Dedicated to the sensible and practical methods of teaching filmmaking. Being one of the professional Film Institutes in India, Flash Frame Visuals Academy of Film & Television is dedicated to create skillful and creative film professionals for the Indian Film Industry.
While flipping the pages of Times of India newspaper on May
10, 2012, I came across this article ‘Give comrades B’wood’. Thinking it to be
a usual routine content talking about Russians love for Hindi movies, I was
about to skip it, until an interesting line just caught my attention. It was a
quote from one of the Moscow resident who said ‘I like India films because they
are sentimental (read story/human connection), unlike Hollywood flicks which
are all special effects’.
Don’t get me wrong here. My intention is not to say that
Bollywood rules over Hollywood or vice versa. The point that I am trying to
make here is the fact that there still exists audience for whom what matters
more is the story, the content to which they themselves are able to connect to.
That is exactly what I am going to talk about in this blog,
which reads ‘content affects vs visual effects’, which also means making a
right choice between the ‘affect’ that your story or content will make as
compared to solely depending on visual ‘effects’ to grab the audience eyeballs.
FFVA student with storyboard
Lets say one wants to make a film. But basically who is your
target? It’s no one else but the hundreds of strangers sitting in a blackened
room, elbow to elbow, for two or more hours, with their eyes fixed on big
screen, investing all their possible concentration. How you think you would be
able to compel such immense mental and sentiment attention from the audience?
Only if your audience is able to connect to the story, relate to the situation
your protagonist is being thrown into, the way he overcomes his conflict
situations…in short the journey through which you take your audience through.
Robert McKee has rightly said that the audience must not
just understand your story, it must believe. Audiences are rarely interested
and certainly never convinced when forced to listen or believe or sync into the
scenes or even the story. The best example I can think here is Ra.One (Hindi
flick). They made the protagonist do every possible bizarre thing, used the
best of visual effects and tried to convince the audience that he is the next
big thing in the town. But it flopped big time.
Reason being the story, that
had not just few but many flaws which audience were too clever to find out and preferred
to stay intelligent still than to believe in their fake gimmick. And that’s the
truth. Intellectual analysis and technology, however heady, will not nourish
Mckee has also mentioned that the more beautifully you shape
your work around one clear idea, the more meanings audiences will discover in
your film as they take idea and follow its implications into every aspect of
their lives. The audience needs to be taken to a limit where all questions are
answered and all emotions satisfied..the end of the line! Deep within the
protagonist the audience recognise a certain shared humanity. The unconscious
logic of audience is like this’. ‘This character is like me. Therefore I want
him to have whatever he wants because if I am in his place, I’d want the same
thing myself. And this is
definitely not possible only if you depend on VFX.
Next coming to the special ‘effects’… Well, I have nothing
against them. Infact they make a very strong source of entertainment for the
audience. But the whole point is the way we used them.
back to the origin of special affects, the fact is that the history of special effects begins even before
the invention of the camera itself. During the 1700s, magicians utilised many
techniques to perform optical illusions and astound their audiences. These
techniques formed the foundations of special effects.
changes in the revolution of Special Effects happened in the 20th century,
with computers. Computers helped revolutionized the world of Special
Effects in movies.
No wonder we could even build and resink the "Titanic".So definitely special effects too are important,
provided if they are being used at the correct place at the right time, and not
simply imposed of audience just like that. Imagine titanic with no love story.
Similarly movies like 300, Matrix, District 9 are definitely unimaginable
without effects. But the success secret is not just that. They have the most
powerful storyline, the screenplay and the way they have juxtaposed effects
with the content is truly appreciable.
Storytelling is the backbone of a film - FFVA students during a shoot
So for everyone who thinks that ‘scriptwriting or story is a
small thing and anyone can do it’ and its sufficient if they know special
effects…well you are highly mistaken. You cannot underestimate your audience
for they are too intelligent to figure out that you are trying to compensate
your story weakness through your effects, which will never last forever. Time
to get your thinking caps on, work on some real good stories, and trap your
audience in not just the effects but your film too.
observation: Looking at the Indian and global film industry, we still have best
of the technicians and VFX artists who are doing a commendable job. But there
are very few who can win hearts only through their stories. So you mind bringing
in some change?