Evaluation: areas of improvement

Despite of  how delighted we are with our short film, there are still a web of issues and areas of improvement that we can scrutinize. With such a massive production however, it’s very easy to nit-pick the qualities that we weren’t so content with, but we will start by discussing the broader issues which we could have taken into consideration at the start.

The length. As an obvious one, this ‘short’ film is 18 minutes long. It should be said that we don’t think that this at all decreases the quality of the film, but only disgruntled our viewers as it is more of an episodic length as opposed to a short. With a 12 page script, we had anticipated it to be around the 15 minute mark, but the 18 minutes was reached through our decision to leave breathing room for the emotion and dialogue.

Our decision was initially to have a final cut, which would be for the examiners and the blog, but have a personal director’s cut which was longer, with more breathing space which didn’t feel quite so rushed. We made the executive decision to merge these two ideas, because the fast paces scenes work very well, but the slower scenes are also valuable. This way we have one polished cut of the film, and there’s no pretension or snobbery around it. We are confident that this will not affect the film’s quality.

The story. We have our doubts as to whether we made the most of the opportunity in making a short film of this scale. The attention to detail in Flicker is something that we are incredibly proud of, but after seeing it so much it’s hard to understand why people will like this film. Our anxieties lie in the verisimilitude of the alien character. Why should people believe this? With a bigger budget we could have explored more CGI tricks to showcase this, but our decision to use only practical effects in his powers may have cost us the depth of the plot. Our practical effects weren’t incredibly careful or precise either. The lights flickering is a motif that is ingrained into the viewers’ minds from the beginning of the film, with the knowledge of the old alien man, it would be interesting to see how many people felt a cathartic effect when they paired the two together. Without this connection, the ambiguous resolution is void of any feeling. The cathartic and relieving breath at the end is confusing without the connection of the information. Maybe we shouldn’t be so pessimistic about this, but we will see at the screening whether the message was received.

Performance. Not at the fault of anyone, the performances generally could have been better, with more delicate direction. We are undeniably impressed by our child actors, whose drive to persevere with the stress of the shoots was motivating. They are, after all, children – getting any sort of performance out of them at 10 and 14 years old was impressive. The case is the same for our 80 year old lead, Peter. He was sharp at times, but communication was difficult due to his partial deafness. Some of the lines of dialogue sounded incredibly forced with the children. For instance, we found ourselves cutting a lot out of the TV scene because it was a 7 hour shoot and Libby was understandably very tired. Lines such as “Yes! Emotional! The TV made you feel that way!” grate against our ears, so we were happy to delete them. “We need to go. Now.” The line itself wasn’t bad, but Evan didn’t get the delivery quite right.

Sound and music. Despite our amazing sound equipment, having to sync up the sound in post was a massive delay to the post-production. Also, it left some clips out of sync, and we overlooked them. Furthermore, when we added echoes to some of the clips later on, the effect cut out as soon as the clip stopped. This means that we had to extend the audio clips, which was manual and dulling. Our sound mixing was, however, impressive. We made sure that our tracks were easy to listen to, and flowed nicely into each other. There wasn’t a great deal of noise in the audio, besides Scene 8, but we were by a roadside so avoiding it was difficult.

A further improvement would be our attention to detail with the soundtrack of the film. We have some gorgeous synths and guitar/piano melodies which work excellently in certain parts of the film, but mostly, the synths are random and only provide a gentle hum, to thicken the texture of the sounds.

DVDs

In the leading up to the main screening we decided that we should give anyone that wanted one a copy of the film, but since we are so extra we decided that we should create DVD cases for the copies. This meant that we had to make a sleeve that goes over the case. Since the posters we already created were so good we decided to make it the front of the case too.

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Starting with a blank canvas with the original poster design. This initial design meant that the majority of the work had already been done and that only the back of case had to be designed. Capture2We stripped the bottom of the other poster and placed it at the top to fill any negative space that would be left if there wasn’t enough text. The spin of the case was measured and then space was left in the design. a gradiated background was used as solid blue and solid black didn’t look very nice. Capture3The typical logos and symbols were placed along with the rating of the film and why it was given that classification. A fake bar code was also added for authenticity. Capture4The spine of the cover looked a bit bare so the title from the poster was ripped out and placed on the spine strip, using the cloning techniques the red strip was extended so that the whole strip was covered. Capture5The new and improved 80’s JAMA logo was then added in to show who made it and then 12A logo was placed on the front and the spine, along with the DVD logo. Capture6Information about the DVD was then added on the back to sell the “real” DVD feel. Capture7Finally, a blurb was added on the back of the case along with a quote and the credits of the film enlarge from the poster.

This then became the finished product. In addition, the dimensions of the cover were spot on, meaning that they fit perfectly into the cases.

Audience Feedback Event

In order to gain audience feedback for our film we decided to host a screening at James’ house. It was gorgeous, as we were able to see everyone for one final time to celebrate the culmination of everything we did. There was Prosecco and food for all the adults and the kids had fizzy drinks. In addition to watching the film and collecting the feedback we decided to give the cast members a rewarding gift for taking part in all the painful filming endeavours (-1 degree moorland and rainy, uncomfortable woods.) We got them handmade DVD’s with cases and framed poster from the film (bit narcissistic but oh well). The whole night went really well and we all had fun, and the film was incredibly well-recieved, even by those who had nothing to do with the making. This was when we gained a majority of our audience feedback.


















