Fiction


Independent: Depict!

Project Design, Implementation and Evaluation – Criteria 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.1 & 4.2

For this project, I require an external brief so I looked online for film competitions. My tutor told me to look at Depict.org, an online competition where the only restriction was the finished video must be 90 seconds or less. This sounded ideal so I went online to look at the competition and the previous winners to see the sort of standard I would be up against. I read through the brief and it suited this task perfectly so I decided to go for it. This competition was much more feasible than GeneroTV or Mo film projects. The Mo film and GeneroTV briefs were all a lot more specific and complex and in terms of budget, time and available resources I think would have been too difficult to do to a decent standard. Personally I would rather attempt to create a video for the depict competition anyway because I like the idea that you can film anything provided its 90 seconds or less and the video must have been completed after September 2013.

Depict Competition

 

Because the brief states the video can be no longer than 90 seconds, I began to think of things that I could fit in to this time frame. I wanted something that would be simple and easy to film but that shows something interesting and unique at the same time. As I was trying to think of ideas, my brother asked me to help him take some photographs of his car which gave me the idea of creating a short film that shows why people take such pride in their cars. As he was cleaning his car, I got a few shots of him cleaning it and afterwards I asked him to talk about his car and why he loves it so much. I hoped that if I could get some good shots and some decent dialogue then I could create a short documentary style video in a short amount of time. This would be ideal because the filming process would be completed in a matter of a few hours. I wouldn’t have to travel anywhere for filming and as my brother would be the only one in shot, communication and monitoring the filming would be easy without the pressure of trying to direct lots of people or actors.

I used my 600D to film and as I was at home, I had access to all my equipment, lenses, tripods etc. This meant the only problem I had was a flat battery that I was able to replace within minutes. My brother was happy to help me out so didn’t mind me filming him or his car and was more than helpful when I asked him to talk about his passion for cars. I got as many shots as I could to ensure I had enough footage for a decent edit. I wanted the video to feel fluent and natural so I didn’t use a script, instead I just recorded a conversation that me and my brother had about his car and then edited out anything I didn’t want and took the best bits to add over the top of the video. The first time we tried to record the conversation, the camera was picking up a lot of noise from general movement so we tried again but sat still and spoke a bit louder which improved the audio. We finished our conversation when I thought I had enough to add to my video and I packed away all my equipment.

I began to put together an edit while all the shots were fresh in my memory. The first thing I did was get all the visual in place so I could then just drop the audio over the top. Most of the shots I got were good and useable so I put all the best shots together which gave me a 60 second video to work with. I then edited together the best bits of the audio and placed them over the top of the video but the voice recording on their own didn’t sound right so I added a ambient background which greatly improved the edit overall. By the end, I had a minute long video which I thought would be fine for the DepicT! competition as it met all the required criteria, so I uploaded it to the competition (Screenshot below)

Capture depict upload

 

The finished Video:

Evaluation:

I enjoyed this project a lot overall. I really enjoyed having no set restrictions on what you can film and although the time limitation was something to think about, I don’t think it stifled any creativity. It was a relatively easy project to work on in the end, once I had an idea of what I wanted to film the filming and editing process flowed nicely. I like the overall look of the finished video, my only regret is that I didn’t make better use of the audio. I wanted the conversation to flow and sound natural so I didn’t write a script, and whilst the dialogue does sound authentic, I think it lacks substance, I would have liked a bit more in terms of detail about my brother and his feelings towards his car. But this is something I’ll definitely think about in future projects. I think I could have improved the film by recording the audio at a separate time in a more suited environment where the sound quality would be a bit better. I would have also given my brother a list of possible topics to touch upon but not a script, that way I could have more detail on what I wanted to hear but without the pressure of reading a script and it sounding forced.

 

Reflective Learning Journal

Reflective Learning Journal:

For this task we were required to create a reflective learning journal that documents the task of filming from start to finish. I chose to write my RLJ on my Truman Show recreation project, I plan to write a short paragraph of what happened at the end of each day whilst it’s still fresh in memory. The journal should include any difficulties faced from day to day and how you overcame problems, along with a detailed reflection on the finished project. Our tutor recommended looking at Gibbs Reflective Cycle for guidance on how to critically reflect on our videos. Gibbs Cycle on Reflection is pictured below:

Gibbs Cycle of Reflection

Day 1 – Today we were all assigned a classic film scene from well known pictures and given the task of recreating it. I was assigned a scene from the 1998 Peter Weir film, The Truman Show which I was very pleased with because this film is a personal favourite of mine. The scene I would be recreating is the final scene where Truman, our protagonist finally talks with ‘the creator’ character. Shown Below

 

 

We were told that we would be working with the Performing Arts department and would be responsible for everything from pre-production and casting to the final edit. How we filmed our recreation is completely up to us, meaning we could either copy it word for word and shot for shot, or try to add some creative changes in scenario. The only restriction was that we could not change the script in any way. So at the end of the day, I went away to plan what I wanted to do with my recreation.

