ABC Project

The ‘ABC Project’ was where a group of two people got given a letter of the alphabet and told to make a 60 second short film based off the letter. The theme for the overall project was ‘Blood’. So the letter had to have something to do with blood. This is almost identical to the film, ‘ABC’s of Death’, where 26 directors got a letter and made a short. I watched the ‘ABC’s of Death’ quite a while ago so i understood the basic concept for this project however it was quite a difficult process to finish our idea. Our film was called ‘Bruised’ and was showcasing the violence in a relationship.

The most difficult part of the creative process for me and my partner was actually coming up and agreeing on an idea. We got the letter B and decided to do a short list of what concepts could work with that letter. After agreeing on a few words, we expanded each of them into stories so we could see which would make the best short film. It took us quite a while to agree on the concept for ‘Bruised’. I eventually caved in as it was my partner’s idea and he seemed very interested in it and thought that it would be the best one to execute effectively.

Although my partner was very confident in our abilities for this project, it was a difficult process to organise and film. I’m used to doing most of the pre-production work (i’m a producer) and he is an editor so the actual production aspect of our project became an issue. As neither of us are proficient in camera use or directing, we separated the roles. The final look of the film was a bit different to what we originally envisioned because of this. We had to change some of the shots so they were all extreme closeups rather than wide or mid shots because we didn’t have professional actors. Our initial vision had many more types of shots, different locations and the edit would’ve included flashbacks and more visual effects. Due to multiple restraints we weren’t able to execute these ideas. Although a lot of our original concept wasn’t included, the final product still conveyed our idea clearly.

Our concept for ‘Bruised’ was that a young woman was stuck in a violent relationship. It showed her partners growing violence over time and how she was hiding it. We agreed the concept was very simple but also effective. It captured the audience’s attention in a few seconds and held them there as they cared about the outcome of the protagonist. It also related to the overall idea of the project (blood). One of the major strengths for this film was that we didn’t have to write any dialogue or have to physically explain anything in the film because if we captured shots in a chronological order, the story would explain itself.

There were a few weaknesses for this concept that definitely affected how we filmed and how it was received by the audience. Domestic violence is an extremely painful and difficult topic to speak about. As it is such a universal thing, we struggled quite a bit to find a way to write about it in a respectful way that showed the difficulties for those who suffer/suffered from domestic violence. I spoke to a few people who i know have personally experienced domestic violence and showed them my rough script. I got feedback from them about how it was written about and what i could change to not offend or undermine their struggle.

As there were a few struggles in the actual concept of our film, the execution also became a bit of an issue. We were trying to focus more on the female character and her reactions and body language so the audience would pay more attention to her abuse rather than her abuser. To do this we took more footage of her and when she looked afraid, cut it to footage of her partner so it implied she was afraid of him. By not making the film about the abuser, we felt like we were able to make something that spread awareness. Another issue with our execution (as mentioned above) was that my partner and i weren’t very used to actual ‘production’. We both struggled with setting up our set and filming. A few days before we were scheduled to film, our actors, makeup artist and location all quit so we had to find replacements very last minute. Although this set us back quite a bit, we were able to pull a fairly successful film due to how strong the concept was. The script and original idea was definitely the strongest thing we had going into this production. We were able to edit and adapt the script to the various situations we were put into.

Elevator Pitch

“An elevator pitch is a sales tool that helps you get the meeting you get the investor immediately interested in your film.” (Levinson, 2013). It took me a while to fully grasp the idea of an Elevator Pitch (and i didn’t fully get it- i’ll explain later). When assigned to create an idea for a short film and then pitch it, i was a bit frightened. I’m not very good at creating stories and even worse at explaining them. So i did a bit of my own research to see what was really required of me and discovered “The 7 Keys to a Great Pitch” (Scriptmag, 2012). The 7 steps they outlined are:

  1. Never try to tell your whole story
  2. Focus on revealing the essential elements of your story
  3. Begin by revealing how you came up with the story
  4. Leave the buyer in suspense
  5. Finish your description with a title and a log line
  6. Follow the log line with a question
  7. Answer the buyer’s questions succinctly

So with these 7 elements, i set out to write my own elevator pitch. As this was a pitch in front of classmates and not a potential buyer, some of those steps weren’t too relevant to me. For this example, i wanted to be fairly clear and concise with my story and how it ended, as i’m not a scriptwriter, i’d need a person on board to do the scripting and it was important for my fellow students to understand where my vision was heading.

