FMP Research -visual sequences in the short film ‘SOBER’

As I stated in my project proposal, I want to use my FMP as an opportunity to to practice putting shots together into sequences that flow well. Because I am having a monologue playing over the top of my film which is addressing the issue of humans destroying the planet, I want the shots to be emotive and relevant to that idea. I want to visually show the contrast between man made and nature,  and how our synthetic world is creeping into every bit of the environment.

This film called Sober is a very good example of how shots can show contrast. The film tells the story of Kenny and how he overcame his addictions and changed his life around for the better. The whole film is very much a before and after, it’s is almost split into two; the first half is reminiscing on his past and where his life once was, and the second half focuses on where his life is now and where it’s heading.

First half

This half is the darker half. In it, he talks about his past relationship with drugs and how that negatively affected his outlook on life. “I seen an obstacle and the way to run away was to take drugs. Escape. Forgotten about.”   “I resented myself, who I was.”   “All I was destined for was being on the dole and doing drugs.” His substance abuse was a very serious problem that took away all of his happiness and hope, and left him feeling as though he had no future. This has been reflected in the shot choices.

The shots are darker quite literally to reflect the dark place he was in. He has been placed in a lowly-lit room, with only a little light being allowed to hit his face. I feel like this is a visual representation of his past, he is recreating how he felt at that point of his life. Notice in the shots how the light source (the window) is visible, but he is not facing it, he is a good distance from it and it barely illuminates his face. The window could be symbolic of the future that he was depriving himself of, and the bright and happy life that seemed so unattainable to him.

These shots are heavily interspersed with clips taken from a video of him when he was around 18 or 19. They bring a realness to his story and ground it, as you can see with your own eyes how gaunt and pale he was, and because they are mixed in with shots of present-day him you can really appreciate the pain on his face as he remembers who he used to be. It’s very powerful.


Second half

This half is the exact opposite of the first half. It is entirely focused on his progress and is looking towards the future. Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 11.27.07 AM

First off there is this shot, showing him looking out towards the rising sun. I see this as a transition shot, symbolizing the moment where his perspective changed and leading you into the second ‘phase’ of his life. Unlike the other shots where he is facing away from the light, in this one he looks directly at it. It’s as if he’s showing how he stopped running away and hiding, and showing how he readied himself to face his future. The rising sun means a new day and stands for his new life, or the new direction he’s heading in.

Slowly, shots like the ones above are fed into the edit, it’s still flashing back to the clips of him at 19 as well as the ones of him sitting int he dark, but these become less and less frequent and by the end they don’t appear at all. The lighting in all these shots makes sure to outline and highlight each individual muscle. The physical strength he has built up since he changed his life represents the mental strength he has gained and how he’s managed to build up his self worth.

I am using this video as inspiration for my video, because I love the way the film has been put together. They use three different scenes in this film, one where he’s reflecting on his past and is in the dark, one where he’s looking towards his future and is facing the light, and one showing him working hard to achieve a better life in which he is surrounded by light.

When you watch the video you can clearly mark out these three different sections, and yet there is no clear line. The shots change like a gradient rather than in blocks. Even right towards the end of the film it is still flashing back to that home video of him at 19. I feel like this is very effective, because it builds his story up more and is great at representing his struggle. It’s showing that despite how hard he’s worked, he’s not forgotten where he’s come from, and even though he’s been able to become a better person, he will always have those memories of who he once was.

I will hopefully be using this idea of mixing shot sequences for my own work. As I said at the beginning, I’m comparing man-made and nature, and I want to explore the way in which they live side by side on this Earth. When you look around at the world, there is no no definitive split between the two, they are intertwined with each other. Therefore, it wouldn’t work to dedicate one half of my video to natural landscapes and one half to industrial landscapes, I need to mix them up to reflect what it’s actually like.

I want to try this idea out in a test shoot, so for my shoot I will be going to film at a supposedly ‘natural’ spot, like a beach or a forest, and whilst I’m there I will try to find as many signs of human life there as I can, whether it’s a building, or a footprint, or a piece of rubbish. I will get shots of these, I will get shots of nature, and I will mix all of them together in the edit.

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4 Responses to FMP Research -visual sequences in the short film ‘SOBER’

  1. kendalcollegefilm says:

    Exemplary shot and scene analysis in ‘Sober’, Kitty, showing a strong critical engagement with how the film uses visual tools to enhance, consolidate and motivate the broader story. I’m particularly pleased that the research doesn’t exist in isolation—you make strong relevant connections to your own ideas and plans for your own film. This is excellent work!


  2. Loved stumbling across this this morning!

    Liked by 1 person

    • catrionafish says:

      Wow I’d never even considered the fact you might see this! Sober was one of the main inspirations for the short film I just made, I came back to it time and time again during my planning.


  3. Pingback: FMP – Final Evaluation | Catriona Fish

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