Short Film – Rough Cut and Feedback

The logging of our footage, audio and visual, took around 4 hours. Despite having clear log sheets, it was still a very time consuming process. Piecing together the sequences and synchronising the audio was relatively an easy process. There was an initial issue with drop frames but we rectified this by re-logging and capturing the footage.

After a late night of arduous work, we managed to shift together something to show our peers the following day so that they could provide some feedback and criticisms on things we had missed or overlooked. It’s incredibly helpful to have an outside eye looking at your work and being brutally honest about things ergo your film can become even better.

We delivered our Rough Cut to the main body of the group and I honestly expected to get utterly slated. There were comments I knew we would get regarding lighting issues, grading and missing shots (something which we planned to pick-up the following day) but I was quite pessimistic about how the film would be received. However, I was surprised at how much positive feedback we received and how many helpful suggestions people put forwards to us.

Here is what we received feedback wise off the NASSSH blog:

  • It’s a nice narrative and nice to see older people being used in a student film. Different and breaking boundaries.
  • The dialogue is great and it actually sounds like a few people’s grandparents – this means people related to our characters.
  • The tracking shot of the feet at the end – is it needed because it doesn’t add anything and it’s possibly too long.
  • The sound levels need normalising (there are places where they are louder/quieter than others).
  • Technically it needs a lot of tweaking with regards to grading, colour correcting and stabilising.
  • It needs more of a beginning to ease the audience in, rather than just starting the action straight away.
  • Do we need to re-shoot the kitchen scene because it’s too orange and might be difficult to rescue in post production?
  • The exposure needs looking at in a specific scene.
  • A music track would be tremendously beneficial to the feel of the film – this was something we had considered but had not got round to doing at the time we presented.

Armed with these comments we were then ready to improve the film as it was and polish the very rough copy. The technical difficulties that had arose as a knock on effect from our accident on set (which we explained to the feedback group) were the only main areas of issue. As far as the narrative went, people really reacted to it positively and picked up on all the subtle jokes.

Our rough cut needs a lot of polishing and we really have to film our pick-up shots. The suggestion of re-shooting the kitchen scene is out of the question; it would cost far too much to bring our actors up from London or alternatively to travel down to them. We will just have to do a lot of grading work in the editing process.

After the feedback, we met with the lecturers to discuss their advice and what we needed to do next in their opinion. We managed to produce this for them however, we still had a lot of work to do.

Here’s the rough cut:

These are the comments we came up with ourselves (from the NASSSH Blog) “Looking at the rough cut there are a few things we noticed. The side shot of Harold and Geraldine sat in the park with the car in the background is really nice, but the only thing about that shot is that it would have been nice to do a focus pull between Harold and Geraldine when they’re speaking.

The JIB shot at the beginning is nice, apart from the fact that half way through it gets wonky, which other people picked up on, but in our defence the road had a slope and setting it up was difficult anyway.

With the shot of the couple coming out the house, the original was a much less cropped shot as you could see more of the actors and the sign on the house, but I had got into the reflection of the window on the right hand side of the door, and it was our best take, so I had to do some cropping magic here.

We also like the shot at the end, which we had actually reversed. Our original idea was to have this shot as an establishing shot for the last scene and the camera would come down and you’d see the couple holding hands before it fades out, and then the last scene would be the track going away from the couple, but the camera zooming in to give a disorienting, but at the same time, quite cool, effect. But when we tried it it didn’t work so we moved the establishing shot to the end. The other reason for reversing it was because the camera doesn’t linger long enough on them holding hands and it’s nice to see the location at the end, where the camera does linger. There is an issue with this shot however. All the birds in the background fly and swim backwards. Although not easily noticeable it does look rather daft.

The rough cut isn’t too shabby but really needs a lot of work to look great. I’ve showed it to a few people not on the course and they expressed different views (mainly on the story and look rather than the technical aspects as they are not trained to do this). One particular comment that struck me was from my Aunty who has had a lot of experience dealing with elderly people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. She said that Geraldine seemed to show very early signs of this horrific illness and although this was not the decodation I expected, it is still really useful to know as other people could pick up on this. I believe that the piece could be seen as touching on the subject subtly and gently whilst still maintaining a lovely story in some people’s views. This is not of great concern to me as I know I wrote the story and we filmed it without this in mind and therefore I don’t feel I have brushed up on something quite daunting with deliberate intent.

Just wait for the final piece!!!!

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Short Film – Shooting Day

We were ready to go! Actors were finalised and had the scripts. We had a costume for our postman character. Sara had brought her car to uni for this term and we decided to use that in the film. Actors were on their way up from London and Birmingham. The weather was meant to be a fine day. Our locations looked lovely. All the equipment was ready to go (there as an issue getting out reflectors so I made some with tin foil and cardboard). We set off to our shoot.

