Mo Film


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.

 

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:

Critical Evaluation – Mo Film

Evaluation – Assessment Task 4 (Criteria 3.1 & 3.2)

Critically evaluate the success of the completed project and critically analyse audience responses and feedback.

To be honest, I don’t think the video went as well as it could have. The last minute cancellations caused some issues, as did not having the correct lighting, however I think the main problem was the story of the video. I didn’t think the narrative was clear enough and some of the shots did not work. Although I still like the general idea of the story I think we should have added a bit more detail and a few extra shots to make sure the audience was aware of the situation. As it is, I don’t the video makes much sense. It wasn’t all bad; some of the shots work well and gave a nice cinematic look and even though we didn’t have much time, everybody involved tried their best and contributed well. Overall, I think I should have put more thought in to the narrative and just added some simple shots that would have made the story clearer. For numerous reasons including actor availability and other ongoing projects, the filming process was left until very late, which left us no time at all for a contingency or additional shots that could have added to the video. Although I wasn’t fully pleased with the outcome of the video, I did enjoy the project and will definitely keep an eye out for similar future projects to be a part of, having learned many valuable lessons from this experience. This project also taught me how difficult arranging a shoot is by yourself. Trying to organize the actors, equipment, locations, lighting and camera proved extremely difficult by myself so in the future I will definitely make sure I have a good team of people to help me out. I think that the final video would have been much better in all areas if I had people to help me. I showed the video to friends and family and asked for some honest feedback and the overall reaction was similar across the board, that although it looked aesthetically nice, it also looked rushed in areas and could have been improved with more planning. These comments were well received because I completely agree with everything people said, so I will definitely be looking at improving these aspects in my next project.

Pre-Production – Mo Film

Assessment Task 2 – Conduct Pre-Production (Criteria 2.1)

After me and Frankie decided to work together on the Mo Film project, the first thing we did was sit down together an listen to the song. I already had a vague idea in mind for the video so I asked Frankie what he thought and he liked the idea so we chose to try and develop the idea. As Frankie joined late on we both agreed that I would direct the project and he would assist me. This made sense because I already had a rough idea of the production process as I had been planning it before he joined. I would be in charge of acquiring the actors, locations and equipment and Frankie would be in charge of setting up and lighting the scenes. After a long discussion we had an idea of what we wanted to film. We wanted to tell the story of a regretful break-up between a couple because we felt the lyrics fit nicely with this idea and suited the music. We wanted a very simplistic video that would be heavily relying on our actors performance to portray their feelings, this was especially important because our setting would be an almost pitch black environment (the film studio) with a projector playing old movies of the couple. We wanted the videos being projected to represent his joyful memories of the relationship, yet also symbolise his regret that he let it slip through his fingers.  This was also a viable option because it would mean needing only two actors, a male and a female character, a setting that we already had access to and very little in the way of props. . By the time we decided on an idea we were both happy with, we only had a week until the deadline and our main actor was only available on the day before deadline, we toyed with the idea of replacing the character somehow but we didn’t think it would make much sense so we stuck with the idea and just hoped the filming went smoothly. We sat down together and quickly drew up a shot list and storyboards so we at least had a rough idea of shots to follow. Pictured below is the rough storyboard and shot list that we drew up.

shot list and storyboard mo film

 

The main character would be played by  a friend of mine, Evan Larke, who I had worked with before so knew i could rely on him to deliver the performance I wanted. A few days before the shoot I got him to sign a actor release form which is shown below along with the same form signed by our female character, Lottie Wright.

Mo film release forms

On the day of filming I sent a message to Frankie asking him to meet me at the studio a few hours before our actors arrived so we had plenty of time to set up all the equipment and lighting. Below is a screenshot of the messages between myself and Frankie.

mo film texts

Pictured below is a schedule that we set up for the filming day to ensure we kept to a strict deadline, this was especially important with the deadline being early the next day.

 

Capture - Schedule

 

Hurtwood Competition

Assessment Task 3 – (Criteria 2.2)

‘As Director, assemble a crew and conduct production and post-production processes in accordance with the original proposal and in relation to the terms and conditions of the brief.

You can either create a production for MO film or the Europass Viral Video Competition. Additionally, to show that you can edit a dialouge scene you are also to produce/reproduce a 1 minute dialouge scene from a script you have devised or adapted’.

