GENRE THOUGHTS

In film theory, genre refers to the method based on similarities in the “narrative elements from which films are constructed”. So let’s look at how this applies to my A2 film, Screen Three.

Films that fall into the drama genre exhibit real life situations with realistic characters, settings and stories and I think my film follows these conventions. Most people have been to the cinema to watch and film and many of those people have come across other members of the audience who have been a nuisance to them in their cinematic experience. In drama, “audience can often relate to the characters” and in this way, the setting and the situation of our short film is real and somewhat familiar to viewers which suggests that it belongs in the drama genre. Similarly, the abusive relationship and hateful conversation between the elderly man and the youths in our film echo the “intense social interaction” that drama films often expose to their audience.

Also, drama also features the portrayal of a journey or some kind of character development which I think lies within the story of Screen Three. At the beginning of the film, our protagonist, Peter, is calm, collected and relaxed in his environment. However, once exposed to the horrors of the youths’ abuse he dramatically changes and becomes a nervous, angry and reckless man who is a danger to those around him. The purpose of a dramatic story line is to “move an audience emotionally” and this character development, which is arguably the focus of the movie, is what achieves this effect upon viewers. “At the heart of drama is conflict” and with the youths’ abuse in mind, this is certainly within our film.

TITANIC-poster-movie

However, within drama films “a form of realisation or happy ending” is often featured. Our film does not conform to this convention with its dramatic, shocking ending but this “happily ever after” idea is conflicted in many dramas. James Cameron’s’ Titanic breaks all the conventions as all does not end happily for the protagonists but has rather a tragic ending.

Advertisements

DIRECTING ACTORS: PRACTICAL EXERCISE

IMG_9819

In order to prepare myself to shooting my film, I captured a series of photographs experimenting with lighting. I confined to the conventions of the film noir genre and directed my subject to pose in a number of ways. The original photos can be seen below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Below is a range of screenshots I captured whilst editing my pieces. By looking at these you can understand my work in PhotoShop and how I created my final photos.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I also took a range of photos of passing cars in order to form the background for my images.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

IMG_9829 2

Here are examples of my final pieces. Experimenting with three-point lighting and my direction of the subject really helped by get a range of “noir” pieces.

IMG_9846

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

IMG_9896 no bg black n white 2

IMG_9902

IMG_9905

IMG_9912 cropI think the shoot was successful in that I exercised by cinematography skills, lighting skills and directional skills in preparation for my short film, Screen Three.

SECOND DRAFT – QUESTION A 1 (a) Explain how your skills in the creative use of digital technology developed over time. Refer to a range of examples from your media productions in your answer.

Digital technology has become such a significant part of film-making in recent years due to its advancements making the process, faster, easier and more accessible. Studying Media Studies at A-Level combined with my own productions within the art form have developed my skills concerning digital technology to give me a better understanding over my creative and practical decisions.

Developing my skills with the Canon 600D DSLR camera is something that had a huge creative impact upon my work over time. Equipped with the right SD card, my camera could hold hours of footage and in comparison to the Panasonic camcorder I previously had worked with, my Canon 600D was far better in the process of film-making. This digital technology gave me the opportunity to record so much more with a similarly sized device, which was extremely beneficial. This uncompromised size still allowed me move around with ease whilst shooting to get moving shots such as the exterior wide crab shot of the garage, whilst giving me the freedom to shoot a multitude of footage. This ability meant I could shoot without the worry of running out of digital space as well as being able to bring a lot of footage into the editing program to play with. In Apple’s Final Cut Pro, I could make a lot more creative and practical choices in regards to what I put together on screen since I had more to play with; video and audio wise.

As well as shooting at a higher quality, DSLR cameras offer a lot more control over what they record that other cameras. I had just got my Canon 600D as I began AS Media and so I had little knowledge of how to use it other than the basics. In order to familiarise myself with this new equipment our group organised to shoot a test film and, upon retrospect, this was a great idea and really worked to advance my skills. The short film allowed me to experiment with lenses and to test out different effects for our final AS film that was to come. The production helped me identify how particular lenses looked and when certain lenses should be used however, I wish I had done more research prior to the shoot so I had more ideas of what to play with when filming the test film. For example, using a wide lens, I learned, isn’t suited to shoot a close-up since it deforms the subject’s face in a way that may not be desirable. In a close up for The Promise, our actor’s face needed to appear naturally for the audience and so we used Canon’s 50mm lens. Having this knowledge has increased my creativity since while we’re shooting I know in my head what lens to go for rather than experimenting during the shoot. This saves a lot of time and gives us more time to shoot footage and at a higher quality.