‘Flicker’ Technologies Evaluation

I think it’s fair to say that we’ve had quite a lot of fun in the making of Flicker. Technology lies at the heart of our film, not just in it’s Sci-Fi elements, but also how we chose to near-professionally plan, shoot and edit every frame.

As aspiring filmmakers, it was important that each of us on the set of Flicker would understand the technology that we were using. That way, our workload was much more manageable.

Firstly, exhibit A of our technology would be the camera. We used the Nikon D800 and D7200 to capture most of the frames in our film. The D800 has a gorgeous 36 megapixel sensor, with 50 points of autofocus. Though the main reason for the cinematic quality of our film would be the interchangeable lens technology. We used a range of lenses for the varying angles and types of shot that we had.

The 50mm was used as an easy lens. At f1.8, there’s a shallowness to the image which is stylistic and attractive, but it is wide enough to use for a complex shot. We used a 50mm for the opening shot in Kat’s bedroom. As you can see, the bokeh omits details that we could not afford to keep in.

Moving on, the 85mm was our favourite lens. It has a tight crop and low f-stop at 1.8, which really restricts the image and focuses the eye. Look at these two-shots, where the background is basically nonexistent.

Then we have wider and superwide lenses such as the 24-70mm, and 16-35mm. The latter explains how we were able to get the wide establishing shots on the moors.

We then have the macro 105mm lens. This is a specialised lens for extreme close ups.

Lastly, we used an impressive 28-300mm lens for one particular zoom shot that we are quite proud of.

The perks of choosing interchangeable lenses is that we aren’t showing people irrelevant information. This is important in a short film where too much information can confuse viewers. These cameras are much lighter and more manageable than film cameras or camcorders. This means that they were very useful for our budgetless short film.

Can you hear the difference between these two tracks of audio? I should really hope so. This is the difference between using the built in camera microphone and our new audio hardware.

We bought ourselves a Rode Blimp which has a stabiliser and shock reduction technogy, with an NTG2 microphone inside. This came with a dead wombat windshield and a boom pole. Alongside this, we chose the Zoom H4N Pro handy-recorder to use for tight shots, and we separately recorded boom audio with the use of an XLR cable. This meant that we had to have Alfie as our sound operator. That pole is pretty heavy so we’d like to take this opportunity to thank him.

 

Another reason why we have decent cinematography in our film is our knowledge of lighting and the equipment that was available to us. We had two Arri 1000W lights, which is a little bright. These were used to synthesise daylight during indoor shoots, as well as changing the intensity and direction of the light. Softboxes, reflectors and bounce boards aided us on set by diffusing the light, but we actually used more natural light than artificial. We were quite blessed on a lot of our shoots. For the studio shoots, things became more complex as we were able to use light cones and blackout. We had total control over the light.

We had a stunning selection of camera equipment to use in flicker. This includes Tripods – for stability…Sliders – for smooth movement, Tracks and Dollys for large tracking movements, jibs – for multi axis smooth movement and the shoulder rig for the gritty realism.

Our studio spaces were incredibly useful to us in the making of Flicker. We used James’ Parents photographic studio to shoot complex scenes and the poster shots. Then, we had the opportunity to use a professional recording studio to record our soundtrack.

 

A really fun piece of kit that we had was the drone. Not because it technically makes us aerial camera operators, but because the overhead shots were great. Especially this little miracle of sound syncing. Drone shots were excellent for transitioning between scenes and establishing shots.

Arguably one of the most important area of the technology that we used was in the editing process. As soon as we got home from shoot, we made sure that we had the footage and audio backed up in 3 different places. We organised the data into folders for each shoot. Then it was ready to be imported into Adobe Premiere Pro. We started editing scenes when we had all the material for them.

It was a tiring, complex but certainly satisfying process. Some of the things we learned to do were mask over an image and combine two together. This is how we used CGI in the greenscreening aspect.

A large amount of time in the suite was spent syncing the camera audio with the raw audio. This was painstaking, but worth it.

Also, we colour graded the film in premiere, and used adjustment layers, sparing the original image.

In after effects, we could add atmospheric effects, simulating snow or rain. Also, we made our JAMA production intro using after effects which took its precious time.

The creative cloud was useful for photoshop as well, which we used for our poster and film logo.

The edit took us two months. We started editing in early February and finished in April. Our final gargantuan edit took us 17 hours.

 

The edit wouldn’t have been possible without a powerful enough computer to handle the footage and editing software. We had 16GB of ram and a 3.8Ghz Intel core processor with an 8GB graphics processor from AMD.

Also, we used our PCs and phones and laptops to research all about short films and how to make them happen. We used YouTube and Vimeo to research films, Google Drive, Docs, Celtx Script writer and DaFont to shape our preproduction. Google Images, and WordPress to show off our work.

