FMP Final Film – “Soulful”

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Presentation & Release – FMP

Audience

I want my film to reach as wide an audience was possible, because the theme of the film is something that I feel like doesn’t belong to one particular demographic. My film is aimed to resonate with those who have experienced/ are experiencing the feeling of being stuck in a rut in life and I feel like almost everybody has experienced this and will be able to relate to it. Because of this, I will release my film onto Vimeo, so I can add it to my portfolio of work that I can show people.

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This is my most professional-looking page and is the place I direct people to when they ask to look at my work, so I want to make sure it’s on there.

I’ll also share the link to my film on my Facebook page.

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On top of this, I’ll share the post I make on my film page onto my personal Facebook, as I have over 200 friends on there, as opposed to the 63 people that follow my film page and I want to make sure my film reaches as far as possible. If enough people like it and maybe even share it, it might reach further than my friends on Facebook and I’ll get new interest over on my Vimeo page.

Film Festivals

This year, I want to start submitting my films into film festivals and what better one to start with than my final film made at college. There are plenty of film festivals going on that welcome both young people and short films, here are a few I found:

Cinemagic Belfast 2017

Cinemagic young filmmaker of the year 2017 competition

KinoFilm Festival

Glasgow Youth Film Festival

Along with these ones I found, I also discovered that BFI have a page specially dedicated to showing young people what festivals are available to enter their films into. This kind of resourse is extremely valuable, as not only can you see what’s on when and where, but it also makes it easy to compare festivals and decide which suit your film best.

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Although none of these festivals are especially big, there’s nothing wrong with starting out small and getting involved with small organisations like this as much as possible means you’re more likely to be noticed.

Presentation

On the 20th of June, my film, along with everyone else’s on the film course, will be shown at a screening event. This event is being organised by my year two group and we had a meeting so we could figure out what we needed to organise and who was going to have what job.

Supplies we’ll need

  • chairs
  • tissues
  • cordial/squash
  • popcorn
  • bowls
  • cups
  • napkins

Invites

  • Matt Burke
  • Satt
  • Rebecca Day
  • Leigh Beavis
  • Dan Hodge
  • James Richardson
  • Chris Ash
  • Governors
  • Allen building tutors
  • New first years
  • Old second years

As there is limited seating o around 120, every film student will only be allowed a maximum of three guests to bring along.

Job Roles

Kit, Ash and Tucker – guiding people to seats

Wilson and Elena – welcoming people at the door

Izzy – Title and credits

Edan – setting up projection stand

Caitlin – creating a playlist\

Kayla and Harry – photography

Chantelle, Jenny and me (who weren’t able to make it to this production meeting) – organising food and drinks

For this screening, every year two has to to a 1-2 minute introduction to their film. For my introduction, i obviously want to mention cinematography, as it’s been such a major factor for me during this project and is what I want to focus on in the future. I’d also maybe like to say a word or two about how I’ve progressed. It just seems right, as this film marks the end of my two years at college and is a sort of showcase of what I’ve learned.

General introduction

“I love cinematography. I love colour and composition and shot types, and the idea that a story can be told entirely through these visuals is so interesting to me. So that was my focus for this film, I wanted to create a film that had very little dialogue but still had a proper narrative and the story was told through the shots instead. I had a lot of fun making it and  hope you enjoy watching it. It’s called soulful.”

The Screening Day, 20th June

Set up for the screening took a good few hours. In order to speed things up, I and a few others helped to put out the chairs and clear the area.


 We set up for an audience of 140 people as that’s how many were on the guest list. This list consisted of friends and family of the course, as well as tutors from other courses, local filmmakers and even the governors at the college, so there was a wide range of people there that night. 

This year, we made the screening a lot more professional, to make if feel more official. Last year some of the audience at the back struggled to see the screen, so this time we asked for the seats to be arranged like they are in the pictures for ease. Also this year, the speeches that the year two’s must make before their films had been given more of a spotlight (literally). We had to stand up on a podium with microphones. Whilst this did feel intimidating at first, it was good experience for the future, as hopefully, it won’t be the last time we present a film to an audience. Film consists of a lot of presentation, whether it’s for a pitch or a release, so it’s important we build up our confidence as early as possible and get used to speaking to an audience. 

In the end, I chose to stick fairly closely to the words I’d written for my introduction. I felt like they nicely encapsulated the essence of my film and they focused the audiences attention towards my cinematography, which is what I wanted. I feel like I spoke professionally and with confidence, although it wasn’t a long introduction. I tried to make sure to appear confident, by looking out into the audience instead of at the ground and keeping my back straight instead of slumping. I wanted to make a good impression on the audience, especially any of the filmmakers watching. 

