Assignment 5: Scripts, Actors and Locations

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So here we are again, and I have a few developments. Our group is well in it’s way in the project of our short film and since the last time I posted, in which I refered that we were discussing which script we would use as our story basis and that we had already named our group as “Mis Amigos” production company.
But since then we spent various days, and various hours, deciding between eachothers scripts. We decide with one of them but after spending around five hours trying to figure out a way on how to translate parts of it on screen, correctly, we decided to change it. After that we did, a lot, of rewritings and changed some of the characters, backgrounds and added a bit more to the original storyline. With the final script in hands, we decided to name our story “Annabel”. The synopsis of the film is that “love isn’t always what it seems”. We don’t always get who we want or they don’t turn out to be who we thought they were. It’s about character change and their acknowledgement of themselves and of others around them. After that our director started sketching the stoyboard, floor plan, camera plan and shot list; the producer started scouting potential actors for the roles, organized a calendar, a timeboard for the crew and actors; our editor/sound designer arranged a soundtrack to give us an idea of which songs we could use in which scenes as well as attending meetings with the director to decide how to cut the film in the correct way and I studied the functions of the camera we decided to use, along with working very closely on the script and respective lists with the director to make sure that her vision is portrayed correctly on screen.

We took a few days scouting for locations which was rough, but eventually our director decided on a nearby park, so then our producer contacted the actors and arranged our shooting schedule. It must have taken us around four hours to do the reshoots as the one’s we did previously didn’t work due to the camera we used didn’t fare well in low light situations as well as we were having problems in recording the sound properly. Next time, we’ll choose a quieter place in Camden Town to shoot, that’s for sure. So in the park, we shot the remainder of the scenes we need with all the actors. On that day I felt more confident with the camera and the image I could get out of a scene. I found myself working better with it, a Canon 600D, and felt that I was giving my best while doing handheld camera work.

Apart from that, we have the schedule to film it between the 10th and 11th of December because those are the times that best suit us and the three actors. And then between the 11th through the 14th, we plan on editing it and hopefully finish it up until before New Year.


Stagecoach: Syntagms and Stereotypes



Stagecoach was the film we viewed in this lecture and this time we touch upon the idea that this film might actually be considered, by some people, to be more of an action film than a melodrama since there is that (mistaken) idea that a melodrama needs to be a soppy romance where everyone dies and no one lives happily ever after. Well that’s taking it to an extreme but that’s still how some people think. Hell, I thought like that, once upon a time! But one good thing about this module is that it has been slowly opening my eyes further to the actual complexity of movie genres in a way that I didn’t expect. So continuing what I was saying is that this film can be considered an action flick since it involves cowboys, Indians and shoot-outs yet you need to look further into the film to actually understand why that is not so. Yes this film has a lot of the characteristics of a regular action packed Western, but what is actually just under the surface is the existence of a lot more character plots rather than action plots. The film focuses more on the characters than the action itself, being that the key to why it is a melodrama. You see virtue being challenged constantly, the persecution of evil represented by the Indians and the corrupt bankers, amongst others.

Then we talked about the difference between syntagms and paradigms, basically meaning that the syntagmatic represents a specific “rule of combination” in this case being the Western and the paradigmatic is the various alternatives within a specific category, for example, the locations, firearms and clothing specific to the Western genre. And it’s with this in mind that the idea of stereotypes follows up behind. We all know that in film and even in real life we are all set as a specific stereotype within the eyes of society, and sometimes once you fall into that it’s sometimes hard to come out of it. Because, I think, one of the ways a stereotype is formed is through the very first impression we have of someone. We are a very hard society in the way that we are very hard on each other and consequently on ourselves, so it is obvious that that had to be transmitted onto film as well. In the Western we see represented in “Stagecoach” the main character stereotypes relating to that specific genre. We further go into the intertextuality and hidden ideology of the film. This lecture also helped me to understand the idea of stereotypes and how myth is formed.

Doctor Who: 50th anniversary!



So yesterday night I went with a few friends to the 3D cinema screening of the episode that celebrates the 50 years of existence of the Doctor Who series. And it was amazing. The script was written by the unmistakable Steven Moffat, the current head writer of the show, who’s (very) well known for having an “unpredictable”, let’s call him, writing style. His leading of the show for the past 3 years has brought forth a breath of fresh air and excitement. And this episode is by far no exception! The return of beloved old characters, paired with great writing and cinematography make this celebration episode, one of the best. It did a wonderful job pairing up story lines from both the original series and the revamped one in a way that fans from either will feel integrated within the community. Both Tennant and Smith did an amazing job portraying their, respective, Doctors with an obvious and constant bickering amongst each other, which brought a great comedic element to counteract the inherit drama associated with the series. John Hurt and Billie Piper were nice additions as well, bringing a different dimension to the story altogether. Jenna Coleman as the witty companion, held up her own while acting alongside Tennant, Smith and Hurt normally within the same scene. One of my favorites parts of the episode had to be when we saw footage from old archives of the show featuring all of the 13 Doctors, as if they were all “working” together for a common goal. And we even catched a glimpse of Capaldi, who’ll reprise the role of the Doctor on the new season coming up next year!

