Student Fictional Film – Coffee & π

As a part of RMIT’s Film TV 1 specialization, a group of students and myself produced a short, fictional film. The course criteria required our team to complete all of the filming in one day. This proved to be a challenging task, however it encouraged our team to be highly organized and focused on the day of shooting.


Here is our story idea for the romantic comedy titled ‘Coffee and π’, written by Evan Paris:

Adrian, a socially awkward mathematician, is a regular at a local cafe. Adrian, quite literally, sees the world through numbers, and can produce calculations for life itself. But when a girl enters the equation, human error becomes a major problem, and the theories he creates cannot work.


The finished film, ‘Coffee and π’ was shown at RMIT’s end of semester screening.

The crew on shoot day

The crew – shoot day

Korsakow – Short Film & Critical Statement

Myself and a team of students that are undertaking Integrated Media 1 have produced a short Korsakow film, I’Object.

K film

K-film, I’Object

The film focuses on Bordwell’s concept – “It is possible to organise an entire film around colours, shapes, sizes and movements within the images”.
(Bordwell, Thompson. 2013, p11)


Here is our critical statement for our film, which is our final major essay for the specialisation subject. The piece is written by Simon Topin with contributions from myself, Ed Goldsmith and Daina Anderson.





The Korsakow project entitled ‘I, Object’, attempts to take non-linear, non-narrative based theories to their logical conclusions. To this end, we deliberately avoided trying to tell any kind of story and used six household objects; chairs, mugs, fascinators, textas, clothes and lamps, presenting each object in ten different colours across the spectrum; red, yellow, pink, green, purple, orange, blue, white, black and grey. The film is a list within a list, where everything is neatly categorised and understood. Everything is only what it seems and the disparity between the objects and the rigid order of the colour system attempts to subvert any emergent narrative or subtext within the work. This attempt at authorial invisibility speaks of “infinite possibilities in combining and making connections across a networked field of elements”, (Frankham. 2013, p138) where the seeming randomness of the objects in the list, and their adherence to a colour code means that they are in themselves meaningless – literally any object of an appropriate colour could be substituted to replace them.
Like the medieval perception of time, ‘I, Object’, runs on an infinite loop. By embracing the list form totally, the film aims to reduce itself to “sequential notations of temporal events with no meta-historical, narrative prefiguration. So, we get a glimpse of a way of processing cultural experience that does not need stories”. (Ernst. 2003, p42) However, in a 20th century obsessed with stories and comprised of individual, marketing assisted narratives, this glimpse must remain fleeting.


“Associational formal systems suggest ideas and expressive qualities by grouping images that may not have any immediate logical connection. But the very fact that the images and sounds are juxtaposed prods us to look for some connection – as association that binds them together”. (Bordwell and Thompson. 2008, p363)


The tension of list vs narrative is expressed, again literally, through the choice of soundtrack. The industrial and largely atonal electronic soundscape is intentionally aggressive and challenging, contrasting the domesticity of the objects in the film.
The grinding progression of the music accompanied by the infinite loop and eventual ‘living death’ that takes hold of the film prompts the viewer to try and forget themselves, to become one with the never-ending progression of objects, to be absorbed self-consciously into an “institutional matrix represented in time”. (Frankham. 2013, p139)




The pattern moves through a sequential progression of colours. Starting as a solid block, six different objects sit next to the previously selected object of their triggering colour.


A gradual decay in the lifespan of the individual films comprising ‘I, Object’, alters the Korsakow viewing space until the form becomes repeating and static. By observing this, it would be easy to infer metaphors about the de-humanising narratives of consumer capitalism, planned obsolescence and the commodification of spaces, but this was not an intention of the film. Closer to the mark, the film is a kind of parody, expressing doubts about what Bogost calls, “the jarring staccato of real being”, (Bogost. 2012) that assumes “real being”, whatever it is, has no organising principle and therefore narrative. In other words, we dispute that any notion of story is itself a false and ‘human’ construction. Were humans to suddenly evaporate from the planet, cause and effect would still occur, whether we are there to observe it or not, so to this end, this film is a self-conscious attempt at falsehood, acknowledging the inevitable attempts of the viewer to create meaning, while disavowing any interpretation that goes beyond the colours of the banal objects. This is highlighted through the close up shots that “isolate the objects from their everyday context in such a way that their abstract qualities come forward”. (Bordwell and Thompson. 2013, p12)




There is a limited amount to be said about the Korsakow interface that hasn’t been somehow addressed in the ‘Pattern’ and ‘Content’ sections. An initial test suggested that users are encouraged to follow each separate object through its ten different colour iterations. Thematically, this is encouraging and supports Frankham’s claim that, relationships are formed through “conceptual alignment, emotional impact, visual similarities and territories of gesture”. (Frankham. 2013, p138)
We selected the decay rate of the videos based on what we judged to be their aesthetic value. Pens and fascinators, being the most interesting, are infinite, lamps have two lives and mugs, chairs and clothes have one life each. This will create a degree of controlled randomisation in the way that the interface is expressed. Unless the viewer follows exact paths, the interface layouts will be inconsistent – in line with our intentions. One potential drawback of the film is its replay value, and may not prompt the participant to explore the work to its end, yet this in itself may not be a problem, as the film can be started or finished at essentially any point.




Our film is very high concept and deliberately conforms to the machine-logic of modern media studies. That is, the logic of fetishized transhumanism that eschews narrative and expects that in a computerised age, humans must by necessity now resemble machines internally – as silicon based Monads – impersonal, democratised nodes of existence. ‘I, Object’ attempts to convey the aggravating nihilism of this approach, while simultaneously acknowledging the beauty in pure aesthetics.


