“Use Close-Up When You Can’t Pick a Shot for a Scene” -Lessons from Mysskin’s Workshop

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Okay so I would like to thank Pure Cinema book shop for arranging this workshop with director Mysskin. As a Mysskin fanboy, I would say I spent 10 golden hours attending the workshop. This is just a sharing of my experience with Mysskin sir and it’s gist.

The workshop was on the title “How To Transform Your Story Into a Shot and Then to a Scene”. I was so very attracted by the title that I registered immediately, paying Rs. 1000. But that was not the only thing that I learned that night.

Mysskin is a man of style, signature and dedication. His works has proved all that. Learning how to divide shots and make a scene from such a filmmaker is bliss, and sorry to those who missed it, you must feel bad.

Okay, now what did Mysskin speak all night? He spoke cinema. He spoke life. He spoke career. His first advice for all the upcoming filmmakers is to read books, plenty of them. Study filmmaking before you do films so that you can truly call yourself a filmmaker. Work hard, thrive, die, come again and do cinema.

His perspective about cinema is so astonishing that he loves cinema more than anything. “When you study so hard for something you don’t get recognized, imagine how much you have to study to do films” he said. That’s how he started and ended the talk.

Now, what did he teach about shot divisions? His first statement was “the best shot that you can divide for a scene is always a simple shot”. Let your shots be so simple. Never use too much of creativity in dividing shots because that might spoil the scene. “simple is always the best” he repeats. He gave an example with The Thirsty Crow story. He asked us to divide shots for this story and explained how it has to actually be divided. ‘A Thirsty crow was flying in search  of water’ was the first line. Many gave their own shot divisions that were ambitious but none could depict a thirsty crow. One of our team members- Lathish, said “a mid angle to the pot, and in the same shot a crow appears, sits on the pot and bends down to drink water” simple right? He was appreciated and said that is the best shot that you can divide for that scene. When go over ambitious over a shot, you forget what you are trying to convey through the shot and focus only on how beautiful your shot is, which is an utter waste of art. This is filmmaking and not photography.

There were many examples given on how a scene or a story must be written and how shots have to be divided. The examples started obviously with “seven samurai” by Akira kurosova followed by Schindler’slist, Thevar Magan, pisasu, onaiyum aatukutiyum, finding Nemo, taken etc. The travel of the protagonist was explained clearly through these examples.

In Thevar Magan, shakthivel’s intro is in a train, he arrives in his village happily dancing. His important want then becomes to save the village from his relatives who are baddies. He fulfills his want and is arrested and taken back as an accused in the same railway station that he appeared happily in his intro. This is a perfect story with strong character travel.

In finding Nemo, the important want of the father is to find Nemo. Interesting factor in the film is the character that drives the protagonist in fulfilling the want – Dory. Dory is that amnesiac fish that leads and helps the father find Nemo.

Pisasu’s shots were explained where Radha Ravi (the father of the pisasu) breaks down knowing that his daughter’s soul is still present, he crawls towards the pisasu crying, and the camera follows this character keeping the others at the back, just focusing the intensity of the characters emotions.

He also says ‘closeups’ are something that shouldn’t be used often. Closeup is a tool, which is used when you can’t pick a shot for that scene. When there is no shot you can divide for a scene, you use closeup. Close-ups are not to be used often as it is just to show too much emotion that we might get bored of.

What is a story? Can anyone exactly define it? He took 18 years or so to find its definition, and he shared it with us .     “The important character (protagonist) – his important want – satisfied or not.” This is a story. Always care for who your character is, what is his goal in the movie, will he achieve it or not. Your story will be woven perfectly.

He also spilled some thoughts and advise about life, explained pain, detailed happiness and spoke continuously for 10 hours straight. That one night will not change my life, but it will surely lead me to changing my life.

Let me tell you a secret 😛 . His repeated advice was to read ‘THE INTERPRETATION OF DREAMS’ by Sigmund Freud.

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