Etymologically, the word ‘emotion’ is derived from the latin word ‘ēmovēre’: ‘to move’. Thus emotion is rooted in motion, as emotions often express themselves physically. When discussing emotion in the context of movement of the camera, I believe there are two main ways to connect to a character: camera movement motivated by a character's movement, and “cinematographic embodiment” - instances when the camera operator’s bodily movements and perceptions are recorded or “embodied” along with the subject(s) in the frame (Albright, 2011)

In the context of ‘Where is my Darling?’, the initial plan and schedule for the film involved multiple water deliveries over the course of the 10-day shoot. This repetition presented the opportunity for us to observe repeated action, and be able to anticipate the actions and movements of our characters and have the camera ‘in the right place at the right time’ rather than being reactionary or chasing action.
In doing so, while the camera would be less energetically attached to its subject, it allows the audience greater authentic observation of a character’s nuances, without interruption from the camera.

The beautiful stillness and unfettered simplicity to the shooting style of “To Be and To Have” (Philibert, 2002) was something we went into the shoot aspirational of achieving.
The reality of the shoot meant that only one water delivery eventuated before our protagonist had run out of water. As such, the scene shares an interesting balance of stable observational shots, paired with a more nervous reactionary shots as the camera embodied my anxiety as I realised there may not be another water delivery. While retaining a sense of equanimity is something that I continue to work on while operating, the contrast between the feeling states I embodied in this scene to add a rawness, a realness, to the scene that adds to the mood and tone.

Water scene from ‘Where is my Darling?’

For modern audiences, the practicalities of documentaries have developed screen language and translated this embodiment or presence of the camera operator as a form of authenticity, an intimacy, within fictional forms. Being a fictional form, offers greater opportunity for refinement of these ideas of connected movement, though seems even-more so than documentary, a space for embodying a ‘feeling’. Christopher Doyle describes actors as “dancing partners who control the rhythms’” and camerawork as “anticipation and response” (Doyle, 1998).

In Death Doula, Jenna and I have experimented with these ideas of feeling states, and of ‘playable actions’ (Soloway, 2018), giving emotional direction to the cinematographer as they would to an actor. This is an extension to the idea of giving each scene a word or phrase to summarise the emotional beats in a scene, but more practically helps to develop my trust in my own feeling instincts while operating, and keep focus on the actors' performance above technical decisions.

In this example from Knives Out (Johnson, 2019), the contrast between stable dolly movement and handheld operating is used to embody and heighten the emotional chaos the protagonist is experiencing.
Jenna discussing the feeling state embodied by the camera
To do so, there are practical realities that Jenna and I have discovered through our testing to enable this methodology. For starters, flexibility in the actors’ movement around a space dictate preparation for 180° and often 360° lighting, as such, location scouting, scheduling, and an embrace of natural light. The approach to coverage too requires a shift in mindset. We found the traditional master scene method of coverage (Brown, 2016) could be restrictive in allowing the camera to respond intuitively, which sometimes meant shifting between characters as they move within the space. As such, we’ve experimented with a more documentary style ‘freeform method’ (Brown, 2016), which structures coverage around different ‘passes’: (dialogue, reaction, freeform) to balance sufficient variety of options in the edit, while maintaining the improvisation and freedom for the camera to respond to performance.
In the context of point of view, I feel movement offers an interesting ability to provide multiple perspectives simultaneously, through embodiment of an emotional point of view while maintaining a third person optical perspective, or equally contrast in disconnection from character.

‘Babe’ (Noonan, 1995) offers an example of how movement can subtly be used to anchor a point of view. Here through use of parallax on a dolly to emphasise distance, paired with longer lensing and the fixed geographic perspective, enforce the perspective of the animals observers, further clarified in coverage of a reverse shot on the animals.