Day 2:

On day two of this task, the first thing I did was look online and see if there was a script I could download and fortunately there was so I downloaded the script and printed off a few copies for myself, crew and actors.

I realised early on that I wouldn’t be able to recreate the scene shot for shot as the original is shot on a boat in the middle of the ocean. So I set about thinking of alternate scenarios. I read through the script a few times to see if anything came to mind. In the end I decided to film suing a single lightly lit door that could represent the end of the earth as it does in Truman’s world. Fortunately the studio would be the ideal place to film this because lighting can be easily controlled and the black walls would highlight the door nicely. I’m pleased I have an idea in mind because tomorrow we would be talking with the actors and auditioning.

Day 3:

Today we were auditioning the actors for our scenes. And in the morning I realised that I hadn’t actually thought about how many characters I would need and who I’d want because I was concentrating on the story too much. But after I spoke to the performing arts students I decided that I would only need two actors and for the sake of diversity I would try to use one male and one female, the male to play the Truman character and the female to play the role of ‘creator’.

Day 3 Afternoon – After explaining my scene to the actors, I was based in C19 for auditions and I was pleased to have a good turn out of actors. We had a camera set up in the room and asked the students to read through the script as I read the other character. This process went very well and we had the chance to look at the audition tapes again to decide who we wanted. As the actors left I noted their names and phone numbers so I could let them know if I wanted them to come back.  By the time we auditioned all the actors and packed away the camera equipment it was the end of the day so I went home and looked over the tapes myself.

Day 4 –

Today I went through all the tapes again with a few friends to get a second opinion on actors and we all agreed who would suit the role so I looked through the forms the actors had filled out and got the phone numbers of who I wanted. I sent a text to Jordon Gunn who auditioned for the role of Truman and Sinead who auditioned for the Creator role. They both said they’d like to be involved so that was the casting done.

Day 5 –

On day 5 of this project I was having some doubts about the actors I had chosen, not because of them but after I watched the scene again I felt that both characters should be played by male actors, I just thought it suited the characters better. So I spoke to Sinead and told her what I thought, she understood and didn’t mind because she had another project she could work on. So now I had to find another male actor to play the role of the creator and fortunately Jordon’s friend Josh said he would happily work with us, and after he read through the script we were both happy to proceed.

Day 6:

No that I had all the actors I needed; I wanted to decide exactly how to film the scene. So today I looked around the film studio to see if we could film everything we need in there. It would make the entire filming process a lot easier if we could, because we could control lighting easily, the actors and crew wouldn’t have to travel anywhere and logistically, it would be the easiest place to get all our equipment. After looking around, we decided that we could film Jordon’s bit in one corner and Josh’s in another and film simultaneously.

Day 7 (Filming):

Today was the only day that all of the actors were available at the same time so we had to film it all in one day, the day before the deadline. But I managed to get some help from Jon Baines and Tom Wallbanks from the year above who offered to help me out with sound recording and camera operating. I booked out the studio the day before so had all day to set up so I began to set up everything first thing in the morning, giving us plenty of time to film in the afternoon. After we set up everything, I text Jordon and Josh and they arrived in the early afternoon. Setting up everything took longer than I expected so we were already quite pressed for time. But we got straight into it and tried filming the scene simultaneously but I didn’t think this worked well because I could keep track of how everything looked. So I said to concentrate on Jordon’s bit first and then we’d film Josh’s scene separately. I think this worked much better. We lit Jordon’s scene using white lights to try and portray an innocent character who just wanted to escape and to juxtapose this we lit Josh’s scene with red lighting, giving him a sinister, ‘bad guy’ look.

We faced a few technical problems during filming, not enough space on memory cards etc but nothing that wasn’t swiftly dealt with. The main problem we had was with recording, because were recording audio with the Zoom mic, we were picking up a lot of noise from a room crowded with people. So I politely asked everybody except the Jon Baines, who was recording sound, and the actors to leave so we could record without any interruptions. The recording sounded much better and before long we had everything we needed. I thanked everybody involved and began to pack away the equipment.

