Guerrilla Filmmaking 101: Discovery


is a camera composition technique typically beginning as a quiet extra wide shot with little interest or kinetic energy.   Talent will make an entrance slowly and gradually until they exit.

As seen in: Volk (2013)
With basket in hand, our little heroine, “Piggy”, is on her way to her grandma’s house.  She patiently walks along a nearby stream though the forest.  Later in the film, she will return running for her life.

Discovery is a metaphor as a physical or an emotional journey.  A still scene begs movement which the film ultimately provides.  It may depict a long, arduous travel through landscape or an emotional struggle.  A discovery scene may preserve or change the tempo of the film, represented by your talent.

It is a very efficient technique to portray moving a character from one scene to another over perceived time.  A five second clip can represent a longer, ambiguous time in fiction.  Emotionally, it provides the same benefits.  A single shot with an unmoving camera can paint a character with emotional colors.

Cinematography must be carefully thought out.  The fixed camera will demand from the audience attention to the set or scene.  What world are they looking at?  Generally, the set is either aesthetically pleasing or effectively stunning.  Examples; Scenic landscape of trees and a brook to urban blight or ruins.

Very similar to the camera dolly, the key difference the camera does not move with discovery.  While both showcases the background set, the dolly is a conscious focus on the character, always tracking the talent.  In discovery, there is a subtle emphasis where the talent is.  When you would use one over the other?  This is a directorial decision.

With discovery, you only need as much background as you see.  There may be no room to maneuver for either the camera operator or talent.  Unseen obstacles may exist outside the camera frame.  With the character dolly, the talent needs room to move unless it was your intention to have your actors run into a dead end.  Keep in mind your timing.  A series of quick moving hand-held shots followed by a discovery may skew the rhythm of your film whereas the dolly would have been more effective.



As seen in: The Curious Augustus Shank (2008)
Augustus Shank struggles across the yard.  His physical journey is a short one.  However, his spiritual path is burdened with confusion and guilt.

Guerrilla filmmaking 101 is a series a posts covering the basics in a quick-footed production.  Every director carries his or her own filmmaking philosophy.



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