Camera Movement Motivation

I just wish to share something that I have spoken to our students quite extensively about and I came across the best example of its use: hand-held camera shake.

Often times, at the level of student filmmaker, hand-held camera use is predominant in productions, usually out of sheer laziness and the need to film quickly before a deadline that is the next day.

I certainly understand its use in these productions but that does not mean I excuse it and will turn a blind eye when grading these projects.

As I have explained, I am not advocating the complete elimination of all hand-held camera moves but I have stated such movement adds its own emotion and meaning to a shot or a scene.  So, I challenge if a student is going to fail to lock down the camera and, instead, use the shakiness of hand-held, then he/she should be able to explain its purpose and impact in that scene.

Subsequent conversations have not convinced all of our students but I have a good video example that should add more clarity.

The example is the love scene from Atonement.

I have to give all credit for “finding” this scene to Vincent Laforet.  I had the pleasure of attending his Directing Motion Tour two weeks ago and he spoke directly about this same concept of when to use hand-held versus other camera movement or locking it down.

[By the way, it really was an impressive workshop and I would have recommended it on this blog but I saw the next to last stop on the tour and it was over before you would have had a chance to attend; however, I would recommend following Vincent on his own blog and through his own work.  He is a talented filmmaker with many great ideas.]

The reason this scene is such a great illustration is because it begins very still and progresses into a hand-held movement.  The two characters are very stiff as their upper class lives form a wall between their emotions and so, therefore, the camera is stiff too.  However, as their feelings begin to melt away the obstacles of their class status and their prudish expectations, the camera begins to move more freely.  At this point, however, it is still a fluid movement.

Then, when they are completely overcome with passion, and begin to kiss, the camera movement goes to completely hand-held, with a lot of shake and out of focus shots.

The use of the camera is done in a deliberate way for the audience to feel the same restraints and, then, freedom through which the characters are journeying.

Take a look:


NOVA Woodbridge Film Reaches Out to the High Schools

We are humbled and honored to visit some of the local high schools to spread the word about the film classes being offered on the Woodbridge campus of Northern Virginia Community College.

Yesterday, we met some wonderful students from Woodbridge High School and today we will meet some from Garfield H.S. before turning our attention to Hylton H.S. on Wednesday morning.

It is always exciting to meet future students of our campus who are interested in filmmaking, whether as an actor/model, writer, or productionist/editor.

Again, we are offering a film school education at a community college price.  Even if you wish to attend NOVA for two years before transferring elsewhere, you will still get the same experience, partnerships, and networking as if you attended many of the four year colleges/universities from the beginning.  We continue to re-invent our program and reach out to many local production houses, post-production facilities, acting studios, talent houses, and screenwriting workshops to bridge the gap between education and real world  experience.

If you have any questions at all, whether about our student Filmmaking Club, the equipment we use, the classes we offer, or anything you did not get to ask us while at your school, please do not hesitate to email me at


Chris Stallings

Theater Life

Notice I spelled it theater instead of theatre because I am talking about the movie theaters…AMC to be exact.

As we prepare for our promotional video release tomorrow, my classes this semester were dominated with the idea of the competing “pawn shop” videos that we often see at the movie theaters here in Woodbridge.  As a challenge, I asked for two different pawn shop videos to be spoofed and here is one of them (goofy, yes, but so is the original – tune as well):

Cover Girl



Congratulations to former film student Charley Laws for her selection as a cover girl.

Okay, okay, maybe it was just the cover of the spring 2014 NOVA schedule of classes and maybe she had to share the spotlight with other students but we are proud of her nonetheless.

This picture was one of the many that were taken of our students during a photo shoot by the college last spring semester.

Below you will find a picture that was used on the cover of the mailed notices about the convocation last spring (featuring student Kat Hemphill):



See, taking film classes at NOVA Woodbridge does have its advantages!

Work By A Former Student

I just received a visit from a former student who is now studying film at Liberty University.  He noted how our film classes here at NOVA helped prepare him for his classes at LU and, actually, put him ahead of the curve.

He shared a small film he did with his class group that was really well done and a great example of what student work can be:


Spring 2014 Classes

This just in…

Besides the normal PHT 130 class for film/video production, we will also be offering PHT 131 (Video II) again this spring semester.  We will be using the platform to create a Web series that will be posted online.  In addition, we are offering a special topics course, PHT 295, which will focus on directing for film and video.

These courses are going to be a lot of fun as we continue to build on your filmmaking knowledge and showing how it can be applied to the field to make your imagination become reality.

Time for a New Semester

I am in the process of uploading some much overdue student videos from the spring semester.  So, please check back regularly for the new videos on the video page of this blog, including the class/group project of “There’s Something About Alex.”

Also, there will be a lot of news coming to this blog in the coming weeks because of all of the exciting upcoming events.  I would recommend checking back regularly.

For now, since I had to remove the “Dangerous Girl” video from the collection on the video page, I will put it here as a reference to one of the first projects our students did together:

Dangerous Girl


AMC Movie Ticket Winners

We have pulled names for the movie ticket raffle and notified those winning recipients.  There were ten winners of a pair of AMC movie tickets/passes and here they are (I apologize if I misspelled anyone’s name but I had to decipher your handwriting to read names and e-mail addresses):

Donovan Banks

Dave Steger

Chrissy Clingerman

Felicia Smith

Roslyn Griner

Jesh Mercado

Kenneth Perry

Joshua Hamilton

Stuart Fitzgerald

Karla Somera

If these winners have not checked your e-mail, please do so immediately to find out how to   receive your tickets.

Congratulations and thank you for entering our raffle event.