 

Short film review DPS

The article:

Northern moorlands provide a chilling backdrop for a Science Fiction short. Flicker truly showcases the vibrant minds of young filmmakers, Weedon and Dunk, who’ve dreamed of living in a Sci-Fi make-believe world. The bleakness of the moorlands give the impression that “anything could happen out there and nobody would know,” as Weedon discusses. “Or everybody would know immediately” – that small town Wes Anderson trick of grounding the characters of a film to one location. Flicker brings us gorgeous, mechanical aerial shots of Danforth (Baildon, West-Yorkshire) and we are subscribed, very quickly to this creepy and claustrophobic “small town” feeling. Kat, a gorgeously acted 10 year old girl, is a victim of the small town, and the subtext of her callous and abusive uncle. She buries her self in Science Fiction – with homages to Ted Hughes’ novel The Iron Giant (who even received a thanks in the credits) – JAMA bring us a comfort in escapism – Kat’s fantasy comes true.

 

Weedon (17) and Dunk (18) have a working dynamic that creates wonders. Up and coming doesn’t quite cut it, especially for Dunk’s cinematographic eye. Writing is far harder without any experience, and crafting an idea which feeds a niche target audience is something that the youth in British film fail to achieve across the board. The delicacy in the ambiguous ending of the film (no spoilers) and the character development in Kat’s uncle show craft at such a young age. These are things which are sometimes difficult to achieve in 120 minutes, let alone 20. The film was created as an A-Level short. According to teachers at Titus Salt School, where the film was created in all it’s glory – Weedon and Dunk have been dreaming of making this short film with each other since GCSE, when their trailer was appraised highly. At Childhood’s End actually featured Rooks and Robinson-Marsh, who star in some of the more fluid scenes of Flicker.

 

There is a maturity in the style of Flicker, with clear inspiration from texts such as Stranger Things and Stand By Me. However, the writers were right in assuming that it was time to inject a British retro-80s Sci-Fi into the scene. It was clever, from a marketing standpoint, to choose a genre that excelled in the time of filming. The grainy style of the film, with that dated synth from James A. A. Reid, who Weedon has partnered with before – culminate to create a charming near-period vibe. AND not to mention, who didn’t love the JAMA intro? Talented design work sticks throughout the film, not a slip in the mise-en-scene co-ordinated by Alfie Tennant and Annabelle Parish (the other A’s in the production Co.) However, the storytelling capabilities of these young filmmakers is unwavering throughout Flicker. The temptation to bury yourself in your beloved 80s Sci-Fi favourites after watching is a clear struggle.

 

Flicker carries a whiff of cuteness and nostalgia – looking after this 80 year old teddy-bear (Cook: Weedon’s grandfather – who they made undress at the top of -1-degrees moorland.) carries the mute role with a delicious enthusiasm, the confusion and outer-worldly glance upon ours is portrayed strongly. The innocence in the naked old man is actually quite cute, and there is generally a refreshing outlook on the Sci-Fi genre. Rooks’ gruff charm accelerates the plot with the tension of Kat’s dream being turned into a brutal actuality. Evan Hughes plays a socially awkward young boy, who exclusively shares his world with Kat. If the film were to be developed into a feature (which it could quite frankly) then we would get another insight into that exclusivity between Kat and Toby. The radios are a genius way of showing this.

 

As far as festivals and investment is concerned, this British film could do extremely well. The plot feels rushed at sometimes, which might be a product of it being a short film. The way the story is told, however, the style of these young directors meets hand-in-glove with the ‘feature film’. Not to mention, the two are au fait with their filmic knowledge by the looks of it. An avid cinephile couldn’t make this kind of film: it’s reserved for the filmmakers. The insanity in calling these kids filmmakers is quite funny, especially in that their target audience lies a few years above theirs.

 

Flicker is an instant, eye catching success in the field of short films. First of all, it’s FUN. How many shorts are about death and depression and deterioration and dystopia. It is, in every respect, a refreshing short film.

Voilà.

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Our posters are complete. Again, we have two variations. The one above is our main poster, featuring everyone’s designs. Below we have our initial design for the poster. We are incredibly pleased with how well the poster turned out. The warmth in the colour pallet with that 80s noisy wash works well with the tone of the film. The subtleties in it are pleasing to us.

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We began by grading the initial image, and fixing any unwanted shadows or inconsistencies within.

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Then we had to mask over the TV screen with a static, as it was off when we took the image. 4

Then we flipped an image of “Him” and placed it over the static, with the reflections of the static in his eyes.

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Then, we added our flicker font, and greyed out where the posters will go on the wall. Further, we added our off-white border for the classic poster look.

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Then we used a curves adjustment layer to boost the image, to make it look more rich.

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Then we added our text at the bottom of the poster in a suitable typeface, which we altered using Photoshop’s character modifier. 8

Then we included the logos of the companies which were involved.

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Subtleties within the poster were created using clipping masks, font research, graphics tablets and more.

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The comparison to the design is kinda perfect.

Poster mock up_drawing

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We are unbelievably happy with the turnout of this 80s style Sci-Fi poster. We shot all the images involved, including the astrophotography.

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We wanted to base our design of the style of the original painted Star Wars posters and 80s film posters. We took our stills and used the Photoshop Oil Paint filter, which worked surprisingly well. It fully smooths out the creases and sharpness in the faces and created a far better poser.

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The hardest part was blending the faces together.

