Checkmate

The final exercise in a cinematography course was to use visual imagery to tell an original story without dialogue. In thinking of a story, Tyler and I were mindful of storytelling through many visual aspects including lighting, color, composition, action, and cutting. We tried to come up with something that would allow us to have some fun with each of these elements while hopefully making the story watchable and entertaining.

We decided to base the story and visuals around a game of chess. From this we developed the parallel action of the chess pieces and the guards, as well as the simplistic, high-contrast style of the film. Lighting the table from below gave us a way to make the chess game feel sinister and high-stakes. It also meant we could pull off the chess board reflection in the eyeglasses, which was inspired by a shot in The Island. I really like how that simple lighting setup works to give the piece some mood.

While the action elements of the film may have been a bit too ambitious for the amount of time we had to prepare, I liked connecting the shots of the guards and the chess pieces. The overall concept was not as fully realized as we originally hoped it could be, but the project was fun to shoot and edit. It also forced us to find reasons to connect shots without dialogue driving them forward and to focus just on the visual flow of the film.

Technical Specifications

2.35:1

Red One (M)

Red Pro Lenses