Influential Frames: Ida

This is a blog series where I examine specific frames from a beautifully shot film, and share the many ways they will my own camera work as a small/no-budget solo professional videographer. 


"Ida" - 2013 

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski


Director of Photography: Ryszard Lenczewski & Lukasz Zal


This film was a master-piece in my opinion. I have three stand out examples of how this has influenced my own craft. 



1. The Edge of the frame


One of the first photography/cinematography rules you will learn is the 1/3s framing rule. Which I typically abide without second thought. There are some good reasons for that, the best one being that if the main subject in the frame has a face, you want screen room in the direction of their gaze. Watching this film, you can't not notice how often they place subjects at the farthest edges of the frame.I really liked the effect this had, and was immediately thinking of ways to implement this in my own work.


2. Stillness

When you start expanding your camera skills and gear kit, you will ultimately become obsessed with camera motion. When to do it, how to do it and how superior you feel when you nail the perfect tilt, pan, slide or glide. "Ida" is almost entirely shot on a stationary tripod, and the camera never tilts or pans, and yet this was one of the most visually captivating and engaging films I have seen in a long time. Here is a scene, that perfectly exemplifies how beautiful stillness can be when implemented well. It is almost like the camera was too humble to take attention from the story in front of it. Adding too much camera motion is a consistent trap amongst modern day wedding videography, and I see potential in avoiding and standing out against the crowd. Motion is always going to be a premium skill-set, but just because you can, doesn't mean you should. If you watch this movie, you will notice the one handheld shot, and you will feel how intentional and informative that choice was.


3. Cinematic Ratio


I'm a widescreen snob. Makes sense considering our tvs, computers and devices (when held horizontally), are all in the 16x9 ratio range, and that is the frame size my camera shoots as well. I, and many others, will deploy an even wider frame via cropping in post production, i.e. "cinematic wide". Ida was shot in a classic photography frame size of 4x3, which suited the time period of the story, and yet still felt just as cinematic as its widescreen peers. Comparison shot from Wes Anderson's film Rushmore below. 

Thanks for reading, and please subscribe to keep up with more of these as they come.