Blog The Week 6

05/06/2017 – 09/06/2017

Monday

Today I came into college with one primary focus on my mind: editing. I knew that I had to edit my film together this week, and I knew that it would make me feel so much less stressed because then I would have my film completed and all left to focus on a few blog posts that needed to be written and finished. I was originally planning to do all the editing over the course of the two and a half days, because I don’t have Premiere Pro software at home (only iMovie, which is fine for little projects, but a nightmare for more serious work where everything needs to be very polished). However, I found out that the college would be closed Tuesday morning because of GCSE exams. This wasn’t so much an annoyance as a kick up the backside, as now I knew I needed to be quick and edit my film in one college day. Although the college would be open Tuesday afternoon, and there is also Wednesday, I didn’t want to leave my editing that late because doing it earlier means that I get it out the way and have time to polish up the rough edges of my project elsewhere, like in my blog posts for example. Luckily, I quite enjoy editing and I’m fairly quick at it, so I managed to get stuck in and finish it in good time, and still have time to write a few blog posts. However, editing for the whole day can be quite grueling so if anything I had a greater respect now for professional editors who do this day in and day out with a lot longer and more serious projects than mine.

I started editing the audio first. I knew I would be working in lines, corresponding the correct shot with the correct line of the poem, so I cut the poem into singular lines and labeled them with what line they were so I wouldn’t forget which was which. Then I used my shot list to define which shot went where and started to edit the clips together. Originally, I put an equal amount of space between each line of the poem, but I quickly found that this wasn’t exactly convenient because some shots were either too short, or would seem too dragged out. After putting all the clips together, I watched through to see where I could improve, every so often pausing to either extend a clip I felt was too short, or clip one too long. I was debating by this time whether to put a title and credits sequence at the start and the end of the clip, but I decided I would. I overlaid the titles over the footage because I thought that the transition from title to film would be more seamless that way. As for the credits, I was originally debating whether I should put a singular credits after each poem, or just do both credit sequences at the end, but I decided that I would a credits sequence at the end of each poem, as if they were two completely separate films edited together. Again, I overlaid this over the last shot, but on the last poem (City Dusk) I decided to let it carry on after the footage had finished for a few seconds and continued to let the music play over it, because I thought it would be a clearer indication that the film was ending, and not just transferring to another poem again.

 

 

The font I used was Arial, because it’s a simple sleek and easy to read font. I used the colour white, because it enabled the credits and titles to be readable against the darker colours of the shot. In the credits, I listed who the poem was by, and who was starring in the film, myself of course, and who the music was by and what the song was called. I decided to put the voice overs under ‘starring’ instead of under their own voiceover categories for space and font size purposes.

After creating the titles and credits, I went back through all the footage and colour grading. For my Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep film, I used the Fuji Eterna 250d Kodak 2395 colour grading preset on all the shots except one, the footage with the flickering lights, where I used Cinespace 50 Faded Film. I used Fuji because it kept a subdued look while making the colours ever so slightly more vibrant so as not to keep the original slightly washed out DSLR look. I used Cinespace because I needed the shot to be brighter because I had filmed it on my iPhone and it was a little too dark compared to the other shots.

 

For the City Dusk film, I used the same Fuji Eterna colour grading preset for the same reasons, and for the darker shots (of which there was quite a few because I was filming in the dark in my back garden with only my iPhone torch providing light) I brightened them using the brightness and contrast effect tool, brightening them to 50.0 and keeping the contrast the same. This gave the shots quite a faded look, which I actually quite liked for this film, because it kept the original tone of young freedom and made it seem more handheld movie like, which I liked.

 

After colour grading, I moved on to the music and audio. I increased the audio of the poetry voice over to 6.0 decibels higher than normal, which is the highest it can go, because I didn’t want to risk the voiceovers being drowned out by the background music and inaudible. Luckily, however, this wasn’t the case. For Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep, I decided to choose the song The Curious Roe by Axletree, and for City Dusk I chose the song Passages by Kai Engel. You can find more information on why I chose these songs on these two blog posts regarding the music of each film 1/2.