Mo Film:

For this task we were told to make a music video as part of the Mo Film – Hurtwood competition for Hudson Taylor. Hudson Taylor is a folk duo with an upcoming EP, Osea. There were two songs to choose from, the first song was called ‘Called On’ and the second was ‘Beautiful Mistake’. I chose to do the second song because I preferred the song and I would have more time to plan the video as it had a later deadline.

To begin with, I was working with Frankie on a separate project for Europass, but after we discussed time restraints we decided to work together on the Mo Film project. We sat down together to listen to the song, read through the lyrics and discuss ideas. After a few hours, we decided on a rough idea.

The lyrics:

 

Heavy footsteps in my boots, will I be the one you choose?

I keep chasing hope away, too proud to try and make a change

If I had the chance I’d throw the words right back and turn it all around, I wouldn’t let you down.

I don’t want us to break in to a beautiful mistake.

All the confidence I lacked, you gave it back in just 2 weeks.

I don’t want to be your ghost anymore always digging up the past.

If I had the chance I’d throw the words right back and turn it all around, I wouldn’t let you down.

I don’t want us to break in to a beautiful mistake.

Waiting for the moment when we can make this right, waiting for the moment of forgiveness in your eyes.

Waiting for the moment when we can make this right, waiting for the moment of forgiveness in your eyes, waiting for the moment, waiting for the moment, waiting for the moment, waiting for the moment.

If I had the chance I’d throw the words right back and turn it all around, I wouldn’t let you down.

I don’t want us to break in to a beautiful mistake.

We read through the lyrics and decided our story should revolve around a couple that have recently broken up; we felt the lyrics of the song dictated a story of a recently broken up relationship.

Our Idea:

I video concept was based around a male character trying to win back a lost love by reminding her of the good times they had together. Although this sounds very basic, we felt that if we shot it well and used the right techniques, we could make it look good. We used stock footage along with some shots we filmed from other projects to project on to the screen in the studio, which provided a nice dark atmosphere to match the mood of the video. We used the film studio as our location because of its darkness that would contrast the light beams of the projector. The juxtaposition of light and dark represented the male characters dark and lonely life outside of the relationship.

The video starts with the main character walking in to the studio and playing the song ‘Beautiful Mistake’ on a stereo. As the music plays, he begins to reminisce. Old footage of the two of them is projected on to the screen as he sits and thinks about all the good times they shared. Although it is not shown, we tried to get across the message that somewhere, something went wrong in the relationship that caused the two of them to break up. For the old footage, I added some colour effects, a slightly lower frame rate and a grainy effect to give a ‘super 8’ type vibe to the old footage (Shown Below). I like the effect on this because it gave an old fashioned feel to the video and reinforced the fact that he was looking at old footage that has become a distant memory. As the video plays, the main character gets upset as he remembers how goo he used to have it. But as the old videos near their end, the female character walks in to the studio and sits beside him, a subtle sign of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Capture - Mo film effects

 

Filming:

On the day of filming we were faced with a number of problems. The filming team was supposed to consist of myself, Frankie and Joey. However half way through the day, Joey told us he couldn’t make it. This left us without a cinematographer/ cameraman/camera. Fortunately, I still had my camera in my car from a project the previous day, so we at least had a camera. The lens on my camera was only a standard lens f.1.8 which I knew wouldn’t be suitable for a low light scenario like the studio. I asked if the Zeiss lenses were free and, luckily for us, they were. So we used a 50mm f/1.4 Zeiss lens which was much, much better especially as the only lights we had access to were 2 par cans and 2 Fresnel’s. As our actor wasn’t available until 6pm, we had a short amount of time to get the shots we needed. Having been able to book out the studio until 7.30pm, we had roughly an hours worth of filming time, giving us enough time to pack away equipment. Our actor arrived late due to prior arrangements so we didn’t have long at all to set up and film, but we got as much as we could before we had to pack away and leave. We filmed for around an hour and then tried to leave; only to find out we’d been locked in. We wandered around for roughly an hour and contemplated a window escape but eventually we were found because we set off the college alarms. The deadline for the competition was midnight the next day so I began to assemble the edit that night when I got home. I went through the footage clip by clip and we due to time restraints, we didn’t have all the footage I would have liked. But I used as much I could to fill the required two and a half minutes.

