I would be lying if I said that this semester went off without a hitch. In addition to the expected mid-semester wall that usually hits every student, mine was plagued by a considerable amount of personal tribulations which affected my academic output.
That excuse aside, this semester has been a highly formative one. While the emphasis had been placed by Paul on the intricacies of a single scene, rather than the film as a whole, I found meaning through which to apply my learning to the entire process of filmmaking.
As a second-year student being paired alongside students in their final year of the course, The Scene in Cinema started off with an initial load of extreme intimidation. This level of intimidation gradually decreased over the months, as I came to befriend my peers and learnt to pace myself alongside their own skill level. Though I could never shake off how resolute and driven the best of them appeared to be. I saw myself as just a loser kid who liked Godard movies and wanted to learn how to make them, my older peers were Godards in their own rights.
The first half of the semester, as Paul intended, was a basic refresher for the more experienced students. For those who has just come out of a year studying media in a context unrelated to the film industry, this was more than just a crash course, it was a head on collision between an asteroid and the White House. Within weeks, I had gone from using consumer DSLRs to using Sony EX-3 cameras. Within weeks, I had gone from paying my friends to act in my works with promises of pizza, to engaging with professional actors contacted through casting calls. Was I intimidated by all of this? Did this throw me off my desire to become a filmmaker? Not in the slightest. Within weeks, I had gone from being sidetracked by other paths to being someone who lived, breathed, ate and slept shot construction, and blocking, and the movement of the camera, and whether or not we had the best lighting for the shot, and how these different shots would interact when together.
Now that we’ve established that the studio drove me to explore myself, how can I go about demonstrating it?
After the first half of the semester, spent shooting small scenes in small groups, the real part of the subject began. From that point on, every single thing that we did was an individual endeavour. Works were no longer collaborations. Strict hierarchies were formed as we learnt to become the director for every one of our productions, in addition to learning how to utilise our peers as valuable members of our production crew. This was most important for me, as this studio was not only about understanding how a scene is put together, but understanding how to put together a scene the way you’d like it to be. Auteurism plays a significant role in filmmaking for me, and this was something I wanted to demonstrate in my learning.
To compare the difference between how I operated within a collaborative work environment, and how I operate as an auteur, here are two different scenes made during the semester. To note is my individualistic use of editing and the post-production phase in general, which I treat as much of an element in film to share with audience than one would the acting and the mise-en-scene.
I was not responsible for the narrative, or the shot construction or anything related to the production phase of this video, all my influence occurs in post. Here you can see that everything is a lot more conventional when it comes to the acting and the blocking.
Juxtaposed with this is my own video, which I shot as a practise investigation. Here, I loosely adapted one of Paul’s prompt screenplays, casting my actors and choosing my set. The shot construction is accordance with my own intuition, and everything has been filmed in harmony with the post-production phase, with cuts and music in mind.
The culmination of my education in the studio can be found in this video.
I believe it is not impossible, but tedious and unnecessary to reflect upon all of my learning in one single post. I have dedicated an entire blog to documenting it. This video demonstrates what I have attached significance to as an aspiring filmmaker – my particular shots, my slow and steady pacing, my synergy with music and colours.
I have had an incredible few months being taught how to construct a scene, under the incredible tutelage of Paul Ritchard. Seriously, I can see why you keep him around here, it’s not just for his flamboyant shirts.