So I can say with full conviction that this was one of the great episodes in the series, thus far, and I look forward for the Christmas special this year!

Assignment 5: Roles, Mis Amigos and DOP

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This week we were given our first BIG, graded, assignment that consists on filming one of our 250 words screenplays (which was the assignment we did for our Screenwriting module) from one of the members of the group we choose. This assignment implies that we need to be in a group of four where we will have to distribute our roles evenly and commit to them completely. Meaning that team work will be the main focus. Can we do it or can we not? That is what will be put on evidence once we present it five weeks from now. Yes, we will have five weeks to complete it fully until January 13th 2014. We need to portray the story as accurately and as closely as possible to the original piece in a maximum length of 5 minutes.This will be challenging but exciting, because we can finally start to think of ourselves as doing something not only for us but for a future audience. Even if our audience will consist mostly of our teachers. This is something that I’ve been looking forward to for quite a long time. And even though I’m terrified, I am eager to start production on it. So my ‘dream team’ and their respective roles are: Jonas, who’ll be our Producer; Carolina, who’s our Director; Laurynas, our Editor and Sound guy and myself as the Director of Photography. And we even gave our production company, a name: Mis AmigosAlso each of us will carry on different roles this time around, which is exciting. And even though I’m the DOP, I’ve never been in charge of the camera and footage in such an intimate way as I will be in this assignment. I might not have as much training as some of my colleagues from the course but that doesn’t discourage me. Meaning I will only study and train harder because this is most of all a learning experience. I will make mistakes and I will screw up, but that’s what is needed to happen when I’m learning something new. A good work does not come easy and I am beggining to understand that even more so.

Workshop: Lighting


In the last class, instead of the usual we had a workshop that taught us how to properly plug in, assemble and use the lighting equipment for when we need to eventually shoot our films. So Eddie divided a couple of people between the equipment and gave us free range to try and assemble it ourselves. And after quite a while, we finished assembling it in the best way we could and proceeded to hear Eddie explain the basics of proper lighting. Basically, we learned about the three point lighting where you dispose three lights around a specific area to light up the subject in question.


So the lights are disposed as such:

  1. Key light, which is the main source of light in the system. It’s objective is to illuminate the scene. And is to be placed on the side of the subject opposite the camera placement.
  2. Fill light, is a softer light. It’s objective is to fill in the rest of the shadows on the subject’s face caused by the action of the key light. It is to be placed on the opposing side of the camera and the key light.
  3. Back light, who’s main function is to illuminate the subject and make him stand out from the background. It’s placed behind the subject in order to create an aura of light around him, and it is set up high above the subject’s head out from the camera’s view.

So from here I learned how to set up the lighting equipment properly as well as learning about the safety measures we need to take in order to not either harm ourselves or the equipment when assembling it.

The Battleship of Potemkin: Kuleshov effect



As a continuation from the screening from Tuesday, we further explored the way of the soviet editing and mainly the use of Kuleshov’s effect in the film. First we discussed in class the fact that the movie didn’t follow the rules of continuity editing since it concentrated more on the theme of the story and portraying it well.

But the most interesting part of this seminar was actually learning about the Kuleshov effect which I later researched was created as a filmic experiment by director Lev Kuleshov who wanted to prove that by shooting a continous shot of an actor with a specific facial expression and then follow it by a specific image, it would somehow ”trick” the audience into feeling a specific emotion wether it’d be anger, love, sadness or any other he felt like achieving.

The Battleship of Potemkin: Screening

Battleship Potemkin (1925)


In this screening we saw our first silent film all the way from 1925 called “The Battleship of Potemkin” directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein. This film’s action was divided in 5 parts each with it’s own dramatic climax. You can probably say it followed Shakespeare’s 5 Act Structure. The storyline itself was about a naval rebellion/mutiny against their commander for not wanting to follow his orders. Then a battle ensued between the opposing forces, either with or against the commander, which resulted in many deaths including of the one naval officer who was the ”beacon of hope” during the soldier’s mutiny which only instigated further rebellion and anger in the population and was part of a completly different plotline of the story.

From this, I can affirm that this was actually one of the films from the Silent era that I actually enjoyed. The various principle characteristics of melodrama were very much present in the way the actors expressed themselves. Overall it was an enjoyable experience that possibly expanded the possibilties of watching more silent films in my spare time.