Evaluation and Reflection Website Post: Ways of Making

This semester in my studio Ways of Making I have chosen to focus on the creation of 4 individual scenes that all revolve around the action and usage of a mobile phone. I chose to investigate the ways in which I could capture this in interesting and captivating way, while also creating an aesthetically beautiful scene in terms of its framing, production design, costuming etc. A big part of my investigation also focused on location, and how a character and their location are related and intertwined. I wanted character and location to feed off each other and almost become the one entity, as if a character feels comfortable and suits the environment they are within. My process began by sourcing actors that could produce natural and convincing performances, through little movement and little physical prompts. They would be on their phone in each scene, acting alone and needed the ability to be themselves completely in each scene, not being too self aware or embarrassed by what they were doing. I decided that I wanted little dialogue in each scene, but the actor to improvise and do whatever felt natural to them.

To me location was so important and I needed to source appropriate and visually stimulating places that each had something different about them. I found 4 very different locations; The Hammer Hall balcony, a bathroom, an empty house and the interior of a car. These 4 locations served as a starting point in my investigation, learning how I could light them using natural light as well as the phone light reflecting onto my actors faces. This was important in terms of keeping the natural reality of a scene, for me this was one of the most important elements I wanted to focus on.

Throughout each week in the second half of the semester I would conduct test shoots for each scene. I experimented in these locations with lighting, trying to capture a scene usually in night time lighting as I found this more visually interesting. These test shoots led me the creation of 4 final scenes. A female actress featured in 2 scenes and a male in the other 2. I discovered through these test shoots that it was important to focus on dialogue, not heavy dialogue but lighting talking to keep a viewer invested and involved in the scene. In my scenes the character is usually involved in a brief phone conversation, giving context to what is happening and creating something a little more interesting. Music and ambient sounds were also important in creating something deeper and more complex in each scene.

I graded all the scenes in a greyscale/black and white colour. I felt this balanced out all my shots, drawing the eye to no particular place but taking in the scene as a whole, again bringing together the character and their location as one entity. It also gave a cohesiveness to these 4 very separate scenes.

The process of producing these final scenes was more difficult than I had initially thought. Producing scenes within a time constraint meant that organising times and equipment had to be done very particularly, which I didn’t do and at times my work suffered from this. I would have really liked to film the car scene again, as well as the Hammer Hall scene to perfect the lighting issues that I faced. Having said this, I really enjoy the end product of all of my scenes and am proud of what I have learnt. I found that sound was an element I wish I had focused on more as some of the most interesting elements of the scenes comes from the sounds that tie each shot together. I am really happy with the aesthetics of all of my scenes, the amount of time that I used focusing on each frame and what was in each frame really paid off. I was particularly proud of the car scene and how each shot is so interesting and detailed. The night lighting and was really complimentary to the scene and created an aesthetic that I hadn’t planned, but really liked. However I was disappointed by the lagging that was created through a careless mistake I made when shooting, something I’ll never do again!

I think that this studio has developed my technical skills as well as my directorial skills. The work that I have been doing can be developed even further past this semester in a hope that it could be included within a short film or the creation of a short film. I really enjoyed the studios aims and structure, in the way that encouraged us to make as much as possible in an effort to learn through that making. The hands on nature of the studio is reflected through my work and the progression of my test shoots to final shoots. This semester has been a real learning curve in the progression of my technical skills and I’ve really enjoyed the nature of the studio and our great tutor Paul. Thanks Paul!

Final Shoot CAR

I was most excited to shoot this scene. I’d realised exactly how i wanted to shoot it and was excited by the lighting and aesthetics of the shots. I’d test shot this scene twice and though that I had everything under control and ready to go until I looked at the shots on my laptop. Like a rookie, I realised that I set my shutter speed super low and the shots look as if they are lagging. I was so angry at myself, because the shots themselves like really nice and the lighting and everything was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t have time to reshoot as my actor was no longer available so I was left with the footage I had. I decided that I shouldn’t let it bother me, as it is part of my investigation and it is a mistake I will never make again. It’s a shame because I’m most proud of the scene but equally annoyed about it. I guess you live and learn, never doing that again!

Having said the previous, I’m really happy with the framing and aesthetics of the shots. I think visually the nicest scene I’ve shot so far. The lagging effect doesn’t even seem to bother me too much because I think the shots are really beautiful. For this scene there is a focus on the visuals more so than the sound, as some of the other scenes have more dominant sounds. The greyscale grade I’ve put on the shots really amplifies the night lighting and street lights, I think its really powerful. Sean’s acting is really simple and appropriate and I think because this was one of the last scenes I shot I was really comfortable with where I wanted the scene to go and how to direct it. I learnt the most through this scene and feel like the process of filming and editing it was a big learning curve.

Final Shoot EMPTY ROOM

This shoot was the most effortless and natural piece, I found the experience extremely rewarding as I knew exactly what I needed in the shot and how to elicit the performance I wanted from my actress. The planning and execution of a test shoot really enabled me to loose any stress that came with dealing with the variables in this shoot. The costume and overall aesthetic is very similar to the test shoot so I didn’t need to change much.

