Substantial blog post: Entire course and final film experiences

Immediately, upon stepping into the first class of the semester, I was surprised to discover that our initial task for Media 5: ‘The Scene In cinema’ would involve acquiring a camera and deliberating within groups how we interpret the scene from our given script to be covered through cinematography. Not only did I instantly know that this would be a greatly enjoyable class, but additionally an important course that would benefit me as a developing filmmaker. Especially since I have an interest in the technical side of production. Throughout the semester’s perfect concoction of theoretically analytical and practical production work, it allowed me to further my individual research to explore and understand the significance of camera coverage in filmmaking.

Rather instinctively, I was able to realize that there was a progressive structural model in regards to the weekly course work, which I found to be greatly vital towards learning the essential elements of scene construction in cinema. The progressiveness of classes provided, what I refer to as; the creating and reflecting paradigm.These practical class production exercises that Paul designed, allowed us students to get the opportunity to grab a camera, script and to work in groups to collaborate with other individuals to focus on covering a scene that adheres to the weekly constraints which would effectively get more complex and restrictive throughout each week. This ultimately encouraged us to systematically delve deeper into analyzing the complexities and to effectively explore the processes of scene coverage in filmmaking, while we simultaneously developed our technical and creative production skills.

While the practicality of the weekly exercises allowed us to experiment with methods of coverage, framing, scene construction and cinematographic techniques through the experimentation and creation of video content, the weekly reflections encouraged students to dissect, discuss and reflect on the creative processes that justified our decisions we made during the production of our exercises. Thus the course provided me with the perfect blend of creating video content and reflecting upon what I made through written critical analysis.

Not only did my participation in the course work help me to enhance my technical and written knowledge, I effectively used my experiences from each of the weekly group exercise that I took part in, as research that would contribute towards my methology of working. This would assist me to determine what I wanted to create for my self-directed scene, as part of my final assessment task for the semester.

Upon further researching the filmmaking styles of various independent filmmakers such as Harmony Korine and Gaspar Noe, who are known to focus on capturing the realistic depiction of people and places in their filmic work, I had an epiphany, which would form the foundation of the style/ approach I wanted to utilize to construct of my final film. This epiphany influenced my desire to experiment with the notions of traditional filmmaking by simplifying most pre-production processes and organization, to produce a film that was built around the visuals rather than constructing a film around a structured narrative. Additionally, through observing the approach Paul encouraged the class to take when we were given instruction to commence shooting our weekly scenes with a lack of substantial pre-production, I was motivated to investigate whether or not I could replicate my similar class experiences when organizing to shoot an actual short film production with a cast and crew ensemble. This motivation sparked my interest to investigate and explore the possibilities of developing a non-traditional and rather spontaneous style of filmmaking, with an emphasis on capturing realism, to develop a film in the most naturalistic way. Essentially, to (almost) conceive the narrative of the film as the camera rolled, increasing the organic and realistic essence of my entire short film.

Furthermore, through the production of my final film, I intended to explore various technical and creative elements such as; how images can naturally develop a structured narrative, how improvisation effects performance, the dynamics and differences between performances from experienced and first time actors and how to effectively film a scene within the restrictions of shooting in a car and at night.

The only pre-production I undertook for my final film was a series of technical exercises/ experimentations which I would film and reflect upon, in the vein of the course’s weekly assigned tasks. Although it was my aim to conduct minimal pre-production, I was able to remain faithful to this constraint, as these tests where essential towards developing my technical competence, rather than developing narrative structure. Through the practice of these exercises, which I would later analytically write upon in my methods of working blog reflections, it enabled me to enhance my ability to wield the camera within my chosen shooting location for coverage.

I consider my experiences from the production of my final film rather educational, as I was able to gain a new perspective of working within unfamiliar and minimalistic shooting conditions on a proper (by proper, meaning to have the intent to create an actual usable film for screening) production shoot. Unlike majority of the film productions I have been involved in over the years as a freelancer, there was no shooting schedule, screenplay or script breakdowns prepared prior to the film shoot. Instead I was armed with a list of visual storyboards, to inspire the camera coverage and images I wanted to bring to life in the film, from the depths of my mind.

