How to Watch a Movie: Part 3

By Michael Schilf · May 14, 2010

Writing, acting, and directing are all essential elements to analyze (see Part One and Part Two), but what about shooting and editing?

(4) Cinematography. Film is a visual medium, and fantastic photography occurs when the camera becomes an extension of the human eye. A great DP makes us feel like we’re really there discovering for ourselves or along with the characters, versus watching as non-active observers from the outside. Look for cinematography that is rarely static, and instead transforms itself into the eyes of the viewer.

(5) Editing. If the script, as Hitchcock suggests, is the most important element in a film, then editing has to come in as a close second. Editing is basically visual writing. Sure, there’s the script as a guide, but often things change during photography, shots are missed, added, and sometimes the script was a mess to begin with. The editor has a monumental job: fix all the problems, create the illusion of continuity, and ensure smooth transitioning in the flow of the film. Many bad directors, actors, and writers have been saved in the editing room.