Critical Analysis and Reflection

I have never made a professional short film before, or been on the set of any kind of professional film so this module was a completely new experience for me. I have made short films and documentaries before but these were in no way produced how The Can Man was. I originally applied for the role of director as my first choice but I got my second choice, which was 1st assistant director, after thinking about it this role was much better for me. At first I was disappointed but now after the process has finished I am glad I got 1st AD and would love and apply to do it again.Before any preparations were put in place we needed a solid script, at the beginning we all through around ideas but the one we all agreed on was Ryan Potter’s ‘The Can Man’. The script went through various rewrites and changes, which led to what we have now. To begin with the vast majority of the film was set outside but this had to be adapted due to concerns with the weather conditions in Prague and the health of our cast and crew.

My main duties were to ‘take responsibility for a number of important practicalities so that the director is free to concentrate on the creative process’ (Creativeskillset.org 2016). I needed to be a team leader and motivator, approachable and have exceptional organisational and time-management skills. During the very initial stages in pre-production I was feeling very overwhelmed and slightly out of my comfort zone, I felt I had these characteristics but as I had never done anything like this before and I felt a little nervous. I stuck to my responsibilities and assisted anywhere I could; when we began to get audition tapes in we sat down together and watched them. For the main character Nicolas it was very important we got the right actor for the role, we got a few good actors but as soon as we saw Paul Lincoln’s audition we were all blown away and wanted him as our Nicolas. Unfortunately there was a complication in which he had taken another job, which meant he was unavailable on the 15-17th February, which we had hoped to be filming. As a group we looked at the draft shooting schedule to see if we could still cast Paul and due to not having any location commitments yet this could still go ahead. It just meant I had a shorter time frame in organising when and where we could film. A positive of this was that there was more room to move in the budget.

After finding a few locations for our café scene that were willing to accommodate us I discussed with our director to see if they were in his creative vision. We decided on Atmosferas and after a fair amount of emails back and forth I negotiated a deal that would suit both our budget and their takings. Instead of paying a set amount we had to just purchase food from their menu, I was particularly proud when I received the signed contract as it was the first location set in stone and I felt I had done my role well. Before arriving in Prague we did test shoots to essentially practice how the group dynamics would be on set, these were a massive help as they helped me feel more confident and we all stuck to our roles. This was also to see how we could practically work with the can and string, we worked out that we would need to have someone behind the camera constantly pulling the string. Once in Prague we had a few days at the beginning of our trip before we had scheduled to start filming I wanted to go and view our locations. One of our producers, the director and myself went round the locations we had spoke to just to introduce ourselves and especially with the restaurant scene we needed to confirm terms and draw up a contract.

When filming I had to make sure we stuck to the time frame we were contracted to ensure we didn’t get charged. Often this was difficult as the director wanted to go for another take but we worked together to ensure we kept to time, I was constantly reminding everyone of what time it was and how much time we had left. If this didn’t happen and we ran over we may have not got the shots wanted which could’ve impacted the final film. During shooting hours the group dynamics worked very well together, we all respected each other’s roles and acted accordingly. Sometimes it was difficult to do my role as I made it clear I needed to know where everyone was and/or if they couldn’t make it, sometimes I was the last to find this out, we had a meeting after every day and this was something I brought up and working this way ensured there was no complications moving forward.

I am very happy with how the final film is looking, during screenings of rough edits we received the response we wanted, people found the film comedic and gave good comments about the characters and narrative. Before filming it was difficult for others to visualise what we could all see, now it is a final film others can see what we were seeing and they enjoy it. I have learnt a great deal about short film production while working on The Can Man and I am very proud to be apart of Reverse Faun Productions, we all put in a lot of work and time into creating our final film. I developed professionally in my role which improved my leadership, time-management and problem solving skills. I have learnt about how this aspect of the media industry works and I feel this process has helped my future career in the industry. I am looking forward to continue with this process and hold screenings and see how the film is received. I have thoroughly enjoyed the process from start to finish and look forward to any future projects I will be involved in.

Creativeskillset.org, (2016) First Assistant Director (First AD) | Creative Skillset [online] available from <http://creativeskillset.org/job_roles/2937_first_assistant_director_first_ad&gt; [10 March 2016]

201mc: Exhibition Day

For the exhibition day we had a 30 minute slot to showcase what we had been doing.We wanted to focus strongly on our Salvation Army video and the work that they do in the UK and across the world. During planning the day we decided that Sam, Kennedy and I would speak about how The Salvation Army was founded and also some facts and figures about homelessness in the UK. We were lucky to have arranged for our contact from Harnall Lifehouse to come and talk about the work they do to go alongside the video we produced. We had also sourced a video around the history of The Salvation Army and what they do all around the world. We secured the TV studio as our exhibition space we made it more practical for us to play sound through the audio system which made it more effective. We wanted the space to be as dark as possible so that when the lights were turned onto us individually when we were talking this would look more effective.