Then all I had to do was export and I was finished! I’m very happy with my end product, and although there were things that I would change and improve on if I were to do the same again, I’m still happy with my end result because I think it looks polished and interesting, and also bears a similarity to the video art I studied for my research posts which is what I was aiming for. You can find the post containing the finished production here.

Tuesday

As the deadline of our FMP for year one was approaching, and I had finished working on the actual film, now all I needed to do to finish my project was to complete a few blog posts, and polish a few edges of the project and I was done! I spent the day going meticulously through my blog posts to check for any spelling and grammar errors (because I know English skills are marked for this project, and also because I wanted to be as clear about what I was trying to get across as possible), and making sure I had the right links where they were supposed to be, and I had written everything I needed to. This task was a little tedious, because I had to read everything I’d written this whole project which proved to be quite a bit, but is very important for a polished, and professional level project.

Wednesday

Today I wrote an evaluation post for my work. Evaluation is a very important part of any project because it’s a time to reflect on our own work and the parts we like and went well and the parts that we would improve. My evaluation can be found here. This went hand in hand with the group crit, where we took a look at the work of one of our classmates and did a short survey reviewing their work – what they did well on and what they could improve on. I reviewed Drew Graves’ work. Group crits are also important because it gives us a chance to see the standard of work that our peers are working at, and can help us improve our own work by noticing things that they achieved that we might have missed. My group crit survey can be found here.

Thursday

N/A

Friday

N/A

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Blog The Week 5

29/05/2017 – 02/06/2017

Monday

This week was half term, and me and my family were departing for a holiday in Barcelona, so I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to get much work done. However, before the holiday I had decided that I was going to film some scenic shots of the city and whatever I found aesthetically pleasing to possibly include in my film. I did this because I was quite anxious that, after combing through and scrutinising my footage for each poem and perhaps deciding to not use some footage, I wouldn’t have enough footage. Ultimately, my aim was to have a piece of footage for each line of the poems, and each piece would correspond with whatever line was being voiced over, in some symbolic fashion. However, upon looking through my footage I found that I wouldn’t have enough footage for each line. I had a choice: either I kept footage I wasn’t happy with in the film so that there would be enough, or I shot new footage. By this point, I knew reshoots were out of the question, because they would take too much time (if I had had a free half term, I’m sure that reshoots would have occured), so I decided that I would take advantage of being in such a beautiful city as Barcelona for the first time, and film some things I found aesthetically pleasing to put in my film. I didn’t know exactly whether this footage was going to be used, but it was reassuring to know that I had extra footage to use if I ever needed it. It turned out that I did end up using almost all of my Barcelona footage so I’m glad I did this.

Tuesday

N/A

Wednesday 

N/A

Thursday

Again, today consisted of me occasionally taking out my camera and filming parts of the city that caught my attention that I think would fit into my film. I made sure to only film parts of the city that would fit into either the general narrative or tone of the poem, so that the footage I filmed in Barcelona wouldn’t be very detached and too strong a contrast with the footage shot in England.

Friday

N/A

Blog the Week 3

15/05/2017 – 20/05/2017

Monday

Although I wasn’t in college today, I still continued with my work at home. Today I was still planning what I would be doing for my Heart to Heart poem sequence. I also took at look at the Roger Deakins website, the website dedicated to the famous Torquay cinematographer.