In general, I’d say the night was a definite success. Everyone had their own role which kept the night running smoothly and the feedback I got from people’s friends and family was all positive, saying they enjoyed the films and the atmosphere in the room.

 

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Project Proposal – FMP

draft 1

Rationale

Before starting this course, I knew so little about  what went into making a film, about all the individual roles and all the layers it has to go through before you get the final product. Throughout my studies, I’ve learned about the rules of composition, how camera settings affect the image and the art of visual storytelling. These are the aspects of film that interested me the most and are ultimately the reasons that I have now chosen cinematography as my discipline and future career. Because of this, I’d like my final major project to be fantasy based, to give me a chance to try some more creative visuals.

Project Concept

For this project, I plan to produce a short fictional film, 3-4 minutes long. Inspired by the theme of identity, I intend for my film to feature a protagonist who has lost sight of the value of human life, but experiences an event that reminds them of it. The main character will be a soul keeper who, growing tired of their job, has stopped seeing the souls as actual human lives.

Because of the fantastical element to my story, a lot of my secondary research will be focused on exploring how others films created surreal magical worlds, so that I can figure out how to successfully portray the souls to the audience through my visuals.

It will also be important to include primary research, and for me this will mostly mean gathering peer feedback on my idea, from its initial stages right up until the script stage, so that I can form my idea into a workable film. The constructive criticism will allow me to see any flaws in my idea and to build on it to make it better.

Evaluation

Every bit of work I do for this project will be recorded on my WordPress site. Each section of the filmmaking process (e.g. research, planning, production) will have its own blog post, which I will be continuously updating as I go. Each update to a post will be dated, allowing me to see my workflow and show how my idea developed over time. Also, at the end of each update, I will reflect on what I have written and this evaluation will show how the film has been changed by the new information.


27th April

draft 2

Rationale

Before starting this course, I knew so little about  what went into making a film, about all the individual roles and all the layers it has to go through before you get the final product. Throughout my studies, I’ve learned about the rules of composition, how camera settings affect the image and the art of visual storytelling. These are the aspects of film that interested me the most and are ultimately the reasons that I have now chosen cinematography as my discipline and future career. Because of this, I’d like my final major project to be fantasy based, to give me a chance to try some more creative visuals.

Project Concept

For this project, I plan to produce a 4 minute fantasy drama, which will tell a story of revitalisation and the value of human life. My film will feature a single protagonist who starts off as very disconnected from the world, but throughout the film reconnects with his emotions and the end of the film shows him with a renewed appreciation for life. The main character will be a soul keeper who, growing tired of his job, has stopped seeing the souls as actual human lives. One day, he drops a soul, destroying it and this mistake forces him to remember the importance of each individual soul.

I’d like to develop my skills as a cinematographer, specifically how to frame an actor within a shot to best compliment their performance. I will be researching dynamic movement in shots, especially ones that involve moving between multiple shot types within a single shot. I will also be focusing on how close shots can convey emotion. It will be important for me to test out the camera techniques I research, so I will spend time working with the Canon 5D on a steadicam to ensure I can control it properly. I will be gathering peer feedback on my idea through it’s development stage, so that I can use the constructive criticism to improve my idea.

Evaluation

Every bit of work I do for this project will be recorded on my WordPress site. Each section of the filmmaking process (e.g. research, planning, production) will have its own blog post, which I will be continuously updating as I go. Each update to a post will be dated, allowing me to see my workflow and show how my idea developed over time. Also, at the end of each update, I will reflect on what I have written and this evaluation will show how the film has been changed by the new information.

Schedule

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Bibliography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Project Diary & Organisation – FMP

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Production Development & Evaluation – FMP

Shooting days, 27th and 28th June

On the call sheet, I gave myself an hour of setting up time. The crew were to arrive at 11:00 and my actor at 12:00. As soon as I arrived at the location, I made a list of things that needed to be changed about the room to make it look more like I wanted it to for the film.

  • Desk to be brought in my garage
  • CRT monitor and computer to be brought up from car and plugged in on desk
  • Exercise bike to be hidden in bedroom
  • Any personal photos need to be taken down
  • All 120 jars need to be filled with water, coloured with food colour and placed in piles around the room.

I had a team of people helping me, however we still overran by almost an hour and a half, which set me back greatly for filming. I think the reason for this was that, when we first started, nobody I had brought onto set were really aware of the scale of a film shoot, even one as small as this. Despite this only being a four minute film, it ended up taking a day and a half to shoot and I had almost

 

 


 

The Edit

At the end of both filming days, the very first thing I did when I got back was upload the rushes to my laptop, as well as my hard drive so I had a backup, then go through and log them all. I kept it all organised and easy to find, because I’ve learnt from previous films that there is nothing worse than turning up to edit and spending more time trying to figure out what each clip was than actually editing.

