Today I reached the part in the course where I can start Assignment One. I’m very excited and am looking forward to starting it.
Below is the video I’ve made.
Assignment One –
For this assignment you will produce a short sequence of no more than five shots that tells a simple story using images alone.
- Write down the details of a simple story, similar to that of Project 1
- Storyboard a short sequence. It should contain no more than five shots. Include as much detail as possible about each shot. Consider the framing and camera angle careful. Think about
- What information you must show on screen (what do you need to show?
- How you want to show it (How do you want each shot to feel)
Think of each shot as you would a still frame. DON’T try and include extensive action. Provide the information by what is include in the frame.
Record and edit your sequence.
- Try and stay true to your storyboard during the shoot.
- Don’t worry about quality of image. Concentrate on the meaning it conveys.
Write an evaluation of your finished sequence (500 words)
Critically assess your finished product. Consider each frame individually.
Identify and analyse reasons for successful and unsuccessful techniques that you have employed.
Consider where you need to strengthen your own skills and understanding and explain how you will achieve this.
I decided to tell a dramatic story of a girl (myself) escaping a bad man. She appears in the frame injured, terrified and clearly escaping something. I wanted there to be ambiguity, who is she actually escaping? A person? An animal? Or a dark force. She staggers down the driveway and hammers on the door. and hides into a garage. She talks to her video phone and says how it wasn’t her and she’s been wrongly accused. Of course the viewer only has her word on the subject. A close up shows terrible fear and then there are footsteps. And the garage door is open. She is discovered.
At first I thought that ‘using it as still frame’ meant the camcorder had to be on a tripod and stationary. I checked this with my tutor and he wrote back saying “It isn’t quite how I see it. I think that it is rather saying that you don’t have the time for extensive action in a short piece like this…not that shooting everything from a tripod is a bad thing in itself but you can track, pan and/or tilt as you will if it suits your piece.”
So with that in mind I thought about adding some panning or tracking in the video. Of course now there there was a problem as I was going to be the actor in it I couldn’t exactly do tracking on myself. I thought about it.
The first take didn’t work so well. I had the storyboard but the issue was me being the actor. I couldn’t control any camera movement and it couldn’t follow me round. Also framing was becoming an issue. I decided to cast swap the roles and use Ken as my actor so I could control the camera movements. Anne was to be the force hunting him down. I changed the story as well, swapping the garage for the car and the role reversal.
I needed to think about ways to create to create tense feelings of fear. I came across a fascinating article about how Hitchcocks generates feelings of fear and suspense. This quote especially felt poignant especially for this assignment ”
“Information” is essential to Hitchcock suspense; showing the audience what the characters don’t see. If something is about to harm the characters, show it at beginning of the scene and let the scene play out as normal. Constant reminders of this looming danger will build suspense”
Originally I had planned to shoot and not show the enemy until later on but this made me think. In such a short film it was imperative for the viewer to relate to the character, feel for them but remain helpless to the characters impending doom. With this in mind I decided to allow one frame to introduce the character and his plight and then launch straight into the subjective view to show feelings of someone watching him. Then the hand arrives and the view of the eyes in the mirror.
“Once you’ve built your audience into gripping suspense it must never end the way they expect. The bomb must never go off! Lead them in one direction and then pull the rug out from under them in a surprise twist.”
This was also food for thought. I built up the story of the man escaping and you thought he was going to be jumped, changing the end so the woman drives off with him instead. Maybe this is expected, maybe not. With another frame perhaps I could have turned the tables and found that the man was the enemy but I decided to finish it like this with a slight twist.
One idea was to shoot the frame like the end of Hitchcocks famous movie North by Northwest. I love the scene when the characters are struggling across the rock face and suddenly they are backing straight up to the enemy. It’s powerful and shocking and I love it. Start at 3:27
I had an idea to shoot Ken backing around the car and then Anne is there but decided to use the gloved hand and the eyes with the subjective view.
Following the storyboard I shot the following scenes and then edited it together into the short film.
Whilst I have bought a storyboarding book I found so many obstacles in this assignment I was wasting a lot of pages so in a burst of inspiration dug out my old wipe clean magnetic board, this way I could draw and draw to my hearts content editing and adding. It worked really well and if one idea didn’t work on paper I just started again. Finally I had my chosen drawings.
