5 Filmmaking Tips from Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs
1. Create your own style of writing dialogue.
The style of Wes Anderson's dialogue is unusual and unique. It also feels extremely natural, even though it’s really not. The repeated use of the dog that likes to gossip was so fresh and so subtle it stayed with me.
When you’re among people, try and listen carefully to the way people speak, find idiosyncrasies and forms of conversation you can use to make your dialogue feel more real.
2. Make your plot really, really exciting.
Not once did I lose interest in the story or the characters journey. The second one scene felt like it was about to end, something dramatic would burst in creating a new scene. It made the whole film very entertaining.
Make sure that every scene you write and every segment of your film's story has purpose and drives the story forward. Rewrite scenes where there is no drama and put in drama and tension. It makes everything more interesting.
3. Be original with your use of music.
The soundtrack in Isle of Dogs was unexpected and fit perfectly with the story. Where I would have usually heard a sad orchestral soundscape, there came a strangely uplifting folksy song. The music played against what was happening on screen and that made the scenes more dynamic.
Try different styles of music than you normally would in your videos. Don't just use music you enjoy listening to, use music that evokes a feeling from the audience.
4. Be brave and use interesting composition and framing.
Wes Anderson's style of framing some of the dialogue scenes was something I rarely see in films at the cinema. He used strong shadows, shallow depth of field and powerful placement of characters to create really interesting images. Sometimes I couldn't even tell where each character was placed in relation to the rest...and I liked it!
When you're planning your film, spend time just sitting and reading a scene and then thinking about how your framing of each shot in that scene will further the story and emphasise the heart of each scene. Look through stills from well known films and watch video essays on composition. It will give you inspiration and make you think outside the box.
5. Don't keep your audience at arms length.
Let them in. Be vulnerable. I came out of this film thinking everything was perfect. The story, the structure, the cinematography, the music, the characters, the underlying message were all faultless. And yet I came away feeling very little. Something was missing from this 'perfect' film. Sometimes the characters had tears in their eyes during emotional scenes and yet I wasn't moved. The film left me feeling as though the director had chosen to give me nothing of his heart. We have become so obsessed with films showing off their aesthetic or technique that we have forgotten what a film's most important quality should be - leaving the audience with a feeling about something. As much as I enjoyed Isle of Dogs while watching it, I left feeling empty. The story didn't leave me questioning anything. To me that says, as perfect as it was, something was missing.
I heard Wes Anderson in an interview talking about how this film was directed remotely, as opposed to a lot of his other films. He spoke of how much he loves placing all the cast and crew in one building and creating a community feel around the film. I wondered if that was what was missing from this film, that because he wasn't able to connect the way he usually does, the heart was left out. I am just speculating. As I said, it's a perfect film and I loved it all. But a film must have more than perfection. It requires the beauty of human imperfection.
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