2016 Screen Futures Summit & Youth Media Festival – Internship Intro

As promised, I return with a tag – #ScreenFutureShip – (I can be clever) to document, chronicle and digitally immortalise my internship adventures here.

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Screen Futures is an international conference and forum for industry professionals, educators and academics interested in the future of the screen in 2016.

It will be a dynamic three days packed with insightful and provocative discussion around:

  • screen education,
  • screen innovation, and
  • the screen industry.

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The Youth Media Festival will run concurrently with the summit throughout Saturday 2 July.

It will be programmed by and for young content makers and students working in film, television, radio, games and online spheres. It aims to provide participants a forum to share ideas and network, as well as gain new skills and knowledge in screen media. The festival will create an opportunity to crew on a live media event and the Media Careers Expo will open up pathways and career possibilities in a range of media professions.

The Internship runs from 22 June to roughly 4th of July (Happy Freedom, ‘merica!). Today’s shenanigans involved meeting the team and the faces behind the ghostly e-mails of hello’s and back and forth relaying of info. Verdict: very welcoming, very charming. The Screen Futures team are bursting with a mapped-out, very informed, blueprint of what they want and expect from us, passion and excitement for the summit and festival themselves, and an encouraging attitude to help us grow and learn as much as possible whilst on the job.

My desire for this internship is not only to work with like-minded fellow interns and a power-house team to capture the summit’s festivities, but to also exercise flexibility, state and strength of mind, initiative, and power-forward, driven thinking to maximise my own creativity and organisation across this particular area of event-based media production.

I’ve articulated a number of times of my deep desire to focus on writingdirecting, and producing in the area of Film and Television more so than anything else. Though I am also a Social Media junkie and loves the blast of pop-culture on one’s Melbourne-wintered face, event-based production has not crossed my mind as an immediate prospect of interest. This is the beauty of my “vague”, more general Media and Communications degree: opportunities to reconnoitre the ever-expanding mediascape.

In this particular internship, I can very well ascribe some of my experiences in producing for shows and film with skills such as: tabulation and cataloguing of information, team-reliant communication, filming, editing and photography, and a tonne more, I’m sure. What I gain back is the chance to work in an environment independent from but also juxtaposed, in its filming methods.

I believe that the challenge lies in the direct filming of each Keynote event and Breakout sessions throughout the Summit and Festival. Why? Because you don’t have a script to go off to. You don’t have a 1st AD yelling numbers and frames and lenses at your poor unfortunate ear. As a director and editor, you find that these constraints (or lack thereof, depending on how you look at it) stretches not only your artistry, but also your technical prowess. How do you handle the challenge of, liberally-speaking, the almost abstract concept of capture and edit on the go?

Find out on the next episode of Naruto Shippuden!
– jokes.

Find out the answers with me next time!


Final Project: “Der Schmerz”

Der Schmerz

This project is an amalgamation of introductory static movement and short film direction. Formatted like an old silent film, this short film investigates the direction of movement, characters as occupants of space, and the camera’s intimate approach to an abstract narrative.

Der Schmerz (meaning Grief), is a short film submission for my final project for my studio course, Ways of Making. My intention for this short is to explore the notion of static movement (i.e. cinemagraphs) and how its principles could be used to alter the outcome of a film shot in live-action. Beginning this project, my intention for this collaboration can be seen in this Alexandre Desplat-motivated 30 second sample I made here:

During the “initiative” stages of the studio, Paul invited us to investigate various approaches to filming scenes so we may have a first-hand feel of what grips us in a creative choke we do not want to be let go of.


Nevertheless, the direction of movement is choreographed by the director in regards to the mise-en-scène. 

Direction of movement and characters as occupants of space.
There are minimal movements throughout the film as I was more interested in how the actors would occupy the space around them as opposed to what they occupy. My DOP must have harboured such ill-feelings for me because I was incredibly picky when it came to production day. I constantly moved the camera and thus, him, to perfectly capture that shot.Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 9.31.13 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-09 at 9.21.04 PM Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 9.21.40 PM Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 9.23.01 PM

I was interested in “tight” mid to close-up shots with as minimal use of negative space as possible. Negative space is as unnatural-looking as it is clunky and uncool. Ultimately, it looks quite the unprofessional.

