Archive for January, 2011

Film Proposal – The Job Interview

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , , on January 31, 2011 by Adam Broome

Judging by what research I have done, on the outset it seems hard to justify my initial idea. It does not feature romance, and the setting is so general and vague that conventions almost do not apply.

Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em…

Title:

The Job Interview

Summary In 25 Words:

A student applies for a job, but during the interview the formality of the situation gets turned on its head.

My idea is based around an interview. It originated as a job interview, but then became a University interview in later stages of development, as I felt that as such a film would be script-heavy, it would be best to write about what I knew. However, initial feedback was wary that this setting would alienate non-academic audiences, which I agreed with. However, I still felt it was important to write about something I knew a little about – thus, I merged the two ideas, and created a script about a student applying for a part-time job. Having been there myself, I felt I had a better understanding of how words could be exchanged, as opposed to two middle-aged men talking.

One idea proposed was that the age difference could be swapped – in other words, an older man applied for a job where a young man interviews him. However, although this would still fit in with the script, it seems much more obvious that a grown man would disrespect a young interviewer, and turn the formality on its head. The concept is not particularly relevant, as I’m already going against conventions – that of a formal situation being smashed down by a free-spirited young man.

The narrative outline, for what it’s worth, features a young man turning up outside a room for a job interview. Upon his approach, the previous interviewee can be seen running away crying. Upon entering the room, it is immediately clear that the person doing the interview is a ‘dinosaur’ – the worst type of hard-pressing boss. The boy starts by answering a question, but due to his nerves, feels that he bundles his chances. When the reaction of the interviewer seems to confirm this, the young man then starts to go off on a tangent, under the impression he has nothing to lose. As the interview progresses, the answers become less serious and more anarchic, stripping down the formality of the confrontation. However, ultimately the humour also manages to break down the formality of the interviewer, and gets the young man the job. The final shot is of the hand shake confirming the place.

The rules of K.I.S.S are followed to an almost painful degree here. With the exception of one shot, there are two people in the entire piece. With the exception of only a few shots, the whole film is set in a room – just the order for a three minute film. The script is very heavily reliant on the dialogue featured in the interview. No narration or voice over is included. Because of this, I wanted the lead to be a student, to allow me some leeway in understanding possible responses to certain questions. Ultimately, this film will likely be shot in one day, and can be fully edited within one week. The problem is the music, but I have a few leads I wish to chase up on this matter – I will post with relevant information when these factors become concrete.

There is still a lot to be decided with the group – it is unlikely this will be an office job interview, as students only really look for part time work. These tend to take place in side-rooms, of which the university itself has many likely areas.

Character Profiles:

The Interviewee

The main character, as aforementioned, is a young man in his early twenties, looking for a job. He has a rather formal approach to the interview, but when he thinks he answers a question wrong, he drops his ‘act’ and takes everything far less seriously. It is perhaps this attitude that has prevented him from getting previous jobs. His is a joker with a wicked sense of humour, and very little time for political correctness or niceties. He is the perfect match for The Interviewer.

The Interviewer

This middle-aged man (or woman) is a stereotypical business tyrant. The interview room is practically an interrogation room in his eyes. His sole purpose is to weed out the none-hackers – and quite evidently, this person has had no joy in their life. Monotony has seen to that. This is apparent within the opening minute – when the formality is broken down, it almost frees this character from the politically correct barrier erected, and by making The Interviewer laugh, The Interviewee gets the job.

The Crying Girl

Featured in one shot alone, a crying girl runs out the interview room and past The Interviewee. She has no relevance to the plot other than to establish the character of The Interviewer, and play for laughs.

Locations:

The entire film takes place just outside and inside the interview room. The final shot is of a hand-shake, cementing the events of the film. This is a film about the interview, and nothing more.

Crew And Equipment:

This will almost certainly be filmed on JVC ProHD 700 cameras, in a side room of the university. It is likely to be shot in widescreen and HD, unless argued otherwise. Sound can be managed by use of boom mics attached to these cameras, providing we can find somewhere quiet to film. It will require a team of three at minimum, which fits my current group perfectly – I’m sure I can call up some favors if things get heavy. It will almost certainly be edited in Final Cut Pro.

Where we get our actors from is a mystery at present. I intend to use professional actors, and I know there are several in the drama studios of my university who would step in for the roles of the younger characters. This may still leave me without The Interviewer however – further research will be needed in this area.

