked at films such as 500 Days of  Summer(2009), Forrest Gump(1994) and Love Actually(2003) and am going to try and create some shots that have a similar feeling and tone to what i have seen from my research.

These are the shots i took:


This shot represents the longing of the male character for the female watching her from afar.


This shot shows the male character finally getting what he wants, but also contrasting that shows the female not looking as happy in the situation; as it’s clear the emotion is not reciprocal.


Finally this shot shows the female character meeting someone knew and the male still longing for her can’t let her go and so watches her.

Term 2 Week 4

One thought on “Term 2 Week 4

  1. Gabrielle Novakovic-Thone:
    You have started to look at the use of cinematography in Whiplash, specifically relating to JK Simmons character. You have started a good analysis of the type of shot used but this is all too brief- what about the close framing? What does the colour pallet tell you? A further breakdown of the scene you posted would really explain how fear is being conveyed; you have the stills to illustrate your points, please elaborate on them! You have also posted an example of technological fear: Ex Machina, but have not deconstructed how fear is portrayed; how is cinematography used to convey this emotion? You need to keep sight of your investigation. Your examples are currently ‘free floating’. Tether them to yours or other academics thoughts on what makes them relevant to your study of fear and cinematography.

    Your work is currently incomplete.
    You have begun to show examples using your own photography but this is not explained. Please refer to the VLE checklist and submit all the missing work by agreed deadline with J Blackman.

    Please remember to use Harvard referencing. This is a requirement of the course without which you will not pass the units.

    Updated 27/02/17
    You have reacted well to the feedback given previously and have clearly worked hard on extending you sequence analysis of both Ex Machina and Whiplash, picking out several elements such as lighting and positioning within the frame. By doing this you have successfully deconstructed examples of cinematography that portrays fear; it is refreshing that you did not choose the more obvious horror narratives (although these may have furthered your understanding of more recognisable tropes), as this shows a mature approach to your film studies. The experimental photography is disjointed; you had previously analysed fear but did not carry this emotion through to your work. They do however show your understanding of framing and composition in regard to conveying emotion. They are not however as experimental as they could be- could you edit these in post? Alternatively, you could research new textiles or materials to convey your feeling further. This is good work George but you must reflect on your outcomes to make these experiments truly beneficial to your study.


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