This semester has been quite a learning curve. I think I have gotten the most out of this semester more so than some of the other semesters to do with film making, mainly because we got to hone in on one aspect of it instead of being broad and doing things half heartedly. Definitely a testament to Paul and Robin! It makes sense focusing on one ‘scene’, I feel like I got to be a lot more ‘aware’ of what I was actually doing and filming, which helped create more meaning and substance behind the actual shoot. With past courses, the emphasis on the short film as a whole (pre-production, safety, certificates) sort of flooded the film making aspect of the course, they are obviously important aspects of the process as whole but something I wasn’t really interested in. I started off the course with a vague idea of my interests and aesthetics that I liked, namely Terrance Mallick, David Fincher and other music video directors like A G Rojas. All of them showed themes and aesthetics that really struck a chord with me, the combination of the cinematography and production design really appealed to me. Themes of the supernatural, eerie horror and the psychological states of it’s characters. This formed the basis of my research into scene construction, and the elements of it that excited me and formed the starting basis to how I was going to approach my own scene. I am much more of a practical learner, So a lot of my research went into practicing certain shots and camera movements from films like The Tree of Life and Zodiac. Mallick’s scenes were almost constantly moving, with a combination of hand-held, steadicam and dolly shots that were extremely fluid which provoked me emotionally which is the first aspect of the scene I wanted to address. Fincher was a little different in the sense that he only used hand-held onse or twice throughout his films and preferred a very methodical, measured movements of the camera, the reasoning behind this being that camera movements that aren’t possible by human camera operators he found more interesting and diverse. This formed another area I wanted to address, not as deeply as Mallick but definitely look at. I practices some shoots with a friend, without a story line just to practice exposing correctly and seeing how I went with the combination of slow motion and the standard frame rate. This helped me iron out the creases before I went on my final investigation / shoot. For the story I created a basic story line that would allow me to incorporate the different aspects of film making I wanted to address while keeping it relatively short. The outline of the scene being two characters in limbo, one trying to escape and the other who has just arrived. I found this isn’t how some other people saw it when I showed them drafts but I kind of like that, it made them think to themselves what it meant for them personally which is what I like best about filmmaking. In that facet, I believe I achieved what I set out to do. Overall I was extremely happy with how my final investigation turned out, there were some parts that I didn’t include which I probably wanted to, as they didn’t fit aesthetically but in the end I have a piece that looks nice and conveys what I want it to convey. I found most of my research was achieved practically as I am not one for deep analysis, which worked for me, as I wasn’t thinking too hard about trying to make it look like something else, rather using the elements of the scenes I looked at to create something that reflected my interests and beliefs etc.
Prior to filming, I had this idea in my head of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to have included in the scene. Originally I wanted to have a voice over, as well as a shot of the main character getting a school photo for the montage as well as a section at the end where the character would wake up from limbo. After filming all of these shots I began to realise what worked well and what didn’t which was serendipitous in a way, a aspect I wanted to explore. The three things I mentioned above are sections of the film I have chosen not to include. The photo scene and the end sequence were to literal, which was bought up by Paul and some other peers in my class which I thought was very true. As for the voiceover, it still could have worked but I think trying to write a script for it or having someone make one up would have been to much of a hassle and after watching it with pure environmental sounds I think it works really well without it, it definitely leaves more up to the imagination which is something as a viewer that I like in films. I am truly happy with how it has turned out though, I like the consistency and it is also a story that has themes I am very interested in / passionate about.
From my last shorts and docos I have never achieved anything consistent, more so for the exposure and colour correction, that could be more actual filming. To help this I downloaded a add on for my camera that showed zebra patterns for over exposed areas which worked great. I kept on track with my other restrictions being a consistent aperture, an iso no higher than 400 and consistent frame rate and shutter speed for either slow motion or normal. This helped a lot this time around for colour correction and consistency throughout. I did try to film one of my characters floating which I was going to include however, I used artificial lighting for the shot to help brighten the green sheet, once edited the shot looked out of place aesthetically so I decided not to include it in. As for the other parts, I added on a slight sharpen on all of the images as the DSLR produces quite a soft image. I also put on a slight film grain and a applied a wider aspect ratio which helped give it a more cinematic feel. Overall I am pleased with how it turned out and I believe I worked within my method of working which makes TOM HAPPPPPPY.