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We used a screen blend to overlay this image of stars over the characters.

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The font we chose is a direct homage to Blade Runner. We added a glow to it, making it similar to our production logo.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AFfg7J2u6K-Z6bIEoJRYL99thWat_MoK/view?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/17Ot52DMB_ZcGTd7zGM4bWFdcSdqI_UIu/view?usp=sharing

Creating a production company title in Adobe After Effects

To play up the 80s vibe, I decided to change the old production title intro. Not because it’s bad, but because it doesn’t add anything to the film. We have limited time with a short. As soon as viewers will see this, it’ll establish genre.

I took reference from some of the classics.

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Image result for old cbs 80s logo

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And this was what happened next. making a production title

I made a key-framed grid in AE and scaled it to a 3D near-prism background. This was placed over a black-red gradient solid. To make it seem as if the grid was infinite, I masked over the grid and feathered it. Then I used a track alpha matte on the grid layer to fade it out. Afterwards, I chose a font from DaFont, and coloured it in a primary black and red gradient, as well as the purple productions logo beneath. This was a great success, but it needed more work.

I set the title to music which I found from an older 80s advert intro. On the drum beats, I decided that the drama needed to be represented visually as well as audibly. So, I enlarged the text layer and placed 3 clippings of the edges over the original – in time with the drum beats.

To get the 80s VHS look I blended a fake VHS grain over it in 720p, which was incongruous with the 1080p of the graphics, making it look dated. Then, I added a glow to the text layer which really made a world of difference with the depth of the image. Also, we took colour inspiration from the following:

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Here’s the final product.

VHS TITLE from James Wentworth-Weedon on Vimeo.

Developing a film reviewing tone

As a young writer, I’m naturally quite sarcastic when writing articles. Hopefully age will mature my writing and it’ll become more grounded and easy to read. Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 19.07.21 Screen Shot 2018-04-05 at 19.07.35

Mark Kermode is skilled and well-regarded as being one of the best modern day film reviewers. Why?

Honesty is the answer… People generally watch films and wait for the general consensus, and after they’ve heard what everybody else thinks, they follow up by copying that and saying the “right answer”. This is completely backwards as it doesn’t give any scope for a good argument about films. Mark Kermode is living proof that people aren’t always wavered by mass opinion.

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This happened with the Last Jedi. As soon as I left the cinema, feeling positively whelmed by the film. I received a phone call from my friend, who had seen it with his friend at another cinema (this was the midnight showing). I listened to him ramble on about how bad it really was, after a short while of me thinking it was actually quite decent for a Star Wars film — none of them are perfect.

A good film reviewer is confident in their opinions of films, and they are not swayed by the contributions of others. This way, the tone of an article is not dull, drab and the same as every other review you might have read — it is new, insightful and another thing to think about in relation to the film.

In consideration then, our film review should be critical of the film in a way which is not too balance that it is boring. It needs to be confident in it’s tone.

DPS Film review – design research.

Magazines can easily look bad when the graphic designer isn’t all that savvy with their image/text placement skills. Why, oh why, oh why would you place an image that is going to get cut in half by the page crease? In the spread below it works reasonably well, given that Emma Watson isn’t being cut in half.

REVIEW PAGE

The split images across the page might actually have a reverse effect. People will try harder to read the content on the split and remember it more than content they would read without interruption. Maybe we should explore this idea in our review page.

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There is something dull about this double page spread. The white background makes the text easier to read, but the graphic design across is generally more important – to catch the eye. The blue subheadings and pull quotes make the page look ugly. Furthermore, the spacing overall is poor, giving the page a disjointed feel. Using programmes such as Adobe InDesign, we can make something far better than this, with a greater attention to detail than is exhibited in this other students’ work.

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This page is more suitable to the style which we would love to explore. The colours work marvellously against the white text and nothing is too harsh on the eyes. The master picture, being large, gives the impression that the film is important, as it has more space in the magazine. As many know, Twilight is a largely commercial and brilliant film. Ours is only a short, so we shouldn’t take up as much space on a DPS and we should also include other short film reviews where possible.

Designing a title.

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These are our initial designs. We needed a Sci-Fi element to the font, so we based the idea on a developed Metropolis font:

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Also, the ‘flicker’ aspect of the film needed to be presented in the title design.

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I used an image of stars that I took in France last year. Ignore the aliasing in the screenshot.

Flicker Font

Film reviewing.

Film reviewing is a perplexing job title. You are employed to watch films and write about them, so you have to be good. Though, everyone reviews a film once they’ve seen it, unless you’re a passive cinema-goer. ‘Cinephiles’ especially rant about the qualities of films which place them on the spectrum of the infamous 5 stars. Let’s look at why film reviews are even a thing. I’ll be using Lady Bird as a  reference film.

Here’s a section of Empire Magazine’s review:

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A short and sweet summary is fundamental for a film review. Though, a good writer is able to weave plot details throughout an article, whilst deconstructing other elements, such as performance – so that by the end of the reading, we have a good understanding of what to expect. Personally I like to go into a film relatively blind, but author Terri White is quite relaxed with the information. 

