Character List

UNCLE: Douglas Rooks. 60+ y/o. White British.

If you take a look at any of the film projects made at Titus Salt School, DR is the go-to actor. We have had the opportunity to work with him on several occasions and have never been let down by his talent. He has the great look for a roughed-up nasty detective/father-figure. He appears to be excited for the project.

Dougie

KAT: Libby Aske. 9 years old. White-British.

We chose Libby because she has the perfect look for a bright and inquisitive young girl, and has acting experience. She is impressively mature for her age.

Libby

HIM: Peter Cook. 80 years old. White-British.

Our decision to have Peter as the alien character is based on his lanky, though wise and aged appearance, as well as his boyish mannerisms which will carry through on screen.

Peter

TOBY: Evan Hughes. 14 years old. White-British.

We chose Evan with thanks to the drama teacher at our school. He was recommended to us as he has experience with acting – including acting groups etc – as well as links to the TV/Film industry through family. He looks young for his age and appears to be mature and easy to work with.

Evan

Rufus: Winston. 4 years old. Dog.

Winston plays perhaps the most important side role in the whole story; that of Rufus, Kat’s dog.

Winston

And that rounds up our cast list. Due to the nature of a short film the cast it’s a short list but I do feel that we have some not inconsiderable talent on hand.

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Full Cast Meeting – 10/12/17

Full Cast Meeting

On Sunday the 10th of December – escaping the snow by the skin of our teeth – we hosted a full cast and crew meeting at James’ house in order to present the actors with the initial call sheet and a thorough overview of the production schedule. We feel that this further gained people’s interest in the project, and excited them.

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Character Outfits

Him - Costume

Kat - Costume

Runner - Costume

Toby - Costume

Uncle - Costume

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Creating a Character in a Short Film

The most important aspect of character creation in film is making the audience care about them, something that is exponentially harder in a short film simply due to the fact that you have substantially less time to develop the character to its fullest extent as one can in a full length production.

Making the Audience Care

To start with, making the audience care follows a handful of general rules. One aspect is the viewer’s imagination, many films have had romantic scenes for example in which there is no dialogue, only music and we, the audience, fill in the blanks ourselves. This freedom of interpretation with characters, the ability to impose one’s own ideas on a character or scene, helps with relating to a character.

Another integral point is the characters ‘itch’, their drive to perform certain actions. A mother characters ‘itch’ in a drama for example may be to work two jobs in order to provide for her two children. This is naturally a very stereotypical example but it holds weight nonetheless as a prime example of a character with a goal, a motivation. To see a character working towards something humanises them and allows the audience to relate to them, another important factor in making a character likable.

The aforementioned importance of relating to a character is perhaps the most important of them all as some degree of emotional resonance is required to understand a character, any character be it hero or villain. If the audience has no avenue through which to invest themselves in a character then they won’t be able to bring themselves to care what happens to them.

In Relation to a Short Film

In the context of a short film as compared to a full length feature film or TV series everything has to be condensed; characters still have motivations, back stories and blanks which the audience fill in themselves but for one you can only develop a small handful of characters at most due to time constraints and secondly you have to exercise efficiency with your shots in order to both develop a character and not spend so long making us care for the character that there’s no time for them to actually do anything.

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Newspaper Prop

What follows is the newspaper I have created for use in two separate scenes.

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Costume – Mood Board

Below is a mood board of the eighties style of clothing, its relevance to our film being our slightly retro backdrop. this gives us an idea, a visual indication of the sorts of clothing that would be appropriate for our cast.

80s britain mood board

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Permission Slips

In the interest of propriety we reached out to the parents of our chosen child actors for their permission and any conditions they may have for us with the below permission forms.

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Sci-Fi Questionaire

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Lighting and Colour in Film

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LUTs and Colour Grading

For our short film with it being our own ideas and style we’ll have to come up with our own look. This will involve pre-production research into colour grading and how it will affect the feel of the film. The colour grade of certain scene can even effect the mood of the scene, for example: warmer colours are more associated with happiness and comfort, while colder colours are associated with comfortableness and loneliness. Moreover colour grading can be associated with different time periods and equipment it is filmed on. This can be things like: super 8 and super 16 film.

