6 Basic Cinematography Tips Tangerines (Movie 2013) will teach you

6 Cinematography Tips Tangerine Movie (2013) will teach you

Spoiler Alert! You may read some scenes that might lessen the surprise when you are ready to watch it.
 *All pictures were screenshots from the Film, This post is for educational purposes only. 

Create the best composition for your scene’s message with these 6 cinematography Tips.

 Composing a shot might take you hours just to decide which shot is the best for the next scene.  But being knowledgeable with what composition is the best for a certain scene can be the key to your effective filming.


  1. Color and Light will help you feel the atmosphere of the scene.

In Tangerines (Mandariinid, its original title), a film in 2013, before the reveal of the title text, you can see how the color and light gave you the feeling of coldness of the area and the innate humidity of Estonia.


This has always been a default for picture makers who are intensifying their craft, because for you to be an effective communicator, you must always feed your audience with experiences and feelings. Subtleness is always enough.

  1. Shoot the point of interest to establish the scene.
  • Certain shots might be hard to compose, but with a little knowledge of what, who, where, when, why or how the character is moving, the scene can be expressed clearly.


  • In the first scene, the protagonist cuts a wood from a table saw. See how the scene managed to express its 5W1H in just a matter of seconds.

Can you tell what the 5w1h were?

What. What does a carpenter do? Cuts wood and conjoined them to make another piece of wood that would be highly functional for the human race like a toy!

Who. Cutting wood…..ooh! A Carpenter!
Where. Where is he? In his lab..Or Factory!
When. When is it? In the morning..
 Why. Why is he doing this? Later on you’ll know.
How. How is he doing? He’s fine. And yes, later, you will know him.

It is not necessary to include all of the 5Ws and 1H. You could just pick which ones would be the best to show earlier or later in the film. But these might help you compose the shot you want to create.

It has been a habit for filmmakers to establish a scene by thinking only about the “Where”. Sometimes this technique is not enough. Filmmakers should always think of whose story it is and what certain emotions the characters are having.

  1. Express the meaning of the last scene.

Now here’s a serious one.


In this scene, we can see how Ivo, the protagonist, walks on a road and as if he is in a cage of thorns. (Can you find him?)

What meaning could there be?

By being learned of what happened to the Protagonist from the last scene, we can know now how to compose the next shot by showing some symbolical figures we can think of from the last scene that happened.

This is only a theory, but if you want to show how the character has been, you need to put the character in a situation where the character will tell you or show you what he or she has been doing, and this technique of showing symbolical figures can be a great technique to refine.

Explanation and Tip: People are born symbolically inclined. That’s why people create statues or monuments just to remember all the things of the past. We create rituals with signs and figures just to show our beliefs with our religions, I think that is why. Being aware of what influences humanity can be a credible source in making those shots effective.

With that in mind, as an image artist, we can always consider what symbolical gestures might be added to our composition. Sometimes we find ourselves wanting some mystery in our shot composition. But I think we need to feed our audience the proper meaning of what is really happening.

Realize how you feed them with meanings but not reveal them the whole story? Ha! That’s real Cinematography.

  1. Let your audience be in the story.

In this scene, you can see how the place was established under the tangerine tree. A common eye level shot, two of the characters are there and under a tree, a nice experience this is.5.jpg


Then Ivo asks something, he says it in a whispering voice. The scene transition was prepared and answered by a medium shot of Ivo, from the side of Margus.6.jpg


Now you can see here that the picture placed you on that area of conversation. The picture has let you hear what is happening.

Have you ever wondered why First Person Perspective is effective in story telling?

First Person Perspective is effective because you showed a firsthand taste of what is really happening in the film. But always be mindful of the story you want to create. If it is right for your storytelling, then you can go ahead and nail it! But be careful with this technique, you do not want your audience abruptly talk to a character, do you?


After the last scene is this scene. You are beside Ivo, looking on the same view of Margus with a thick branch as your foreground.  A nice taste of where you are.7.jpg

But you are not talking to Margus, you were just there knowing what they were talking about.

Explanation and Tip: Letting the audience be in the story makes them feel obliged to watch your movie, isn’t that nice? But let’s be serious, often times you just need to feed their curiosity by placing them in that situation and let them absorb what is really happening in the film.

  1. Always have a natural element in a scene.

May it be water, fire, or foggy breath of a character because of the cold weather; it has always been an effective filmmaking whenever you put natural elements in a scene.3.jpg4.jpg

These elements are naturally caused by our environment. And letting the audience be in that environment can give a lot of taste to your viewer’s senses, as this makes them feel what the character is feeling. Several Directors know this technique, and the late Director Akira Kurosawa is still famous for this style.


The link below is one of the most helpful tips I have ever seen. 


The video is a compilation of Akira Kurosawa’s way of film making.

  1. Positioning the area of interaction and subject of attention.

In the movie, we can see a lot of photography composition styles that were used to elaborate the story. Leading lines and the rule of thirds can be added to the examples. But the most intriguing composition was when the cinematographer used his foreground as part of the interaction and the subject of attention.


Maximizing Shots with basic composition styles

 Area of Interaction

In this scene, Ivo walks from right to left, inside his factory going to the outside of the door. Ivo looks outside where he heard the explosion, he is in the left looking to his left.

See how the camera stayed in the area of interaction

The interaction,when Ivo(subject) left his factory(object) is just a simple problem with a simple solution. But we tend to forget some guidelines. 

This is just to show how Ivo left his factory, but for storytellers, we must always be refined with all we do, especially in composing a shot. 

Then Ivo walks towards where he heard the explosion. Now as he interacts with the explosion, as he was trying his way to look at it, the picture was composed with Ivo in the right of the rule of thirds. This is to ensure the efficiency of the subject’s interaction. 

In common sense, subjects and objects must face whatever or whoever they interact with in the proper position.

Explanation and Tip: We should always be wary of how our characters interact, we may be tempted to use different techniques and make our technique be our way of art. But we must always be mindful of our audience’s way of seeing things.

If we want to maximize our budget, we should also make our shots full of emotions and meaning, not just jump cut in a second or two. Less is more is also a lesson here.

Subject of Attention

In this scene, Ivo was finished preparing food for the soldiers.


After the scene of Ivo leading the soldiers out of his house, the next scene’s picture was composed with Ivo on the foreground and on the background, the soldiers walk towards their car while having a talk with Ivo.


This technique does not only help you save money with production costs but it also gives you a way of your art. And this was just done by maximizing shot composition techniques.

Here is also another Subject of Attention example, when Ivo was looking for his friend, Margus.

Ivo looks at the jeep with a soldier dead on the stirring wheel then he looks for Margus.


In this scene, we can see how Ivo was placed as a foreground when he delivered his lines. This was when the focus of the camera was still on the dead soldier. And I think, this was intended by the Director.

Explanation and Tip: We should also know how people act when shocked by emotions. When people get shocked, may it be a happy surprise or terrifying shock, they usually stay on that attention, and they will stay with what they were looking for some time until someone get that person’s attention.

These natural habits or gestures that human beings do can be a way of making your storytelling be an effective one.

By knowing your Area of Interaction and Subject of Attention, we can maximize our shot composition.

Communicating is a natural deed of humanity, and natural actions that happen daily can be a very good source of how to deliver your storytelling. This can be related to how writers include the “sigh” of characters when the characters are upset or exasperated in their stories

These 6 tips will definitely remind you how to start your shot composition. This will help you maximize your budget and storytelling.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s