Research and analysis:
My initial thoughts on research was to find a variety of short films that filled a checklist of things I wanted to write about, for example, contrast, rich voice and emotional response. I started to look for short films on vimeo, which is where I found Gan Gan and Dark Side of the Lens. I then went on to youtube to search for time-lapse films; I already knew I would use Casey Neistat as a research point because I watch his daily videos. My tutor showed us the film Denali earlier in the year and it was the biggest influence towards my final film. Most of my research was from youtube, I also used word of mouth, asking tutors and class mates to recommend films.
My research base included using Youtube, Vimeo and word of mouth. Looking back I wish I had done more research on different platforms, for example using shots and parts of blockbuster films and using things such as Netflix.
I started to analyse my films by identifying what shots represented and why the film maker used them. For example in Denali I took this screenshot:
I wrote about how the sea and sand represented the man and his dog and how throughout the film the sand gets taken away by the water. Also how the colours that contrasted though the film; this what I want to use in my film. I found that I wasn’t critical enough with this film because I didn’t find anything majorly wrong with it. However I think I was more critical with the film Gan Gan because of her use of fonts and the way the film was put together. I think it is less of it being a bad film, I just didn’t like how fast everything was and how you were easily distracted by the visuals.
I think my analysis shows depth because in Dark Side of the Lens I talked about how the sea and cliffs represented a higher figure and that I thought of them as gods rather than parts of nature. If I were to do this project again I would go into more depth with my research. Another reason I feel like I could have done more is because I started my FMP with a completely different idea and three weeks in decided to change it. I feel like if I had the sea idea from the start I would have been able to produce more research and go into more depth with the above films that influenced my FMP.
The main theme I focused on in my research was the emotional impact found in documentaries, which had deeper meanings represented by scenery, contrast and colours. I focused a lot on the way the voice sounded and what effect and influence it had on the film and on the audience. This is because the richer the voice the more direct it sounds. This makes the audience feel like the voice is talking directly to them which increases the emotional response to the film. I think this is the most valuable skill I have learnt whilst researching my FMP. Another skill I think I have gained is what impact including photos has on the film. For example in Denali the man uses photos to represent all the memories he has had with his dog which influenced me to use the amount of photos I did. I think that the slight zoom he added on them showed the focus of the image and allowed the audience to concentrate on the most important parts of the image without being distracted by the background. However in Gan Gan I think the way she cropped the images down to the focus point was good in some places, but I found that it made the film seem to cut up. She should have left some photos full size so the audience could see what was going on in the full photo.
I chose the film Gan Gan to research because I found that the use of photos and the way her voice sounds are skills I could use in my FMP. I found that the richness of her voice and the way that it sounds like, its in your ears, makes the voice sound more emotive and direct to you. This allows you to feel like she is directly talking to the audience which makes them feel emotionally involved. The conclusions I made about the film are as follows:
I found there are both good and bad things about this film. Most of which are tiny details, for example, this film is too fast paced and she could have given the film more time to breath but despite this it is a very powerful film giving her grandmother the respect she deserves.
I was shown this film by my tutor and found that it was one of my favourite short films I have seen. I love all the hidden meanings behind this film.
I can’t find anything bad with this film. I love the speed it runs at, I feel like the film maker has given the film a lot of room to breath. The biggest skill I have learnt from this is the way he uses photos to show his memories with his dog. Also how the monologue is written from the dogs point of view. Making the dog seem like a human makes a stronger emotional connection to the film. I thought of using as many of these techniques in my own film.
Dark Side of the Lens:
The aspects of this film that inspired me the most were the contrast of colours between the sea and the cliffs.
In my own film I want to incorporate the effect of how his voice sounds as the way he describes things is a very visual monologue and you can image in your head what he’s talking about. I also want to use how he represents light and dark in my own film because it makes inanimate objects seem human-like.
With hindsite I would have liked to look into at least one more film called #Dear Daddy because it goes from a daughter’s point of view to her dad about life, it is very similar to what I have done except it’s more on a future advice basis than reviewing memories like I have done. Some technical aspects like the monologue, which is very visual itself, and how the image corresponds to the monologue well are aspects that would have further inspired me in my own FMP. All in all however, I think there are clear links between my research and final film.