I believe the most successful pitch was done by Maureen. Her idea was captivating and unique but she was able to present it in a very professional way. She began her presentation by handing out photographs to the audience. Although this is very untraditional with an elevator pitch, it definitely provided an extra element to help the audience connect with her story. She had thought of almost every aspect of her film, had began writing and scheduling and was able to answer every question that was asked of her with clarity and confidence. By using more visual references rather than text, we were able to listen to her and not be distracted trying to read. She utilised almost every element of a successful elevator pitch.

Although her pitch was filled with confidence and reference material, it also became very difficult to keep up with her story and her idea. As she had gone into so much detail already with characters and sets etc, i became lost in the story world. I believe a few of my classmates felt the same as many questions were asked. She had put so much detail and thought into every element of her story and potential film that she lacked the brief and attention-grabbing feature that is required of a pitch. This being said, I instantly connected with the film idea and story world as it was something unique to me and sounded very interesting to work on.

As mentioned previously, i definitely did my own research to try and understand more about what was asked of me however when it came to my actual pitch, there were some strengths and some weaknesses that are worth mentioning.

For my own pitch, i believe that one of my strengths was that my idea was fairly clear and simple to execute. I had figured out most of the details of my shooting, including possible locations and props. I tried not to explain that too much during my pitch so i wouldn’t confuse the audience. My pitch went for the desired amount of time and i spoke about each element just enough so the audience would comprehend it but was also intrigued. Overall i believe that it was a successful idea and i had a realistic goal set for it.

There were a few weaknesses however as i am not the most confident presenter. I struggled a bit with how i spoke and tended to ramble if i looked away from my notes. It wasn’t as ‘catchy’ as i hoped and this made the audience loose focus slightly. I also don’t think i was as clear as i could’ve been because there were lots of questions at the end. That being said, i was able to answer them confidently and with answers that were satisfactory.

Overall i believe this pitching experience was extremely helpful and i know that i’ll keep the skills i learnt for future projects.

CaroliScriptmagcom. (2012). Script Magazine. Retrieved 16 November, 2016, from http://www.scriptmag.com/resources/pitch-festivals/7-keys-to-a-great-pitch

Wright, J. A. (2013). Animation Writing and Development: From Script Development to Pitch, Burlington, US: Focal Press.

Topic 11: Technology and Spectacle

This topic was about technology and the spectacle that filmmaking has become. I found it very interesting how many films are considered ‘spectacles’ because of their production value and use of technology. There are many cases in which making a ‘big’ film becomes more important than the narrative. Especially in this modern era of filmmaking. Most of the big box office releases are these spectacles, and that’s because they sell so well! People go to the cinema to escape from their reality, so having a loud and bright film is often what consumers search for. The recent release of the new ‘Independence Day’ film is a great example of this. The film is full of explosions, vibrant colours, outlandish concepts and tons of visual effects. However, it falls down so much in basic storyline and script, which are some very basic elements of filmmaking. Although some of the modern films lack narrative, there are classics like ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ that contain a marvel of effects, music, concepts and storyline. Every element of storytelling is used to the extreme and that’s what makes it such a spectacle. So there are definitely some films that have included new technologies to help enhance them however a lot of modern ‘box office’ cinema tend to lack basic narrative and film principles.

Topic 10: Film and Audience

This topic was about audience reaction. I found it incredibly interesting to learn about how filmmakers use ‘target audiences’ to produce and commercialise their films. Personally, I prefer watching films in a large audience and space (like a movie theatre). I usually find myself reacting to other people’s reactions than the film itself. That being said, I tend to go back and watch it again in my own time to focus on my own reaction. I enjoy knowing how others feel about a film so I can utilise that in my own work. For example, ‘Suicide Squad’ was released recently. The anticipation for this film was incredible and when I went to the midnight screening, the audience’s reaction to the film was incredibly positive. However, when I watched it on a quieter night, I enjoyed it less because I focused more on my own reaction to it. Using both of these methods of film watching allows me to know what the audience and general public enjoys and what kinds of movies ‘sell’. It also allows me to get a deeper understanding of what I prefer to watch and thus create. I don’t enjoy seeing films in small intimate groups (like the IMA or the GOMA theatre) as much. There are less reactions to observe so I end up over analysing a few people rather than focusing on the film. But this can also simply be my overwhelming need to analyse everyone. Overall, I personally enjoy seeing films with crowds of people, just to see how they react.