Tuesday

Today I completed my music research post for the poem The Trembling of the Veil by Allen Ginsberg. I also decided today that I wasn’t going to compose my own music for my films. I think I underestimated how much work that would be. For the previous project in which we had to create a short film entirely directed by eight year old kids, I took on the task of composing the music for the film. This turned out to be a much harder task than anticipated, and I ended up composing one track instead of four that I was originally planning. Professional film score composers have a much longer time to compose full albums for films, and of course they don’t have to do everything else in terms of production either – storyboarding, scripting, cinematography, directing etc. Therefore I decided that it was just too much to expect myself to be able to compose the music for the film. I’ve already set myself a tonne of work so that I can be as thorough in my research as possible, so to add composing four music tracks would just be far too much. I’d rather focus more on getting a really in depth, polished project than to waste all my time on music and have other parts of my project fall short. Instead of composing my own music, I’m going to be using music from the website FreeMusicArchive, which is a website where independent music artists put up their tracks for free download. While not all of these tracks can be used in video, there are good portion that only require no commercial use, and a handful of tracks that just require credit to the original composer.

I also started to research inspirations for the music of my third poem, Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye. I decided to use the music of Moonlight and [insert other inspiration here] as my inspiration for this film.

After completing this I began to research which music from FreeMusicArchive I wanted to use. I wanted to use music from this site because I can get quality music in a wide range of styles, all for free, and all I need to do is make sure I’m not making any money from the video I’m using the music in, and I credit the artist. It’s a huge database of music that’s easily accessible.

Wednesday

Today I continued to plan what I would do for the film of my fourth and final poem, Heart to Heart by Rita Dove. Originally, I had planned to do overhead shots with different objects being interacted with that tied in with similies and metaphors Dove uses to describe her heart in the poem. However, I ultimately decided that I was satisfied with the idea or quality of the filming I had down, I just decided to scrap the whole idea. I kept the footage however, because it’s handy to keep it around, I never know when I might need it.

My second idea came to me while I was doing my makeup in the morning. I suddenly started to think about the famous scene in American Psycho (dir. Mary Harron) where the main character Patrick Bateman (played by Christian Bale) does his skincare routine, going into great detail about what his routine is and what products he uses. I think that scene is very interesting, and also subverts some stereotypes as to how men are portrayed as not being supposed to care about wearing makeup or moisturising and taking care of their skin. I decided that I would emulate this scene, because I knew that I could tie it into the theme of Heart to Heart. The skin is a metaphor for the heart, and the careful routine that taking care of your skin is a metaphor for how the poet takes care of her heart.

Thursday

N/A

Friday 

N/A

Blog The Week 4

22/05/2017 – 26/05/2017

Monday

Today I wasn’t able to come into college, but I spent the day planning and continuing some blog posts to be research for my project. I’m finding, as this project goes on, that I am creating many different blog posts at once, and having a bunch of drafts, because for some posts I need other posts to be created in a certain order, so I can add links and connections that make sense etc. This isn’t a bad thing, but I think definitely for my future projects I am going to have to create more solid schedules of in what order I want to post my blog posts, so as not to get confused.

Tuesday

Today we had an OFSTED inspector coming to conduct an inspection of the college, therefore the structure of our day and the activities we were doing changed. We had a much more lecture based day today, with specific tasks that we needed to complete for the end of the day; much different to many of the previous days, where we have been getting on with our own work, the lecturers trusting us to be mindful of our own work and time management. This break from the stress of the final project was a nice touch, although I was anxious because I needed to get a lot done, however I did manage to find times in the day where I had finished the assigned work for the day so I could continue with my project.

Today we did work from Unit 9, a mini unit that ties in with our final project and bridges the gap to next year. The work today mainly revolved around logos, and the beginning steps to building a brand of our own. Our first task was to, in groups, create a logo for a fictional company. In a group with four other classmates, we were given the fictional fashion brand Richter & Mäler. From there we had to think about the values of our fictional brand, and how to incorporate these values into the logo we were designing. The post on the importance of logo design and what we did for this task can be found here.

Our next task was to create our own logo for our own production company. I decided to call my production company Mon Ange (French for my angel) and created a logo that I think would work if this was actually a production company I owned. The post with the logo creating process and my final production company logo can be found here.

