Sunday, March 6

Things Film Students Like Part 2

Can you believe it?  In the first shot the actress was staring straight ahead.  In the next shot her eyes were pointed 3 degrees to left.  Those filmmakers were so lazy!  It totally ruined the movie for me.

Perhaps I exaggerate a little.

Still, there are many times upon explaining thoughts on a movie when the issue of continuity is brought up, mainly in the form of visual continuity.  Sites like IMDB have a section for each movie dedicated solely  for goofs of any sort, whether historical, accuracy, continuity issues, obvious ADR, and even elements which are thought to be goofs but might not be.

Okay, this one really bugs me

Most film students, however, pride themselves on being able to catch those goofs all on their own.  After the movie, they stand a little taller and proudly proclaim, “On the close-up her finger was on the trigger and on the wide shot it wasn’t.  HA!  Take that Steven Spielberg.” 

Usually I nod along. “Yeah.  Guess they made a mistake, didn’t they.”  (Though I have noticed my own share of errors in movies – I generally don’t point them out unless they are distracting.)

That’s not to say continuity errors should be fine.  Sometimes there are rather glaring errors and you wonder why they didn’t go back and redo it in pickups.  Oh wait…they have this thing called budget.  Plus, I think if the filmmakers really thought it was bad enough and distracting enough, they would reshoot it. 

Having edited short films you also have to recognize that certain cuts and shots have high risks of continuity errors.  I’m sorry, but your actor is not going to run the exact same way for all twenty angles of the chase scene.  I’m sorry, you cannot fully control where the water will splash on his shoulder for all the master and the close-up.  Unless you want to have all scenes be one shot wonders, it is going to happen often.  Make sure it’s not distracting, but it’s going to happen.  And when your explanation for not liking a movie is reduced to mentioning a few visual continuity errors, I probably won’t listen very closely.

Plus, it’s easy to forget that the big filmmakers have deadlines too.  When screening student films, there will probably be some continuity errors.  When you point them out, the filmmakers are quick to defend it.  “Yeah, we noticed that but we didn’t have time to reshoot it.  We were hoping that the way we edited it would hide it too.”  Well, big films have deadlines too.  And budgets.  And I’m sure they try to hide mistakes in editing.

Perhaps the movie that bugged me most was Shutter Island.  Trying not to spoil anything, there are a lot of times that there seems to be errors.  However, at the end of the film you’re not sure if they were intentional or not.  It dragged me out of the story a few times, but I heard from many who were able to accept it.

Continuity errors in the story are a completely different matter.  If a plot line completely drops from the movie or makes huge jumps with little or no explanation, that can be a problem.  But that’s probably a topic for another post.

Do you watch for continuity errors?  What are some of the worst errors you’ve seen?

Check out my first installment in this potential Things Film Students Like series.

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