Category Archives: Narrative

Editing – process and reflection.

After making the research about editing, I’ve started to figure it out how I could edit the film. It was kind of difficult because I had to cut a lot of parts of the film that were interesting, in order to have only 3 minutes length. I think that emotions are one of the most important parts of a movie, so I tried to highlight my character’s feelings. Music was a really helpful tool because it helped me highlight the fear, the suspanse, but also the excitement and the unpredictable.

Moreover, I used some sound effects where i felt that its necessary. For example I wanted to heighten the knock on the door, because from the footage you could not hear it very clear. By adding a sound effect I managed to make it more loud and clear. Moreover, I’ve used a gun shot sound effect because I wanted to give a message to the audience, I wanted to emphasise the fact that something bad happened, and I also wanted to give a little bit more suspense. More than that the gun shot exaplins the fact that one of the character’s is missing.  Another sound effect that I’ve used is: police sirens. I needed them for the last scene, because I wanted to make it look more real.

I also added some music, because some scenes seemed awkward, because it was to much silence. I used these songs because I think that they fit perfectly with the theme of the film, the first one is more funny, more entertaining, it matches  very well with the prank, while the other one is more dramatic, more touching and it is adding more suspense to the film.

I must say that I didn’t have a plan when I’ve start editing, but after some cuts I knew that this is exactly what I want to do. I wanted to combine different angles, different shots, I wanted the story to flow. I wanted to make it catchy, without revealing to much until the end. I tried to play with the footage that I had, I’ve tried different approaches, different perspectives. Everything was spontaneous. I tried  many different  combinations until I was pleased with it.

I don’t have experience in editing, so I am really satisfied about the final result. Though it was hard to make it, I think that my piece looks good.

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Editing research

“Film editing is part of the process of filmmaking. It involves the selection and combining of shots into sequences, and ultimately creating a finished motion picture. It is an art of storytelling. Film editing is the only art that is unique to cinema, separating film-making from other art forms that preceded it (such as photography, theater, dance, writing, and directing), although there are close parallels to the editing process in other art forms like poetry or novel writing. Film editing is often referred to as the “invisible art”[citation needed] because when it is well-practiced, the viewer can become so engaged that he or she is not even aware of the editor’s work.

On its most fundamental level, film editing is the art, technique, and practice of assembling shots into a coherent whole. A film editor is a person who practices film editing by assembling the footage. However, the job of an editor isn’t simply to mechanically put pieces of a film together, cut off film slates, or edit dialogue scenes. A film editor must creatively work with the layers of images, story, dialogue, music, pacing, as well as the actors’ performances to effectively “re-imagine” and even rewrite the film to craft a cohesive whole. Editors usually play a dynamic role in the making of a film.

With the advent of digital editing, film editors and their assistants have become responsible for many areas of filmmaking that used to be the responsibility of others. For instance, in past years, picture editors dealt only with just that—picture. Sound, music, and (more recently) visual effects editors dealt with the practicalities of other aspects of the editing process, usually under the direction of the picture editor and director. However, digital systems have increasingly put these responsibilities on the picture editor. It is common, especially on lower budget films, for the assistant editors or even the editor to cut in music, mock up visual effects, and add sound effects or other sound replacements. These temporary elements are usually replaced with more refined final elements by the sound, music, and visual effects teams hired to complete the picture.

Film editing is an art that can be used in diverse ways. It can create sensually provocative montages; become a laboratory for experimental cinema; bring out the emotional truth in an actor’s performance; create a point of view on otherwise obtuse events; guide the telling and pace of a story; create an illusion of danger where there is none; give emphasis to things that would not have otherwise been noted; and even create a vital subconscious emotional connection to the viewer, among many other possibilities.” (Wikipedia).

I also wanted to know more about editing techniques. I’ve found a really helpful site about film editing: http://kino-eye.com/drafts/Film_Editing_v0.2.pdf, where there are a lot of useful notes about editing techniques. The best part is that they are really detailed, and you can understand them very easily.