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As you can see, each folder was kept neat and in a logical place, meaning that I didn’t have to think about where to go if I needed to find a certain piece of footage or sound.

I labelled each shot with: shot number-the take-shot type-short explanation. The shot number correlated with the storyboard I made, so I put that first because it meant I could check the storyboard and then find the accompanying number in the folders, which was a system that worked pretty efficiently.

One problem I had logging the rushes, was having to try and match up the sound clips with the footage. I’d taken the time to clap before each take so I could synch them up, but I hadn’t, for any of the clips, given any indication as to which shot or take we were on. Luckily, I knew roughly which shots I’d recorded sound for and they were till in the same order we’d recorded them, so I was able to match them up eventually, however this has taught me a valuable lesson for future shoots. I need to be specific about what take we’re filming to avoid any confusion in edit and make it more efficient. Luckily, as it was my film, I was editing, however in the future it might be that someone else is brought in to edit my footage and they wont be familiar with the footage like I was, so they’ll need it as clearly labelled as possible. It might be an idea for me to buy a cheap clapper board. Cheap clapper boards might not make the cleanest clap sound, but it would at least mean I could avoid a situation like this again.

Other than this problem, I found my organisation was very helpful and made editing a much more efficient process.

Rough Cut

When I sat down to edit, the first thing I did was create a rough cut with footage only, no sound, which is something I like to do and is just a personal preference of mine. I do this because it gives me less to focus on and means I can get an assembly edit together faster because I have less to think about. It also helps me to get a feel for the flow of the film. When you watch an edit through, even without any sound, you can feel the beats of the edit and you can usually tell when a cut feels wrong. I just work best when it’s visual, it’s the same reason I prefer storyboards and working with cinematography.

7th June 2017

Rough Cut Peer Feedback

After filming on the 27th – 28th, I put together a quick rough cut that could be shown in front of the class.

This session was just a chance for people to show what they’d edited film-wise so far, so that we could get peer feedback early on in the editing process when it’s easier to make changes.

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As well as written feedback, we could also listen to people discuss what they thought of the film.

 

There were some points that appeared multiple times throughout all the feedback for my rough cut, so I feel like these will be the main things I need to address when I go to develop my edit.

Reoccurring Positives 

  • The narrative is clear even though there is no sound yet. This is a comfort to hear, as there is very little dialogue in my film and I was relying on the shots to provide context.
  • The depth of field is very good. As I had a lot of close shots in this, I tried to create as shallow a depth of field as possible to make it more interesting.

Reoccurring Criticism 

  • Some of the shots don’t match up colour-wise. Some of the shots are a bit dark while others are slightly overexposed.
  •  The colours are good but it might be an idea to bring in some contrast, to add some more depth to the shots.
  • People especially picked up on one shot at the beginning, where he’s sat on the sofa. It’s noticeably shakier and brighter than the other shots.
  • Some of the shots are too short, mostly during the beginning of the soul sorting scene. They need to be held for longer to better establish what’s going on.
  • Sound. (clearly, as there is none yet)

Personal Targets Based on Feedback

  1. The first target I’ll set for myself is to fix the colour in my film, as this was the point that came up the most. If I use the three way colour corrector, I can hopefully bring out the colours of the jars, as well as some of the blue tones. I had the whitebalance temp turned up so it was slightly warmer, as there were a lot of  orange and brown colours in my shots, however I agree with the people saying that some more contrast would make the shots look less flat.
  2. My second target is to refine some of my cuts. People commented that the flow of my film was slightly off. I’ll specifically be focusing on the soul sorting scene, as this is one of the most important scenes in terms of context for the film. I need to lengthen some of the shots to make sure it’s clear what’s going on in them.
  3. My third target is to search for music that fits my film well. People complimented my narrative, saying it made sense even without sound, but that music is going to be key in this. I have four distinct emotional changes within my film; the beginning, end and then two in the middle, so I’ll create a folder for each and begin to fill them with music that I think could work.

 

The Full Edit

The first thing I wanted to develop was the music. Like with

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Pre Production & Planning – FMP

Script Writing Process

This project will be the first time I’ve written a script for my film. Although my film has very little dialogue, I didn’t want to rely on only a shooting schedule for filming. The reason for this is that this will also be my first time working with multiple actors, most of whom I am not familiar with. Keeping them in the loop of what’s going on and making sure they know the story well will be very important for this process, as it means that when shooting day arrives, they will have already got to grips with the character and we will be able to begin filming straight away. It also allows me to be very clear on the exact layout of my film, so I can plan my shots properly, how long it is, so I can keep it under 4 minutes and finally, what locations I’ll need, so I can plan ahead on those.

