On establishing production values

This week, I watched this very informative short video of Christopher Nolan and just had to share it. Nolan discusses how he shot his first feature film FOLLOWING, a no budget DIY project, and how he found ways to embrace the limitations and make them work to his advantage (the best attitude, in my opinion). He also admits that he still uses some of these techniques to this day.

 

The solution that struck me the most was his choice to start with a V.O. scene in a controlled environment — where he knew he could use a dolly and have good sound — to establish high production values or, at the very least, the illusion of high production values from the get-go. This is in contrast with a good chunk of the film shot handheld in public environments with cars and camera noises. He jokes that by the time the audience realized “how cheap the film is and how bad it sounds, they were already into the story.”

So, putting special care on the opening to show people “high quality” until they are hooked by the story. Obviously, this is not a licence to get lazy and settle for crap afterwards, but since micro-budget filmmaking presents so many challenges in the production value department, it’s good to know as many tricks as possible.

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