The bulk of the article should be an overview of certain moments or elements of the film which make it worth seeing:

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And finally, a generous or scrutinizing summary to encourage or discourage readers from being viewers of the film:

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Let’s take a look at a far more comprehensive reviewer.

Note: The Guardian is a newspaper, but the article content in the film review section is just as commonly seen as film review magazines. More people will read The Guardian or other newspapers than film review magazines.

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Writer Peter Bradshaw’s title gives an immediate sense of what the film will talk about. He uses the title as a part of the review. This, in my opinion, is a far more intelligent and effective way to review a film.

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See that it compares the film to others – intertextuality reels in other viewers. It discussed in-depth, the performances of Ronan and Metcalf, which were astounding, by the way.

So, this research shows that I prefer the style of The Guardian’s article style, a more immersive read, both before and after you’ve seen the film. This is important too,  people who’ve seen the film will love to read about it – given that they enjoy it as much as I enjoyed Lady Bird. There is an argument that short and sweet is better. For instance, my dad thinks that reading film reviews before seeing a film can warp, or spoil the filmic experience.

“I was in Reno, or Las Vegas, I think it was Reno. And I saw this film in a theatre there and It was massive in the states. ‘ET’. I went home to my friends in London and told them how fab it was and they basically told me to f-off.”

This proves that films are better viewed blind. Your concentration is enhanced as you’re not waiting for that iconic moment you saw in the trailer or poster.

“OVERRATED” – THIS IS PROOF.

SHORT FILMS 

I can’t say that I’ve ever read a short film review. There isn’t much money in short film – so the people won’t go to the cinema and watch them. This is an exception for Pre-1950s European cinema which mainly consisted of short film, as well as modern Oscar-Winning shorts such as The Silent Child, or Sundance’s Short Film weekly. https://www.shortoftheweek.com/channels/sundance-films/

 

 

 

Some girl from Stoke-On-Trent won an Oscar.

Rightly f**king so. ‘The Silent Child’ is not just a “nice short film”.

PLEASE BUY IT AND WATCH IT.     (It is better than the Shape Of Water.)

This short film follows the heart-aching story of one-in-many young persons across the world who suffer in silence (pardon the pun) due to deafness, or any other auditory or optical conditions which limit them from the basics of human communication. Rachel Shenton chooses to write her compelling short film about a young girl whose hearing abilities limit her from communicating. Shelton’s character, ‘Joanne’ is “the help,” who passionately aims to teach Libby how to sign.

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Gorgeously bleak cinematography and direction by Chris Overton simplifies the scenario to a dull, but enriched minimum. The gaze Joanne first gives to Libby is a representation of how the world looks at these unfortunately depraved mass of people. The muted focus on Libby strengthens our frustrations throughout, a key theme in the short.

The ignorance of the world is represented with a middle-class family living in the North. A sense of frustration is perfectly executed with a slow-motion sequence of a dinner time conversation, with only muted sounds and echoes, which gives us an impression of how isolated children like Libby are.

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In a family obsessed with image, there is no place for a disabled child, and so this leads to  horrific neglection from her mother, Sue. I enjoyed the way that Shelton chose for the family to have two Mercedes cars, as there is a very popular stigma about Mercedes drivers. Two in one household is the icing on the cake as far as production design goes.

As you’ll have noticed, the colour grade of the film is dulled down to a calm, through striking neutral. It reflects the muted nature of the girl’s family life. The sequences (especially the montage scene) with Joanne are far more saturated and colour-rich.

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I won’t say much more about the contents of the film, besides that it’s fab.

Shelton is a true talent to British film. I hope that this is her first moment of celebration of many.

// An afterthought: to make this post relevant to the coursework, I’ll say this. Northern Drama is the drama to look out for in the future of British Film. It has a raw edge to it which can make artwork like this possible. Our film will not have a scratch on this, but true short films are aimed to carry important messages. Ours follows the innocence in youth. If we employ a similar approach to the North as Shelton with our cinematography, direction and colour grade, I’m adamant that we will find a small form of recognition, or pride amongst ourselves.

Our film soundtrack – recording professionally in a studio

On Saturday, March 3rd, we were given the privilege to record our film soundtrack with professional audio equipment in a studio. We had the fantastic opportunity given to us by James A. A. Reid of Dear Friends, a fellow teacher at our school, whose work I’ve been involved with in the past: http://titussaltmedia.co.uk/blogs/weedonjames4320/2017/09/17/shooting-a-music-video/

recordingJames Reid, whose virtuoso piano aided us in shaping our soundtrack, for both the synth ideas and “His Theme”.

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Our first step was recording my ideas into the piece. Having practised to Grade 7 with Guitar Theory, you’d think I’d know how to hold one, but no. Hours of experimentation with this acoustic guitar led to an epiphany which resulted in musical ideas that became quickly suitable and iconic to the film. For reference, I had drafted ‘Kat’s Theme‘ before we had fully crafted the idea – so parts of the film are influenced by this.  For example, Scene 8 on the Glen, where they meet for the second time was a perfect opportunity to use the idea in it – you’ll understand when watching the film.

How did I craft the idea?

