Project Brief 4: Moving onto Another World

Being in the Another World studio has truly been an enlightening experience. Never have I questioned a project so much that I cannot see any other way it could have developed, its vision is clear, its ideology evident and its own intrinsic absurdity runs deep and through every particle that makes up its being. I couldn’t be prouder of my creative baby.

The seemingly strange logic from the very structure of the course, to build a story from the world up, was the most enlightening part of the studio. I found myself looking back on the strange and absurd worlds I love, from The Lobster (Lanthimos, 2015), to Adaptation (Jonze, 2002) and Being John Malkovich (Jonze, 1999). I brainstormed and thought deeply about what exactly it was that I enjoyed so much about the internal logic of the world, and I came up with the world of “Duck and Cover”, now named “The Community”. It started out as a strange street community, much like our own, more modern communities in suburbia, where every night at 9PM, on the dot, each family, a nuclear family (two parents and two kids), exits their homes, stands by their mailboxes and shouts, “Duck and Cover”. From this I started contemplating how this world would work, why did they do this? What would happen if someone asked that question, or stopped believing in the ritual? And it soon developed into a sci-fi, dystopian, heavily 50’s inspired examination of societal policing and rule of behaviour.

I came up with the idea for a character, a young girl, Jane, who is too curious for her own good and questions the nature of the ritual, in turn being exacted to social justice, the ultimate form of punishment, a community-wide cold shoulder. Social isolation and loneliness without ever truly being alone. This allegory became the bones of the story, a story focused on the failings of human communication and a lack of being open with one another. I then decided to write the short film script I was certain would be my final project. It came to seventeen pages and had some character motivation and tension issues. Why was it so bad for her to be socially isolated as punishment? There weren’t any stakes.

One day in class, we did a writing exercise. Come up with a character who might exist in your world, that isn’t a character you already know. We had to construct a character arc for them based on:

Once upon a time…
And everyday…
Until one day…
And because of that…
Until finally…

Through this exercise, I created Walter. And I uncovered why there were these plot holes that were evident throughout the short film I had written. The world I had created was too big for a short film, it needed more exploration, more ways to explore, develop and solidify the allegory. And suddenly I had my character motivations, why Jane would begin questioning (Walter and his contraband would be the catalyst) and humanising Arthur, the leader of the community, would allow for the communication breakdown to become more evident, as all of the citizens are struggling with this socially limiting and harsh environment, where facades and ideas of humanity reign, as opposed to humanity itself, an inability to welcome their animalistic tendencies.

Through workshopping and collaborating with my friends I found a much larger and interesting story than I ever thought I would be able to tell. Pointing out the holes in my world allowed me to question why they were there and to develop fixes to these holes, allowing me to develop my world and its internal logic to such a point, it may actually be able to withstand an honest trailer some day. Hopefully.

I declare that in submitting all work for this assessment I have read, understood and agree to the content and expectations of the assessment declaration.

Pitch Feedback

While there was a lot of overwhelming and heartening positive feedback surrounding my pitch, I found that one particular element of feedback stuck out to me and was almost universal amongst the panel.

That this world I had created was a very familiar one, with a strange and intriguing new twist (the incorporation of the “Duck and Cover” ritual).

For me, this feedback was interesting because it represented my work’s connection and disparity from a conventional view of a “propaganda town”.

Being someone who blatantly rejects convention in many ways, I enjoyed this explanation of my world, as it showed its progression from the comforting world we have come to know quite well in recent times, with films such as Pleasantville () and The Stepford Wives () using this ideological facade to reveal the inner workings beneath; to my absurd version of events leaning more towards a Charlie Kaufman film. It was great to hear that this ‘method’ of transitioning from the familiarity of genre and convention, into the absurd is a good way to convey complex ideas. I definitely agree with this statement, as I have found that it is easier to ease an audience into the absurdity and the deeper message. When dealing with complex issues, sometimes the use of subtlety to portray your message, is a better course of action than beating them over the heads with it.

I guess this makes my film quite like the young protagonist, comfortable until something tells her she should pull a string and reveal what is beneath, starting the tumble of events. In this way, her questioning and deciding to pull that string is the inciting incident and the beginning of the absurdity curve.

The absurdity, of course, begins as soon as the “Duck and Cover” ritual begins. It was great to hear how this distinguishing element was what truly allowed for this disunity from convention. This element was described as “original” and “taking something factual and real out of context and taking it to its limits”. I enjoyed these descriptions as it showed that this element of reality, although an absurd use of it, conveyed the strange reality and likeness to our own current situation. The era of fake news and Donald Trump/Putin, taken to the nth degree.