Take a look at the difference between the first take and the last take of this scene:

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First take, the character of the wise old lady looks adrift from the frame as if she was superimposed over the shot of the character of the young man. Reflecting back on our class exercises, I find this to be my arch-nemesis. I always seem to find an excuse to capture “as much” as I can in a frame and in doing so, the supposed focus on a particular element on screen (i.e. a character) is lost. Of course, the use of a wide-shot is very commonly used in films, but their purpose is to establish and to convey a broader sense of space and place.

Por ejemplo:Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 9.26.17 PM

Intimate approach to abstract narrative.
I purposely made the narrative of this short abstract as to not take away from the visuals. In the beginning, I thought that this ambitious thinking would yield outstanding visual results. To my dismay, I had not thought it through enough. I quote myself,

Miyazaki builds upon the innate ability of humans to sense movement and draws his viewers through this and the explicitness of it, thus making for a profound play on the senses.

Ultimately, I did not weigh in the repetitive value of a cinemagraph as opposed to the one-directional movement of a live action shot. Cinemagraphs are essentially, living images. It gives the viewers the illusion of watching a video (or a photograph) when in fact, they are watching a combination of both.

You see, cinemagraphs cannot be transitional unless I slow their speed/duration down to match the rest of the sequence’s pace. In doing so, however, would mean a distortion of the cinemagraph’s purpose of movement and will take away from its lifelike quality. A conundrum? A conundrum. This is why the only cinemagraph you see in the first cut of this film is at the very beginning. It established the reason as to why the young man was crying and grieving and established the backstory of his conversation with the old woman towards the end of the film. And unfortunately, that’s its one and only use.

At the editing suite.
I found myself dozing at half past twelve with bowls of honey oatmeal lying around my table and a dream sequence of my ambulating to receive my Academy Award. 

Three words: Tu.to.rials. They are your best mates, never take them for granted.

I originally didn’t plan the film to be formatted like an old silent film but after finding an old found-footage documentary on Poland and analysing the bottled-up tears for my bleak attempt at colour grading that yielded zilch, I yelled eureka! I mean, why not format it into a silent film after all? It’s dusty, it’s grainy, it’s noisy and pitched at the highest quality of low. What better way to set a film in WWII by being attractively 1930’s? Below:

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Final Outcome.

What will the outcome be? Will the transition be too jarring? Or will it punctuate the emotional resonance I am trying to achieve in this scene? And if it turns out incongruous and incompatible, could the application of 2D animated static-movement techniques (i.e. Studio Ghibli films) help even this out?

Above is the question I posed in regards to the the transitional use of static movement. In the film, I used the cross-dissolve effect for the “transition to be too jarring” problem. Did the cinemagraph punctuate the emotional resonance I was trying to achieve in the scene? I believe it did, and I deliberately made the length of the cinemagraph scene longer because of such.

I want to focus now on the “application of 2D animated static-movement techniques (i.e. Studio Ghibli films)” to help to even out the incompatibility of cinemagraphs and live-action. Because I want to continue the project further down the track, my next investigation is the use of lighting/colour and continuity.

  • Lighting/colour

For my next attempt, I will “mute out” the “still” parts of the video and add more vibrancy to the moving elements of the image like above.

  • Continuity:  Cinemagraph (repeating) CUT TO live-action shot of the footage before it was turned into a cinemagraph.
    This particular edit, I think, would work well in regards to transition.

Final thoughts.
Ways of Making met my expectations and more. What I enjoyed and appreciated the most was the creative freedom we had to investigate and eventually make a film/sequence/media that we were most interested in. The practical exercises helped in my understanding of the use of cameras and capitalising their attributes and functions to best suit our needs and at the same time, leaving enough room for exploration and investigation.

I enjoyed working with a talented bunch of kiddos who I know will do so well in their own careers as media-makers and I am now even more equipped to use this visual medium to write, produce and direct as much as I possibly can.

short film production day + pics!

It’s been pre-production madness for Grief (working title) the past couple of weeks when 1. you’re a broke university student who cannot afford to hire the perfect location of your dreams and 2. I’m getting ahead of myself because 3. when you’ve got a superstar of a production manager who can find the perfect location in a span of a couple of hours, you know everything will be A-OK *thumbs up emoji*

Yesterday’s production schedule went super smoothly with the fun of a thousand elephants at a watering hole that I even found myself tampering with the footage as soon as I got home and friends, that’s saying a lot for someone like me who prefers to nap out than sort out.

Here’s a couple of cool BTS stills/picz!

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Shoutout to LaMarcus Aldridge, Stephanie and Alaine for being the troop de troupe crew of endless patience and resilience for my innate ability to be like Amy Santiago from Brooklyn Nine Nine (everyone go watch it).