In our film we are going for a kind of style that takes inspiration from super 16’s filmic look while also making use of the current technology. This can be achieved by having similar colour science, with things such as grain and yellow mid-tones, but while using the same frame rate and sharpness in current camera technology.

In film most people use look up tables (LUT’s). These are presets that are done by professional colourists to give a shot a certain look and feel. By having these settings as LUT’s it allows you to have certain settings applied to multiple shots in a package that allows you to use it on multiple projects. We think in our short film it would be easier, but more time consuming to create a colour grade for each individual scene rather than trying to find a LUT that can cater to the short film as a whole.

We created a few looks that give the type of feel that we are going for:

Original Image:

Super 8 Inspired:

This grade is heavily inspired by day light super 8 grading. Super 8 has a very heavy emphasis on yellow in the mid-tones and heavy grain, with the addition of very soft images only achievable by turning off in-built sharpness in a modern day camera. In addition to the the shadows and highlights are raised to give it that soft non-contrast look.

Super 8 Cool:

This grade is very similar to super 8 daylight but similar to dim lit or night time shot super 8. With the obvious mid-tones being much colder and the image being overall darker as super 8 could not handle dim or low light as well as 30mm or modern day full frame.The blacks in super 8 and as well as super 16 are often not as dark or crunchy as normal film black, in addition to the whites not being true white and being more of a grey tinge. This is a staple part of both super 8 and super 16 film look.

Super 16 Inspired:

With super 16 the light and colour performance was much better than super 8. This allowed for better work in dim light and retaining more richer colours. With super 16 the mid-tones kind of role off of the highlights to create a nice soft look and the shadows are quite bright in some areas. It has less grain that super 8, but in this grade we decided to add a grain overlay to give it a more authentic look. In addition to this the colours are more well balanced, so we decided that we would decided to give it a more colder look that warmer. with magenta and yellows in the highlights and greens in the mid-tones to counteract.

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Initial Costume Ideas

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Audience Breakdown

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Blumler and Katz; Uses and Gratification Theory

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Theory

Catharsis

Catharsis; “the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.” This is the traditional interpretation of the term catharsis as coined by Aristotle sometime in the fourth century BC. Literally meaning to cleanse oneself emotionally, the term was picked up first by literature and, much later, by film. In the context of a story catharsis is the moment of relief when the villain is defeated for example, or when the hero escapes a trap. Every film worth its salt has a moment of catharsis, romances have the characters finally fall in love, action has the hero defeating the villain; it goes on.

By its very nature catharsis can occur several times over the course of the film and to a degree it is dependent upon the viewer and what they view to be a stressful scenario. In our short film for instance we have three major points of catharsis in the plans; finding out the old man has powers, discovering he is an alien and the suggestion that he has survived at the end. These points of catharsis bring me onto the next point; its not always about stress in the traditional sense, it is more akin to anticipation in some cases. What defines something as catharsis is the release, not the emotion itself.

Due to the nature of film making there are likely to be several more instances of catharsis on a smaller scale but they have not been fleshed out as of yet as integral to the plot. If more moments end up our film, they’ll likely be spontaneous or incidental additions.

Binary Opposition

Binary opposition is essentially two concepts that are the opposite of each other; hero and villain, man and woman, young and old, kindness and cruelty. All these are very simple examples of the concept. It more predominantly applies to a media text in regards to characters. In our production the binary opposite is that of the uncle and the alien; both are seemingly older men and yet that is where the similarities end. Where one is gruff the other is gentle, one is rude and abrasive whilst the other is considerate and kind, loud and mute; it goes on.

Binary opposites always have a link in some way, shape or form otherwise they wouldn’t really be considered opposites, they’d simply be unrelated. In the traditional example of hero and villain the link is usually their point of contention; the princess, the kingdom, the world, etc. The common link between our characters is Kat, she is what forces them to interact within the plot at all and as such provides them with something in common with which to establish their ‘binary opposition’.

Todorov’s Three Part Structure

In perhaps the best simplification of narrative structure Todorov tells us that every media text follows equilibrium, disequilibrium and resolution. In our production the equilibrium would be the point at which Kat and Toby are communicating, meeting up and so on; the world is as it should be. Following this is the disequilibrium in which the alien is discovered and continues all the way through to his ‘death’ which is the resolution (his hinted survival is also part of this). In a sense our narrative structure goes against convention as the disequilibrium is not the negative point, the resolution is.

