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The Hero Shot
How Gesture Gets Under the Radar
You’ve seen it a million times. It’s call the “hero shot”…
When the production company came by to film my segment for the series Madness & Writers, I learned to do something I’d seen for years. The director, Jamal, told me to look down and to my left. As the camera slowly zoomed in on me, he signaled for me to slowly raise my gaze to look directly into the lens. This is called the “Hero Shot.” And you’ve seen it on every television program, whenever a new character is intro’d.
As I understand behavioral science the act of looking down or to the left indicates a person is retrieving a memory. The act of looking up or to the right indicates someone is inventing a fantasy.
Thus, the Hero Shot suggests the camera’s subject is deep in reflective thought before meeting the camera’s gaze. It makes the subject look smart, thoughtful and noble. Now that you’ve seen it defined here, you’ll see it on program after program. In fact, if you’re waiting for a curtain to open, or for a moderator to call on you, it helps to be looking down and to the left until the moment you’re “on.”
On a similar note, I had my annual physical recently. After the few tests my doctor and I fell into conversation, and he asked about the behavior of men who were asking him for erectile dysfunction meds. Those men break down into two groups. Both evade eye contact as they ask for ED meds. But one distinct group looks down and left. The other group looks up and right. He asked if I knew why.
As per the little I know about neuro-linguistic theory, looking left and down suggests those men are revisiting shameful memories of erectile failure. The other group, by looking up and right, they’re already fantasizing about the future sex they’ll have once they’re medicated. All of this is fascinating.
So next time you’re waiting for your moment in the spotlight, look down and left. As the light hits you, slowly look up and meet it. The effect is amazing.
Another eye position trick I love is when someone cuts her eyes in one direction. Then closes her eyes. Then opens them with her pupils focused in the opposite direction. It always captivates.
Once someone cited a moment in The Bangles’ video Walk Like an Egyptian as the moment that made lead singer Susanna Hoffs a star. This was possibly Bret Ellis who made the observation. Whatever the case, check it out. Specifically, look for moment 2:48 of the video.
My thanks to everyone who came to say hello in Iowa City yesterday. It was a mellow day. The line never got too long, so no one waited an eternity. Right now I’m at O’Hare, waiting for my connecting flight to Kansas City. Big show tonight, sponsored by Rainy Day Books.
In other news, the ticket sales for the book signing in Austin have been so successful that the publisher is asking me to sign only copies of Not Forever. That’s not writ in stone, yet, but I’ll keep you posted. BookPeople is short staffed, so the time window for signing books is tighter than in other cities. I’ll know more soon.