They may not look like much on paper, but the shot lists of Nicolas Winding Refn turn into spectacularly colorful, extremely gorgeous imagery.
When it comes to style, director Nicolas Winding Refn is in a league of his own. His films demonstrate an extreme moodiness, blinding fluorescent color, and biting contrast, something that, interestingly enough, is not only one of his most beloved trademarks, but is also a result of his colorblindness.
Refn is clearly an auteur with more vision than you can shake a stick at, but to really understand his visual sensibilities it might help to break them down, determine what his cinematic choices are, and put them to paper in a shot list. As part of their ongoing video series "Mastering Shot Lists," StudioBinder has done just that in the video below:
Now, Refn doesn't get all of the credit for the visuals in his films; he has worked with talented cinematographers like Natasha Braier on The Neon Demon, Newton Thomas Sigel on Drive, and Larry Smith on Only God Forgives and Bronson. However, Refn certainly has some cinematic trademarks that are very apparent in each one of his films, including extreme angles, tracking shots, and visual symmetry.
So, if you were to look at a shot list for a Nicolas Winding Refn film, which the video playfully does with its analysis of the director's filmic signatures, you'd see many extremes (overhead shots, extreme Dutch/low/high angles, extreme wides), a lot of movement (tracking shots using a dolly/Steadicam, or handheld), and a lot of perfectly sculpted symmetrical framing.
What do you like most about Nicolas Winding Refn's visual style? Let us know down in the comments.