Our shoot was probably the most challenging one yet, despite having far less shots than our previous films. We went into shooting unprepared, with all of our group on different levels of understanding about the task and none of us with a clear idea of what our film was actually about nor what the finished project would look like.
One of our problems was that we hadn’t really been able to get a proper test shoot. We were well planned out location-wise, and at this point we had a fairly solid structure for how our film would look and the shots we would need, but we left ourselves with little time to get any shots. Here are the ones we got, and as you can tell we also didn’t have enough time to edit them together. This was a problem because it meant we didn’t know if our film was going to work, and if the story line was going to be obvious to others. Because we didn’t have too many shots, if we’d had more time we could’ve shot and edited the entire film for our screen test, and this would’ve allowed us to see how it was actually going to look, and make any last minute changes to our plan if anything didn’t look right.
Something I did manage to do was play around with the footage a bit to try and make it more obvious to the viewers that the flashback scenes were flashbacks. One thing I learnt from the research is that altering the colour can enhance a flashback, so I decided to try giving it a blue tinge. I wanted the colour to be cold and seem drained, to explain that these memories are not happy ones and have left the character emotionally drained and distant. I also wanted to convey the character’s nerves as he waits in the hospital waiting room, so I layered up the same clip played at slightly different times. The effect is unnerving, because the movement is broken up, which is the effect I wanted.
We actually ended up changing most of our shots on the shooting day. Originally, our plan had been the flashback sequence where the character remembers a traumatic experience he had in the hospital, but we were made to realise that our plan didn’t actually fit the brief. Truth be told, even though most people claimed to have understood the brief, I feel like at first we (especially me) missed the main aim of it. This film wasn’t really about the editing, or the clever story line, it was mostly about being very aware of the set-up of each shot to let the mise en scene tell the story for you. We were meant to think carefully about each shot and try to avoid doing anything “just for the sake of it”. When our group did our plan, we talked through all the shots we could use and all the different stories we could tell, but we never really went over each shot and justified it or talked about everything that would be in it. Some we added in just so we had more footage. It was only on the shooting day that we realised this, and so we redid our shot list.
- Super wide – standing outside building in the rain. Standing to one side of the shot and wearing grey, dull clothes to make him seem diminished and irrelevant to the scene. Filmed from the other side of the road to show cars passing in front of the shot. Life is passing by him and he doesn’t feel a part of it.
- Wide shot – empty corridor, no posters, no pictures hanging up, no people. The emptiness of the corridor reflects the lack of feeling that the character has, and the length of the corridor suggests that his days and/or life feel like an eternity, and going through them is tiring for him.
- Wide shot – main character standing in corridor. The corridor is busy with people and not one person pays attention to him, despite the fact he is standing right in the centre. He lets this happen, showing that he is no longer trying to get people to notice him, maybe because it is easier to stay invisible and not have to deal with his problems.
- Close shot – half of the frame is taken up with the main character’s face, in the background you can see people walking past, but they are all out of focus. The camera’s focus is used to create a barrier between the character and the rest of life, to explain how he has separated himself from others.
- Mid shot – main character stands on the stairs on one side of the hand rail. Everybody walks up and down the stairs on the other side. The rail is a physical representation of this divide between him and society. His hand will rest on the rail, suggesting that he is aware this barrier is there and he wants to be able to cross it, but doesn’t have the strength or will to.
Comparing this shot list to our previous one, I feel much happier. Each shot tells it’s own story and has some meaning and reference to the character’s emotion. If I wanted, I might be able to get away with only using one or maybe two of the most potent shots for our opening sequence. This has happened before in other films, for example the opening scene for Somewhere. Just from this single shot, you can tell many things, like the fact the the character’s is wealthy (shown by the car), but their life has become meaningless and is just going round and round like the car on the track. There is a lot the character is dealing with that he doesn’t let people see, much like how the shot only shows a third of the full track. The setting shows isolation, suggesting the character is distant, and repetitive way he circles the track suggests he has a dedicated and probably obsessive attitude. All of this just from a single shot, shows that we most likely won’t need to use all the shots we have collected to make a good opening.