The Grammar Of The Edit: Client Pitch

Hello!

In this class me and my Producer pitched our idea of the ad assignment with the help of our mood board that we had done a few days earlier.

The production of the mood board was a really fun one as well as she were able to discuss all that we wanted to put into it beforehand. And it ended up a cool looking mood board for a couple of first timers.

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Now onto the client pitching, me and Agne had written down all the wanted to cover in the pitch but I think that we might have over-prepared a bit because we were a bit fast explaining all that we wanted to do and achieve and that contributed a bit to the confusion of some of the people from the course, and our teacher said that we were possibly over complicating our idea and that we should simplify.

So after this quite helpful feedback we made quite a few changes to our idea and are now finishing the final details prior to starting filming.

 

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In The Mood For Love: Hong-Kong New Wave

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Hello!

So this week, we saw a film that would introduce us to the Hong-Kong New Wave cinema called “In The Mood For Love” by Kar Wei Wong.

This film recounts the story of a man and a woman who are both married to people who are constantly away on work, and so they each in their own apartment, alone. They lead their lives as normally as possible but always wanting more, wanting someone, wanting their spouse, yet their spouse is nowhere to be seen which immediately gives the film a melancholic tone. So why these two lonely souls meet each other, their familiar situations helps to create a distinctive bond between the two that borders on the line of love and friendship, making the viewer unsure about where the two characters stand in relation to their feelings towards one and other. It’s a sorrowful yet romantic film.

From this viewing, I found myself concentrating more on the director’s characteristics, meaning his unique trademarks that I already saw him use in Chungking Express in a previous lesson,:

  1. Slow motion: Wai Wong enjoys the use of this technique, and this film it is used when following Mrs. Chan when she makes her way through the streets at night. That combined with smooth close-ups of her movements, convey an erotic sensuality to the film.
  2. Repeated song: Once again, Wong enjoys to use one song that will be replayed over and over and over again throughout specific plot scenes in the movie. This is something that quite noticeably characterize him as a director.
  3. Undefined ending: When we reach the end of the film, there are still so many questions left hanging that the audience doesn’t actually know for certain what has or will happen to the main characters. Turning that same ending, subjective to each viewer, giving them the power to decide by themselves the fate of the protagonists.

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From this viewing, I learned that it was during this New Wave that washed through Hong Kong, that some of the most creative and original films came to be. It is certain that you wouldn’t find a film like this in Hollywood in the 2000’s. The way the main characters act around each other, with each touch being so chaste yet, at the same time, so full of want is something that rarely happens in the American industry. It’s either in your face or not at all, so I think that in that sense “In The Mood For Love” accomplished it’s goal. However, I felt that the pace of the movie was a bit too slow for me and the constant repetition of the same song made it annoying to witness time and time again (being these the same issues from when I watched Chungking Express.) But overall it had a really good cinematography that almost made up for the movie’s slow pace.

Almost.

Stories We Tell: Self-reflexive documentary

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Hello!

In this lesson we saw a quite personal documentary made by actress/director Sarah Polley, because it is the story of her family, but more specifically the story of her mother.

In this piece of film, we are introduced to Sarah’s family, being it her father, two brothers and her sister. The focus of this story is all around her mother Diane, because as we get more into the story of the film, we discover that her mother was the light of the family. She was caring, loving, sweet and bubbly. She was a breath of life and love to all her children. And that is the way she is portrayed, or more accurately, that is the way she is explained by the people who knew her (her children, her husband, her sister, her friends).

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All of this information and more is transmitted to the audience through a conjunction of witness interviews and old archival footage. The witnesses vary between family members and friends and the archival footage consists of old home movies from Sarah’s family, even having the wedding tape of her mother Diane’s first marriage to a man other than Sarah’s father. So it is really remarkable the amount of material she found and with every new thing the viewer learns, there is footage to back it up.

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But probably the most impressive thing that Sarah did, creatively speaking, for this film was that she actually re-enacted some events in Diane’s life, with the use of Super 8 film stock. The feeling you have when watching the film is that you believe completely that all that you see is the truth because there is the footage to back it up, yet when the audience reaches the end of the film, it realizes that a lot of the home videos that were presented are actually only reenactments of how the events might have occurred. It was quite a surprise, at least to me.