The Finished Video

 

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.

Enter the Pitch

Editing Criteria 2.1, 2.2 & 2.3, 3.1 & 3.2

Enter the Pitch is a competition where film makers can pitch an idea for a short film through creating a short trailer. The chosen trailer will then be given a sum of money to turn the pitch into a short film with the help of top quality help from industry professionals.

The short film had to last no longer than two minutes and have a biblical influence. This could be from a biblical passage, one of the ten commandments or anything found in the bible. After reading up on the rules I went away to look for a quote from the bible that could influence my pitch. The first thing i did was research bible quotes on the computer and after searching through pages and pages I found a quote that I liked. Although I looked at hundreds of quotes, the one I chose was simply ‘An eye for an eye’. After I decided this was the quote I was going to use, I went away and researched real life stories of revenge to get inspiration.  A few days later I had come up with a rough idea of the kind of story I wanted, I then discussed my idea with Joey and Evan, who I was working with, and together we altered, improved and finalised the story. We also decided on costumes, equipment, props and locations.

Costume wise, we wanted the character to look as ordinary as possible to not draw any attention away from the storyline so I asked Evan to dress in basic, one colour clothes.

Equipment list: 550D x 2, Joey’s 1.4 50mm lens, Giotto Tripod, 4 x Canon batteries, Camera mounted Light.

The only things we had to account for in a budget were petrol costs and food for the evening which all came to around £30 total.

The Script:

‘So, there it was. The 15 minutes that rendered my life pointless.

Everything I lived for and the only good things I had in my entire life now gone, taken from me by him. My mum had been knocked around by that son of a bitch for years. She never admitted it but she didn’t have to.

I knew what happened. He knew he could get away with it. I should have been there. I’m not a religious guy but an eye for an eye seems only fair.

I knew exactly what I was going to do.’

This was just an idea as to the kind of thing I wanted but after Evan read it out loud, it sounded good so we all agreed to stick with this as the voice over.

As the story was to be told by narration, the first thing we did was record Evan’s audio using Joey’s Zoom mic, we recorded in the sound booth to make sure we got the best quality sound possible. The recording went well but I still thought it wouldn’t be enough on it’s own so later that night I set about recording some music to accompany the narration. After all the audio was ready, I edited the audio and had that in place so we could just film the footage to match.

Locations: For the locations we decided to shoot the majority in and around Melton. As we were shooting at night time we would need as much light as possible so well lit areas were a must. We needed a park/wooded area, a car park, an alleyway and a busy main road so al these locations could be found around Melton. We also planned to shoot an an abandoned house a few miles outside of Melton, but when we got there it was too dark and we decided not to use this shot in the final edit anyway.

The Schedule:

There wasn’t much of a definitive schedule as such, we planned to meet at 8.30 in the evening and then film until we had everything we needed. Myself and Joey would spend the afternoon at college going over any final changes or alterations to the shot list and then hang around until we met Evan at around 8.30pm.

Although it meant traveling around a bit more, I decided to shoot all the shots in chronological order. I prefer to work this way so we know exactly where we are in the story line and to ensure we don’t miss anything. We filmed until just after 2.30am, by this time we had all the footage we needed and I was very pleased with the evenings work.

At the end of night we all reviewed the footage and all agreed it was a very successful night of filming. And with the audio already in place, the only thing to do was go home and edit the film ready for submission the next day. After hours of filming I had a finished product that I was happy with, I sent a copy to Joey and Evan to make sure they were also pleased with it and as they were, I submitted the video accompanied with the necessary entry form. Below are some stills taken from the night of filming:

 

The Edit:

I began the edit of this video as soon as I got home from the shoot. By this time it was gone 3am but I wanted to at least get started whilst all the shots were fresh in my memory. So the first thing I did was take all the footage and put it on my laptop. This took quite a while as there was a lot of footage but eventually all the files transferred and I was ready to begin. As pictured below, there were over 40 video clips to begin with so the first thing I did was go through all the footage and label them with a short title describing what they were, for example ‘car close up’ and for clips that I was already sure I would use i would add ‘_good’, such as ‘Evan driving_good’. Some of the clips were too dark and unusable so they were deleted straight away but I put all the other clips into a new file and then added a sub folder for the best clips entitled ‘Best’ (as pictured below), Apple Mac’s have a colour coding system which would have been better to use but as I was working on my laptop this was my only option. After all the files were labelled I imported them all in to  Premiere Pro so i could start an initial assembly of the clips and put them in chronological order, I like to work this way so I can get the storyline established ready to improve later. Pictured below is how my timeline looked after I had a rough draft of the story, but this was too long so I began to cut down the clips, cut some out all together and add some effects where I thought appropriate.