Short Film Research – Origins Of Ideas

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , on January 31, 2011 by Adam Broome

As with most modules, it’s always good to start with a post based around the history of what the module is about. 264MC is Short Film – a module where I will hopefully be able to film and broadcast my very own movie short. We have started the module looking at the origins of short films – namely, the ideas and the pre-production processes. Particularly, we have looked at scripting. In upcoming posts I’m sure I will be able to demonstrate what I’ve learned from these lectures, but for now, I will look back at certain points of my movie knowledge to scenes that have demonstrated a deep level of understanding script.

I’ll start by looking at one scene from my favourite and personal all-time best film of all time, Once Upon A Time In The West (a film I watched for the first time only about a year ago!). This film is often cited as being a film that has no dialogue for the opening six minutes or so. For me though, one of the best scenes in the movie is in the last ten minutes, when the final enigma code is revealed. There is little dialogue, yet the whole story is explained in this one encounter:

The Importance Of No Dialogue: (I probably wouldn’t watch this unless you’ve seen the film already!)

In one lecture, we were told that a good short film can deliver all of it’s message through the visual medium alone. This scene is a fine example of such – the props and locations establish time and setting. Conventions such as the man in white having a shootout with the man in black constitutes good vs evil. Only a few words are spoken, yet almost the entire film is explained in this one scene.

Yet, dialogue can also be useful in being a crucial part of the narrative as well – not just in exposition, but as part of development of characters. Along with Once Upon A Time In The West, the two other films that really stood out for me last year were Inception and True Romance. The latter featured an early turn from Quentin Tarantino, who shows his potential particularly in the dialogue. This one scene features Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper. Both characters are largely irrelevant to the plot (Walken is only in this one scene in the whole film!). The only thing that happens that is relevant to the narrative is that the address is found on the refrigerator at the end. Yet, this ten minute scene is one of the most memorable in the movie because of it’s dialogue:

The Importance Of Having Dialogue:

Part of the magic of this scene – besides the quality of the acting – is the way that the very formal and serious situation becomes something much more informal, comedic and friendly. This scene particularly may play a part later in the module, as my own short film idea is based around a similar style of turning a stereotypically formal situation into a mockery. In contrast to the previous clip, this film is very different in the way set design or props, meaning the visual element is not as important as what is being said. This is perhaps true for most of Tarantino’s future work.

A film director that I’ve been investigating a lot recently is Stanley Kubrick. He’s made some of the most famous films in history, yet I seemed to have viewed very little of his work. The most recent experiences have been Eyes Wide Shut (too long) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (too long). However, when I was about fourteen years old, my mum taped a film and told me not to watch it. She herself had never managed to make it past the first twenty minutes, but wanted it on tape in case she ever felt like giving it a go. Naturally, I watched it the first chance I got. The film was A Clockwork Orange. To this day it remains my favourite Kubrick movie.

I bought it on DVD recently and gave it a second watch. The music is wonderfully suitable to the events on the screen, and the dialogue is most memorable in the opening scene as viewed here:

The Importance Of Simplicity

It is a wonderful way to start the film. Here we have the challenging of conventions – characters dressed in white, drinking milk. In this film, white often seems to signify danger or violence. The dialogue heard in this opening shot doesn’t explain much of anything, yet sets the tone perfectly for the events to come. More importantly, it identifies the narrator within seconds of opening the film, which allows the viewers to actively identify with who they need to pay attention to the most. Although in this scene, the narrator merely describes what is on screen, inevitably he will talk about emotions and more complex issues later in the film.

This scene also identifies another concept introduced to us in lectures – that of K.I.S.S – ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’. The dialogue is merely a description of what is on screen, and draws the audience in. It is not complex, and because of that, it is a good way to start the film. There is no doubt that in order to take on challenging concepts or make difficult points of observation, you will need a longer film. Our films have got to be three minutes long however. In a recent seminar, I put forward a few of my ideas. Other people had come up with post-apocalyptic tales, stories of the beginning and end of marriages, and the back-stories of imaginary friends. My idea of a job interview was deemed the most simple – we have also been advised that the script must be one page to each minute – i.e: no longer than three pages. So, to some degree, our three minutes films need to be a nice stream of opening scenes from A Clockwork Orange.

Clearly I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from longer films. It’s true that I have seen a vast quantity of feature films more than I have short films (despite always viewing short film festivals on TV On Demand). I recently went to the Rapid Eye Movement (R.E.M) Short Film Festival, and viewed some more substantial work there. It was interesting to see what some people had decided to film for their piece – some where stories fitted in music videos, and some were just scenes from a longer narrative. Some had lots to say – and I got the feeling some of them intentionally had nothing to say at all.