Helena took most of the equipment home with her the day before (due to the fact she lives near the park we were shooting at). With Sara driving, Sophie, Nick, Sarah and I travelled to the location along with the rest of the kit and met her there to set up. Her parents kindly offered their time as people in the background (the cyclist). We set up the kit ready to go for Tom and Abigail (our lead actors) when they arrived. Helena picked them up at 09:00 and after meeting all the crew and getting to know each other and also after a directional talk, we got shooting. Our postman, played by James, was due to arrive at 10:30 as he was only needed later on.

The shoot went nicely to start and was ahead of schedule as we were quick setting up shots, doing a take and then moving onto the next one (although there was a few takes to each scene). We had a minor incident at 12:00 when James fell ill which caused us to loose an actor off set and an hour and half whilst we dealt with the situation and replanned. It also gave the sun enough time to break through the cloud base (something which we had scheduled in but thought we would be done by). We were forced to use Helena’s mum who kindly stepped in at the last minute instead of the postman and she played a woman walking her dog – Lady Midnight or Middi (pain in the bum to me) stepped in to for this part as Abigail had brought her dog with her. Abigail and Tom also used this new character in an improvised part of the car journey.

Although there was some lighting issues and sound issues (BLOODY GEESE) we managed to wrap up really quickly. Two new problems then faced us. Our location for the interior was in Coventry and to save space in the vehicles and time, we had already set up our lights there. Since we had been knocked back and hour and a half, rush hour had kicked in and it would mean a very, very long journey back to Coventry to film there. As we were paying the actors by the hour (out of our own pockets as this was how we funded the budget) we were conscious of this time issue. At this point, Mr and Mrs Borthwick (who I can not thank enough) offered to us their house. We sprung on this opportunity and raced there. The only issue was we had no lighting and although we managed to find an old DIY lamp, it still was a poorly lit set and was quite orange on camera (although this might have been a bit more of a technical point from the operator).

But we pushed on and got the shoot done exactly on our scheduled finish time. We would need to re-film some pick up shots and perhaps some audio but we paid and gave goodbyes to our fantastic actors and wrapped for the day.

 

The group blog post with some photo stills from the day: http://nassshfilms.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/filming-day/


Short Film – Paperwork

Most of the paperwork was done by the Producer and Assistant Producer. However, having experience producing and also being familiar with risk assessments, I was asked to lend a hand in a few areas.

 

Here is the paperwork blog from NASSSH Films: http://nassshfilms.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/paperwork/


Short Film – Test Shoot

The test shoot consisted of several things. The first was getting to our locations and working out the shots and angles and lenses needed. Also I had to do a sound check and help looking at lighting issues (the externals depended on the day). The second was deciding what technical equipment would work well and where (ie. where the tracking shots would be and the best place for a jib shot). The third was working out from a logistical point of view how we would film the interior car shots.

I will start with the car interior shots. I used to MLS car mount and played about with that for a bit. I worked out a lot of shots we could do with it. There were two that seemed most likely. One was it being on the bonnet looking through the windshield (although it probably would have too much reflection) and the second was on a car door looking through a window. The only problem was, the suckers were a bit haphazourdous and occasionally slipped. For H&S reason and the fact we really did not want to break any kit, we decided against using it. I then looked at securing the camera inside the windscreen and on the dashboard. It seemed to work really well but was a pain to set up the shot. It would be time-consuming and tricky but did look good. The wider angled lenses (20mm) came in handy here. As did scrumptious amounts of duct tape. I also looked at shots from the back seat which looked into the mirrors of the actors. I tried three approaches; the first was looking from the back seat into the rear-view mirror which, when positioned correctly, let you see “Geraldine’s” eyes; the second and third was shot again from the back seat but this time looking into the side mirrors (left and right) and you could see “Harold” and “Geraldine’s” faces and their reaction shots. I also tried shooting over their shoulders through the dashboard with the depth of field being what they could see on the road/pavement. The final shot was done by walking very carefully next to the car with a shoulder mount looking through a side window. It looked nice but was too shaky.

Just a quick note on the location at the park; there was a lovely looking house next to the pond we would be shooting and it’s driveway ran straight onto the road we would be filming on. It looked perfect. It felt perfect. I adopted the approach I’ve always had – if you don’t ask then you don’t get and knocked on the owner’s door. I asked him if we could use his driveway for the film and he was more than happy to. He even offered us his garden to shoot in which was amazing. It’s bank kissed the water front so beautifully. It was lush and green and filled with foliage (especially daffodils which were in the script)! We just had to shoot in it.

