Yesterday was our last day for this semester. Works of more than 180 students were displayed in rooms allocated to specific studios. I have to say this has been a wonderful experience, not because of my film was on exhibition but the participation of my peers and mentor in this studio and their dedication really moved me to give my best. All of the works were great, I especially liked how the ‘Rocket’ studio one, where students gathered complex ideas and explained in video format.
It’s really hard to decide what to choose for next studio as all of them are great. A deep study is required before I carefully choose for my studio. As for the rest of the guys, my best wishes for you future.
Making a film with no script at hand and all based on improvisation, ever heard or seen such a short film? Well perhaps but I wanted to investigate whether I can make it possible for my short film. A couple of weeks ago, I watched a film called ‘The Bicycle Thief’ (1948). It is a italian neorealism film which has elements of non professional actors acting in the film, shooting on location, the struggle part of actors, cinematography which has long shots and usage of natural light and usage of both diegetic and nondiegetic sounds.
So seeing that, I wanted to discover the possibility of combining both of the characteristics into my film. The plot of my film is about a man in his 20’s who has nightmares of fire and some being that haunts him. Eventually that being grows heavily in his mind that he questions of ‘why is it happening?’ That being out of nowhere appears into his reality and confronts him of what is going through. As it appears that being is dominating, the guy wakes up and realises it’s just a dream only when further into the room that same being approaches him silently.
My objectives for this film is to make sure the narrative is understandable to the audience and they can relate themselves with the haunting dreams if they ever had or know someone that has gone through such experience. So there is a reason I have added a dialogue that would be clear for the audience of why the whole scenario is happening to him. It’s strange that when a filmmaker makes a story, you see some reflection of his/her personality into it, whereas I had a dream similar to my story and it felt so real and decided to create a reflection of it in a short film.
With the approach that I took, I shoot the whole thing as the narrative proceeds unlike the conventional films where parts of shooting are done before , I wanted my actor to go through the journey, since he is not a professional actor which also made sense to go with that approach. Secondly, I didn’t tell the story to my actor, I just told him to act as per given situation and give his best as it seems fit for the scenario and thirdly I wanted to use as much natural light as possible to portray the essence of ‘realness’ of film but for the introduction scene and the climax, I had to use artificial lightning as the room had bad window lightning.
With this film I leave it upto you to decide whether working with non actors and improvisation gives out the desired results.
Collaboration is an important aspect when doing or creating an artifact of some sort, all of the best minds gel in together and make a possibility of creating a masterpiece. But in Film 3, Collaboration is was in terms of providing assistance to each of our individual projects. Everyone had their brilliant ideas that wanted to approach and it would have been a shame if few of the ideas were to begin with. So it was decided that we would help our class members with their projects. In my film, I required an actor and an extra camera person to shoot while I’m acting, so Brydan and Mitch helped me out. To be honest I never thought it would run smooth as this is the first I was working with this guys, but to my astonishment we wrapped the whole shoot within the time frame. I guess it was our chemistry and seriousness towards the project that made it finish quickly.
That being said, we had mini exercises as well throughout the semester and all were based on some level of collaboration. I remember the first time I was Paired with Constance to shot a silent video of a random scene happening outside, I didn’t know what to do by then and made silly mistakes like bad camera angle or not following proper instructions of the class exercises. During week 2, I remembered I was paired with a group of students and we had to do an act of professional and someone copying it, My blood boiled at one point when they didn’t listened to me properly even though I set up the camera and white balance for the purpose of shooting and they wasted the time by setting it again only to reset it again by me, later I calmed myself and realised that mistakes do happen and we humans tend to it often so it is better to bury the anger, listen and look what they are trying to do and continue with the exercise. With this exercise, I learned that listening is important and the moment you don’t, your downfall is just the beginning.
With this studio, I don’t think there were any pitfalls as Robin was committed to our ideas and approach towards media making. I guess I can say and it is agreeable that students weren’t committed as such towards this studio maybe because due to their other commitments, but I think what is important is that the time selection of this studio was awkward as well, in between lunch time and consecutive two days being Thursday and Friday, so any work that was given on thursday couldn’t be done the next day and friday is always the day when people always rush towards home for the weekend. So it is best for the future that there should be some gap between the two classes for this studio. Now with Bonuses, everything I learned in this course is a bonus for me, things that I knew were polished like editing and camera work but I’ll always appreciate the lightning exercise, I really wanted to know how light system works in the film world and all of us collaborated and made a good scene with Farina’s soft skin on the screen.
I don’t use much of color grading, just fix the brightness and contrast of my projects. So just for the sake of this exercise I did different color grading. It’s fun to play around colors and gave a different meaning to it.
