Final blog post! Yay!

Another World has been a rollercoaster ride. Not quite as exciting as a rollercoaster, just in the sense that it’s had its ups and downs. I think Stayci is incredibly intelligent and helpful and precise, and I think that listening to her talk is very helpful, but I’m not sure if the structure of the studio suited me particularly well personally. Luckily, I found the subject matter interesting enough to be able to participate and enjoy as much as I did.

I think that being taught more directly in a less discussion based environment is better for me to learn, but in saying that, I gained plenty of invaluable information from our class chats. I think something that makes a big difference is my assumptions going into a course, and with studios I seem to always forget how practical they are.

Something valuable, albeit specific, I took away from this semester is the value of location. Since we focused on world, and world is most clearly represented by the setting inhabited by characters, I began to think more about its importance, and explored that very topic in my own world for Project Brief 4. I was having some issues developing fluent ideas that made sense to me, but when I thought about the significance of location to the ideas I was having, I had a brainwave that almost singlehandedly saved this assignment for me.

Because I already had a fairly distinct idea of where my world existed, and the real life location I wanted to investigate for shooting at, I decided to go to the forest myself and trek through it. Seeing things there such as fallen down trees presented with me ideas native to the location I already had in mind, so they worked their way into my world organically.

While this is a fairly specific anecdote to my Project Brief 4, I think it’s representative of the way I’ve come to understand the world in general. Analysing the way that professionals, peers, and myself treat worlds in screenwriting has, by the end of the semester, granted me with the view that the world a story takes place in is arguably more important than the story itself, because the world governs and engenders the stories which can only exist within it.

Project Brief 3 – Better late than never!

There were some issues with my posts being on private/public I think! Understandable if it needs to be penalised for lateness.

Post 1:

Post 2:

I declare that in submitting all work for this assessment I have read, understood and agree to the content and expectations of the assessment declaration.

Reflection on feedback

I think that my presentation went alright. I don’t think I prepared enough for specifically what I was going to say. I thought about my world for a long time and thought I understood it well enough to explain it, and even rehearsed that to some extent, but I think it was lost on me how abstract my world was and how important it was for me to make clearer points. This was essentially reflected in my feedback. According to all three panelists my explanations were too vague. I can definitely understand this being a mark against my presentation. I don’t think I was clear enough in linking what I wanted to do aesthetically to the story, to the world. Other presentations that really impressed me manage to draw everything back around to the world, and the story they were focusing on within that world. I think I failed to do so.

Another piece of feedback that I received with some sort of consistency was not explaining the plot well enough – I was mentioning that the characters and the world responded to each other in some way but I should have been more precise as to how this would happen. I think because I’m still not certain on the minutia of the plot I didn’t really want to box myself in, in a way. However the way around this is simply to understand the plot fully before my presentation. I mentioned the climactic scene, the strange and wild party in the forest, at the start of my presentation but neglected to revisit that, which I became acutely aware of with about 20 seconds to go. That was a large oversight on my part, I think it slipped my mind for whatever reason while I was creating my presentation, but it’s a highly important part of the world and I think a more in depth explanation of what actually happens there would have clarified some other confusions surrounding my presentation.

It was noted to me that my idea of a storyboard would be a good idea to express certain elements of how I saw the world. I agree with this entirely, and I’m currently thinking about how I want to go about storyboarding. I’m a terrible artist, so I may end up taking photos – this will work if I’m able to find a good location and make a location reel as well. This was also pointed out to me as a good idea. I think that the location is a hugely important aspect of the story.

Overall I think the impression I got was that there was a general sense of intrigue into the world I was talking about but I hadn’t done enough to cultivate this intrigue. I need to focus on this as I work on my world, as I more or less agree. I think that I have a lot of interesting ideas floating around, but I need to make sure that they manifest in a way that makes them make sense. I’m at least glad that Dazed and Confused meets Twin Peaks was seen as a fairly decent way of putting it. I’m going to specifically focus on making sure I understand what actually happens from start to finish, and that throughout that I know where and when all of the interesting ideas I have are going to come into effect.