Celtx.com is a fantastic scriptwriting website. It’s layout is easy to navigate and understand, which is good for first time script writers like me. It also automatically lays out your work in the correct manner for a script, with options for all the types on writing you would need.

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This is very helpful, because having it in the proper layout means that the one-page-per-minute rule for scripts applies and the time limit for my film is 4 minutes so I must make sure to keep my script under 4 pages.

Before I started writing, I did a bit of research to find out how other people go about writing scripts with no dialogue, so I could get a bit of inspiration. This research can be found over on my ideas development post.

Draft 1

(A final script will be put at the end as individual images so it can be read through)

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This script is four and a half pages long, so a little over the limit. However, as most of the script is describing action rather than dialogue, I can’t accurately predict exactly how long it’s going to be.

I had this film reviewed so that I could check whether the story makes sense and it flows well. The feedback was mostly positive, with the only main criticism being about the ending, saying that it didn’t feel conclusive and didn’t round off or match the story well.

I had struggled a lot to end this film, as I felt like to fully explain the effect breaking the jar had on my character, I would need a lot longer than the time limit allowed. The ending was supposed to show Joe in a very different location, surrounded by people instead of isolated like he is in his house, to try and hint that he is beginning to appreciate life once again and has started to realise the true scale of his job. The idea of the film is that he has forgotten that when he holds a jar, he holds a person’s entire life in his hands.

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However, I can see why this ending wouldn’t seem right to someone reading the script. It’s very out of place with the rest of the script, especially seeing as it’s only a very short scene. I feel like a scene like that would bee more suited to a longer film, as a sort of follow up to the second half. For now, I’m going to keep the scene in, but I think the next step for me will be to get feedback on it from lots of other people so I can decide whether changing it will be necessary.

The hardest part of writing this script, was the scene where all the flashes of memory from the broken soul jar happen. I could picture exactly what I wanted it to look like, but trying to translate that into a form that fitted the script and also would make sense to my actors was difficult. I came up with two potential ways of writing it. One way was to have it all as one big block of writing and the other was to split the memories up into separate scenes.

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The benefits of writing it this way, are that it reads a lot better, more like a description in a book rather than separate scenes. It makes it a lot easier to picture what it’s going to look like and as someone who works very visually, I think it’s important to conjure up as clear an image as you can with your script, because your actors will be able to see their characters better and you’ll get a better performance out of them. The downsides of writing it like this, is that having large blocks of text can be difficult to read through. I tried to counteract this by spacing my lines out, which I learnt from the screenwriting messageboard I mentioned earlier, however it’s definitely still a lot of writing which some people can find daunting or boring to read through.

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The main benefit of writing it like this is that it will make it easier in the storyboard and shotlist stage of planning. In the other layout, I had only suggested potential flashbacks that could be seen, but laying it out this way forced me to actually come up with specific memories, as well as specifying the reaction Joe has to each of them. However, I feel like when you read it, it makes a lot less sense. Although the memories are very separate from Joe in terms of filming (almost like cutting two films together), it’s al one big scene in the end, so to split them up into separate scenes is wrong.

I’ve decided to lay it out as one block of text instead of separate scenes as it reads a lot better and this is important, as the entire reason I’m writing a script is so that I can give it to the actors to explain the story. I’m keeping hold of the other layout though, so that I can use it during storyboarding.

Draft 2

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The next draft I have done contained the updated memory flash scene and also still had the original ending in, as I wanted to gather more feedback on it before I decide whether to change it or not. Once again, the feedback was almost entirely positive other than the ending and the same comments were made about it not working. Because of this, I’ve decided to write up some alternate ways to end this and ask my peers to vote on which one they think is the best. It’s just a quick way to get the opinion form a lot of different people.

Here are the ideas:

Idea 1: Stick with the original script ending

Idea 2: Have the cafe ending almost the same, but have the last couple shots showing either the teenage daughter or the wife from the flashbacks sit down opposite him, as if he reached out to the family following the emotion o seeing another human’s life flash before his eyes.

Idea 3: Have it end at scene eight, where the memories have just finished and the last thing you see is him sat in complete silence, overcome with emotion and in tears at what he just experienced.

Idea 4: After you see him sat on the floor in shock, have him get up and wander slowly outside, just into the garden or down the road. The idea behind this is that we’ve only ever seen him cooped up in this one place, as if he’s isolated himself from the outside world and this is the start of him appreciating what’s around him again.