Our group had planned a scene at night for our film opening and so I took the time out to research how to set up my camera for these lighting conditions. This had a huge impact on my work as a film-maker and also a photographer. I wanted to make sure my footage was easily to see and to a style that looked appealing, despite the low lighting conditions and I tackled this through my own experimentation and research through the internet and various books. I quickly learned elements such as ISO, aperture and shutter speed. During the night scene I discussed I set the camera’s aperture so it was as wide as it goes in order to get the most light into the camera as possible; creating brighter, better footage. Similarly I set the ISO to around 800-1600 in order to further add light to what the camera captures. Not only had I learned what works and what doesn’t, I had learned why I get certain effect if I set the camera a certain way. In this way, my developed skills helped me creatively and did this by allowing me to capture a scene’s light in the way I desired. I had much more control over the look of what I filmed. Although it took time to get to grips with camera manipulation it certainly aided me for my A2 project, Screen Three.

Editing is something I’ve enjoyed doing for years and is a skilled area which I feel I’ve developed in. I usually edited on the Sony Vegas editing program however, A-Level introduced me to Apple’s Final Cut Express. I was comfortable with cutting but sound design was often a poor area of my work. By taking my time to learn how to correctly and effectively work on the soundtrack on a film through my teachers, the internet and my own experimentation I feel as though I got a result that is remarkably better than a product I would have made without my studies into editing. For Screen Three I learned how to apply effects to sound and how to manipulate them to how I wanted. For example, in order to suggest the voices are going on in my protagonist’s head, I added a significant echo to their audio which I think really sold the effect. I also learned how to keyframe the audio’s volume which meant I had full control over how loud a certain sound was and when. For example, the film is set in a cinema where a movie is playing during the scene. In order to hear the dialogue of the characters on screen, I had to turn down the volume of the film so audiences can hear what they’re saying. I also increased the volume of the cinema’s movie when the climax unravels in order to increase the sense of chaos at hand. Reading “In The Blink of An Eye” by Walter Murch truly made me see editing in a different way. Murch’s explanation of the “Rule Of Six” and his ideas highlighted the various thought processes that need to occur into a single cut and so I feel as though this developed my skills. Upon reflection, I wished I had applied Murch’s advice during the planning and filming stages of Screen Three however, my editing improved vastly as a result of my research.

When critiquing my own work, I often pick up on sound being a downfall of my films. Thanks to the school arming me with the right equipment at A2 I was capable to improve this area and get good quality sound throughout a production. However, I haven’t said I was able to do so. The guidance of my teachers and tutorials online allowed me to use the Zoom H1 Portable Digital Recorder effectively and with the use of a boom pole and additional microphone. I had learned how to tackle sound perspective, noise, wind however, during filming on Screen Three we had forgotten about headphones which led to the audio being distorted in places. Despite this disaster, it worked to teach me how to prepare sound recording in the future. When I recorded the sound of a car engine roaring for the last scene of our film, I made sure to bring headphones that would tell me what I’m hearing and play back anything I had recorded so I could check it was clean and correct. Thanks to these experiences I feel fully prepared to get high quality sound for my films; something I didn’t feel when i began Media Studies.

QUESTION A 1 (a) Explain how your skills in the creative use of digital technology developed over time. Refer to a range of examples from your media productions in your answer.

Digital technology has become such a significant part of film-making in recent years due to its advancements making the process, faster, easier and more accessible. Studying Media Studies at A-Level combined with my own productions within the art form have developed my skills concerning digital technology to give me a better understanding over my creative and practical decisions.

My skills involving camera manipulation have developed significantly in recent years. I had just got my DSLR camera as I began AS Media and so I had little knowledge other than the basics. In order to familiarise myself with this new equipment our group organised to shoot a test film and, upon retrospect, this was a great idea and really worked to advance my skills. The short film allowed me to experiment with lenses and to test out different effects for our final AS film that was to come. The production helped me identify how particular lenses looked and when certain lenses should be used however, I wish I had done more research prior to the shoot so I had more ideas of what to play with when filming the test film. Our group had planned a scene at night for our film opening and so I took the time out to research how to set up my camera for these lighting conditions. This had a huge impact on my work as a film-maker and also a photographer. Through my own experimentation and research through the internet and various books, I quickly learned elements such as ISO, aperture and shutter speed. I use what I learned to this day in both practical ways such as setting the camera so everyone and everything you want visible on film is visible. Not only had I learned what works and what doesn’t, I had learned why I get certain effect if I set the camera a certain way. In this way, my developed skills helped me creatively and did this by allowing me to capture a scene’s light in the way I desired. I had much more control over the look of what I filmed. Although it took time to get to grips with camera manipulation it certainly aided me for my A2 project, Screen Three.

