In our noir short film we explored many aspects of film noir, in both writings and visual style, in an attempt to make a video that portrayed these elements as we have seen them used before. As a genre we did not add anything new but rather put together multiple themes and styles we had seen in other noirs. We might have had too many themes going at one time to really understand what was happening in the story. The main difficulty of the film was how short it was. The theme of corruption and of the femme fatale work best when seen from the beginning and continued throughout a story. It might have been ambitious of us to try to get that into one short film. The main difficulty with making noir is the fact that there is such a debate around what “film noir” is: a genre or a style? We seem to have mainly focused on the style instead of the genre. Because of this, we compiled a lot of different elements of noir when writing, producing, and editing this short film. In this way, there was not a lot of room to make something very unique.
The main element of noir that I saw the use of was voiceovers and flashbacks, which were possibly our strongest and closest connect to noir. Starting the story at one point and jumping back in time is a very noir element and I started to see the difficulties in writing that type of story but also how beneficial it is to capture the tone of a film noir. Breaking up a narrative added suspense and was enough foreshadowing to keep the story interesting. In the article “Noir Narration,” J.P. Telotte writes that “the voice-over, usually introducing and accompanying a flashback to some prior action or event, is often seen as the most characteristic noir narrative strategy” (14). The reason that voiceover and flashback is such an essential part of noir is because one theme is this obsession with the past. Our use of voiceover and flashback was a direct reference to how often we saw this used throughout the films we saw this semester. We used it in such a way that we have seen before but not necessarily as a way of showing the obsession with the past. Our use of voiceover was more just an issue of explaining and setting up our story.
Our lighting in Brian’s apartment scene fit in with the film noir. In the article “Some Visual Motifs of Film Noir,” Janey Place and Lowell Peterson define “the key light” as “the primary source of illumination, directed on the character usually from high and to one side of the camera” and “is generally a hard direct light that produces sharply defined shadows” (66). This is the kind of lighting that we used on Brian when he is sitting on his couch, with the voiceover informing the audience of what he is thinking about. This part of the short film fits well with the dark style we have come to see as essential to film noir.
Overall our short film was a good indicator of what we have learned about noir. Creating the story and film allowed us to look more closely at these elements and figure out ways to make them align and make sense in order to tell a story.