I shuddered when “Hurt Locker”, a movie I had to walk out of, won the academy award. It meant that shaky camera style was here to stay. And sure enough, it seems like you can’t get through a movie these days without encountering the dizzying, nausea-inducing, shaky camera (shakycam) technique that the “The Blair Witch Project” spawned.
Dear Hollywood filmmakers, do you know that about 33% of people are susceptible to motion sickness, including sickness due to films and other video? Do you know that your films cause dizziness and nausea, ruining our movie-going experience? Do you know that some of us have to walk out of your movie a third or half-way through? Movies that we paid $14 or more to see?
Aside from the real discomfort so many of us feel, this technique seems to be the lazy way out for directors. Trying to convey desperation, chaos, or whatever negative or giddy emotion on screen with a traditional, steady camera seems like it would take more effort and creativity — like it’s been done for decades.
And then there’s Peter Jackson’s ridiculous 48 frames per second editing (twice the normal speed) of “The Hobbit” which caused viewers to get a migrane, and become dizzy and nauseous. Jackson proclaims that this represents a critical leap forward in film-making. How callous of him. Though, with this particular edit, at least the audience is forewarned.
Shakycam is a trend that needs to end. Meanwhile, we’d like a shakycam warning so we know which movies, begrudgingly, to skip. The warning could be something like the Rotten Tomatoes rating system where 100 means the film is shot entirely with hand-held cameras, all the way down to 10. Just about all of us can handle (read: close our eyes) a movie with less than 10 percent shaky camera style.
I saw “Silver Linings Playbook”, “No”, and “The Impossible” in succession, and came out dizzy, and on the verge of nausea. So very disappointing. And why the heck does a movie like Silver Linings Playbook need this style? For crying out loud!
So, Dear Hollywood filmmakers, producers, directors and the rest, please end or limit the use of this abhorrent style, and if you must, for whatever reason, please include a warning with the release of such movies. It’s the least you can do for avid movie going fans, like us, whose patronage support your movie making endeavors.
Check out the ShakyMeter and list of shaky cam movies and add yours.
Others making the case for no more shaky camera movies:
Why I’m Sick — Literally — of Shaky Cameras – Huffington Post (2012)
“When the moviegoing experience has become miserable enough with phones going off and audience members yakking at each, do we have to add nausea to the reasons to stay home?… If the aim of a movie is to give the audience an escape, then directors should not erect barriers. Shakycam does exactly that.”
Time to declare war on the shaky camera – Salon (2011)
“The filmmakers’ unspoken (in some case probably unconscious) agenda is to deny the audience a fixed vantage point on anything, for any reason, ever — not just to jack up their adrenaline level, but perhaps to cover weak storytelling, acting, writing or special effects with visual clutter and waste motion. It’s the style that directors embrace when they have no style — a substitute for vision.”