Cinematic Storytelling: Dreamgirls

It’s that time of year again when we give our filmmakers workshop. This year I’m using recent films because I’ve been told I rely heavily on the classics to drive my points across. So for these particular directing points I’m referencing Dreamgirls. I will be referencing Babel and The Departed also for the workshop and, yes, I will still be referencing the classics!

dd003 When I’m deep in production, I always make sure that I’m telling the story as seamlessly as possible. Hopefully, if I’ve trained my cinematic eye as I should have, I want to find the possible transitions within scenes because as the director, I want to keep the film moving forward as visually interesting as I can. This example above clearly shows how so much information can be given in one fluid transition.

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I like to find moments in the script that I can visually play with on set. It’s great to collaborate with my colleagues on how to tell the story and the background of our characters way beyond the words they say and the choices they make. If a script is really good, you’ve got a lot of themes and metaphors to play with. The example above is a great “visual” metaphor. The characters’ lives are played out on such a large stage that at a pivotal scene in the film, the lights dim much like a theatrical stage with a spotlight on the lone character. It just helps bring back the themes and the origins of the film.

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This example is pretty darn cool. In a heavily choreographed dance number in the film, the filmmakers decide to “choreograph” a little of the visuals with the sequence. It’s fascinating how the filmmakers use a lot of match-cuts and rhythmic editing to create a fascinating montage. This example above is a great match cut. As the dancers rehearse the dance number, the song climbs the top of the pop charts and the whole montage intercuts with scenes of urban landscape and the dancers.

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