4200 Formative 2: Reflections on ‘Discovery Film’ and My Previous Experience

 

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So, on our first day on the Digital Film Production BA/BSc, we’re put into groups, assigned roles and told that we have 2 weeks to make a film. The remit is that the film must be 90 seconds long and that the final shot, or shots, must feature a ‘reveal’ or ‘discovery’. Sound daunting? It was. Fortunately I was part of a dream team. L-R: Arron (Director), Rebecca (DOP), Michael (Camera), Kelvin (Producer) and David (1st AD). Not pictured is Pamela, who had a Voice Over role.

The team always worked well together, even under pressure. Our original idea, though good, was beset with location problems. This wasn’t Amityville style production issues, no bleeding walls or anything like that, but 3 (or maybe 4?) locations fell through. With time running short and our scheduled shooting day approaching, the group decided to start fresh with a new story we could shoot at an available location. As co-Producer I felt this was the most sensible course to take. We went for a Python inspired sketch. Both Kelvin and I are writers, and this claim was put to the test as we got together to write the script on the morning of the shoot. Kelvin is a pleasure to work with and a talented writer, so the script was duly churned out before shooting was due to start.

I’ve written several short (un-produced) radio plays, and I’m currently co-writing a screenplay. I am confident in my ability as a writer, and my ability to come up with new ideas.Being in the company of other creative individuals bolstered that confidence. I always felt that no matter what the challenge, one of us would have a ‘light bulb’ moment, and that was always the case.

The shoot went superbly: Arron is an inspiration. He managed to direct the film from inside a wardrobe, and come up with several new ideas in the process. Rebecca was a great DoP, and really came into her own post-prod in the editing process. She even managed to make my wooden performance passable. David was a steady influence, often pitching in with a quick burst of common sense, which was much needed. Kelvin was calm and composed, facilitating from the sidelines. And sticking gaffa tape on the floor/camera/door frames. Pamela gamely spoke her lines time after time (I believe we did 14 takes at one point). She’s got a great voice and there is probably a well of un-tapped potential there. Michael was a star as camera operator.

After some editing ninjitsu, led by Rebecca, we trimmed the footage down to 90 seconds (ish). It works, not technically perfect, but it is funny (even after 50 viewings). Given the time frame and the remit I believe it’s something we can be proud of.

Note to self:

Before filming, Put a battery in the external battery powered mic. Otherwise you are left with the Canon 80D built in mic audio. My bad.

In terms of prior experience, and in addition to writing: With my professional background in project management and organisation, I naturally gravitate to leadership in any group situation. In the academic environment it is important for me to take a step back at times and let others take the wheel, I feel I am striking a balance in this area.

Music and sound are also areas in which I also have previous experience. I made music for as long as I can remember, most recently using Ableton Suite. I love this DAW, it is so cool. I’m looking forward to linking up with the audio guys and getting some tips off them. This week I have been stealthily eavesdropping on their conversations, and, while most of it sounds like Russian to me, I can’t wait to learn more about sound. I already have some ideas for the sound production on my narrative film, and would love to get one of the audio students to work on that with me, if they were interested.

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