Idea 4 is one that I came up with whilst talking to a local script writer. She has written many scripts for short films and it has become her main job, so I asked her if we could meet up to talk about my script and see what she thought or if there were any improvements that could be made, as well as to discuss the ending. We came up with this one, because it seemed like a good way to send the same message as my original idea, whilst also keeping it connected to what had just happened. Unlike my first idea, there is no jump in time, the events are connected and flow one to the other. It’s still an ambiguous ending, but there is more of a connection there. It’s also something I can do in a few simple shots. I might not even have to actually show him walking around outside. Simply showing stepping over the door frame could be enough to send the message I want.

The writer I talked to was also kind enough to leave me some feedback about my script, which gave me some confidence in it making sense and sending the message that I want it to.

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As well as this being my personal favourite, it’s also the idea that was most liked amongst my peers. I had some of my friends and family read the script so they had context, then the possible endings and then I asked them to put a mark next to the idea they liked best.19263927_1596622303701753_1365273942_o

I understand why no one went with idea 2, as it would be very hard to pull off. I’d first off have to make sure that I properly introduced the daughter into the flashbacks so they knew who she was and it might confuse some people as to who the soul actually belonged to.

The third idea is the ending I had whilst the idea was still in my head, I thought it would be effective to have the film end on such an emotional note. But as soon as I started writing the script, I knew that there needed to be some kind of conclusion to it, some kind of change to happen. An important part of storytelling is that you end up in a different place to where you started off and I felt like I hadn’t quite reached that place yet.

I’m happy with the decision to go with idea 4, however I do feel like it might be a slightly weak ending. It relies a lot on the actor to be able to show a lot of emotion with his face so you can see his change in mindset happen. However that will be quite subtle and something that I’m not sure everyone get unless they already knew what the film was about before they watched it.

Here’s the final script

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Locations

As I’m focusing on cinematography for this, the location I film in could make or break this film. When I imagine the place, I always imagine a small, open planned flat, the kind of place you’d expect a 20 year old guy living alone to own. However, the location has to be carefully picked, as I want there to be some aesthetic to the film and a common problem many new filmmakers have is filming against white walls. I learnt this from a video by YouTuber Darius, who made a video called Common Mistakes Beginner Filmmakers Make. This is a video that I ALWAYS refer back to ever since I discovered it, as every point he makes in it is an idea worth taking on board when making a film. I used to think that filing in front of a busy background would make the shot look too cluttered, but I can now see that it actually creates a more interesting image for the audience to look at and provides a depth to it. So when location hunting, the main thing I will be looking for is a place that will give me good backdrops for my shots.

Location #1

The actor that I’ve chosen to play my protagonist actually does live in an apartment on his own and would be willing to let me film in it. The only areas I would need for filming are the hallway door and the main living room, so I asked him to send me some pictures.

hallwaykitchen:open area

Positives about this place:

The living area seems nice and open. Obviously, I don’t know what the room looks like the other way, but from the picture up there, I can see that there will be enough room to be able to move around the actor fairly easily. It also contains a good-sized desk, which is a very needed prop in my film.

The backgrounds of the shots could be very nice if the camera is set up properly. I especially like how the subtle grey of the door stands out from the walls and the colour of the kitchen, as well as how it’s set back from the rest of the room. I talked in my development post about frames within frames and I think the entrance to the kitchen could be a great opportunity for a shot like that.

A final positive about this location is that the actor actually lives there. He’s currently at college, working towards a show that premiers on the 14th June, so he’s very close to the start of performance. Because of this, I have to make sure that I keep my filming on schedule and don’t take up too much of his time. He’s very willing to help out with this film, but I feel like filming here would be helpful for him as he wouldn’t need to travel anywhere.

Negatives:

The main problem that sprung to mind is how I would get all my props and equipment over there and back. It’s fairly far away from where I live and I have a lot of large equipment such as the 5D, slider and tripod, as well as 120 glass jars and an old computer monitor. It could be done, but a lot of time would be taken up with sorting it all out, loading the car up and travelling, which would make the days even longer for me and the rest of the crew who also live far away.

The other problem I have with this place is that it isn’t the right setting for the last scene, where he gets up and walk out. He’s meant to walk out into fresh air, but here, he will instead walk out into what I guess will be a dingy hallway, which would be less effective.

In conclusion, I think that this is a very strong option for a location, the two main positives that stand out are the nice aesthetic and the logistical ease of my actor already living there. However, I will still keep searching for an apartment closer to home, that also maybe has an older and slightly more lived in feel to it and keep this one as a backup.

Location #2

This location is one I got after asking round my friendship group to see if they knew anyone who lived in a small house or apartment that would be willing to let me film. My friend Tucker knew someone who lived in Manchester who was up for it and he sent me across pictures of the flat.