The ‘Virgin Media Shorts’ competition is one way I’ve kept in touch with short films. I managed to find this one from years ago:

The Importance Of Romance

In lectures, we were told that romance is a sure-fire hit in terms of genre. It is easy to do, and the subject is something that everyone can relate to. The way our lecturer put it: ‘Boy gets girl, Boy loses girl, Boy gets girl again’. This made me want to make a short film romance, but I had difficulty developing emotions and narrative in three minutes. An opportunity recently arose on my 201MC trips to Prague, which may spark off this course a little as they both progress. I managed to script a romance for that, as Prague is a very romantic setting.

I have seen quite a few short films, but often I come to the barrier of feeling that three minutes is not long enough to develop a proper narrative. I have often cited three minute films as being always being part of larger narratives, rather than stand alone stories in their own right. But it is indeed possible to create narrative – of any description – in this time window. A friend of mine showed me a clip of 5-second films a few weeks back, which goes to show that ‘narrative’ by definition can not only be made in three minutes, but also in five seconds. The key is creativity – and also, perhaps, humour:

The Importance Of Being Short:

Montage Project 3 – ‘Two Minutes’

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , , , , on January 31, 2011 by Adam Broome

This week’s word relating to my montage was ‘time’ (not ‘thyme’ – ‘TIME’). Although my immediate thought was to jump into the kitchen just to take the mickey, my thoughts turned more serious as I recalled several students doing artefacts about poems in recent weeks, and I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to write on about the ‘word of the week’.

To be honest, I was kind of cheating a little bit. The poem ‘Two Minutes’ was written on two pages of a book the day the task was set. It took about twenty minutes for the first draft, and the final wording was finished after an hour. The speed of my creation of this text was partly due to knowing my time constraints (after all, the ‘Dirt’ project has not been finished yet due to such time management issues). But I have also written poetry before – not all Media Production students may have the same academic history as me, but in my ‘youth’ I was an active student in the realms of creative writing. I penned many short stories, poems, songs and other things (including a story written backwards and a full 260-paged novel). None of these got published – most were for academia anyway. The point I make is that I’ve done poetry before, and ‘time’ for me seems to be just about one of the easiest topics you could choose to do a poem on.

Back in my ‘heyday’ I already pipped this project to the post – the poem was called ‘The Clock Was Never Broken’, and it later became the title for my little booked collection of poems, based around my angst-ridden teenage years. Not so much ’emo’… well, maybe emo. I wouldn’t know – not read any of them in years!

Anyway, I seem to have got side-tracked – this project was to be a visual media artefact based on what I’d already done before. I wasn’t gong to recycle an old poem I’d written years before, that would be just not right. I wrote a new one in one hour, and then decided how I was going to present it. There is indeed some flashy inspiration for this project, and quite simply I’ll just put the video here:

I wanted to speak as fast as this, but I didn’t know my poem nearly well enough after only 48 hours since writing it. My mum actually saw this man in Nottingham once. He turned up on stage drunk, stammered about, and had to lean up against the wall. Apparently a member of the audience shouted out ‘Yeah that’s it, lean up against the wall, that’s plastered n’all!’, provoking one of the biggest laughs of the night. I wanted my poem to be presented in the same way – monotone and fast-paced. In my production of my poem, the final line was (as usual) decided quite early on in the process. Thus the title ‘Two Minutes’ was already cemented – I just had to make sure the delivery was around about that time, otherwise the artefact wouldn’t make any sense. I didn’t originally intend to wear shades in doors – it was just that I quickly realised on the day of shooting that I needed to read the poem off my Macbook, and thus needed to conceal my eyes. Shades was the logical choice. I did several re-shoots to try and get rid of the blue reflection in the shade lens, placing my macbook in various locations, before realising my Macbook was not what was causing the blue reflection – it was the blue light on the side of the JVC camera I was using to film myself with.

As it turned out, despite my small vanity, when it came to recording, I felt that the poem was one verse too short for this video, so I included an extra verse which took five to ten minutes to pen and chucked it in there to make up the time. This verse was the one about Mandy – in retrospect, perhaps the most important of all the verses in the poem. Then imagine my dismay when, after reading the whole thing out, the poem actually clocked in at over two minutes. It was a close call though – the opening credits took several seconds of the run time anyway.

I recored myself using a JVC, yet for some reason still unknown to me, I didn’t re-set the camera, and instead just pointed and filmed. In the editing suite, I realised I’d filmed in widescreen. I knew this would change the export process, yet I wasn’t too upset – frankly, I consider it a thing I need to learn. Filming in DVCAM all the time is good, but one day I’ll film in HD or widescreen, and when it comes to exporting and formatting I wont have a clue. I now considered this project a practice run for such events. With the exception of my inability to conceal my grin at the word ‘bollocks’ at the end, I was quite happy with the way it turned out. I did only two takes, and chose the best shots for the piece. I used the mic that came with the camera – no clip mics or reporter ‘stuff’. This also allowed a bit of diegetic back ground noise, which I quite liked.

