There is probably no filmmaker, particularly in the documentary arena, who has not come across this sentence: “We have blocked an interview room for you.”
It's the initial phrase that kickstarts a debacle that has gained cult status here at Zoo, something we refer to as The Boring Room Dilemma. While these rooms initially illicited gasps and occassional panic attacks, they are now presented as opportunities for creativity. After all, it can be quite the challenge to get the best out of a space, consider the appropriate framing for your subject all while fighting against the clock in what seems like the smallest time window ever. From this I imagine you can already tell what we mean by– “boring room”. In short:
We can picture them now… A desolate, gray conference room, an office full of knick knacks, a container on a dirty construction site, a room of no symmetry – the diversity of horror knows no mercy.
We've seen it all. And we'll see a lot more. But that’s why we come prepared.
In light of this, if you ever find yourself sharing this pain, here's a little lifeline for you in times of emergency. And hey, if they ever help, why not share your beautiful results with us!
The yellow-white wall, the wooden table, the whiteboard showing its age - why does everything seem to scream… muck? Well, time to accept the sadness, add some symmetry to it and turn your protagonist into the highlight.
Make sure that your viewer’s attention is focused on your subject, so much so that they can’t be distracted by the horrors around them. It is then particularly important that the person in the frame wears something colorful, or at least stands out and doesn’t get lost in the already dreary set.
Sometimes you look around and nothing fits together. The room is untidy and somehow everything seems off. But a highlight can be found in every room. It is then vital to declare this the prominent element in the shot and to clear away everything that distracts from it. Of course, it takes some time, but there are always people who can help out quickly.
It is not always possible to eliminate chaos and focus on the beautiful. In these cases, the one and only thing to do is this: exaggerate the chaos! Sure, in the end there is a hidden object, but that also has a special charm – especially when it fits the topic, like in our shoot with a Nobel Prize winner in economics.
The Boring Room Dilemma, Lesson 4:
Sometimes it seems there is no saving it, nothing can be found. The room is narrow and bare, dark or just plain white. Or perhaps in the worst case: full of advertising. In this event, there is only one solution. Get as close to the protagonist as possible. Fight to keep as much of the room out of focus as you can or simply let it sink into the out-of-focus range.
Greetings on top, Zoo Kid On The Blog