City of God Title Sequence

The title sequence to the 2002 film, City of God, is filled with harsh colours (blues and reds), loud and sharp diegetic sounds and quick cuts between imagery. The quick shots between varying imagery also show the location and introduce the kind of people we will be seeing in the film. The sequence begins with rapid quick cuts of a knife being sharpened on a rock. This harsh diegetic sound creates an uneasy feeling among the audience. The cuts then change to images of chickens being killed/cooked while one looks on, visibly scared of what’s going to happen. This is most likely foreshadowing what’s to happen in the film. The next quick cut is of two boys walking along the road, discussing how he’s never going to stay in the ‘hood’. This then cuts to the chicken escaping and running away from the men who’s going to cook it. The sound changes to a fast paced non-diegetic soundtrack, building intensity. This could be seen as symbolism, the boy is actually the chicken, trying to escape being killed. The boy and the chicken then come face to face with the gang and the police on either side of them, confirming the symbolism of the boy and the chicken. The intense sounds (diegetic and non-diegetic) and quick cuts build a fast pace and create a sense of rhythm for the rest of the film, engaging the audience.

Inclusive Design

The lecture for this week talked about Inclusive Design. To me, inclusive design is collaborating and accepting everyone. In the creative industries, no matter where you work, you will always be working with someone else in a different department. Every area will have a different vibe or personality and communicating with your team is so vital, so inclusive design is therefore, vital. Inclusive Design in film would be including everyone in a project, no matter their race, gender, sexuality, religion, ability etc. As a pansexual female, one of the most heartbreaking things to hear is that someone won’t work with/for you because you’re gay, or a woman. Not only do the teams need be inclusive, but whatever is being created should try and avoid alienating groups of people.

Project Implicit is a non-profit Organization and international collaboration between researchers who study “implicit social cognition”. They have created “The Implicit Association Test” and made it freely available on the web: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

The Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report. The IAT may be especially interesting if it shows that you have an implicit attitude that you did not know about.

I think a lot of the inequality in the workplace and in the final creative product comes from a lack of knowledge and understanding about different groups of people. It’s so important to become educated and understand the issues facing those who are oppressed.

For me personally, I try and include as many LGBTQIA+ and Female characters in my films, not only because i resonate with them, but because i know first hand that my groups of people are not represented well in the media. After doing this test i will try and make a conscious decision to include more groups of people into my films, so everyone feels included.

Secret Interview Techniques

In our lecture this week, we looked at job interviews. A common misconception in the creative industries is that we don’t have job interviews because we just do ~creative stuff~ but it’s actually fairly intense. The only job interview i’ve ever had was for my current job as a waitress. My boss asked me when I was available, why I think I could work well there and what my greatest strengths and weaknesses are.

My mum runs a law firm and whenever she holds job interviews, the one question she always asks is, ‘What would you do in a zombie apocalypse?’ She uses this question to see how well the applicant can think on their feet and if they would have the right energy for the workplace. She said the strangest she ever heard was, ‘I dunno.. probably die?’. Needless to say, that person wasn’t hired.

zombiepiechart.jpg

In the creative industries, it’s important to be able to express personality in all aspects. Wether it’s writing emails, taking phone calls or having a job interview, your employer/future employer needs to know who you really are so they are able to figure out what kind of employee you will be.

When I asked my mum why she didn’t hire that person she said, ‘They gave up almost immediately. They didn’t even try to respond. It shows that they are lazy and unmotivated.’ I was a little bit surprised because i thought she just read too much into this response however after reading the lecture, I totally understand where she is coming from.

Employers want to know that you can think on your feet, that you’re serious about what you want. If you’re 100% honest and passionate about the job you’re applying for, you should be able to answer any of the strange questions they might throw at you.

 

Bibliography

What would you do during a Zombie Apocalypse? (2011, December 02). Retrieved June 23, 2016, from https://thisismylawn.com/2011/12/02/what-would-you-do-during-a-zombie-apocalypse/