After packing away everything it was late afternoon but I decided to get on with the edit whilst everything was still fresh in memory and Tom agreed to help me out. We based ourselves in C20 and I got on with labelling the footage and deleting anything we didn’t need. Eventually we had a good EDL and could begin the edit. A couple of hours later I had rough edit in place, I just had to add the audio. When it came to adding the audio, I noticed there was a lot of noise and a slight hiss in the background so Tom helped me to get rid of that by adding effects and denoisers. After we applied these effects to all the audio clips it all sounded much clearer and made the whole edit better. We rendered out the edit and watched it through. There were a few areas that needed slight changes where the audio didn’t quite synch up but that didn’t take long to fix. So we finally had an edit in place but before we exported it and uploaded it, we wanted to get some feedback, so I got a few friends to watch it with me to see what they thought; I also got Jordon and Josh to watch it to see if they were pleased. Everybody who watched it seemed to like it and by this time it was gone 5pm and people had to leave so I exported it and uploaded it before I left.

When I got home I watched the final edit and was really pleased with it. It was a really good day’s work and I was pleased with the outcome.

Critical reflection:

I feel the project went really well overall and I was very pleased with the end result. It was good to work with new people and I definitely made some good contacts who I hope to work with again. It enjoyed experimenting with creative lighting to try and portray character and I think we pulled it off well. We did have a few technical problems as I mentioned but the way everybody dealt with them was great to see. Toward the end of the shoot I think everybody was getting a bit restless and eager to leave so I probably should have had a few short breaks to keep everyone focused but I think I was too in to filming at the time to realise. This is something I’ll definitely keep in mind for future projects, keeping cast and crew motivated and on task makes a big difference to the outcome of the project. Early on in the shoot everybody was working well together and communicating well but as time went on communications broke down which caused delays and problems with filming so I should have dealt with that better but on the whole, I still consider this project a success.

Film and Television Timeline

Film and Television Timeline

This project requires me to produce a timeline showing the progression of film and television. The historical timeline can be submitted as a written piece or as a short video with a voice over. I chose to submit my timeline as a written piece with illustrations so I could clearly structure it in chronological order.

The origin of film began with the persistence of vision. Persistence of vision is a phenomenon of the eye in which an after image, an image that continues to appear after it actually disappears. For example, when you look at the sun or a bright light and continue to see the glow after you look away. This is believed to persist for one twenty-fifth of a second on the human retina. This phenomenon founded the idea of the moving image, it was determined in the early days of film that a frame rate of 16 frames per second allowed the human brain to perceive motion, however motion is still perceive at a frame rate as low as 10 per second, this is well demonstrated by flipbooks which were one of the earliest inventions that showed apparent motion through lots of still pictures.

The first piece of film is widely recognised as Eadweard Muybridge’s galloping horse. In 1872 the governor of California, Leand Stanford hired Mr Muybridge, an English photographer living in San Francisco, to settle a $25,000 wager. Stanford stated that during a horse’s full speed run, the horse takes all four legs off the ground, as this was to difficult to see with the naked eye, Eadweard Muybridge was brought in to photograph a horse. Muybridge set up 25 cameras along a race track, each camera was triggered by a thread that would cause the camera to take a picture as the horse rode by. Upon inspection, Muybridge’s experiment not only proved that the horse does indeed take all four legs off the ground at full speed, but also created the blueprint for the moving image. When all the photographs were shown one after the other, Muybridge noticed that it simulated the illusion of motion, as shown below.

 

 

After Muybridge’s accidental discovery became acknowledged, scientists and inventors began researching and developing single cameras that could continuously shoot instead of multiple cameras capturing single images at a time. By 1897, Thomas Edison had developed the Kinetograph, the first camera to ever use 35mm celluloid film, thought to be inspired by Muybridge’s invention of the zoopraxiscope which is considered to be the first ever film projector.

1902 saw the first science fiction film in history when French director Georges Melies created ‘Le Voyage Dans La Lune’ (‘A Trip to the Moon’), a short silent film inspired by Jules Verne’s novels ‘From Earth to the Moon’ and ‘Around the Moon’. The film features a group of astronauts being launched into space by a bullet-shaped capsule in an attempt to explore the moon. Melies is credited as the first filmmaker to use special effects such as slow motion, sounds effects and explosions, as seen in this iconic piece of film:

 

 

In 1903, Edwin S Porter created ‘The Great Train Robbery’. This iconic film was the first ever to use cross-cutting in editing to show different things happening simultaneously and this made the film much more visually interesting and was therefore a huge success. The film was chosen to be shown at the opening of the first ever Nickelodeon theatre in 1905.

Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov took inspiration from the likes of Edwin S Porter to create another new editing technique that would later be referred to as ‘The Kuleshov effect’. This video demonstrates how we can depict emotion through certain images. The video features a short clip of a man initially showing little emotion; however when the clip is combined with the image of soup, the man appears hungry. The same clip of the man was shown combined with a child in a coffin and again with a posing woman. When the clip was combined with this series of different images, despite the fact that his facial expression does not actually change, different meanings were deduced, thus proving the effectiveness and power of suggestion in film editing. Many other filmmakers have used this technique since and arrived at the same conclusion, hence it is still commonly used in today’s cinema.

