First, let’s look at perhaps the most obvious way of connecting an audience to a character, by embodying their optical point of view, first person style. When used exclusively, it can be alienating for an audience, and you lose the character's performance. But used selectively, it can be both scary (when used as first person peripheral to embody a supporting character), experiential, and also reflexive, projecting a context to a reaction shot, offering a deeper insight into the mental or emotional state of a character.
In Death Doula, it’s something we’ve experimented with through the linkage of flashbacks to reaction shots from the present scene. One interesting insight from this, is that these flashback shots aren’t necessarily ‘optically’ from the character’s point of view, but are close enough that the attachment to the character point of view still remains. As Greenhalgh (2005) puts it: we remain psychologically close, though not sharing the character’s optical point of view.
Perhaps my categorisation of optical point of view is too strict — that I’m not appreciating the whole spectrum between objectivity and subjectivity? That the importance of a character’s point of view is tied less to their precise optical point of view, and more to the context of what they are observing.
A scene from ‘Fish Tank’ (Arnold, 2010) demonstrating the approach to coverage, and attachment of the camera’s point of view to protagonist ‘Mia’.
“I knew Mia might be hard to like, but I believe if you can see the world from her perspective, you can find some empathy for her, so I wanted the camera to stick close to her and experience the world the way she does” - Andrea Arnold (Thomson, 2010)
In the context of building coverage, these ‘point of view’ shots work best when paired with reaction shots, turning objective, informational shots into deeper emotional reflections into the mental state of a character.