1. “Ping Pong” The idea is to move the audience’s eye from left to right on the screen. This can be done a number of ways. Dialogue is the easiest. Simply jump cut from one actor to the next and frame accordingly. Or pan from left to right. Or get the performers to move from left to right in the frame. Now the challenge is how do we smoothly accomplish this in a group where each individual gets a turn with the camera? We need common movie making language. In this case, each time a person hands off the camera, they have to tell the next person which side of the frame the visual focus was on. Thus the continuity is maintained. People learn very quickly when it is not. This game requires alertness almost the same way as something like Zip Zap Zop does. It can be timed or not. I’ve even had two teams compete.
2. “In The Moment” The idea is to emulate a fast paced current event news show. I did this one with the Irondale Ensemble in Halifax. We had a couple of cars so we were able to go to various locations across the city and stage “Live” interviews with group members posing as ordinary citizens. We payed attention to our framing (either left or right) and we shared the camera round robin. All edit-in-camera. Everyone had to pay close attention all the time and try to remember what had happened in the previous location as well as keep on top of the framing. The energy level was quite high. Our finished movie looked like a real live news show.
3. “First Shot, Last Shot” This game is built upon the idea that each individual shot contains an action that moves a story forward. So the first thing I do is have all the individuals in the group write down on little scraps of paper single shot ideas. For example: “angrily throwing a wad of paper in a trash can” or “biting a delicious apple or a bad one”. I encourage the group to save these shot ideas on little scraps of paper that can be kept in a box or a hat. These can be used in a variety of games, but in this one, we break into two teams. Each one picks a first shot out of the hat – then a last shot. The object of the game is to create a story sequence that gets from the first shot to the last shot in twelve shots. The camera is passed from individual to individual. No one is allowed more than one shot at a time and each shot has to be no longer than thirty seconds. All members of the team must appear in front of the camera at least once. Again this is all done edit-in-camera. So everyone has to be on their toes at all times. The game can be timed or not and the sequence can have more than twelve shots or less. We’ve done this as an easy going, inclusive recreational activity on a Saturday afternoon and the movie was played after a pot luck supper.
4. “Beam Us Up” This game requires a tripod. The idea is to use “lock-off” camera positions to create Star Trek like transporter special effects. The dramatic point is something is wrong with the transporter – some people disappear and new ones emerge. Again the camera is shared round robin. So this is what changes up the personnel, but the real challenge is trying to remember how people were positioned in the last location so when they re emerge, they are still in the same physical relationship with each other. Its harder than people think, but kids of all ages love this game. The way it works is the camera is rock solidly framed wide on a certain empty location and you record a few seconds. Then you bring the group in and have them freeze in transporter position. Simply roll the camera again without moving it a millimetre and the group will appear out of nowhere. Some cameras have an overlap dissolve which makes the group seem to fade in. Its fun and the dramatic possibilities are wide open. This idea can be combined with other games like “In The Moment” to create wild, Wellsian stories.
5. “Who Am I?” This is a P.O.V. game. Again it is edit-in-camera and passed round robin from individual to individual in the group. Camera operators choose a certain P.O.V. either dynamic or static and the actors interact with the camera in such a way that the identity of the camera is implied, but not expressly given away. I usually remind the players not to hog the camera and figure out how to create connecting shots so the camera can be passed to the next player. All the visual rules remain the same. This game is played in teams. One group has to watch the other’s sequence and correctly identify the camera’s character.
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Showing the Story | Brevity | Continuity | Axis | Framing
Cross Cutting | Match Cutting | Cutting Tight or Wide
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