Sarah Polley in a still from Stories We Tell

Another characteristic of this documentary is that the controversy between what is real and true is always put to the test. And this is the case when it comes to the discovery of Sarah’s biological father. This is the major plot twist in the film, because up until that point what the viewer knows of Diane is that she was an amazing woman but that same ‘ideal’ comes crashing down, a bit, when we know she cheated on her husband with another man. This is where we see the controversy on whether she did cheat and who could be the father, and Sarah’s personal journey to discover who he is.

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So from this lesson, what I learned is that the truth can have many shapes and forms. It’s not just one thing but multiple. And what intrigued me most was the reconstruction of key scenes in Diane’s life were done to give the story a more human feeling was something quite inspiring to me, and also I like the idea of eventually working with old film stock because I really like that old ‘crackling’ feeling of the image and sound that is inherent to old movies from the 30s and 40s.

La Jetee and French New Wave

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Hello!

So this week we had a viewing of a film from the French New Wave called “La Jetee” by Chris Marker. It was a quite unusual to what we have been presented up until now, so I decided to add my own brief synopsis of the story of the film:

We follow the journey of  a man who is forced into taking part in scientific experiments that are done with the intention of manipulating time traveling to their own will. This experiment has been already implemented on other captive individuals as well but with not so fortune outcomes for them.  But when this man is put under the experiment it is shown that he is actually the only one who can survive it for the length that he has. So it is during this trial that whenever he is “put under”, so to speak, he begins to be captivated by a blonde beauty and whenever he slips into the unconsciousness, he always travels to see her (intentionally or not) and eventually falls in love with her. These experiments happen during a period of if not weeks, months and they only help to establish his personal desire to actually be with her always and not only during brief flashes of time. It is a beautifully tragic love story told by the means of black and white still images, almost like a slideshow, with a compelling voice-over to navigate the audience through what is being presented to them.

It is quite intriguing to see the evolution of film making, because in this film you can see how the storyteller was able to work with the idea of “time traveling” and work it to his will. I think it was well accomplished in that sense.

Now to simply answer the question that was presented to us in class:

  • How does the film reflect on film form? It is reflected, as I previously mentioned, through the use of still images and voice-over, primarily. But it also is presented to us through the use of the soundtrack because it appeals the audience to feel a certain specific emotion during specific parts of the storytelling (ex: a lyrical choir singing at the beginning when the pictures of a burning Paris is shown and the soft tones when the pictures of the woman are shown.)

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This film is an example of how directors where during this New Wave of cinema. They wanted to make films for the simple pleasure of doing something beautiful and that was appreciated as it should, as an art form. They didn’t want to have to follow the “rules” of the Old Hollywood type of industry who made films to appeal to the masses without even thinking twice about how compelling the actual narrative should be. Although, I don’t completely agree with this saying, because even there were quite a few films only done to impress audiences visually that no significant back story to them (ex: Bus Stop, 1956) I do think that quite a few of the Old Hollywood films had a sort of poetics and beauty about them that wasn’t solely based on visuals ( ex: Gone With the Wind, 1949). I inspired myself from this site about the French New Wave for beginners. Anyways, these filmmakers intended to follow their own rules and to let their creative juices flow. So from what I’ve gathered, Italy’s  neo realism and France’s New Wave were basically the one’s who rebelled against their own industries and funded their own.

To me, that’s pretty baddass.

 

 

Ad brief: Assignment

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Hello!

Today we were briefed on the 30 second ad assignment that we are due to do in a very short period. So we spent most of today’s class looking at multiple successful (and some not so much) advertisements so we would have an idea of what we need to accomplish.

One of the one’s we saw is one of John Lewis’s Christmas campaign that had a tremendous success last year all over the UK:

We saw that some of the most important messages that this ad transmits to the audience is:

  • Nostalgia
  • Happiness

Which are messages that can reach anyone of any age.

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So near the end of class, we were paired up in pairs of two that would again follow in the roles of Producer and Director. I was paired up with Agne, which I never worked with before, and afterwards we sat down and started discussing on what we wanted to do, but not before we decided on which roles each of us would play.

We sat out with the idea of representing the Marks & Spencers brand, specifically within the food department and we are now deep in the pre-production process and will most likely after we receive feedback on it when we present it to our teacher and course mates.

But I can say that we are excited to get this show on the road!

MDA 1400: “Personal Space” (Assignment 1)

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Hello!

In this post I will go through what happened and what I learned during filming of our recent short film assignment for the new module MDA 1400 Production Theory and Practice. I will start off just recapping what we needed to do in this project, full description in this post:

  1. Do a short film based on our understanding of ‘space’.
  2. Work in teams of two.
  3. Get it done and by 6th February.

