Friday, 28 February 2014

Yr2 Week 17 (Tues 25 Feb - Shattered Reflection update)

Today, we conducted our recce at Finbar's pub.We looked around the ground floor, for our first pub scene, then ascended upstairs to look at their club for our nightclub facility. Satisfied, we gave Finbar a copy of the schedule, and went over the dates and requirements for those shoot days.

After, we went to the chicken shop across the road, and spoke to the manager, who it turns, works in the shop next door. We arranged for permission to shoot, and I was to send him a release form in the coming days. Once that wrapped up, went back to Uni to look around for suitable rooms to use at Uni, roaming around the Williams and Grove buildings, looking for the right place to double as a therapy room. However, our search only turned up two results, most of the rooms being offices or classrooms that just wouldn't cut it.

If I am being perfectly frank, our luck as of late is very shaky, and I am getting worried. Katarina's charisma is carrying me through, but this is certainly a stressful time, as we seem to be getting constant forks and bumps in the road, wherever we go when it comes to actors, resources,. locations etc. I just hope things will start to improve...

Yr2 Week 16 (Fri 21 Feb - Producing & Directing/Shattered Reflection update)

In today's workshop, we began by doing a quick recap on camera setups by looking at a scene from David Fincher's iconic thriller, Se7en (1996). The scene is from around the start of the killings, shortly after the discovery of the fat man (sin of gluttony), and Freeman's character is trying to convince his superior to let him take the case. In total, though there were about 46 'shots' (at least, in the post-production sense), there were only 9 camera setups for this scene, including one for a large wide shot of the office, three for the different characters in the scene and an assortment of other miscellanea, mostly to create an tense atmosphere between the three arguing men..

The reasons for these choices are simple: economy. You can get through this scene faster, and hit all the key beats, when you do fewer setups, but put them at strategic points in the set. This also helps reduce time spent on things like rigging and lighting changes. To better understand, and also to refresh, we took a look at the shot list, which is divided up into the camera positions, and is not dictated by script, but shooting order.

After that, we got into the meat of today: the director's trying out scenes in front of the class. Katarina, whose short I'm producing. The scene used was from the opening, where our lead, Jenna, is talking with Dr Taylor, a therapist, about her bulimia. The scene went for three times, each time well, but tweaks were made to the dialogue to make it sound less 'scripted' and flow more naturally, as well as helping Katarina iron out little 'kinks' in how these characters would behave, such as having Dr Taylor feel a little wounded at the end, feeling like she cannot help this girl out of her problem.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Yr2 Week 16 (Tues 18 Feb - Shattered Reflection update)

Between 3pm and 5pm today, me and my director, Katarina, held our first set of auditions for our cast. We had 1 actress for Jenna, and two for Dr Taylor come in and read for the respective parts. First up, for Jenna, was the actress Paula Brett, a young woman, mid 20s with brunette hair. She even mentioned she was a broadcaster for a local radio station, which is a nice little touch, and also tells she's not naive to the world of entertainment and in particular, presentation.

Katarina's auditions followed this format: She would get the actor/tress to introduce themselves as the character. Just to get a feel of how they see and interpret it. Then, she would have them act out a scene from the script, with Katarina herself playing Jenna, to see how they would play off someone else/give a rudimentary idea of their actual performance. Paula was actually fairly good, giving the role a sense of false confidence and shaky self-justification for her present condition.

Next up were the actors for Taylor, Bridget Mastrocola and Michele Belgrand, both middle aged. Of note, Michele is also French, as evidenced by her skin tone, an olive hue, and her pronounced accent. Anyways, moving alongside from potential political incorrectness, Bridget we found to be the better of the two, giving the role a sort of maternal quality. The issue with Michele was 1) she came in asking what it is she should do. Not the most professional of questions, if you ask me, given that Katarina had sent her prior notice. 2) She used unprofessional terms when in the role of Taylor, refering to her client as having a 'sick mind' when an actual therapist would never be that grossly vulgar or dismissive of a patient/client, especially when discussing them.

From my view, Katarina held herself well, being polite but also clear in what she wanted from the actress, and for me, it was interesting to be able to experience the audition process first hand and she the basics of it. Fingers crossed for the next round.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Yr2 Week 15 (Fri 14 Feb - Producing and Directing)

Today was the proper Producing and Directing workshop, only this one was with David, with whom we went over the status of our teams, and then quickly went over the script with the class, just to get a general feedback. Many felt it was improved over its previous version, such as the more clear distinction between Jenna and Emily as opposed to Jenna and Emma last time, and it was a little more concise and clear. However, some raised the issue of location, specifically the therapy scene, which we had planned to dress up a room in Uni, but the class felt it wouldn't be effective enough (even though British therapy rooms have that white, clinical appearance, lacking the more lavish dress nof their more iconic American counterparts.)

Frankly, location is presenting the biggest logistical headache right now, but I intend to remedy that soon, and may consider looking into actual flats for film hire, though it may be a little costly. As a producer, I must look out for the good of the production, regardless of roadblocks and issues.

Yr2 Week 15 (Mon 10 Feb - Producing and Directing)

Today was technically an unofficial workshop with Eddie, dealing with all the amber light producers, and what we needed to do to spruce ourselves up and get the productions rolling properly. One of our key failings, across the board, was poor scheduling. Whether it be not giving enough time to any part of the production phases, cramming too much in one day or being too liberal with how long our production took and when things needed to get done by.

The way to circumnavigate this rather big hurdle, as suggested by Eddie, was to work backwards from our end date, going over the different points of post (upload, final checks, final master, sound mix, color correction, fine cut, rough cuts, assembly, paper edit, log, transfer and the back-up). Like this, I actually found to be intuitive and easy to grasp, allowing more clarity and better judgement on time. This also greatly reducing the headache of how long pre-production should take, which is often where I get a little stuck with my schedules. And so now, on with the show!

