Last weekend I saw the movie Black Panther. It was awesome.
Not only was it the most unique and stylized superhero movie I have ever seen, but there were some deeper things going on beneath the surface that I originally didn’t even notice. The director of Black Panther is named Ryan Coogler, and I have major respect for him after watching this video:
[DO NOT WATCH IF YOU DON’T WANT A SCENE FROM BLACK PANTHER SPOILED]
I was blown away by the level of detail Coogler paid attention to in directing this scene. Even before any shot was filmed, he had a 3D-printed scale model of the set on his desk and would plan out the sequence with tiny action figures. In the video he points out the incorporated symbolism of the Pan-African flag in the wardrobes of the main characters, and the idea of illustrating the use of “femininity as a weapon”. I am also a fan of the way he mentions how they subtly incorporated the larger themes of the film into this fight scene, such as “Tradition vs. Innovation”. These details, themes, and symbols may pass by unnoticed to the general audience (including myself), but after seeing them in a new light I believe they heavily strengthen the film as an art piece and Coogler’s status as a great director.
Even though these ideas may not have been solely the creations of the director, this movie has shown me that there is a lot more to directing than simply bringing the script to life. It has inspired me to begin infusing my stories and visuals with meaning. Every prop used and costume worn can have a thematic purpose. Characters’ beliefs and the way they act according to them can echo and enhance the main themes of a piece. This isn’t something I need to do in every shot of every film, but I will definitely remember these techniques for enhancing the story while I continue forward as a filmmaker.
That’s all I wanted to share for now, but if you’ve recently checked the website you will have noticed that the first episode of our podcast is up! I will make a separate blog post about the podcast once I get up at least one more episode, but if you are still reading this, please go check out the first one!