Todorov’s Five Part Structure

On a related note, Todorov also invented two additional parts which constitutes a five part structure; equilibrium, disequilibrium, recognition of the disequilibrium, an effort to restore the equilibrium and the resolution. The two new stages (third and fourth) add more detail to a structure when the concept is laid out, aiding the planning process. This detail splits the aliens arrival in two; the aliens arrival itself (disequilibrium) and the children’s discovery of him (recognition). The first attempt at resolution is the uncles attempt to remove the alien from his house, something that ends in seemingly tragic failure and, obviously, the other three stages are as above.

Written by Alfie Tennant

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On Set with Children; the Guidelines

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Working Title: FLICKER, Class Presentation

FLICKER (1)

Catharsis is an Aristotelian term. “Fear poisons life with anxiety” “Catharsis can flush the feeling from our minds; clears the air” “Catharsis is the sense of purgation or relief.”

It can be put as the “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh” moment. Watch either of these examples which show some of the biggest a-ha! moments out there.

Considering that a catharsis can be as minute as possible, and many can occur in just one text, what moment in the Iron Giant clip was the catharsis?

The realisation of his powers as an alien robot you say, superb! Well it’s important to notice that a catharsis is a device that truly makes a film.

Why are we interested in catharis? Short films are short by definition and we feel that for it to be an enjoyable short, it needs some sort of key catharsis.FLICKER (2)

Another reason why we chose the Iron Giant clip was because it is an example of a Sci-Fi text. Why is it?

The advanced alien robot character might be a hint.

Science Fiction is defined as a genre having conventions of advancements in science or technology.

Because of the broadness of this genre, having such a wide scope for writers and directors to play with, there are so many different uses of the term science fiction – and it’s easy to forget that.

Most people, in thinking about ‘Science Fiction’ might sigh and think of tinny products like Doctor Who, Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica. On the other hand, people may leap straight to the bigger Sci-Fis; Star Wars, Blade Runner, or Alien.

Many forget about controversial texts whioch are less-conventional, i.e. Inception, Frankenstein, The Handmaid’s Tale, Ex-Machina. These are texts which don’t fully adopt the many conventions of Sci-Fi, and only focus on one.

The Iron Giant is again, an unusual Sci-Fi, as it’s only defined as being so because of its sole robot element. FLICKER (3)

Sci-Fi is a genre that allows for so many ‘cool’ things to happen. It’s a genre that is entirely speculative, most of the Sci-Fi’s out there present issues which could happen/have already happened. The iconic ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….’ tagline is a way for nerds to uphold the slightest possibility of some form of Star Wars situation happening at some point somewhere – it simply can’t be disproved. This way, Sci-Fi films can complete the utmost form of escapism – by creating situations so far from our own, that we may temporarily forget that our own issues exist in the 90 minutes whilst watching a film.

For short film purposes, much of Sci-Fi is based around an idea that is simply developed over and over until you’re left with something so epic that the idea is lost under all the layers of Hollywood ganache. With a short, you can explore an idea, and only the idea. The actors won’t distract you from it’s meaning, and there isn’t enough time to ruin the idea, unless you’re a remarkably bad filmmaker.FLICKER (4)

Short films are used as devices to showcase a particular artist’s style. Our short film will need a particular style in order to follow conventions of the format.

Looking at films like Under The Skin and Ex-Machina we can see a bleakness in the way that the stories are presented both visually and dramatically. This is in stark contrast to many of the over-sensationalised Sci-Fi blockbusters. Some directors and artists carry their styles across their films. Wes Anderson for example is famous for his almost-symmetry, his technicolour wash palette, and his slow, calculated humour. Michael Bay on the other hand is famous for his over-use of slow motion, shiny objects and explosions. Each of these will have picked up their styles from other directors, authors and artists alike. Now it’s our turn to do the same.FLICKER (5)

Moonrise Kingdom provides our character material – the humour between them.

Stranger Things gives genre and setting, the retro-futuristic 1980s charm. We’d love to explore an 80s style in our short film.

E.T. gives the relationship between an alien and a child.

Donnie Darko provides thought-provoking dialogue useful in shorts.

Hunt For The Wilderpeople is genius for it’s use of comedy between the two lead characters, Taika Waititi knows best.

