Students' Resources

Film’s "Key"

“in key” - in consonance with other factors
“off key” - not in consonance with other factors

A key is unique. It can only one door - one unique film. What can be said about this film cannot be said about other films. It’s an image, a question, a passion – all at the same time.

Every film has a “key.” If found/formulated correctly, the “key” will “open” all departments: script, cinematography, art direction, music, etc. Then all departments will play “in key," as opposed to “off key” and the film will feel like a whole person: good or bad, attractive or not, but solid, organic, true. “In-Key” filmmaking is finding and trusting the key to create a unique, coherent, organic film.

The Key is more a pitch than a synopsis. When you pitch your project, you want to tell what it is about, but also convey that it will move the audience (not just inform or entertain), so it has to be emotional and passionate as well as well-versed and precise. It also has to demonstrate that you know what you are doing and understand how storytelling works. You know that you have dramatize and embed “issues” in characters and situations. And most importantly it has to be specific and original, since every key is unique.

A private investigator, Jake Gittes, who had quit police after an innocent woman got killed on his watch, gets duped into a murder investigation that leads him to uncover LA water drought conspiracy, murder and incest committed by a powerful tycoon Noah Cross who, despite Jake’s exposing him, still gets away with it all, and whose daughter, Jake’s newly found lover, ironically also gets killed on his watch.
Les Miserables

A rookie Ruiz joins seasoned cops Chris and Gwada, patrolling infamous Montfermeil (setting of Victor Hugo’s legendary novel) to arrest Issa a juvenile delinquent who has stolen a Lion cub from the circus. They get the cub, but hurt resisting Issa with a flash ball. When Issa is taken to the circus to apologize, he is shut in a cage with a lion that further traumatizes him. Next day Issa summons the whole community of teenagers and they attack the squad, pitting Issa against Ruiz with guns in their hands.
Les Miserables

at first we are led to believe that it's about all men being the same, and Bill Murray having reformed wanting the cycle of cheating to stop with his daughter’s husband, but in the end, it turns out to be about aging and loneliness of “fathers,” last pillars of patriarchy, especially when they hadn’t been present in their daughters’ lives much. Sexual politics of the family have changed. Times (watches) have changed or are changing anyway...