For this assignment you will create a short sequence that tells a basic story and conveys implied meaning. The sequence must be no longer than 90 seconds. You will write a script, design the shots, record and edit the film.
You should focus on meaning. Clearly describe the action or sequence of events and imply a second layer of meaning. Consider the techniques you have already explored for creating meaning with composition. Think about mood, atmosphere and where the audience’s attention is focused. Consider the space on and off screen and the assumptions your audience will make.
Consider carefully what information you must show on screen. Think about what you need to show. Think about the best framing and composition to clearly achieve this.
Consider what information you wish to imply. Think about how you can create meaning by re-ordering your shots. Think about other elements you may want to include such as additional shots or sound.
Storyboard a short sequence. Include as much detail as possible about each shot. Consider the composition, framing, camera movement and sound.
Remember you cannot show the implied meaning directly – no flashbacks of the couple in bed, no shot of someone pouring from a flask marked ‘poison’, no shots of your suicidal person imagining themselves hanging from a rope.
I began this assignment in a different way, I decided not to approach it with fully formed ideas. I wanted to complete all the exercises and then use that in the assignment. Of course ideas often flitter around and inspire you but in the end I started the assignment with a clean slate. My actress was Anne. Throughout this course, we’ve done a lot of work together and I think we now work really well together on the projects. I know I need to be more clear and precise with my instructions and she knows she can be spontaneous though still stick to the brief and let me know if she doesn’t understand something.
The Brief – I opted for the poisoned drink. My tutor said, “Don’t let the dramatic nature of the brief take over from the filmic nature of laying out a narrative.” For the narrative, I was looking at Mum’s birthday cards on the mantlepiece when it hit me. The character, Cara is having a birthday party, all her friends are coming round but of course, it’s not going to be the birthday party planned. From there everything started slotting into place and soon I had the rough draft.
Storyboards – Review from top left down and so on (scanner isn’t working very well)
Script written as story
Script written as Script with Celtx
Important details –
Doorbell. When it first goes Cara dashes to the door but it’s just the neighbour complaining about whether it will be a raucous party. Then later a mystery parcel appears on the doorstep (the poisoned drink) The third time it’s her friend but Cara doesn’t answer. This signifies something has happened. We have a very piercing doorbell which adds to the drama.
The rose dropping a petal. This was very imporant as the rose is cut clearly by the enemy. Then when the petal is dropped, it is symbolic that she has been poisoned.
Symbolic meanings. I looked up symbols of danger in multiple cultures. Clocks ticking signified time running out. A crow represents death. Black clothing but I wanted Cara to look colourful. I also looked at the flowers that were dying and thought a single petal dropping could be quite powerful too.
Initially I choose my Canon camcorder which has always served me well but the battery was playing up so I turned to my Canon 70D. It worked like a dream. It was so compact and light, tracking was easier and the microphone worked well too. However it did pick up things such as my footsteps at one point (which I was able to edit out) and when people breathed near it there was a touch of interference.
When I began this course I used to play music over the entire piece and I’ve really learnt that while it’s good to have music (though not always) having a contrast where there isn’t music can make that scene more serious and show the viewer it’s something important. I wanted to have a party beat to show how triumphant she felt at getting one over on the neighbour and also to create an illusion of fun soon to be shattered. Ashley, my course mate used a song from incompetech.com which has music free to download as long as you credit them. I found a great song Feeling Good which suited the brief perfectly. Then when the song abruptly ends on the bag it shows it’s importance and signifies that the end is near.
I brought Ken in, to act as the annoyed neighbor and shot the scene in a chronological order. I’d given them the script which we worked from. Everyone seemed clear with their orders. In future I should give them their script before the shoot so they can learn their lines. However I didn’t want it wooden so I allowed any word changes that would suit them.
The camera had options to adjust exposure which worked really well and it felt very fluid filming with it. I loved the interaction between each other and they had a good time too. I did several takes of each scene for editing purposes but chose the first one most often.
