Film Studies: Task 2

The Edge

Assessment Task 2 – (Criteria 1.1 3.1 & 3.2)

‘Macbeth’ Trailer – Provoking a Response: The Signification of Technical Codes.

The Edge

For this project we were asked by Level 3 Performing Arts to make a cinematic trailer for their forthcoming production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. We would be working closely with Jon Holmes and the Performing Arts students for this assignment so we decided to work as one group to put our knowledge of film codes and conventions to practical use over a two day shoot. To begin with, we had a group discussion to decide locations, style and the general look we would be going for in the trailer and after a few days of brainstorming, we were all happy with what we were aiming for, a eerie and atmospheric tone to portray one of Shakespeare’s darkest works. The trailer was to last only 90 – 120 seconds and in that time we wanted to use experimental film techniques that we had previously learnt in film studies.

We chose to film the trailer in the college’s boiler room which is located by our classroom. The boiler room is downstairs and underground so the lack of natural light was perfect for the mood we were going for and being placed by our class room was very useful for securely storing equipment and allowing people to take breaks when needed. The boiler room, pictured below, is a dark, dusty and metallic looking location which made for an ideal scene when combined with our choice of lighting, two 350w lights and one 650w key light. The room provided us with fantastic looking shadows and gave off an atmospheric feel which showed up nicely on camera.  The majority of the trailer was filmed using the Canon 7D and the Carl Zeiss lenses which gave brilliant detail and depth of field for close ups of the actors and actresses and provided a great professional filmic look. We also used my 550D for some of the other shots. Whilst some of the group were filming and setting up in one section of the boiler room, some of us went to explore and see if we could pick up any interesting looking shots that could contribute. Frankie, Joey and I as well as a few others came across a doll and some other interesting items and decided to try and pick up some filler shots using the glide track, my camera and the light from an iPhone, these shots came out very nicely and fitted well with the other pieces of film. Throughout the day we all worked together and everybody helped out with the filming, lighting, music and communication with other students. After two hectic days of solid filming, we had collected enough footage for our edit so proceeded to pack away the set which, again was made easier by everybody working well together. After a collaborative effort on the edit, we were all pleased with the footage we acquired. The location mixed with the lighting, costumes, make up and performance of the students made for a very professional looking finished product that we were all delighted with. We used a collection of different editing techniques, including colour effects, focus pulls and clever transitions to create the surreal and almost disturbing look we set out to achieve.


Jon Holmes comments on ‘The Edge’:

HND students and Level 3 Acting students have been working collaboratively to create a short promo for the forthcoming, self-devised Acting Performance of Macbeth, called ‘The Edge’.

The shoot was a short, but very intensive day; in very hostile working conditions in a Bolier Room. The performers not only had to adapt to the conditions, but also stay focused on character and theme when called upon. As with all shoots of this type and quality, there were numerous takes needed from varying angles. Each set-up or shot would take 30 mins to an hour to compose and light, which required focus and dedication from the actors to produce when called upon; not one of them found wanting.

Additionally, the film was shot on Film Standard Prime lenses. This gives the promo that “filmic” look, but also gave the performers another, added restriction to their performances, namely: shallow depth of field. On all shots, the performers had little or no room for error having to work within a very confined focal range of 5 – 10 mm, which meant that the students had to hit their ‘Marks’, or they wouldn’t be in focus. This calls upon multi-stranded concentration –   using physical memory and procedure – whilst staying true to the core of their characters and physical performance.

The HND Moving Image students worked very hard to not only preserve the inherent themes of the brief/adaptation through the aesthetic of the piece, but also to work within very tight and filthy conditions. This was a real test to not only light a shot for aesthetic, but also to work with limited power requirements and space. Again, like the actors, all students were very professional in their approach and produced very professional results in a relatively short space of time.

Moving Image students commented on the fact that this was only made possible by working effectively and positively as a team across both the other moving image students and the actors alike. They said that the focus and the commitment of the actors made the project possible and without the performers’ dedication to the shoot and to the process of filming, it wouldn’t have worked.