Andrea Wise

Silent House: A Feature Film in One Shot*

friday featuresAndrea WiseComment

*Well, kind of. For technical reasons (lighting and sound, as well as filming on the Canon 5D Mk II, which has a max shot length of about 12 minutes) the crew had to stitch together multiple shots to present a film that appears to take place in one single shot.

Ok, full disclosure here: I hate horror films. I'm a super emotional person by nature and my mind can go to dark places pretty easily so I'm too easily disturbed by horror films. There's so much horrendous violence in real life that whenever I see even an imagined scene of violence, I have a hard time telling myself "it's just a movie" because I know that someone, somewhere has probably done that very act, or worse, to another human being and it makes me physically sick.

Having said that, and not to be too much of a Debbie Downer, I still think Silent House (which debuted at Sundance in 2011) is worth watching as it is a compelling story told entirely in one (visually) uninterrupted shot.

One of the powerful things about cinema is the ability to collapse time. You don't need to show every moment of every process, you can cut out entire chunks of time and the viewer follows along. Which is why most feature films fit stories that take place over days, weeks, months, or even years all condensed into under 2 hours. It's pretty magical.

But what happens when you don't cut? You don't collapse time. When the film feels like one continuous shot, you, the viewer experience the story in real time alongside Sarah, the protagonist, and that can be a powerful thing.

You can read a more comprehensive writeup about how they made the film here.

Or you can watch the film for yourself on Google Play for $2.99. Check it out and let me know what you think: Do you think in the end, the storytelling technique was just a gimmick or do you think the end result was worth the added production burden?