 

Critical Review on the Role of a Director

Assessment Task 1 (Criteria 1.1 & 1.2)

You are required to produce a critical review of the role of the director.

Critical Review on the Role of a Director

The role and responsibilities of a director greatly vary and differ depending on the production and personal intent of the director. In some productions, the director is responsible for planning and creating a film from start to finish, including sourcing locations, actors and overall artistic style, this usually occurs in lower budget independent films appose to big Hollywood feature length productions, these types of film usually have a separate department responsible for each area. Other directors take a more casual approach and simply overlook the filming process and ensure the film is being produced according to a plan. Either way, the role of a director is essentially to be in charge of the film and to get the best possible result out of every strand of the film. The director has final say so on decisions and responsibility ultimately lies with them. Most directors are hired to work on a film so they can input their own creative vision in to the script along with creating a feel for the film by using personal judgement to decide, shot selections, pacing and other technical aspects. The director will be in direct contact with most of the production team, from the runners to lighting and sound engineers.

I think the most important role of a director is to make a film visually unique. A personal favourite director of mine is Nicolas Winding Refn, director of Drive and Only God Forgives. Refn uses his personal perception and interpretation to give his films a visually artistic and intense feel in a way that only he can do. He creates a certain atmosphere in his films through lighting, sound effects and directing actors to portray characters in a specific way. It is common for directors to have an assistant or team that he or she usually works with, in Refn’s case he likes to work with actor and friend Ryan Gosling, who starred in his films Drive and Only God Forgives, playing a similar, silent yet deep character in both films. Once a director has worked with an actor, assistant or producer and achieved success, it is often found that they will continue to work together in future projects to try and imitate the success.

Whilst a director is responsible for the overall filmmaking, in some cases a director also takes responsibility for the budget and logistics side of the production, although they might have separate people in charge of finance, once again the final responsibility still lays with the director or in some cases the producer. After the filming process has finished, a director is still actively involved in the editing and post production side of the production. In a lot of cases, the director will sit in and work closely with the editor of a film to ensure his or her vision for the film is realised and shown on screen. The director has the most involvement in a production because they are present from the pre-production stages, all the way through to the final stages of post production. Directors-chair-006

To be a successful director, you have to have certain traits. If you aren’t confident to talk to all members of the production team then the overall process will not run smoothly. People need to have direction and be told what to do so that everybody is working towards the same concept. A successful director must have a style in mind for all aspects of the film, not just the cinematography. The lighting, sound, script, setting and editing must all flow fluently and look as though it is all in sync with each other, once again the director is responsible for sewing all these aspects in to a finished piece.

Directing is a difficult field to be a part of. It is very difficult to gain recognition. The vast majority of directors started off in a different aspect of film, ranging from script writers to runners, the likes of Martin Scorses and Steven Speilberg have previously been greatly involved with the script, screenplay and directing of their respective films. Goodfellas, for example, was directed by Scorses, he is also credited with the screenplay. Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange was written and directed by Kubrick himself; this allows the director to have total control of the project from the very beginning of the concept. In order to in recognition for directing skills, I think any involvement with film is positive so even being a runner for small productions is a great place to start, but by filming personal projects in free time allows the public to see the kind of work you can produce and with ever growing online presence and competitions it is easier than ever to get a personal project seen online by people in high places. I believe that if you have a unique vision and style to filmmaking, your talent will be recognised provided you produce enough material, I think directing is very much a case of quality over quantity, meaning that you can produce hundreds of short films that are mediocre and forgettable and get nowhere, but one short film that is presented well can be enough to grab somebody’s attention and lead to more opportunities. It is nonetheless a very competitive and challenging path.

To conclude, directors are often referred to as the ‘captain of the ship’, this sums up their role well. With the right characteristics, provided a director can handle the immense responsibility of creating a film, directing is a great way to portray a personal vision or interpretation of a story and I think directing is the only position that allows you to take full control over the film.

Criteria 1.1 & 1.2