Editing is something I’ve enjoyed doing for years and is a skilled area which I feel I’ve developed in. I usually edited on the Sony Vegas editing program however, A-Level introduced me to Adobe’s Final Cut Express. Learning this program widened my experiences with editing and made me become a more flexible editor. We also made a switch from this program to Final Cut Pro at A2 which is where my skills really developed. I was comfortable with cutting but sound design was often a poor area of my work. By taking my time to learn how to correctly and effectively work on the soundtrack on a film through my teachers, the internet and my own experimentation I feel as though I got a result that is remarkably better than a product I would have made without my studies into editing. For Screen Three I learned how to apply effects to sound and how to manipulate them to how I wanted. For example, in order to suggest the voices are going on in my protagonist’s head, I added a significant echo to their audio which I think really sold the effect. Reading “In The Blink of An Eye” by Walter Murch truly made me see editing in a different way. Murch’s explanation of the “Rule Of Six” and his ideas highlighted the various thought processes that need to occur into a single cut and so I feel as though this developed my skills.Upon reflection, I wished I had applied Murch’s advice during the planning and filming stages of Screen Three however, my editing improved vastly as a result of my research.

When critiquing my own work, I often pick up on sound being a downfall of my films. Thanks to the school arming me with the right equipment at A2 I was capable to improve this area and get good quality sound throughout a production. However, I haven’t said I was able to do so. The guidance of my teachers and tutorials online allowed me to use the recorders effectively and with the use of a boom pole and additional microphone. I had learned how to tackle sound perspective, noise, wind however, during filming on Screen Three we had forgotten about headphones which led to the audio being distorted in places. Despite this disaster, it worked to teach me how to prepare sound recording in the future. When I recorded the sound of a car engine roaring for the last scene of our film, I made sure to bring headphones that would tell me what I’m hearing and play back anything I had recorded so I could check it was clean and correct. Thanks to these experiences I feel fully prepared to get high quality sound for my films; something I didn’t feel when i began Media Studies.

 

SECTION A QUESTION 1a

Below are a range of questions that have appeared in exams of the past for question 1a:

Jan ’13 – Explain how your research and planing skills developed over time and contributed to your media production outcomes. Refer to a range of examples in your answer.

June ’12 – Describe a range of decisions that you made in post production and how these made a difference to the final outcomes. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

Jan ’12 – Describe how your analysis of real media texts informed your own creative media products. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

June ’11 – Explain how far your understanding of the conventions of existing media influenced the way you created your own media products. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

Jan ’11 – Describe how you developed your skills in the use of digital technology for media production and evaluate how these skills contributed to your creative decision making. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

ADDITIONAL SOUND RECORDING

The majority of the sound in regards to the first scene of our film, Screen Three, was recorded whilst we filmed. Recorded externally, I synced up the audio with the footage on Final Cut Pro’s timeline and worked to create the desired sound perspective and quality for the dialogue however, some sounds needed to be added in post production.

I wanted the “Youths” to be as aggravating as possible. They’re intended to irritate the film’s protagonist and also, the audience and so, in order to emphasise this idea, I recorded myself munching on popcorn and added it in when the footage needed it. When Gareth’s character bites into the snack for the first time in the scene we hear a loud crunch which arguably suggests his ignorance in his quiet, hushed enviroment and quickly gives the audience a first glimpse into his personality, especially when paired with the bashfully delivered dialogue.

Professional Sound Recordist, Grant Bridgeman, on set doing his thang!

Professional Sound Recordist, Grant Bridgeman, on set doing his thang!

The BFI Film Academy course I’m undertaking offers filmmakers, like myself, the chance to meet industry professionals to help us improve our talents. Recently I was lucky enough to meet Grant Bridgeman; a sound recordist who has worked on productions such as ITV’s television series, Mr Selfridge. He went through the do’s and don’ts of recording sound and made a short video clip highlighting errors inexperienced recordists like myself might make. This included distortion, interference with elements such as traffic and an insight into sound perspective. Sound perspective concerns a sound’s position in space as perceived by the viewer given by volume, timbre, and pitch. Getting it right is vital in creating the right effect. For example, if a wide shot makes an actor appear as small as an ant, having the dialogue he’s delivering seem close to the viewer and loud is very distracting and unnatural.

