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SPN 7.03 - cool camera shot choices

SPN 7.03, The Girl Next Door, was directed by Jensen Ackles.  He's directing another episode this season and he talked about it a little bit at Vancon.  I thought it was worth looking at what he did with his last one. While the episode storyline caused a huge amount of wank at the time, I'm not going to bring that back up.  I liked how Jensen directed it.  He's done a pretty good job so far, especially for this being only his second shot at this.   He talked about some of what influenced his shot choices in an interview and a Season 7 DVD special feature.  bowtrunckle put up a great journal entry illustrating how he referenced a Hitchcock movie for part of it.  

It's fun to look at caps of the episode because there are so many interesting shot angles he used.  There's also the usual bit about the art and color too so I stuck some of them in.  Color was important in the episode because it has a lot of flashbacks to the adventures of Young Sam.  The flash backs are all colored with a sepia tint like old photographs.  Even so, color that we're used to seeing comes through.  

The episode starts as a continuation of the cliff hanger from the last week where we left our intrepid heroes in an ambulance with Sam's customary bashed head and Dean's broken leg.  Of course, they are on their way to Leviathan-infested Souix Falls General with Lucifer in tow.  Bobby's house is gone and Bobby is MIA.  Good times.  

The interesting shot angles start right away.  Near the beginning of the ep, we got a real close-up of Dean from above.  The camera doesn't get that close to him again but there are several close views of Dean from above.

From here to waking up in another strange place.

The filming of Dean done as he's escaping the hospital focuses closely on his face too.

When the filming is done from Dean's point of view, a lot of it is shot out of focus because I guess Dean's a little fuzzy from pain killlers and whatnot.  He's probably needing a drink too.  Maybe glasses.

Although the cap below was taken pretty much straight on, it's one of my favorite moments.  I miss Bobby.

One of the other things that Jensen chose to do in more than one place was to capture a view in a mirror.

This one has Dean in front of dangerous orange and yellow light.  Run, Amy, run.

There are some interesting transitions between portions of the story that prolong the suspense a bit.  One is from unconscious Sam lying in the woods to Dean looking down at someone.  Is it Sam....

No, but that gives another example of shots from an interesting perspective.  Later, Sam goes to get a room and the next shot is of the inside of a motel room door.  Who's room is it?

Turns out it's Amy's room.  

There are a lot of transitions between the present and Sam's memories of the past.  The past is shown in the sepia tones of old photographs.  As the change in the setting takes place, the color changes to those used in the past and the shots take on the hazy quality of an old memory.  

That hazy, almost-rosy glow isn't there in Time After Time when Dean is actually in the past although the colors are similar.  Reality being (usually) less hazy than memory.

Several shots are from down looking upward.  

Another with a good shot of Uberprop, the deer's head.  Would you put that saw anywhere near your body?  

The next one also uses a shot from below and it's taken through or from inside something.  There are quite a few of those too.

Brains.  It's what's for dinner.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. (7.15)

Shots from above, too.

There were some close-ups of pieces of the set that showed little details telling part of the story. The cabin is a grubby mess that probably hasn't been lived in in a while and the current occupants have other things to worry about than cleaning.  There are pills and alcohol, as well as tools and books.

Then we have pie fail.  Come on Sam, that cake isn't even chocolate.  

Later, there's a close-up of Sam's hand leaving the note.  Looks like Dean tried the cake anyhow.  Too much yellow frosting for that to have been a good idea.

Souled or soulless, it's a good thing Vancouver has big trees for Sam to hide behind.

Along with all the shot choices to admire, there were the usual things like motel room art to look at.  There weren't a lot of flowers. The most noticeable ones are at the library on the wall and on the librarian's blouse.  Librarians are very dangerous.  You couldn't have a more stereotypical librarian unless she had her glasses on a chain around her neck.  Probably not Sam's kind of librarian. Shhhhh!

To be fair to the crabby librarian, in 1998 most libraries were still dealing with the complications of adding internet (porn) access and automating their card catalogs and check-out systems.  It was a lot of change for a lot of people who were uncomfortable with computers and that always produces a calm, happy work environment.  Not.  Google was still a beta site and Wikipedia was three years down the road.  A kid using a cellphone in the library was a pretty big "no" in most patron behavior policies and not really all that common.  You really cared about that, right?

The other flowers are blue and they're in front of the Gas & Sip.  Nothing threatening is going on at this point.  The bear statue is awesome though.

The coffee shop is another story.  No flowers but plenty of red.  Edgar and Chet were my favorite Leviathans.

I think it's ironic that rather than any supernatural creature or hunter as the threat to Amy at this point, we get a couple of ordinary nasty boys.  If she wasn't trying to hide her nature, she could take care of herself.  Instead, she waits for Sam, a kid with something to hide also, to do it.  The boy on the far right was played by the same kid as Lucas in Dead in the Water.

This episode had interesting art with some different themes from most of the other episodes.  The graffiti in the one below resembles a chomping Leviathan on the right side.

The motel room had a western theme.  At the beginning of the season, there were a lot of mountains in the art.  They showed up here on the walls along with wagonwheel fixtures.

