FILMMAKERING LIKE A BOSS : Directing Attention pt. 4

(Thomas Tulak) #1

Hello, I am, award winning filmmaker, Thomas Tulak, and this is “Filmmakering Like A Boss,” a weekly micro column all about how to filmmaker like a boss!

This is the 4th and final part in my discussion about directing audience attention using cinematography.

The method we are discussing today is called framing.

This is where you utilize objects in the foreground and background to create a smaller frame for your subject, with in the frame of your shot.

Creating such a frame basically draws a target around the subject, as if to say, “look here look here!”

This technique is one of my personal favorites because not only does it draw the audience attention, but it also looks beautifully cinematic.

There is no limit to what you can create a frame with except your own imagination.

Here I used a pair of hand cuffs to create a frame in the foreground.

Here I used a wine bottle and glasses to create a frame in the foreground.

Here I created a frame in the foreground using the back of another actor’s head

Here I created a frame in the foreground using a wall.

Here I utilized the bed frame in the foreground as well as the headboard in the back ground to create an even smaller frame

This one is one of my favorites because I used multiple methods. I mentioned this one in a previous post about contrasting colors, it also creates a frame in the back ground using light.

Taking the extra time to consider framing your subject within your composition can and will separate your work, and help it stand out. Utilizing framing as a method of directing attention as well as helping to make your shots look more cinematic,

Thank you for reading “Filmmakering Like A Boss.” Look out for another post next week!

I’d like to invite you to see some of my filmmakering in action at

Until next time,
-Thomas Tulak

(Bri Castellini) #2

Love this! I’m soooo bad with framing but I’m trying to do more directing and thus need to study up on stuff like this. Question- do you tend to plan these uniquely-framed shots in your shot list or is it an “on the day” “hey look at that cool prop!” sort of things?

(Thomas Tulak) #3

9 out of 10 times it was planned. I know I want a framed shot but can’t always rely on the location having something with which I can frame so with it planned out I can bring something to use. for example, the wine bottle and glasses were brought by my set designer and props team to dress the table. I told them specifically to bring tall things I can shoot through to create frames with. However, sometimes there are things on set you can use, so it’s a good idea to observe everything on your set and take note. for example, the shot with the cop and the pillar of light, it wasn’t until I was on set and saw how the light looked in the camera that I decided to frame him that way. Keep in mind, though, that was a 48 hour competition, so pretty much everything was put together on the spot in with in the 48 hour span. Basically, if you know you want to frame a shot a certain way, you should plan to bring everything you need to accomplish what you want.

(Bri Castellini) #4

And what goes into your decisions to frame or not to frame a shot? What motivations do you tend to err on the side of more creative shots for?

(Thomas Tulak) #5

Very good question.

Aside from the fact that it just looks cool and it helps you project to stand out, you Gadda think in terms of what you can do with the camera to motivate how you want your audience to react. How do you want them to feel when watching your project? what you do with the camera is one more thing that can contribute to that, along with things like the music, the actors performances, the dialogue itself, the lighting tone. Doing something like creating a frame not only directs the audience attention to the subject you want them to pay attention to, but also creates tension around that subject, because the audience feels constricted, theres less space then there should be and the audience will subtly pick up on that.

whether to frame or not to frame depends on what you want to convey with your shot. take it on a shot by shot basis and decide what you’re trying to convert with each shot. Once you know that then take a look at all the things you can utilize to accomplish that. cinematography is one of the most powerful tools for this because its what the audience is actually looking at, yet the messages and feelings it can convey are subtle. the audience will pick up on them with out knowing they’ve picked up on them.

I believe you should never settle for “point-n-shoot” cinematography, because doing so sells yourself short of all the potential you could have achieved by not utilizing one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.