WiP – Short excerpts of script

I’ve provided two of the sample scenes that I’ve somewhat fleshed out so far. They focus on different styles and moods, so I thought it would be appropriate to include both of them.

The first is one of the opening scenes in the film, and sets the mood as far more lighthearted than it will eventually become. I wanted to have at least a couple of scenes of this teenage banter to give the characters a context outside of the strange world of the forest that they enter. I think seeing how ordinary and humourous conversations take place in their group before they are moulded and transformed by the Woods is an important step in defining the way that the world works. Having an overtly sexual conversation also sets up tropes of teen comedies – it’s important, in my opinion, to achieve subversion in some sense with this screenplay, because I’m toying with several different genres and references.

This first scene has 5 characters. This was essentially an ease of writing tool to begin with, I don’t know if the body of the actual film will feature all five of these characters. Each time I felt a unique voice was appropriate in the scene, I added a new character just for the sake of being able to distinguish things easier. I think that this scene characterises them as a group effectively, rather than as individuals. As it’s a fairly short scene, the focus is on what they’re all talking about, which is, in this case, fellatio. This serves the purpose of instantly communicating the sort of group we’re dealing with in the film, which is why it’s one of the opening scenes. I think going forward in my script, I need to be able to strike a balance and not oversaturate it with scenes like this. I do, however, want to provide glimpses of this group before they’re changed, so there’s a general idea of what’s at stake.

The second scene is more serious, and further along into the film. While it’s not a climactic or action packed scene, it’s after the group has settled in and begun to feel the changes of their world. It focuses on one character in particular, Leo, lamenting the fact that one day the current time will be forgotten, and nothing more than a page in a history book. It’s a very melodramatic concern and one that doesn’t particularly interest any other members of the group, but Leo is fixated on it. After he is left alone, the fire goes out by itself. I think that this scene is important to gauge the different ways that the characters start interacting with their world. As that’s a crucial part of what the film will be about, I think scenes like this need to be done well. I’m not necessarily happy with this excerpt as a finished product, but as a thematic piece I think it works well. I’d like to refine it more and maybe make the connection between why Leo is so bothered by becoming obsolete and the woods. I think that these paranoid ideas stem from the world and I need to make that more clear, or else a large part of my work will be lost. An important thing for me to focus on, moving forward, is nuance. I need to strike a good balance between allowing viewers/readers understand what’s going on, and making it a mystery.

UP Screenplay – new ideas

I found that looking at the opening scene of Up and then reading the screenplay was a really interesting class, especially considering that we were told to try to write the script ourselves beforehand. What I found was that the writers of Up were experts in using words concisely and appropriately, and that there was much to learn about refining writing so that it says what it needs to and not what it doesn’t.

When writing my own version of the script, I tried to recount as many details as I could and simply type them out in the proper order and format. What I should have been thinking about was how important each individual detail was. For example, it probably doesn’t matter what’s at the top of the hill that they walk up, or what time of day it is, but it does matter that Ellie goes up in front of Carl the first time. So instead of spending time discussing precisely what’s going on in the background, I should be focusing only on what informs the characters – of course, this isn’t always appropriate, but considering that the aim of this sequence is to create a clear narrative and convey as much as possible about the characters in a short amount of time, it seems more important to write more about the characters.

Take, for example –

 Carl carries her past a "SOLD" sign.   It's the same house
          where they met as kids.

This section gives only the essential information – Carl is carrying Ellie, they have bought a home, and it’s where they met. My version of this short clip described the house, and the expressions on the faces of Carl and Ellie. Funny enough, I was too busy describing these details to worry about the fact that there was a sold sign and the house belonged to them. I think that it’s probably semi-instinctual, and comes from a long time writing, this sense of knowing what needs to be omitted and what needs to be written. I feel it would also be easier to do with a story you know better. To me, recounting a scene I’ve watched is just that – a recounting. I’d like to try writing my own sequence, similar to that, and see if I was still worrying too much about the relatively insignificant details. I think that I would at least improve.