As with all my final scenes I’ve decided to grade my footage in black and white/greyscale colours. I thought that this could come off a little “film student-y” but I don’t really mind as I think it gives the scenes a cohesiveness and also gives each scene more of a empty/minimalist feel to these simplistic scenes I’ve created. I think in each scene I’ve been focusing so much on the action,the framing and the beautiful aspects of each shot, and the grading enables an audience to focus on these elements more. It’s a turn around from my original idea of focusing on colour pallets but i think the greyscale, creates harmony and simplicity in these scenes.

Overall I’m quite happy with this particular shoot. I found it more difficult to edit as I was so focused on my original test shoot, and was so happy with it that I found it hard to not make it exactly the same. I think I actually prefer how the test shoot edited, opposed to this final shoot just because it’s more natural and spontaneous. Having said that, I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in this scene, If i was to take it further and do more and more test shooting (which I think I’d like to do in the future), I’d focus on the sound and possibly introduce a secondary character in the scene, as its such an interesting location.


Final Shoot BATHROOM

I’d realised how many different shoots I’ve done in a bathroom after watching my final edit of this particular shoot. Starting from an original scene done in the RMIT bathroom. I think that I had done so many tests and re-shoots of a bathroom location that I ended up not really knowing what I wanted to achieve, and having that original scene with Annick in the bathroom in my head it was difficult to make something new. Having said this, I’m really happy with the scene I’ve created here. I’ve given it context and made the scene more alive through the use of music and little elements of dialogue. The context is a party that someone is trying to escape so that take refuge in the bathroom. I really like how my actor Sean held himself and spoke in the scene, his acting is what I’m particularly proud of in the scene.

I’ve done two edits of this same material, mainly just changing the grade from a more pinky hue, to a black and white/greyscale grade. I wanted uniformity to all my scenes and I like the simplicity that the greyscale grade gives off. I also think elements like the music and actions within the shot are more pronounced because the greyscale grade balances out everything within the frame.

Overall this scene turned out a lot more structured than I originally thought and my ideas formed into something totally different than originally anticipated. I am glad that the scene came together in the way it did and would definitely shoot this again in the future to perfect it and use it within a greater context; like a film or short film. Doing this scene has bettered me as a filmmaker and forced me to think about different ways to keep an audience interested.


This shoot wasn’t what I had expected. My test shoot was conducted at night and I decided from there that I would prefer to do a day shoot for my final scene. Part of this decision came from the fact that it was more difficult that I had anticipated shooting in the evening, but also because I wanted to vary up the scenes I was producing. I though that this location could be captured well during the day and was expecting it to be easier than the night shoot. Thus I filmed during the day and coincidently on one of the worst possible days. I hadn’t realised how thick the fog was until I arrived on location and the city buildings were only half visible. This became a bit of a problem when adjusting the exposure. One of the main features of this scene was the city as well as my actress within the space, and it proved to be difficult to capture. I don’t mind the brightness of the shots, but i wish i could have captured better shots of the city and had better visibility. The fog was an interesting element to the scene however I would definitely have preferred the have seen a clear city skyline. Looking back it may have been the right decision to do a night shoot as intended, I just seemed to panic and change at the last minute and thus not know the conditions I was shooting in.

The end product of this scene is still interesting however less so than I had hoped. I wanted the city to pop out and Pippa (the actress) to be apart of it, but it feels more like a montage sequence than a scene. Not because of the editing but because the shots don’t flow as easily or as interestingly. I still like many of the shots, most that feature Pippa and her being natural in the environment, I’m just not sure what to make of it as a whole.


For the entirety of this semester I’ve been working alone, doing test shoots and conducting many of the filming on my own, however I feel like collaboration for me comes through the exploration of ideas. Every time I’ve come to class it has been really helpful letting others know how my shoots have been going and what sort of processes I’ve been exploring. Hearing their ideas and struggles as well, helps to inform me and give me an insight into how I can better my own work. I’ve really needed to have full creative control in the content I’ve been producing and I don’t think I would have been happy with work that was not my full creation. Not because I am too proud but I don’t believe it would have forced me to learn in the capacity I have so far. I believe that collaboration in many situations can result in one person doing a lot more or a lot less than others and in this particular subject I wanted to bear the full weight of my decisions and the marks that I receive. I’ve really appreciated that Paul has given us the opportunity to work with others in the class exercises, with the opportunity to join forces later on (only if we want to). I feel that it’s been really important making connections with other students in the class for future collaborations. However so far in my university experience I’ve hated the idea of being forced to collaborate, when usually it isn’t optional and more importantly its with people you would never wish to collaborate with in the first place .

Thus what I’ve learnt about myself is that the most helpful and important aspect of collaboration is the sharing of thoughts and ideas and well as helpful practices and advice. I hope that in my next semesters at uni there can be a greater focus on the discussion of ideas and practices rather than pairing of random students together in the hope that they will have a successful and creative collaboration.

