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Why do so many filmmakers advocate breaking the rules of filmmaking?

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  • Why do so many filmmakers advocate breaking the rules of filmmaking?

    I seen it on many threads online, people asking for critiques of their work, other people give answers pointing out errors in lighting or composition, then someone comes out of the woodwork calling the mistakes creative and that the rules don't matter. The rules are the guide for what the eye and subconscious expect to see for moving images. Of course you can break them if the narrative requires a jarring or discomforting effect, but I just don't know why people jump immediately to "oh the rules, break em." Wheres the rebelliousness coming from?

  • #2
    Could be laziness. Not wanting to take the time to learn it right
    Darren Scott
    Freelance Director/Director of Photography


    https://vimeo.com/jambredzvisions/videos

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    • #3
      The difference between being creative and making a mistake is does breaking the rule help you convey the emotion you are trying to establish in the scene? Jarring off kilter camera angles and framing help if you're trying to make your audience feel unsettled in a scene for example. But if that wasn't your intention then you've made a mistake.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by jambredz View Post
        Could be laziness. Not wanting to take the time to learn it right
        Yeah, that's it most of the time.
        I had the "pleasure" to watch some of the "new bread" filmmakers with their DSLR last week for an hour.

        They had the attention span of a hungry mosquito.

        Taking your time, making qualified lighting decisions and focusing (pun intended) on something longer than a few seconds was out of the question. Let alone thinking twice about framing. Waving the camera around with both hands, or even one (freestyle) was the order of the day - "having a tripod would slow us down" they told me, same goes for anything but handheld LED lights. Yeah, right.

        I have no problem with knowing the rules, and than brake em for a good reason, but this.....?
        Blog: http://frankglencairn.wordpress.com/

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        • #5
          I find that the more people talk about breaking the rules, the more it seems they don't know the rules at all.
          Great filmmakers break the rules all the time, but it is no excuse to not plan and execute things properly.

          Even if you are not technically great filmmakers, I'd love for more people to at least spend some more time to write a good story before they wave the camera around.
          Haavard Helle

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          • #6
            Is it a true rule if it doesn't have penalty?
            http://www.erichasso.com/
            http://www.thesuspenseofdisbelief.com/

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            • #7
              The penalty is a sucky film if done incorrectly. Thats punishment enough to me.
              Darren Scott
              Freelance Director/Director of Photography


              https://vimeo.com/jambredzvisions/videos

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              • #8
                Originally posted by jambredz View Post
                The penalty is a sucky film if done incorrectly. Thats punishment enough to me.
                Unfortunately a lot of people don't know how to objectively judge their own work...

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                • #9
                  Quite frankly I'm not that good at much anything and heavily rely on rules and other talented people for the stuff I work on. The reason has to be overwhelmingly obvious for me to brake a rule on purpose and even then I have to think about it long and hard before I do. I will never win any awards or achieve any recognition of any significance but these rules have been paying my mortgage and putting food on the table since the late 90's and will retire happily with out financial worries long before I hit 65. Rules and knowledge in essence have made my career.

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                  • #10
                    I'm giving you the 'Bmcuser Humility Award of the Week' award David.

                    There, now you have won an award!
                    fluoro.com

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                    • #11
                      I think I figured it out, Dslr's were a "rebellion" against hollywood in the minds of the filmmaker that started on dslrs. The barrier to entry of camera was demystified and they believe that more than camera costs were smoke and mirrors including the fundamentals.

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                      • #12
                        There is a long tradition of breaking the established rules in cinema. It's how it evolves as an art form and storytelling device. I think because there have been rulebreakers who progressed the form, some people are reluctant to tell anyone that there are rules to follow or to hold them to those rules. I don't think it's DSLRs specifically (especially since I've seen plenty of people unwilling to tell people to follow the rules or stick to the fundamentals since well before there were DSLRs) just a mindset that nothing is off-limits when it comes to "art".

                        And too, I imagine we could find some filmmaking rules that some people say are essential and others on this very board would say aren't really rules.

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                        • #13
                          Two thoughts;

                          When you edit to a soundtrack - dialogue - you need more rules.

                          Your typical beach pretty Dslr shoot doesn't teach you that stuff.

                          Also it is "post Bourne" so jump cuts and shake seem to have entered the acceptable aesthetic

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                          • #14
                            I was going to use jump cuts as an example of something that was once breaking the rules that has since become much more acceptable, though I was going to go back to the French New Wave to find an example because I'm pretentious like that.

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                            • #15
                              Strictly speaking there are no rules, only guidelines.

                              This is a style question, and most newbies really don't have a foundation strong enough to pull off the stylistic choices they attempt. There is a long learning curve involved, and they need to experiment and hone their crafts, and there's really no way around that.

                              Styles have changed radically over the decades, and what was unacceptable before becomes acceptable to a whole lot of people today (the audience). In the end it's the audience's perception that matters. I may not agree with something shot like The Blair Witch Project (made me literally nauseous), but a lot of other paying customers found it worthwhile. That may be a shallow argument, citing box office numbers in defense of artistic choices, but the numbers often represent the opinions of millions of people.

                              And oftentimes the same old, same old has become visual cliche. If everyone else is doing it, we really need to think about how to take these style choices to the next level and separate from the pack. There are no easy answers, as the term "rule" would imply.
                              Filmmaker - Author
                              https://jgiambrone.wordpress.com/

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