I’ve also found a site with editing tips, which I also consider useful: http://www.helium.com/items/555846-film-editing-tips-and-techniques-for-creating-a-compelling-story. Here is a small part of the article:

“In old Hollywood adage has it that a film is created three times; when it’s written, when it’s shot and when it’s edited.

This isn’t entirely true. Ideally the three stages should be the work of refining a core theme or idea, the act of creation should be a single ongoing event. It’s only if you are presented with footage shot by a clueless director using a poorly conceived script that you might find yourself in the unenviable situation of creating something new.

If the director has done his job properly, then the editing stage should be a process of enhancing what the screenwriter started and the director shot. So let’s assume that the best situation has occurred and a director who knows what he’s doing has handed you a neat pile of tapes.

The most important thing to do first is log the tapes and while you are doing this, watch as the slates are called look for any useful looks or mannerisms that the actors give before the director calls action. Note these down.

You’ve done that? Right, let’s move on.

Depending on how much of a vision the director has, it should be fairly obvious where to take an edit and your first cut will be probably closest to what the director had in mind.

Even though a good director might have had the editing stage in the back of his mind while he was shooting and have a clear idea of how it will cut together, it will, in all probability, still be waaaaay too long.

Good directors love to work with actors, to encourage them to try new things and wring out the best of them. Quite often all the focus on the actors leads to a fundamental oversight; that film is a medium of moving pictures, not of dialogue.

It’s now your job to ratchet it all up a gear and make it into a proper movie, rather than a series of monologues and heartfelt interchanges.”

 

 

 

Process and reflection – short movie

This week we took advantage of our free time, and we started to make our short film project. Edina, Linda, Giselle and I arranged a meeting in order to discuss our scripts and to decide which one are we going to shoot. We read each script, and we analysed them from many perspectives such as characters, time and place, action, items that we are going to need etc. Finally we decided upon Linda’s script, because it has an interesting idea and an interesting switch, but also because it is the easiest one to film regarding the locations that we needed. All the other movies were quite impossible to film at this stage, because it would have involved filming a car accident, or several scenes in a night club, we also needed some guns… So basically we didn’t have access to all this sort of stuff. Moreover, another problem was the fact that we hadn’t so much time, because we started quite late the work for this project, so we had to move quite quick.

We decided upon which things are we going to need for the shooting, and next day we went at Giselle’s house. Her place was perfect for the shooting, because it had everything that we needed, it was very spacious, and more than that we could work there in silence and we could remain focus on our work, because her housemates weren’t home. We also borrowed a camera to practice a little bit before the real shooting, in order to be sure that everything is like we planned. We decided upon where and how to film every scene.

Next day we borrowed all the necessary equipment. Some of the sequences were at night and some were during the day. Firstly, we decided to film the night scenes. We’ve prepared and arranged all the equipment and then we start filming. The bad part was that outside was really cold, and we had to stay there for a while because we took several shoots for every scene. We filmed from different angles and perspectives, so that we’ll have enough material for editing. Overall, I think it went pretty good and we’ve made a good job. This is because we were concentrated upon our work, we listened everybody’s advices and opinions and I must say that we collaborated really well. So making a movie, especially at night is not as easy as we thought. You need to be ambitious, hard working, careful at details and a reliable person.

 

 

The next day was more relaxing, if I can say so, because we had to film only two more scenes. We talked about the script, and we decided that it would be better if we would change one of the scenes, because it would fit perfectly with the script and it would give a better sense to the story. After filming, everybody felt relived that we finally finished our project.

Now comes the hard part: editing, which is an individual task. In this way we’ll have four versions of the story.At this task we have to be really creative, and I barely wait to see all the versions.

To conclude, I must say that this group is my favourite. I really enjoyed working with these girls because they are really hard working and they are really serious regarding their work. I think we’ve made a great team, and I am really satisfied about the final result.

Short films research

Research is one of the keys to success. Before filming our short film I wanted to see more examples of short movies, I wanted to see when it started to appear, its evolution and its history.  On The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-life/7593291/The-long-history-of-short-films.html), I saw a brief history of short films. Look what I’ve found:

“In the beginning, all films were short. The earliest cinema audiences may not have been particularly aware of this as they marvelled at seconds-long scenes of circus performers, exotic cities, scantily clad ladies and people going about their daily business. For them, the novelty and the thrill of witnessing man’s latest technological triumph was paramount. But as the 20th century dawned, films began to get longer.

Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel's 'eyeball-slicing' Un Chien Andalou. 

Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel’s ‘eyeball-slicing’ Un Chien Andalou.

The very first films were presented to the public in 1894 through Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope, a peepshow-like device for individual viewing. These, and the projected films that succeeded them, were often one-shot “actuality” or “interest” films depicting celebrities, royal processions, travelogues, current affairs and scenes from everyday life. The best-known film from this time is perhaps the Lumière brothers’ Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (1895), which supposedly had audiences fleeing in terror as a celluloid locomotive hurtled towards them.

The brevity of these one-shot films suited Victorian modes of presentation. As Bryony Dixon, the BFI national archive’s silent film curator and director of the British Silent Film Festival, explains: “The major outlets for entertainment at that time were music halls and fairgrounds, where programmes were made up of a variety of different acts lasting up to about 20 minutes. Most early films imitated other entertainment media already in existence: magic lantern shows, illustrations, variety acts, tableaux presentations. So short was the norm.”

But in the early 1900s, improvements in recording and editing technology allowed film-makers to produce longer, multi-shot films. Some of the most memorable longer short films from the pre-features era include Georges Méliès’s A Trip to the Moon (1902) – in which a group of astronomers build an improbable space ship and encounter some acrobatic moon men – and Edwin S Porter’s The Great Train Robbery (1903), often celebrated as the first Western.

From about 1910 onwards, studio competition and audience demand induced film-makers to make even longer, multi-reel films and the first features were born. While DW Griffith’s controversial Ku Klux epic The Birth of a Nation (1915) has gone down in popular memory as the first feature film, it was in fact preceded by several feature-length multi-reelers from Italy, France, Denmark and the United States, including George Loane Tucker’s equally controversial Traffic in Souls (1913), which dealt with white slavery and prostitution.”

Then, I’ve started to look after Britain’s short film history. I’ve found a site: Hellum: Hollywood & Movie Industry (http://www.helium.com/items/134656-short-film-a-brief-critical-history):

“The one-reel film was similarly adopted in Britain and dominated the film industry between 1908 and 1913. As John Hawkridge says the tendency among film historians has always been to represent the British cinema as having had influential and innovative beginnings.’ (Hawkridge, 1997, pg. 130) This is seen in Britain’s many non-fiction actuality films, and narrative based series’ films such as the commercially successful Lieutenant Darling series. The series’ in which many short films were made over a period of time with a continuing narrative thread binding them, can be seen as an early form of the television serial.

Certainly, British filmmakers tried to push the medium further and were more willing to test the medium than their American counterparts. Sometimes this caused problems such as The Passion Of Men where the temporal logic of the narrative is at times disrupted when shot transitions are made by fades rather than cuts, and vice-versa’ (ibid., pg. 131) Yet at other times their ingenuity worked in such films as the two-reel A Visit to Peek Frean and Co’s Biscuit Works which is remarkable because of its use of high-angle shots, panning, and tilt movement, and its use of scene dissection to give a more complete view of specific factory processes.’ (ibid., pg. 131) British filmmakers also pioneered the ingenious cheat’ whereby actor movement is used to simulate camera movement’ (ibid., pg. 131). In Britain the short film was being used to break new boundaries in the medium, it wasn’t creating stars like the American films.

1.3 The Modern Day Short Film
By the 1930s the short subject as a viable commercial product in America was in serious decline. Charlie Chaplin had moved onto feature films and Mack Sennett was out of business. After 1935, Laurel and Hardy moved full time to feature films, which left the short subject bereft of talent and only exhibited via independent production houses and at times through block-booking. The reason short films struggled to find an audience was largely due to the exhibition of two feature films at the same time (the double feature) which meant there was no need for them. The short had become the poor relation of the feature film’ (Eder, 2004) with short-film units relegated to run down pieces of property separate from the main facility.’ (ibid.) But ultimately, it was television that killed the Hollywood short. As audiences shrank and production costs rose, it was no longer possible to supply the shorts.