Hammer Hall Test Shoot

This scene I believe will be the hardest to control as the lighting cannot really be adjusted as it will mainly be outside in an area that only uses street lights and the phone light (which is actually what I want but this my be more difficult to frame than I first anticipated). My actor will be sitting outside the building and again I want to show boredom in the characters response to their phone. I think it will contrast highly with the beautiful city behind them, and I want to focus on the character’s interest in the phone rather than the city. I will conduct this shoot at night, in order to save time and get the aesthetics and framing of the shot right for the final shoot.

These are some shots from film that I’ve based my framing around.

static1.squarespace Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 3.23.49 PM

(Pretty Good Friends 2015)

Free_of_Thought4 Free_of_Thought6

(Free of Thought 2015)

Scan 7

As predicted this shoot was really hard to control. The lighting of the actors phone didn’t seem to be enough to light their face in the way I would have hoped. I was also aiming to use the lights surrounding the building as another key light but this wasn’t as successful as I had predicted. The overall look of this scene is much darker than I wanted but i found that crushing the blacks and going to a greyscale colour grade helped with the visibility of the shots. I also really like the look of a greyscale scene (I’ve done this in my empty room scene also), even though it has a sort of “my first film”  connotation to it. As hard as this was to film, I really enjoyed shooting this location. I’d like to conduct another shoot during the day as I believe this scene is important to my research questions. Pippa, my actress also flows so naturally through this scene that I’d love to focus on her more in a day shoot where it is obvious her character is ignorant of the location.

Empty Room Test Shoot

This shoot is one in which the ideas surrounding it have developed a bit as I’ve been doing some test shoots. I’ve decided to use dialogue and incorporate this with the use of the photo. I have decided that my actor will be talking on the phone while in the environment of an empty room. I’ve filmed this at night, and tried to replicate as much as I can for the real shoot. My actor (Pippa) will be in different parts of this room while in conversation with someone on the phone for the duration of it. The atmosphere I want to create is a sort of longing and nostalgic type feel. As if the character is leaving this home and we feel their nostalgia through the way the scene is shot.

The framing of the scene is in part based on a short film I’ve seen called This is She directed by Tarik Karam. The emptiness of the scene is something I want to focus on, and use the minimal props and features of the room as the basis of framing the shots.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 2.25.56 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-10 at 2.25.44 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 2.25.26 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-10 at 2.23.20 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-10 at 2.23.58 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-10 at 2.26.19 PM

(This is She 2015)


Shot List – Ideas for Framing

Scan 3

I really like the way the test shoot turned out. I’ve graded it to a black and white palette just as an experiment and I cant work out whether it adds to the aesthetic or not. The costume becomes less noticeable in black and white and the actor blends in with the surroundings more. The black and white definitely gives a more sombre mood to the scene. The sound quality isn’t the best but I mind too much as I’ll recorded better sound for the real shoot. The overlapping of sound works really well with each shot. I let the actor sort of improvise the dialogue as the script I had originally written felt a but stiff and not as natural when the actor had to read it. I also love that she sings and talks to herself, again they feel very natural. When shooting I got more shots from outside of the room and deeper within the empty house and I think they added something to the mood of the scene. A real “emptiness” was felt when filmed more of the house.

Car Test Shoot Night

It was important that i test this scene at night in the conditions I want to film for my final shoot. Thus I’ve filmed it at night time. Trying to only use the car light and the actors phone light proved to be difficult but I was really drawn to have quite a dark looking scene.

I feel as if this is the kind of scene that only i would like, and maybe audiences would find uninteresting. Obviously there is work to be done, and more light is necessary to the scene. But the sense of vacancy and boredom that is show through someone sitting in a stationary car at night seems intriguing to me. I’d like to re shoot this scene for my final assessment.


Reevaluating My Research Questions

After conducting a few shoots and getting a better understanding of how I can film the scenes I want to film I’ve discovered that my research questions are being altered slighting. My original thought process was to keep dialogue to an absolute minimum however i’ve been finding that each scene suddenly becomes more alive with the most natural dialogue from my actors. It’s the moments in which they are alone and the conversations that are said aloud when alone that are the most interesting. For example, the test shoot in the empty bedroom proved to be really intriguing with the actress signing and being on the phone. Thus I’ve decided to add this as one of my research questions.

Updated Research Questions

  1. How can I produce a visually engaging scene through production design, including costuming?
  2. How can I produce and engaging scene will little conversation but still elements of dialogue from only one featured person?
  3. How can I produce and interesting scene that creatively shows the action of being on and interacting with a phone?
  4. How can I produce engaging scenes that use natural lighting and phone lighting as a key light to frame actors?
  5. How can I create an interesting scene that highlights the relationship between a character and their location?
  6. How can I combine these elements of a scene including acting, costuming, lighting etc, to direct and produce a compelling scene?

Edit: I don’t think  i’ll be re shooting my scene in the bedroom as a final scene. I’ve gone over different ways I could film within that space and I don’t find it any more interesting or particularly inspiring to me, when compared to the other locations I’ve sourced. I’m just going to focus on my other scenes, paying more attention how I can make them better.