Final films: Presentation

And here is the final stretch of my degree presented in the form of my two films that I have produced this year:

‘The Sea Room’ (2016): Experimental Documentary


SYNOPSIS: In this poetic documentary set by the shores of the Baltic Sea, Jonas and Aiste, a couple from Lithuania, share and explore their memories from the first day they met and fell in love, through a mixture of archival footage and on-location recordings.

Lived by: Aistė Jucytė and Jonas Urvakis;
Director & Editor: Jonas Urvakis;
Producer: Rita Santos;
Cinematography & Colourist: Sara Roque Peres;
Sound: Zilvinas Puras;
Score: Denis Mikhailov.

 

‘Bad Coffee’ (2016): Mental health drama

 

SYNOPSIS: Violet “Tuck” Tucker, a veteran in a Depression Alliance group, meets Ashley Conway, a troubled young woman, and together go on a journey of love, losing control and acceptance.

Producer: Rita Santos;
Director: Andrija Petkeviciute;
Director of Photography: Nathalie Pitters;
1st ACs: Jonas Urvakis, Filippo Locatelli;
Camera Operator: Katrina Ytteborg;
Sound recordist & Sound design: Peter Williams;
Music composer: Tom Kopca;
SFX Makeup Artist: Iulia Roman;
1st AD: Catarina Ribeiro;
Production Assistant: Amnah Pervaiz;
Set design: Rita Santos; Amnah Pervaiz;
Editor: Mariana Valente;
Ashley SFX: Lucia Gilibert;
Colourist: Dominika Besińska.

 

Evangeline Beaven as Violet “Tuck” Tucker
Roseanna Frascona as Ashley Conway
Simon Christian as Barry

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THE SEA ROOM: Post-production and colour grade

The post-production stage for this has been a long one. Ever since we came back from Lithuania, in January, myself and Jonas have been deep into working through the archival footage we wanted to incorporate into the film and how best to assemble the images together.

Jonas worked mostly through his computer at home but we would meet up, at firstly. weekly so that I could see the progress he’d done and give my feedback so that he could re-arrange something or simply erase a sequence altogether.

By April, we already had the basis of what our story was and what we wanted it to be: a love story. No matter how cheesy that might sound, it was what mattered to us the most, in a way. We wanted to be truthful and open about what our story was and who the people seen on screen were.

The scene that we kept going back and forth for 3 months was the bed scene where Aiste and Jonas relieve the day and subsequent moments where she tells him she suffered from bulimia. This scene is very raw, emotionally wise and very personal as Aiste is seen crying and choking up with emotion which obviously served a big motive for us to not want to capitalize on her vulnerability in the way we would edit that scene together.

For me, I knew there was a very fine line between showcasing Aiste as a vulnerable person, yes, but as someone another girl or man can relate to in one way or another; but it could also come across as if the Director was using her raw emotion as means to ake the film more successful whilst capitalizing on her openness.

But after speaking with Aiste, she expressed that she was comfortable for myself and Jonas to not only include it in the film but for us to cut the scene together as it seemed appropriate for us. Her vote of trust was something that made us much more comfortable once we were editing it and our mutual decision to include in the film, as the climax.

After the picture was locked, now we moved into the colour grading stage. Jonas and Sara, the DoP and colour grader, have grading the film for one week now and I am very happy with the results. I stayed with Jonas in the colour grading suite, on campus, for a few hours after Sara had left and I am very happy that the grade helped to elevate the visual aspects of the film that much higher.

Overall, the post-production has been a roller coaster of emotions, as the actual production days were, but that was easily overcome by the fact that myself and Jonas remained working very closely together because how we both care deeply about this film and about each other, not only as colleagues but as friends.

Namaste,

Rita

Dissertation project: Production documents

Hello!

In this blog post I have attached all of the productions documents that I have created and used throughout the entire length of pre-production all the way during the actual production days of both of my dissertation films.