Production Storyboards:




As my focus revolved around creating and maintaining the naturalistic essence of my film, I gave my actors a specific set of instructions and motivational cues that in turn inspired their performances, which I chronologically captured on camera. My aim extended to capturing genuine interaction through real life dialogue and performance. Hence it was important that my influence as the director didn’t impact their interpretation of the roles, to give the impression of genuine interaction in simulated conditions.

Overall, I enjoyed my entire production experience while utilizing my restrictive and non-traditional style of filmmaking, which I had formed for investigation. I particularly found working with a small cast and crew (with a maximum of 4 people being present on set over 2 days of shooting) to be less frustrating than working with a larger crew. As I didn’t create a shooting schedule, we took our time to shoot the film, meaning I didn’t need to worry about having a 1st AD constantly breathing down my neck, pressuring me to hurry up due to time constraints. Consequentially, this enabled more freedom and flexibility to produce all the shots I required for my film.

Despite having the flexibility to shoot whatever I desired without time limitations, the efficiency of the shoot suffered greatly. This was due to the fact that we exceeded the estimated wrap up time by several hours on the both production days. Factors such as the seemingly casual nature of the film production, and the fact that all the cast and crew knew each other prior to the production, created the issue of time wasting, as people quickly got side tracked to begin unrelated conversations, causing us to spend more time on location than I had anticipated. Therefore, this ultimately contributed towards the lack of efficiency on set. I have also comprehended the risks of relying upon improvisational performances. Although I was able to improve my skill as a director through frequent and intense communication with the performers to guide and motivate their performances, I could evidently see how the narrative could have potentially been different if the performers were given a script. Its evident upon playing back the footage in post-production, that if the actors where given a script to recite, it would have strengthened the story of my film and the audience’s understanding of the narrative. However, this would have been at the expense of the heightened naturalistic performances, which I focused on capturing through encouraging improvised acting.

Therefore, my investigation through the non-traditional approach I took when producing my film, has lead me to maintain my belive that pre-production is an essential component for a film’s production. Despite the fact that this production stage can strengthen the economical viability and structure of a film, it also possesses the tendency to eliminate the spontaneity and flexibility when actually on production.

In conclusion, from my semester’s venture in investigating and exploring the significance of camera coverage through practical and theoretical work, it has encouraged me to think critically about what the notions of coverage means to me. The processes that encouraged me to actively participate in production exercises, create video content and reflect upon what I have made, has shaped my understanding of effectively capturing a scene in filmmaking. It enforced my understanding that coverage is far beyond the art of creating aesthetically pleasing shots. It’s far more complex, revolving around the ability to create a relationship between a sequence of images in the scene, to capture cohesion through the lens of the camera.

Shots from final film:

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Essentially my plan for the substantial blog post is that I intend to publish a comprehensive reflection and analysis of my entire learning experiences while undertaking this media 5 ‘The Scene In Cinema’ course; How the classes helped me think about the scene I want to create and how I was able to produce my final product. Additionally as a conclusion, I will identify what I’ve learned from my experiences/ practice and how this whole assignment was beneficial for me as a developing filmmaker.


“Film realism- My intention was to investigate and explore the possibilities of developing a film in the most natural and spontaneous way, with the narrative being conceived as the camera rolled”.


In my final video exercise/ practice shoot before the actual film production, I decided I would dedicate my investigation to find the most efficient methods of shooting close-ups within my chosen environment for the film. Ultimately, I knew before this exercise that close-ups would be more easier to capture on camera than wide shots, not only due to the fact that most of the lenses I have available to me are canon zoom lenses, but additionally due to my camera’s crop factor (Which I have briefly discussed a couple blog posts ago). Despite this, the only issue when it comes to shooting close-ups, which is something I have detected from my years of filmmaking, is that close-up shots have the tendency of depicting shakier camera movement more explicitly when shooting handheld than the shakiness which can be seen in a medium or wide shot.

With this in mind, in addition to all my equipment which I have used throughout all my video exercises, I took a pillow to place between the lens and the chair which my camera rests on in the car, to see whether or not I can reduce the shaky motion of the cinematography caused by the unbalance between the camera and the attached lens which is longer and heavier than the camera itself. This worked rather effectively as I was able to achieve smoother cinematography simply by using the pillow as extra support to eliminate any shakiness caused by the weight differences.

