Keeping Mum was not a project focusing on content but it was more of experimenting on the process of choosing a genre for the television industry. We had played around with various genres like mockumentary, sitcom, drama and slasher horror. We felt like we favoured mockumentary more at the end of the film. Due to the fact we felt that things became more organic once we started improvising, we felt that mockumentary became more compelling.
During the pre-production, everyone took part in script writing process where we then chose the best scripts to shoot. We each took two genres to write. We ended up going for Dylan’s and Bianca’s scripts as they were short and simple to experiment on.
We had a few setbacks due to everyone’s working schedule and so our only free day were Mondays and Thursdays before and after classes. We organised a timeline as well as the meeting agendas to keep everyone on track. Our primary source of communication were on the Facebook group and the Google Drive.
My role in the group was to organise the things we had on the Google Drive and make sure the agendas were updated after every meeting. Besides that, I was the camera operator for the films. I had to plan the shots on the spot due to the improvisations. I had edited the snippets of the Mock Shoots as well.
Making ‘Keeping Mum’ a.k.a. LORD OF THE LAND with Team STeve was an absolute pleasure. I never had so many creative people in a team before like our main scriptwriters, Dylan and Bianca. Kerri, our point of contact, always ready to organise group meetings as well as taking charge of our process of delegating our work. Raphael was always present for shooting dates, helping out with the filming as well as acting. All four of them were great in acting. We worked seamlessly together despite having setbacks of not being able to meet up face-to-face most of the times.
If time permits, I definitely would like to continue the project with Team STeve for sure.
CLICK HERE! If you want to see the rest of the films.
Thursday’s class was more focused on editing and a bit of a organising for me. Kerri and I went through the colour grading tutorial on lynda.com and tinkered around in Premiere Pro. We took one of our clips and tried playing around with the colour grading. The first is the raw footage without any colour correction.
No colour grading.
We felt we need to give a bad desaturated colour grading for a mockumentary style so we started tweaking with the colours. We gave it a slightly cyan hue with desaturations. This was how it turned out:
Colour grading fitting for MOCKUMENTARY genre.
We had more time to experiment more so we tried colour grading for a more horror / thriller genre. We pumped up more blue hue in the mid tones and lower the exposure. It made the scene more horrific as below.
Colour grading for horror/thriller genre
After doing this exercise, Dylan and Bianca arrived! We went through our edits of the drama genre and the slasher horror. I watched Dylan’s editing style as he taught me a good faking of focus with just adding a filter. Here are some editing screen grabs. I definitely was surprised at this style of editing. I have never seen it before and I was thankful my group mate had shared this knowledge with me. I think you’ll probably see me playing around with focus more now (thanks Dylan!). If you see the middle of the frame, there is a play with filter on exposure. This allows the eyes to focus on the casts more instead of the messy background in the middle.
with letterbox + focus
without letterbox + focus
That’s it for editing (not so 101…) not an intermediate level nor is it a beginner level either. Overall, I have learnt something new in colour correcting and playing with the exposure. I have an idea in remaking my thriller/drama short film into a mini web series. So, I may use that editing style in that film. (this is really exciting!)
On Monday, 5th October, STeve members travelled to Bianca’s place to shoot some on location scenes. We took a long forty-five minute tram ride to Preston on a hot, sunny day (that’s not… important at all…). On that afternoon, we shot the slasher horror, mockumentary and drama all in one day. It was definitely our most productive shoot to date.
We continued filming extra scenes for the Mockumentary because we felt quite interested in the progress of creating a mock documentary series. However, it is still under consideration because of our other genre scenes we shot.
There was not much preparation of the script as we ended up adding more ideas along the way. I really liked the style of process due to the fact that we kept adding more interesting ideas instead of being constrained to the ideas we put on paper and shoot accordingly to what was written. The improvisation had made it more realistic for the mockumentary as they were placed in a situation where they had to react to whatever the other person was saying. To top it off, we had great people playing their parts. Bianca, Kerri, Dylan and Raphael worked really well improvising together. Dylan and Bianca created the scene well and gave insights to how the character’s personality should be and we started shooting. Kerri and Raphael adapted well to their given personalities.