Another point, which we touched on in class, is how the writers are able to convey such knowledge of characters and the tone of the scene with just a few carefully chosen words. Ellie’s family ‘erupting like wild frontiersman’ and Carl sensing that he’s ‘lucky to be with her’ are both phrases that are dripping with the tone of their respective scenes. The animators brought them into motion, of course, but even reading these lines, the sense derived is still similar. I found reading this script incredibly worthwhile and I think it will assist me greatly in terms of writing my own pieces.

Reflection on writing – Don’t Call Me Late for Dinner

A young man clutching books to his chest looks into the distance in horror. It appears he is a student. He starts sprinting through a courtyard past an old brick building, with a determined look on his face. He approaches a staircase and hurtles down it, but falls at the bottom and is stampeded by passerbys. His face contorts in pain as he is trampled over. He picks himself up and continues his dash, arriving at a classroom. On the door is a note which reads ‘Class Cancelled (public holiday)’. The student makes his disbelief and anger towards the whole debacle clear with a single expression of utter incredulity.

This is the synopsis I wrote in class of the photo essay ‘Don’t Call me Late for Dinner’. In retrospect, I think that I probably should have been more detailed in some places and less detailed in others.

For example, I don’t think that ‘It appears he is a student’ is a particularly worthwhile sentence. I’ve already established that he’s clutching books to his chest, so that narrows it down already, and I think that I could have made the fact that he’s a student apparent in some other way. For example, I could have made it more apparent that the building he was in was a university. I think it would create a better image and sound nicer to read – it always feels a bit awkward saying explicitly what’s going on.

It also feels slightly awkward stating exactly what is written on the door of the classroom, although I don’t know what I’d write instead. Maybe just mention that the class was cancelled.

I think my adjectives and verbs are generally fairly good, I tried not to overdo anything but use enough expressive words to create the images as vividly as I could. Hurtling, stampeding, and sprinting, are all words I used to try to instill movement into the photos, and to create action in between the frames as well as within them.

Overall I think I did well with the smaller, individual pieces of action and expression but had a harder time getting the overall plot into smooth language.

On creative collaboration

“I always find that if two (or more) of us throw ideas backwards and forwards I get to more interesting and original places than I could have ever have gotten to on my own”

The above quote is from John Cleese’s ‘A Lecture on Creativity’. One crucial aspect of the entire Media course, and in particular the Studios, is the encouragement of collaboration among students. I suspect it is so highly valued for precisely the reasons suggested by Cleese – more voices offer more opportunities to provoke discussion and to bounce off each other’s ideas. Especially when looking at what is an inherently collaborative process like filmmaking, it’s important to understand how this collaboration can aid creativity. The most notable instance I’ve seen so far in Another World was when we made the short photo essay ‘Look Both Ways’

We set out with no real plan in mind, simply wandering aimlessly and spouting out ideas as they came to us. An idea was raised for a story about a couple who are trapped in RMIT forever. We laughed about this concept and decided it would be too hard to convey eternal imprisonment in a handful of pictures, but we did begin, perhaps subconsciously, thinking in terms of couples. I don’t remember ever specifically saying ‘this definitely needs to be about a couple’ but since we had briefly discussed one idea with a couple at its core, we seemed to naturally gravitate towards more. That was the first real step we took in the creative process – one idea, although not used entirely, mutated and became the base for our future ideas.

The bulk of our story was decided because of the location we found – again, we ended up there through no real process apart from drifting away from the areas where the most people were. We turned into an alley and all seemed to decide it was a pretty cool spot, and began independently walking around. Michael noticed the sign saying CITY MORGUE, and showed everyone. This gave way to an onslaught of creativity for a few minutes; everyone was suggesting ways in which we could link the Morgue into the story. I think that as soon as we found the sign, we all collectively decided that it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Interestingly, while brainstorming about how the morgue could play a part, we were still operating on the basis that at the heart of our story was a couple. Down the other end of the alley, someone noticed a ‘beware of vehicles’ sign – that’s when the plot really came together. It was originally suggested that perhaps both of them should die, there were talks about a gay couple, and about more than two characters, and so on. But after five or so minutes trying to devise a plot using a couple, a morgue, and a (potentially implied) car accident, we realised we were overthinking for a small series of photos.