In regards to the camera coverage itself, I realized that the only lens I actually need to efficiently shoot close ups on set, within the limited time I have on production, was with the canon 24-70mm F2.8. Out of the two other lenses I had experimented shooting with on the exercise, this particular zoom lens was far more lightweight than the canon 24-105mm f4 lens and had the ability of capturing higher levels of natural light and depth of field while reaching as high as an F2.8 an aperture setting, which beats the highest aperture obtainable on both the canon 24-105mm f4 and the 18-55mm F3.5-5.5 lenses.

From this exercise I also decided to see whether or not it would beneficial for me (aesthetically speaking) to shoot the driver from different angles. Although switching positions from the back seat to the side passenger seat was quite a lengthy process of the driver pulling over to the side of the road and waiting for me to adjust the camera to be utilized suitably in my restricted space, I liked the idea of having an addition angle to shoot in the car, as I was happy with the alternative shots I was able to obtain from the front of the car which would be harder to capture from behind the driver.

Overall, I believe all the camera tests I conducted leading up to my final film shoot, were essential towards the planning of my film. Each time I had the opportunity to practice shooting these scenes, I was able to progressively develop my technical knowledge, which will definitely enhance not only my ability but also the efficiency of filming my final film for this course.

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Using the same edit of the footage from my previous production test/ exercise, I wanted to compare the aesthetics of the images with different color correction schemes which my investigation has brought me to believe will look the best for my film to be digitally painted in. Either incorporating the cold hues of blues or a combination of warmer murkier colors such as greens and oranges, which to my surprise actually work well together.

To best view and compare the extent of the contrasting effects of two different color correction settings, I divided my screen between the cold and warm colors by color correcting the original video coldly, then duplicating and adding the exact same clips over the original with warm color correction and cropping the sides so both videos can be seen at the same time.

Although I haven’t decided on which exact settings I’d like to use when editing my final production, I believe this was the best way for me to compare each of the different styles via the side-by-side comparison.

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I shot this production exercise with the intention to improve the shooting conditions, which I set for my initial nighttime car scene. However in this exercise, I specifically shifted my focus to determine the ergonomics of filming wide shots in a moving car within the certain restrictions I’ve identified, such as the limited space I had for camera movement and my camera’s crop factor which ultimately affects the framing as the image always looks more zoomed in than a full frame camera, due to my camera’s smaller sensor size (which I believe is somewhere between super 35- 16mm).
Utilizing all the lenses I had available to me, I was able to determine which lens would be suitable for the specific shots I had prepared according to my shortlist. I believe my cannon 18-55mm F 3.5-5.5 zoom lens, was the best at capturing the widest shot of the entire front dashboard area of the car. However I’ve realized that I really shouldn’t use this particular lenses for the close ups, due to the fact that upon zooming in from 18mm, the aperture decreases to as low as 5.5 which isn’t ideal for my shooting environment due to the lack of light.

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The cannon 24-70mm F4 lens was decent in capturing the behind medium shots of the driver, however I wasn’t particularly happy with the brightness of the shots due to the lens’ F4 aperture. Fortunately, I will have an updated version of the same lens available to me on the day of production, which has the ability to go as high as a F2.8 aperture, which will enable me to obtain a brighter shot with an increased cinematic appearance through more depth of field.

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I’ve also realized through this shoot that the use of a cannon 50mm prime lens would be pointless due to my camera’s crop factor, which forces a zoomed up looking image. Although I was able to obtain a nice crisp looking shot while using the 50mm, It would be much more efficient to use the zoom function on either the 18-55mm or 24-70mm for close ups, as this would save me the time for lens changes (which can be quite difficult in a moving car).

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Additionally I was able to improve the stability of my shots. Upon reviewing my last nighttime car exercise I wasn’t happy with the amount of shakiness the handheld footage produced. Due to the fact that I was unable to fit a tripod in the car, I was able to improve the stability of my cinematography by placing my camera on top of a small stool (which I sit on when playing the drums). This provided more fluid camera work yet still maintaining small amounts of jerkiness, which is an aesthetic I like and consider appropriate for the film, in small amounts.



I have finally finalized the casting for my film, consisting of two individuals to inherit the roles of two characters intended to be depicted on screen.