Firstly I have attached links to my pitch alongside my dissertation proposal:

MDA 3400: Pitch presentation

MDA 3400: Project Proposal

 

All documentation for”Bad Coffee” (mental health drama):

BAD COFFEE (Production Schedule)

Ethics Board Committee (Bad Coffee)

Bad Coffee: Call Sheet (Day 1 of 4)

Bad Coffee: Call Sheet (Day 2 of 4)

Bad Coffee: Call Sheet (Day 3 of 4)

Bad Coffee: Call Sheet (Day 4 of 4)

Copyright waiver (Director of Photography)

Actors and Extras Agreement

Actors Agreement (cont.)

Bad Coffee (Budget sheet)

Risk Assessment (Sunny Hill Park)

Reel Film Locations – Permit

Filming permission (Room W142)

Audition Schedule (2nd March 2016)

Audition Schedule (4th March 2016)

Crew/Cast/Props/Catering List

 

All documentation for “The Sea Room” (experimental documentary):

THE SEA ROOM (Production Schedule)

Ethics Board Committee (The Sea Room)

Risk Assessment (Transporting equipment abroad)

THE SEA ROOM – Crew and Equipment list

Shooting Schedule: Day 1 of 4 (12th January 2016)

Shooting Schedule: Day 2 of 4 (13th January 2016) 

Shooting Schedule: Day 3 of 4 (13th January 2016) 

Shooting Schedule: Day 4 of 4 (15th January 2016) 

THE SEA ROOM: Rough cut screening feedback

A while ago, we finally showcase our film to our entire course and tutors and we were excited to showcase something that we have been carrying with us for months now.

The previous night, myself and Jonas were in the editing suite finalizing the English subtitles of our film which proved to be another interesting experience as Jonas had to translate it from Lithuanian to English and I had to make sure the English translation wasn’t too literal to the Lithuanian pronunciation and that the grammar and phrases made sense whilst still maintaining the depth they needed to possess.

We were both quite nervous/excited to see what people had to say but we knew that it would be a bit of a mixed reaction which is what proved to be. Luckily most of our course enjoyed it and felt the raw emotion on screen and how that poured out of the film towards the audience but the other side of our course felt it a bit too personal and intimate and struggled with the idea of the scene recreation in the bed and how Aiste is seen crying whilst a camera is clearly filming a close-up of her face.

Myself and Jonas knew people would have these doubts so we just soaked in as much of the constructive criticism we could so we could later look at it again to see if anything could be improved.

The best thing was that after the screening, I had a couple of people come up to me and say hoe much they enjoyed it and how it touched them and that made my heart leap out of my chest of how happy I was that at least some people understood this film and the meaning of love behind it.

THE SEA ROOM: Sound composer

The story of how we found our sound composer is a strange yet great example of how important and useful social media really is.

I had been posting our entire journey through our film in my Instagram account for both of my films, since the beginning. And it was through it that our newly found composer, Denis, found me and sent me a very nice email where he displayed a huge interest in our film and what the story was about and how we would love to be part of it, if we’d be interested.

Once I showed Jonas the email, we both agreed that it couldn’t be a mere coincidence that a sound composer just contacted us when we had started to properly discuss the idea of having a score, a mere two days prior. This was meant to be.

So after having watched his sound showreel, we liked his style and I sent him an email back where we scheduled a Skype call so we could properly get to know this human being who could potentially be an integral part of the film as well. Prior to the actual call, Jonas sent him the first cut of our film so he could take a look at it and decide if he was indeed interested.

The Skype call was a great experience as we could attach a voice to the person and for 30 minutes, we discussed everything related to the film and how we wanted the sound to meld into the sound of waves, that runs throughout the film, and the ukele that Jonas plays towards the end of the film.

It’s now been nearly two weeks since Denis has started work on the sound and so far, it’s been great to hear snippets of what he’s been creating and it’s been very magical.

Namaste,

Rita

THE SEA ROOM: Day 5

Today we wrapped our film. I still can’t believe it’s done. But it is and I am about to tell you what happened in the final day of our stay in Lithuania before myself and Sara had to fly back to London on the evening of the 17th January.