The end product is very simple – boy and girl holding hands, walking along, oblivious to the outside world because of the joy of each other’s company, so much so that the poor girl gets struck by a car and dies. The boy is very sad and pays her a visit, evidently on the same day, at the city morgue. Almost every variable in that plot comes from someone suggesting something, and another person building on it or altering it. Very few ideas are completely useless, and ideas are certainly not required to be used in an ‘all or nothing’ sense. You can pick them apart and combine them, and that process is much easier and faster when working with multiple people.

Project Brief 1 – Musical worlds

I watched La La Land recently and I think that it provides an exceptional example of a world that exists in a film, one that serves to enable the story as well as actively take part in it. The Los Angeles that the film takes place in is a magical and musical LA which seems as though it was created for dreamers and artists and down and out people with good souls to populate (because it was). We’re shown an LA with high sheen and a glossy surface – there are internal struggles between characters but these are still juxtaposed against the ostensibly beautiful city where they believe their dreams will come true.

Crucial to the construction of a world is also the internal logic and inherent, unwritten rules of the world. In La La Land, the most notable ‘world logic’ is the chance that at any stage, a scene or encounter may progress into a fabulous song and dance routine which is acceptable to all inhabitants of this world. In relation to the discussion prompt in class regarding whether a story could take place in another world, this one couldn’t. The mix of whimsy and realism and a constant musical mood allows for this particular story to be told – it needs to be able to transition to a jazz track at any time, because that’s how these characters communicate. It relies on being set in a place which is apparently a fast track for dreams to come true, because the characters are able to continue pursuing them, against the odds, and it also relies on this particular LA being not all it’s cracked up to be – a lot more blood, sweat and tears must be bled, sweated and cried than anyone imagined upon moving there.

I think the internal rules of a world defining a world as much as the setting itself is an interesting concept and one that I’d like to explore more as the semester continues, because I definitely find it to be true for most examples I can think of.


Over the last month or so, working on the final film with Alaine, Ryan and Chynnae has been an interesting process. Because of several different reasons, we only had one full shoot with everyone in the group present and contributing. There’s not a great deal to be done about this, but it alters the dynamic.

For example, Ryan was away for the first shoot, then Chynnae couldn’t make it, and then I was away. This meant that a lot of the collaborative side of things were done in the Google Doc we shared. This was different to how I’d worked before – most things we needed to know were posted there and we had to read them in our own time, rather than discuss them in a meeting.

As is abundantly clear by now, filmmaking has to be a process of collaboration if it’s going to be effective. Because of this, I think we were at a slight disadvantage because of the lack of a solid group who were all able to attend. We never seemed to really set into concrete roles on set, apart from Alaine being the director. There were shoots where Ryan was on camera, and shoots where I was on camera, and as such, neither of us ever settled into the role. When I arrived at shoots I was wondering what my job would be, not how best to do my given job.

Because our roles were never really locked in or confirmed, it generated a lot of difficulty because people were often trying to do other members’ jobs for them. When we were shooting the scene with Jenny, while I was technically operating the camera, Alaine and Ryan essentially took over – not to imply that I think they were in any way trying to undermine my role, but because they’d both run cameras on other shoots, they were used to being in charge of that area and as such continued in that way.

But, as I said, that’s just how the way it goes sometimes. I think that the one shoot everyone was at worked well, because we were all able to actually focus on roles and work together creatively. Even if we did stumble a bit with creating a well rounded group where we had individual and clear stated tasks, we got there in the end, and it was an experience which let me see a different side of collaboration, one that’s a little bit less clear cut and easily defined, and depends more on consistent communication.