Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Yr2 Week 22 (Saturday 5 Apr - Les Crabes Terribles fourth shoot day)

Today marked the last shoot day of this project, where I served as both gaffer and as a sound recordist, due to a small personnel shortage that day, up at a nearby pharmacy for Zane and Zay's last shoot day. Here was where the rather humorous scene of our lead endeavoring to get lotion for his crabs infestation took place.

Beginning at around 4pm, we setup outside the store, filming the character arriving on a rather lanky bike. Here, I simply set up a Pampa right next to the doorway, just add enough brightness to dilute any shade coming from the overhead. Moving along after about 4 or 5 takes, the shoot then shifted inside, where I was made to lay, rather unceremoniously on the ground, hold the sound recorder, while someone else held the boom. From this distinctive vantage point, we recorded our lead rushing through the aisles, trying in vain to find his lotion. Admitedly, it was not the most comofrtable of positions, lying there for several minutes as different takes were shot, but eventually, we were done, and moved long.

Next up was a rather straightforward shot/reverse shot of the lead and the attendant a the counter, as he tries to ask for the cream, but she doesn't give him much mind, eventually, and embarrassingly, calling over her superior. Then, we did a full wide shot, as well as long take, of the fron of the counter, were our lead talks with this woman, who a first, seems to be helpful, unil she drops the bombshell that the lotion won't be in for several days, and then trying to tell the character that women want more than, well, 'porking', to be blunt.

We wrapped up for the day around 8:30pm, with Zay kindly bringing us pizza and chips to enjoy afterwards. To conclude my own thoughts, I have enjoyed working on this shoot, and not just because of the free supplements! Zane and Zay are both very bright and capable people, and know what they want to do when on s4t, and the actors really got themselves stuck into the absurd material. Honestly, I have not much to complain about, if at all.

Yr2 Week 22 (Friday 4 Apr - Rough cut screenings)

Unfortunately, most people were away today conducting shoots, so there were practically very few people there; just me, Katarina, Zay and Zane. And Katarina hadn't brought a rough cut, due to not being finished yet with that stage, so we merely sat and watched some rushes from Zane's footage, including the material he had shoot a the flat that I had not been able to attend. It was suitably amusing, as these scenes focused on the lead's futile attempts to impress a French girl with cookery, and then idiotically trying to get rids of the titular critters by using bug spray.

In all honesty, apart from minor focus and lighting issues here and there, there isn't really that much to talk about. Today was a fairly straightforward affair, nothing more, nothing less. At this point, just getting the film edited and finished is my bigger concern, and frankly, I get the deep, dark feeling it will not be getting any easier or relaxed from this point onwards.

Yr2 Week 22 (Tuesday 1 Apr - Crewing for Les Crabes Terribles Day 3)

Despite what the title says, I could attend for the first day, as I was not needed for that shoot, according to the director and producer, Zane and Zay, nor Day 2, though this was due to the space constraints of the flat location for that day's shoot. However, I would then show up for the third and fourth day, which I was rather excited for.

So, moving along, today shoot began in the afternoon, around 3, I met up with the team, and we prepped ourselves up in the audition room. Serving as the project's gaffer, I was in charge of lighting, and today I only had to work with some small LEDs provided by Zane. Our first part of the shoot was set in the Grove toilets of the second floor, specifically, the ladies'. Though we drew some suspicious glances and the usual 'well why not?', we were able to lock it down and get shooting before long, though it was rather stuffy inside. Also, poor Zay, being the producer, was stuck out outside, having to ward off any new entrants, as well as ensure the door to the toilets opposite didn't slam, otherwise it would mess up the sound recording. Here, filmed our actress, playing the friend of the lead, talking to him on the phone. After a while, it was decided there wasn't enough room inside, so I had to leave. Besides, the lights made no real difference to the image.

Once that was done, we then moved out to our next location, the local Claddagh Ring Pub, which I've discussed in previous entries. Here, once we had all enjoyed a rink, I choosing Coca-Cola as I am not an enthusiast of alcohol, we moved on to our last bit of shooting for the day. In front of the pub, we filmed our actress talking to the lead, though in a much more forgiving and positive light. As we filmed, it began to get colder, so I positioned myself strategically so as to be within range of a heat lamp, as well as a chair to ease my shaking legs and aching back, while I lit her with the same LEDs as before.