Part One: Harmonics 

harmHarmonics are overtones which accompany normal tones when fretting (placing fingers lightly over) at certain intervals, as seen above. This sound can only be created when a string is vibrated on only an exact fraction of it’s total length. For example, the 12th fret harmonic is the loudest as it splits the string in half directly. We use the 12th fret harmonic in our soundtrack frequently.

But wait, there’s more. The intervals that you see in the diagram are used in the soundtrack, but only in His Theme. I discovered intervals above the 12th fret, over the guitar’s sound hole. I marked them, tuned the guitar to Drop D tuning (DADGBE), and wrote this.

We agreed that the harmonics allow for notes to really ring out and reverberate through the guitar. The layering creates a texture, and with the D-major key, we have a positive feel to the theme of this young girl’s short adventure into a Sci-Fi world.

We were missing something. 

If you see Blade Runner 2049, you’ll hear the gorgeous murmurs of Hanz Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch. If you binge Stranger Things season 2 you’ll be delighted by the light hum of Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein’s masterful score. The key to these soundtracks lies here:

S Y N T H .

Our film, being a sort-of Sci-Fi, needs to ramp up it’s Sci-Fi-ness to accommodate for the lovers of the genre. We decided to introduce some synth tracks into the film. It provides a gentle hum, or deep roar, which enhances the feel of a scene. We were delighted when we heard what James and Caleb could seperately achieve using special audio effects.

We’re still waiting on more synth, I’m sure it’ll be just as satisfying as the last.

reidyOn the day of recording, we also enjoyed the delightful experience of visiting Fox’s biscuit factory next door. 500g bags for £1 or less. Enough said. 

Finally, before leaving the studio, we had one more issue. Kat had a theme, but the main character, the alien or ‘him’ didn’t.

I played a variation of harmonics, and James improvised for around 15 minutes after showing him a short scene, finally resulting in this, which we love.

The ‘feel’ of a film soundtrack.

In film, image and sound have a gorgeous relationship, and this relationship is solidified by the soundtrack of a film. Mood can be swayed or intensified by the soundtrack when applied to a scene if done well. With low pitched and slow soundtracks to slow down the pace and high pitched and fast tracks to speed up the pace. In addition to this, minor keys in music, or dissonance of any kind can cause moods of uncertainty or uneasiness in a scene while major keys can prompt feelings of happiness and security.

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“Call me by your Name” has a collection of songs that convey the feeling of the narrative very well, which can be taken away from the film, still leaving artwork on their own. The first being ‘Mystery of Love’ produced by Sufjan Stevens. The scene shows the two main love interests: Elio and Oliver, being alone together for the first time since the met, letting their forbidden love flourish. This scene is a breath of fresh air compared to the intense secrecy and frustrating muteness of the rest of the film, which I think shadows the feelings of homosexuality: oppressed. This heartwarming and cathartic scene is extenuated by the song accompanying it. The song is also written to trigger memories. These memories being ones of both good and bad, in this case good. The summer romance between Elio and Oliver is given personality through this song and that’s why it fits so well and does such an excellent job of tugging on the heart strings of the viewers – that tingly feeling.

The second song of the same artists called ‘Visions of Gidion’ being the polar opposite of ‘Mystery of Love’ conveying heartbreak and sadness. This can be through it’s slow and minor piano throughout or even the first lyric of “I have loved you for the last time, is it a video?” showing the ending of the relationship. The line “is it a video?” being a line of remembrance, with Elio playing back the memories in his head, just like a video. The song plays throughout the credits as Elio looks into the fire and silently sobs, but nearing the end he smiles through the pain knowing that his summer romance is something special, giving him identity and something he will never forget. Without the soundtrack this scene wouldn’t have the same power it does with it and thus wouldn’t allow for the audience to connect and feel for the character as much.

The power that the soundtrack holds is immense and can make the most dull of scenes feel like masterpieces. Interstellar’s delicate, but weighty score does just that.interstellar-movie-stills-images-3

Strings being the wonderful Hans Zimmer’s instrument of choice for the score paired with beautiful piano gives allows for emotions to be attached to the song easily, but for a Sci-Fi this is unusual as synths and more futuristic sounds are paired with this genre as it is more associated with the future of technology and the way things ARE going to be. However Zimmer’s way of layering these instruments gives that power that synths can sometimes lack. With massive wide shots of whole stars this style of music is needed to get the mood across. The build up of low and how pitch instruments all at once overpowers your senses, just like if you were to travel at the speeds close to light, which is what happens in the film. These breathtaking shots of new worlds and incredible triumphs by the human race are perfectly backed up by the soundtrack, transmitting the feelings of the characters into the audience with this music.

Mountains really stands out with its blaring organ that brings out raw emotions in the audience and can build strong connections to the scene, especially if it is key to telling the story.

“Stay” being another of Zimmer’s songs that really hammers home the feeling of the scene near the end, being ridiculously loud to make the heightening of emotion in the scene as Cooper leaves his family to explore space.

What even are you, films?

FORMALISM: (Concept) The idea that films are in fact artistic works and not simply an entertaining representation of real life.

“Life as it is when we’re not part of it.” Virginia Woolf’s interpretation of film shows a more realistic film interpretation.

Formalistic films are often artistic or unfamiliar representations of life.