1930-1940:

In the 1930’s America was suffering from the great depression period and the films from this decade reflected the hardship that the country was going through. Notable films such as The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland used themes of escapism and fantasy which allowed the audience to experience a sense of relief, away from the current economical crisis. This was also the decade that is sometimes refereed to as Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’. Film’s like ‘The Jazz Singer’ were taking leaps forward in terms of cinema release, with full length, synchronised dialogue that would influence future productions known as ‘the Talkies’ that would all have fully synchronised dialogue throughout, essentially ending the reign of silent movies. This was a hugely important era for film, not just for the industry but for the public too, films were a great way to escape from harsh times in countries affected by World War I and or with damaged economies.

1950-1960:

This decade is now seen as an influential time in film history because this was the time of French New Wave, a bold new form of film making pioneered by French film maker Françis Troufault. This movement came about after Troufault wrote an article about the state of cinema at that time in a French magazine. The aricle, entitled ‘A Certain Tendency in French Cinema’ stated in no uncertain terms that French cinema was dead, lacked creativity and was too scrip lead. Troufault aimed to change things in cinema by filming the exact opposite of what he had criticised. His films had no script, no professional actors, no artificial lights, and no rehearsals and there were no plot-lead stories, thus separating film from any other art forms like stage performances. The most notable film from this era is ‘Breathless’, a 1960 film directed by Jean Luc Goddard about a criminal going on the run after killing a police officer. The techniques that were used in this era are still used in film today, techniques like breaking the fourth wall by looking or talking to the camera can be seen in films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Fight Club.

1960 was the year of arguably the most famous film of all time, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The story follows a female secretary who steals $40,000 from her employer’s client and goes on the run. She checks into a remote motel run by a young man who is controlled by his mother. At the time of release, Psycho really pushed the boundaries of film and what was shown to the audience. The famous scene in which the female character is stabbed in the shower was a shocking, brutal and controversial viewing that was the first of its kind.

1960-1970

1970 saw the introduction of VHS (Video Home System) that allowed people to record live TV from their own homes for the first time ever. This technology also allowed people to buy their favourite films and watch them over and over again. This was game changing for the entire film and television industry, the success of productions could now be measured and enhanced by the release of video tapes.

The 70’s also saw the release of many significant films. The Godfather, The Exorcist, Jaws, Star Wars, Alien, Rocky, Monty Python, Airplane and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are just some of the successful productions that made this decade renowned for new and exciting films for all genres.

The 1980’s continued the rise of Hollywood films. The focus switched from disaster and action movies to teen comedies such as, personal favourites of mine, The Breakfast Club and 16 candles. The films from this decade were influenced by the political and social issues and target audiences.

The 1990’s saw a rise in both independent cinema and studios such as Lions Gate, and the use of CGI technology in films, notably Jurassic Park and Titanic. It also saw a rise in popularity within the home media market, although the introduction of DVDs meant VHS sales dropped dramatically as the DVD was more compact, of better quality and significantly more durable.

In recent years the sales for DVD’s have dropped significantly due to the advancements in technology that allow online streaming of films and TV series through online services like Netflix, NowTV and Amazon Prime.

‘IF’ Competition

Fiction Task 4: Criteria 2.2, 2.3, 3.1 & 3.2

For this task, we were asked to create a short film, lasting no longer than 3 minutes, for the IF competition.

I was in a group with Joey, Vicky, Craig and Pete. We all sat down for a meeting to discuss ideas. After a short discussion we had all agreed on what we wanted to do so Pete went away and produced a script and storyboard. Pete also took charge of acquiring the three actors we needed so everything was in place and ready to film in good time.

The Treatment:

Jess is a young mother. After having a child at around 15, Jess left the father and took the child with her. We find Jess at the start of the film at her kitchen table. She is opening a letter and at the top we read ”notice of eviction.” She turns to Liam and smiles at him as if nothing is wrong. He carries on playing with his toys. short fade to black.

Fade in to a knocking at the door. Jess opens it and a smart man in a suit is standing there. He shows her his identification. He is from Social Services. They sit down at the kitchen table and begin talking. She begins calm but progressively gets more upset and distressed as the conversation continues. She glances at liam throughout the conversation as he still plays with his toys. The man in the suit stands and she starts to panic and reaches for Liam but the Social worker already has him and is turning to leave. Jess starts to shout and anger builds and she follows him out of the door, screaming and grasping for Liam, he reaches back but the social worker continues on. She falls to the floor sobbing. Short fade to black.