To-do list:

Monday = cinemagraphs
Tuesday – Thursday = putting everything together.

Pray for a friend. It’s going to be a long one. #TeamNoSleep



Investigation: location scouting and static movement + normal filming principles + narrative = could it work?

Destination: Yarra Valley

Mission: Scout, Locate, Film

Chance of success: A bucketful of sunshine

The Yarra Valley Roadtrip from one end of the earth to another proved aplenty:

  1. Nature churns the creative bubbles. As soon as I sat myself down, I haven’t stopped writing my thoughts and plans, which I hope to regale you all here too.
  2. There are so many dashing locations that are, of course, obstructed by “Private Property” signs, electric fences or a huge lake and you do not own a boat . Shame.
  3. Good establishing footage, check. Shoot to edit, not so much. Abstract, but it gives one a sense of place and further practice of framing, composition, exposure and pull-focus.

In all the trip’s entirety, however, what I garnered is yet again, something that alludes to static movement and its use. My premise? Static movement and the mundane must be shot in consequence of each other.

I know that it could be rather ambitious to include a narrative into the picture, but I want to investigate the possibility of it anyhow because I cannot help but be empathetic. Example of such wizardry below:

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Excusing the liberties I’ve taken with scriptwriting rules above, I’ve been contemplating on how I could possibly introduce Static Movement into a short film without just making a series/sequence of cinemagraph scenes one after another. What I want to achieve is the collaboration and the amalgamation of static movement and normal filming principles to make one, cohesive film/short without making it too stunted nor overtly artsy. I would like to be able to tell a story, evoke emotional empathy and at the same time use above filming principles all in one project.

Using the scene above, I would like to investigate the fluidity of the transition from the static movement shot to the Close Up of The Roman’s face, which leads to the progression of the story. What will the outcome be? Will the transition be too jarring? Or will it punctuate the emotional resonance I am trying to achieve in this scene? And if it turns out incongruous and incompatible, could the application of 2D animated static-movement techniques (i.e. Studio Ghibli films) help even this out?

We start with the basics first, so like above, capturing the emotions before moving on to something like an action scene or ones with lots of movement.

In approaching this investigation here’s a list of to-do’s:

  • Make my own cinemagraph…or a thousand because practice makes perfect
  • Ask the fellow padawan learners and J. Master Paul of what he thinks of above
  • Re: feedback, work on writing a shot-list/script
  • Create a mood board
  • Presentation of ideas to class for feedback
  • We start from there

ps. A sample mood from Julien Douvier, simulacres, simulation

Exercises on Capture and Edit: Three-shot

I enjoyed this particular exercise for the reason that though it was rough, the team was able to pull together, find a location, and think up a sequence of shots on our feet, film it and rock and roll through the editing process.

Title: Blissception
Scenario: Bliss ties her shoelaces, gets up, walks towards the elevator, enters then exits out on a different level.
Goofs: *spoiler alert* Continuity goof because which floor did we start in again?

Types of shots:

  • CLOSE UP – tying of shoelace
  • WIDE SHOT + PAN – Bliss gets up and walks towards the elevator doors
  • LONG SHOT – Bliss presses the elevator button and enters
  • MID SHOT – Bliss enters the elevator, turns around to press the button and the elevator door closes
  • MID TO CLOSE-UP SHOT – Elevator doors open and Bliss walks out straight towards the camera before FADE

Simple, quick and easy. The main character is motivated and goes through each shot with ease. Shooting the scenes in sequence allowed us more time to shoot other shots (i.e. establishing shot of the elevator numbers going up/down) that then in turn, helps in the editing process.

I know that on a professional film set, it is rare to shoot films in sequence (Paradise Road team, I salute you) but that is exactly why it is important to have a SHOT LIST that dictates what will be shot on certain days and the kind of shots these will be too. These are important for the editors, especially, to make their work a lot easier also.

Learning learning.

Choosing your shots wisely gives the final product colour and texture. Unlike in the first exercises we did in class where most were simply mid-shots and wide/long-shots of this or that that was, for no better word, boring, it is useful to think up of a scenario and picture it not as you would see it with your naked eye but see it as one would see it on screen or whilst you’re reading a book or even dreaming. An example of such experimentation (because we know what the outcome will look like) below:

Exercises on Capture and Edit: Abstract Image

Abstract Sound & Vision Exercise

During the Abstract exercises, I conclude that my strength is filming intimate, subject-driven shots and that my weakness…is the very same thing. Whilst editing the footage we captured, I was struck-dumb in three things things, mostly: one, we did not have enough shots to work with, two, it may/may definitely have been a hot day and my brain was a fried, burnt egg, and three, I could not think of a story that will put two and two together to create even a something. I do not have the edited footage right now but I will update once I’ve got them compressed and exported, but I hit a stump staring at our footage we captured. I tried to add some effects like slow-motion and some form of colour distortion to make the video appear bizarre and poetic (yeah, right). That made me feel worse.

