The Basketball – a single shot video

Single shot video Assignment – Reflection

The Basketball

Meg Mappin, Director; Ankit Nigam, Camera operator; Maria Iqbal actor; Jarrod Peck Actor.

In shooting a one-minute single shot video we were asked to explore both the power and the limitations of misc-en-scene and to understand the basic tools of filmmaking. A key strength of the single take video can be its scenic realism which as Corrigan and White argue ‘enables us to recognize sets and settings as accurate evocations of actual places’ (Corrigan and White, 20014). Risks can be camera movement and dead spots especially while moving between key locations.

Our topic was “success” and we had one day to plan, block, rehearse and shoot the film. We were asked to work to a three-line story and to consider the key tools of misc-en-scene including lighting, location, characters, costumes, props, performance and blocking. Our group work-shopped the topic of success and two themes emerged. One was a student arriving from overseas to her new university and the other was someone attempting a new or difficult task, failing a number of times and then succeeding. Out of this came our story of The Basketball. Our three-line summary was:

  •       A woman tries to shoot a basketball through a hoop and fails.
  •       A man arrives and shows her how to hold and shoot the basketball.
  •       She shoots a basket. Success!

Although this story did not capture some of the more ambitious ideas we work-shopped it was both simple and contained and it had a classic three part narrative structure (setup, confrontation/journey and resolution). We chose the story because it had an available and recognisable setting (the basketball hoop) and we purchased a key prop – the basketball.

We plotted the story, wrote a dot point scene breakdown and mapped out a storyboard. We then decided on roles based on experience and interest in that role. We then worked together to block the main movements, check the light source and decide on camera location and angles. We rehearsed a number of times, completed 14 takes, discussed the shoot with our lecturer and re-shot about 5 more takes before selecting a final version.

We were limited by time and by the conditions (it rained) but given these limitations we captured the story quite effectively. The camera followed the action well, changing position during the take to follow both characters and, most importantly, to follow the ball through the hoop. We used the one take to capture an event unfolding in real time. We captured the sense of the student alone in a new place, anxious but prepared to try something new, failing, but with help succeeding.

Where we did not succeed so well was limiting our shoot to one location. This did not make the most of the capacity of the camera to follow characters and change location, creating a sense of urgency or drama. We did explore a number of different camera locations and angles to make the most of our location but could perhaps have pushed this more.

Using the basketball meant we weren’t in control of ‘every movement in the frame’ as Lee R Bobker (1974) says we must be. But the fact we weren’t in control meant that the biggest success of this task was the fact that we got the basketball through the hoop when we needed to!

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