When it came to the day itself we didn’t use our time efficiently in terms of setting up quickly so we could have rehearsals. Luckily the day before we were allowed into the studio to put up our black out material and try the lights which helped us in terms of timing on the day. Reflecting on the setting up we should have allowed ourselves enough time to have a practice so that we knew the exact timings and how long things would be. Also I feel there was a lack of communication between the organisers of the day and our group as we were under the impression our starting time was 12pm however audience members were turning up at 11.30am while we were still getting ready so we had to turn them away which made it feel less professional.

Overall our showcase went well, we had a little blip at the start where the music ended before we anticipated which then led to a few minutes of silence as we were waiting for the next piece of sound to play. This was due to how rushed we were and not communicating with Shaun properly as he was helping us out in the gallery of the TV studio. However after this there were no other problems and the rest of the time went smoothly and got a good reaction from the audience. Below is a short video of us setting up and also some of our exhibition.

201mc: External Client Video

The second part of the module was to find an external client and meet their requirements, as a group we discussed possible clients and decided to take a few days to see if we could find anyone. We were very lucky to be approached by a programme co-ordinator from Harnall Lifehouse which is run by The Salvation Army to create a short documentary/promotional video for them. With the life house being in Coventry this made things easier for us logistically and with Sam having volunteered there previously this helped with contacts. We planned the filming day and had a team of five people, which looking back was maybe a bit big however we worked with it and acted professionally.

We learnt from our mistakes from the sports videos and ensured we had the correct forms/permissions etc. We had planned interviews with three people that worked there, a Chaplin, a support worker and a cleaner who is a recovering alcoholic and was willing to talk about how The Salvation Army had helped him personally. Before going to the Lifehouse we planned exactly what we wanted to film and how we were going to set up the interviews and a rough idea of questions, we decided to use 3-point lighting to create an effective and professional look to the interviews.

Filming was a great success, the footage we acquired was good and we were all happy, we all worked together professionally and created a comfortable environment for the interviewees. I feel it is very important when working with people not familiar with cameras, sound equipment, lighting etc. that you make them feel comfortable to open up and speak freely without being intimidated by the environment and I feel we achieved this. We all had clearly defined roles and stuck to them, no one took over our didn’t know what they were doing. Below are pictures from the filming process.

After filming, our editor Sam took the footage and sat down with the client to ensure the final product was going in the direction that they wanted. Upon finishing the final video we got great feedback and the finished product received recognition from the local regional team and the headquarters in London. Hearing this was a great feeling, knowing we had done a good job and they were pleased with the outcomes made me very proud. Reflecting on where we started as a team creating the sports videos we have come a long way in terms of creating a product efficiently and professionally. I feel this project helped me develop professionally in terms of having a clear role in a team and boosted my confidence in working with other people outside of the course.

201mc: Sports Promotional Videos

Unfortunately I had missed the first session of the professional experience module so I was already a little behind with my group. However I soon became up to speed and when we were given our sports we began planning to film and so on. Our first initial deadline was the 16th November and we wanted to get as much footage as we could. Unfortunately our first opportunity for filming the badminton in the end had to be cancelled due to not having the proper disclosure forms whereby we did not have the correct consent from all those being filmed. This gave us a bit of a set back although was a lesson for us moving forward, we had to ensure we had the correct permissions and so on. This task was good in that although it was still a client it was an internal client rather than an external professional client. This process gave us a good insight into how to manage our time and follow the correct procedures in order to become professionals.

Overall the majority of the team worked well together, we delegated who was doing what at what time e.g. we weren’t all there at filming times because this would be too many people and overwhelming for those being filmed also we would get in each others way. For a lot of us we had never worked together before, in my opinion this worked well to develop us professionally as this is how it would be “in the real world”. This was my first insight into working to make a product for a client, I enjoyed having Sam as a leader, he was confident in what we were doing and could be relied upon to be the main point of contact with the client. He is also a very good editor and edited our final videos.

Below are our promotional videos for badminton and cricket.

