Rolling is the most compelling and polished piece of work done by students I have seen presented in the tutorials so far. The protagonist of the film was very well cast, he had a strong sense of comedic timing and clear facial expressions and body language which gave us as an audience terrific insight into the character. There were a number of engaging shots throughout the piece. For example, the camera following the character walking down the isle, tracking backward made for a visually interesting a dynamic shot, which also contrasted well with the stillness of the shots during dialogue. There were however a number of shots that made me uncomfortable, or more importantly, made me notice that something wasn’t quite right. A good example of this is during the first exchange between the two characters. I have been previously taught that shots of people or subjects should prescribe to the rule of thirds. More specifically, if a character is in dialogue with another, the character speaking should have there eyes positioned in the top right or left hand conflict points depending on where the actor is facing. Throughout this movie there a shots of the actor positioned directly in the middle of the frame or positioned on the wrong side of the frame according to the direction they are facing. This cause me to a) notice the flaw in the cinematography and b) caused discomfort as a result of this recognition. Overall it was a fine film but a few small, easily avoidable aspects detracted from my overall experience.
In Kathryn Millard’s journal publication, Writing for the Screen: Beyond the Gospel of Story, she talks about the way in which the utilisation of a production diary can help focus and develop the themes, tones, and overall vision of a project. If you have a collection of images, sounds, music, locations, etc, in one collective diary, it is a fantastic tool with which you can both illustrate to others your intended vision for a project and to focus your own ideas so that you may avoid getting sidetracked or carried away, which could result in making a film which doesn’t reflect your original intention
In the week one reading, Writing The Short Film, Cooper and Dancyger provide an example of a short film script presented in the proper format. While I have seen scripts presented like this before, I read this under the assumption that I would right something similar this semester, or if not, in the not so distant future. As such, I was suprised by the lack of detail present in the script, for example, there was no character bio, no explanation of camera movement etc. The only thing presented aside from dialogue was the location of the scene and whether or not the dialogue was diagetic or not. This was significant for me, as I am prone to add too much information when writing a story. The stripped back minimalism of the script made me reconsider the way in which I approach script writing.
In the film Clown Train, sound is heavily used to create a sense of atmosphere and to punctuate certain events or actions within the film. Sounds like the screeching of train wheels and the hum of fluorescent light create a sense of discomfort within the film, while also establishing the location in which the events of the film take place. A deep bassy thud is also used to accent moments of realisation or the implication of fear is effectively used throughout the film, contributing to a sense of rhythm or impact within the parameters of the film. A subtle yet effective use of harsh strings and sub-tones heighten the sinister atmosphere of the plot. It is also important to note the use of silence within the film, which is effectively used to create a heightened sense of tension and suspense, adding to the drama of the overall piece. A film (or series of films) which utilises similar sounds to the same effect is the Saw franchise. The saw films rely on sound to heighten the implication of danger or fear which is omnipresent throughout all of the films. similarly, the sound designers utilise a similar technique in punctuating dialogue or events with a bass kick type sound in order to add emphasis to the events or actions. A very different film, the new Studio Ghibli animated adventure/romance, “The Wind Rises”, most of the diagetic audio is the recording of a human voice emulating the source of sound; for example. the sound of a plane propeller, locomotive engine, an earthquake. This decision provides a heightened sense of fantasy, surrealism, and childlike playfulness.
My aims/Goals/expectations for this unit are:
Screen writing – I am greatly looking forward to the opportunity to write and develop an original narrative through the process which is prevelant in the industry. Knowing exactly how to brainstorm, develop and realise something that I have written is hugely appealing.
Working with others – very rarely would a film project be shot, edited and written by one person. This is why I’m looking forward to the major group assignment. Last year I missed out on being present for the day we went to shoot our major video task, and I look forward to discovering how working as a team can produce a piece of work of a higher quality than I could achieve on my own.
Technical skills – while I’m not exactly sure how much we will learn about the technical aspects of film making, I would assume it will be a fairly major component of the course. I just bought my own camera wch shoots hd video so I look forward to experimenting with it and getting the best from my equipment.
I’ve been excited about looking into screen writing for some time now, as I’ve never really been taught the proper way to approach and format and screenplay. Perhaps the biggest point I took away was that the only information presented within a screenplay is the location, dialogue, and character actions. I was always if the mind that one should pack in as much information as possible, I.e. Shot type, movement, etc. this seems like a small point now, however this means that I can focus more on plot and character development without getting bogged down by technical details. I would think that if one got too focused on exactly how the screenplay will be shot, it will be easy to get distracted from the task at hand, which is to create a compelling and coherent depiction of events.
In Kathryn Millard’s journal publication “Writing For The Screen: Byond the Gospel of Story”, she discusses the ways in which film makers, both old and new, approached film making and screenwriting. The two major points I took away from this reading are:
The importance of production notes – rather than writing everything on the script, in order to stay true to the tone or feel of the film, Millard emphasises the usefulness of production notes. For example, collecting images, sounds, locations and music can greatly help the script writer to stay within the confines of his or her intentions. This is especially poignant for me, as when I am developing a story, I am largely inspired by imagery or music to hel me realise the way in which I would like to approach and contextualise the writing.
The benefit of improvisation – while this is a fairly straight forwArd point, I have been. Little disheartened by the seemingly rigid way in which scriptwriters are expected to go about the production process. It has often been emphasised to me the importance of sticking to a script of story board, and have been discouraged to experiment too much. I am a firm believer that if you have an idea you should at least be able to try it out and see if you can develop something more interesting than was previously drafted. Knowing that film makers in the past operated in this way is both comforting and inspiring.