The first cast member is an experienced performer, who is a trained and developing young actor with experience working in short films and television productions. He is someone I have worked with on one of my prior films, and consider his acting skills appropriate for the role I have cast him in. The other individual cast in the film is a mate of mine who has no proper training or essential experience as an actor in front of the camera.

I have deliberately decided to cast these opposing types of performers as I thought it would be interesting to experiment working with an experienced actor and non-performer, as a way to investigate the differences between working with different types of performers for a film. It is my aim to observe the differences/ similarities of how these two individuals will work independently, the effectiveness of their interaction during their performances and the differences between directing these kinds of performers, to see whether or not its always best to hire experienced actors, over first time actors, for a film production.


Colour in film is vital. Lighting, colour correction and the organised physical colour schemes within the miss-en scene change the way we view, interpret and feel certain emotions through scenes in cinema. Here are some of my notes on colour based on the colour schemes I’m interested in exploring with before shooting my film;

Source: Krzysztof Kieślowski’s A short film about killing (1988)

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Colours:A Combination of highly saturated warm and cold hues, mainly consisting of blues, greens and yellows, merged together with the addition of high contrast to strengthen the blacks and shadows throughout the overall image. Although the colours present in this film are supposed to reflect a calmness and tranquility, the high contrast counterbalances this to contribute to the images dark and gloomy nature.


Source: Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia (1983)

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Colours: The utilisation of high Brightness, soft blacks and Desaturation of the overall image contribute to a very murky aesthetic. Additionally theres a certain hazy quality that contributes to a surrealistic feeling or something that suggests impending doom for the characters within their location.


Source: Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible (2002)

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Colours: High contrasted images help create an emphasis on silhouettes. Rich blacks and colours ,particularly warm hues of reds, obtained from the intense lighting design on production. I consider the best way to describe the aesthetic of this film to be sinister sleaze, which can also reflect the essence of the narrative and entire nature of Irreversible.


Source: The night time scenes from Albert Dupontel’s Enferme Dehors (2006)

Colours: The visual aesthetics throughout the film’s night time scenes, which remain different from the rest of the film, contains a lot of highly saturated greenish/ yellowish hues that supports the overall high contrast image. I feel as tho these colours have been specifically used to create a contrast between the day and night scenes, as it may reflect the directors own notions of the city streets, at night in France, as a profoundly dark and ominous place.


Late last year, In the midst of the strenuous and lengthy pre-production stages for my first budgeted independent short film, I had a dream one night where the images were so clear and strikingly vivid, that although I was never able to completely understand what this dream was actually about, I was still eager to bring these series of surreal and somewhat disjointed moving pictures from my subconscious mind to life for a short film.

However I didn’t want to develop this film utilizing the traditional processes of filmmaking that is so restrictive due to the controlled nature of a film production where the majority of everything is strictly scripted and organized before the camera is rolling, which can potentially eliminate spontaneity and a natural progression.

Through this assessment task, I aim to experiment with the processes of filmmaking and to challenge the traditional notions of filmmaking by not necessarily eliminating most of the production processes that contribute towards a film’s construction, rather directing my focus to build a film based on visual imagery as the foundation, rather than the images and content being controlled or influenced by a structured storyline. Through this experimentation I hope to be able to develop a new style of producing my films.

In order for me to successfully accomplish this goal, I will work extensively around the constraints I have set to steer me in the right direction. As my main priority is the image and how images can naturally develop cohesion and somewhat of a structured narrative, pre-production will consist of me completely disregarding the screenwriting process, as I want the narrative of my film to be conceived naturally on production when I’m on location ready to shoot. Therefore instead of writing a structured screenplay, the actors who’ll appear in my film, will be given a set of actions to guide their improvised performances, which will motivate their potential to produce natural performances.

Much like art in the form of a painting, my film will have a strong emphasis on the visuals to stimulate certain feelings from viewers. Which is why majority of my time working on pre-production will be spent towards the deliberation of not only what I want to show on screen but how I’m going to depict it. Factors such as the type of camera coverage and stylized mood lighting to illuminate and enhance the surrealism of the images will be heavily considered.

