BSA231: Locations and Ideas.

For my end of year project I have the option of making a short film, a documentary or a web-series. The idea for this project was to use one of the scripts written for the final assessment in our Screenwriting paper. Before I wrote that screenplay, I checked with my tutor on whether it would be compulsory to use it for this upcoming assessment. I was glad when he said it wasn’t as the idea I had was one one that I didn’t want to make into a short film. I would be happy for someone else to do it, but I just don’t want to. I guess part of the reason was that it was quite a personal story, but also it was a piece of writing in my mind and that’s the way it should stay.
Instead, I would like to be able to experiment a bit with this project. I think this would be a great opportunity to try something that I haven’t don’t before. Having watched The Blair Witch Project for the first time recently, I thought that would be a genre I could have a bit of fun experimenting with. I’ve been trying to think of a story I could write in this genre that uses The Blair Witch Project as inspiration, but it’s very difficult to think of something without copying this film or others that are similar.
Another film that has been influential while finding ideas for this project is The Revenant. I thought this film was really beautiful and I found it interesting that it was all shot on a wide lens, but what really grabbed my attention was that it is all filmed using natural lighting. This really grabbed my attention as I find lighting to be quite a frustrating task. It takes so much time to properly light a scene so if I could do my project using only natural lighting it would be so much easier. That being said, I do understand that I will need to spend a bit of time researching and testing how to get the best lighting and making sure I can properly expose everything before I actually begin filming.
Before I commit too much to this, it would probably be wise to actually write a story/screenplay.

I moved recently and where I moved to overlooks Thompson’s Bush. I thought this would be an excellent location for the style/genre of film I am thinking of doing so I went for a walk yesterday to take some photos and get some inspiration.
I had one or two ideas that I will be thinking on more to see if I can create a relatively original story from.
There were a couple of spots on the track I was walking that would definitely be usable, and also a couple of old bits of clothes hanging off branches which got me thinking about how I would set dress (if at all) if I do end up making a kind of horror mockumentary.

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An old shirt hanging from a branch back in the bush

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BSA231: I made a Promotional Video

I did it. I made a promotional video.

The last few days of putting together this video were quite stressful. After I realised I didn’t have the footage from David’s interview, I organised to reshoot on Monday. Monday came and I was feeling pretty good about everything. I got the gear I needed and Josh, Kate and I headed off to Queen’s Park again (we were a little late, but we did make it) where we reshot the interview with David. It was a really quick reshoot (we finished in about 15 minutes) and I think shooting outside, not requiring lighting, helped with that. Having done the interview once before, David knew exactly what questions I would be asking and what he needed to say in response to them so that was a huge help too.

I was really happy with the footage when we got back to class and I was looking over it, but I hadn’t recorded the audio right. I had recorded through the wrong input on the Zoom mic and so what I had was more of an ambient recording – David was very quiet, I was loud (because I was holding the Zoom), the children in the background were clear, you could hear the wind and the birds too. I think I nearly cried at that point, I was so disappointed in myself. I also felt terrible that David had gone out of his way to help me a second time and I had messed up that time too.
Ideally, I would have liked to have reshot a third time, but I felt so bad that I couldn’t bring myself to ask David. I also didn’t have enough time as another classmate needed the camera I had been using that afternoon. Instead I just sat down and continued editing.

There were a few things I ran out of time for in the video I submitted; I didn’t have a name title for Rebecca, I didn’t have credits and the music ran for a little too long after the video ended.
Before I hand over the video to Rebecca, I’m going to fix these things. I’m also going to offer to Rebecca that I reshoot David’s interview again, and possibly her own, if she isn’t happy with the video.

So I could put it here on my blog, I uploaded the video I submitted for assessment.
Once I’ve made the necessary adjustments, and shown Rebecca, I will upload the final one.

BSA231: A Crazy Week of Filming

This week has felt twice as long as it actually was. The only down time I had was for about two hours on Thursday and that was only because I ignored what I could have been doing, but I felt it was important to give myself that little bit of me time.

On Monday I had to run off in the middle of class, dragging Josh with me, to film the B-roll for my promotional video. I had a friend come along to act for me, not that much acting was required – all she needed to do was write on some paper and look through a book.
I had arranged with a lovely lady called Cynthia at the library to borrow some of Dan Davin’s books, but when I went to get them she also gave me a folder that included all sorts of correspondence, financial documents and pamphlets relating to Davin and his work so that was a bonus. I had Sarah, my actress, look through this book as we filmed. She ended up getting quite engrossed in it and read most of it while Josh and I worked around her figuring out different shots.
It was really great to have Josh with me working as camera operator as it took a little stress off of me which made it the whole process go much smoother.

