“Lamentation” short film: Final year project

This is my final year film project for our main module and it’s called “Lamentation”. It was based in an original script written by one of my classmates which I produced.

It was an amazing experience from the beginning all the way to the final product. A lot of hard work and love came into creating it so hopefully you guys will enjoy it as well.

The synopsis is as follows:

Donald, an elderly pensioner in London, has been living the past year as a widower. His wife’s favourite flower was a white rose and throughout the film Donald sees this flower in places that it isn’t really there. In the end, Donald comes to accept that his wife is gone by finding comfort in the memories he shared with her.

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Lamentation: Music composer

Hello!

Today me and Alex met up with our potential music composer, Josiah, who is also a student in the BA Music course in our university.

The interview itself, that I organized, served as a way for Josiah and Alex to meet so that Alex could explain to him his vision of what he wanted the score to be since our film is emotionally heavy and has no dialogue. I was there for the beginning part of it but soon had to leave to go to work, but from what Alex told me, they discussed through ideas that each of them had in regards to how the theme of the score should be.

How I discovered Josiah is a very funny and unusual story since we met one late night in the library after he approached me and a friend of mine, when we were talking about our future projects, and asked if we could give answer a questionnaire that he needs for his dissertation. We just stroke up a conversation and after he said that he was majoring in music production and that he was a composer, I just felt like I stuck a complete and utter gold mine!

And this was an actual great touch of luck because, a couple of days later, Alex told me that his friend who was our original composer said he couldn’t do our film because of his schedule, so thank God for random encounters with music students in the library at 11pm!

Lamentation: Rough cut screening!

Hello!

Today we had the rough cut screening of our film “Lamentation”.

This means that we presented the film already with it’s organized sequence but without any music or colour grade.

I was more anxious than nervous as I always am right before presenting and showcasing any of my projects because they are all so personal and intimate that when I have to present to any type of audience, it’s always difficult because then the criticism rolls in. I enjoy criticism but it’s always hard no matter what.

So as our film started to be showcased, and because our film has no dialogue, the silence was all that could be heard in the room during nearly 10 minutes.

I couldn’t stop smiling at the screen because I was so proud, not only of myself, but everyone that was involved in making the movie what it is today.

When the film ended, everyone started clapping and I couldn’t stop the stupid smile in my face!

Right off the bat, our teacher asked what everyone thought of it and one of my classmates immediately said “I liked it!” and that just set the tone for the rest of the feedback session.

The criticism we received was that it felt like the climax of the film happened too quickly and that after that, the story just seemed to mellow out a bit. The suggestions to resolve that were to maybe re-edit it in a way where the climax would happen later in the story instead of where it is now.

And the good feedback we received was that our actor, David, transmitted emotions well; the choice in locations was good as well as the props.

I couldn’t be prouder of what we accomplished.

Lamentation: Sound design

Hello!

Today me and Alex had a recording studio session with the lovely Peter Williams, sound expert extraordinaire.

And the motivation behind today’s session was because Alex wanted to add a couple of sounds to some specific movements Donald does in the outdoor sequences.

The first sound we had to record was the opening, drinking and closing of a whiskey bottle. Fun times. I volunteered to do the deed and Peter went along and grabbed a half drunk bottle of wine from his office that we used as a ‘sound prop’. I did a couple of takes and then Peter stepped in to do the actual drinking of the bottle sounds that we needed. Seeing Peter drink, take after take, whilst me and Alex were inside the recording booth hearing the sounds and deciding if they were good or not, was just too funny to put into words. All in the name of art!

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Afterwards, we did some additional recording of Donald’s feet scrapping at the ground right before the stood up from the bench in order to leave the park. Alex stepped in, no pun intended, to recreate the feet sounds.

All in all, it was a fun afternoon with a lot of laughs and we managed to get all the sound bits we needed in.

 

Cinematography: Lost In Translation (2003)

sofiaSofia Coppola, writer and director.

Sofia Coppola’s, 2003 film, “Lost In Translation” stars Bill Murray as Bob Harris, a washed out actor, who went to Japan to film a whiskey commercial; and Scarlett Johansson as Charlotte, the wife of an up and coming photographer, who decided to accompany her husband on a work trip to Tokyo. As unlikely as these two characters are, they end up meeting each other and to their surprise the otherwise average trip offers new found excitement.