It was great to hear that my pitch was almost as though I were pitching my idea for real, out there in the industry. I really appreciated hearing this, because not only did it make me feel confident within my own idea, but it made me feel as though this idea, and possibly others would be successful pitches and move through various stages of production to get to the final point – being able to see my ideas on the big screen.

I learnt a lot from this pitch session and the subsequent feedback. Especially seeing how this process of ideation and pitching works in screenwriting. This has only affirmed my dream of one-day writing and directing my work in a larger context to larger audiences.

Exploration of a New and Exciting Possible World

For me, I find that there always seem to be too many possibilities, too many ideas to narrow in on one particular one. But more importantly, an idea I am attached to, something that I want to explore and develop, not simply an idea for a grade.

This meant getting every idea I had out on paper. Mind maps, I must admit, have always been dear friends to me. Through mind-mapping my ideas, I have found that the ideas I am least attached to, but would almost always inevitably come first, are put on the page and never really become a creative niggle again. I decided to create two mind maps. The first of which was centered around the idea of space:

Every ‘space’ I thought of was a world within itself. This, to me, was an exploration of the setting of whatever idea I chose. An exploration and freeing up of possibilities, the more abstract and absurd the better. In fact, the idea of a rocket in space was the final idea added to the mind map, as it didn’t feel right not having something so bleedingly obvious on there.

The thing I like the most about both of these mind maps is that there are infinite possibilities, an infinite number of ways each ‘space’ can be envisioned/mind-mapped and can create its own world with its own internal logic, culture, etc.

This is where I went off on a more precise track. An exploration of what I like and would want in a world:

This mind map distorts and dodges convention and realism at every turn. I have always been an absurdist at heart and this mind map really allowed me to realise that. In fact, the world I chose in the end was one of the examples I used on the mind map. It was originally the rules of the world that I came up with, that at a specified and unified time in the day, everyone on this street exits their houses and does something ridiculous. When pitching my idea to my table, that was when I inserted that they would all shout “hail Caesar”, but talking about it with my table made me realise that this act could be replaced with anything ridiculous and out of place and still work. This led me to a PSA that I have used in my previous work, in a found footage documentary by the same name:


This PSA is originally from 1951. It was used to control the emotions of the public in a dire time, when many were questioning their safety and the capability of the government to stop imminent nuclear bomb attacks. The ‘Duck and Cover’ technique was useless against a nuclear strike.

Because of the facade of this PSA, it has more dimensions than simply yelling “Hail Caesar”. Since the ultimate purpose of this PSA is to control the emotions of the public, it allows for this ‘propaganda town’ to take on more of a controlled internal logic, given the context of the “Duck and Cover” message.

I found myself inspired for this idea of a world (in which the internal logic seems to be that of reality with one simple twist), by many of my favourite films and writers, as the idea seemed to be reminiscent of their own works. From The Lobster (2015, Lanthimos), to Being John Malkovich (1999, Jonze) and Adaptation (2002, Jonze), each world has a strange, seemingly minor tweak to the logic of the film that allows the tiniest pull to unravel an entirely new and absurd plot.

I was also inspired by Franz Kafka and Samuel Beckett, both of whose works explore the way habits and social constructs affect how we live in different situations and determine our own internal working logic.

This idea is intensely political and has a clear agenda. For me, this is the only way to work. Just like blatant propaganda, everything we make is communicating a message, so you might as well communicate a message you want to be propagated. A message you would be proud to debate about. I want this film to promote critical thinking and awareness of messages being propagated to them every day. As this world is intended to critique human behaviour, but most importantly complacency and gullibility, I hope it will achieve this goal. Coming away from this film I want the audience to question their own internal logic and rules, and ask themselves, why.

What Makes a World? Notes From Class


political structures

setting (and, we agreed, this is a wide category in itself)

boundaries (which relates to setting and character backstories)

character backstory as tool for exploring limitations and responses to world >>> Boundaries of the world

rules (internal logic)

genre (which affects the way you present the world and also the rules of it)

social constructs

political structures


pressure/outside forces

scope of characters

problems e.g. post apocalyptic

On the Run

For my piece I chose to write about the development of our photo story exercise into prose form prior to scripting.

