Cinematography and character depiction

William Francis Nicholson


This essay investigates the ways in which cinematography can be used in depicting characters effectively in the motion picture medium. Since an aspiring filmmaker may be overwhelmed by the expansive field of cinematography, this essay aims to demystify and systematise this aspect of filmmaking. It combines information from written sources (mostly text books on filmmaking and cinematography) with observations made from viewing recent and older feature films. The knowledge is organised under the three main headings of lighting, camera view point and the camera’s mode of perception. The outcome is an accessible and systematised foundation for film makers to consult as an entry point into understanding the relationship between character depiction and cinematography:
“Cinematography captures and expresses what a character is
feeling – their attitude towards the rest of the world, their interior state” Ian Gabriel, director of Forgiveness (2004) [personal interview 2009].

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