They say that rules are there to be broken. When we talk about means of artistic expression such as storytelling in moving images, this maxim has extra validity; but one of the unwritten rules that should be unbreakable if we want generate emotions at the right time and with the right intensity it is closely related to camera movement.
The statism of therapy
It is perfectly understandable that there is a temptation to make watermarks at the first opportunity when we are surrounded by dollies, tracking shots, steadicams, gimballs and other technology, but the camera should only move, solely and exclusively, when there is a motivation; and this, generally, will be linked to some change in the dramatic dynamics of the scene and the characters.
However, there are always exceptions, and one of the most lucid is found in that television masterpiece entitled ‘The Sopranos’. In her, therapy sessions between Tony and his psychoanalyst, Dr. Melfi, are key moments in which the protagonist evolves through not a few revelations; but showrunner David Chase was clear that, despite this, the camera had to remain immovable.
This is how he explained the decision, closely related to the nature of therapyduring an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
“During therapy scenes, the camera isn’t allowed to move. We wouldn’t do any push-in to anyone’s face while they’re expressing what they really mean. I said, ‘No, that’s not how therapy works. Nobody tells you when it’s going on. becoming important. You force your way through it.’ So no dolly-ins. He also had a rule about overhead shots, but that was a different thing. It was a money thing.”
Through this strategy, Chase enabled us to progressively discover and without any external help or underlining beyond the brilliant dialogue to one of the roundest characters in the history of television.