Planning and Preparation:
My idea came about as soon as I watched Denali; the emotional impact made me feel like it was time I talked about how I felt in that I wanted to express how I felt before it was too late. My original idea was to include my dad and have it as an interview but then I realised that I was never really good at expressing what I felt so film was the easiest way of doing that. Then it came about that I wanted it to be in a letter point of view so it had that deep emotional impact. I also felt that the monologue and the music complemented each other very well in making it a more emotional experience for my audience.
The restrictions of the breif like theme, how long the film could have been and the time I had to do it were only minor problems. I felt like my final film could have fit all three themes of the brief which were Home, Stranger and Broken. The theme that fit best with mine was Broken. I feel like I could have put a lot more emotion and more monologue to my film if it was longer but I had to ‘downsize’. I think a bit more time would have given my film more space to breathe, for example I could have put more memories within it; with more time I could have given my audience some space to take in the things I was saying. The FMP schedule was long enough in my opinion for what we had to do however since I evolved and changed my idea I had less time to work with.
To develop my ideas I created storyboards and shot lists and I created a list of reasons behind specific shots.
I also spent a lot of time researching and looking for music. As it was the biggest impact in my film as music means a lot to me personally so I wanted the music to give and get the right emotional response and for it to complement the monologue. I already knew what locations I was going to use and scheduled the times of day that I was going to film.
I also re-wrote my monologue a few times because I wanted to get the right memories and the ones that he remembers vividly and ensure that I highlighted all the positive aspects of them to make sure it was a positive experience for him. I also took into account which shots would be less complex in order to successfully film around my dad as I kept it a secret from him until a few days before screening.
I knew emotionally for myself creating this film was going to be a challenge in general as I was talking about things I never spoke about before, so I was digging up my own memories and emotions.
My research influenced my planning because I wanted to use the right photos so I had a lot of digging up to do to find the pictures that I felt were really meaningful. I also had to use the right words in my monologue and my research helped me to find new ways of saying basic things that added emotion to it.
As the project evolved my plans flowed and I didn’t experience any major disruptions where I would have had to adapt significantly. My storyboarding was successful and helpful to me when it came to test shots and filming and I was able to film in my own time so I didn’t have the complexities of filming in college hours with a cast or crew. Although I had an organised shot list, I found that as my ideas developed I needed to also take a natural route and I found these organic test shots worked best in the end.
Testing and Development
To identify key elements for testing I did a few different time lapses of the sunset over a couple of days so that the exposure wasn’t flashy. I planned by having to research when the sun was going down and had to research weather forecasts to see how cloudy it was going to be. I learned that you need to use a proper time lapse setting on a camera and not just speed it up because if you do this the exposure of the light trying to change with the sun going down makes the screen flicker which doesn’t look professional.
Another thing I was looking for when testing were distractions in the background of shots. I wanted the shots to be basic so that the viewer didn’t get distracted and they only focus on the one meaningful thing in the shot. I planned to do these shots in my dad’s garage and in the camper van. The garage is where my dad is all the time and it reminds me of him and also I had a few ideas of where the background would be less distracting.
It’s important to do test shooting so that you don’t waste time, so that you are prepared for any changes or outcomes, it helps you to make sure that you’re organised however next time I definitely need to test shoot more and this is because I didn’t really know what I was shooting at the time but it turned out better than I had expected so I was able to use many of these shots in my final film.
Production and Shoot
I chose to do my filming two weeks before the deadline. This is because I knew that I would have more than enough time to edit and take it home to my dad so that I could make any changes before the final screening. I went into shooting feeling pretty confident and prepared for shooting. I knew where and how I wanted to get the shots, for example the shot of me walking up Hampsfell, it had a lot of memories so it was a really important for me to do in terms of making the film more personal. My planning and testing phase was brief but it really helped me move efficiently through my production.