Today was rather straightforward, but the crew were all very charismatic, and it made for an enjoyable experience, and hey, how can you not give some points to an experience when you are offered a free drink? Zane and Zay were very efficient and to the point, always knowing what they wanted, but not acting in a demanding or condescending manner, which made my job more comfortable and easier to get on with. Frankly, that's about all I have to say

Friday, 11 April 2014

Yr2 Week 21 (Fri 28 Mar - Producing and Directing)

Today's session was focused on the importance of Sound in Film. Sound itself can be broken up, mainly during the post production phase, into 'classes'; these are 'Dialogue' (on set, voice over, atmospheric) , 'Sound Effects' (foley, ambiance, hard/cut effects) and 'Music' (diegetic and non-diegetic).

Larry Sider, a veteran sound man and important member of 'The School of Sound', which mainly services film, once said ha sound could also be broken up into two main categories; the 'factual' and the 'emotional'. The former refers to sounds that are a natural part of the environment in the scene, and are what we would 'expect' to hear. The later, however, refers to sounds that can elicits an emotional response from the viewer, creating a sense of atmosphere, ambiance or even through the obvious use of music to create a certain tone.

To really highlight the importance of sound's use, David proceeded to show us three versions of the opening from the 1929 silent documentary Man with a Movie Camera. The opening basically consists of a montage o various activities around a city i.e. traffic, lifts, machinery etc. The first version was  totally silent, and I felt that it fel a little underwhelming, as the images could entrance and hold one's attention for so long before you need that additional element of sound to create a certain ambiance. Without it, it seemed like a mish-mash of different bits of footage without much rhyme, reason or context.

After, we saw the second version, with a score by the 'Alloy Orchestra', which as the name suggests, added a mechanical and by and large, percussion heavy, quality to the sound,. The result created a triumphant mood, very uplifting and giving the footage a context of the progressive, evolving society that embraced technology and efficiency. And then, came the third version, with a synth score from 2000, and not only was this sound harsher than the prior, but the electronic music also created a more unsettled morbid atmosphere, giving the images a sort of chaotic surrealism and somberness that seemed to suggest not all was well in this city.

Next, we more closely examined sound design, looking at the opening from David Fincher's Seven, where Moran Freeman's character is investigating a new crime scene, meets Brad Pitt's character, and then cuts o later  on a night we he's back in his own apartment, getting ready for bed. This sequence has a surprising amount of layers to it, auditiorily, that give you the sense of the broader city even though we don't see it much during this opening. From the sound of jammed traffic to the yells of angry and possibly drunk neighbours, you get the sense of this world being bigger than just the mere sets, and it really enhances the illusion and lets you get into the film more. Also, it's carefully used to plug gaps between dialogue, so that ambiance is continous, and again, lends to the reality.

Then, and lastly, we also looked the sound construction in a scene from Nostalghia, when our main character arrives in his hotel room. For the most part, it's a fairly silent, empty space which in turn, creates a sense of loneliness and isolation for our lead, as well as emphasises the sound of objects within the room, such the running water from the tap in the bathroom, due to the reverberance. Again, serves to highlight the the character's situation and allows the environment to be reflective.

And so, this draws to a close. As I've said throughout, it's often easy to overlook and forget just how vital sound plays a role in the production and presentation of a film. Careful choices of sound effects, dialogue and music and contribute wildly different things to a film, and in turn, affect the perception of the viewer.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Yr2 Week 21 (Wed 26 Mar - Meeting with Helen for Film and Innovation)

Today, me, Hana and Andrew, joined together for our Film and Innovation project, had aq talk with Helen, as like may others, our progress had fallen sharply behind due to our work on the Producing and Directing projects. This is going to be a brief post as there is not all that much to cover.

While Helen was very understanding of the pressure we were under, she recommended to us that we scale back and focus on simply making a proof of concept. Also, we should knuckle, meet up and discuss what to do, which we did after the session. It was settled tat Hana would handle the artistic side (design, mise en scene), I would write up the outline, and Andrew could deal with the paperwork.

