Focal length preferences are a hot topic, for Robert Bresson it’s the 50mm, that help him “flatten my images (as if ironing them), without attenuating them” (Bresson, 1997). For Michael Haneke (and many others) — it's the 35mm, striking a “certain crucial balance between intimacy and impartial distance, concretely situating its characters within their environment” (Pinkerton, 2019). Deakins loves the 27mm, Chivo loves his 14mm — The point is, when going for the same shot size, wider lenses tend to feel more subjective, and longer lens tend to feel more objective, that's the proximity at play, particularly when looking at individual frames.

When considered as an overall approach to coverage, however, a visual style that leans in to longer lens, distanced, ‘objective’ lensing — such as the work of Ken Loach, this fades away, and audiences are still very capable of forming an emotional connection with the characters on screen. As Ken puts it - “I consider it a great privilege to be the observer” (Oppenheimer, 2007).

An ‘objective’, longer lensing in ‘I, Daniel Blake’ (Loach, 2016)
So while focal length may offer an angle of view, I want to argue that composition and framing techniques can do more to establish an emotional point of view. One such technique is how size can effect the power dynamic different characters can have within the frame. Again, despite the challenges that external factors such as work with animals and camera placement restrictions within an operational sheep farm, it’s something that should have been more conscious of in Dust Cloud, with missed opportunities to create a deeper connection to our dog protagonist.

Besides power, composition can also add emotion through use of metaphor, and choosing as much what to exclude from the frame, as much as consider what is inside it.

“Accidental blocking of one character from another, decapitating heads and body parts, and sudden empty middles of frame - are creatively employed here to emphasise closeness and distance.” (Greenhalgh, 2005)

In considering coverage, creating contrast in the lens choices used on a protagonist's coverage, both wider and tighter, as well as framing variance, can also add greater emotional range to the point of view offered.

POV meant "always over his shoulder, not someone else's." - Robbie Ryan BSC (Thomson, 2012)

Bonnie Elliot ACS discussing coverage and framing choices for ‘Stateless’