Positives:

It definitely looks like the kind of apartment you’d expect a young adult to live in. It’s quite small and could channel the claustrophobia my protagonist feels in his job.

Tucker, being aware that Manchester is very far away and would be difficult to get to for filming, offered not only to give me and all my equipment and props up a lift up and back, but also said that if the shoot required more than one day, he’d be able to offer a place to stay overnight in Manchester.

Negatives:

Whilst this flat definitely has a busy, lived in feel to it, it just doesn’t have enough character and I feel like this wouldn’t work with the mood of my film. The backgrounds are too plain and wouldn’t be interesting enough.

Manchester is a long way for me, my cast and my crew to travel to. Making them all travel that far would cost a lot because of petrol/train tickets and it’s a big commitment to ask them to make, especially as I’m not able to give them anything in return.

If the apartment was amazing and exactly what I was picturing in my head, I would be able to justify the distance, but as it’s not, I just don’t think it’d be worth the travel.

Location #3

This final place I looked at and I found it because the person who lives there is a friend of my mums.

Positives:

There is only one white wall in the entire house, all the others have very interesting backdrops. I am especially taken by the wall with the stonework in it. As I’m going for a plain desaturated aesthetic for my film, this will fit in perfectly.

It’s very open planned and this would be great for manoeuvring the camera. The majority of my shots are shoulder rig and so I want to able to move around and get lots of different angles.

The massive window provides a solution to a problem I hadn’t even thought of; lighting. Wherever possible, I like to use natural lighting for filming, because nothing can quite recreate the natural warm glow and soft shadows that the sun can do in my opinion. The size of the window means that even on dull days, the rooms lighting is always light and airy and as you can see form the photos, at the right angle it can create some very nice lens flares. Having this window would be great because it would mean I wouldn’t have to bring as much equipment along.

Another big benefit of this place is the location. It’s in the same village as I live and the same area that the rest of my crew live. This would make it a lot easier to transport equipment across, as it could be done in multiple trips if necessary.

Negatives:

One of my only worries about this place is whether it looks too nice a place for someone like Joe to live. It might be harder for the audience to believe that this character feels trapped and disconnected if he appears to be living very comfortably and has a nice view out of the window. This is something I’d have to counteract by trying to make the room seem smaller on camera and to film away from the window as much as possible, so you don’t get to focus on the nice view.

Another problem is that it’s quite far away for my actor to travel. It’s about an hour and 20 minutes by bus, so his days would be completely taken up by travel aswell as filming. As a way of compensation, I feel like i would be best to pay back his travel expenses.

To conclude, I’ve decided that location #3 is my best option, with #1 as a back up. The deciding factors were the character the house had, as well as the space. The main problem I had with both the others is that they were fairly monochrome and ‘new looking’, where as this house is quite quirky. The other two were also a lot further travelwise, which is a problem considering the amount of equipment I’ll have.


 

Starting the shot planning

The very first thing I decided to do for planning my film, was to go through the script and make some notes, whether they were about costumes, props, or any shots that immediately spring to mind. Here is an example page:

pg 1

To make it easier for myself, I colour coded it. I used pink to mark out each separate scene. I did this, thinking about the next step in the process, which is storyboarding. Splitting them up like this makes it a lot easier for my brain to process the film and how it’s set up, so I can picture the scenes individually.

Blue marks any general notes about costumes or set design. I like to think about these because I believe that the key to a good film is in the detail. If you plan a frame right up to where exactly a pen goes or which way a plant pot faces, you create a scene which is subconsciously more aesthetically pleasing for the audience. It’s also good to do this now so I can start to put together a prop list. Organisation is key and trying to keep track of everything in my head isn’t going to work ad will result in some things being forgotten.

The yellow highlights mark any sound effects I will need. Some of the noises such as the bottles rattling and the knock at the door are important to my story and because of this, I’ve decided that recording them as foley after filming and adding them in will be the best option for me. This allows me to have more control over the noise levels so I can decide exactly how prominent I want them to be.

Finally, any unmarked notes are potential shots. when I read through the script, there are scenes where I can picture generally what I want them to look like on screen and writing down little notes like this helps me to start thinking more from the cinematography side of things and create a more exact structure for my film. I noticed as I was going through the script that a lot of the shots I was writing were close and extra close shots. My reasoning for this is something Hitchcock said, “the size of an object in the frame should equal it’s importance in the story in that moment”. In my film, detail is necessary to convey the story, I need to make sure I show things such as the delivery slip, stamps and labels close up because they are important details the audience needs to understand the story.


