After I finish my degree, I intend to create an online portfolio, that I can link back to my blog, where all the projects that I have done (both inside and outside of university) are presented in a showreel form. By the end, it will showcase my versatility in the types of projects I like to involve myself in as well as showcasing that I am more interested in the drama genre overall.
DRAMA: Bad Coffee
My first project is a drama, where the subject matters involve: depression, falling in love and suicide; being that the story revolves around Violet “Tuck” Tucker, a recovered from self harm individual, who meets Ashley, a troubled young woman, in their Depression Alliance group and go on a journey of love, losing control and acceptance.
The workload for this project is very centred around getting permission from the locations that we need (cafe, classroom, apartment, walking path) along with a special permission to break prop cutlery inside the premises of the cafe.
Budget: The main focus of the budget would be spent on paying for the actress’s and extras’s travel expenses along with food for cast and crew, for the duration of the filming period. We will potentially try and find a professional DoP so that would be taken into account as well.
We are already on the third draft of a script which is going well. We are working with a writer and the story has a lot of input from Andrija and me.
Approach: Is to continue to investigate further into more Depression Alliance groups as well as collect more information that will enable us to depict depression and self-harm in the most authentic manner.
The challenges for this project consist of finding locations that are what we need for the story, for example finding a coffee shop that will allow us to simulate a physical fight between Tuck and Ashley after Ashley has a slight mental breakdown, since we will have to have prop cups and plates that need to be broken. Finding diversity in extras because we have different locations and people need to look different.
As to addressing these potential issues, we will make sure whilst doing location scouting of different coffee shops, I will talk to the manager and explain what the scene will consist of and have him sign a consent form. And in regards to the extras, between me and Andrija we will have more than enough people who could be stand-ins along with a few actors I’ve worked with in the past that would be happy to do it.
Flexibilty-wise, the storyline allows for some locations to be narrowed down or even cut off if it were needed.
A film that illustrates the impact that self-harm might have on someone and what their reasoning behind it might be.
Ashley (2013), dir. Dean Ronalds. Is a film that explores both self-harm and embracing a newfound sexuality. The film showcases how we want to explore self-harm and the findings of a new relationship and the impact that that has on Ashley.
Since we are including in the script the notion of a ‘Depression Alliance’ group where Tuck presides, there are quite a few around London that I will contact to see if I can talk to the presider of the meetings and see what input she can give to us as to build on the character of Tuck and potentially confidentially talk to some of the members regarding depression.
I am working on a drama documentary, where the subject matter is bulimia and the story revolves around Jonas recounting, in a voice-over style, the first four days he met Aiste and how they fell in love and the moment when she shared her biggest secret with him.
Locations: The specific locations are still being talked about between me and Jonas but some that we will likely film in are located in Kaunas where Aiste lives whilst at university and also Telsiai which is Jonas’s hometown.
Resources: Our resources regarding equipment, specifically cameras, is to be able to use not only the Blackmagic but also make use of Jonas’s own camera which is a Panasonic Lumix 6H4 which a lighter but still high quality enough to film with. Crew wise, we nearly possess a complete crew which already includes: a DoP and a potential sound designer (Jonas will edit and Sara might colour grade it).
Approach: My approach is to make the environment around the places we are filming, feel like a place of trust and comfort. Where we are all comfortable around each other when opening up about the topics at hand. And to also know when specific sequences we are filming are being pushed too much or too little.
Budget: The budget would be divided mostly between the plane tickets, hostels abroad and food for the crew in the course of the week.
My workload in relation to this project is significantly higher because we are going to film outside of the country. So I will have to get special permission to bring equipment abroad along with a newly edited version of a liability insurance (that I have already talked through with a member of staff from the loan store); arranging plane tickets and accommodation whilst abroad for the crew and getting the permissions that might be needed when filming in specific areas in Lithuania (I have consulted the Vilnius Film Office and am in the process of sending over the request).
The particular challenges regarding the documentary are to make sure Aiste is comfortable at all times and to not have her privacy invaded and to be sure that filming in Lithuania won’t be a problem regarding the outdoor locations.
How we address these issues are to firstly, have a small crew of maximum 4 people (producer, director, DoP, sound design) on location and being sure to keep a healthy distance when scenes are more personal between her and Jonas and to allow space by having, for example, clip-on microphones in place that allows us to film from a distance. And regarding the locations permit, I am in the middle of contacting the Vilnius FIlm Office to get permission to film in the specific outdoor areas we plan on filming.
The flexibility of this project allows, as a last case resort, to have Aiste come to London and film it here where we can still see their relationship and tell the story whilst it making sense.
Through my research I have come across other projects with a similar subject but a different approach and this one is called “We.Women” which was created by three Lithuanian women that wanted to showcase women of shapes to embrace their bodies. This was used as a means of preventing mental and physical illnesses, such as eating disorders.
The approach we want to undertake, in terms of how we want to film it, is inspired by Sarah Polley’s “The Stories We Tell”, where she recounted the story of her mother’s adultery through use of dramatised scenes. In that documentary, Polley shot different flashback sequences that related to the part of the story that was being told by a family member at the time. It made the scenes look so authentic even if they were staged. That’s what we want to accomplish with our documentary drama, in relation to the dramatisations.
Another example is from a collective of individuals who’s project is called “The Skin Deep” which developed a unique form of interactive documentary where they explore modern day relationships and have a set of very personal and intimate questions that couples ask one and other that ranges from “What was your favourite memory of us?” to “Am I the best sex you’ve ever had?” This one is an example of how we want Jonas’s voice-over to be, personal/intimate/raw and same applies to the questions he will ask of Aiste when they are together.
My strategies in working with my Directors, is to allow for a free flow ideas exchange and opinions where we are both able to give creative and critical input in everything from the construction of the script, to casting actors, finding crew and even during the editing process. At the end of the day, we are working towards potentializing the projects as much as possible and make films we all love and are proud of.
If things go wrong, whilst filming the documentary, in regards to Aiste feeling uncomfortable with being filmed so closely, then only the essential people will be around her, for example either solely the Director who might be joined by the DoP. Location-wise, if last minute, we can’t shoot in Lithuania then we just have to reorganize the locations we want to include in the story and write it to accurately be told in London.