After completing these two activities, I decided to quickly write a to do list of everything I needed to complete before the end of the project. The list, much to my horror, was quite long. I split the list into four sections: priority (things that needed to be done as soon as possible, for example, filming and editing); research (blog posts that I needed to complete); pre-production (shot lists and storyboards); and filming (filming diaries and recounts). Overall this left me with 29 things to do, which sounds a lot but I’m confident I can get this all done. The blog posts I can complete at home, so that isn’t an issue, it’s the filming and editing I really need to watch out for.

After doing all of this, I needed to film my fourth poem Heart to Heart. I had originally planned to film on Wednesday, because I knew that today we would be doing lots of other things unrelated to our individual final projects. However, Billy informed me that the lighting studio wasn’t able to worked in on a Wednesday, and so I decided that I’d get my filming done in the afternoon. I enlisted the help of my friend Drew and we went to film the poem in the lighting studio in the afternoon. The filming diary for this filming date can be found here.

Wednesday

Today we had another day that strayed from what are used to the days’ activities being during this project. Today we learnt about politics, since the general election is coming up at the beginning of June, in a couple of weeks. I’m not yet old enough to vote unfortunately, but there are a large number of students in class who are 18 and over are eligible to vote. I’m glad the college takes time to teach us about the different policies of the five major parties (those being Conservative, Labour, UKIP, Liberal Democrats, and Green) because there isn’t enough information being taught to young students who will be the next generation able to exercise their democratic right to vote.

Personally, I am a supporter of the Labour party, because although I don’t agree with everything Jeremy Corbyn stands for and question whether he can deliver on a lot of the promises he’s made, I really don’t want another five years of Conservative government. However, the tutors were able to provide us with unbiased information regarding all the five major parties.

First we had a look at all the promises (more better referred to as ‘pledges’) the parties had made. These weren’t their manifestos, we would be looking at those later, but instead policies they had that would later be expanded upon in their manifestos. The ones that stood out to me most of all were pledges by both the Labour and Green parties to reduce the voting age to 16 (although this won’t affect me personally if they get the government, I’m passionate about how 16 and 17 year olds should have the right to vote, because I know I wish I had), and the scrapping of university tuition fees. As someone who wants to go to university, and who’s time to enroll is approaching rapidly, the great cost of attending a university is very concerning. These policies really stood out to me, and made me question whether I wanted to vote Labour or Green, although I think Labour is the best option to get the Tories out, which is what I would ultimately like.

Thursday

N/A

Friday

Today I knew I needed to complete some blog posts for the research portion of this project. There are a lot of posts I have to do, and I knew that I would need to get most, if not all, of them done during this half term because then the last few days of the project could be dedicated solely to editing. I started first on writing about my music influences for the fourth poem I am going to use, Heart To Heart by Rita Dove, and the post can be found here. Then I completed the post about my music influences for my third poem, Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye, and the post can be found here. Then I set about creating posts for analysing the poems I have chosen. I analysed The Trembling of the Veil by Allen Ginsberg, and City Dusk by F.Scott Fitzgerald. They can be found here and here.

Blog The Week 2

08/05/2017 – 12/05/2017

Monday

Today I worked mainly on research. At the beginning of the day the class was tasked with creating a budget for our film. Obviously I’m trying to spend as little as possible, if nothing at all, on my film, and everyone else is doing the same thing so all of our budgets are non-existent. So we were tasked with creating a fake budget. The days we would all be filming on equaled to 42 (this doesn’t include bank holidays, or half terms), so we had to work out how much we would have to pay each person who would be working on our film if we were to actually make one. Safe to say, it was a lot of money.

We used the BECTU commercial 2017 rates for reference, and worked out how much we would need to pay each person working under us. We also had to work out how much we would have to pay ourselves, as producer. In real life, we are everything – director, producer, DOP, hairdressing, make up (although some people have enlisted other classmate’s help to do these things) – but on the basis of our fake budget we would need to hire people like directors, camera operators, drivers, and everything else.

