Movie Technical Critique Form
Copyright © 2002 by Dorian Scott Cole
Movie Technical Characteristics
Story Synopsis: ________________(Six lines)
If you want to review or critique a movie, there are a number of factors to consider that contribute to the production. About half of the contribution is the writing and half is the production group.
The task of the screenwriter is to create text that integrates a variety of communication forms, including dialogue, to enable the story to be presented primarily visually.
The task of the production crew, with an ideal script, is to present the story, primarily visually, and bring enhancements to the story.
The many roles below, on small productions, are often performed by just one or two people, and on large productions are roles that lead a team of people. The following roles directly influence what appears on the screen, so should get feedback when warranted.
Actors bring a living body with unique nuances and characteristics to a character. They make a major contribution by interpreting how the character acts and reacts. A critic has to ask, "Does a lifeless or superior presentation indicate writing, casting, cinematography, directing, or acting?
The casting director, usually with the input of the producer and director, chooses the actors who will best bring the characters to life - something more than a portrayal of characters.
The cinematographer is a key person in relating the story visually. He is often known as the Director of Photography (DP), even though conventional wisdom has it that there can only be one director on a set. He directs two or more camera operators. He captures the dramatic action and the nuances produced by the actors, set, motifs, and situation.
Dancing, fighting, and physical action are choreographed by individual artists, stunt directors, and specialists.
The costume designer selects apparel which enhances the director's vision and the actor's characterization, plus reflects time period and situation.
The director brings a vision to the project that says the production group can enhance the story visually by using this and this and this in their production. Directors oversee the entire production and everyone's jobs, making sure that the quality is there; often taking a hand in much of it. Directors often begin with the script and a script writer to create a shooting script that details every shot. All of the other jobs reflect on the director's overall artistic and management skill.
The film editor takes the daily film (video) footage and weaves it into a trail in which the action flows smoothly, captures good action and character reactions, integrates the CGI, and puts together a coherent story. Good editing is seamless and unnoticed - only the flaws call attention to it.
The lighting director is the person who makes sure that we can actually see what is in the shot, and makes it look natural regardless of the position of the sun, its absence, the conflict of other strange and peculiar lights, and the affinities of makeup for particular kinds of light.
The makeup artist is responsible for the visual appearance of the characters' bodies, including such effects as aging, tiredness, etc.
The conductor enhances and compliments the dramatic action with music, in a motif like way. It is typically so seamless that it isn't noticed.
The production designer takes the vision of the director and creates an environment (sets, locations, props) that support and enhance visual communication - communication being the aura produced by the set, including motifs, symbols, and the props. (I call this communication the "third character.")
The sound crew captures the dialogue and other sounds, and mixes the music, sound, sound effects, and additional background sounds to make the production lifelike and enhanced.
CGI (computer graphics), sound, and other elements used to produce backgrounds, special props, animated characters, etc.
The stunt coordinator plans the technical setup and coordination of the stunts.
There are numerous other very important people associated with a production, but these are the frontline people. For more information, refer to The Filmmaker's Handbook - A comprehensive guide for the Digital Age.
Good luck! - Scott