Fade in to Jess in an office. The Man opposite hands her a piece of paper. It reads ”Application for housing” and at the bottom is a big red word. Denied. She tears up the paper and leaves the room. Fade to black. Fade in to the exterior of a car. Inside the car we see Jess alone. Filling the car are many black bags, some overflowing with clothes. Jess cracks and bursts into tears. We start to pull back away from the car as she continues to cry. The camera moves back slowly for 20-30 seconds and fades out to black.

The Making Of Documentary – Media & Make Up

Film Editing Criteria 1.1, 1.2,3.1 & 3.2

On 12th March myself, Frankie, Craig,  Andrew, Vicky and Sam were asked to film a ‘making of’ style video for the Media Make-Up Department as they helped out the BSC students with a short, zombie based film. We arrived in the morning and began to shoot straight away. Throughout the day we followed the media make up students as they prepared actors and got them looking the part. In the afternoon we focused more on the behind the scenes action of the BSC students as they shot the film.

The day was a great experience and I enjoyed helping out. It was a useful insight in to how the BSC students shoot their films compared to us and it was nice getting to know some of the Media Make-Up students.

Below is a screenshot of the editing process after I had acquired all the footage we had. There was an issue when Sam’s video footage went missing but we had to just use the footage we already had and stills.

Screen Shot

Here is my final edit of the day:

Donnie Darko – Cinema Scene Analysis

Analysisng a Scene  – Fiction Unit (Criteria 2.1, Directing Unit Criteria 1.1 & 1.2)
This scene from Donnie Darko takes place in a dark cinema populated only by Donnie and his girlfriend Gretchen. There is an immediate feel of isolation and loneliness as the scene starts with a distant shot of Donnie and Gretchen sitting right in the middle of the cinema surrounded by almost life like shadows on the wall, this gives the impression that they are alone and surrounded by an unnatural presence.The camera slowly zooms in to reveal Gretchin has fallen asleep and Donnie is starring forward, but not really watching the film, he seems distant, worried and almost tearful, this emotion adds to the feeling of an uneasy environment. Donnie then slowly turns to his left and begins to smile, telling the audience that he can see something that wasn’t there before. As the camera cuts to a wider shot, Frank is seen sitting next to the sleeping Gretchin. Frank is a character created by Donnie’s subconscious mind, a a frightening looking character dressed in a rabbit suit that speaks Donnie. The camera cuts between close up shots of the Frank and Donnie to capture the emotion and intensity of the scene, but occasionally cutting back to distant shots of them all in the cinema to remind the audience of their isolation.
I also think Gretchen sleeping in the middle between Donnie and Frank acts as a ‘middle ground’ not only between characters but also the worlds they are from – Donnie in real life, Gretchen in her unconscious and Frank from an unreal imagination.
The entire scene is dark, the only light is coming from the screen which highlights the characters nicely as they’re the only people in the cinema. This places emphasis solely on the characters and pushes the background into complete darkness, again denoting isolation in an unnatural setting. I also think setting the scene in a darkened cinema shows how Frank only appears to Donnie in dark places when he is alone.
There isn’t a lot of dialogue between the characters and there are lots of pauses that allow the emotion on Donnie’s face to explain his feelings and thoughts. Frank’s voice is a softly spoken whisper which seems pointless as they’re in an empty cinema but I think this works well to indicate that his words are only for Donnie to hear. At the end of the scene, the camera cuts to a wider shot showing Donnie and Gretchen alone again. This tells the audience that Frank was never actually there and he was just a figment of Donnie’s imagination, but still pushes the idea of loneliness and insecurity.

The Narrative Structure of the Science Fiction Genre

Assessment Task 1 part A – (Fiction Criteria 1.1 & 1.2 and Film Studies Criteria 3.1 )

The purpose of this report is to analyse genre, specifically the science fiction genre. I chose to analyse this genre because I have watched science fiction films in film studies lessons and after group discussions and analysis, I thought this would be interesting to look into further. In this report I will be mainly looking at three films that we watched in film studies, Metropolis, The Day the Earth Stood Still and Blade Runner.  Science fiction in film has been around for decades, the first science fiction dates back to 1902 with George Melies’ silent film ‘La Voyage dans la Lune’, a 17 minute long film which tells the story of astronauts flying a canon propelled space ship to the moon. Man would not walk on the moon until 1969, 67 years after the film was made, so at the time of release this film was extremely futuristic and unrealistic by the standards of that era. And from this point onwards, Sci-Fi would always have similar narratives.

One of the beauties of the science fiction genre is that there is no limit to a narrative. Most sci-fi films are set in the future so it allows the creators to dream up all kinds of technology and inventions and it can still seem realistic because nobody knows how the future will turn out, for instance if you told people in 1902 that ‘La Voyage dans la Lune’ would become a true story in just 67 years nobody would have believed it, but technology evolves at such a pace that anything seems possible and sci-fi is the perfect way to show this.

