How to Realistically ‘Murder’ Someone on Camera

Initially, I had no idea where to begin with filming this type of scene. I did some research on YouTube and came across this video by Film Riot:

After a rather graphic start with tips on how to fake vomit, the film actually got to some useful advice which answered my troubles with how to realistically hit someone without hurting them. This video suggests several ways I could pull this off:

  • Firstly, I could film the shot twice. Once with the person hitting a wooden pole in place of the person, and a second time where the person reacts to being hit without the bat going anywhere near them. This can then be edited in post production by merging the two scenes together to make it look like the person was being directly hit.
  • Secondly, the actor could be stood several steps to the side of the person being hit so that they appear to be behind one another. Then, by using different lenses, when the bat is swung it will look like the person is being hit even though they are stood quite far apart.
  • Finally, the one that seemed most achievable, where the actor places the bat on the persons head and swings it viciously backwards. This is then reversed in post production making it look like the person it being hit directly with the bat.

The first two attempts are how I initially imagined how I’d pull this scene off, but once I came to film it I quickly realised that these wouldn’t do the job. Although I found it helpful to shoot these so I could visually understand why they weren’t effective. I feel like although my third attempt doesn’t look all that effective, I think that with a couple of takes it could look very realistic. I should have done it in three shots from different angles. Firstly, walking towards the victim with the bat over the shoulder. Then, the reversed shot of the bat being placed on the victims head and then swung quickly back onto the shoulder in the same position and then thirdly the victim falling in pain due to the beating. If I do this when I come to film, I feel like this scene will look very authentic.


Creating a Sense of Panic

When watching television the other evening, I came across an interesting shot which creates the sense of distortion and panic that I wished to portray in my short film.

When speaking to my media teacher, he told me that this was initially a piece of camera work taken from Mean Streets. However this is to portray a different sense, and instead of distorted and panicky, the actor is to appear drunk:

This will have been created by having a camera attached to the actors body, facing them so that it moved as they moved thus keeping the actor central to the shot.

Here is my own attempt at this scene:

All I did was film myself using a ‘selfie stick’ as suggested by my Media teacher, and blur out the corners of the shot to create a blurred and distorted sense.

I don’t feel like it is all that effective, but this may be due to my lack of acting skills, and may look far better with someone who is trying to look panicked. I will try out this technique on the day of filming as it may help enhance the look of my film.



Steadicam – ‘Wide Angled Hand Held’

To produce my film in the cinematic style of Terrence Malick, I have decided to try out the ‘wide angled hand held’ which was discussed in my research. This was a technique used by Malick that avoided the typical shot reverse shot found in many conversation scenes. I though this may be interesting to feature in my short film, to create a sense of unity between the actors in my film to enforce the friendly nature of the main character. Here is the kind of thing I wish to recreate from The Thin Red Line:

I chose not to film the ‘wide angled hand held’ with a handheld camera, as it would just look untidy and incredibly wobbly. In the Malick films I have watched, it is clear that a steadicam or arc dolly has been used to film these kinds of shot. So, I used the resources available to me and borrowed a steadicam from the media office. Here is what I filmed:

Test 1:

For my first attempt, I feel that it looked quite successful. I managed to pan around an actor like I desired to in my film, without the camera wobbling too much and becoming off balance. With a bit of practice and a lot of patience on the day, I feel that I can pull off the ‘wide angled hand held’ quite well.

Test 2:

This one didn’t go quite as well. I think this is probably due tot the fact that I tried to guide the steadicam by gentle holding the pole to prevent the camera swinging. From this, the shake of my hands affected the stability of the camera so effectively it was just a hand held shot. In order to prevent this, I just need to get handy with maneuvering the steady cam in the way it’s supposed to be handled.

Test 3:

Again, this is a similar issue to the second test and although I thought steadying it with my hand would help the effect of the film, but ultimately it just made the camera wobble.

Test 4:

I feel like this shot was very effective and the camera only wobbles a little, but moves quite smoothly. Although it doesn’t move around a specific subject, I can use this in my film to create the kind of shot that would be found in Malick films.

Through doing this, I have realised how difficult it is to work a steadicam. With this in mind I’ll need to dedicate a large amount time to filming the steadicam shot, in order to create it to a high standard and to ensure it looks effective.