The art on the walls of young Amy's house has water.  There's another one as you go up the stairs that's mostly behind Sam's head.  I was surprised that Amy wasn't wearing pink.  Maybe because she's also a monster as well as victim.  She is wearing similar clothes and colors in both the past and present.

Although it's hard to tell with the tinted film, I bet the sofa and pillow have reds and yellows.  The picture on the wall below was also used in the motel room in Defending Your Life.  It looks less like a lake in that episode.  

The art around grown-up Amy tells the most interesting story.  When we see her in the present, she's settled down with a son and her own home.  The art right behind Amy is a yellow house with red trim.  Maintaining that settled life with a home is dangerous.

As we move away from Amy toward Sam and later Dean, the home images become more abstract and dilapidated.  The one below even has dead trees.

There's another one on the motel room wall where Dean finishes off Amy and probably any hope for a stable home for her son.

The curtains in the room are danger colors.  The following couple of caps don't show much in the way of art unless you're into fish.  The TV showing Road Runner and Coyote could pretty much sum up a lot of the season.

The predator makes all kinds of plans to capture dinner (Winchesters) and the plans keep getting foiled.  Don't stand under the falling rock (or the guy wielding Borax).  Sure enough, there's Sam, just one step ahead of Chet.

Poor Sam. Even the snack food is a commentary on his mental health.

I'll finish with a picture of Bobby in front of a rock wall, another feature common to a lot of the buildings from this season.  There were some more in the big stone hearth and chimney at Rufus's cabin.  Did I mention that I miss Bobby?

Caps from Home of the Nutty and true_fellings


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 27th, 2012 09:38 pm (UTC)
Nice observations. You have a great eye for detail. Jensen is really getting this directing lark! :)

Yeah...poor Bobby!!! :( Why did they have to go and do that to him?
Sep. 28th, 2012 04:23 am (UTC)
Jensen's got a good eye.
Sep. 28th, 2012 01:43 am (UTC)
Fascinating! It will be interesting to see what sort of directing choices Jensen makes this season.
Sep. 28th, 2012 04:22 am (UTC)
I know he said at the Dallas Con that this season was tough directing because Dean was in it a lot and it was hard to go back and forth between acting and directing. I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with it.
Sep. 28th, 2012 10:42 am (UTC)
Awesome. I love your observations. I really like Jensen's directing choices. He takes the directing job seriously and it comes through in his shot choices. I always love high angle or low angle shots - always makes me wonder what is the director trying to tell us.

Ha! Even snack food making a comment about Sam's mental health! That's such a great pick up - with them side by side like that there's no doubt that's deliberate. I love it!

Thanks so much for this. I am really looking forward to his episode.

Sep. 28th, 2012 06:25 pm (UTC)
The thing that's neat about Jensen's shot choices is that they could come across as somebody playing around with a camera saying "how cool is this?" but Jensen's choices don't pull you out of the episode. They just really add to the action and the story rather than sacrificing that for a cool shot. He indicated that this year's was harder to shoot because he had to act in it a lot. It will be interesting to see how he pulls it all together.
Sep. 28th, 2012 12:48 pm (UTC)
Great observations! I liked how you analyzed the colors and all of the set/prop art.

The interesting shot angles start right away.

Yes! My favorite scenes of the episode are the first couple of hospital ones. I thought they were really well done and captured that frantic, disoriented feeling well.

It was nice to see a side-by-side comparison of the colored flashback scenes and "Time After Time". It really emphasizes how sepia-colored this episode's flashbacks were where everyone looks like they've been manically using fake tanner. ;)

The bear statue is awesome though.

Heh, the joys of Canadian chainsaw art. ;) Yay for shooting in Canada.
Sep. 28th, 2012 06:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the flashback tones had a whole lot more of a red tone than I realized. I was really surprised when I saw them next to each other. Is it because the lighting in Time After Time was generated on the set by lighting and the light in 7.03 came from a filter or something done with the film after the fact? I like to look at all of this but I still only know a little about the technical aspects of filming. Everything I know, I learned from you all or the extras on the LOTR extended version DVDs. 8-)
Sep. 28th, 2012 01:02 pm (UTC)
I loved all those fascinating insights - thanks for sharing!
Sep. 28th, 2012 06:09 pm (UTC)
Sep. 30th, 2012 08:42 pm (UTC)
Oooo, very cool! Loved you pointing out the art! I didn't notice that before. *goes back to take another look*

Jensen did a great job directing this. And also 6x04. One interesting angle I remember from that ep was the calf-height shot of Bobby and sheriff Mills facing the FBI guy when found the okami grave in Bobby's yard. Totally reminded me of westerns.

I caught the shot of Sam in the library in 7x15 and LOL'ed at the callback. And seeing Wile. E. Coyote was pretty awesome, too. :D
Sep. 30th, 2012 09:20 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think Jensen has a really good eye for what works. I'm looking forward to what he does this season. Just another couple of days until Wednesday......
Oct. 23rd, 2012 03:24 am (UTC)
Not being visually oriented, I love posts like these that point out what is being done visually!
Oct. 23rd, 2012 03:33 am (UTC)
It's fun stuff. 8-)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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