Matt Zoller Seitz essay: The Following Shot

ballast-following

Matt Zoller Seitz has posted a video essay on the “Following” shot.  Excerpt from his written introduction:

“Following” is a montage of clips illustrating one of my favorite types of shots: one where the camera physically follows a character through his or her environment. I love this shot because it’s neither first-person nor third; it makes you aware of a character’s presence within the movie’s physical world while also forcing identification with the character. I also love the sensation of momentum that following shots invariably summon. Because the camera is so close to the character(s) being followed, we feel that we’re physically attached to those characters, as if by an invisible guide wire, being towed through their world, sometimes keeping pace, other times losing them as they weave through hallways, down staircases or through smoke or fog.

I share Mr.  Seitz’s enthusiasm for the following shot.  It’s a technique that I’ve been thinking about constantly over the last couple of weeks.  I’m also in the middle of editing a short film that has several following shots spaced throughout; in some ways the film is structured around these moments.  I’m fascinated by the sense of movement that comes with the following shot, and the expectation of going Somewhere that’s built into it.  As Mr. Seitz writes, the shot has been used by many master filmmakers over the years; off the top of my head, I’d say my favourite uses of the following shot have been found in films by Michael Mann and Zhang Yimou.  The above frame grab is from the trailer for Lance Hammer’s BALLAST.

I highly recommend reading the whole thing and watching the attached video.

h/t: The House Next Door

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