Something I find important in movies is fashion, clothing can determine a mood, reveal a character and give information to the viewer. So for this I chose the wardrobe for each actor.
Ken. His bad guy black coat. It’s big and black and goes great with his tinted sunglasses. The coat and shades gave an air of mystery and you’re not sure who is the good guy or bad guy until the second frame. It has an air of spy movie.
Anne. I chose her hooded coat and black gloves so she’d remain a mysterious character with only glimpses of a hand and her eyes.
Accessories. Of the two cars the Galaxy was the best as it was big, filled the screen and my actor could hide in the back.
Every film has a movie exception so I’ve decided to create a movie poster for every assignment I produce. This one was fun to make. I used Photoshop to cut a photo of my actor out, superimposed it over some seagulls making a double exposure then clouded out the whole of his body with a paintbrush, blurred the title to create a sense of speed and added some elements such as the gun target and lightning bolt.
————————————————————————–Write an evaluation of your finished sequence
- Critically assess your finished product. Consider each frame individually.
- Identify and analyse reasons for successful and unsuccessful techniques that you have employed.
- Consider where you need to strengthen your own skills and understanding and explain how you will achieve this.
Analysis – Assignment One
Equipment – Canon Leigra camcorder HR56
Location – Home, filmed in driveway. Clear day.
Aim – create a short film that is packed with ambiguity, mystery and drama.
Information How do we know he’s running away – he looks back scared, he shouts, help, let me in. He keeps staring over his shoulder. Subjective view of him running round. We know the enemy is watching him
Frame One – A calm low angle shot quickly becomes an action filled sequence. I placed the camcorder in the grass so it filled the foreground giving the feeling of being watched and a wide establishing shot. I called out action and Skye, the cat, looked right at me and started walking as I panned slowly – serendipity – My actor had instructions to start running five seconds after I called action so when I completed the pan he would race into the frame. The low angle is ambiguous, is he after someone, escaping something? That was an important part of the film, I wanted the viewer to be questioning the whole way through as to who was the enemy. On a continuous shot I tracked my actor as he raced to the door.
Frame Two. To give the feeling of being watched – reminiscence of mystery programmes – I framed the shot so it was hovering behind the wall showing how he was being watched. Usually when this happens on TV something bad is going to happen so I hope this came across.
Frame Three. Following from the creepy subjective view, a gloved hand comes into view. My student research said a gloved hand promoted fear and denotes a criminal about to do something terrible. The music is quiet and you just hear the soft click of the door opening. A sense of foreboding hits.
Frame Four. A close up of evil eyes in the rear view mirror connects with the viewer. It’s mysterious and ambiguous with the hood up and this is the only glimpse given of the enemy.
Frame Five. Unbeknownst to him my character stares horrified. directly at the camera engaging with the viewer. I positioned myself at a low level back in the garage, I amed for handheld movement a balance between not too still and not too shaky. I wanted to start with an extreme close up on their face and slowly pan out and as I did the action was ramped up as the car set off, the engine reminds me of a chainsaw which only increases the feelings of fear this reinforced with the man’s silent scream. Due to safety I asked my actor to drive off slowly so Ken wouldn’t fall out. This didn’t create a feeling of drama so I sped it up in iMovie. The car lurches off and the man screams as the screen goes to black. The rest is left to the viewers imagination.
I would have liked to create atmosphere using light though outside I was dependent on the weather. I could have filmed this at night or at least early evening. In the first frame there are some pretty ominous looking thunder clouds.
When I shot this I edited it together then worked on something else for a few days allowing myself to come back to it with fresh eyes. I am pleased with the final film, it has mystery and drama like I thought. It was restrictive working with only five frames as there were many ideas that had to be left out, but I enjoyed the restriction as I had to work even harder to ensure every single frame conveyed what it needed too as opposed to throwing many frames that weren’t needed. It’s taught me how to focus on every single frame as it’s own story and ensure that only frames that convey something are included. Just like in writing every paragraph has to either inform, amuse or show character etc.
I enjoyed creating this assignment, I was met by many obstacles which I re thought and worked round and am looking forward to hearing my tutors feedback and continuing with the course.