Jamie’s Lumiere Minutes (from Edinburgh)

When shooting my Lumiere Minutes, I tried to think about how I could achieve the greatest ‘pregnancy’ of meaning, given the framework. With the first two in particular, I tried to think about how I could use offscreen space, and depth of field, to create the most dynamic frames. I also wanted to counter the idea that the Lumiere Minutes had to be wide shots, and also wanted to try and achieve the greatest sense of ‘story’ that I could within the constraints of the exercise.

Piano Lessonhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHAbEV4zb7A&feature=youtu.be

I did quite a lot of preparation for this shot. I knew exactly whereabouts on the piano my student would play, so I spent a while in advance setting up the camera. I wanted to use focus to lead the eye directly to the point on the piano where my student would be playing, and wanted to use quite a shallow depth of field, to create a sense of foreground, middleground and background. I also chose a close frame so the hands, and what they were playing on the piano, would be all that we would see (in the knowledge  that sound would tell us everything else we needed to know). In choosing what is effectively a close-up, I wanted to counter the idea that a Lumiere Minute always has to be a wide shot.


With this shot, I very deliberately put the focus on my Granny: I also shot a wider shot later on in the day which achieved something similar, however, I liked the fact that, in this shot, the focus was very much on my Granny, to the exclusion of everyone else in the room (which, similar to the Piano Lesson shot, we can hear, but cannot see). One of the things I wanted to show in the shot was my Granny’s detachment from everything else that was happening, and I felt that a closer shot on her helped express this, assisted by the out-of-focus window behind her, and the out of focus reflection of my dad in the mirror. In retrospect I wish I had spent longer setting up the camera (I got the colour temperature wrong), and had changed the angle of the shot slightly so my Granny was not so much in profile when talking to my dad. However, this was very much a shot I had to ‘grab’, without a tripod, or much preparation – it happened a few seconds after I entered the room, and so I had to take what I could get!


This final shot was something of a lucky accident! I was walking into work, and happened to have my camera with me. This is one of my favourite streets in Edinburgh, for its strange sense of timelessness, and the way that enclosed space and distant open space conspire to create a huge sense of perspective. So my initial plan was just to film the pedestrians on the street, and I had no idea about what going to happen next! Wes Anderson talks about how so much of film is waiting for accidents, waiting for the unpredictable, for things to ‘come alive in the frame’…

When initially setting up the shot, I liked the way that the streetlight lit a part of the frame which was further back from where I was standing. At film school we were told that it was always best to have your principal light source some distance back in the frame, as this would lead the eye into the frame and create a sense of depth.

I didn’t have a tripod with me sadly, so the shot is a bit shaky. I had to hold my nerve towards the end of the shot, and should perhaps have held out a bit longer!


One thought on “Jamie’s Lumiere Minutes (from Edinburgh)

  1. Pingback: Weeks 3 and 4 – Exercise 1: Lumiere Minutes | Le Cinéma, cent ans de jeunesse 2013-2014

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