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Hidden Camera Movie

No , I don't need your credit card details. It's not that kind of hidden camera movie
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There's an old Alfred Hitchcock movie called "Rope". It's about two university students who kill a friend just for the thrill of it, then hide the body in a trunk in their apartment, and proceed to drape a tablecloth over the trunk and hold a dinner party for several mutual friends of themselves and their victim. In true Hitchcock style, it's a damned good film - as usual, it's a taut, tense thriller: unusually, however, it does have a little quirk to it which sets it apart from most films. It's all shot in one take. The whole story plays out in real time, with no cuts whatsoever. Whilst this must have made it a nightmare to shoot, it ratchets up the already tense and claustrophobic nature of the situation, and makes you feel as if you're actually there in the room with the increasingly nervous-looking students.*

It's an excellent film; but it's a narrative technique that could be taken further. What if the camera itself was to become a major player in the action? Almost a character in its own right?

(By the way - what follows is just a set of suggestions: it's more the concept I'm trying to get across rather than these sketchy particulars. Please bear with me for a bit - I can't think of another way to explain this other than to give a few possible examples...)

Two undercover reporters are trying to set up a sting on some criminal types. Perhaps some kind of illegal exchange is taking place. The reporters have a suitcase - which the criminals think will be filled with money - but which actually contains a hidden camera. So the first scenes of the film consist of extreme close-ups of the first reporter's face: "Testing, testing... Seems to work." Blurry shots of an anonymous hotel room as the case is passed to his partner. Extreme close up of a single eye. "That's it? That's the lens? Excellent. Almost undetectable." The pair then walk out of their hotel room, talking about what they're about to do (subtle plot exposition), while the camera walks through the interior of the hotel, perhaps filming seemingly background chararcters who might play a role in the narrative later on, but mostly just giving the audience a sense of where they are.

Perhaps they meet the shady criminal types in the bar - the suitcase is placed in such a way that it captures the transaction (or perhaps even misplaced, so that the criminal's faces are not quite revealed). Just as the deal is drawing to a close, the camera starts to pan out, albeit in a wobbly way. The incriminating evidence is caught on tape from a distance, just as a fellow drinker nudges one of the reporters and says - "Hey - I think that guy's stealing your suitcase..."

So the criminals are after the case because they think it contains money - the reporters want the case because it has incriminating evidence on it which might make their careers. The thief sees that he is chased and so stashes the case somewhere, somewhere where the camera can still capture the movements of other visitors to the hotel - enter the subplots. The main story of the chase for the case takes a backseat as the random background characters who were "accidentally" caught on film as the camera moved from place to place are now thrown into the foreground...

Anyway - that's the gist of the idea. It really needs a big location with lots of people in it - hence the "hotel" slant, but a huge party might work equally well. As I said - just suggestions. The movie would almost have to be choreographed rather than written.

*I know that "Rope" wasn't actually shot in one take. But that's the effect it gives. Please notify me (preferably by Raven) if my Poetic Licence has expired.

lostdog, Aug 02 2004

Rope http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0040746/
The film I waffle on about above. [lostdog, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

The Russian Ark (2002) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0318034/
From [Trimendo]'s annotation. (Please use [link] to create links to external resources.) Single-shot ride through the Hermitage museum and 200 years of Russian history. Art movie. [jutta, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]

Right Here, Right Now (2003) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0410521/
A 30 minute long film made in 2 shots, camera becomes a part of the story. [karma_string, Sep 25 2005]

Camera (2000) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0278380/
Very similar concept, but not done in one shot. [karma_string, Sep 25 2005]

[link]






       Heh.   

       About it being one take, I wonder what kind of film camera it was that could handle a load of film suitable for shooting an entire feature.   

       <this written before I actually took the time to read lostdog's comments about it being all done in one take>
bristolz, Aug 02 2004
  

       [bris] Actually, cameras of that era could only contain about 8 minutes of film, so Rope is made up of a series of takes of that length. They are very carefully edited together to give the illusion of one continuous take.
krelnik, Aug 02 2004
  

       With modern video equipment, this could be done. A briefcase-sized package could easily contain a high-resolution digital camera, a small hard-drive, a transmitter, receiver, and plenty of batteries for a 2-hour shoot.   

       If you've got a usable plot all worked out, go for it. I'd love to see something like that show up at the independent film festival.   

       (+)
Freefall, Aug 02 2004
  

       Have you seen Bowfinger? (WIBNI)
simonj, Aug 02 2004
  

       "The Russian Ark" (2002) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0318034/ Not a detective movie, but...
Trimendo, Aug 03 2004
  

       Likes it I does.   

       Superb.
GutPunchLullabies, Aug 03 2004
  

       Thinking of changing the name of this to - "Oi, You! - Put That Down!"
lostdog, Aug 04 2004
  

       This is fantastich!!
Sattamassagana, Aug 04 2004
  

       Cool, you'd have to make sure that the action keeps going, because the camera view of a wall continously could get boring.+
swimr, Aug 04 2004
  

       BEWARE! I AM AN EVIL HEAD GEAR!
EvilPickels, Aug 04 2004
  

       The shot of the wall could happen once, but the action be carried on by sounds heard off camera. This scene would conclude with the picture jerking around crazily as someone is bodily hurled into the suitcase and both go flying.   

       Fine idea. Good art. It would make a great 30 minute short subject. You would need to ponder all the different shots that could be taken.
bungston, Aug 04 2004
  

       Wish I had thought to do this for my senior project back at UCLA Film School! A tightly choreographed 30 minute B&W film based on this single-take premise probably could have been done for about the same overall production cost that my 3 full-color 60 second Princess Cruise Line commercials cost with 30 to 40 setups, dissolves and graphics in each.
jurist, Aug 04 2004
  

       It would be quite cheap to make - but costly in terms of time taken to plan it. The script would have to be specific to the actual location used, and, as actually running with a camera produces only headache-inducing blurry footage of fast-moving ground, there would probably need to be a team of nimble camera operatives (who never appear in shot) who would ensure that the camera has an unrealistically smooth ride through the action. The whole thing would have to be 1 part action to nine parts artifice. And if one person put a foot wrong at any time during the shooting: then it's back to the beginning again for everyone. You could use sneaky cuts (someone walking right up to the camera, so the whole frame is black for a moment), but you probably couldn't rely on them, as after a while the auidience would begin to catch on.   

       I also like the idea of the camera/suitcase being used at some point as a weapon - zooming really quickly in and out at someone's head, while they reel unrealistically.
lostdog, Aug 05 2004
  

       Write the script [lostdog]. Write the script.
harderthanjesus, Aug 23 2004
  

       It's a very good idea. Let me know if you want any help making it.
karma_string, Sep 25 2005
  
      
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