Firstly, let’s take a look at the 1927 Fritz Lang film Metropolis. The film is set in a futuristic society in which the rich, healthy and powerful citizens live above ground in a mega city surrounded by towering buildings that represent hierarchical significance and economic status. The other side of the story is set underground, where the poor, lower class citizens reside in filth, and live only to serve the people above them by operating the machinery that serves the rich. The theme of this film is associated with Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime along with the fear of totalitarianism, a political system where the lower class members of the public becoming ‘machines’ that exist only to serve the ruling classes precisely what Hitler set out to achieve in world war ii. In the denouement stage of this film, the working class section of society work together to rise up and revolt against the rich and powerful by destroying the machinery that controls the city, which results in a new regime that combines the two, once completely separate worlds.

The Day the Earth Stood Still is a 1951 film directed by Robert Wise and based on Harry Bates’ 1940 short story ‘Farewell to the Master’. This film revolves around an alien life force that comes to earth, accompanied by a huge robot, to warn the planet that if it does not change its ways, it will be destroyed because it is seen as a threat to the rest of the galaxy. The concept behind this film relates to the ‘Reds under the Bed’, a term created by the McCarthyism witch-hunt. McCarthyism comes from US senator Joseph McCarthy, a republican whose regime saw thousands of people accused of communism without any evidence; hence the term is now defined as ‘the practise of making unfair allegations’. Reds is a slang word for communists and ‘under the bed’ relates to how they were allegedly hiding themselves in society, resulting in the paranoia of undercover communism in the USA.

This film was also released in a time when people were still scared of war because World War II was fresh in the memory so the idea of an alien race declaring war on the entire planet was very apt. This film concludes with the alien returning home to a different world, leaving a warning for earth to change its violent ways before its too late, a message that stayed with many people long after the film finished.

The final film I will be looking at is Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner. Blade Runner is set in Los Angeles in the year 2019; Los Angeles has become an overpopulated, dark society that is inhabited by robotic human replicates that live illegally amongst real humans. These androids are banned on earth because they are primarily used for illegal activity so are tracked down by a police-like force known as blade runners, whose job it is to identify and destroy the androids. The theme of Blade Runner is another sci-fi film that reflects the social issues of its time. In the 80’s people were sceptical of hyper capitalist foreign policies that were being introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the USA, this fear combined with corruption of government gave this film an appropriate narrative that allowed viewers to see a real insight of what could happen in the future. Ridley Scott depicted this message through evident homelessness, overpopulation and use of pathetic fallacy, creating a futuristic yet realistic world where the rich and poor are entirely separated, just like in Metropolis.

Science fiction films have developed over the years but the core themes have remained very similar with themes that revolve around alien life, time travel, technology and futuristic inventions. The ‘What If’ factor has kept science fiction fresh, exciting and relevant. Keeping audiences interested and fearful of the future, technology and what might happen. As technology and society evolves, filmmakers will continue to find inspiration for films that will portray real life fears through sci-fi. To conclude, I think it is this that makes sci-fi such an interesting and unique genre, the only genre that allows sometimes ridiculous stories of farfetched scenarios to seem realistic and possible in the not to distant future whilst reflecting the social issues of the era.

What Makes an Auteur an Auteur?

Assessment 1 part B – (Criteria 1.1 & 1.2)

Auteur theory is the notion that a director’s influence on a film reflects a personal creative vision. This theory suggests that a film maker can bring unique qualities and styles to a picture, different from any other, through their own interpretations and ideas. The word auteur is a French word that translates as author and like an author of a book controls the entire ‘feel’ and content of a novel, according to auteur theory; a director has the same control over a film. This theory derived from Francois Truffaut, a well known writer and director from the 1950, Truffaut was heavily involved with the French new wave film movement. In 1954 Francois Truffaut wrote an article for ‘Cahiers du Cinema’ magazine, the point of this article was to protest Hollywood’s critically acclaimed films that received the highest praise. Although they were well made, Truffaut saw these films as simply adaptations of literature with no personal influence or vision to contribute. It was this lack of personal branding that Truffaut and other filmmakers to call for film to legitimise itself as its own respected art form, different to simply watching plays or reading books. “The film of tomorrow will not be directed by civil servants of the camera, but by artists for whom shooting a film constitutes a wonderful and thrilling adventure” this is a quote taken from the article written by Francois Truffaut that sums up his vision for the future of film.