 

Storyboard

In the past, I haven’t enjoyed using storyboards for planning, as I found them too constraining and preferred instead to work solely from shot lists and experimentation. But as I focus more on cinemtaography, I find planning a film visually is a lot more helpful for me. If I can see the camera angles drawn on paper, it helps me to decide whether two shots work well together, if there needs to be extra shots in there, if there’s going to be any continuity errors and so on. So for this film, I decided to skip the stage of making a shot list and only make a shot list, because the clearer I can picture my film at this stage, the more confident I am that it will be a successful film.

During my testing of shooting longer shots, like the ones from Birdman and Raiders of the Lost Ark, I’d found that splitting up the single shots that move between multiple shots types is a good way to plan them out, so I took this idea on board for shots such as 3 and 26.

shot 3

shot 26

The storyboard also helped me plan my conversation scene between Joe and the delivery driver. This was a shot I had tested during my development stage, so I knew the basic layout of it, but doing a storyboard like this meant I could make sure I hadn’t broken the 180 degree rule.

Something I noticed from the storyboard is that a lot of my shots are potentially going to be too similar. I hadn’t realised how many of the shots were mids of the protagonist and I don’t want the film to look too boring and repetitive. This isn’t so much a problem during the second half of the film, where the pace picks up and the shots become more varied, but it’s definitely apparent in the first half. To combat this, I need to go through and try varying some of my shots. Shot 11 could go from a mid of him reaching into the box, to a close of his hand reaching in and for shot 13, instead of just showing him typing, I could go for a close up on the hands, or maybe a wide shot from behind. It’s important to vary your shot types as much as possible to make it interesting to look at.

To conclude, I’ve discovered from drawing my shots out, that storyboards are incredibly useful for showing you potential problems with your film that you might not have noticed had you only done a shot list. Until I made this, I hadn’t realised how unvaried my shot types were and I was able to correct this early on. It also helped me to plan out my shots that have multiple shot types within them, which are shots that I find harder to explain in words. Whilst I never used to enjoy using storyboards to make my films, I can now appreciate their purpose a lot better.


 

Props

For this film, props will quite important. It’s quite a stylised film, every shot is carefully planned out and framed, so I need every detail to be just right to keep the quality of the film up.

The Delivery Slip

The idea for the film is that you don’t immediately know what the jars are for, you find out slowly through certain shots in the film. The delivery slip is one of the most important shots in the film, because it’s the one that explains that the jars are actually human souls. I had to make sure I made it clear he was signing off for souls, whilst also making it look like a genuine delivery slip.

delivery slip

This is what I ended up making. I like how this turned out, because it looks authentic, some people thought I’d just put printed out a general delivery note. Also, I made the font for “80 souls, human” different from the rest of it and made it larger, to make it stand out as much as possible. I think I should film him signing it very close up and at an angle, so that the content description is in the foreground of the shot and his hand signing is in the background, out of focus. By using a shallow depth of focus, it’ll be drawing attention to the writing as much as physically possible.

Also, the delivery address “Styx Lane, Asphodel Fields” references the Greek myths that inspired this film, how souls pass over the River Styx to the afterlife. It’s not something that a lot of people will pick up on and it might not even be visible in the shot, I mostly just did it for my own amusement and because I feel there’s no point skipping on details.

 

The Souls

When I originally planned the soul jars, I’d decided to use jam jars from my mum’s empty jar collection. I asked around my friendship group and it seemed almost every family hoarded empty jam jars like my family do and were willing to lend me them to use. I was aiming for about 100 and with everyone owning at least 20, I could easily get thatamount. However, the downside to using second hand jars, is that they’re never completely clean and they’ll all be different shapes and sizes. After spending so long trying to make it seem like an official job, the a delivery man and an official delivery slip, it seemed wrong to have the jars themselves look homemade.

I decided to bring some uniformity to the shape of the jars, because it seemed only right that a massive soul sorting company would spend the money on official jars. Ideally, I wanted apothecary shaped bottles, because they looked more fantastical and range, but they were far too expensive.Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 16.59.07

Instead, I’ve opted for using jam jars like I originally planned, but I’m bulk buying them, so they’re all the same size and shape. I found 120 for £60, which was far cheaper than the apothecary bottle. Here’s what the souls will look like

soul jar

I like how against a window, the colour really pops, almost as if it’s glowing. I can use the large window at my location to get the same effect with the jars.

  • CRT monitor. wanted an old monitor to show that he’d been doing it for a while and also to show that he hadn’t cared enough to update his equipment for work. doesn’t take much pride in it. Finding a working one was difficult. got one from someone in the village. tested out filming the screen, opted for simply putting a still image in (link to test post)

 

Call Sheets

The days were long and the location was quite hard to find for someone who isn’t from round there, so I felt a call sheet was needed to make the days more efficient. They’re a good way to get all the cast and crew organised in one go and it stops people asking about finishing time, when lunch is, how much we have left to do etc. because it’s all on the call sheet.