 

 

Contextualising Short Film Production

A short film can be defined as “a piece of moving image which comprises a mixture of video, animation or stills, can be from ten seconds to twenty minutes long and of any genre but normally has a self contained narrative and is primarily distributed or exhibited through film festivals, art house cinemas or short film websites” (Dawkins and Wynd, 2010). Aspiring filmmakers often use short films as a route into feature filmmaking; they can be funded and distributed in a variety of ways. Due to the ease of accessing media and sharing visual content online it is very easy to find a lot of short films on the Internet.

An example of short film production is ‘Spider’ (2007), directed and co-written by Nash Edgerton. The dark comedy follows Jack and Jill on a car journey, a log line for the film is “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye” – Mum. It was first released by Blue Tongue Films in 2007 and won Best Short Film at the Sydney Film Festival and went on to win many more including a win at Sundance Film Festival. It was distributed by Apparition in the USA and by IndieFlix worldwide both in 2010. In a behind the scenes video Edgerton talks about where his ideas come from “most of the short film ideas that I have come from either reoccurring thoughts or dreams” (Nash Edgerton, Blue Tongue Films, 2014). He says that ‘Spider’ came from a few incidents he had experienced with his family.

With any film you need a good idea and then a good script, without this, the film won’t go far. “A poorly thought out script has little chance of yielding a successful finished product” (Rea and Irving, 2015). Due to the nature of short films you need to have a good narrative in order to capture an audience’s attention in a short period of time. Whether it is a simple idea like Nash Edgerton’s ‘Spider’ or something more complex the audience needs to be able to feel something, “Every successful film, short or long, gives the audience an emotional experience.” (Cowgill, 2005) Taking this into consideration an initial idea becomes a script and then various drafts and re writes will happen before any other aspects of the film can take place. Once you have a solid script in place you can begin to create a budget and funding for the film.

In the UK there are a few ways in which you can apply for funding from organisations such as Creative England or various charities that offer funding which then gives you more of a budget to create a better film and enable you to distribute it further. However this may lead to the companies wanting some changes to the script which may affect the initial idea. Sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter allow users to reach a wide audience and crowd fund for their film in a quick and easy manner and also communicate information about their film easily. ‘The Internet is a tool and, as such, can be employed to whatever extent you wish.’ (Rea and Irving, 2015).

When you have a solid script and a budget, the rest of pre-production can occur, processes such as finding actors, location scouting, hiring/buying equipment, music for the film, storyboarding to create an initial vision for the film and so on. A lot of work goes into this stage and can be quite overwhelming for first time filmmakers, dependant on the complexity of the film the pre-production stage can take a lot of time and complications  may arise which may alter the initial vision for the film. When you have a cast and crew you are happy with, you can begin test shoots which can also highlight any issues that need resolving before shooting the whole film. After you have all these processes in place and a shooting schedule has been written you can begin the production stage, this can be very rewarding dependent on how much work has been put in during pre-production.

The production side of things will have the shortest time period compared to the other stages, with short films there is often only a few days filming. Cartwright states that you should follow the 70-30-10 rule, “we should devote 70% of our time to the pre-production process and 30% to post-production with the remaining 10% (if you work to 110% like I do) devoted to the actual shooting.” (Cartwright 1996) This shows that for your short film to be a success you need to spend the majority of your time planning and ensuring you have everything in place for you to be able to shoot your film. After this has taken place, post-production can begin, the footage acquired on shooting days need to be organised ready to edit. When editing the initial storyboards and scripts should be followed in order to keep the original narrative in place, however some direction may change due to complications on set or last minute changes by the director.

After the edit, you have a film but need to get it out there. With many film festivals they won’t accept submissions if the film is available online for anyone to see, so precautions need to be put in place if you want to go down the film festival route, if not, you can just submit online for the world to see. An electronic press kit (EPK) should be created to go alongside your film which can be submitted to film festivals, it includes all the technical aspects, directors statement, cast and crew bios etc. This is a promotional document for your film and careful consideration should go into designing it.

If the time and effort goes into creating your short film, you have a better chance of gaining success. As previously stated, some filmmakers use short films as a route into feature filmmaking and a successful short can sometimes allow opportunities to arise and open doors to other experiences. Below is the short film I referenced and the behind the scenes video.

 

Blue Tongue Films, (2014) Behind The Scenes Of “Spider” [online] available from <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sh6GIDeus0c&gt; [12 January 2016]

Cartwright, S. (1996) Pre-Production Planning For Video, Film, And Multimedia. Boston: Focal Press

Cowgill, L. (2005) Writing Short Films. Los Angeles, CA: Lone Eagle Pub.

