As the acclaimed actress Julianne Moore once said, “People think that the directors direct actors. No. Really, what the director’s doing is directing the audience’s eye through the film.” As members of an audience, we often focus more on the actors and actresses that we see on screen rather than the directors and cinematographers that make the movies and tv shows we watch. These people are an integral part in creating the mood of a show while also engendering feelings and deciding how the audience will perceive the things that happen on the screen. To explore this idea further, let’s look at episode six from season one of Supergirl.
One thing that is evident from the very beginning is how quick the shots are. We see the camera changing viewpoints every time someone talks. Also, any time that someone moves or changes position within the scene the camera will move with them. During scenes like the ones in the coffee house at the beginning, the camera is constantly jumping back and forth between the two people talking, Kara and James. The camera is almost never still unless it is in moments when we are given new crucial information that we need time to process. An example of this is when Alex finds out that her boss knows something about her father’s death, and we can see how still the camera is in this moment.
The placement of the camera is also something that should be noted. The quick moving takes are often shot as a close-up of the person talking, or over the shoulder of the other person in the conversation. Throughout the episode, we feel as if we are up close and personal with the actors rather than far away. It is extremely evident that the director wants to make us feel like we are a part of the action that is happening on the screen. They want us to dodge the punches along with Kara and feel the wind on our face just like she does.
In regards to the lighting, the show as a whole is very brightly lit. The only things that are shown in a darker light are places like the DEO and people such as Kara’s evil aunt because these things are shrouded in mystery or evil. Because of the nature of the genre, it wants to convey a very clearly defined difference between good and evil, light and dark. It also wants to give the audience a sense of hope and optimism that good will win in the end which cannot be achieved with depressing and dismal lighting.
In conclusion, the director and cinematographer of a show have a lot of power in deciding how characters are perceived and how the plot of a show progresses. Through the use of lighting and the many different styles of camera angles, the audience can gain key insights into the different characters and what is going on around them.