Another quick note on the park location – it was filled with ducks, geese and swans. These would (revised:DID) play complete hummer with my sound/audio!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


BBC Midlands Trip – Day Two

Today I visited BBC Midlands to meet News and Weather presenter, Ben Rich. Ben is a friend-of-a-friend and after hearing that I was interested in a career in film and television but particularly broadcast, he invited me to the Mailbox (where it is located) to look around and see how things work. My friend and peer Helena accompanied me on the trip as she has a passion for radio and broadcast media and also was gutted she was not available to go on the Sky News trip. I may have been on the trip to Sky News myself but this would be different for three main reasons. Firstly, Ben would be interacting with me on a more personal level and being a presenter rather than a producer, I could learn about the other side of broadcasting. Secondly, the BBC operates differently and has different looks on life to Sky and I thought it would be great to look at both ends of the spectrum and see how things work. Finally, when I visited the Sky News centre, it’s content was national and international news however, BBC Midlands covers local, county, area and both national and international news. This put a different prospective on broadcast media and how it works.

Ben walked us through the studio and office space the presenters and journalists use. In comparison to Sky News, it was much more relaxed and less frantic – I suppose since it is not a global news station, there’s less urgency to get the first account of the biggest news. He slipped us into the gallery whilst he presented in the studio which was really different to what I had experienced in the university TV studio. We use a floor manager and talk-back but Ben just used an ear piece and spoke directly to his director. There was also only five people in the gallery; a director, a producer, a sound tech, a PA and the vision mixer. I was used to working with many more people however, a lot of the jobs that we needed hands for was substituted by technology. For example, we had an operater who ran the autocue whereas Ben had a foot pedal and could control the speed himself. Some camera functions like zooming and focusing could be controlled from a command box in the studio so once angles had been set up, there was no need for an active camera operator. It still impressed me how tight the running order was although it was interesting to see that, due to the nature of the show, Ben could do two or three run throughs before the show was broadcast. Also, for his evening show, he could pre-record it as it was not played out live. This was slightly amusing as Sky News broadcast Live constantly whereas Ben could do a few takes in his own time and the show was just aired later on. One would assume, if they were a relatively inexperienced presenter, that mistakes and retakes were possible.

Packages are news stories and articles that journalists film then edit into an article that is then presented on a broadcast. Ben let us see the software and process that journalists use to do this. It was different to the techniques I had used but I think my skills could be easily translated over. I also got taught a valuable way of constructing packages in the real world. Write the story, then find the pictures that visualise it. This means that I should write the story before I go get any footage. This makes it easier to let the story develop then conclude itself as the visuals are filmed to match the story, not the story is written to match the pictures. I do this in short film but it was a little different in my documentary. I had a bit of an idea of the story but then got my footage and then wrote my story around it. What Ben was trying to teach me was to film around what I’ve ‘written’.

Our trip then took us to the weather department. Ben is a complete geek for weather (his own words) but I give him credit for being passionate about what he does. There is no point going into a career you hate; contrary to this, Ben absolutely loves his job at the BBC. We got to look at the weather systems and software which tell presenters what is happening although to Helena and I, none of it made an real sense. Ben talked us through his training to report the weather which was short but intense. He can now read date as though it was words written out for him.

Before we ended the visit, Ben treated us and showed us where the Archers radio show was recorded. We walked through the sound proof studio – this was really eerie as your voice was just lost into dense air! This studio was brilliantly constructed. Kitchen, living rooms, dining room sets were everywhere and every detail was covered for a sound. Cupboards actually worked and there was a short flight of stairs with three different pieces of material on (metal, wood and carpet) to make the audio recordings as realistic as possible. It was humorous and quirky yet fantastically thought out.

To round off the day, Helena and I chatted to Ben about how he got his job at the News station and his previous work and credidentials. He told us he actually got a lucky break on the show however, without his previous experiences, he wouldn’t have been able to get where he is now. This was an invaluable lesson as I know that to succeed I need to prove I am more than capable of the job at hand before I even consider applying for it.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time visiting the Beeb. It was a great learning experience for me and I can take a lot away from it. I hope to revisit it in the future and I keep in regular contact with Ben.


Creative Activism – Creating An Impact

I want my impact to be small and entertaining. There is too much sadness in our world and making a fool out of myself for ten seconds to make someone laugh is certainly a positive thing I can do.

In Iceland, we marvelled at the volcanic and mountainous scenery. Nick and I played silly buggers and reacted to it in our own take on a Carry On joke (think Kenneth Williams and “Ooooh Matron” etc).