There are very few films which have no relation to the ones you’ve seen before – and the ones you’ve seen before are only realistic representations of life. We have stunning pieces, such as Blue Velvet, Mullholland Drive, or the Spaghetti Westerns by Sergio Leone.

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Blue Velvet by the magnificent(ly overrated) David Lynch features some of the best formalistic cues in any film that I’ve seen. “a clear blue sky panning down to reveal crimson red roses and a white picket fence.” This shot is a perfect example of de-familiarisation as it makes viewers wonder what they are looking at, and so this is NOT A TRUE REPRESENTATION OF LIFE. 

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Mulholland Drive is another David Lynch film – okay so maybe I quite like David Lynch. This masterpiece with Naomi Watts is set in a dream-like Los Angeles. Though, the interpretation of dreaming in this is presented in a far more formalistic way to some modern texts. 

Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) crafts a sombre and smooth, though more importantly, a realistic interpretation of Daydreaming. Walking through other people’s areas of life and being followed by what feels like one smooth seamless camera movement allows for an undisturbed flow, matching the confused feeling of the viewer. This is realistic formalism. I say that because it feels incredibly real, with the handheld camera movements and the interaction between the subject and the viewer.

societybanner-600x240Society (1989) – a scarring film, which takes the story of a normal boy with a normal life, and then introduces an alien-to-viewers sub-plot about unthinkable cults, which makes the film actually quite disappointing. Maybe we’re not ready for formalism in film. 

Classicism is a blend of realism and formalism. Classical films deal with more dramatic ideas – for example, their use of camera and audio and pacing is far more realistic than the ones I mentioned previously.

threebillboards-1140x600Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. (2018)roomroom-xlargeRoom. (2015)

The spectrum of film reality stretches from the form of realism to formalism, with classicism in the middle. The film world currently sits mainly in the classicism region with films having more serious overtones and real-world representation, but having a premise that extenuates a real world factor, or creates a new one altogether. For example Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War has real world problems with tackling governmental involvement in global issues, but with having the whole new factor of superheroes being the one controlled by the government.

Realism has the premise that the camera is acting as a person and is just observing the world as it is. Films by the Lumiere Brothers are just static shots of everyday life which is as realistic as you can get… because it is real life. In my opinion this is boring as it relies solely on artistic interpretation and imagination of the audience without any ideas being given or hinted towards them.

While on the other end of the spectrum is formalism which takes every aspect of real life and takes it too extreme. The much stylised presentation and way of storytelling gives a very different approach to how realistic movies are made. Imaginative costume and set design combined with special effects are used to create things that don’t exist in the realms of the real world. Georges Melies is the pioneer of sci-fi with his highly recognized “journey to the moon”.

Classicism aims to combine both aspects of realism and formalism. This means that it uses the designed costumes and sets, while also using special effects and such, but it’s more focused on the story and making it seem real. A good example of this is the Lord of the Rings trilogy of the TV series Game of Thrones. These forms of film sometimes let shots play out into long scenes, however using pronounced lighting and exaggerate angles. In the 21st century movies have tilted towards more of a realism side, embracing serous and realistic stories. Directors like Christopher Nolan have risen in popularity for his magical ways of creating tension in films like The Dark Knight and Dunkirk.

Films can be successful all along the spectrum of realism, as long as it has verisimilitude. Verisimilitude is the purpose of the film or “inner truth”. A film’s sense of verisimilitude is similar to the Aristotelian complex of ‘Mimesis’ – a suspension in a false-reality. By creating a reality which is just on the line of being convincing to it’s viewers lets a film stick to the parameters by this reality, and becomes immersive. In the first few minutes of a film this reality needs to be created and presented to the audience and then stuck to. If this reality is broken in anyway it will confuse and audience.

dimsBlade Runner 2049.

Ppppposter

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This is my first design, a simple idea of a VHS tape with reflections from the film within. It carries that 80s style well, and suits the ‘Indie’ short film style – nothing too bold. FILM POSTER DESIGN

THIS IS MY DESIGN. A setup of the TV and the VHS player – a key electrical component and motif in this film. ‘The Sound of the TV’ is also our credits song. Also, it gives us an opportunity to include everyone else’s poster designs. The film is very much one with intertextuality.il_570xN.1410866984_rmtw (1)

For the design, I took inspiration from the Lady Bird (sick filum) poster. As you can see, they have drawn influence from the 80s nature of the film. The cassettes are designed to show the title of the film and the credits involved. We’d love to incorporate this kind-of meta approach to the poster. Lady Bird is a feature, but independent film, so we find that it’s a fitting influence for our independent short film. We’ll have film posters for Flicker in the background.

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This is Matthew’s design. It features conventions of a far more conventional Sci-Fi film. The character layering and the abstract PS design around them has ties to the Thor Ragnarok Poster.

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This is great for the kind of poster we’d have on the wall in the meta design. Matthew’s design is difficult to execute, given the number of characters which we have, though the layout is far more recognisable and eye catching for ‘blockbuster’ Sci-Fi cinema-goers than our others.

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Annabelle’s poster is a simple still from the film. It would go on the wall of the main poster in the background, as it plucks out a key moment in the film and so would create an instant iconic image, with the two main characters connecting.

We’re having trouble deciding what to do.