Other notes for the set-up of my narration include my shining my desk lamp right in my face to illuminate me more. After the white balance was set, my room looked very cold. I turned the red ‘paint’ tool up to maximum to make my room look a little warmer. I was quite hot – that jumper of mine came straight off after each take! The shot of the sink was just me experimenting with reversing footage – something else that I wanted to explore. The image of water going up the tap was something I had in my mind from the start. I had a couple of other ideas, but I felt they wouldn’t have any relevance to the poem (the sink was meant to relate to the ‘time going down the drain’ part, but to be honest that was pushing it). I decided against taking unnecessary shots with the JVC, and instead went out on a later day and took photos with my DSLR that related more to the poem. Although it wasn’t my original intention, some of these shots become stop-motion videos.

I kept the one cut-away shot of the sink in, though this shot may have been better if it was closer and filmed in slow-motion. It’s also hard to make out the water is going up rather than down, because the picture is so white. The DSLR pictures also contrasted with the widescreen video footage, as they weren’t in widescreen. I didn’t think was was such a bad thing though – it differentiated the photos from my narration clearly. I had a lot of trouble with that last line as well – not the ‘two minutes’ bit, but the bit where I say the word ‘b*llocks’. I realised that I was insulting rather serious issues – especially the one about the gay man who hangs himself. However, the poem and everything therein is entirely fictitious. Without the taboo word at the end, the poem falls flat. It was much needed, it’s not what the audience is expecting, and it hammers home the one message this poem is about well and truly. It is also my own personal joke at the expense of the others (always a pleasure ūüôā ).

Another of my favourite poets actually came up lectures as well – Simon Armitage. I always remember him as being the best thing at ‘GCSE Poetry: Live!’ all those years ago (and I’m sure I’m not alone). I’m sure he’s inspired my work in some way or another over time; the link to his site is here:

http://www.simonarmitage.com/

And here is the finished piece!

Hereward – Notes Of A Camera Operator

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , on January 29, 2011 by Adam Broome

The Beginning

My tutor recommended me to get a paid job at Christmas, but unfortunately I couldn’t seem to find any. Hoping to quell any spare time I had free, I quickly latched onto this project a week or two after it had started. The ‘Hereward Documentary’ was a project based around Hereward College – an educational institute located on the outskirts of Coventry that helped and aided aspiring students with disabilities. This documentary wanted to specifically relate to students with Asperges Syndrome.

Luckily, I hadn’t missed much, but I initially had mixed feelings as to my involvement in this project – they seemed purely egoistic, which would not benefit the project as a whole. I was also in the full knowledge that I had not chosen to do the documentary module, and most of the other students taking on this project had, putting me at a strategic disadvantage in terms of understanding the content and approach to the production.

I decided from an early point that I was going to stick to my role as camera operator for this project – as with Prague, as long as I did my job well, a crucial part of the production of this artefact was sorted. I just had to make sure I was darn well ready for the heat when it inevitably came. This meant that I made the active decision to leave the running of this project in the firm hands of my ‘documentary-literate’ colleagues. However, the project started off rather confused – no one seemed to know what the overall style of the piece was.¬†Neither the producer nor the director seemed to have a clear approach to this project, which I knew would lead to problems further down the line.

The first time I met the students was at the college itself. The students I met at this first meeting have become the ones I most associate with this project – there’s Robert, who is very loud and confident; Frankie, who is rather shy but wears wonderful and colourful attire; Charlie, who has a big heart and managed to find love in his life recently; Marco, who has problems with his confidence; and Charlotte, who is also quiet and shy a lot of the time. We knew that we needed to approach the students in a very gentle way – I’d recently taken notes from Paul Watson at his Coventry Conversation, about setting up your own space in the surrounding environment, and never intruding into the personal spaces of those you’re documenting. I started as I meant to go on – purely as a camera operator, ultimately the just guy who would do the filming to the best of his ability.

At this first meeting, we also decided to split the on-site group in half – ‘minglers’ and ‘producers’. The minglers would do just that – befriend and gain the trust of the students, so that when the time came to interviewing them, or asking them more challenging questions or subject topics, there would be a certain level of trust established. The production team members (such as myself) would stay in the background, serving only to operate equipment, and socialize on a secondary basis. This was soon found to be a flawed concept however – when the interviews took place, the ‘producers’ would inevitably be around to film it, which would put the students on edge as we would not have gained their trust. Thus, this initial idea disappeared into the vista – if this project was to come together, I for one was certainly going to have to get to befriend these students to a level that they felt they could trust me as a person and open up in front of the camera.

