Short Film Evaluation – FOR ASSESSMENT

After 10 long weeks we have finally finished our short film and I am very happy with the final edit. I think it is a testament too how much we, as media producers, have developed, technically and organisationally. We almost done everything without a hitch from planning to filming. This is of course ignoring the beginning where we had to scrap our original idea for a simpler one. This was a decision we are all glad we made and not one I feel we would have had the confidence to make last year, to scrap everything we had done and start again considering the research and development I personally had out towards it as you can read here. But anyway here is the rough cut and final cut so you can see the “polished turd”.

38498131 – Rough Cut

38917297 – Final Cut

As you can see not a huge amount was changed but I feel the things that were changed made a massive impact. The sound is a lot more consistent throughout, keeping it looking and sounding professional. Some shot were taken out on the basis that I believe less is sometimes more, some of the shots were unnecessary  such as the close-up of the cigarette tapping on the table, as all it did was momentarily distract from the script which only tore the audience out from the film. Through some meticulous sound editing I managed to lip-sync most of the sound from one shot to other clips so that the levels were consistent all the way through which gave it a much more professional feel than before where the sound levels were jumping all over the place and the speech was not as consistent.

As well as the film being better than anything I produced last year I think as a group we demonstrated clearly how much we have learnt over the last year. The organisation was so much better, last year we would never have thought of using a shooting schedule, detailed storyboards, monitor, etc. Things like using professional actors was never even considered last year and it made such a big impact this time around, one of our actors is even in a recently aired Visa Olympic advert with Usian Bolt!

I think I have developed as a person during this process as well, it has helped me be more organised and more constructive with my time. I believe I gave everything I could towards this project all of the way through from the initial planning stages to the final bits of editing. Although I was pinpointed as the editor at the start of the project I gave myself various roles at the planning and shooting stages such as assistant director, director of photography as well helping with the lighting and getting one of the actors. When it came to the editing I learnt quite a lot such as using Adobe After Effects, which I had never used in a production before, and extended my knowledge of sound mixing further.

I believe this film could go further, with a few more tweaks here and there we will definitely be looking at entering it for a festival. I would have to say this is my proudest piece of work, I have spent hours overall editing it, looking for any little imperfections, I must have seen the entire film at least 50 times and there will always be little things I wanted to change but couldn’t due to time or the inability to re-shoot. Overall the reception from our peers about our film was good, because of the way we changed the end we got a much better laugh out of them and overall came second in a vote of the best film out of the 10, which I am very proud of.

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WHODUNIT? Rough Cut Feedback

Today we showed our rough cut to the rest of the year and received some feedback on it.

Some positive points included:

  • Good use of tension
  • Good humour
  • The actors portrayed the characters well and believable
  • The camera work was done well

Most of the suggested improvements were very shot specific such as shots being to long or unnecessary. A lot of people commented on the audio, that it had varying levels and could do with some more background noise to add to the tension in the silent. Basically it could do with polishing off, hopefully enough to win the coveted Steve Dawkins golden turd prize!

I don’t think any major changes need to be made to the rough cut that will drastically change the film, just fiddly bits like changing levels and the length of clips. Overall I am happy with the feedback that we received and it was expected. The negative points were almost all things I had already thought about and knew need to be adjusted.

Short Film Shooting and Editing – FOR ASSESSMENT

We have now shot and got a rough edit for the short film “WHODUNIT?”. The shooting went pretty much as smoothly as it could due to the large amount of preparation that had happened before the day. All the props had been acquired and actors knew when and where to be, there was a shooting schedule and the lighting had already been planned. We had all learnt a lot from our experience with filming last year where we turned up on the day with only a script and no professional actors, we simply shot according to the script meaning that we were basically blagging it as we went along without any kind of plan, here was the end result of that project:

This time we made sure we had thought of everything from the moment we had a finalised script; we used professional casting websites to get our actors and wrote a list of props and equipment to get before shooting which was divided equally between the crew. When we were at the location we had a very clear idea of what shots we wanted and how we wanted them to look. The entire day as a whole started at around 9 and was finished by about 3, as filming goes this was a very short day. Now usually if filming is this quick you would have to assume we missed something and when we finished I did have to keep looking at the script and shooting schedule to double and triple check that everything had indeed been done but no matter how much I checked I couldn’t find anything we missed.