Yr2 Week 20 (Fri 21 Mar - Producing and Directing)

In today's workshop, we looked at Continuity Editing, a means of ensuring consistency, as well as definition, to a space or sequence in a film. Some of the rules involved here include:
  • The articulation of space:defining the size of an area in a scene. This is usually done by starting with a wide shot, and then cutting in closer and closer.
  • Consistency of screen direction: what direction is a scene going in. It would be disorienting if we were going left, and then we had a shot from or going to the right.
  • 180o and 30o degree rules: where the characters are on screen with relation to each other, usually screen left or screen right.
  • Match on action: simply matching a continuous action between shoots i.e. picking up a glass, opening a door, fiddling with a pen etc.
  • Shot/reverse shot: Self explanatory, usually used during conversations.
  • Eyeline match: ensuring the eyelines are consistent when characters are looking at each other or at something.
The noted film critic Stefan Sharff also referred to the concept of 'syntax', a 'language' in film, which relied on the 'correct arrangement' in order to be made sense of, much like how words form sentences to transfer concepts and information. Editing very much allows one to construct a 'language' or rather, present an idea or scenario though this type of construction from different shots. Such meanings/effects could include creating surprise, suspense or tension in the audience.

Other principles and ideas linked to continuity editing include as follows:
  • The Kuleshov effect: this idea very much emphasizes the power of the edit, cross cutting between the image of a man and several different objects to create a different meaning/reaction each time with necessarily drastic changes between shots.
  • Separation: Characters don't share the screen, thus creating a sens eof unease and tension between the two, a sort of literal 'distance'.
  • Parallel Actions: Two narrative 'lines' going on simultaneously. For example, during the climax of D.W. Griffith's Way Down Fast (1919), we have both the chase down the ice flow, and the deadly waterfalls up ahead. The cutting between the two helps increase the tension and urgency.
  • Dialetic Montage: a conflict of ideas that is then resolved (i.e thesis/antithesis=synthesis). In the Russian silent film October, we see the jeering bourgeoisie and the struggling common people. In the end, the bridge is raised, and the pro-people leaflets are tossed into the river by the rich.
  • Familiar image: self explanatory, this is used as an anchor/familiar point of reference for the audience in a scene, often in repetition as reinforcement.
  • Multi-angularity: again, self explanatory, this can allow for a lot of exploration of a space, as well as for contrasts within. in the French film Muriel, we see this used in he opening in an antique shop to contrast the two women and their surroundings, playing off their new clothing and appliances with all the old antiques, reflecting the dual nature of French society at the time.
  • Orchestration: While this one may seem like a no-brainer, sometimes, the rules above are not always obeyed, and there can be a deliberate reason for this type of 'orchestration'. The Japanese film maker Yasugira Ozu was renowned for not really caring about continuity editing, and as a by product, often shots overlapped, share identical screen placement and orientation and cross the degree rules. However, after a while, one could get used to it, and it could be used to great effect, such as when two men discuss a wedding over beer, because the are in the exact same place on the screen as one another, it creates a sort of dual-personality/inner debate kind of effect.
Wow, was that ever a mouthful, but a lot of these are rather interesting concepts, and today served as a reminder  of just how flexible and adaptable the medium of film can be, and how sometimes, breaking the rules could produce interesting effects and tricks upon the audience.

Yr2 Week 20 (Tues 18 Mar - Fifth shoot day of Shattered Reflection)

Today marked our last official shoot day (the reshoot of the disastrous club scene TBA), and today was once more centered back at Hendon. Here are today's call sheet and risk asses.:


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After picking up equipment at 12 from the loan store, we moved over to our hired room at the Williams building, WG50, and began setting up at around 1:45. The first half was devoted towards the therapy scene, where Jenna and Dr Taylor (played by Bridget Mastrocola) discuss her condition, and strategies for dealing with it. We shot from 2:30 till about 4, most of the time eaten up by the noisy class next door, and the unfortunately loud noise brought on by the slamming doors outside. All this pressure came over me, and for a while during shooting, I just froze up, afraid to go back next door. It was the first time in several years I had suffered such a bad panic attack, something I had thought long since overcome.

Then, after a much needed break for food from 4-6 (also to allow time for the sun to go down), we then moved onto the next half, shooting the scenes outside the chicken shop and then Jenna consuming a chicken burger, though her condition gets the better of her and she vomits it, lasting 6:30-7:30. After that, equipment was split up for the night, and we went our separate ways.

Though the main production phase may not be over yet, at least we have now 80% of the footage in the can, so there's so comfort and relief to be taken in that. Barring my little breakdown, today went fairly well, especially the second half were everybody was on the page and knew exactly what, when and where t do. This made my life easier, and again, enabled Katarina to focus on getting the best possible filming result. Our crew and cast were very well behaved and supportive, and I do truly thank them for being so understanding.