In order for me to gain the best possible visual aesthetic, my camera will be used as a research tool, as I aim to shoot a series of camera and lighting tests over each weekend leading up to the actual film shoot. During these camera tests I’ll be armed with the visual storyboards I’ve collated over the past couple weeks, that consist of a series of still frame visual references from various films that have inspired the aesthetics I wish to take and regurgitate with my own interpretation of them on screen. Frames from films such as Gaspar Noe’s, Irreversible, Enter the void and Krzysztof Kieslowski’s, A short film about killing, have been used as references, as the amazing cinematography throughout these films are supported by expressionist lighting and colour schemes to digitally paint the scene, reflecting characters moods in addition to establishing the tone for the visual atmosphere in the world for their films.

In conclusion, to summarize my proposal, I’d like to read a quote from Independent American filmmaker Harmony korine, who’s words best encapsulate the essence of the filmmaking style I want to investigate and follow to create my film for this course. In regards to the production of his film, Gummo, Korine says “I wanted to make a movie with images coming from all directions, I wanted to make a different kind of film… I wasn’t concerned about how it was photographed or where it came from… I saw it almost like a book of photos… but there’s a narrative that develops through this, there’s a cohesion. That was the idea of the movie, I just wanted to set things up and I wanted to just document it and make sense of it later”.

Week 7 Reflection/ Epiphany

Although this week’s focus was on our 3-minute class presentations that we had to deliver on Friday, I was able to divide my time between writing my presentation and concentrating on the video investigation task that Paul issued to complete and submit this week. Through undertaking this task, it was my aim to explore, not only what imagery I wanted to depict on screen for my final film, but how I’m going to capture it more in the technical sense. Whether I need wide-angle lenses, a follow focus to assist me when shifting focal points, what sort of lighting equipment I needed to shoot in the dark and how I could shoot my focal subjects to achieve the best aesthetic shot.

After completing my storyboard/ visual references of the type of visuals I want to capture, I decided the best way for me to decide how I’m going to shoot the film was to shoot a test video, reflect on it, and if I’m not happy with the results, to shoot another video on the following weekend where I’d technically alter my shooting methods to see which way can produce the best results.

This week, with the help of a good friend of mine who was happy to perform in my video, I was able to film some of the shots I had in mind to be featured in my final film. However, I decided to shoot my test video under certain constraints, which would affect the overall essence and look of the video. Although I didn’t know whether or not these constraints would work to my advantage, I nevertheless wanted to explore and experiment with them anyway.

So my video was shot very similar to how Dogme 95 films were created, as I wanted to explore filmmaking styles that emphasize realism and the simplification of film production. Persisting to exist between 1995 till 2005, Dogme 95 was an avant-garde filmmaking movement created to “purify filmmaking” urging filmmakers to focus on the story and actors performances rather than superficial elements of production. When making a Dogme film, there were certain rules known as the vow of chastity, which filmmakers had to abide by. These rules included:

1 Filming must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in.

2 Music must not be used unless it occurs within the scene being filmed.

3 The camera must be hand-held; filming must take place where the action takes place.

4 The film must be in colour. No special lighting.

5 Optical work and filters are forbidden.

6 No superficial action (No murders, weapons, etc.)

7 No temporal or geographical alienation.

8 No genre movies.

9 The aspect ratio must be 4:3, not widescreen.

10 The director must not be credited.

With exception to rules 2 and 9, I remained loyal to these rules. Consequentially I was able to obtain a certain stylistic look throughout my footage, which expressed rawness and realism, accentuated by the shakiness of the camera and the lack of over lighting. This made me realize that I may not need all the equipment that I initially thought I needed such as a tripod and additional lighting, which will counter my acquired results with a more polished and artificial “big budget” production look. Certainly in this case, I was able to understand the concept “sometimes more is less”. As I am still not sure what kind of style I want my final film to reflect, either raw/ natural or polished/ Hollywood film-eque, I will aim to do some additional camera test using more equipment to determine my productions final shooting conditions.

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There are a number of technical and creative elements of filmmaking I wish to investigate/ explore this semester:

1) How images can naturally develop a structured narrative with the sole intention to only recreate the images I have in my mind and want to bring to life. Essentially, producing a film that’s built around the visuals rather than creating a structured story and constructing the film around that.

2)How improvisation effects performance.

3)The differences between performances from experienced and first time actors.

4)Lastly, how to effectively film a scene within the restrictions of shooting in a car and at night.

Although most of these aspects will be explored in the film I intent to produce this semester, I may wish to condense my formal list of elements I wish to research extensively for this course.