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The Teasmade's surprising contribution to film techniques and aesthetics

How the teasmade contributes to our understanding of cinematographic technique.
The Teasmade's surprising contribution to film techniques and aesthetics
Photo by Jakob Owens / Unsplash

A rather unexpected reference to the teasmade appears in, ‘Directing: Film Techniques and Aesthetics,’ the brilliant manual for students of film, by Michael Rabiger.

In a chapter with the rather glorious title, 'Dramaturgy Essentials', Rabiger explains that in cinematography, a particularly significant movement in the storyline is known as 'beat'.

Rabinger says that beat is a component part of a dramatic unit. In his words, it is the "heartbeat of drama". It has nothing to do with rhythm, and it be any length - as short as a single action or an exclamation in speech, or as long as an entire sequence of scenes.

Rabinger believes that film students'  directing and editing skills will take a quantum leap forwards when they get to grips with beat and learn how to use it to build a rising action with ever increasing pressure towards a dramatic climax.

He uses the teasmade as a perfect example of 'beat'.

The dramatic beat is not when the current switches on, nor when the water heats up, for these are the pressure-building preliminaries. It comes in [...] at the moment of maximum threat, when the shifting weight of water switches the appliance off.

What's more, the teasmade serves to illustrate the final section of the dramatic unit: the falling action or resolution - that part in which the protagonist enjoys a calm and relaxing cup of tea in bed.

Now that I have seen this explanation, I can't unsee it. In every film, I'm looking for that wonderful teasmade moment!