On the Run

The sun hits her hand harshly, splaying its image against the wall. The shadow gives her a sense of freedom, as though she isn’t there right now. She’s on the other side of that wall, waving hello at a stranger. Looking at her hand, she notices her wedding band and the illusion of freedom dissipates. She knows where she is and why she’s here. She clenches her fist and begins to move.

The need to get away consumes her every fiber as she runs for the nearest staircase. A glimmer of hope.

But the stairs, and everywhere else she goes, prove to be endless, leading her through the labyrinth to no end, only a wall. A wall she cannot enter, or at least as far as the CONSTRUCTION IN PROGRESS sign tells her.

Once through she finds herself in the same predicament, she tries every route she can. An inconspicuos ladder, a potted plant. But the cameras seem to follow her whereever she goes. His agents seem to be at every corner, blocking her path to freedom. She can see the exit is just down the end of this alley. Before the agents notice her, she quickly ducks into a crevice in the wall, just big enough to be cloaked in shadow. The coast is very nearly clear, so she decides to make her move. After all, her path will never be crystal clear.

Guards and agents litter the path ahead. She creeps past the first one, her evasive actions almost alerting the second one to her presence. She cinches along the wall, barely touching shadow, hoping they all remain unaware. She tries desperately not to make a sound, but the ridiculousness of what she’s trying to achieve comes back to bite her, and the alarm is raised. She sprints for her life towards the exit as her husband’s men, chase after her shouting,
“he just wants to talk!”
“sure he does…” she replies under her breath.

She makes it to the door and runs through to find her son, happy she made the right decision to leave him.

I really think that the mood and tone work well in this piece. The description, or what would effectively be the big text of a script, works well through its style and specific word description to convey the atmosphere of the piece.

However, certain details confuse the mood and tone, as they go against the very generic, thematic and genre convention based aesthetics of the writing. The writing conveys a very sensationalist tone, I’ll be it in a semi-sarcastic way, but it still resembles the written style of something like James Bond, as opposed to a story centred around domestic abuse. Mixing the spectacular and fantastical with a very serious concept creates a strange mix that doesn’t seem to belong together.

There are, however, versions of this kind of spectacle genre mixed with serious issues, such as Kill Bill (volume 1 particularly), so the serious issues, if further developed, could be portrayed believably and with justice to larger issues at hand.

Another issue with this piece is spatial reasoning. Often, while reading this piece I can’t seem to place myself visually within the world. I can understand the characters and their perspectives or actions, but there seem to be jumps in time and space as the prose moves through the character descriptions and into descriptions of the world around them. As this is the precursor to the script, jumps in logic, especially when it comes to the visual nature of spatial reasoning, hinder the smoothness and flow of the story.

As we proceeded to the next phase of this exercise and wrote a screenplay of our chosen photo story, I found that the spacial reasoning improved, as I was thinking more visually, especially in terms of how the script would translate to the screen.

Over all this exercise was really interesting and provided a sort of foundation for where scripts come from and where they sit in the creative world. The big text of the script is essentially a more concise version of the prose above, emphasising a script’s ability to tell a story, while also being placed in a more visual, conventional and technical sphere.

I declare that in submitting all work for this assessment I have read, understood and agree to the content and expectations of the assessment declaration.

Collaboration in Creative Practice

Drawing on an experience of collaborating within the studio, discuss this quote: “I always find that if two (or more) of us throw ideas backwards and forwards I get to more interesting and original places than I could have ever have gotten to on my own” (Cleese, John 1991 A lecture on creativity, – 27:20mins).

Collaboration. The life blood of creative practice. Without collaboration, many ideas wouldn’t have the space to develop. The freedom to grow in a sort of ‘no strings attached’ environment. A place where ideas can fly without consequences. That being said, it can often be dominated by louder voices.

During the collaborative task around the short film I’ll Wait for the Next One (Orreindy, 2002)I have found this quote to be mostly true. During this exercise, in which we were asked to develop the world and expand it beyond the possible inciting incident shown in the short film, I found that each of us and our ideas had much more freedom. We didn’t feel the need to live up to the critical voice in our heads, telling us we ‘couldn’t write that’ or that something was ‘stupid’. Instead the act of collaboration encouraged us to freely create.