Actor Comment –
Anne. It was very good, Chloe got on with it, she had a role to do and went through with it. Instructions were very clear and so much more improved than last time.
Ken. I knew what I had to do. However she only needed me to walk out of the frame and I walked off down the road without knowing.
ANALYSIS – Assignment Three
Equipment – Canon 70D – inbuilt mic –
Location. Home. Bright light in the kitchen caused some exposure issues. Also created light airy feeling.
Aim. Create a 90 second scene implying the character Cara being posioned.
Information. Imply don’t tell.
Character. Cara. Birthday girl. Excited. Rude to neighbor.
Neighbor – annoyed, het up.
Friend – excited, enthusiastic.
Colours. Clothing was bright and colourful to denote party atmosphere and contrast.
Frame One – Introduces Cara. Colourful dress, excited as the doorbell rings. She dashes round corner
Frame Two– which motivates next shot. Tracks her to the door. Second doorbell shows impatient.
Frame Three – A dramatic zoom. Not initially planned but inspired in the moment to show the tension between the two characters.
Frame Four – Cara’s irritation.
Frame Five – Shows expression of neighbor to smoothen transition into next frame.
Frame Six to Eight – discourse between neighbors.
Frame Nine – A low angle to show the triumph of how she got one over on the neighbour. Music comes in to highlight this but her expression changes as she sees the crow. A sign of death. Trying to meet the assignment deadline I used a crow call from FreeSound and also a clock ticking as I couldn’t get the sound without the background noise on my camera.
Frame Ten – a thunder clap as the rose is cut!
Frame Eleven – another spur of the moment. It just seemed too static filming Cara opening the cupboards. So I put the camera inside the cupboard. This made the transition from the rose to black quite potent.
Frame Twelve – The doorbell rings
Frame Thirteen – Cara stands at the doorway a bag at her feet. Initally this was a pan down but it took up too much time of the 90 seconds so I trimmed it. The upbeat music ends thus signalling it’s importance. A new music takes it’s place (Shetland from iMovie) the percussion sounds like a rattlesnakes tail.
Frame Fourteen A glance up the road shows confusion
Frame Fifteen – while an empty driveway lets mystery hang in the air. A subjective shot, handheld.
Frame Sixteen – Eighteen – As Cara lifts the bag up there is a cut and she pulls the drink from the bag. Like in French New Wave when they cut out unessential parts. She sees the drink and the flowers.
Frame Seventeen. She has a drink then realises she’s not put candles on the cake and rushes off. The clock signals time running out.
Frame Eighteen – I put the camera on the monopod and Anne held it steady for me in the position I wanted as I was the only actress left. The exposure is bright and airy but the distorted version of Happy Birthday signals something else.
Frame Nineteen. I filmed this like the Moshuskin experiment, showing the expression of the girl then the flowers. Then the drink and finally the flowers again. This time a petal falls, it’s final, fatal and hopefully implies she has been poisoned.
Incredulously it was only after reviewing the final product that I realised it was the neighbor who had poisoned Cara. I hadn’t planned this at all but with the argument being a large part, one would assume this was the case.
Originally Cara was going to be blowing up balloons and putting out her birthday cards. Though I shot this it added nothing new to the video, also it went over the allocated time and in the end I removed it instead starting from Cara arriving at the door thus throwing the viewer straight into the action.
Successful – I like the shot inside the cupboard, the way I implied the scenario and the use of music.
Unsuccessful – Need to think about filming the audio separately, it just worked out quite well in the original shoot and I was reluctant to change it.
I feel it was a successful video. Of the people I’ve run it by they realised she had been poisoned and by the neighbor (ironic I hadn’t planned that) I was glad of the 90 second limit it wasn’t too long or short and though it was difficult deciding what to remove I think it works better due to this. The overall video is 1-44 minutes long purely because of the seconds of the opening and ending credits. The actual footage is exactly ninety seconds. I also stuck to the storyboards quite well.