Yeah, that’s basically it.

So after we re-decided on what we wanted to do (because our original idea was quite different), we got on to finding a location and an actress which ended up being a friend of the Director (let’s nickname her D, so it won’t be that repetitive!) from my group and the location was the actress’s dorm room in Usher Halls. From the moment we got into the room with the heavy lighting equipment, tripod, camera and clapper board, we had to figure out where to put them, how and where to set up the lights so D could get the best shots out of the scenes we needed. After we did that, I started setting up the lights and D started going through the settings on the camera, I discovered that one of the future fill lights had absolutely no barn doors whatsoever. I can say, sarcastically, that that proved to be some happy times for myself. We fooled around with only the key light for a while, trying different positions of both the light and the camera, only to discover that could not shoot it with only that light due to poor lighting conditions which resulted also in a lot of shadows on the actress. So I came up with the idea of using the no barn doors light and used the actress’s pillow case over it so it would act as a light diffuser. And no I did not just throw the pillow case onto the hot light, but I did hold it at a safe distance from it during the entire shoot. I call that commitment. I proceeded to point the light to the wall, then with the pillow case acting as a diffuser, the light bounced off the wall and into the actress which made us figure out that it actually looked good on the camera’s monitor so we went with it.

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Photos of the location prior we began shooting.

Production schedule

‘Personal Space’ Risk Assessment

Production documents.

It was around a 3/3.5 hours shoot, and it was tiring. But by the end of the day we were content with what we had and under the circumstances with the lighting equipment, we felt that we did our best. So then on the 4th February (we shot it on the 2nd February), we spent pretty much the whole afternoon in the Edit Suite, editing our film away and only finished it on the 6th.

Overall it was an enjoyable experience, and I can say that I learned a lot from it, mostly dealing with the lighting equipment which made me quite proud that I remembered a way we could still make the most out of lighting our location as well as the fact that I edited our film, having only learned the basics of editing during our time in the editing suite thanks to two awesome friends of mine. Thanks guys, couldn’t have done it without your help as well. And in the two next days, I edited most of it with no help. So I liked this experience.

Personal Space (credits)

Capturing The Friedmans: Investigative

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Hello!

Today we saw another type of documentary called “Capturing The Friedmans” that is the story about a seemingly normal everyday family of a mom, a dad and three young sons. Yet everything changes when it is brought to light, accusations against the father and the youngest son on pedophilia to the highest extreme.

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As the documentary progresses we can see ‘both sides of the coin’ regarding the idea if Arnold (father) is actually a pedophile or not and the same goes to Jessie (son) who at just 18 years old, sees his whole life being turned upside down by hundreds of individual accusations put on him by the alleged children whom he molested during private computer lessons his father gave from their house.

The ‘investigative gaze’ is without a doubt the basis of what this film is about, because the majority of the information that is transmitted to the audience, is of former detectives from the case who explain their horrific findings on the scene of the crime, such as dozens upon dozens of children pornography magazines that Arnold had piled up and hidden in plain sight, although it is at this stage that the notion of contradictory evidence also comes to show within the storyline. Because if there were such a huge pile of the alleged magazines ‘from floor to ceiling’ according to Detective Frances Galasso from the Sex Crimes Unit at the time of the accusation, then why is that pile not shown in the crime scene photos taken of the place?

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This is the part where the audience starts to question the veracity of the evidence that is presented to them. The contradictions keep piling up when Jessie says the his lawyer, Peter Panaro, wanted him to say that his father did molest him as well and that he wanted to plead guilty to the child molesting convictions that were him, but Peter counter argues that Jessie was the one who actually confided him, with tears in his eyes, that Arnold did indeed molest him as a child.

So in the end,  what is the truth about this case?

We will probably never know, because all that we can see are ‘versions of the truth’. No one will ever truly know the truth because people want to believe in what they want and the answer to who is guilty and who isn’t, can only be responded by the people who see this great documentary and decide by themselves on what the truth is.

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From this lesson what I have learned is that in documentary, the director can subtly or not let the audience know in who he believes is telling the truth and who he dislikes. This can easily be portrayed either through favorable interviews in regards to a specific individual that would represent the director’s own opinion, and obviously the downgrading of characters through the use of interviews with close family members besides the use of archival footage that doesn’t show the person in question, ‘under the best light’.

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Newspaper announcement of Arnold’s formal accusation.