Alfred Hitchcock is noted as an acknowledged auteur with his unique style of horror and thriller films that usually include blonde women, quick cuts and suspense building tension. Steven Spielberg is renowned for his inclusion of a ‘dysfunctional’ family but usually with happy, fairytale endings. Some even argue that Quentin Tarantino is an auteur because of his constant use of drugs, violence and language in his characters. Each of these directors bring a unique style to their films that makes them stand out from others and recognisable as ‘their own’ style.

Although these are some of the most famous and established directors in film history, I believe that there are other directors who create a unique feeling to films that are well on their way to becoming future auteurs in their own right. I believe one of these auteurs in the making is Nicolas Winding Refn, director of ‘Drive’ and more recently ‘Only God Forgives’. I will be looking into why I think he has what it takes be become a successful auteur with his creative techniques and stylish filmmaking.

Although auteur theory was developed in the time of The French New Wave, Nicolas Winding Refn refers to this film movement as ‘the antichrist’ in this quote:

‘I grew up in a cinema family. My parents were brought up on the French New Wave. That was God to them, but to me it was the antichrist, and how better to rebel against your parents than by watching something your mother is going to hate, which were American horror movies. When I saw Texas Chain Saw Massacre, I realized: I don’t want to be a director, I don’t want to be a writer, I don’t want to be a producer, I don’t want to be a photographer, I don’t want to be an editor, I don’t want to be a sound man. I want to be all of them at once. And that film proved that you can do it because that movie is not a normal movie.’

Although Refn is a relatively young director, his most famous film, Drive is a perfect example of why I think his style of filmmaking makes him an auteur. The film is a masterpiece is stylistic visuals and atmosphere. The characters, script, lighting and sound effects make a recipe for brilliant film in my opinion. The main character has next to no dialogue in the opening scene; instead Refn uses music, clever lighting techniques and camera shots that tell a story on their own. A seemingly emotionless and distant main character means the director must rely on something other than dialogue to tell the protagonists story and Refn does this superbly. Refn uses similar techniques’ in his latest film, ‘Only God Forgives’. Although this film has been widely criticised for lack of substance, it oozes and ambient, stylish feel with red lighting, conveying violence, revenge and redemption excellently. This is of course all my own opinion, but I think the stylishness of the film is inarguably a result of Refn’s influence. Both ‘Drive’ and ‘Only God Forgives’ have a distant protagonist with little dialogue, frequent use of music, sudden and surprising violence and by no means a happy ending. All these aspects allow the films story to tell itself, instead of being directly told to you through characters voice or actual footage The main aspect of Refn’s filmmaking that I believe separates him from others is the aesthetics of his films.

 

Below are some stills taken from Drive and Only God Forgives.

 

These images show off Refn’s unique style of violence, tension and lighting.

Similarly, in Only God Forgives, the lighting has promiscuous and violent conations, characters with lack of dialogue and stylish violence – all brilliantly executed by Refn. Each scene tells its own story through means of lighting, positioning, colour and sound.

The techniques used in this film, I now associate with Refn and I look forward to seeing him make his mark on future films in a similar style. I personally prefer the type of film that uses suggestion and other techniques to convey a message or a story, instead of being spoon-fed a story through blatant video and almost patronising speeches explaining the story.

So what does make an auteur an auteur? I think anybody can be an auteur as long as they bring some sort of unique style to the film in one way or another, which is why I believe Nicolas Winding Refn is an auteur in the making, provided he keeps this level of subtlety, atmosphere and artistic style incorporated in his films.

Inspire Film Festival

Fiction Assessment Task 5 – (Criteria: 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1 & 3.2), Editing (Criteria 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.1 & 3.2)

Create a short film for the Inspire Film Festival.

Inspire – Short Film

 

For this project, the class was split into several groups and told to create a short fiction production for entry to the Inspire Film Festival 2013. I was in a group with Richard, Bradley and Sam. The three of us were then told to come up with a short film idea, lasting roughly between 5-10 minutes. To assist our concept, our tutor gave us three key components to integrate into our film – a location, an item and a phrase. It was important to make these three elements valid to our story and not just added for the sake of it. The location, item and phrase must all have a valid contribution to the narrative of the film.

Richard, Bradley, Sam and I went away to have a group discussion and to think about how we were going to proceed. We began by talking about possible storylines for our piece. The conversation and thought process flowed well and soon we had a rough idea of what we wanted our film to be about. After we had all agreed on a general story, we were required to pith our idea to our tutor in order to gain feedback and improve certain areas of the story before we proceeded to the pre production phase. The proposal could have been presented in a number of ways, including paper based documents or a kick starter style video pitch, however we decided to create a short PowerPoint presentation with a paper based hand out. As shown below, our presentation contained pictures of our chosen location, logistics of the shoot and s synopsis of our story.