I decided to split my ‘staff’ into categories: director, producer, camera, art department, set design, misc (driver, economist, labourer etc.), sound, costume, and make up and hair. From there I chose specific jobs from the spreadsheet that I thought would be most valuable. For example, I knew we would need a camera operator, whereas an SFX technician wouldn’t be necessary for my film. I worked using the minimum wages, knowing that if I were to start creating my own films, I would probably start with tight budget productions. However, even after cutting down as much as I could, the total for one day was £16,090, and the total for 42 of those was £675,780. Which is a lot of money. Certainly more than a student with basically no funds can achieve. That’s not even taking account of the expenses that would need to be put towards props, costumes, sets, and studio space. For a 10 hour day which is about the average for a film production it would cost me £1609 an hour per day, making the total cost every hour for 42 days £67,578. I then calculated the same for a 4 hour day, which is more reasonable for what I am doing in college for this project. That came to £4022.50 an hour per day, and £168,945 an hour for the whole 42 days.

After this budgeting challenge I decided to work on my costuming. Two Fridays previously (28th April), I had invited three friends over to my house to try on some costumes which I was planning to use in my final production. Some ended up in the film, some did not, but I thought it was important that I had a wide range of many outfits and costumes – not just three or four for each poem. I explained the inspiration behind each of my poems’ costumes, and showed pictures detailing the front, both side views, and the back of each garment, whilst explaining why I thought each costume was suitable for the specific poem it would make an appearance in. The full post can be found here.

Tuesday

Today I started to focus on the music of my production. I want to be able to compose my own music, instead of using royalty free music that I had no part in creating. I don’t think there’s anything bad with this of course, because in the film industry it’s very rare to find directors who have both directed and composed music for their film. However, I’ve always had a passion for listening to and composing music, and I wanted the music I used in this film to have my own personal flair. I realise that this is a very big task to set myself, and that I might not be able to manage it, but I know I will always have the royalty free music to fall back on so I’m trying not to stress myself out about it too much. However, I knew the research pieces on my music inspirations for each film would be essential, as they would offer insight to why I chose my music, and what components I liked, regardless of whether I had composed it or not.

The first piece of music I researched was for my second poem City Dusk by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I used the music from the film Victoria (dir. Sebastian Schipper), composed by German composer Nils Frahm as the inspiration for this, alongside the track Hazey by the British psychedelic indie pop band Glass Animals. The full post can be found here.

Wednesday

Today was a slightly different day, because we were all heading over to the main campus to take part in taster sessions for degree level courses at the college. First I attended a taster session for the film course, in which we recreated a scene from The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. We had to recreate a specific scene in which one of the characters stood on a train track in front of an oncoming train. Our main task was to discern where the lights were placed to give the silhouetted effect in the screenshot. Overall this was a fun session, and was also helpful as it gave me an idea of where lighting is placed for not only this project, but future projects too.

The second session I attended was game arts, where we were given a quick run down on what the course entailed, and were shown the work that some of the graduates had completed. They worked for very prestigious companies, in particular I was very impressed with the fact that one of the graduates had gone on to work on 2015 horror game Until Dawn, which is one of my personal favourite games. We also had a chance to play with virtual reality (VR) headsets, which was very fun and a completely new experience for me. We used a painting/sculpting tool, which is used in the course and by real industry professionals to get a better understanding of 3D concept art for games. We also played some games, showing us how far technology had come.

Thursday

N/A

Friday

Today I didn’t do too much, but I did start to plan what I would do for my reshoots. At this point, I’d decided to reshoot the poem sequence for the Rita Dove poem Heart To Heart, because I wasn’t happy with the content and quality of my first shoot. I started to form ideas in my mind of what I wanted to do instead of what I had already done. I also started to plan out days where I would be able to complete this reshoot, and also when I would film The Trembling of the Veil by Allen Ginsberg. I still don’t know what exactly I’m going to do for the reshoot, but ideas are starting to form, it’s just a matter of polishing them off. I realise that I’m planning this pretty late, but I’m sure that I’ll be able to complete it to a polished quality.