Yr2 Week 14 (Wed 6 Feb - Film and Innovation)

Unlike the previous weeks, instead of a regular seminar, today we had more of a workshop, focusing on the idea of immersion and interaction. As a quick refresher/smoothing in, we all given a  sport of questionnaire, asking us to briefly describe the elements of our projects (what, why, where, how, who etc.) Next up, we had to quickly breakdown the stories/plots of our films/projects (also known as nodes). Of course, in our case, this was a little tricky, given we hadn't settled on an ending.

After, Helen began to get into the brunt of today's session: discussing immersion, the concept of being involved/engaged with something so deeply that you disconnect from reality to a certain extent. It very much is multi-sensory, often invoking and involving the visual, auditory and tangible, to create a grand, almost overwhelming experience. If one can make the audience/player believe, you can engulf them in that experience. Not an easy feat admittedly, and certainly not a sure-fire with our limited resources as students, but still a worthwhile and vital part of the whole process.

Then there are the elements that can assist with the immersion, such as the modes of narrative (what way/who is telling the story), the introduction (how do you get players to explore/interact/the hook of the piece) and the affordance (how much interaction do you allow between the player and an object/part of the experience/the allowance of discovery). To use an example, the London Dungeon creates a multi-sensory experience with its set design and sound work (an introduction to the world), allows the visitors to look around the grisly history of London (a third person narrative, of sorts) and allows them to participate in the various attractions and shows (affordance).

To get us into the more practical element, the class was split into two groups, each one having to design an experience. Ours encouraged the other team to hunt around the room, trying to figure out what to do. We would eventually phone them, testing to see if they would respond or not. A crude idea, admittedly, but it got the point across and it was a good bit of fun. As for them, they essentially kept us in the room, unlit and open, warning us not to go out. Eventually, they came to take our shoes. The idea behind this was to create an air of uncertainty and unease as to what would happen next (although frankly, it more more bemusing than anything, especially the later part.)

After, we had time to do just one more exercise in this vain, though allowed to expand a little further out of the room: ours was to guide the other team around the building to help find a taken comrade, most of us serving as human signposts. The other team simply took one of us and made them play a guessing game involving what order to do a certain task with objects on three tables. Again, this served much the same purpose as before, and gave us a better, more direct idea, of how to create immersion, albeit on a very basic level. I'll keep my fingers crossed that my team's haunted rooms can pull off something effective, at least, more so than just guessing games and ringing phones!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Yr2 Week 14 (Mon 3 Feb - Shattered Reflecion update)

So today, I had my meeting with Eddie over Skype. This'll be short, since there isn't much to say. Essentially, we talked about what progress had been made since Friday (Catherine's casting, my early schedule and breakdown) and voicing any concerns I had. At this point, aside from getting things done, nothing was especially preying on my mind, so I left it at that. Eddie seemed satisfied, only advocating caution about the casting, since it would, in turn, require the schedule to be finalized sooner so as to have proper arrangements with the actors, which I fully understand.

Yr2 Week 13 (Fri 31 Jan 2014 - Producing and Directing)

Funny thing: I was late today, though this was due to a misunderstanding of the schedule, as I had assumed that we were only in for the presentation. Apparently not, as it was the full session as normal. Well, honest mistake, you know!

Anyway, let's not dilly-dally, here's is our presentation:
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So, feedback? Well, 0pretty mixed, to be quite honest: the premise was liked, and Catherine was a confident spokesperson. Plus, our synopsis was much improved from the previous debacle. However, the actual planning and schedule were too vague (though I tried to justify this by explaining that, because of Catherine's work schedule, as well as the lack of a proper green-light to really get things in motion, that I couldn't come up with a proper schedule at this stage). Also, it was felt that maybe our theme/'point' was a little inaccurate, as we seemed to discussing more the corrosive power of the media on young women, than necessarily bulimia itself as a disease.

Still, after that, we received the amber-light, so at least we have a fighting chance to get this project moving and off the ground before long. Naturally, the feedback left me a little shaken, but this all part of the learning experience, and I certainly didn't expect any of this to be peaches and cream, frankly. Catherine will start up casting, regardless, and I will begin to hammer out an early schedule. I'll also try and do script breakdowns before, so as to fully understand everything. Furthermore, I'll be having a skype meeting with Eddie on Monday to go over the finer details and concerns. Lady Luck may still smile on us yet...

Yr2 Week 13 (Thurs 30 Jan 2014 - Shattered Reflection update)

This will be a quick one: today, after polishing up our Powerpoint for the pitch (more on that tomorrow), we decided, on Catherine's suggestion, to pay a visit to the pub up he road from the university, since she recalled that students had been able to film. And before you can say 'Carpe Diem', we were there, talking to the manager, Finbar. He seemed fine and dandy with us filming, informing us that the ideal times were 8-12, before the pub opened up. Furthermore, he had an upstairs venue that we double up as a club, which was a huge relief for us, killing two birds with one stone.

Agreed on it, I took down his details to inform him of our intentions nearer to the proper date of filming. I have to say, for my first location scout/hire as a producer, this went incredibly, almost surreally, smooth. Finbar seemed like a decent sort, tall Irishman that he was, and Catherine seemed very pleased with the pub itself as a location for her film. Myself, I agree, and it having dual usability was doubly handy, as well as convenient. So now, let's keep fingers crossed for tomorrow, eh?

Down below is our script breakdown, as later on from that, production schedule and our budget: