Professional Industry


Protected: Thurrock Film Festival: Critical Reflection

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Protected: Thurrock Film Festival

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Thurrock Pitch

This task requires us to create a pitch for a film competition or festival. Richard, Frank and I decided to pitch our idea in the style of a kickstarter video (shown below). We are aiming to film in March, April and May so we can submit the finished film to Thurrock Film festival by the June 1st deadline.

 

 

As mentioned in the video, my primary roles will be directing and cinematography. This means that I will be responsible for directing the actors on set and lighting our scenes creatively in a way that suits the narrative. I will be working closely with Richard and Frank to ensure that the entire filming process runs smoothly and efficiently.

Professional Industry: Enter the Pitch

Enter the Pitch 2014

The professional industry project requires us to complete a 2 minute video pitch for the Enter the Pitch competition. I entered the competition last year as part of my Directing Unit for the HND. The rules and brief of the competition have not changed from last year so we are required to film a pitch, lasting no longer than 2 minutes for a film that has a biblical reference. The winner of the competition would receive £25,000 to create their pitched film.

As I entered the competition last year, I thought last years attempt would be a good place to start. This was the video that I entered last year:

 

Fortunately, we all got the chance to present our videos to the people running the competition who offered some valuable feedback and suggestions as to how we could improve our pitches for next year.

When I showed my video to Luke, the man running the competition, who said that it was a ‘well directed and nice looking video’ (Luke Walton, 2013) which was nice to hear, but he also said that the story needed unpacking. To begin with, this confused me as I didn’t really understand what he meant, so after the seminar I spoke to him one to one to get some more insight into what he thought. After a short talk with him, he told me that by ‘unpacking’ he meant that the story of the film wasn’t clear from the pitch and although it was a nice looking short video, in order to progress the pitch would have to contain as much information about the story as possible.

The advice I received from Luke was very helpful and something that I plan to improve upon this time.

Capture - Rules

(Enter the Pitch, 2013).

As mentioned, this year’s competition has the exact same brief and rules as last year (pictured above)– create a pitch for a film with a biblical reference. So the first thing I did was conduct some research in to biblical stories that might be of interest to me. As there are hundreds of stories in the bible to choose from I decided to narrow down my search to just the Old Testament because at the seminar, Luke specifically mentioned the old testament for having many stories that he would personally like to see brought to life in a film.

I read through pages and pages of biblical stories and quotes, some of which were obvious and well known, others which I had never heard before. I came across many useful websites, blogs and posts about various religious stories but one of the most useful websites was Pinterest because it gave an easy view of quotes and stories at a glance.

 

Capture - Pinterest

(Pinterest, 2014).

 

To begin with, I planned to re-do the same story as last year and just try to improve the pitch. But because I knew the actor I usually use would be away for when I had to film, this wasn’t feasible. So I looked online for alternate stories and inspiration for an entirely new pitch idea.

Before deciding on a story I liked the sound of, I looked online at the Enter the Pitch website to see the competitions previous winners and finalists to see what stories they used and how they presented their pitches. After looking at the previous winners pitches, I thought that the majority of them were not obscure quotes or little-known stories as I had thought previously, but rather obvious stories that I had heard of before but with a twist. With this in mind, I went through a list of stories and quotes that I had scribbled down and narrowed down my choices.

After much deliberation and researching new quotes, I found a quote that I immediately found interesting ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.’ So I began to think of ideas based around this quote.

I know exactly what I need to improve upon from last years pitch – developing character and explaining the full story as well as possible in the 2 minute restriction.

In order to improve my pitch from last year, the first thing I need to do is develop the main character in order to get an emotional response from the audience. Film consultant Laurie Hutzler offers some great advice on screenwriting on her website www.etbscreenwriting.com and from this website I was able to create a ‘character map’ that would help me to establish and develop a character by answering questions about the character you want to bring to life on screen.

 

scan0002

 

Pictured above is my completed character map for the main character. After completing the character map it has become much easier to plan how I can reveal the main character’s personality to the audience.

The character mapping process has allowed me to make some changes to last years idea that I feel will benefit the brief of the pitch. Instead of filming a trailer, I’ll be using video clips and stills with an accompanying voiceover to explain as much of the story as I can in the 2 minutes. One of the biggest problems last year was not having enough time to tell the full story through a trailer, whereas this year a voiceover will provide a concise explanation of the storyline.

 

The biblical influence: – Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. (Psalm 23:4)

Rough Idea:

The story is based on our main character – Frank

Set in the distant future – mankind is on the brink of developing a system/drug that can revive people after death. The drug has not been tested on humans but has been proved successful on mice and other animals. The afterlife is still a mystery to humans but there are studies that show revived animals have had memories about things that took place in the time after their death.

Frankie, our lonely and reserved character is left alone in a complicated world after his mother dies. Frankie and his mother, whilst both being old fashioned and religious were often forced to commit crimes in order to support one another and they knew what their fate would be in the eyes of God. As his mother was his only family and only reason for living, he decides to do everything he possibly can to bring her back.

When he sees the news about the new drug he decides this is his only hope – although the drug must be introduced to the body system within 24 hours. This means our main character is in a race against time to steal the ‘prototype’ drug.

In order to save his mother, Frankie has to take a leap of faith and kill himself in order to save his mother and himself from the gates of hell. All the time muttering – Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

scan_storyboard

 

Voiceover:

‘The year is 2304 and mankind is on the brink of creating a new drug that can actually revive people from death. Although the drug is untested in humans, we have seen first hand what it has the potential to do. The drug is almost ready to be used by humans and is in the final stages of testing before it is put on the market. The most interesting thing about this drug is that there have been studies that show memory from the time after death – prompting new research in to an ‘afterlife’. The drug consists of two shots – one for a ‘donor’ and one for the deceased. This sends them both in to a deep unconscious – almost dead state before they are both revived.

Our main character Frank is left alone in the world after his mother is killed in the crime wave and anarchy that spreads through the country. Frank’s only chance of saving his mother is to get the ‘prototype’ drug that can revive humans.

Frank and his mother, whilst religious, often had to steal and commit crime just to stay alive. They have accepted their fate in the eyes of god, they know hell awaits them. Frank is able to steal the drug and injects himself and his mother so they are both in the state of almost being dead. It is during this time that Frank learns of the afterlife – He wakes in a dream like state at the gates of hell where he has to save himself and his mother in order to survive.’

The film finishes on a shot of Frank at the gates of hell – uttering the words his mother used to say – ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.’

 

The voiceover process:

Now I have a voiceover written I need to find somebody to read it for me. I would do it myself but my voice wouldn’t suit the tone of the film. I recorded myself doing the voiceover but when I played it back it didn’t sound right – it sounded too high pitch and didn’t have the sinister approach I was after. With this in mind I asked if Jordan would read my voiceover because I remembered him having a good voice from his pitch last year. I printed off the voiceover and gave it to him to read through to see if he would be comfortable reading it out loud. Jordan liked the voiceover and said he would be happy to help me out so I immediately set up a microphone and Mac in a quiet classroom. Pictured below is Jordan reading through the voiceover and myself setting up the recording process on the Mac. Jordan read through the voiceover with ease and in just under an hour’s time, we were done with recording and just had to export the clips ready to edit.

Sourcing music:

As I was listening back to the voiceover recordings and it occurred to me that the voiceover by itself might sound too simple so I thought adding music to the background would be the best way to enhance the audio and set the scene a little better? Sourcing music is always a difficult process because it obviously has to be royalty free but it also has to have a close association to the story or else it sounds wrong and pointless. So I began looking online for royalty free music websites and the first one I came across was Incompetech, which offered a great selection of music that you could filter down in to categories and genres. After I filtered my results to ‘Eerie, horror, intense and suspenseful’ I was provided with a list of royalty free music to browse. A little way down the list I found a piece of music I thought would suit the storyline so I downloaded it to see how it would sound accompanying Jordan’s voiceover. The music I downloaded fitted nicely with the voiceover and story so I began to edit the audio with the music at a lower volume in the background so it didn’t detract from the story telling.