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This is a raw still from scene 12. Libby’s green eyes still show through in our CLog profile. The flat profile reflects the melancholy nature of the scene. By sticking to this level of colour saturation, we can afford to increase it in the warmer scenes.

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If we wanted to enhance the image to create a far more 80s profile, we’d increase the oranges and increase the contrast and import some grain. This is, however, way too dramatic.

We have to remember, that colouring can ruin a film. It’s not a particularly dramatic film, so a deep and dramatic colour pallet would not suit it.

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Little change is a lot of change. We decreased the brightness and increased the contrast in the colour curves. Then, we increased the depth of the blues in the colour balance. This makes for  more realistic take.

Is our film realistic? 

I feel like the film is a realistic take on life, though the Sci-Fi element allows for an out-of-this-world element or perspective. So, a slightly exaggerated colour pallet may be appropriate.

 

Realism in Film.

I love video essays like these, or any in fact that slag off the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

There’s nothing wrong with the MCU besides it’s convolutes story arcs and especially here, it’s shockingly desaturate colour pallet – as if they left the final film in the log profile.

The argument is that Marvel’s films seem ‘more realistic’ because of the colouring. This is wrong. Marvel’s films are hardly realistic anyway, given their content. They lack any sense of humanity in them and most of the characters are totally un-relatable. So to be honest, the colour, or lack of it, is just incongruent with the story and visuals in the film. Rich colour and deep blacks would benefit the film.

 

 

 

The ugly truth of film posters.

They’re often lazy, even with your favourite films.

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Buzznet.com provides us with a charming compilation of  the classic back-to-camera poster shot. 

Such horrific unoriginality is bound to occur when there are films which are essentially exactly the same in plot, only with different actors.

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FYI, No Strings Attached is better for the sole reason that Natalie Portman stars. She is a treasure. Not national treasure to the US, but to the world. She is a global treasure.

These posters are dissimilar, but the films are the same. Friends with benefits chooses to go with the basic idea – ‘let’s just show a split-screen of the two very famous lead actors.’ – NSA could achieve the same effect, though at least they had the wit to direct an actual image. A cluttered mess with actual strings attaching the two characters may have been more intelligent – but the image captures the true meaning of the film. They can’t take their eyes off of each other. I find the FWB poster confusing. Justy T looks guilty and gives a smouldering look towards Mila Kunis, but she just looks embarrassed. It doesn’t give any depth or subtext to the film. Neither of them are great, but NSA has more to give.

I’ve never understood film posters which shoot the actors in some well-lit, but bleak studio, distancing them from the mimesis that the film spends an hour and a half creating. It’s no better than compositing two images of the actors from GI. As far as the distributors can see, the actors are the most important aspect of the film in FWB, showing that the film doesn’t have much more to offer than soft-core pornography. So, after this rant, I should thank FWB, because had I already not seen the film, I might have just not seen it had I seen the poster to begin with. A valuable lesson learned.

Nymphomaniac

Would it be okay if I set a disclaimer stating that I do not enjoy this film, though it is a valuable lesson to any ‘film-buff’ out there, that you should watch Lars Von Trier’s experimental sex film. 

This poster is gorgeously minimalistic. Unlike the previous posters, it tells us something about the film; it’s bleak. By using two bracket-like symbols, it reduces a sexual symbol of a vagina to it’s bare minimum. The artist has chosen a symbol which can be shown on a mass-scale, but doesn’t iconically showcase any of the sexual signs in the film. It’s an art-house film, yes, but that doesn’t excuse potential blockbusters from trying a little harder to catch the eyes of their potential viewers.

All sixteen MCU movie posters

Any Marvel poster is a complex mess of colour – just like their films. Take that as you will.

 

 

 

 

“Post Brexit UK won’t be like Mad Max”

David Davis, the Conservative Secretary of State for exiting the EU after the 2016 Brexit vote has openly shared his acknowledgement of a fictional dystopian film in reference to the future of the UK.

“With Britain plunged into a Mad Max-style world borrowed from dystopian fiction. These fears about a race to the bottom are based on nothing, not our history, not our intentions, not our national interest.”

It seems worrying that someone in a situation of social and political power is forced to use a fictional text – despite their acknowledgement of the text’s genre – as a leeway into the general public’s media-saturated minds. By even mentioning such a dystopian nightmare, we are greeted with a serious panic. If that’s all the leaders can say about the future of the UK, that it exclusively will not be like Mad Max, then I think that’s encouraging a slight apprehension.

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An element of hyperrealism can be suggested in what Davis has said. He’s describing people’s expectations of the future with a dystopian fantasy text.

Shoot 8 – Thursday, 15th of February

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The moors shoot (part two) was more challenging than the snowy, freezing-cold first. This one was freezing cold as well, though we managed to experience gale-force winds which compromised our audio quality [as you can see below, we had to make sacrifices]. Furthermore, working with the sun was difficult as in we had to wait for clouds to die down to maintain the verisimilitude of the scene, not to confuse the viewer.

This was an intense and meaningful scene, which included dialogue. It was important that we kept our spirits high, despite the cold, and ploughed on through the shoot.

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We were seriously proud of an interaction between actors Peter and Libby, which created emotion effectively when we cut it together later that week.

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