The cinematography, by newcomer Lance Accord, in the film follows a particular ‘style of shooting, (…), and lighting which conforms, in most respects, to the tenets of the classical Hollywood continuity style.’ (King, 2010:92).

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Lance Acord, cinematographer for “Lost In Translation”.

The use of both hand held camera work, out of focus sequences and recurrent use of wide shots ‘plays a distinctive role in the overall aesthetic of Lost In Translation.’ (King, 2010:100)

For example, when Bob first arrives to Tokyo, in the opening sequence of the film, the camera’s attention constantly shifts between handheld close-ups of Bob’s reaction to the intense neon lights and bustling life of Japan’s streets and then quickly cuts to, assumedly, his point of view of the same images discussed above, whilst inside a moving car.

Lost_in_Translation_006Medium shot of Bob taking in Japan’s sights. Blue tinted imagery.

Lost_in_Translation_005Bob’s point of view from inside the moving car.

The next scene showcases Harris, in a wide shot, in his hotel room sitting on the bed. The shot stays static for quite a while and it gives the audience the impression of the character’s loneliness within such an immense room. It begs the question of where his loved one might be.

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Bill sitting by himself in his hotel room, showed through a static wide shot. Loneliness exudes from the frame.

Within the next introduction in the story, the use of the ‘blurry image quality’ (King, 2010:100) is already a noticeable stylistic choice from Coppola; a girl, later to be known as Charlotte, is seen sitting on the windowsill of her hotel room looking down over Japan’s nightlife, as her husband snores loudly on the bed.

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Charlotte sitting on the window sill of her hotel room. Same blue tint as in Bob’s opening sequence and use of shallow focus and blurred imagery.

The initial focus of the shot is on the city lights bellow and only then does the focus puller, Mark Williams, slowly turns the viewer’s attention towards Charlotte and that simple transition demonstrates her vulnerability in an unknown country.

The sequence follows suit into the following morning, as her husband leaves hurriedly to go and perform a photo shoot and Charlotte is left alone in their room, her loneliness starts to seep through the screen in the same way as Bob’s did. The use of a wide shot to showcase her, looking small in the middle of the room, is almost like she is a child who’s been left alone by her parents to fair for herself in a city she doesn’t know well.

Lost_in_Translation_226Charlotte left alone in the room. A sensation of imprisonment transmits across the screen.

Lost_in_Translation_035Further evidence of Charlotte’s loneliness.

Many of the sequences throughout the movie follow the same rules of continuity and stylistic vision that Coppola has expertly integrated into it, so it is easy to acknowledge that the scenes in the hotel would ‘clearly signify boredom or imprisonment’ (King, 2010:92) and scenes with Bob and Charlotte together would signify freedom and happiness, especially as Bob and Charlotte’s friendship evolves.

Inside the hotel:

  • static shots;
  • monotone grade of color;
  • feeling of imprisonment and confinement transmitted through the characters.

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Lost_in_Translation_535Both characters feel oppressed because they are outside their comfort zone in Japan.

Outside the hotel:

  • More hand held shots;
  • more colorful texture to the scenes with the introduction of more color;
  • a new found sense of comfort and freedom arises with the development of their friendship.

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They are each others anchor in a place where they have no one else to confide in.

In the final encounter between Charlotte and Bob, when he embraces her in the middle of a street in Japan, the long shot holds for a while but, as an escape to the norm, this is one of the only times that this specific shot merely shows two people who care about each other. And even though dozens of people are walking past and around them, Bob and Charlotte still manage to be the primary focus.

Lost_in_Translation_624Wide shot. The final goodbye between Bob and Charlotte.

The visuals seen in the film, from the bustling streets to the giant interactive monitors all the way to the typical Japanese game shows are all specificities that the director and cinematographer worked on as to accurately portray and give life to the memories Sofia had with her from years before. (Coppola, 2004)

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“Lost In Translation” is, in the end, a movie about how a journey to a new and different country can be overwhelming and oppressive but if you find someone who is in the exact same situation then things might not be so bad.

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Have a lovely day!

 

Rita x

Cinematography: Unforgiven (1992)

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Cinematography is much more than merely filming what’s on the page. It is about accurately bringing to life ‘ideas, words, actions, emotional subtext, tone and all other forms of non-verbal communication’ (Brown, 2012:2) whilst peeking through a lens.