Dawkins, S. and Wynd, I. (2010) Video Production. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan

Rea, P. and Irving, D. (2015) Producing And Directing The Short Film And Video. 5th edn. Focal Press

Spider. (2007) Short Film. Directed by Nash Edgerton[Online] Available from: https://vimeo.com/21037121

 

Short Film Research – Spider

The short film I have chosen to research is Spider (2007), directed and co-written by Nash Edgerton. The 9 minute film follows Jack and Jill in a car journey where Jack is trying to cheer her up by apologising for something he is done that we as an audience don’t see. The very beginning of the film shows a quote “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye”, after pulling into a fuel station where Jill fills the car and Jack goes into the shop to buy her flowers, chocolates and a card with a cute puppy on to try to get her to forgive him. He also buys a fake spider where he hides on the drivers sun visor, along the journey she forgives him and then opens her visor where the spider falls onto her. Jill gets scared and loses control of the car then pulling over closely missing an accident, she gets out of the car and Jack pleads with her that it is fake and throws it at her causing her to jump out in the road which then leads to her being hit by another car. A fade indicates that time has passed and paramedics are now on scene, Jack tries to comfort Jill while she is being cared for. One paramedic is getting an injection ready for Jill when he moves her arm and there is the spider that caused the whole situation in the first place, he jolts and jumps backwards leading the needle directly into Jack’s eye.

I was shown this short film during my first year at university and has been stuck in my mind ever since. It was first released in Australia in 2007 by Blue-Tongue Films and won Best Short Film at the Sydney Film Festival, also won International Shorts Competition Grand Jury Prize at AFI Fest. In 2008 it won awards at Anchorage International Film Festival, Aspen Shortsfest, Flickerfest International Short Film Festival, Indianapolis International Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, San Sebastian Horror and Fantasy Film Festival, St Kilda Short Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival. Then in 2009 the short film won Best Short Film and Best Editing award at the 24FPS International Short Film Festival. It was distributed by Apparition in the USA and by IndieFlix worldwide both in 2010.

The video above has Nash Edgerton talking about where his idea came from and how they did the stunts and some shots. The story has a linear narrative and is very simple, when Edgerton is talking in the behind the scenes video he tell us this idea came from an experience he had with his brother whereby the similar thing happened with a spider native to Australia was in his car and he lost control and went into the traffic however luckily he wasn’t hit. Edgerton acts in the film himself as Jack alongside Mirrah Foulkes who plays Jill and they portray the characters well give a natural feel to the film, as they are the main two characters this helps with the simplicity of the short film.

Final Film

This is our final film for this project, it has come a far way from our initial idea but I think some elements of it still come through. We tried to include aspects from each task throughout the module in our final film, such as using the shadows to depict the action rather than showing the person.

Editing, Walter Murch & his rule of six

“Your film: three lives and two deaths. It is born in your head, it dies on paper; it is brought to life again during shooting, where it is killed on film; and then resurrected in the editing, where it opens up like flowers in water.” Robert Bresson 

Why do you cut?

The cut represents a total and instantaneous replacement of one field of vision with another.

Why does editing work?

In the Blink of an Eye

  • What causes you to blink?
  • The blink is either something that helps an internal separation of the thought to take place, or it is an involuntary reflex accompanying the mental separation that is taking place anyway (2001: 60-62)
  • A Single Man (2009) Tom Ford
  • To cut is to have a new thought in cinema?
  • Not so much putting together, as discovering a path

Attempt to produce the greatest effect in the viewer’s mind with the least amount of things on screen. Try and do the most with the least

Suggestion is always more effective than exposition

Walter Murch & his Rule of Six (In order of importance)

Emotion – a cut that is true to the emotion of the movement

Story – a cut that advances the story

Rhythm – a cut that occurs at a moment that is rhythmically interesting and “right”

Eye-trace – A cut that respects “eye-trace”. The concern with the location and movement of the audiences focus of interest within the frame.

Two-dimensional Plane of Screen – A cut that respects “planarity” -the grammar of three dimensions transposed by photography to two. The questions of stage line, etc.

Three-dimensional Space of Action – A cut that respects the the three-dimensional continuity of the actual space.

Murch, W. (2001 [1995]) In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspec8ve on Edi8ng Film, Beverly Hills: Silman-James Press.

 

Task 9 – Our TV Format

Review your TV programme:

Does the programme you have made work as a TV format (a programme made to a formula that is easy for the audience to follow, easy to produce in bulk and saleable around the world)?

