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Reflections

Reflections

Many different surfaces – everything from windows to puddles – can be used to create reflections that can add an extra dimension to your composition.

In Black Swan (2010), director Darren Aronofsky uses reflections extensively to hint at the duality within his main character. As Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) applies her lipstick in the window of a train carriage, her dark reflection stares ominously back at her.

Director Sam Mendes uses reflections in a similar way in American Beauty (1999). Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is reflected in the screen of his office computer, the columns of a spreadsheet creating the impression of prison bars.

In Season 2 of Breaking Bad, shortly after learning that he is in remission, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) repeatedly punches a paper towel dispenser in the clinic bathroom. His distorted reflection stares back, perhaps hinting at how becoming involved in the methamphetamine trade has changed him. Interestingly, this shot of the paper towel dispenser is repeated in Season 5, perhaps as a visual metaphor of the character’s downward spiral.

Consider how reflections can be used in your scene to help tell the story and create interesting shots.