The man I simply know as ‘Paul’ is one of our main contacts at Hereward College. He has supported this project since the very beginning, and has sorted out various social events, meetings and travel arrangements. He is a pivotal member in the production of this documentary.

The Approach

I knew absolutely nothing about Asperges, Hereward, or any of the students. This made me rather hesitant at approaching a lot of the students, as quite a few other teammates just got stuck in with the socializing. We took a few video shots of the initial meeting, and a few subsequent shots at local bars – once at a social event, and the other at a Christmas meal. For the social event, a small group of us went to the pub beforehand to find a suitable place to film. We ended up stranded at the pub and had to walk over three miles back to our homes in Coventry city centre, which took over an hour. I felt it did, however, bring us together more as a single operating unit.

At the location scouting trip.

Whilst at these pub events, I was recommended to become friends with the students and socialize more. My distant disposition had been challenged only once during the initial meeting – that with the ultra-confident Robert, who identified me by my ‘bush haircut’. For each of the one-liners he fired at me, I fired one right back at him. He warned us he did Judo – I said that was fine, because I did Kung Fu. Things like that made Robert the first student to stand out to me. I figured he’d make for interesting footage – he liked attention, sure, but he was also my first open window into the group, for if I could befriend him, perhaps it would make the others relax more in my company.

Robert was the first of several students who showed lots of confidence. More appeared at the social events later on – their up-front antics providing ample ways for me to spend my time constructively, leaving the more sensitive students in the capable hands of my female co-workers. During the Christmas meal, I was advised to make conversation with the students whilst they ate. I respectfully declined, telling my director that if a stranger tried to make friends with me whilst I was eating my Christmas meal, I’d tell them as politely as possible to ‘f*ck off‘.

Shooting at these pub events was unfortunately largely haphazard however – there was still no clear ideas of shots or styles, leaving me as a cameraman free to experiment and do what I liked. This was a bad thing for me, as I was definitely¬†not going to experiment with shots in front of these students – I simply deemed that as unprofessional. I felt I was doing my job, but my mentors were rather slipping in their responsibilities. We had been advised by a member of staff at Coventry University to look back at our initial footage half way through the first term, and by Christmas this still hadn’t been done. It was a great shame, but ultimately the burden was not on me. I was not going to commit any form of mutiny or argument – besides, I ¬†had worked with most of the team on other projects beforehand, in which each and every one of them had excelled in some way or another. I kept the faith that this project would get it’s feet on the ground… and after Christmas, the faith paid off.

At the Christmas meal with my awesome hat.

The College

We came back after the Christmas holidays and a meeting was called in earnest. At this meeting, we swapped CRB check information, and cemented trips to the college on Friday afternoons. These frequent visits would provide the turning point in this project – now we had interviews, locations, and frequent communication with the staff who were arranging the documentary at the Hereward College end. From this point, the questions and subject matter was probably going to go to more personal areas – up until this point, emphasis had been on making friends with the students. Now, the time was fast approaching to see if our chatter had paid off. The documentary was not to focus on the restrictions of Asperges, but rather how the students were overcoming their disability. I also found myself thinking that the staff members who were helping us would be good subjects for the documentary, as they had many stories to tell – some comedic, some tragic – in all their years of experience.

The first of these excursions was last Friday, and the documentary has really kicked off. With our CRB checks in order, we are now able to fully interact with the students on their home turf. Now we have the relevant locations, things have slotted into place more or less overnight. I may not have become strictly friends with any of them – but it cannot be argued that I’m now a familiar face in the team. The ‘bushy haired’ one from Coventry University who knows about cameras. Some small-scale interviews took place on the first Friday, and the second Friday we shot full-scale interviews lasting between five to ten minutes each. These interviews would be the basis for the overall artefact, and we can now start viewing footage and editing a piece together.

Upcoming events are based around us showing the students around Coventry University – most of them have an interest in media, and studying at the university in our faculty. Social events such as a visit to a theatre are also in the works – I’m just happy that the project has now taken off and things have fallen into place. With a little more work, I have every confidence that this will become a solid documentary piece that we can all be proud of.

Robert

Prankster, joker, and all-round comic who has provided a quirky humour to the proceedings of this rather serious project. His confident nature has made him one student I’m often first to look for at the college.

Frankie

One of the quieter students, but a student I have always been able to spot from a mile off due to her unique and vibrant dress wear. Both her and Robert share an active interest in the media industry, and Frankie may well be helping with the development of this documentary in the later stages of production.

