Film poem – planning

The poem

What I don’t understand

I don’t understand why children are afraid of the dark.

Why my sadness is magnified as I sit on the swings of a park.

And I don’t understand why cold fingers feel as if they’re on fire,

Or why the people who don’t notice us,

Happen to be the ones we admire.

I don’t understand why some of us spend our time hating,

Spend our time hurting, wishing and waiting.

There are an abundance of things I don’t understand in the world,

But that only makes me love it all the more.

– Mary Ann Brooks

We chose this poem because, visually, there’s a lot going on in it, and we decided fairly early on that we were going to use video clips rather than putting the words on the screen, because during research we discovered films such as All the Way were far more effective than ones like Give by Sound of Rum. If you use imagery like they do in ‘All the Way’, it’s easier to convey the mood of the poem without it being overpowering, because you can as few or many shots as you like and add any filters over the top to get the desired effect. For example, in All the Way, the whole film is slightly darkened, and as I said in research, this makes it look like it’s the beginning of the day, implying that it’s the beginning of the rest of our lives and there is still so much time to achieve what we want to. In ‘Give’, the words on the screen flash by too quickly to read, and you are so caught up in them that you don’t properly listen to the poem so it’s impact isn’t as great.

Another thing we knew almost straight away is that we didn’t want the shots to literally represent the lines in the poem, we wanted it to be slightly vague and metaphorical. If you are going to do a film poem, the film has to add something to the poem that already exists and already has an impact on it’s own. If you just show clips that literally link up with the words, you run the risk of it being boring, because the viewer can already hear what the poem’s about, they don’t need to see it as well. They want something extra to look at, something that sparks an emotion in them. For example, the film for the poem Skin in the Game. Every time the word ‘see’ comes up, a clip of eyes are shown. This is too generic and obvious. Instead of taking it literally, they should have tried to figure out what the overall mood and general message of the poem was, and created a video from that, rather than the actual words.

The difficult thing about our chosen poem is that it’s very easy to fall in to the trap of filming exactly what it says. You could easily just film someone sitting on a swing, a child looking scared, a fire in a hearth. But we didn’t want to do that, because it felt like cheating, we wanted to look beyond the poem. So we looked for the message the overall message of our poem, and tried working from that. The poem is basically explaining that “there’s beauty in the unknown”, so we thought we could collect together a series of clips of things we personally don’t understand in the world: how birds fly, outer space, how to solve rubik’s cubes, how clouds exist, the human eye, how a car works. As long as our shots have enough variation in colour, layout, and shot type, we should be able to create an interesting montage of clips.

Final idea

After deciding that we liked the idea of collecting together a number of different shots to represent the words in the poem, we were shown this video and it inspired our final idea. It’s a film made up of video clips which are each only one second long and I think the beauty of this film is that each clip is so different, but they all work together to make one scene. The clips all have different colours, lighting, filters, themes, and that’s why they work so well together.


When you pick any at random and group them together, you can see how vibrant colours contrast with dark colours, stormy skies contrast with summer skies, nature contrasts with human. This keeps you interested when you watch it, because with every cut comes a different image to study, each telling their own little story. If all the shots had similar backgrounds, themes etc. it could lull you in to a rhythm so you stop appreciating each shot and start just watching it as a whole, but this video doesn’t allow you to, and that’s why it’s so effective.

The reason the video works is because you start to automatically make links, because that’s what we’re programmed to do. Even if all these shots were sent in by different people and were unconnected, we try to make something of them. You can start to notice that nature appears a lot, as well as lots of shots of faces, babies, the sky. These links add a whole new meaning to the film, because before, each shot held it’s own little story, but now they are connected and are part of a larger, more complex one.

This video is what helped us decide what our own film would look like. We wanted the images to flash by as they do in ‘Seconds of Beauty’, and we wanted the shots to be individual but still work together, like those ones do. To accomplish this, we looked at each line of the poem, and from every one we pulled a key word. We then looked at every key word and made any connections that we could, whether it was a colour, object, or feeling. To finish, we turned the connections in to shots, and attached these shots to their line in the poem. The end result looks like this:

  • 1st lineDARK – wide shot of a town at night. Close shot of puppet monsters (monsters live in the dark)
  • 2nd lineSADNESS – close shot of rain falling in a puddle. Mid shot of someone on their own. Close shot of sad song playing on a phone.
  • 3rd lineCOLD & FIRE – Close shot of ice cream. Close shot of a lighter. Mid shot of a person wrapped up in warm clothes.
  • 4th linePEOPLE – Lots of portrait shots of people, all taken from the same distance, the people can be smiling, laughing serious, looking sad, however they feel. Shots will be shown in quick succession
  • 5th lineADMIRE – over the shoulder shot of someone looking in a mirror. Close shot of a red poppy. Mid shot of celeb magazines.
  • 6th lineHATING – shots of anything that we hate (broccoli, spiders, buses)
  • 7th lineHURTING, WISHING, WAITING – Close shot of a plaster on a hand. Mid shot of a penny in a wishing well. Close shot of a lottery ticket. Close shot of days crossed off on a calender.
  • 8th lineABUNDANCE – Lots of shots cut quickly together, so fast they’re difficult to see
  • 9th lineLOVE – long shot of paper hearts strewn on a table (titles can be put over this shot)

It is likely that we will not need to use all of these shots, so during editing will we have the ability to experiment with the order. We’ll have to make sure to film these in different locations so the backgrounds aren’t the same, because otherwise they will all blur into one and the potency of each shot on it’s own will be lost.

This entry was posted in Film 5: Film Poem. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Film poem – planning

  1. kendalcollegefilm says:

    This is a very, very strong rationale, Kitty. You’ve absolutely nailed the connections between existing material, a personal analysis of it, a plan based on your understanding, and delivering a final product. It is, once again, an outstanding piece of work, and I look forward to seeing the finished edit.


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