Ooh Matron

The way we make this video a viral one is the manner in which we get it out there. It is on YouTube and we made as many tags as possible so people stumble across it. One particular tag was “Koni Mountains” as the whole Koni issue is high in media press at the minute. We were hoping people would see our video whilst looking through others. Although this seems heartless, in a practical term with something more moving or predominant or a good in the world it is an incredibly clever tactic. We find the trends on the web and make content that deals with our own issues but link it to the current affairs so when people search for it, they come across our message instead.

This could be really beneficial to a true cause or event that has real purpose in being a force for good in life. It would be seen as controversial but if good intent is behind it all then controversy will give it even more press. Perhaps in the future I could viralise something amazing in this manner.

We also spammed Facebook and Twitter with the video in hope that more and more people will view it. It already has had a lot of comments and likes on Facebook but we want it to go further.

Check Nick and I out being Dingbats by a geyser in Iceland!


Creative Activism – Flash Mob

A flash mob is a group of people meeting in a public space and performing to put a point across to bystanders and entertain them. They are a recent activity however, they have become immensely popular in recent years. YouTube has really helped propel Flash Mobbing into a popular event with millions of people recognising one.

Flash Mob

Our challenge this week was to perform one of our own.

Improveverywhere were probably the first high profile flash mob group that appeared on the internet.

http://improveverywhere.com/

In our group we had two main ideas which stemmed from these:

So our group looked into several ideas and we narrowed them down to our 4 main ideas, of which one we would be taking forward and doing,

1. Wow – This idea came from people conforming to being like sheep and following a crowd despite not knowing what was going on. We would lay a piece of paper with WOW written on it on the ground in a public space, take photos of it and try and draw in the public in hope that they would want to know what the big fuss was about. We thought about pointing out to people how likely they are to act like a sheep by writing on the paper “and you thought you were independent!”.

2. Human Snake –This literally consisted of making a conga line and seeing if we could get random people to join by pretending to be bystanders and joining in ourselves. It would have been great but we thought about a H&S risk that prevented the go ahead.

3. The Theme Song – We would sing, hum, whistle famous theme songs in a public space and then more of the group would join in in hope that people around us would too.

4. Ikea – In “500 Days of Summer”, the lead actors act out their lives as if they were living in Ikea. We would pretend to be in a situation depending on which show room we were in; people in the kitchen would pretend to cook whilst in the living room they would shout at the TV not working etc.

We narrowed this down to two:

– Perform in Ikea or
– Sing easily recognisable tunes in public spaces.

We went for the latter and practiced humming and whistling to try and put together a medley of famous tunes people could join into. These consisted of the Great Escape, Aadams Family and the Pink Panther themes. We would hit the Uni Libary, Students Union, Town Square and our own Ellen Terry building. It would have gone greatly but there was a lack of people being able to keep rhythm, pace and in tune. It started to go badly and with a deadline drawing ever nearer, we decided to scrap this plan and fall back on the Ikea idea.

Ikea Logo

We plotted to hit Ikea on the same floor but in different locations around the store. We would be in groups of 4 or 5 with one person nearby filming the action. The next step was getting to Ikea. We went down in groups but entered the store separately. A couple of group members would find a location and then we would find them and start. There was also a couple of the whole group knocking about who were there to try and get people involved asking them what was going on.

The Plot

My group hit the bedroom. Jess and I stripped down to pyjamas and got into a bed. Jack hid in a wardrobe and Adina hit in the bathroom with a robe over her. James was filming us and waved to start when a few people were nearby. Jess and I talked loudly which drew bystanders attention. At this point Adina raced into the room screaming at me for having an affair. I leapt out of bed and argued back. This attracted a lot of attention from the staff on the floor. As they came over, Jack jumped out the wardrobe and slipped into bed with Jess. Adina and my argument blew way over the top and she was hysterical slapping me in the face while I pleaded my innocence. As the Ikea staff started to shout at us and ask us what was going on we looked at them and drew them into the argument asking them what they were doing in our home and who did they think they were walking into our bedroom. They didn’t seem impressed and escorted us out the building. As soon as the commotion with us had died down, the other two groups started to kick off. They were given a similar treatment but with a faster response.

We thought we had been really effective in flash mobbing but we were made to feel by the staff that we were more of a nuisance. As we returned to HQ, we realised that some members of our group had just taken it too far, stripping in the shower for example. A bit out of order even though some of our stunts were risqué.

In reflection, it is amazing how quickly we could get organised and put into effect a plan and get people involved. Maybe a little more time and deliberation and make sure people know EXACTLY what to do (and what not) and we could re-create something more spectacular.