I think Uni-Versus works well as a format, it has a clear structure and is easy for an audience to follow. The show has 3 rounds, the first two rounds can change dependant on what the audience has voted for the two teams to do, one round will always be in studio and one will be an outside challenge and shown as a VT and the final round will always be a quick fire general knowledge quiz. The only difficulty with the rounds changing would be having to think of new and fresh challenges for the contestants to take part in and keep the show exciting.

What makes the programme unique/different/interesting?

The programme is different to others already around because it involves students and lecturers and you don’t see this with any other show. Our show represents students in a way that is accurate for the mass student population. The rounds aren’t all question based and have some activity to them which makes the show more interesting as the audience can choose what challenges they do and this can add comedy to the show.

What elements of the format work particularly well (eg introduction, presentation, contributors, graphics, set, content, audience interaction)?

One element that works well for the show is audience interaction. We have social media pages on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and a website, through these methods audiences can vote for the challenges they want to see, enter competitions and look behind the scenes. As the target audience is students we needed to ensure that we have a good online presence.  Another element of the show that works well is the content, the rounds feature fun and exciting challenges which are fresh and different to whats already out there. The only other show that involves students is University Challenge but this show is very academic based and fairly dated.

What do you think audiences would like and what would get them to watch again and again?

As our target audience is students and their lecturers might irritate them sometimes so the viewer will like to see other students going against their lecturers and will want the students to win. If they vote for a challenge they want to see they are more likely to watch to see if theirs gets chosen. As the challenges are student based and could potential make audiences see lecturers doing silly things this adds comedy to show which makes the show inviting to viewers to watch again and again.

What has not worked so well? How could the format be improved? If money/time were no object what would you do better next time?

I think overall the whole project worked well however a few elements could have been improved on. Firstly, if money/time were no issue I would spend more time working on creating a better set, in the end we just hadSnip20151130_3 a black background, a screen with the logo, yellow and blue lighting and a podium per team with a cut out of a letter (initially we were going to have printed stickers but we didn’t get these). We didn’t have any flooring and in my opinion I think the set looked a little unprofessional, you can see the cables, masking tape and it just looked a bit messy. Also I would change the colour black for a backdrop, it was very overpowering and perhaps a lighter colour would’ve worked better.

I would also spend more time to find contestants or once we found them spend time with them to make them feel comfortable when it came to the filming day. When we were filming the contestants seemed to feel a bit uncomfortable in front of the cameras and this perhaps affected the theme of the show, we hoped there would be some natural comedy but it felt a bit awkward.

Review your personal progress on this module:

How have you developed your editorial (storytelling) skills?

For the radio show my storytelling skills developed because I learnt about the importance of not having any gaps or awkward pauses. I wrote the rough script for The Past is Present and then we came together and finalised the script. I found it hard at first to write for speech radio because I am used to visualising projects but this was hearing it and I wasn’t sure how it would come across, we had to ensure we had all the correct sound effects to make the story work. I enjoyed this process because it was something I had never done before.

The TV show was a little different because we had such a bigger team, in the brain storming sessions we all sat together and gave our own ideas and formed the idea together. As a floor manager my job was to communicate with the presenters the timings of the show, when they could start talking and when to stop, this ensured the smooth running of the show.

What technical skills have you developed and how did you do this?

Over the whole module in both the radio studio and the TV studio I have developed my technical skills. In the radio studio I learnt how to operate the desk, ensure all the mics were on and working and also at the correct levels, at first I was worried about not being able to work it all but with practice I got used to the studio and it became quite easy towards the end.

On the TV project last year I was situated in the gallery so didn’t really learn how the studio worked, so this year as floor manager I learnt how to set everything up in the studio. I learnt how to set up the talk back system so we can communicate between the studio and the gallery. Once everyone knew how to set up their own equipment the set up time decreased.

What helped your overall progress? What have you learnt about yourself as a programme maker?

I enjoyed the whole process of both the radio and TV programmes, it was good to work under a tight time scale. As the producer for the radio show I learnt how to lead the team and also make the voice actors feel comfortable and keep the motivated while we recorded quite a few run throughs of the show. I had never really thought about working in radio but this module has changed my mind, I’ve learnt as a programme maker I can work well with a team to create simple but effective programmes.

Filming day 2 & 3

On the second day of filming we didn’t use the belongings so we could dip in and out during the flashback scene and it look more confusing. We used the slider for a scene where we see our actors hand in front of a girl but he can’t get to her, the camera moves backwards away from the girl with the hand.

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We also filmed the inside scenes the following day where we used only artificial lighting to create a warm orange glow to contrast the cold green outside scenes.

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