3/5 The Movement of Memories
The fluid nature of memory was a great thread to explore while attempting to create a new cinematic language for futuristic witnesses. “Precision” was our enemy when it came to the camera movement. We tossed out all the motion control rigs (a robot that moves the camera with perfect precision over an infinite amount of takes) and instead used a steadicam (a camera mounted on a guy.) We had him film the crime on the first take from a “witness” point of view, then directed him to recreate that same movement *exactly* in the following takes. As we know: that was never going to happen, but we were looking for those slight differences in movement to become our memory glitches. We did that three times for three different witnesses, altering the set each time to bring more variation into the memories. Remove a lamp here. Change a blanket color, there. We wanted the inconsistencies to show when we layered the visions on top of each other later in the process.
Here’s a great anecdote on how easily our own memories get kicked off-track:
“Loftus recruited 24 students and their close family members for her 1995 study ‘The Formation of False Memories.’ She asked each family member to provide her with three real childhood memories for their student, and then sent these memories in a packet, along with one false memory, to the study participants. The false memories were about getting lost on a shopping trip and included real details, such as the name of a store where they often shopped and siblings they were likely with.”
“The students were told all four memories were real and had been supplied by their family member. After receiving the packet, the students identified whether they remembered each event and how confident they were that it had happened to them. In follow-up interviews the researchers asked them to recall details from the events they remembered.”
“Seven of the 24 students ‘remembered’ the false event in their packets. Several recalled and added their own details to the memory.”
That discovery alludes to one of the main reasons why we kept the camera handheld. We wanted to embrace the fluid nature of the memories.
4/5 The Minds Eye in Circles, Not Squares
It was important to toss-out any “framing”—aspect ratios and letter boxes— as dictated by our camera technology. Once we committed to settling the camera inside the mind of our witness, we traded hard edges and rectangles for soft edges and circles. It also took us dozens of camera tests to find a camera movement that worked with our new circular frame of mind: most of our early efforts felt either drunk, heavy or completely disconnected from the humanity we were trying to emphasize. We wanted constant movement but still needed to establish a visual hierarchy within the frame to guide the audience. It was about trying to develop a new way of seeing, evolved from the cinematic languages that already worked well, but a step closer to “experiential.”