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B-roll of Sarah before colour correction
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B-roll of Sarah before colour correction

 

Monday evening I met with Kate and Aaron at the Stadium to film basketball and athletics for the Special Olympics training. I really enjoyed this shoot, it was quite a relaxed environment and the athletes were a lot of fun to work with.
Kate asked me to work on camera for this and I found it was a really good environment for me to try different things without any pressure. Not having to concentrate on anything else, but the camera was really nice.
After the training at the Stadium, we went along to film them playing indoor bowls.


I think that Tuesday went really well even though there was a lot going on. I was part of three different shoots on that one day. Josh and I went to get the second part of my B-roll, the Dan Davin bust at the Community Trust, at 11am, then at 1pm Josh, Teneill and I met David Dudfield at the Band Rotunda in Queen’s Park for my first interview. After that we all headed to the Museum to shoot Josh’s B-roll, and then we all went back to the Band Rotunda at 3:30 for my second interview with Rebecca Amundsen who is the chairperson of the Dan Davin Literary Foundation.

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Dan Davin bust
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Rebecca Amundsen interview

We had a tiny bit of a break once that was all done, but then Josh and I met with Kate to go to the Rowing Club to film the rowing training for Kate’s promo. Josh was on camera for this part and I wasn’t really doing anything, but I really enjoyed just watching the process. I find the athletes really inspiring, they are really motivated, work very hard and are so dedicated to what they do.


On Friday I finally got the chance to review my footage. Everything looked really good and I was very happy with it, but there was one problem – I couldn’t find David’s interview.
I think I must have somehow managed to not import it. I nearly cried when I realised I didn’t have it and would have to reshoot. I had felt so good about this assignment when I had finished all of my filming nearly a week before it was due so it was quite deflating to have that happen. Thankfully, we had been given an extension giving us until Tuesday 23rd at 4pm to finish the promo video so on Monday I am reshooting the interview with David.

BSA227: Assignment 1 Complete.

The second piece of concept art was finished today with input from both myself and Kate. I think it turned out quite nicely.
Like the first piece, we put it together on Photoshop using various images and the sphere I drew for the first piece.

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Once I had finished the second piece of concept art and Kate had written most of the treatment, we swapped computers so that Kate could make a start on the storyboards and I could write the end of the treatment.
When the treatment was complete, I continued on to writing up our production research. This part of the project wasn’t difficult because we had already done a lot of research into the ways we could achieve what we had in mind. We had also already done the initial tests for how to create the planets so it was just a matter of putting it all into words.
I left the section on the influence from The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis for Kate to write as that was her idea in the first place.
Kate also went through once all of the writing was done and added in images in the relevant areas.

Below is my contribution to the 10 storyboards Kate and I managed to complete for this first assignment.
I found the templates we had to use to be quite confusing. I didn’t really understand what all of the sections meant so I just followed what Kate had been doing and filled in the information where she had been.
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BSA227: Concept

Kate and I sat down last week to work on the first assignment for our compositing project, which includes writing a treatment, creating concept art and storyboarding. We decided that the logical first step would be to start on the treatment so we can then take those ideas and make them visual.
Being late at night when we started this writing process made it quite difficult to make a lot of progress, but eventually I got words onto the screen and a story unfolded. It wasn’t until Kate read over it that I realised it made very little sense and I had really just written a whole bunch of crap. Well done me.

After that unsuccessful attempt, I figured it might be better to leave the writing of the treatment to Kate and just try to work on concept art instead. I had been really looking forward to this part of the assignment. The idea of creating colourful, and slightly strange, tiny planets and putting them into a universe sounded really exciting to me. So I sat down, found a suitable picture I had taken of the stars, collected the tiny planet tests Kate and I had done, opened Photoshop and got to work piecing them together.

I decided on using the images below.

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The first thing I did was to place the forest world onto the stars and delete the background. It proved to be too fiddly to delete the sky from all of the gaps in between the branches so I just erased that particular tree. I then worked on the edges of the planet with the feathered eraser tool, on low opacity, so they wouldn’t be so harsh.