Here is the original snapshot from the clip:
This is the first grade:
I changed it to a bit cold tone to give a bit spooky feeling. I think this justifies with the screengrab. Mitch has expressions of fear so cold tone suits it.
This is the second grab:
For this, I made the highlights a bit blue and shadows a bit green just to have the both warmness and coldness to it. But I don’t think this is suiting my screen grab. I was just experimenting.
This is the third grab:
For this I changed the brightness level to low and put highlight to red. I wanted to see if it gives a surreal feeling to it. As if the character wakes from his dream but doesn’t feel like he is back to reality.
Today in the class we looked at color grading and some editing guide. Although I’m aware of how to edit but it is always good to refresh and learn something new along the way. Today I looked over some shortcut keys and two of them I found very useful which I may have used unconsciously but didn’t realised until now. I use Final Cut Pro X for my editing and the two functions that I found useful are Enable/disable clip (shortcut ‘V’) and expand/collapse Audio components (shortcut ‘Control-option-S’).
Shortcut ‘V’ is mainly used to enable or disable a selected clip of your choice. I usually deleted the clip which messed my timeline, but this is handful when you are overlaying videos and you can decide which video is useful for your purpose and you can always come back and enable the other one. The other shortcut ‘Ctrl-Opt-S’ is used for expanding or collapsing the audio of the selected clip. It is handful incase you require just the audio of the clip and be used to overlay interviews and manage the justifiable images with it.
After showing Robin my assembled project for FILM 3, He praised my efforts and advised me to carry on with the edit. He also suggested that the voice over I used feels like it has been heard before (it does somehow reminds me of Darth Vader), I’ll experiment and see if I can make it a bit spooky, but most importantly, I need to find some royalty free music for my project to be used as background score. I was also thinking to edit one mini version of it like of 30 seconds, apart from that It is important that I should focus on the 3 minute version, hopefully the length of it will be around that.
A minute silence for Chantal Akerman, german filmmaker, who pioneered in feminist and experimental filmmaking as she died recently at the age of 65. Today in class we watched her work ‘I’m Hungry. I’m Cold’. A bit of slow paced movie but something worthwhile to watch, two ladies who want to find love and they also seem to explore their gender roles in society. At Least that is what I think the story was about.
Sunday midday, Mitch and Brydan came over to help out with my shooting of ‘Daymare’. Mitch was the main lead and I was the second lead (the only other actor in this film). It took us about 2 hours to finish. Brydan helped out in lightning and at some parts with camera work. So with the motive that I would not give any script to the actor and will be based on improvisation, it turned out better than I expected. Using dedo lights to lit the environment was enjoyable. I first wanted to use natural source light but it seemed way to bright for my situation. Now the thing that I’m concerned with is the non-diegetic sounds that I have to use for this film, I now have to search the suitable sounds and stock footages that I’ll use for my film.
Today we learned another key element in filmmaking universe, depth of field. Depth of field basically means a distance between a closer and further object. It really depends upon what the cinematographer is looking for if he/she wants a shallow or narrow depth of field. Robin asked us the three main things for which the depth of field depends upon. I knew two of them which is the focal length of the lens and the aperture. The focal length determines the distance between the image sensor and the lens when you focus on the subject and the aperture determines what kind of field of view you are looking for. If we want a shallow depth of field to focus on one particular object then we decrease the number of F-stop for example F2.8 and if we require a narrow depth of field to focus on wide area in the frame then we increase the number of F-stop for example F16.
The third factor which I wasn’t sure was actually the distance between the object and the camera. In today’s exercise, we had three different cameras, DSLR, Sony EX3 and Sony Z7. We had to focus on the same subject but interestingly each one us had different focal length. DSLR was about 80MM, EX3 was on 20MM and Z7 was on 25MM. It is because of the different sensor size that each camera offers. Each does have its pros and cons, like DSLR doesn’t have a particular viewfinder (you can get a third party hardware and attach to its live view) but it gives less noise as compare to others. Ex3 although does face noise issue but certainly has all the features needed for the film making and as for Z7 I’m not sure as I haven’t used much but I do know that its focus pull is infinite and causes problem when marking the focus.
This weekend I’m shooting my film, booked dedo light kit. Wish me luck 🙂
Unfortunately my memory card failed thus I couldn’t record anything. But I did check though the screen of my camera and it is suiting my purpose and location seems to fit what my story requires. I used dedo kit for lightning but I guess it would only fit for my final scene of the film. My 90% of the shoot requires natural light source and house lightning. But then again, I would see what deems fit and if any extra lightning is required, I will use Dedo kit as a fill light for my actors.
I’m really excited with my project, I just hope it goes well. I’m nervous as well but what I’m really looking forward to is does my story engage with audience.