After I finished filming I was able to tell what sort of soundtrack and sounds that I wanted to accompany the different shots. For the dream sequence I instantly thought of the film Gravity as the soundscape really resonated with me, or should I say the lack of sound (which I actually found is still sound). Very rarely are there films that have absolutely no sound accompanying a shot, I found at the very least there will be some low level white noise or environmental sound. In Gravity there is also the sound that leads to the silence which is really important to create the that ‘silent effect’. Whether it’s a ‘whooshing’ sound or an increase in the sound level, this cut harshly next to silence and say a cut in the footage as well, creates a very effective silent effect. This is something I want to incorporate into my dream sequence scenes. With the editing I have already done, I found this neat trick to help widen the sounds in the film, or make them appear that way. Instead of having one mono sound straight down the middle, which I had done in past, I used different sections of the same sound (It had to be a consistent sound with not too much variation) and use final cuts stereo settings to pan them left and right. This worked really well to create a larger atmosphere, something that I noticed is used in pretty much all movies now (silly Tom). For the soundtrack, I tried three different tracks, the first was one I had made for a previous project, the second was a new one I had made and the third was one straight from the tree of life. I did really like the one from tree of life, I took into account that the production was a lot better, but the religious choir sort of gave the whole scene a different aesthetic which I really liked, it gave it religious undertones without trying to look to much more into it. I am currently working on a track that samples the Tree of Life one, hoping to create something similar but different.
For the shoot itself, I drove down the night before with the two actors so that I could get up in the morning and shoot on the beach around sunrise. It all worked well, I know one of the actors wasn’t a morning person but he still managed to get up at 6 and head to the beach. It was quite lucky actually because it was relatively cloudy but that helped accentuate the sunrise and also it poured down later in the day as well. Once we got home Nic went back to bed and I looked through the footage. At about 11 we got back into filming the inside scenes where Nic would enter the dream state and come back into reality. I used a combination of the shoulder mount, steadicam and tripod on carpet (aka dolly). For the shots of Daniel, i used the shoulder mount and for nick i used the steadicam, it probably isn’t that noticeable in post as the camera movements are always moving, however i did that to separate the characters as being in different stages in limbo. This all went well without too much trouble, I used to big lights for behind Nic once he entered my made up state. This worked really well, and created a very dreamy aesthetic. Overall the day of filming went well, and the actors also did really well and they didn’t get to restless etc. Now for post
I actually started filming my final scene investigation without thinking about writing up any of my thought processes setting up etc.
My first shoot was down near the beach and I had to organise with my friend to go down with him to his beach house with the other actor. I had to work around them as they had other commitments and work.
I wrote a list down of all the equipment i needed for the weekend and used the general outline of my film idea for costumes, props etc. Even if I wasn’t really planning on using them, they always could have been a source of inspiration or serendipitous.
The script was just there and i showed it to the actors however let them know that their input would be valid I encouraged it. Alot however had been planned to be thought of on the day due to the size of the room restrictions and weather restrictions etc.
I’m not the biggest fan of analysis, as I usually take in a lot more of the scene as a visual understanding and find it hard to put all of it into words but I will write down for this particular piece what I feel and think and like.
This scene has a combination of both steady shots and hand-held used in conjunction with each other. It connects quite seamlessly which is really nice, knowing that they work together without jarring the audience too much. I really like this scene as it is almost a sort of montage without building up or down to certain point in time. It, like most of the movie, is used to create a certain emotion. The soundtrack is the main emphasis in the scene, with sound bites from what you can see flowing in and out of the soundtrack, with others remaining quite silent. In particularly the scenes that have no subjects in them.
The steady-cam shots work awesome for the slow ‘motion in’ towards an object. The use of blank option juxtaposed with the characters makes you think about what it is trying to say. As a majority of the shots are from a low angle, I like to see it as the ‘first-time experiences’ that the young boy is having. The feel of the curtains, the reflection of the mirror and the textures of his surroundings. Even without the use of dialogue, the scene says a lot. All the shots look as though they are shot on a wide angle lens, which helps capture more of the environment and is quite standard for the cinematic experience.
There are quite a few medium close-ups where the camera is constantly moving, however slight it might be. This is cut with both close-up’s and other medium shots from other angles, The soundscape doesn’t drastically change with the cuts which maintains flow much like the shots. This has made me think more about the scene I want to film, maybe I won’t have any dialogue and just use camera movements and angles to tell the story.