The film “Unforgiven” which was produced, directed and starred in by Clint Eastwood is said to be ‘Eastwood’s most acclaimed Western’ (Cornell, 2009:24) because of how it embodies the genre so perfectly through the showcase of the themes of love, life and the disruptions of society. (Sterritt, 2014:166)

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Static wide shot. Opening sequence.

In the opening shot, more specifically a wide shot, the basis of the story is laid down to the audience with a mixture of visuals and textual aid, which establishes the death of a farmer’s wife. The text, assuredly told in the perspective of the wife’s mother, tells of how she never understood how her daughter could have married a man known for his murderous and alcoholic tendencies, known as William Munny (Eastwood). And such is emphasized by the visual stimulant of seeing Munny, as the grieving husband, burying his wife within the sunset landscape of the state of Kansas. (Cornell, 2009:28)

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Medium shot of Munny as a pig farmer.

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Wide shot of the Schofield Kid, superior position in relation to Munny.

Further along, Munny is seen as a struggling pig farmer who is trying to care for his children when he receives a visit from a ‘young gunslinger, (…) called, the Kid’. The visual contrast of Munny, as an old man, being dragged down to the mud by a hoard of pigs whilst Kid, a young man, towers above him on his mighty horse serves as a means to show the inversion of roles between the two characters and how Munny’s past is behind him. (Gallafent: 1994:221)

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Medium shot. Munny after deciding to take up the Kid’s offer.

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Medium shot. Use of natural lighting in outdoor sequences. Scouting out the cowboy they plan to kill.

His past starts catching up to him once more, when Kid offers him the chance of becoming his partner since he is “heading up North (…)” to “(…) kill a pair of no good cowboys”. Munny battles with himself but decided to accept the offer since he sees a chance to gain some much needed money to feed his children since his pig farm isn’t offering much profit.

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Medium shot of Ned Logan. Symbolism of shotgun on the wall representing Ned’s nostalgia of the ‘good old days’ with Munny.

An old partner in crime of Munny, called Ned Logan, is also recruited for the job and the two of them alongside Kid, start on a venture that, for all intents and purposes, serves to ‘avenge womanhood’ (Gallafent: 1994:223) as they intend to punish those who wrongfully attacked an unarmed woman.

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Wide shot. The ladies taking care of Delilah after the attack.

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Medium shot. William Munny, half in darkness half in light.

In summary, the shot right before the trigger is pulled, in the final sequence where Munny kills Little Bill as an act of revenge for his fallen comrade Ned, shows William with his face half bathed in light and half consumed by the dark. This play on lighting represents his inner turmoil of being stuck between Good and Evil, eventually sealing his fate as the trigger is pulled and he is seen retreating further into the darkness of the dingy saloon.

 

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Medium close up. Delilah’s cut face as she inspects the new arrivals to town.

The themes of injustice, which comes from perpetrators not paying for their crimes; vengeance, as to avenge the maiming of an innocent woman and ‘the tragic cycle of violence and reprisals’ (Wilson, 2010:90), that eventually led to one or more characters being condemned by their actions, were what captivated Eastwood the most because of how realistic they were.

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Wide shot. Strawberry Alice (center frame) with the rest of the prostitutes. Powerful stance against Delilah’s aggressors.

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Medium close up. Kid right before he kills for the first time.

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Medium shot. Ned being whipped by Little Bill.

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Sheriff, Little Bill, saying his last words. Low lit, overhead shot.

If the rowdy cowboy had never felt belittled by the naïve prostitute because of his ‘teensy little pecker’ (Kitses, 2010:308), then he would never have lost his temper, which means Strawberry Alice and the rest of the prostitutes wouldn’t have put out a bounty to whoever kills the cowboy, which means that William Munny would have still been living his poor life with his children as a failed pig farmer instead of shooting the sheriff of ‘Big Whiskey’ along with the majority of his deputies.

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Low angle shot. Munny after killing Little Bill. The point of no return.

This represents how ‘violence begets violence’ turning it into a vicious cycle that merely provides more split blood. (Kitses, 2010:308)

 

[DISLCAIMER: All the images were taken from the internet.]

 

Hope you guys like this!

 

Rita x