Left or Right? Directing Lateral Movement in Film

by Lubomir Kocka (Savannah College of Art and Design)

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Professor Lubomir Kocka is a consummate filmmaker and an exceptional educator. In “Left or Right” he clearly communicates how and why compelling visual storytelling can be achieved through camera movement and direction as well as the frame composition. I believe both students of film and veteran filmmakers will find this book to be an essential tool for conveying captivating visual narrative.

Peter Weishar
Professor, Director of Themed Experience
University of Central Florida


There are very few rules in film. The “Left to right” or often called the “180 degree” rule is one of the few that has survived through generations of filmmakers. It’s used to help orient the viewer in the film space and give a spatial relationship to the character and the importance of their positions. Though, even in the case of this rule, great directors like John Ford and Sam Peckinpah have broken it successfully many times.
In his extremely complex book, Lubomir Kocka, director and film pedagogue, is not interested in this or any other rules or what he calls “regularities”. He goes much deeper into reading the left and right sides of the film image and the other visual narratives, but unlike many film textbooks, his approach is not mechanical. He provokes our curiosity and makes us collaborators in his unwavering pursuit. In this book, Kocka does not stop only at filmmaking but draws in the entire spectrum of creativity.
As a director who has been making feature films for fifty years, and as a professor who has educated many generations of future directors, screenwriters and producers at various universities around the world, I can safely say that I will highly recommend this book to my colleagues and those who are on their way to embark on a professional life in film.
Unique, interesting and well-composed book full of rare multidisciplinary knowledge.

Rajko Grlic
Film Director
Eminent Scholar in Film, Ohio University

‘Left or Right? Directing Lateral Movement in Film’ offers an in-depth analysis of film, television, and new media directing from a perspective of clearly articulated directorial concept linked to the placement and movement of performers in shot design. This book strives to demonstrate the mechanism of directional bias and how the effects of perceptual mechanisms can help film directors and image-makers to control, regulate, and modify the viewer’s perception of characters and story movement, ultimately leading to higher quality creations.

This highly hands-on, practical book provides novel insights into the significance of laterality effects, equipping film directors, and image-makers who want to create aesthetically valuable and well-crafted visual products with functional tools to employ. The book also examines lateral organization in regard to biological sex, gender identity, class, races, ethnicity, religions, and age in LGBTQ+ films and porn cinema.

‘Left or Right? Directing Lateral Movement in Film’ holds broad appeal from experiences directors or cinematographers with an established body of work to students working to understand the language of cinema. It will also appeal to film and media theorists, as well as teachers of visual arts education.

PREFACE
PROLOGUE
LUBOMIR KOCKA: TOWARDS A CONSCIOUS LATERALITY by PETER RELIC
GENESIS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

PART I
CHAPTER 1: GLOSSARY
CHAPTER 2: RULES
CHAPTER 3: SYMMETRY AND ASYMMETRY OF THE UNIVERSE
CHAPTER 4: FILM DIRECTOR
CHAPTER 5: CONSCIOUS OR UNCONSCIOUS
CHAPTER 6: FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE LATERAL PREFERENCES
CHAPTER 7: RESEARCH PROJECT

PART II
CHAPTER 8: PROTAGONIST VS. ANTAGONIST
CHAPTER 9: DOMINANT VS. SUBMISSIVE
CHAPTER 10: SYMPATHETIC VS. UNSYMPATHETIC CHARACTERS
CHAPTER 11: DIRECTIONALITY OF MOVEMENT
CHAPTER 12: PURSUING AND ACHIEVING GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
CHAPTER 13: RETURNING HOME
CHAPTER 14: HISTORY OF THE STORY
CHAPTER 15: FUTURE OF THE STORY
CHAPTER 16: CHARACTER CONTEMPLATES THE PAST
CHAPTER 17: CHARACTER CONTEMPLATES THE FUTURE
CHAPTER 18: CULTURAL DISCOURSE AND BIDIRECTIONALITY
CHAPTER 19: LATERAL DIRECTIONALITY AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE

PART III
CHAPTER 20: PORN CINEMA
CHAPTER 21: LGBTQ+ CINEMA
CHAPTER 22: DIRECTIONAL CONCEPT OF LATERALITY AND STEREOTYPES IN FILM AND TV

EPILOGUE
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX

Lubomir Kocka has held the position of Professor of Film and Television at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) since 2002 and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Film and Television from the College of Muse and Dramatic Arts, Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. A native of Slovakia, Kocka is an award-winning director of nine feature films, seven TV series and miniseries, and over a dozen television dramas. His feature films include ‘Fallacies of Our Traditional Morale’ (1989) and ‘Aphrodite’ (1993), and the film ‘The Lunch Box’ he produced was the winner in the Narrative category for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 37th Annual Student Academy Awards in 2010. Kocka has previously published on the subject of film, television and new media directing in his innovative book ‘Directing the Narrative and Shot Design: The Art and Craft of Directing’ (Vernon Press, 2018).

Film shot, Film frame, Shot design, Film composition, Visual Narrative, Visual Storytelling, Blocking, Staging, Laterality, Directionality, Directional concept of laterality, directionality along the horizontal axis, Screen Direction, Lateral movement, Lateral camera movement, Directional preference, Directional bias, Directional Rightward Bias, Directional Leftward Bias, Onscreen placement of the character, Side preferences, Lateral bias, Lateral preference, Left visual field bias, Right visual field bias, Attentional orientation bias, Implicit directional bias, Attentional interest, Laterality pattern, Spatial attention orientation, Leftward spatial attentional bias, Lateral-time paradigm, Left to right movement, Right to left movement

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