I also found a site with the Most Voted History Short films (http://www.imdb.com/search/title?genres=history&sort=num_votes&title_type=short):


Script

Now, that I had to write my script, I completely understood how helpful can be a treatment while writing the script. The first thing is that I had to be careful at the layout and format, because it is really important. The most important parts of a script are: dialogue, names and actions, which must be typed and laid out distinctively, in order to be easy to tell them apart. Like I did with the treatment, I started to read some scripts in order to familiarise with them.

It’s not like everybody thinks. A script is not only about dialogue, and I’ve realised it when I started writing. A script is also about details regarding time, place, characters. You must describe them as detailed as possible in order to make a good script. My script, has a lot of dialogue, due to the fact that I had to include in 3 pages, all the action. I believe that I should have gave more details about the places and the characters, but I didn’t have more space.

It took me almost a week to write it and finish it. I read it loud several times to see exactly if I like how it sounds, and I’ve kinda liked it. I believe that is pretty good, considering that is my first one. I definitely believe that I would improve my work, and later on I will do better scripts.

 

INT. POLICE STATION – THURSDAY EVENING

It is coffee time. After a rainy day, the clouds begin to scatter. It is a relaxed atmosphere, due to the fact that no crime was reported for several days. Some cops gathered to talk. They are all dressed quite simple, and they seem to be bored.

MARK (ironic)

Hey guys! What’s up? Are you enjoying the moments of silence?

TONY, a colleague

Yeah. Some peaceful days are always welcome.

ANOTHER COLLEAGUE

Hope that it will last at least 2 or 3 more days, until something bad happens.

MARK

You’ll never know. This city is so unpredictable.

TONY

Would you come for a beer with us tonight? We’re celebrating CHUCK’s promotion.

MARK

Yeah. Why not? I only have to fill in some papers and I’m done.

The phone is ringing. MARK goes to answer the phone.

A COLLEAGUE

Fingers crossed. Hopefully not bad news… I barely wait to get out tonight.

MARK

LA Police. Detective MARK MORGAN at the phone. With what can I help you?

STRANGER (he can barely talk)

Beverly Boulevard number 28, Mystique Club…I am shot in the back. Please help us

In the background are screams and gunshots.

MARK

Stay calm. Tell me your name please. We will be right there.

The phone connection was interrupted. Busy tone.

MARK

Guys, come on. We don’t have time to lose. We need to get as quickly as we can at Mystique club. Our moments of silence are over now. If I’m right the owner of this club is ANGEL LAGUERTA, the head of the mob.

TONY

Do you think that we need back up?

MARK

Certainly. Send there 5 police cars. You, you and you are coming with me.

INT. POLICE CAR – THURSDAY EVENING

MARK is driving. He is very nervous. He doesn’t says a word all the way there. He is thinking at a plan, but he doesn’t know exactly at what to expect.

EXT. MISTIQUE CLUB – THURSDAY EVENING

MARK

Four of you come inside with me. We’ll enter the building through the back entrance. The others, surround the building, and make sure that no one manages to escape.

INT. MISTIQUE CLUB – THURSDAY EVENING

MARK

Be careful at your steps and don’t say any word. We should split. I’ll go this way.

A tall man, is patrolling on the main hall. MARK goes behind his back, and with a quick and precise move, hits him very hard in his had, with the gun. The man remains unconscious on the floor.

Going further, MARK hears some screams in the distance, and than a thick voice from one of the rooms. He recognises it. Its ANGEL LAGUERTA. His face turns red, and his heart starts beating really fast. The door is slightly opened. He takes a quick look, waits a few seconds and than he enters the room, pointing ANGEL with a gun.

MARK

LA police! Drop the bag and slowly put your hands behind your head. You’re arrested.

In the next second, ANGEL’S bodyguard comes in and stabbers MARK.

BODYGUARD

We should hurry! Its full of cops outside.

ANGEL LAGUERTA

You can’t catch me. I have too many people by my side.

MARK

You won’t get away with this.

MARK pretends to faint in order to distract their attention. When they head to the door, MARK shots the bodyguard, than he manages to stand up.