 

Blog The Week 1

01/05/2017 – 05/05/2017

Monday

N/A (bank holiday)

Tuesday

Today I continued my research to help build my inspirations and knowledge regarding filming my FMP. I knew that I would be filming on the Friday (I also planned to film on the Sunday, but the plans ultimately fell through), so I needed to make sure as much as I could was ready in terms of my films. For inspiration for my third poem – Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye – I analysed the cinematography of the Brazilian film The Way He Looks (dir. Daniel Ribeiro). I also used some of that analysis to inspire me for my own final project, particularly lighting and emotions and atmosphere between characters.

I also started to storyboard. Originally I was going to see if I could find some other way to represent my shots for my FMP, because I’m not the biggest fan of storyboarding. I’d already written shots for my first two poems – The Trembling of the Veil by Allen Ginsberg; and City Dusk by F. Scott Fitzgerald – but they were messy notes that really only made sense to me. That’s fine, but I knew I needed a clearer way to show my shots, because not only is it not suitable for a project, but it’s also inconvenient for working on an actual film set, working with other people – where I would need a much clearer way of showing what I want filmed. I completed the storyboard for The Trembling of the Veil, writing the shot, whether it’s interior or exterior, day or night, and referencing the poem line it will correspond with. I also completed the storyboard for City Dusk.

Wednesday 

Today, because I knew that I would be filming on Friday and wanted to get a large part of my project filmed and dusted, so to speak, I set about completing my shot notes for Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep, my third poem. After detailing these notes and planning out which shots I thought would correspond best with each line of the poem. Then I needed to find the fourth poem I could use. Up until here, I was a little hesitant about using four poems, because I thought it might be overkill on my part, and I would be creating way too much work for myself which I would regret later. However, I ultimately decided that using four poems would give me a wider range of what I could create, so I stuck with four. The poem I found was called Heart to Heart by Rita Dove. Dove is an American poet, who writes about a wide range of subjects, but mainly focusing on her writing being equal parts lyrical and beautiful, but also political – often focusing on human rights and activism. Heart to Heart is poem describing the author’s heart, and how if someone wants her heart, they’re going to have to take her too. I thought it was interesting how she talks about her heart likes it’s not even in her body, as if it’s placed to the side, and she’s describing it as she she’s gazing upon it, like a bird in a cage. I then noted down which shots I would be using for this poem, trying to switch it up and do something more unique for what will be my closing poem. I decided to use objects as symbols relating to the heart and the language in the poem.

Thursday

Today I didn’t do too much, just planning ahead what I would need for the filming on Friday. I knew who was coming and what time, and I spent this day mainly planning what props I would need. I specifically designed each shot to use props that I would be able to find in my house, so I wouldn’t have to spend any of my own money for it.

Today I also completed the storyboard for Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep, and Heart to Heart.

Friday

Today was the day of filming, and I knew that I would need to get a lot done. My friends would be coming at five and would be staying until at least 10, because I needed to do a large portion of my shots in the dark. However, I knew I also had to shoot a good portion in the daylight, which I knew I would need to do fairly quickly, as I was filming predominately in the evening. Even though now it’s Summer it gets darker much later, I knew that my time management would need be good in order for me not to run out of daylight to do my shots.

At 15:30 I traveled to college to collect the equipment I’d booked out the day earlier. I had booked out a camera, and a fig rig, so handheld shots would not be shaky. I didn’t need to book out a tripod because I have one already.

In the hour before my friends came, I created a shot list for my second, third, and fourth poem (The Trembling of the Veil, City Dusk, and Heart to Heart, respectively). I knew I was doing this on borrowed time, but I just needed an outline for my shots. More can be found about my analysis and in turn, my pre-production for each poem here: The Trembling of the Veil / City Dusk / Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep / Heart To Heart

At 17:00, my friends arrived to film. I was using three of my friends. I originally had planned to use more of them, but some of them couldn’t come to the filming date and I felt uncomfortable putting off filming any longer. But three worked just fine, and instead I think it was easier than if I had had to direct six people. I will go more into detail about my film diary here.