That being said, I found that my ideas constantly came to the forefront whether good or bad, in comparison to the other ideas. Perhaps that had something to do with the way my mind works, often insular thinking that blurts out in its frequently bombastic and driven nature, derailing the current stream of thought and jumping onto the next one. Often breaking form and going on very strange tangents and down rabbit holes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying my ‘monkey’ brain is somehow too strange to work ‘properly’ in terms of idea generation, more that when it comes to creative collaboration, my tangential thinking tends to make the loudest impact, which can often hinder the art of collaboration as not all voices are heard the same, and can often be unintentionally drowned out.

Collaboration can often be like the virality of media. Clinging onto the ideas only when they stick out, catch our attention and become popular, no matter the shelf life of the idea. So many good ideas fall to the wayside, because the fact is, there are limitless numbers of them. It can often be hard, especially in collaboration, to find and stick to an idea, as every creative individual involved knows only too well how a great idea, while once attractive can turn sour, and the disposable nature of ideas is revealed.

To be honest, this is a very cynical image of collaboration. It describes more what lies under the surface of all group work – combating egos, perspectives and understandings. This is not to say that the surface isn’t valuable and enjoyable. That what goes on around you, when these individual-centric ideas don’t cloud the practice. When you are truly collaborating, you are in the thick of a mess of ideas, positivity and sparks flying everywhere. The truest form of creative inspiration and creative freedom.

I declare that in submitting all work for this assessment I have read, understood and agree to the content and expectations of the assessment declaration.

Frozen River: A Script Analysis

Reflect upon an influential text (e.g. a reading, or a screening) you encountered during the studio, and discuss it in terms of your own developing practice. This might be (but not limited to), how it introduced you to new ideas. Or, how it changed or reinforced your previous ways of working. Or, how it inspired you to begin thinking about your ideas for the final project.

For our class reading in week three, we were given the script for Frozen River (Hunt, 2008). Frozen River is the first feature written and directed by Courtney Hunt.

During our analysis, we (as in the class) found that the film showed its exposition in a very organic way. Quite seamlessly. In our discussion around this realisation, we found that the reason behind this was that the script starts off with an event. It starts with the day that the rest of their home is arriving, but an issue is brought up immediately between the mother and the son – the father took the money for the house. As she puts it, “he’ll be in Atlantic City by now,” revealing that the father is in fact a gambler. This event establishes the immediate need for the characters. They need money so they can have a complete home, and therefore a complete life and family. The need for the mother to achieve this is emphasised even further as each scene deliberately marks the father’s absence from the family’s life, making her the sole ‘bread winner’.

It was most interesting comparing the script with the film, especially since Hunt both wrote the script and directed the film. The film was lacking compared to the script, which is something you don’t often find. The opening shots don’t seem to establish much, other than the environment. They don’t establish tone or mood, as the script does brilliantly. On top of that scenes which seemed more visceral in their description in script, seemed to be almost unmemorable. There was no emphasis, or viewing the landscape through the lens of that film’s world, as for instance, Fargo (Coen Brothers, 1996) did brilliantly with it’s opening shots.

Another interesting detail when comparing script to film was budgetary constraints. Elements in the script that really set the scene, were removed and replaced with lesser versions, a necessity for a small budget film. In my own experience, the often grandiose ideas are lost throughout the production process, as it simply costs too much money. The constant battle between what is written and what is achievable physically, the constraints of production, heavily influence the translation of a piece from script to screen.

Comparing a well-written script to the end product really helped me to solidify my own experience with production constraints and see how the budget of a film, it’s ability to commodify, really effect the end product. How translation from script to screen can be a bumpy process as the filmmakers are confronted with the realities of production.

I declare that in submitting all work for this assessment I have read, understood and agree to the content and expectations of the assessment declaration.

What Even is Tone? Notes From Class

Today our discussions led to a great observation: ‘depends what you mean by tone’.

What do we mean by tone?

Here’s what came up:

the attitude the piece takes


‘colour’ and ‘temperature’

type of resonance (and possibilities for extending on the musical metaphor implied by ‘tone’ more broadly)

mood (which could also lead to genre)


tone affects the way the WORLD is portrayed.

Based on this discussion, we each tried to come up with our own definition for ‘tone’.

Here’s one from Ed: “Tone is the culmination of sensory stimuli employed to extract a general feeling, attitude or emotion from an audience/consumer”.

And another from Michael: “The degree and nature by which aesthetic and narrative elements formulate an intended emotional and psychological affect in a viewer or reader in construction of a world”

And from Vera (in terms of the active process of considering tone): where the story world sits in the continuum of lightness and darkness

And from Stayci – Tone: the quality of the piece as denoted by attitude, feeling and mood.