His job concerns“the art of capturing sound without comprising the image”.

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 09.44.58

IMDB’s page on Grant Bridgeman displaying parts of his impressive filmography.

Despite the lack of light, warmth or energy to much of anything, my father and I visited when he keeps his vehicles to record additional sound. With the Zoom H1 digital recorder and a pair of my UrBeats headphones, we recorded a range of actions such as the car starting up, lurching forward, braking to a halt and finally the engine simply running whilst the car’s stationary. Thanks to my headphones I could check for any interference while I was recorded and so I ended up with great quality sound that went straight in my film. I also recorded the pushchair falling over and a female scream to add to the intensity of the finale.

upload image

If you look below you can see an area of my timeline during post-production on Final Cut Pro. Each file is explained on the left of the image.

editing scene two

hhdfghdfhd

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 12.45.31

TARGET AUDIENCES

target audience

When money is put into a film and money is intended to come out of a film, it is very much a business venture. Within business ventures one must understand what they’re getting themselves into and a big part of this is evaluating who is going to consume what you want to make and why? For example, if you spend £1,000,000 in creating a film about model trains it’s unlikely to gain a high amount of revenue due to the niche audience it exclusively appeals to. Cindy Kennaugh, President of ‘On The Mark’, explains target audience profiles (TAP) and makes it clear why they are important in business.

She writes that  TAPs are a written and “very detailed appraisal” of your customers’ characteristics, attitudes, and behaviors. TAP information typically falls into two categories: demographics and psychographics.

  • Demographics –  describe who your customers are. The most frequently used demographic variables include age, gender, occupation, location, marital status, income, education level, and nationality.
  • Psychographics – describe why your customers act as they do. For example, you might determine that you have price-sensitive customers who choose the least expensive option, or trend-conscious customers who prefer the newest, most fashionable option, or early adopters who are open to choosing new, unproven options.

Thoroughly addressing and analyzing your film’s target audience helps you and the rest of your fellow filmmakers make better, more consistent customer decisions about how to best market and sell your piece. It also reduces confusion among functional areas through a common business foundation for decision-making. Improve overall marketing focus and communication effectiveness by appealing to the customers directly and understanding what they seek in a film production.

It’s important to figure out why audiences should watch your movie.

In addition to getting inside the head of your audience, your next task is to figure out why these people enjoy your genre. Why would they want to watch your movie? What makes your movie unique from the other, competing movies in existence? How will your movie to appeal to viewing needs of your audience?

So lets think about my A2 film, Screen Three.

peter

Peter Glanfield in SCREEN THREE.

Our film is a drama which is thoroughly explained in my blog concerning genre. Before seeing a drama piece, most audience members are expecting a character, probably a protagonist, with whom they can empathise with and follow throughout the story such as Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) in The Shawshank Redemption. I recognised this and wanted to achieve this audience gratification within Screen Three. I did so by creating the old man character and directing the audience’s attention upon him. I planned to do this through the cinematography in order to focus much of the film upon him. Conflict is the core of most films, which is an element audiences expect within their viewing experience, particularly in drama. The conflict in Screen Three works to capture audiences and make them more easily empathise with the old man character.

The old man character is interesting since he appeals to a huge range of people. Whilst appealing to the older community who can more easily familiarise with him and his situation, young people can see his vulnerability and the pain he is experiencing throughout the film which may draw them towards this character. In this way our film appeals to a mass audience who can ride with my film’s protagonist as the film unravels. The usual age group for dramas is 15 – 45 this tells me there is a big demographic audience that can be targeted, and this works with this character.

Conventional dramas feature realistic characters in “realistic, familiar” settings. With this in mind, not only does our film appeal to fans of drama, it also appeals to more members of society since the movie theatre is a piece that can empathise with. Many audiences members may find this comforting and something they like about the film which draws them in.

Jason Brubaker is a Hollywood based Independent Motion Picture Producer and an expert in selling a film and therefore has a wealth of knowledge in regards to target audiences. He asks, “why should your audience spend two hours watching your movie?” Answering this question is important in regards to making your movie; what will the audience get from our film and how will the film be crafted to appeal to an audience with this in mind? Well I believe audience members will sit through the piece for the ride. Due to the empathy created for the protagonist through the drama in the piece, they’ll want to know what happens to him. The film is under five minutes long which appeals to young people who’ll flick through the internet looking for short films to watch and also grabs their attention for long enough without them becoming bored, which appeals to many audience members.