The call sheet for day one was fairly simple. As you can see, the crew have been called an hour earlier to allow time to set up, so when the actor arrives we can jump straight into filming. The contacts on there are always neccessary and were useful for this, as my actor was travelling by bus and we needed to know when he was going to get here and which bus stop he was getting off at.

call sheet day 1

The call sheet for day two was more of a necessity than day one, as i have two shoots going on at separate locations, one to film the flashbacks and one to film the outdoor scenes with Lewis, and I needed to be organised and work to time limits.

call sheet day 2

I found these call sheets to be such a help. It was handy to have everyone’s numbers in one place. Lewis was able to get in contact with me on the bus to tell me it was going to be 10 minutes late and one of my actors for the the flashback scenes could contact me to tell me her meeting overran and she’d be half an hour late.

They were also the only proper shooting schedule I had for the days. In retrospect, I wish I’d created a more in depth shooting schedule, rather than just using the ones on the call sheets. They were only meant to be there so the actors knew the general running for the day, but I’d decided that they’d be enough to work from. However, I think I would’ve benefitted from planning out my shots with estimations for how long it would take to film each scene. This would’ve given me deadlines to work to. Instead, I just kind of worked through it shot my shot and it meant I overran by about an hour and a half.

Preproduction Evaluation – 19th June

Now that the project has finished, I can look and back judge how useful my planning and preproduction was for my film.

I am pleased with the amount of planning that went into my film. For my last couple of films, I did very little planning and struggled a lot because of it, so this time round I went into it determined to create an extensive plan. Having a script was definitely a key part  in successful planning, because it boosted to quality of my story board and gave me a very clear view of how my film would plan out visually. The detail I put into my storyboard meant that I was sure the shots would cut together smoothly.

The only problem I found with my pre-preproduction when it came to filming was that I hadn’t planned my time effectively enough. I ran over time on both days by about an hour and I feel this was due to me not having a proper shooting schedule. Whilst I knew what order I was filming my scenes in because of my call sheets, I feel I should have taken the time to roughly estimate how long everything would take to film, then I would have had a better idea of how long my shooting days would have been. It’s taught me a valuable lesson which I can take into future projects, that whatever you’re planning during your preproduction, always factor time into it. Timing is a challenging part of filmmaking and is something that needs to be planned out just as much as your locations or storyboards.

Despite this, I am overall very happy with this area of work, I feel like the amount I did provided me with a solid base for my film shoot and edit. Spending time on details such as props upped my production value which shows in the film and the structure of my film felt safer than it has done in previous films. Usually I go into films with only 70% of the film planned and I improvise the rest, but this time I made sure to have everything locked down.

 

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Pitch & Feedback – FMP

As part of this project, we had to pitch our FMP idea to film producer Rebecca Day. In my pitch, I focused on the influences for my idea, what it would look like and who my audience was. I created a simple powerpoint to accompany my pitch and because I wanted to avoid spending the entire pitch reading off the powerpoint and also wanted to show what the visuals for my film were going to be, I avoided using any words in it and instead used the slides to put screengrabs from some influential movies, as well as showing who my actor would be.

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 09.56.06

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 09.56.20

The first thing I did was introduce my character and gave a little backstory to him, so there was some context. Context is good to know for this film, because the film jumps right into the middle of his life.

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 09.56.28Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 09.56.37

The next thing I did was to explain the colour side of the cinematography, by talking about these screen shots taken from Walter Mitty and The Lobster. I mentioned the desaturated nature of them and how I wanted to use colour to explain my characters emotions.

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 09.56.59

My final slide were

Here is the feedback I received from my pitch

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 9.21.04 AM

The main point they picked up on that needed work was that I hadn’t mentioned much about the logistics of filming: where my locations were, how long I’d be filming for and what equipment I’d need etc. If you were pitching an idea to a potential backer of your film, I can see why it would be necessary to include this kind of information. Having everything planned out can ground the project and prove to them that you’ve thought everything through and are ready to film. You’re essentially showing them evidence that the film is possible and will be successful, meaning they’ll be more likely to back you. It’s also important for me personally to start planning now for the same reason. At the moment, I have an idea, but in order to do my idea justice, I need to have a solid foundation of planning and testing under it to make sure I am well prepared.

Following this feedback, my next course of action will be to read over my research and development I’ve done and find sections that could do with some testing to back them up. One of my main research points has been moving shots, so I should definitely focus on that for my camera tests. As well as testing, I will aim to finalise my script as soon as possible, because once I’ve done that I’ll be able to start location hunting and once I’ve found a location, I’ll have a better idea of what my shots will look like.

 

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