Montage Project 1 – ‘The Brick’

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , on January 16, 2011 by Adam Broome

This week we were introduced to ‘The Montage Of Beautiful Things’ – a part of the module which revolves around creating something based around the notion of beauty and one other factor – this week, the term to blend beauty with was ‘wall’. We had to produce an artefact that would take us out of our comfort zones, and since I’d always wanted to do a stop-motion animation, this seemed like a great opportunity to do it!

Immediately my thoughts on walls were not imaginary or social barriers like most people seemed to go for, but rather a literal wall made of bricks. We had a group discussion in a small team, in which I ultimately decided stop-motion was for me. During this meeting, I also decided that rather than doing something on a wall (as a lot of people have done before), I was going to do something with a brick that formed a larger wall, and try and isolate some specific meaning to it and how it constructs walls, literally and metaphorically.

My first two thoughts abouts interesting walls were Coventry Cathedral and Coventry University itself – the university had barriers of entry, and so had a social and academic ‘wall’. The cathedral on the other hand was a symbol of christianity, which provided walls of faith and spirituality. Ultimately, in order to use such locations, I needed to bridge the gap with something physical between them – that’s where the brick came in. After the meeting, I immediately started scouting for a likely brick – something that obviously such, and didn’t look like some odd piece of architecture. I found a likely candidate around the back of our campus, but after carrying it back to my apartment, I found a better brick right next to where I live!

No location scouting was needed – I just needed a clear idea of narrative and where this story was going to go. As always with me, I start at the end. The initial idea was that this brick would walk around trying to find a wall to fit in to. In the end, it would find a space in a wall and slot in – unfortunately, this meant I would probably have to construct some sort of wall in order to get the relevant shots. I scrapped the idea, and thought abut alternative endings. I did mention early on WALL.E as a joke, but at this point I realised WALL.E was a film about a lonely robot, and I could easily apply this to a lone brick. What if the brick never found a wall to fit in to? Thus, the ending was sorted – a place without walls, far from where the brick was meant to be, probably consumed by nature. The image was of the brick at the foot of a tree, being consumed over a period of time by moss and leaves, eventually dying without having ever found a place or meaning to it’s existence.

Then we had the start – where was this brick to come from? I found a skip full of junk, and considered it an ideal place – skips are common places to put disused construction materials. Alas, on the first day of shooting, the skip was empty. Luckily there was another full one right beside it. I then had the problems of getting the brick off the skip onto the floor – something I didn’t really attempt to clarify, but the shots move so fast in the final edit, you hardly notice the brick has just magically appeared on the floor. I did several scenes around the skip – namely, the shot on the pavements, and the one of the corner, where I moved the camera as well. The university shots were also taken around that area on the second shoot – most shots were scrapped from this due to high winds disrupting continuity. The third and final shoot took place at 9:00am on a Sunday morning – much as Danny Boyle has proven, getting up early means you can get shots without people in them, which is just what I needed for the cathedral shots.

However, looking at my work as I imported it, I realised that the whole ‘barriers’ idea was not working. The viewer knows it is a lone brick, but might not even know it’s trying to look for a place to stay – let alone picking up on social barriers! Somehow, my short became a jolly about a brick who takes a stroll around Coventry. In each shots were a plethora of various architecture though – the arched corner shot especially insinuates that the brick is supposed to be part of a group, or a larger structure, but has not been used for it’s purpose, and has been disregarded on the scrap heap.

The ‘dead brick’ shot was an idea I’d also had since the beginning, though I was unsure how to do it. I was going to take that shot inside my halls of residence just outside, but decided near the ditch in the park was much more interesting (although in the film, this shot is placed before the brick enters the park area). I really like this scene, because if there was any doubt I was trying to make the brick seem lonely at this point, there sure as hell wasn’t now. I experimented with various ways of making the brick ‘look’ up and down (you may notice a twig on the shot where it looks up the university sign I’d used to prop it up in the shot previous). Originally in the ‘dead brick’ scene, the live brick was meant to jump up and down in horror and run away at speed. I decided this was a little complicated, but since the theme was fast becoming that of isolation, heading away slowly seemed much more fitting.

Unfortunately, that was the one humourous scene in it, meaning this was now a film featuring a brick walking around, not doing much, and then curling up at a tree and effectively dying. I placed all the footage onto iMovies for simplicity’s sake, and found a contradictory upbeat track to go behind it. I placed the track in randomly, yet I felt it matched the video really well – especially in the final shots (where I used white balance to make the images more vibrant to show passage of time). The final shots taken in the woodland behind the park blended into each other well, though it was hard to tell the brick apart from the dead leaves in the initial shot. The AWB on my DSLR also caused a lot of trouble in the woodland, and I couldn’t figure out how to turn it off, meaning I had to take several photos of the same frame and choose the one with the best lighting.