I learnt that even improvising can help come up with more creative ideas rather than brainstorming and imagining scenarios and putting it into a script. The dialogues seem more natural and so did the acting. To sum up my ramble, Team STeve came in to the shoot with a rough idea of Bianca’s Mockumentary (thanks to the mock shoots we did in the past weeks) and started adding more personality to each character (following Dylan’s sitcom characters) and improvised the filler shots for the mockumentary.
me setting up the camera and framing up Bianca’s scene (that struggle… okay not really)
My part was the camera work. I was constantly thinking of ways to shoot a mockumentary. Dylan helped me quite a lot as he would give suggestions on how to shoot and which angle was probably best to get the right framing. I decided to go “spy mode” camera. I hid behind a wall and filmed most of the group shots in the kitchen. It was interesting way of shooting because it’s like the camera person is suppose to sneakily film their problematic situations in the share house.
This week was consultation session with Stayci. We had finished our sitcom test and the mockumentary mock shoot tests. We screened them for Stayci to watch and she said we were on track. (go team STeve!) We discussed our plan for our final shoot, the prototype. Dylan and I were the only ones present so we decided that we would go for a trailer as our prototype. Which genre? We still have not decided but hopefully our final shoot will tell us which one.
On Thursday, it was the Sony z7 crash course with Paul. I found some of the functions confusing as we could not find them on the camera. (Those buttons are always hiding in the weirdest places! Plus it was too early in the morning to process things). I always had to look around and observe the others. Wise words I learnt from my father, “observe and learn, don’t just sit there and do nothing”. Besides, I didn’t want to ask the same questions the others are asking!
After the crash course, we were planning on more doing more mock shoots in uni but Raphael could not make it to class that day. Instead, we sat down and started planning our shoot for week 11 shoot at Bianca’s share house. We decided to complete the final two genres – drama and slasher horror. We arranged to meet up at 12.30pm at Melbourne Central on Monday to travel together to Bianca’s place.
On Thursday, 17th September 2015, we found an empty classroom and tried shooting our extended scene on Bianca’s MOCKUMENTARY and Dylan’s MULTI-CAM SITCOM.
The sitcom with location (21st September):
I realised that this process has helped better our shots and solidified our ideas on the script. When we actually shot a scene, it was easier for us to picture what the ideas we had thought of. The off-screen voices that helped enhance the atmosphere of being in a busy share house. I liked how we added more and more elements into the mock shoot because we know what and how we wanted the scene to look like. We knew exactly what was lacking and we added things into each shot.
It was hard to picture without an actual scene but the mockumentary was rather easier because we know it’s just a close up of their confessions. The sitcom was fairly easy because we found props that could temporarily be our on-set items. But it does not beat shooting on location where we did another shoot of the sitcom at Dylan’s house (he was house sitting for his uncle that week).
Week 9 has arrived! Our first location shoot! We travelled to North Carlton where Dylan was house sitting for his uncle. We shot our first genre on location – sitcom. We used our group members as casts:
1. Kerri – Alice
2. Dylan – Chris
3. Bianca – Chris’ Mum / Landlord
4. Raphael – Don
We had a 30 second worth of sitcom at the end of the day. We edited on the spot, with the laughter and applause sound effects in it as well. It was a fast edit. We were quite happy with our first location shoot. I was in charge of the camera and the audio. Dylan’s boom mic was surprisingly light.
On Thursday, we had an Audio crash course. PART 2. This time we learnt to attach it to the camera and how to gauge the audio levels. One interesting fact I learnt from that crash course, was that we should have the second channel (the right side) slightly lower compared to the first channel (left side) so that in case it peaks, the second channel will compensate for the feedback caused by the peak. Therefore, in the camera, we had to set the level lower than the left side. In theory, I roughly understood what was happening but I still think I should test it out to understand the concept better. I am quite tempted to go out and shoot with these equipment just to experiment and practice these gears. Paul mentioned it would be resourceful to learn how to use these equipment before going out to work. I really enjoy technical work as I am not the best in script writing as well as acting. (I have a fear of looking straight into the barrel…) Anyways, hopefully I get to practice with these equipment in the future.
This week’s collaboration studio class we were given a workshop on audio. We were given the opportunity to get our hands on those audio mixers. Paul ran through the things we need to look out for like how the difference of speech still needs to hit the 0 dB mark. If you’re whispering or shouting, they should be in the same level. I never knew about it formally but I would say it’s automatic to make sure you’re able to hear what the actor is whispering about. For example, if you’re recording sound, when someone whispers, naturally you’d just bump up the volume to capture the sound. Hearing that this is a must and the proper technique of recording sound does make you more conscious of it when you capture the sound.