However, ‘I, Object’, remains aware of the impossibility of removing completely either the viewer or the author from the equation, and expresses this through the juxtaposition of harsh electronic noise and boring household items. ‘I, Object’s’ passive rigidity goes against both notions of randomness and narrative, (a story in itself?) yet retains the potential to tell whatever story the viewer desires. Our cataloguing of images “help to describe part of external reality”, (Bogust. 2012, p42) although what reality this is exactly, remains unspecified.


Ultimately, in spite of our attempts to subvert narrative and meaning, “if the film’s formal organisation has been created with care, the similarities and differences will not be random. There will be some underlying principle that runs through the film”. (Bordwell and Thompson. 2013, p12)


1100 Words




Bogost, Ian. (2012) ‘Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing’. Minneapolis: University Press of Minnesota. Print.

Bordwell, David, and Kristin Thompson.(2013)‘Film Art: An Introduction’. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill.

Ernst, Wolfgang ;Méchoulan, Éric (Editor) ; Cisneros, James (Guesteditor) ; Garneau, Michèle (Guesteditor) (2003) ‘Telling versus Counting? A Media-Archaelogical Point of View’, Intermédialités, pp.31-44

Frankham, Bettina Louise. (2013) ‘Complexity, Flux and Webs of Connection. A Poetic Approach to Documentary : Discomfort of Form, Rhetorical Strategies and Aesthetic Experience’. PhD Dissertation, University of Technology Sydney.



Analysis/ refection 6 – ‘shooting on the day’

Guest lecturer, Sandra spoke to the Film-TV 1 students about the production of our short films as well as some strategies for the shoot day or in Sandra’s words “Learning how to be smart as soon as possible to get things done on the day of shooting”. Sandra provided the room with some insights into how to direct actors. Sandra told that when directing actors it is important not to hurt their confidence or to offend their acting abilities. Sandra spoke about how it’s often not the actor’s technique that is wrong, it is just that the actor and the director have different expectations of what they want from a scene or character. Sandra told a handy hint – to word things so that actors think that they came up with the idea. Sandra also advised not to get too bogged down in the actor’s technique

Analysis/ reflection five – Lighting Lecture

In our week seven lecture on lighting, Robin provided the class with a run down on how to apply lighting as well as useful information on the lighting environment in relation to filming. An important note that I took away from the lecture was to know your lighting environment. This could include knowing the transit of the sun in relation to the shoot location as well as being aware of the lighting situation that the location entails. Robin also advised for us to “choose the relationship between the lighting situation and the subject”. Although applying lighting can give us some control over how the subject may appear, we also have the ability to select where to place the subject in comparison to the natural light. This also brings us back to Robin’s initial point – know the lighting situation at the shoot location.


After considering the information Robin provided, our group mapped out the transit of the sun at our location and came up with an assumption of when the sun would be at its strongest and where it would appear. This also provided us with an idea of what lighting complications may occur. From there, we arranged our shot schedule to avoid some of the difficulties we envisioned and also chose our lighting equipment around the lighting situation and affect of the sun’s transit on our shoot location and time frame.

Analysis/ reflection 4 – filming Lenny

Filming the Lenny in such a short time frame proved to be quite challenging. Although we took correct preparations in scouting a nearby location, sourcing actors, blocking and discussing shooting ideas, the filming didn’t seem to run as fluidly as we would of liked. However, it allowed us to become familiar with equipment and the overall production process. A problem that we came across on the day was that the memory card was full when we went to shoot. This meant that I spent ten minutes deleting files, which lowered our already minimal filming time. In future I will definitely check that there is space on the memory card. Another thing that I found interesting on the day was applying the ‘shoot to edit’ technique. Although our time was quite limited, our team experimented with various shots, locations, sound techniques etc.… which proved worthy when we came to the editing process.

To watch how Lenny turned out, click here.


Analysis/ reflection four – lighting

Robin’s week six lecture on lighting was technically informative as well as brought to light (no pun intended) things to consider when selecting and creating the lighting environment for our films. I found that a lot of the points Robin made were generally about applying your common sense – which was one of the main points that I took from the lecture.

One of the topics that also involves ‘applying your common sense’ was about knowing the transit of the sun (note: rises in the East and sets in the West and t curves northerly in winter in the Southern Hemisphere). Knowing the suns transit and the direction of our location allows us to predetermine the lighting situation at out filming location e.g. where the sun will be at 4:00pm. On that note, the suns positing also brings to mind continuity within the film – being one of the reasons why we light.

Interestingly, Robin spoke of how digital technology gives us the advantage to experiment and test lighting at our location before we go to production. In doing so, we should be able to decipher what lighting may assist us in achieving our desired result or perspective as well as preparing us for the lighting obstacles we may need to prepare for. The test may reveal that the location is strongly back light and that we may need boards to block light on the day.

Analysis/ reflection 3 – “Shoot to Edit”

I was unable to attend the week 3 lecture that focused on the ‘shoot to edit’ technique, however I have done some research as to some of the advantages the tactic can bring along with how to adapt the filming approach. describes the ‘shoot to edit’ technique to involve filming various shot sizes, panning, angles etc… as a means of having a selection of material when it comes to the editing process. Additionally, taking a range of shots can enhance a scene if not a lot was happening in it.


The article tells that shooting to edit involves thinking like an editor. The article also informs of the methodical practice of shooting to edit – stating that you are to focus on spatial elements. This would involve shooting all external scenes first, then internal, perhaps focusing on one side of the room and the angles and shots that could assist you in post production and then the additional side etc… Furthermore, the practice of shooting to edit allows for a larger creative selection when it comes to post production as well as more diverse shot variety in order to enhance the final product.


Work cited 2014. Shoot to Show or to Edit. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 07 April 14].