Her has a palette which is a bleak entanglement of Blade Runner and Donnie Darko.

True Detective provides both stunning and sinister visuals.

The Iron Giant gives the perfect sweet narrative and relationship that we aim to create in our short.

What will influence our style?FLICKER (6)FLICKER (7)

Our idea goes like this: A young girl and her friend encounter an old alien man who appears to have no recollection of where he is. His only method of communication is through the use of electrical devices.FLICKER (8)FLICKER (9)FLICKER (10)FLICKER (11)FLICKER (12)FLICKER (13)

We decided that some of the themes that should come out of our short film will be:

Loneliness,

Friendship,

Coming of Age,

Innocence,

PaternityFLICKER (14)

It’s an ambitious idea, but between the four of us, we’ve had a lot of practice. All we need to do is have careful time management, to be respectful of our actors and crew, and to think about the story the whole time. We are lucky in having access to a wide range of technologies, such as high-end Nikon DSLR cameras, lenses, and film-quality sound equipment. The fun side of the production can come in practical and visual effects, which will be used sparingly, but even so – practice with these will be fundamental.


FLICKER (15)

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Footnotes and Feedback From Our Presentation

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TV License

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Monday, 2nd October 2017 – Group Discussion

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80’s Film

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Music Magazine – Old World Wonders

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Who would be the audience and how would I attract them to my media product?

Age

When considering the age of my target audience I would contend that my primary audience would be mid 50’s to 70’s as my magazine exhibits the types of music that were around when they were young. My tertiary audience would be people in their teens to mid-20’s. This is due to the current generation’s fascination with non-mainstream media, meaning that a magazine on retro music would appeal to these individuals almost as much as the aforementioned original fans of the music who were teenagers when it was at it its height. One could almost say that I am targeting not them as they are now but rather their sense of nostalgia; their younger selves and their younger counterparts are my audience if you will. This breadth of target audience is liable to increase sales to far beyond what they would be If I simply catered to one group.

Sexuality

Sexuality is not tackled by my magazine in the sense that differing sexualities are presented in my magazine; they are not. Rather it comes across in how I have targeted my audience. My primary model is presented as being this successful, happy, rich, superstar who is enjoying his retirement. This is something that will appeal to portions of my audience. Furthermore I have several attractive individuals as drop in images throughout the magazine along with their individual moods and themes; dark, mysterious, open, happy. There is a variation to my models and themes that I feel will attract a broader audience simply based on appearance alone.

Gender

Gender is an integral part of choosing a target audience and I believe that my magazine could easily be found appealing by both genders. Music is something that unlike sport or television series’ is not as divided by gender. There is less of a gender based preference in regards to musical genres. This is a rare occurrence as in almost every other aspect of media or even life as a whole there are clear stereotypical gender preferences; men in construction, women liking romance novels, boys reading super hero comics, girls watching soap operas. There are more stereotypes in both media texts and consumption than I can list; music stands more apart from this than many others. Because of this lessening of stereotypes I feel that my magazine can appeal to both genders equally in the most part, by offering stories of role models for both genders for example. This again broadens the horizons of my target audience.

Ethnicity

I have already mentioned ethnicity in my earlier essay on cultural representation and as such I will merely summarise here. There is a lack of cultural diversity in my magazine due to availability of models, not by explicit choice. In my other essay I acknowledge the significant impact coloured musicians had on music in the 60’s and 70’s.

Niches

Niche groups must also be considered when profiling an audience. For example, my magazine features a guitar prominently on the cover; this could attract guitarists. It also features an authentic 60’s jukebox, this might attract those with an interest in vintage antiques or memorabilia. Targeting niches alongside my majority based audiences allows for further development of my target audience as a whole.

Target Audience Summary

Overall I would say that my target audience is split into two camps. On the one hand we have those individuals who were teenagers at the time of the music (the 50s to 70s age bracket), those who knew Charlie Ray as a superstar as opposed to an aging celebrity. My product is a resurgence of their past, a look back at all their favourite music.

On the other end of the scale we have the youth of today. As previously mentioned there has been a sharp increase in vintage music over the last few years which allows for a sort of dual audience; those who were young then and those who are young now.

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What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?