I didn’t expect my dad’s bike to be in pieces when I began to film however this made more of emotional message to the film in the way of the bike being in pieces and not working correctly and that linking to my dad’s illness. My schedule and planning fortunately allowed for a successful shoot and the use of pictures to show old memories worked best as it helped make a connection with the audience so they knew a bit of the background. It also helped me personally a lot in expressing how I felt and because of that my bond is now firmer with my dad.
In my monologue when I say “do you remember all those hours we spent building up our bike” the sound peeked too much when I recorded it meaning that I had to re-record it. Even though I had to re-record in the same place with the same equipment, and after rerecording it many times, I found that it didn’t sound the same as the original however, i didn’t have enough time to rerecord the whole monologue and this meant that I re-used a vocal enhancer on Premiere which made my voice sound a lot richer, more similar to the original monologue.
In the last shot of me speaking directly to the camera, the original sound from the shoot had too much background noise in it, for example the wind and the trees being really loud. This meant that I would have had to re-shot the film at the location however I found after going through the already recorded monologue that when the clips were placed together the sound matched up perfectly. I thought this was great as I didn’t have to reshoot it and because I liked the shot already, I liked how I looked and how the light made everything look bright and happy so it was a really ice shot to end the film.
My preproduction and preparation was adequate however I don’t feel like I did enough, I feel I could have a lot more research into documentaries about people with cancer. I could have looked at short films, films that people have done in memory, or for people, so I could understand how they chose specific shots and why to get a more emotional connection with my film.
Post-production, edit, evaluating and monitoring
I fist started off with my music choice. I picked my music first which allowed me to work my shots around it. I tried to use specific parts of the song that I knew would allow me a lot room to breathe with my shots. I chose to put my monologue over the part where I had my lyrics this ensured the film wasn’t too busy and people could definitely hear what I was saying.
I edited whilst I was filming as well as after filming. The edits I made throughout filming was starting with the credits and I chose to link it with the sound for more emphasis for what the viewer would be reading. I then went in with the footage from Hampsfell, the sunset and time lapse and the walking and sitting shots. I chose to do this first as they were the most difficult to do as they were a distance from my house. I then started adding in photos where i found where there were empty spaces where I didn’t have specific shots so this meant I knew what I needed to put where, like bookmarks. After entering the photos i started to add in my footage which then allowed me to shuffle everything about to suit the monologue. The last shot I filmed was the clock being smashed. I didn’t really have a specific way of doing this, I just put a camera above a clock and hit it with a hammer and then just picked the best bit of that action. It was then just down to what I felt looked good and meant the most emotionally.
Some of the tools, techniques and skills that I used in my edit were making the voice sound really rich using vocal enhancers, adding a slow zoom so that it gave motion to the pictures so they weren’t so static, I chose to use monochrome for my clock shots (because I wanted emphasis on how sad it looked and I found black and white was how I could achieve this), the credits of the film were linked with the timings of the music so that it gave the viewer a more emotive response and I used a range of tools on Premiere Pro that helped me achieve my final result for instance the motion tool in effect controls to make the photos zoom.
The new skills that I learned creating this FMP involved getting further experience in the whole production process, and if I was to do this again I would like to go more out of my comfort zone for example maybe try masking or more complex cuts. If I were to re-edit the things I would do differently are I wouldn’t do the music first because I found that later on in the film I found I needed more clips to fir in the music, if I did it normally I wouldn’t have had to keep going back and finding extra photos and footage for the final film as I left it a bit to late to edit.
I am very happy with how my film turned out. I feel that there are a lot of things I would differently if I was to do this project again. Creating this film has enhanced my skills as a filmmaker by allowing me to create a film on an emotional level, now I feel I can do anything. It has allowed me to experience the full process and learn where my strengths and areas of development are so that next year I will get more out of my comfort zone in editing and filming progress. I have learned that I can cope with emotional stress, that I can dig up feelings that I never thought I had and that I can connect with an audience at an emotional level. I now know that I want to create films to make people smile, laugh and feel happy, I want to document memories so that I can look back on things that I have achieved in my life and in future hopefully how my family. ‘Films are never finished only abandoned’ – I agree with this because my final FMP has a lot more memories I could put into it and things in the future that I am planning so instead of talking about the past maybe I can talk about the future.