MARK

ANGEL, stay were you are or I’ll shot you. You know I will, so don’t make something stupid.

While he threatens ANGEL with the gun, he puts him the handcuffs.

ANGEL LAGUERTA

Be a smart boy and let me free. If you put me in jail, my man will find out who you are and you’ll regret this for the rest of your life. I promise.

MARK

Everybody says that. But the truth is that you’ll rot in jail.

EXT. MISTIQUE CLUB – THURSDAY EVENING

MARK leaves the building, and surrenders ANGEL LAGUERTA to the other cops. An ambulance takes him to the hospital, for a small surgery and he spends the night there.

INT. MARK’S HOUSE – FRIDAY MORNING

The phone is ringing.

MARK

Hello! Hello? Anybody there?

STRANGER

I’m your worst nightmare. I know everything about you and your family. Get ANGEL LAGUERTA out of jail, or you and your family will be dead.

Busy tone.

SARAH

Who was on the phone sweetie?

MARK

It was a mistake babe.

INT. MARK’S HOUSE, LIVING ROOM – FRIDAY EVENING

The TV is on. On the table is an opened bottle of wine.

MARK

You know darling, I almost never tell you how much I love you. But I want you to know that you are everything for me.

SARAH

I love you too.

Suddenly there is a hammering on the door.

MARK

I’ll get it.

MARK’s sister was lying breathless in front of his house. The mob made their first victim… Now the hunter became the prey… Who’s going to be next?

MARK is now holding his sister’s breathless body in his arms.

MARK

I’ll promise you that this is not over. I will revenge you sis, I swear.

Treatment

A treatment is a quite hard thing to do. A treatment is detailed, it must outline all the information necessary and it tells you the story that will happen in the script. I had to be careful in writing this treatment, because without a good treatment, the script will be a mess.

The hard part, was to get started. I didn’t knew from where to start, what should I write first and so on. I didn’t knew how to manage all the story, how to present all the main characters etc. So, I’ve started to read some treatments in order to have a better sense about it. After reading some examples, I knew what I had to do. It took me about 3-4 days to finish it. I know that is short, but I had to be careful at all the details. It were moments when I wrote, and then wiped everything I wrote because I thought it did not sound good.

After I’ve finished my first draft, I give it to a friend of mine, to give me her opinion about it. She drew my attention to some things that needed to be changed, and that was really helpful. It is very hard to see your own mistakes, especially when you are very committed to the subject. An extra opinion always brings something good. So, I’ve changed some things in the treatment, and then I put it aside for a day, to clear my mind. After reading it, I thought that is quite good, though I always believe that is room for improvement in everything.

Treatment

Act one.

LA, Thursday – evening.

It is an ordinary Thursday evening. The police station from the city centre seems to be very quiet. Suddenly, an unexpected call changes the situation. A bartender, wounded by a bullet in the back, manages to call the police to announce a firearm in one of the most exclusive clubs of the city. Those were his last words…

MARK, one of the best cops, realizes that the address corresponds to the address of one of the most dangerous clubs in town, whose owner is the head of the mob. It is a private club that very few people have access to and they usually make illegal businesses there.  MARK knows that this incident will have a bad end if no one intervenes. The first victim has already been made and many others could be next if the situation gets out of control. Five police cars were sent there. MARK is very nervous. He doesn’t says a word all the way there. He calculates all his moves. He knows that he must have a very good plan until he gets there.

Act two.

LA, Mystique Club – afternoon

MARK is the one in charge with the catching operation. He knows he must do something very quickly before it gets worse. MARK was chasing the head of the MAFIA , ANGEL LAGUERTA, for a long time and fortunately he knew quite well his moves and how he acts. For MARK it is not the first time he comes in this club. 2 years ago he captured five leading members of the mob. But he won’t give up until he catches the leader, so this is his chance. The back entrance of the club was the only way to enter the building without being killed. He and another four policemen entered the club and some others surrounded the building. On the hall is a very tall man, patrolling. MARK acts very quietly and precisely. He comes in his back, and hits him very hard with his gun in the head. The guy remains unconscious on the floor.

