Experimenting With Multiple Screens

What Is Being Discussed?

The projects in discussion are experimentation pieces, playing around with the creative cinematic effect / style known as
Split-Screen.
Experimenting and breaking away from the linear is personally very enjoyable and interesting. Split-screen, which very heavily breaks away from the traditional way of viewing a film, is one of the top favourite experimentation to date.
This page will look closely at two experimental short films that were created just to try out the effect whilst also making sure that the story works for multiple screens.

What Are The Projects?

As already mentioned, the two projects are experimental short films in the style of split-screen / multi-screens. These films were written in a style that really challenged the film-making process.
The approach to using the camera in this style was far different to the traditional style of film-making, as more content, from different angles needed to be filmed and placed in in the same screen and running time / speed of a normal linear film.

Traditionally, the split screen has always been presented as two screens, but as years went by, the influence of split-screen has caused artists and filmmakers to take it even further, an example of this would be the mosaic screen which challenged audiences even further by producing more than two screens. The possibilities are endless, however it is easy to lose your message/story and if not done correctly could lose the audience’s attention or make them struggle to keep up.

Using the visuals and audio correctly to help depict your story through multiple screens is crucial and if successful, you can certainly use as many screens as you want, even if it takes over twenty screens or more. As long as the story is engaging and your voice is heard, Split-Screen can help you achieve whatever you want.
While the two short films are just experimental, they massively contributed to the knowledge of the cinematic technique. Not only was it the practical side of the project that helped but also tips and advice provided when interviewing award-winning filmmakers such as J.W. Griffiths, Flo Vinger and Mike Figgis on the technique, also contributed to the overall understanding of the creative practice.

'I've Got Plans' (2014), is the first of the two short films to experiment with the split-screen technique, the mosaic screen to be more precise.
While 'Opposites Attract' (2014) was a much deeper and a more practiced form of the technique, I've Got Plans was a project to help play around with the idea for the first time.
While it was a story that would have functioned with just the single screen, the portrayal of multiple screens, personally, kept the audience's attention at the time of presenting it. In addition to this, it proved to be a learning curve, especially shooting it from different angles to match up at the same time.

' I've Got Plans ' (2014)

'I've Got Plans' (2014) is an experimental short film, exploring a developing friendship/relationship between two strangers through the use of not just Split-Screen but also Mosaic Screen.

Everybody is cancelling plans with Adam (Paul McGroarty) at the last minute, leaving him no choice but to hang out with himself. However, when a book-loving girl named Violet (Jane Mogey) approaches him in the library, where he works, he notices that there may just be one person who may have an effect on his life.

' Opposites Attract ' (2014)

Two lonely individuals are having difficulties in their relationships, being with partners that do not co-operate. Alex (Allan Acason) and Kaitlynn (Felicity McKee) are venturing around the city at opposite times of the day, interacting in the same places and sharing the same activities. This film, presented in the traditional split-screen style but with a twist, will show the problems that both people share abd how they might actually be closer than they think before they even meet.
Shot in Belfast city, 'Opposites Attract' will show the cultural and enjoyable locations that Alex and Kaitlynn associate themselves in.

 

Analysis Of 'Opposites Attract'

 The project ‘Opposites Attract’ focuses on two characters, a man and woman who are having problems within their relationships. By simply providing a split down the centre of the screen and presenting two individual screens, portraying day and night, the traditional linear cinematic form that we, the audience, are accustomed to experiencing was broken. The project is able to show the audience how two individuals look like they are having problems with each other in the shared (virtual) communal space, whilst in the physical space, they are strangers meeting when the sun is rising/setting.

    The reason for presenting the characters in opposite times of the day, day and night, is to of course represent the opposition and difference of the two characters; however sunrise and sunset share the same light at opposite times of the day.

Although the characters would still be at opposite times of the day, the orange sky is something that both characters share, therefore breaking the difference of the two screens.
A lot of thought and practice went into understanding how the split-screen would work, in terms of shared virtual spaces. The dialogue was the most crucial and much effort went into the writing, to make the characters appear to talk to each other as if they were in the same physical space. The dialogue had to be slightly vague, so the characters could look like they are actually talking to each other. It is only when they meet under the orange sky physically, do we see the specific conversation and interaction between the two.

It was decided to stay with the traditional split-screen, but create the illusion of one screen. There have been many movies in the past that have used this fun technique of the two screens relying on the other, such as Michael Gordon’s ‘Pillow Talk’ (1959) and Stanley Donen’s ‘Indiscreet’ (1958).