As I’ve been coming up with an idea for this film my main inspiration has been Edgeland. It fits very well with all my other research, as well as my project proposal, and it has contributed a lot to the development of my film planning.
Something about this film that caught my eye was the first minute and a half of it, where it’s two shots coupled with spoken poetry. I am currently writing a monologue that will go with my film and when I read it out loud it can take close to two minutes. This gave me two worries, the first being that I didn’t want my film to get boring, as I thought that if it was just shot after shot of nature it would get too repetitive, and the second worry being I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get enough shots to fill the time. Even though 2 minutes doesn’t sound like long, when you are trying to fill it with individual stand-alone shots, it can be. However, what the beginning of Edgeland has showed me is that if a shot is good enough, it can be held for longer than you would think and still not get boring. The poem takes 1 minute 13 to speak, and in that time only two shots are used.
The reason this works is because the visual of the shots are always moving and changing. In the first shot, you can watch the clouds slowly move over the moon and it fits well with the tempo of the poem. The second is faster paced and mesmerizing to watch, and I feel like it is a nice way to build up to the beginning of the film.
The part of this film I am focusing on the most is the first 3 minutes, because it is most relevant to my project plan. As quoted from my project proposal, “(i want) many shots showing human and nature side by side, wide shots showing sweeping landscapes and close shots showing the intricate details in our modern world”. The shots from Edgeland are all well-composed and have encouraged me to really plan out the arrangement of each of mine.
A lot of the shots are set up like this, following the rule of thirds. You can see that if you were to put a three by three grid over the top of these stills, all the interesting focal points would lie on the grid lines, like the horizon, the sun, and the cairn. It’s a simple way to capture well-balanced and interesting shots, and I really like how unique each shot can be despite using the same layout for all of them.
I also like shots like this one where the depth of field is very shallow. Having only a small portion of the frame in focus is a great way to blur the clutter of the world out and highlight a specific detail, like the water droplets on the grass. I think it’s necessary for me to add a couple of shots like this into my film, because it will break up the wide shots nicely and the variation will make it more interesting to watch.
My plan is to have my film be a collection of shots that won’t necessarily be linked to one another, therefore I need to make sure that each one is a strong shot in it’s own right so none of them get lost. In order to do this I need to take the time before I press record to stop and check that my shot is well lit, neither over nor underexposed, and that I am happy with everything that’s in the frame. I have been guilty in the past of getting shots without putting enough thought into what I’m doing, I’ve been so focused on telling a story that I would forget to check whether it looked nice or not. But now is my opportunity to test my skills and get to know the camera better.
This film is in some way similar to ‘Sober’ which I researched earlier, in that it shows contrast. It explores all different communities in Cumbria, and isn’t afraid to put striking shots of natural landscape next to industrial shots. Throughout the film, it flicks back and forth between these, mixing them up to really convey what it’s like to live in Cumbria.
In Sober, half of the shots are captured in darkness and the other half are full of light, which the director has done to show the two halves to the man’s life, him before and after his lifestyle change. Even though the film has split his life in two, these shots are all mixed together, with dark and light present throughout. I think this has been done to show how the man will never be able to escape his past, because it’s a part of who he is, and his life experiences are what has made him the person he is today. I feel like this is similar to Edgeland. By constantly flicking between the different layers of Cumbria, it blurs the lines between them, making it a more realistic representation of the county. Rural and urban areas can be found throughout Cumbria, there are no borders, so to dedicate half the film to one and half to the other would be wrong.
The idea of contrast has become a major theme in my research, and something I am definitely going to be incorporating into my final piece. An option for me is to channel the style of Edgeland, mixing urban and rural shots to show the contrast between man and nature, but there is another idea I have been toying with. I had considered adding a quirky twist to my film, something different that reflects the style of Douglas Adams’ writing. The quote that inspired this entire film:
“imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!”
is in itself very quirky, and I wanted to try and keep that spirit going, so I thought that instead of having plain urban shots, I could take still images from the nature shots and draw urban scenes over them. It’s an idea that came to me after watching Monster Hunting, by Kickthepj
I found it interesting about how a different world could be created with just a quick sketch. I do have actually own a graphics tablet, but I thought that a more interesting way to do it would be to film someone physically drawing over the image with a black marker and speeding it up, much like a lot of the speed drawings you can find online. Watching the drawing taking place would mean slowly watching the urban sketch covering up the natural shot, showing the way that humans take over the land. An example of one of the potential drawings would be if you had a shot of trees, the drawing could be of the trees cut down with a new property development over the top. Another would be if you had a shot of the beach, the drawing could be of an oil rig in the sea spilling oil into the ocean. This is just a concept and may not work, I shall definitely have to test it out, but if it does work and you couple it with the monologue and dramatic music, it could be quite effective.
My next step with this project is test shoots. I will do a test shoot trying out the style of Edgeland and Sober, a test shoot trying out jib shots, and a test shoot trying out the speed drawing.