During our pitch, ourselves and Paul had a critical discussion about our idea which enabled us to make some slight alterations to the story before we started pre-production.

We went away from our video pitch feeling pleased and confident of our idea and immediately proceeded to the pre production phase. Richard drew up the storyboard, release forms for our actors and a script.

After all the necessary paperwork was completed, we began our shoot. The filming process would all take place at Asfordby woods, a small and isolated wooded area. The filming went very well and the actors we selected cooperated very well making it very easy for us to work with them. We originally scheduled to film over two days but due to weather conditions we had to reschedule for the sake of continuity, however the filming was completed very quickly and we were all pleased with the footage we got. Richard took charge of the post production and created an EDL (Click Here to view the Edit Decision List ), shown below and immediately got started on the edit. The video was editing in Adobe Premier Pro CS3 and After Effects CS5.CS5 was used to create a muzzle flash from the, as shown in a screenshot below. Richard editing the video quickly and after a couple of days he had a finished product to show us. I was really pleased with the edit; Richard added some nice effects to the gun to make it recoil and used some colour techniques to make the ‘premonition’ scenes seem dreamlike and separate it from the normal.

 

 

On reflection I feel this production went very well from start to finish. If I were to change anything then I think we could have made a few slight changes to the script, although I thought the general idea of the film was good, I think with perhaps more time we could have had a couple of days finalising the script as a group to give the characters more of a personality, however this would have been difficult with the time we had. I do think Richard deserves extra accolade for his involvement in all stages of production, he took charge of this project very well and directed everybody excellently.

Recreation Scene – The Truman Show

Assessment Task 3 – (Criteria 2.2, 2.3, 3.1 & 3.2)

Create a new version of a classic film scene.

The Truman Show

For this project we were each assigned an iconic scene from a well known film and told to recreate it, using actors from first year performing arts.

I was assigned a personal favourite, the classic scene from The Truman Show in which Truman finally speaks to ‘The Creator’ character after discovering his entire life has been fake and set up for the purpose of a global television show. The scene is an intense and emotional conversation between Truman, a man who has been stuck in a pretend world, created solely for him and the Creator of the show, Cristof, a man who has gained immense success, wealth and fame from creating and controlling the TV show that has trapped Truman for all his life.

I was very pleased with the scene I was told to recreate so I started thinking about the script and how to go about filming the scene straight away. I made up a script I was happy with and drew up a rough story board of how I wanted the scene to go.

Truman Show – Script

This was the script that I gave to the actors, however I told them to say what felt natural and didn’t need to stick to this 100% and I think this gave a real and natural feel to the performance.

I held auditions for the two characters I required. Originally, I selected my favourites as Sinead as the creator character and Jordan Gunn as Truman, however after deliberation I decided both roles would suit male actors so I chose to cast Josh Gallagher to play the role of the creator, Cristof. As I didn’t have access to a TV studio that can be seen from space like in the original, I chose to film my scene in college’s film studio, using very minimalistic set design to concentrate the audience’s attention on the emotional content of the scene. I used close up shots to try and portray the thoughts and feelings of Truman and used a simple set with little colour to detract from Jordan’s performance. For Josh’s scenes, I used a red lighting as I felt this gave a menacing and distant effect to his character, firmly establishing him as ‘the bad guy’. Both the actors played their respective roles well and I was very pleased with their work and professionalism.

Due to numerous problems throughout the pre production phase, including script changes and availability of actors, my shoot had to be on the last day before submission deadline, but with the help of an assembled crew, including sound recording and camera operators we were set up and ready to film in the afternoon. Despite having only a day to film, I was very pleased with the footage I got and was ready to edit the sequence.

The editing went well, I had help from Joey and Tom and after the music was edited and put in place, the afternoon was spent synchronising the audio and finalising the transitions to match the audio, but by 5pm I had a video I was pleased with.

 

 

The finished video was shown to an audience in Melton Theatre and was well received. I have since shown it to a few different people to try and gage an honest reaction. I was pleased with the overall feedback I received but after watching the video myself over and over again I would have made a few changes if I were to do it again. I intentionally made the set simplistic but on reflection, I would have liked to experiment with some different settings and lighting techniques, for instance I have since thought it would have been a good idea to film the scene in the middle of nowhere, in a field perhaps to demonstrate Truman’s loneliness. However I am still very pleased with the use of music, I used the same track that was used in the original film, Father Kolbe’s Preaching. The music suits the emotional tone of the scene and the controlled volume change emphasises the actors’ performance whilst providing a subtle background soundtrack.

Overall I think the filming process and finished video was a complete success. I was pleased with the quality and outcome of the film and I established some good working relationships that I’m sure will be used again in the future.