From the main hall, MARK can hear the screams of women. He realizes that everything must be done in perfect order, so that the operation would be successful. He tells the other cops to split, in order to cover all the area.

He remains on the main hall.  Suddenly, he hears a very thick voice from one of the rooms and he recognizes it. The door is slightly opened, so he can see who is inside. His heart starts beating really fast. He remains still for a few seconds and than, he gets inside very slowly. There was ANGEL LAGUERTA, talking on the phone and trying to escape with a bag full of cocaine. This is the proof needed to put him in jail. He puts his gun on ANGEL’s head and breathes relieved that he finally caught him.

Meanwhile the other cops, have managed to capture several members of the mafia.

ANGEL’s bodyguard comes in and stabbers MARK. Though, MARK has a lot of experience and he can control himself very well, so he pretends to feel very bad.  When ANGEL and his bodyguard think that he is unconscious, and they head to the door, MARK shoots the bodyguard, than he manages to stand up, even if he is in a lot of pain, and catches ANGEL LAGUERTA. He feels released.

When he gets out, he is taken directly to the hospital, for a minor surgery.

Unfortunately, three members of the mob managed to escape.

Act three.

LA, Mark’s house

The next morning MARK receives an anonymous call. Someone is threatening him and his family and tells him that if he doesn’t get ANGEL LAGUERTA out of jail, many people could be hurt. MARK doesn’t pay attention at this threaten, because all his personal details are hidden in the police records.

In the evening, he is staying with his wife in the living room, watching Television and drinking a glass of wine. Suddenly there is a hammering on the door. The mob made their first victim…MARK’s sister was lying breathless in front of his house. Now the hunter became the prey… Who’s going to be the next victim?


Pitch and Outline

Coming up with ideas for a short movie is not as easy as it seems, especially when your story must be based on some premises. In my case the two premises were: There is a hammering on a door, it opens to reveal a dishevelled breathless person, why? How did they get this way… and: There is a hammering on a door, why? Dare the door be opened? If so what is revealed….

I choose the first premise because it seemed more easier to build a story based on this idea. I cannot say that the pitch was a very hard thing to do. But I can say that you need some time in order to think exactly how your movie should be,  and you should also think at a lot of options and ideas before picking the right one for you. The idea didn’t came suddenly. Like I said its a matter of time. I have started to think at different ideas while I was eating, taking a shower, walking and so on. I started to have an idea about what’s going to happen in my film, but I didn’t knew exactly how to develop it.

In order to make the pitch, I should have had in consideration also the outline. I knew that  I want the story to be connected with cops and crime scenes, and I also knew that this is quite a common idea. I thought that most movies have a happy ending, and I thought that it will be interesting if mine doesn’t have  such an end,  so I came with this idea: A cop chases the mob and he ends up being their prey. I started to think at a story based on this idea, I’ve started to write the bare bones of the story down on a paper, and after 2 or 3 days of modifying the outline I’ve finally finished it. All the ideas were mixed in my had, so I decided to put the outline away for another 2 days. When I read it again I immediately noticed the mistakes and I corrected them. I had to be careful also in engaging all the important characters in the story, and I had to highlight the conflicts and the relationships.

 

First idea.

A man killed by two robbers ends up in front of a stranger’s  house. This is the cruel reality that we live

Second idea

Pitch

A cop chases the mob and he ends up being their prey.

Outline

When you are a cop everything is different. You cannot say that you have a normal, peaceful life like everyone else. Instead, you can say that you have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Everyday you deal with dangerous criminals, with psychopaths and with the MAFIA.

MARK is a cop. He is one of those guys that put their life in risk in order to protect the society. He fights day by day against violence and criminal minds. He managed to put in jail one of the most wanted criminals from the country. But something has changed. The last man that he put in prison is one of the most powerful heads of the MAFIA: ANGEL LAGUERTA. Now the mob is constantly threatening him and his family. They are capable of everything in order to get their member out of jail.

It’s an ordinary Friday evening…MARK is staying with his wife, SARAH, in the living room, watching Television and drinking a glass of wine. Suddenly there is a hammering on the door.  MARK opens the door and finds his sister lying breathless in front of his house.