Learn from the master of suspense.
Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most professional and interesting directors to have ever worked in film and television. Before every movie, he meticulously shotlisted and storyboarded. He'd work and rework screenplay scenes before and during shooting to make them all precise.
Hitchcock indeed had a method. And it's one that led him to great success. You can follow it too.
Check out this video from The Cinema Cartography, and let's talk after.
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqbURTIM9xg
What Is "The Hitchcock Method" and How Can You Emulate It?
If you watched the video, then you know it takes us through some of the best Hitchcock moments across his films and discusses what made him the original auteur. Unlike any other director, Hitchcock's name became synonymous with one kind of movie—the kind of movie that kept the audience guessing and on the edge of their seats. Hitch was the master of cinema form, technique, structure, and even character archetypes. He just seemed to understand who fits where, and why.
Of course, all of this was done for one reason alone... to challenge and manipulate the audience through an emotional rollercoaster.
More than the storyboarding and preparation, this was the Hitchcock method. Create a story so bold and twisty, and use every technique and trick in the book to make the audience feel each beat along the way.
So how can you follow the method? Well, you need to keep one thing at the front of your mind while writing and directing: the audience.
Like Spielberg and Shyamalan do today, Hitchcock was determined to confront the audience at every turn. He's employing POV shots to draw us in, using techniques like the dolly zoom to make us physically feel like the characters, playing with editing so we feel like we're being stabbed, and even going in for extreme close-ups to insert us in on the action.
These are some of the details that made Hitchcock the quintessential storyteller. But they're things everyone can do if they just plan and rework ideas. Hitch is always inviting the audience to invest and look closer. You can tell that his cinematography invites the audience in and also feels like he's having fun with the camera.
This is the Hitchcock method. It's making a living playing with the audience by using every single tool a filmmaker has in their hands. It's leaning into the narrative explosiveness and building a story whose beats and building blocks make the audience feel something with every turn.
Let us know who you think does this well in contemporary film and also let us know when you think Hitchock did it best. For me, It's always North by Northwest. But I can't wait to hear what you think as well.
Yes, we can emulate it. But aren't we here for surpassing old methods and creating a better ones?
January 11, 2022 at 10:09PM
Good cinema technique is good cinema technique. If you think you're going to just happen upon being better than Hitchcock was, I'm sorry to tell you, but you are self-deluded. And a lot of the crap we see today is evidence that a lot of people feel as you do, unfortunately.
January 14, 2022 at 11:27AM