Monday, June 1, 2020

Trick to handle emotion of the character in filmmaking

In the film, we convey a different emotion and feeling to the audience. We set different characters and circumstances for it. The feeling makes reality come true. It is very significant to handle feelings and emotions properly in filmmaking. In this article, I am going to explore some tricks to handle emotion and its scientific theory. 

Pattern of emotion

In filmmaking, the scriptwriter and director should aware very much about emotion and feeling in each scene. They should handle and proportionate in an appropriate way. The non-living materials shown in the scene do not itself have a feeling. For example, rain, mountain, house, etc do not have feelings. But we should make them induce feelings to make our scene strong. 
A character imbued with emotion
You might think even though non-living do not have a feeling, the living characters have a feeling which is enough. It seems true but it is not so. If we do not handle emotion properly, there is a great possibility to turn living characters as non-living materials. We may assume characters always have feelings, but it is not true for the audience. When we do not aware of this, our hard work will be wasted, the film will be failed. 

I am highly influenced by the ideas of American writer Dwight V. Swain. He has presented very logical and impressive ideas about fiction-writing through his famous book Techniques of the selling writer. He argues feeling can be induced with proper arrangement of motivation and reaction. Motivation is what exists outside of character which causes the character to react. The reaction is what the character reacts to motivation. Motivation is objective and external. The reaction is subjective and internal. Motivation precedes the reaction. Or in simple word, first motivation and second reaction and then after motivation and again reaction. It continues like this. For each time, one motivation and one reaction are very effective. There is some arrangement in reaction. To communicate a proper feeling, it should always be properly arranged. As per Swain argument, the reaction should be arranged as follows:-

  1. Feeling 
  2. Action 
  3. Speech 

When there is something motivation outside of a character, as a reaction the feeling should come at first, action at second, and speech at last. A feeling is reflected in body language, i.e. in facial expression which is unconscious. A theoretical physicist and the award-winning author of six novels, Randy Ingermanson, laying critical views, claims that Swain's ideas are not perfect. He modified three-part of reaction to be arranged as follow:-

  1. Feeling
  2. Reflex
  3. Rational action and speech

In my analysis, from the Swaign and Ingermanson's views, we can conclude that reaction should be done from unconscious to conscious. In other words, unconscious feelings to conscious activities.

Measurement of emotion

To handle emotion properly, we should know the time duration of it. For time duration, we should need to measure it. Emotion cannot be measured by a mechanical clock, which we normally use in our daily life. We should devise the emotional clock for its effective measurement. 

When we are intrigued by a happy situation, emotional clock races fast. So to adjust it, we should use a mechanical clock. To handle emotion properly, or to convey it effectively to the audience through character, we can use a mechanical clock. How? If characters are in happy feelings, due to emotional clock races fast we should use a mechanical clock with a short duration for its adjustment. But when the characters are in a sad situation, the emotional clock moves slow. So for its adjustment, the time duration should in long. It implies if characters have specific sad feeling continues for a short time, it distorts emotion. Likewise, if characters have a specific happy feeling and make it continues for a long time, it distorts that emotion. There is well-established science behind it.  

The science behind the emotional clock 

Art and science are inter-related. Heinrich von Schlegel argues, "Every art should become a science, and every science should become an art." So, to make our film successful, we should not proceed to work haphazardly, it should be based on science. Science can build a strong foundation for art.

"Every science touches art at some points-every art has its scientific side."
                                                 –Armand Trousseau

Albert Einstein is famous in this world for his theory of relativity. This theory claims that everything is relative. When there is higher velocity, time moves slow. And when there is slower velocity, time becomes fast. This theory is quite hard to understand. Once Einstein has tried to explain in a simple manner as:-

“When you sit with a nice girl for two hours you think it’s only a minute, but when you sit on a hot stove for a minute you think it’s two hours. That’s relativity.” 

From the above explanation, we can assume that in a happy situation, time moves fast. And in a sad situation, time moves slow. Time is not as constant as we generally think. So if we consider it carefully, we can effectively convey the emotion of the character to the audience. 

Resultant of emotions

In any scene, there may be various emotions since there are different characters and materials. The emotions may disperse in a different direction. If it is not properly considered and handle, it distorts emotion. Our audience will not feel the emotion which makes the scene very weak. So we should aware of which emotion to be induced in each scene, and make the resultant emotion tends to the desired direction. 


Emotion and feeling are what make our character alive and bring to life. It makes the audience believe in what we present in the film. Art should be connected with science. Proper handling of emotion can make the film successful. 


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