Overall, I think this project turned out quite well. To say it’s my first stop-motion film, it could have turned out a lot worse. There are several photos where I should have been paying more attention to what was happening in the background. The shot of the cathedral wasn’t supposed to have the litter bin at the side – I only realised this during the editing. I considered using chalk to make various faces on the brick and on the walls and floors, but this would have changed the film. I think there is metaphorical beauty in this piece, and chalk faces would have possibly added humour, but taken away any seriousness. The diegesis of the piece allows it to relay a message about loneliness, and this will probably be a theme I will explore in later projects for this term.

My initial practice with stop motion – funnily enough the nearest inanimate object was a lamp:

FEEDBACK:

Reviews of ‘The Brick’ were generally positive. Some feedback stated that the way locations were edited together did not synchronize or create a coherent narrative of a journey. I’d have to agree – although even on the premise that the locations were meant to be random to start with, and only became urban-to-rural during filming. One person did not understand the ending – perhaps the issue of isolation could have communicated better. However, this is also classed as media art, and since it has no clear explanation, it could be argued that this artefact represents whatever you yourself see in it (even if it’s just the word ‘crap’!).

127 Hours Review

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations with tags , on January 8, 2011 by Adam Broome

It seems a long time ago since the Spiderman trilogy was on our screens. I was quick to make my opinion known that they featured too much cheesy dialogue and not enough bang for the buck. However, amidst the corny plots and wooden scripting, two actors stood out from the rest – Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus (who is awesome in just about everything), and James Franco as Harry Osborn. The latter was an up-and-coming star, and Danny Boyle’s latest offering – 127 Hours – puts the entire weight of a 94 minute film solely on the weight of this actor. Is Boyle’s new ‘feel good’ film able to take the strain?

127 Hours is a film based around the real-life event that occurred when Aron Ralston decided to take on a canyon trek in the Utah desert, but forgot to tell anyone where he was going. Catastrophe struck when a loose boulder sent him tumbling down a crevice, landing on his arm and trapping him at the bottom. This film follows his struggle through the 127 hours of being trapped in the canyon, before realising he only had one option left if he wanted to get out of there alive.

Unless you’ve had your head stuck in sand, chances are you probably know the outcome of this film already. Danny Boyle took on a story which had a problem from the offset – if we knew how it would end, how could a story be made to be exciting or interesting? Thankfully, the acclaimed director has proven once again why he rightfully deserves his seat at the awards. Even if you know the outcome of this harrowing tale, it rarely detracts from the events of the film. Boyle does just about everything he could possibly do in a film about one man trapped in a canyon, before leading the viewers to the inevitable denouement.

Considering the narrative, you might be inclined to think there’s a lot of back-story before the film gets underway, but you’d be wrong. After about ten minutes or so, the boulder has fallen, and James Franco takes the only spotlight around. I’ve not seen an actor show such talent since Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker. I’ve only seen Franco as the over-the-top villain in Spiderman, and the stoner in Pineapple Express. This seems his best role to date, and he thrives on the challenge. He goes through a full range of emotions, from the humourous to the terrified. Together, him and Boyle trap the audience in that canyon, and tell the back story through various flashbacks and hallucinations. These provide most of the film’s laughs and surprises, at the expense of taking the audience out the canyon and loosing a claustrophobic atmosphere. Some of this scenes occasionally go off on tangents however, which made me wonder if Boyle was trying to clock up a longer running time. Some of these scenes also attempt to trick the audience, but if you already know the ending, you aren’t going to fall for it.

This film is entirely focused on the acting of one man and the script. Both have been pulled off with aplomb, delivering a film that provides enough empathy with the characters to rival that of Touching The Void. I often noted good use of audio throughout, from the split-screens at the beginning to the more gruesome scenes at the end. I should say this film should not be judged on the much-hyped ‘three minute scene’ at the end – it makes for uncomfortable viewing, but it is in no way as gratuitous as some make it out to be.

I wish James Franco all the best in his future career, and I hope this film receives some recognition at the upcoming awards ceremonies. The film falls short by perhaps being a tad too short, and despite Boyle’s best efforts, a film can only demand so much of an audience if we know the full narrative already. But to make a film of such calibre despite these set-backs is an achievement in itself. It is an involving and engaging tale of humanity, and what people are capable of in the face of overwhelming odds. The moral of the story is clearly labelled in the end credits – always tell people where you’re going. ‘Oops’ indeed.