This only issue we really came across was the lighting conditions as we blacked out the windows so that no natural light was seen and so we could have complete control over the light. This meant that every shadow was seen and would have to be counteracted to make it look as professional as possible. I’m happy with the footage we got from the shoot, it’s definitely the most professional looking piece I have filmed to this day.

As the head of editing it is up to me to make something people will actually want to watch out of the footage rather than just lots of shots put together in an order that makes sense. I have put together a rough cut to show the rest of our year on Thursday to receive some  feedback and helpful suggestions for the film. As far as the images are concerned most of the shots are good and consistent with the light however a couple of the close-ups look a bit more warm than the others meaning that they take away from the film and need to be colour corrected before the final edit.

A lot of film makers will say that sound is more important that sound when it comes to producing an effective piece of media and I agree with them. I have mostly just put together the images in the order they need to be in for this rough cut but almost all my time after the rough cut viewing will be spent on making the sound as consistent and professional as possible. Luckily for us our main actor playing the role of DCI Scott was very professional with his performance and consistent throughout meaning using audio from other shots is easy to sync and keeps the continuity of the audio. Here is the rough edit we have for now:

Overall I am very happy with the shooting and rough edit. It shows how much we have developed as media producers over the last year. We were much more efficient in every way when it came to the shooting day, everyone knew their roles and what to do so there wasn’t very much “what do you want me to do?” or people standing around doing nothing when there was things to be done. I look forward to the feedback of the rest of the year and their suggestions on how to advance this production further.

New Short Film Idea: Whodunit? – FOR ASSESSMENT

After a lot of switching and changing ideas to do with our original script we have now decided to do an entirely new script. There are many ideas floating around some more formed than others and some more feasible than others. The idea is one that me and Dean actually wrote in a couple of hours after developing one of his earlier ideas. A download of the script is here.

The script is based around a typical interrogation scene with two investigators and one suspect, the whole piece is building up to the reveal of the suspect. It is relying on the preconceptions of the audience as to the identity of the suspect and how they expect them to look. As it is a short film however people will be expecting the unexpected so will be looking to guess the twist at the end which reveals the suspect as something unexpected, many people may guess a child or elderly person but I don’t think people will expect the puppet.

Puppets are widely regarded as cute innocent children’s toys. We are definitely trying to play on the cute factor in this piece so that after you laugh you you let out a little “awww” and if you don’t then you are heartless! I have looked at some other sketches that use police interrogation as a basis and have found some quite funny trends.

Both of these sketches play on the idea that the police are corrupt and will use underhand tactics to frame someone and get a fake confession out of them. In someway we could write this into our script by maybe have them offer him a deal or maybe stopping the tape to say something “off the books”. However we aren’t going for outright comedy, although the final reaction will hopefully be laughter, we won’t really be trying to make the audience laugh till the end.

Short Film Research-Terrorists Motives – FOR ASSESSMENT

We now have a final Idea for our short film, its main theme is terrorists, what terrorists will sacrifice for their cause and why. This is quite a delicate matter and one that becomes even more complicated as in our particular film contains a mother sacrificing her child, our question will be, what could drive someone to do this? What could possibly motivate someone to send their own child to their death knowingly?

To understand this we must first look at why terrorists do what they do, after some looking on the internet (which hopefully won’t get me flagged up by the CIA) I found a psychological paper on the psychology of terrorists, it was quite a long winded paper but here are some of the key points I drew from it (here is a link to it):

– Violence could simply be viewed as a instinct or human trait. Humans have the energy of life force (eros) and death force (thanatos) that sought internal balance and violence is the displacement of thanatos from yourself onto others (Freud)

-Drive theory: the link between frustration and aggression.

-Fundamental learning theory suggests that we link behaviour and its consequences. If behaviours are rewarded then they are more likely to be repeated and if they are punished not so much (basic social learning theory). In the terms of violence if we see someone being rewarded for a violent act we link the violence to the success and rewards and so repeat them.

-“The actions of terrorists are based on a subjective interpretation of the world rather than objective reality” (Crenshaw) The view of the world from a terrorists point of view of the world is based on subjective views that do not show the whole truth and without a chance to make up their own opinion of the world they lead to a twisted view.

-Narcissistic rage caused by childhood trauma, abuse and humiliation can lead to a need to kill themselves off as victims. They in turn devalue others, malignant narcissism, warping their internal voice of reason and morality.

