Cinema language; describing your short film


Today we looked at language; how best to go boldly and describe the short film you are creating through the perspective and lexicon of your crew role.

If you are a Director of Photography you may talk about shot sizes, camera movement, lenses, depth of field, lighting and how they would service the story. How to the technical elements create the emotion, feeling, genre and story you are going for?

The blog below has a great DOP related break down of langage.

The ‘Language’ of Cinematography & Lenses

We as a group  analysed a scene from a short film made at Swinburne last year by Drew Hair called ‘Last House Till Ballarat’.

Drew and his wonderful crew worked tirelessly on this beautiful, eerie and interesting film.

The film was shot by candlelight at night and shows a time gone by in Australian history. The film has a beauty and softness contrasted with the harsh reality of the australian bush and living at a homestead, the vulnerability and strength of the main character and the class and inequality that was a major part of the time.




We found great descriptions for the film elements:

Acting/Directing the actor, the main character is: cautious, vulnerable yet has strength, hiding something, dramatic, shaky voice

Lighting: warm, moody, sleepy, menacing, isolated, narrows the areas of action, organic, cosy, authentic, subtle, romantic.

Casting: late teens, early 20s, they possibly were looking for someone who looked clever, strong, brave, and who had an expressive face.

Wardrobe/costume/makeup: period costume, 1800s, the main character is lower class seen through her dirty face, and slightly messy hair, and her costume.

Audio: the sound design was dampened sounds, not reverberant – (see below), indoor and out door sounds. The music was subtle and helped raise the tension of the first scene. Violin sounds were used.

*NEW WORD: Reverberation or ‘reverb’ is the collection of reflected sounds from the surfaces in an enclosure like an auditorium. Creates an sense of space and controlled echo.

Art Direction: minimal, of the period, dirty, simple.

We then described the scene from the perspective of the role the students are taking on their short film. Then while on a roll, wrote descriptions for the students’ films from their role’s perspective.

In the film’s pozible video below you can hear the Director use the descriptive language of what he was aiming to achieve in his film.


Script writing

Glossary of film terms


One thought on “Cinema language; describing your short film

  1. Omg… happy she put a bullet in both of them ! How annoying were those guys ……I would have put two in each ….but then again I guess bullets were a scarce commodity back then . God how ennerving ……what a great film . The first introductory scenes were very annoying with the high pitched extended violin note running through it , but in the end it shows the strength in directing , as it actually subtly led us to the freaking annoying male characters . Lol ….well done .


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