Since myself and Jonas started to discuss the initial ideas for the film back in October 2015, a lot has shifted in the storyline, the message, the theme, the basic ideas of what we wanted and didn’t want to showcase. But now, in January 2016, our film is complete and the nostalgia has already set in even though we were still filming two days ago.

Alas, on our last day which was the 16th January, we were exhausted by the conditions of shooting in Sventoji mixed with the two hour car ride back to Telsiai so we needed to recuperate our energy and we decided to draw out our credits for the film. It offered us the opportunity to connect more to eachother without having to be solely work related, although it was.

We began shooting early in the morning and we knew that the majority of what we needed was simply insert shots and cutaways of the house and outdoors. So we wrap our shoot before 12pm and pack everything up.

I feel so lucky that myself and Jonas found eachother again, after him being away in Prague for the whole of 2nd year, and that we reconnected and decided to work together again. I love the fact I got to share this project with him through which he has become one of my best friends. Sara, Zilvinas and Aiste have also become very important to me and I can’t for our screening in July so we can come together and see our film brought to life in front of our eyes.

Namaste,

Rita

THE SEA ROOM: Day 4

It’s been four days since myself and Sara landed in Lithuania and we have bonded over sharing a room and have been connecting more and more with the rest of the crew as well.

We have become an unlikely family for which I am so grateful for.

But onto the shoot day in Sventoji: the road trip there was nearly two hours long and we made sure to pack all the equipment we might need along with heaps of food and a container with hot tea to keep us going through the harsh conditions.

As soon as we got to Sventoji, the conditions were quite steep as we made our way to the beach, with the equipment being inside my bright orange suitcase as it was strapped to a sleigh that was being pulled by our sound operator, Zilvinas. Good times.

Nothing could have prepared us for the beauty that was Sventoji. Even though the temperature and the intense wind made it hard to do anything really, the way the clouds perfectly diffused the light of the sun as it shined onto the water and the wind could be visibly seen twirling in the surface of the sand, we knew we needed to start shooting very soon if we wanted to capture nature in it’s prime.

So we shot, what we would hope to be, the opening shot of the film. Jonas in an extreme long shot walking along the water front dragging an empty sleigh behind him.

Sara and Jonas were slowly becoming one single creative being as they knew what eachother was thinking before they needed to say anything aloud. Zilvinas was struggling to get good sound as the wind proved to be difficult but he wasn’t detoured and spent most of the shoot on the beach walking along the immense lenght of it, to try and capture the essence of the amazing environment we were in. I tried to 1st AD it for as much as I could but since there was no dialogue in those sequences there was no need for me to use the clapper board so I just helped with the equipment and gave my opinions when I felt needed.

After nearly an hour on the beach, I knew I needed to shut down the production as we all were slowly falling into beginnings of hypothermia, so we made our way to the car and ate our food as we forced ourselves to feel warm again.

Later on, we made our way into the woods close to the beach, in hopes of finding an area where we could film Jonas and Aiste’s individual interviews, and we kept walking Aiste suddenly found the perfect area. An abandoned man-made swing made of some sort of sheet and rope that was hanging from a tree in the middle of nowhere. It felt mystical and magical for us to have found such a beautiful element here.

We firstly interviewed Aiste and the method myself and Jonas wanted to employ was that each of them would start and end their monologue when they wanted. It could last 5 minutes or 30, the sound recording would continue as long as they kept telling their version of the events of the first day they met.

Once again, the language barrier was not an obstacle for myself and Sara as the emotions Aiste transmitted through the tone of her voice made us feel we were there when the events happened. The same happened when Jonas took his turn on the swing and told his version of what he remembers from their first encounter. He then took out his tiny ukelele and started to play a song he loves on it by the end of his interview. As he played it, the distant sound of the ocean in the background combined with the incredible stillness anf silence of the woods surrounding us, made it a very nostalgic piece that I won’t forget for years to come.

When we packed up and made our way back to Telsiai, I felt myself fall gently asleep in the car with Zilvinas, Aiste and Sara whilst Jonas was driving and thought that these human beings were the best I could have asked for to share this experience with.

Namaste,

Rita