8/10

Professional Experience Proposals

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , on January 2, 2011 by Adam Broome

Truth be told, I completely forgot about this. Not that I’m too worried – accumulated, I should have completely smashed the 4-week aim by the time May comes round. After an inspired lecture at the start of term, I realised I had little in the way of a showreel, which is bad for me since I’m aiming to be a camera operator when I leave. This year has now got me entirely focused on making a showreel that I’m proud of – and this module seems to be the perfect way to develop it. Let’s take a peek at what I’ve got in store at present:

Already In The Bag

Source Radio

Every Saturday, from 8:00pm until 10:00pm is my radio show. There have been several technical issues throughout term one which have made broadcasting a bit of a problem on some nights. Complete with all these problems, however, I have grown to know the studio inside-out. I can now utilise all the faders to a high quality standard, and I’ve operated computers, CD players an iPods to get¬†my music onto the airwaves. The Myriad computer is hardly ever used, meaning I have to develop the whole show (running order included) myself, although half way through the term I found a co-presenter, who makes the show run a lot smoother and helps with discussions and musical input. Hopefully the show will become more interactive in the upcoming weeks, but so far, this is looking set to be at least 5 days of the total professional experience.

Total weeks covered – 1 week

Source TV

This one is not so simple. The projects I undertake are largely improvised. They happen with a little warning, but usually no thorough planning is undertook before I embark on Source TV’s adventures. So far, I’ve filmed the All-Students Meeting, the Demo-Lition protest march in London, and a marketing video for Platinum with a TV celebrity. Fundraising events are set for the near future, I’m sure along with many other projects I can get involved in. I’m unsure how much work will be totalled¬†up by¬†the end of this year, so I’ll¬†par it with¬†Source Radio at¬†5 days, considering that there are fewer projects here, but they¬†last longer.

Total weeks covered – 2 weeks

Solo Projects – Demo-Lition

Coupled with 260MC and Source TV, this project saw a guaranteed one day of work, from planning right through to distribution. The relevant blog post will have all the information about this project, but to say it was based around¬†1 day, I’ll keep it at that.

Total weeks covered – 2 weeks, 1 day

The Hereward Documentary

Seemingly lacking in any ability whatsoever to get an ‘xmas temp’ job, I compensated by tagging on into this project as a camera operator. This documentary is based around a group of students from Hereward College, who suffer from Asperges Syndrome. My professional role includes only on-site input, so perhaps the relevant hours and days in relation to this module are reduced somewhat – perhaps about 3 days? This project is set to be finished in March.

Total weeks covered – 2 weeks, four days

Once Upon A Time (The ‘Prague Trip’ to the uninitiated)

This is a project I’m particularly looking forward to. My tutor from last year, Clifton Stewart, has done what he does best and has written a script up for a film set in Prague. Once again stepping forward as camera operator, my job is to learn to use the ProHD JVC cameras and all their accessories¬†in time for the trip, which will take place for one week in February. I have also been involved in various fundrasing activities for the trip. Like the protest march, I’ll clip this down to the five days of the trip, exluding pre-production, which tallies to a neat 5 days.

Total weeks covered – 3 weeks, four days

Still To Come

Call The Shots

There is an illusive society hidden deep somewhere in Coventry called ‘Call The Shots’, which have put all sorts of adverts around Coventry University. What this group entails I do not know, and until I know more, this concept remains a back-bencher. This is to be investigated in the coming weeks.

The CVTV Project


I hope you’re not all bored with Johnny Rickard just yet. His assistance in the march was only a side-project for him – this is where his main focus is. The showreel he originally asked Source TV for help with, but ultimately turned to my Media Production year for our assistance, has been dubeed ‘The CVTV Project’. We will set up a makeshift TV studio in one of the rooms in Ellen Terry, and with a live audience over the course of 1 day, film Rickard interviewing his lined-up celebrities, including Bex Shiner and Paul Gambaccini. It’s either gonna go very well, or very wrong.

Total weeks covered – 4 weeks

Solo Projects

I still have one or two ideas jingling around up there (don’t we all), but in view that these projects would need to be made alongside all this stuff already, I’m unsure how they’ll pan out. I’ll make no promises, so these will¬†remain back-benchers as well (or integrated into¬†other modules – stay tuned).

Atlantic Whale Foundation (AWF)¬†Volunteering – A.K.A ‘Tenerife’

Here is the one you’ve all been waiting for! As I’m sure most by now know, I am one of several students from the university who are going out to Tenerife in April to help the charity ‘AWF’ with their marketing. To entice us, we have been informed of many options open to us, including underwater cameras to film sea wildlife, trips on boats to various parts of the island, and support in any solo projects we may wish to take on whilst we’re out there. Truth be told, no one truly knows for sure what awaits us out there, but regardless, this is without a doubt¬†the 4 week placement that was always designed to keep this module happy.

Total weeks covered – 8 weeks