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What I really wanted to do was to curve the edges of the planet to make it look more like a globe and have more of a 3D effect rather than looking like a flat, 2D image. Once I placed the next planet, I played around with the different types of transformation and rediscovered the warp tool. It took me a while to find it and work it, but I think I managed to make it work quite successfully.
The other thing that I added was a sphere. I was attempting to make it look like a bubble, but I don’t think that quite worked. When I showed it to Kate, she suggested we make it a balloon so our character catches the strings of different balloons that float by to get to each planet rather than being inside a bubble.

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After moving, warping, resizing, and adding a child, our first piece of concept art was finished.

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BSA231: Promo Vid Progress

I had a goal in the last week to confirm my interviewees and locations , but I ran out of time between finishing another assessment, packing for moving, and helping on Lana’s shoot. I had managed to confirm Rebecca as an interviewee on Thursday and she said she would be able to get in contact with last year’s winner of the adult competition and encourage him to be an interviewee too. By the time I did have chance to organise locations, it was Sunday and I wouldn’t have been able to get in contact with businesses.

It is now Thursday and I have made some progress. I have confirmed my second interviewee – David Dudfield, the winner of last year’s adult Dan Davin Award.
I will be filming the interviews on Tuesday afternoon between 1pm and 4:30pm in Queen’s Park, providing the sun is out!
I have also talked to one of the ladies at the library and asked if I can borrow some of the books they have that Dan Davin wrote to include in my B-roll footage and she has given me permission for that. When I have confirmed locations and dates for the B-roll I only need to ring Cynthia and she will let me borrow them.

I’ve done a couple of storyboards for my B-roll so I could show Rebecca during our second meeting on the Tuesday just been. They aren’t anything special, just quick sketches to give an idea of what I’m thinking. The first is a person sitting at a desk writing, and the second is an over-the-shoulder shot of what the person is writing. I’m hoping to have some slider shots of this situation just to add some movement to the video. Watching what Corey was filming for Lana’s video (most of the B-roll being on a slider), gave me a really good idea of what I should be doing for my own video.
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A really important piece of B-roll to include in the promo vid for Dan Davin is the Dan Davin bust which is at the Community Trust. 7121144Rebecca said that the Community Trust purchasing the bust from the Southland Museum was really where the Dan Davin Literary Foundation began, so including it in the video is quite important.

I will be going to the Community Trust tomorrow (Friday) to talk to the people there about filming the bust. Hopefully this will happen on the same day as the rest of my B-roll filming. I am hoping this will take place at the Civic so I am going to have a look around there tomorrow to see if there are any places there that will be suitable. If so, I have been told that I will have to film there either Monday or Tuesday as they have events on the weekend and Wednesday. As I have already confirmed to shoot interviews on Tuesday I will need to make arrangements to film on Monday.

BSA231: Learning Things

Today’s class felt like it was full of good things. We had a chat over Skype with Richard Bell which I found really enjoyable. Being interested in music videos myself, it was really good to hear from someone who has been involved in making them since they were first taking off and becoming a viable industry. We then presented our progress so far on our promotional videos and were given tasks to complete for next week that will help us get our projects on a roll, such as confirming interviewees and writing a solid list of questions for each person. After that, we grabbed the light meters again to recap how they work and what their purpose is. I wouldn’t say I necessarily enjoyed this part of the class, but I certainly found it very useful and it helped to reaffirm the knowledge that I am gaining on the exposure aspects of a camera through the photography I do in my own time.


Having spoken with Rebecca who, if I remember correctly, is the chairperson of the Dan Davin Literary Foundation. She seemed very enthusiastic about the promotional video, which was really encouraging. She said she would be happy to be interviewed for the video and also said she would try to encourage last years winner of the adult award to be interviewed too. I now need to write a list of questions for the both of them and decided on  locations and possible back up locations as I was hoping to film at least one of them in Queen’s Park. If the weather isn’t good for the day I plan to shoot (which will be between the 12th and 15th of August) then that obviously won’t happen. I am hopeful though, because on Lana’s shoot at the Boat Club yesterday it was meant to be a pretty dull and rainy day, but we had sun for most of it.

Rebecca suggested using some of the locations that Dan Davin wrote about in his books or maybe the house he grew up in. I drove past the house to have a quick look and it would certainly be a nice location, but Rebecca says she doesn’t know the new owners so I feel it wouldn’t quite be right to ask these people if I could film in their house.
Rebecca also mentioned that Dan Davin wrote about the Civic which was also one of the locations we discussed in class that would be possible to use. I definitely like the idea of using this. I will now need to get in contact with the people at the Civic so I can have a look around and hopefully book it so I can then get onto planning out the b-roll parts of the video.