The Edit:

The first thing I did in the editing process was the audio because the images will follow the story told by the voiceover. Because the voiceover was read and recorded well, the editing was easy and didn’t take long to complete. All I had to do was drop the clips on to the timeline and add a DeNoiser effect to take out the slight hum that was in the background – caused by the air conditioning in the room. The next step was to source the images that would accompany the voiceover. At first I tried to search online for royalty free images but websites that offered free images were few and far between. Fortunately, Jon recommended a website that was exactly what I was looking for. CC Searching Engine provided me with a filtering system that would only bring up royalty free images that could be downloaded at no cost. This website provided me with all the images and videos I needed for my edit and I was really pleased with the quality of the images.

The editing process went really well and after a couple of days worth of arranging my sourced images and adding some effects, I had a finished edit that I was happy with. I double checked on the Enter the Pitch website to make sure I was exporting my video in the correct format and the technical information page (screen shot below) confirmed my export settings were correct: 16:9 ratio, 1280×720, 24fps and mp4 format.

Capture - ETP technical

(Enter the Pitch, 2014).

 

Now all I had to do was upload my video to the Enter the Pitch website. Before uploading a video, there is a form to fill out which asks questions about your pitch, such as:

‘Pitch Description’ (200 words)

‘The pitch is set in a dystopian future and follows the story of Frank, our main character whose mother is killed in the rioting that takes place on a daily basis. As Frank’s mother was his only family, he is left completely alone and scared in a world where he is unable to cope. Despite having to steal food to stay alive, Frank’s mother was a religious woman who would often read stories to him to teach him lessons as a child. Medical research has reached new heights and mankind is on the brink of developing a drug that can revive people who have recently died and although it is in final stages of testing for humans, Frank decides that his only hope is to steal the drug to revive his mother. The drug needs to be injected to himself and his mother, which sends them both into a state of limbo before the drug is transfused and both are revived. In a state of limbo, Frank realises that he has entered the afterlife and has to save himself and his mother from hell to return to real life.’

Biblical Connection: Based on the biblical quote – ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.’

Uploading Screenshots:

My Finished Pitch:

 

Critical Evaluation:

Overall, I’m pleased with my pitch. I think I have improved on the storytelling from last year’s entry and this is the thing I wanted to improve upon most. I’m happy with how well the audio turned out, I think the voiceover works really well with the background music and adds to the aesthetic I was trying to portray. If I were to do the pitch again then I would have liked to have more video instead of still images. Whilst I think the images are good and represent the narrative well, I still personally prefer to see original video rather than images as they show the style of what you want the film to look like. But as previously mentioned, filming would have been very difficult because of my actor being away. I didn’t want to risk waiting until he returned as this was only a couple of days before the deadline and I really didn’t want to leave it that late to submit. Next time, I plan to schedule filming days with my actor well in advance so we are able to get filming days in early. This will also give me plenty of time to edit the film.

Feedback:

‘I really liked the finished pitch, it was a good story that was easy to follow with the voice over and images. I would have liked to see more video rather than just images but apart from that I though it was a very good idea and pitched well.’ – Frank Evans

 ‘I liked the story behind the pitch and the voice over worked really well and suited the tone. Could do with more video to bring to life the film’ – Nicholas Petrouis

‘The images complimented the narrative well and the soundtrack and voice over worked well together. Overall, a good pitch that could be improved with more time’  – Fern Abbott

I completely agree with all the feedback I have received  and will use it constructively for next year’s pitch and in all my future projects.

 

Reference List:

Enter the Pitch. (2014). Enter the Pitch – Technical Information. Available: http://www.enterthepitch.com/the-pitch/faqs/#technical. Last accessed 1st Oct 2014.

Kevin Macleod. (No Date). Royalty Free Music. Available: http://incompetech.com/music/. Last accessed 1st Oct 2014.

Pinterest. (2014). Pinterest: Old Testament. Available: http://uk.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=old%20testament&term_meta[]=old|typed&term_meta[]=testament|typed. Last accessed 1st Oct 2014.

ETB Screenwriting. (No Date). Character Map. Available: http://www.etbscreenwriting.com/character-map/. Last accessed 1st Oct 2014.

Bible Gateway. (No Date). Psalm 23:4. Available: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2023:4. Last accessed 1st Oct 2014.