I reflect on the fact that natural-occurring sounds in this exercise is the bane of my existence BUT, I could work around this by removing the sounds and adding a music track instead because abstract videos are often not dictated by a narrative and I need to embed that in the back, front and sides of my head. Sound has a profound power that can give meaning to what seems to be inconceivable. 

After having a quick chat with our Jedi Master Paul and further explaining to him what I want to get out of the course, he motions me to focus instead on the other exercise (whose name escapes me) that focuses on shots, framing and composition. However, with abstract image, I am still determined to overcome this particular creative bane of mine and experiment on what sounds and music could do. It would help particularly since I am also learning much about documentary studies and the incredibly contradicting cinema verité and how this form of documentary is motivated by the all-seeing behind-the-scenes eye of the filmmaker.

How does the filmmaker do it? How did D.A. Pennebaker collapse the footages in “Don’t Look Back (1967) because I, personally did not enjoy the abstract ride he put me through mostly because I felt that nothing was going on and nothing was motivated to push the theme forward. If there even was a theme?

Reflections – class exercises and motivated shots

I reflect on one class exercise we did titled the abstract image.

  1. The Abstract Image
    Aim: to investigate a place

This exercise involved us directors to choose a certain framing in a specific location we choose to capture. We considered the following:

  • Different planes (of focus)
  • Texture
  • Movement
  • Expressive potential of image size, focal length, focus, depth of field, exposure, colour
  • Implications of framing – what is in and out of frame

What I learned from this exercise is that I am highly in favour of intimate shots whose subject is usually something around us that is often overlooked. I don’t have the videos we have captured but these photographs could give one the sense of what I mean:

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Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 11.19.53 PMObserving the two images that I took above (not from class exercise), you can see that in the frame are two subjects: the tree and the lamp post. These two images, though taken months apart, convey my decision to frame my shots on a particular object that is not my subject. Of course, I deliberately chose to place these objects in my frame, sort of like I was the set decorator and the Director of Photography at the same time. In the exercises, my cohorts and I did the exact same. The shots are motivated by a certain object in the frame that is not necessarily the subject of the photograph/video.

Why do I do this, you may ask? I think for me, this certain framing implies a sort of closeness to the scene; an artefact that you can almost grasp or hold on to, something to fall back on and easily remember when you are trying to recall this scene. For example, with the photograph on the above, taken in Massachusetts last August, I was struck by this lamppost that punctuated the first time I have been in an American neighbourhood. It was the image, the artefact, the object that struck me upon my arrival and my soaking in of the scene. However, I can’t say the same for the photograph below it. I could have simply taken a photo of the lake of shining waters and left the palm tree out of the frame but then it just wouldn’t be the same. For me, especially, that image wouldn’t be special, would not have captured the essence of that lake and its simplistic grandeur if I had not included the palm tree (no matter how many times I have seen one in my life).

In video, I work the same way. I could roll and allow things to happen, but I can encourage something to happen also. I think reflecting back on this work and after I edit the videos we have captured, I would be able to eventually define my reasons for these shots and how I can utilise them in my creative practice and vision.

Ways of Making – a media 6 studio

Ways of Making – an alternative approach to the production of film

Okay but listen….

“A film project invariably requires a commitment to a particular from and its methods of production.

But does this limit the film’s expressive potential?”

This speaks volumes to me. As someone who is inspired by a conglomeration of filmic productions morphed into my own signature, to be able to do a studio where I am able to explore and experiment and therefore create films that is no confined by the traditional methods of production (it’s a concern and I am grateful for inspirationally-iconoclast directors out there), it really makes one want to break through the status quo in a Mad Max Fury road.

Imagine I was naming some directors I admire from the top of my head.

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And I would also like to add Alejandro González Iñárritu in there somewhere for complete and total destruction of the word ridiculous, and this list is continuously growing, of course. There are just so many. But I love the above.

Do you think I can do a combination of all of them and call it my own?

In this class, I believe I surely can.

Let’s go, team!



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