-Martha Crenshaw suggest there are 4 main motivations to join a terrorist group, 1. the opportunity for action 2. the need to belong 3. the desire for social status and 4. the acquisition of material reward.

-Most involvement in terrorism results from gradual exposure and socialisation towards extreme behaviour.

-They believe that violence is the only way to force social change.

-The process of ideological development – 1. It’s not right 2. It’s not fair 3. Its your fault 4. You’re evil. This shows the development of extremist ideas and their justification for violence.

– Suicide attackers view their act as one of martyrdom, whether for their faith, their people, or their cause. “the primary aim of suicide terrorists is not suicide, because to the terrorist group, suicide is simply a means to an end with motivation that stems from rage and a sense of self-righteousness. They see themselves as having a higher purpose and are convinced of an eternal reward through their action” (Salib)

I have learnt a lot about the motives and psychology behind terrorism and suicide attacks from this paper. The main point that is relevant to our short film is that they don’t believe what they are doing is wrong. They see it as freedom or justified vengeance on those who have wronged them or their people. The view of the world they have been taught to believe is not a correct or a view which takes other opinions in to account, this leads to a very twisted view of the world and therefore a warped view of right and wrong.

Short Film Final Idea Outline – What’s Up?

After having some feedback on some script ideas I have settled on a final idea to put forward:

The short comprises of 3 1 minute stories,

Two business men leave a coffee shop talking, they walk down a street passing various different types of people. As they continue down the street one of the men casually throws some change down to a homeless busker sitting on the street.

A girl is having an argument with her boyfriend, she pushes him away and storms off, crying and up set she keeps looking back and shouting, she passes two well dressed business men. Further down the street she gets to the coffee shop where she stops outside and sits at one of the tables.

A homeless man is busking on the street, all he has is a ripped hat to collect the money, two business men are walking towards him, one of them throws his loose change into the man’s hat. He pauses for a moment and then looks at how much he has given him, while he is doing this a crying girl storms past. The homeless man picks up his money and hat and walks towards the coffee shop where he sees a crying girl alone outside, he goes into the coffee shop and buys a drink and sits opposite her. He pushes it towards her and says “what’s wrong?”.

I intend for each story to only have one shot and the only edits to be when a new story begins. Logistically this might be quite hard but I only see this as a challenge and think that it would give the whole piece a good effect. There would be no sound from the actual scenes instead a quiet slow soundtrack over the top, possibly a piano, guitar or ukulele.

Short Film Reviews – FOR ASSESSMENT

To help me in my writing of a short film I have been looking at other short films to give me some inspiration. These are a few of my favourite ones I have found from around the web.

This is an adorable animation made by a student completing his masters thesis at the School Of Visual Arts in New York. It brilliantly keeps your attention throughout by not quite revealing what exactly is going on until the end. The cute character keeps the interest even when you haven’t got a clue what’s going on with his cute little mannerisms and quirks he has. After the film has ended you are left in a mixture of feelings, you are filled with happiness at the joy the little Kiwi has got by experiencing flight but then ask yourself, what happened when he went through the clouds? Although the film doesn’t say your imagination can fill in the details, which is quite upsetting. This is a brilliant example of a film which can be carried on its story alone and doesn’t rely on amazing visuals and state of the art animation.

Goodbye to the Normals 

Goodbye to the Normals is a film about a little boy called Magnus. Like all little children, who dream of running away from home. The difference is, he’s packed, ready to go and seems to have a plan in place. I thought this was a brilliant film with a clever script and great actors. The conversation between the father and Magnus is done in a way to make the father seem like he is the one who has everything wrong and doesn’t know what he’s talking about. One part of the conversation involves the father trying to appeal to the boys young age only to be told he is being stupid. I liked the idea of the script being the part of the film which keeps your attention, I’m not sure I’d be able to do this because it requires a certain skill in conversation that, to be honest, I don’t think I have.

Where Have I Been All Your Life

This short film features James Corden which helps massively to add humour to the film. It takes the quite serious situation of someone trying to find their birth father and turns it into a hilarious sequence of escalating events including the separation of a couple that have been together for 30 years. One of the cleverest scenes in this film is when the characters Angela and John are splitting up and using Liam as a messenger to talk to each other even though their in the same room, the messages get increasingly crude and personal and Liam eventually gets far too into the anger in the messages. I really liked this film as a whole because I was interested the whole way through and it kept up humour with some great acting and line -delivery.