Besides that, we spent most of our time doing a mock shoot for our group assignment. Paul’s advice during consultation was to use the time during class to do a shoot of two scenes of different genres. We agreed on Bianca’s “mockumentary” and Dylan’s “multicam sitcom”. The minute we started shooting, we had a few things to add to the script. Each take we added a new element into it. For Bianca’s mockumentary:
1. Just read the script as it is.
2. Add the unstable cameraman – because he is just a roommate.
3. Add off-screen voices to show that they’re still in the room where the roommates are still roaming around.
4. Just to refine the off-screen takes and actions (e.g. Bianca (the mother) standing up away from the film.
For Dylan’s sitcom:
1. We played with different angles.
2. We noticed trouble with continuity since it was a multi-cam and we only had one camera.
Check my ‘mock shoots‘ blog post for the snippets of these elements we took into consideration.
I had suggestions, for the mockumentary, of adding like an unstable shot of them talking in the kitchen like a filler shot to show the ways they usually interact. But we were not shooting on location so I decided to leave that out. Monday will be another shoot so maybe I’ll try to incorporate that. However, the mock shoot was proven to be very useful. It saved us the time to find out mistakes and how to create a more interesting shot by adding more interesting elements to the shots. Now is the editing part. The editing should help come up with more creative style of shooting.
This week’s consultation was just to get some advice on how we would go about our pre-production planning stage. We talked to Paul to see if we were on the right track. The ideas we raised for our pre-production plan were:
1. Which scripts will we be using for the shoot?
2. How many extended scenes / opening trailers?
3. Storyboarding session
4. Shooting days? (Tentative Monday Week 9)
Over the consultation session, we had agreed that we would attempt to create the title sequence in various genres after shooting the extended scenes. We were throwing ideas as well like doing a “Shakespearean” genre as Brian Morris had suggested in the pitch presentation day. We also thought of shooting a locked script in various genres instead of writing in specific genres.
We agreed to the deadline suggestion of choosing a scene in a script (preferably two) before Thursday’s shoot so we can do a mock shoot to experiment on it before the real shoot on Monday. It is a stepping stone to our process of re-writing and re-shooting research.
Suggestions like redoing shoots really caught my attention. I always felt like when I film and re-watch my old films I would always think that I could have done better at certain parts. I am quite keen on creating more sketches and learn from it.
This week we had to compile the work we have discussed and pitch it to the class. I created a rough timeline to organise our work and to be able to show our progress with clarity. Scripts were submitted to the group google drive so I could take some examples to show on the slides. (You could say, I was in charge of organising the work.)
• Three people (20-somethings??) living in a share house.
• Two male, one female.
• Male 1 is son of the landlord, who happens to be his mother.
• Male 1 is dating the female housemate.
• Male 2 is a bit of a third wheel/butt of the joke.
• Landlord moves back into house following divorce from husband.
• Landlord is unaware her son is dating the female housemate
WHAT WE ARE RESEARCHING:
Our focus is not as much on the final product as it is on the process. We’re really honing in on the component of writing for genre, and how applying various genres to a consistent premise can affect the outcome. We’re completing everything in a very experimental and upside-down manner – instead of saying ‘we want to produce a comedy’, ‘let’s write a drama’, or ‘how about we conceptualise a reality show’, we’re angling in from the idea of ‘this is what we want to talk about or explore – that being 4 people in a share house – what tone are we going to explore this premise in?’
In the future we intend to create a multi-season TV series – the length of the show, number of episodes per season and number of seasons will most likely depend on the genre we decide to go with.
Once we had conceptualised our project plan, we divided up various genres and each wrote two one-page scripts to shoot as a rough exercise. These informal shoots will be using ourselves and/or friends as actors
Once we have shot all of the scripts, we will choose which genre we feel best fits the premise and will be strongest as a series.
From this we intend to create an extended scene as well a series trailer for our prototype. It is likely that we’ll first shoot these using us and our friends as actors, and then make a more finalised draft with professional actors.
Each person talk about the scripts you’ve written. The genre/style/format.
Talk about/show our fantastic timeline
With that, I created the slides as well as reference to the checklist we made during the consultation with Paul.