I believe that Anthem Publishing might be likely to publish my product due to several factors. One such factor is their publication of the magazine Vintage Rock; something that has a similar premise to my own. It looks at rock music through the ages in much the same way that my production covers musicians from around the 60’s.

Furthermore their organisation is much smaller and lower profile than something like Bauer Media which focuses on more modern music and already owns big names like Q. Their size makes them less likely to consider such a niche magazine as my own, an issue I am less likely to face with Anthem.

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James Weedon’s Review of my Final Product

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How does my media product represent particular social groups?

In recent years cultural diversity has become more common in magazines and other forms of media. ‘White washing’ has become a prevalent issue in modern media. Whether this is because it has recently begun or whether it has only just become considered an issue in western society is up for debate however. This is particularly relevant as my own magazine could be seen as having been whitewashed when taken out of context due to the lack of ethnic diversity present in my models, I have only used a Caucasian male; there are no people of black, Asian, etc descent presented in my magazine. While unfortunate this issue was unavoidable due to the availability of models; regrettably I only had access to a single ethnicity of model with the exception of a single quarter Japanese individual. This individual had already been used by a fellow students however and as such I have elected not to use her to avoid copying.

Despite feeling that it is justified however it is still regrettable. Black artists, both male and female, were particularly prominent in the 60s and 70s and as such their lack of inclusion in my magazine is unfortunate. A few notable examples are Aretha Franklin, The Staple Singers, Marvin Gaye; more than I could possibly name here. All of these musicians were particularly strong influences on music at the time, something I feel would have been an excellent addition to my work had I been able to fit it in.
There are a multitude of alleged issues with culturally diverse casts in cinematography or stage plays as well; one must only look to the uproar over Noma Dumezweeni playing Hermione in the Cursed Child performance due to her being black. Another example is the attempted boycott of Rouge One by supposed fans who were upset by the cultural diversity in the cast or the uproar over The Force Awakens having a black lead character.

Furthermore we have the issue of gender representation. Due to the content of my magazine I have used the same character on my cover and my double page spread; a male. On my contents page there is no model and as such a white male remains the only representation featured in my magazine. Personally, I don’t find this to be an issue in context. I made the decision to model the physical characteristics of Charlie Ray on my friend Matthew Dunk and as such he had to be the feature of the double page spread and made sense as the choice for my cover as well. At this point pictures of people felt somewhat overused and as such musical instruments became the focus of my contents page. Because of this I feel that the lack of cultural and gender diversity in my magazine is justified.

My magazine does however feature two women as drop in images; one brightly lit image of Ella Day playing a guitar and another of Olivia Ryan silhouetted against a juke box. This is a study in contrasts as one (Ella) is playing the guitar, quite a positive image while the other (Olivia) could be construed as a negative in some regards due to it simply being a figure as opposed to a full person, something that holds sexualised connotations in film and such.

Below are links to articles on some of my examples:

https://www.wired.com/2016/12/rogue-one-alt-right-boycott/

http://www.salon.com/2015/10/19/racists_threaten_to_boycott_star_wars_vii_because_it_promotes_white_genocide_apparently/

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/boycott-star-wars-vii-movement-833102

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/some-people-are-pissed-off-about-the-casting-of-a-black-hermione-granger_us_5678486fe4b06fa6887e188a

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What have I learnt about technologies from the creation of my product?

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Progress from Preliminary to Final (Text)

In the interest of expanding upon the information I received from Matthew Dunk in our interview I collected feedback from a few more members of my class.

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Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

The skill that I feel has most developed since my initial task is my Photoshop skills; the contrast in quality between the two covers in regards to editing is, to me, extremely noticeable. I have discontinued my unknowing over saturation of the image and kept a much more realistic impression when editing my second image. I have also improved my manipulation of text and matching colours.

While not immediately apparent from these two images alone I can say with confidence that my photography skills have improved exponentially since the taking of the first image due to the constant work they have recieved at the hands of my photography AS-Level exam unit.

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In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

In this video I shall be answering the question by going through each instant of use, development and challenge that I have picked out from my magazine in its entirety; offering verbal explanation for each point.

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Preparation for Filming

In preparation for filming my video responses I watched this video to see what photography principles applied to film making.

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YouTube Direkt

I also read up on a handful of articles and forum posts to corroborate this information.

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