BSA306: A new Project

The challenge ahead: research a topic, technique or style etc. that interests me and produce a body of work based on my findings.

Obviously my biggest interests are film and photography so my research will be focused around elements of these mediums. I am considering the idea of a multi medium project that uses both film and photography. I would to try taking the same techniques, ideas or styles and presenting them as works of photography and film to then compare the final products, even though I feel it could be very ambitious with the work load I am about to take on. I would compare them in the way the idea is portrayed, how it is received and whether or not the pieces are translated in the same way. Alongside this I would be interested to know which piece myself, and others, found to be more successful.

I definitely think the question I will be exploring will be based around the idea of the piece rather than the techniques used in it. That being said, I would love to explore the use of low lighting to create mood and emotion in this work.

This article discusses lighting techniques in film and the effects they have on the subject.

In this blog post from a cinematography student, backlighting, and when to use it, is explored. I found this interesting because I was thinking of predominantly featuring silhouettes in my project and those are created by backlighting the subject. This blog post discussed various forms of backlighting the different moods each creates. Perhaps I could try and utilise as many of these techniques as possible to create different moods through the lighting.

I love the lighting used in these images by Babak Fatholahi.
What I like about the first image is the sense of mystery that is created by the lighting. I would love to try something like this in my project because I think it feels very sombre, like there is something lost and this is emphasised through the fact that we can only see the model’s face and everything else seems to fall into the shadows.

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© Babak Fatholahi

This second image has a very different mood to the first. It’s still very dark and “moody”, but I think the emotions felt from it are almost opposite. I feel like the use of lighting and the model’s pose suggest hope and determination. I always like to try and find a story within an image and to me the story in this is one of a woman who has been trapped in a dark place, struggling with life, but now she is beginning to come out of that place and move on into a happier and brighter future. Even though that sounded incredibly cheesy, I would love to try and create that kind of feeling, or story, in my own photographs for this project.

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© Babak Fatholahi

 

I found this essay interesting as it looks at the use of lighting in several scenes in Casablanca (1942) saying, “Casablanca is considered by many to be the finest example of the film noir style of the 1940s”. This essay focuses a lot on the use of lighting to represent emotions or the state of mind of the characters.


 

The next step for me in this project will be to decide what exactly my focus will be. I do know that I will be focusing on emotion in film and photography, but I’m not sure just yet whether or not that will also relate to lighting. Though I am interested in how lighting can effect the mood of a scene or reflect the emotional state of a character, I’m not sure my interest is strong enough to keep me enthusiastic and invested throughout the project.

BSA231: Promotional Videos

As an introduction to our Practical Filmmaking class this semester, we read through the handbook (riveting as usual) and did a little research on promotional videos to start on us our first project of making one.

Below is the list of questions we had to answer when looking at two different promotional videos.

 

  • Who is the client?
  • What is the product/service?
  • What is the message?
  • What specific filmmaking techniques do they use to deliver the message/highlight the qualities or benefits of the product/service? Camera techniques? Post-production? Narrative techniques? Music?
  • Is the promotional video successful? If not, why?
  • Do you like it? If not, why?

 

 

  1. Dove
  2. Helping women understand they are more beautiful than they think.
  3. “You are more beautiful than you think”. Dove Real Beauty Sketches.
  4. Handheld camera helps the people feel more real (part of the message is real beauty). Soft, nautral lighting. Filmed in an open space with plenty of light. Gentle music. Not revealing the sketches until the end, and throwing in other people describing the women (which I wasn’t expecting) made is quite emotional.
  5. Yes.
  6. Yes.

 

 

 

  1. Evian
  2. Pure and natural water.
  3. Live young
  4. Fun, upbeat music. Changing relfection to be a baby (hence “live young”).
  5. It’s catchy (mostly due to the music). It’s fun. It’s short so it keeps your attention. It begins in way that catches your attention, but is also in a style that many “hipster” style ads are which lets you know it’s going to be fun and not too long.
  6. Not sure. It’s quite odd. I didn’t dislike it. I enjoyed the music, but I think showing the product, even subtly, would have been good, although it wasn’t necessrily needed.

 

I found another video that I really enjoyed. It’s not exactly a promotional video, but it was created by Airbnb as a way to engage with their customers.
They decided to ask people to make vines that followed a certain story they had created, and then Airbnb would piece it all together to make a short film.

 

BSA206: Montage

Sergei Eisenstein (1898 – 1948)

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Director of Strike (1925) and Battleship Potemkin (1925) and a pioneer of the use of montage, developing the “methods of montage”:

  • Metric
  • Rhythmic
  • Tonal
  • Over-tonal
  • Intellectual

“The first and most basic is metric editing, based on the length of a shot. It creates the tempo of the film.

The second editing method is rhythmic montage, based on both the length of a shot and the dynamics of the scenes. In other words, it also considers the rhythm of the action depicted.

Next is the tonal editing method, which focuses on the lighting, shadows, and colors of the edited scenes.

The over-tonal method combines the first three method in a holistic approach.

The last and most complex editing method, and Eisenstein’s favorite, is the intellectual method. It creates new meaning through editing by combining shots on the basis of a conceptual connection between them.” [3]

Dziga Vertov (1896 – 1954)

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Director of Man With A Movie Camera (1929). Coined the term ‘Kino Eye’, or film eye

Kino-eye = kino-seeing (I see through the camera) + kino-writing (I write on film with the camera) + kino-organization (I edit).” … “Kino-Eye means the conquest of space, the visual linkage of people throughout the entire world based on the continuous exchange of visible fact” … “Kino-Eye is the possibility of seeing life processes in any temporal order or at any speed” … “Kino-Eye uses every possible means in montage, comparing and linking all points of the universe in any temporal order, breaking, when necessary, all the laws and conventions of film construction. [1]

Man With a Movie Camera is full of various montage effects. Many of them were very fast paced, unusual for the period, and unmatched until the era of the music video.
Vertov uses montage to show a journey in a short period of time when he shows the process of production. [2]
Another use of montage in this film is cutting to shots that are visually similar, but, apart from that, have no connection. [2]

Vsevolod Pudovkin (1893 – 1953)

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Director of Mother (1926). Believed “…Editing is not merely a method of the junction of seperate scenes or pieces, but is a method that controls the ‘psychological guidance’ of the spectator.” [4]

He developed 5 editing techniques that help to convey certain emotions:

  • Contrast
  • Parallelism
  • Symbolism
  • Simultaneity
  • Leit Motif
  1. Contrast: Cutting between two drastically different shots forces the viewer to compare two opposing scenes in their mind. [5]
  2. Parallelism: Connecting scenes by matching certain elements within them. Often used to jump from one time period or location to another in a more elegant way. [5]
  3. Symbolism: Similar to parallelism, but provides visual metaphors for elements in the story. [5]
  4. Simultaneity: Also called cross-cutting. For example, cutting between two sides of a situation, making it seem as though they are taking place at the same location when they are, in fact, not. [5]
  5. Leit Motif: A recurring shot or scene that has some sort of meaning or symbolism. [5]

 


  1. https://books.google.co.nz/books?id=N-T_ogXMzlgC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
  2. http://faculty.cua.edu/johnsong/hitchcock/pages/montage/montage-2.html
  3. http://filmslie.com/watch-soviet-theory-of-montage/
  4. https://archive.org/details/filmtechniqueact00pudo
  5. https://vimeo.com/76513972

 

 

BSA206: Taika Waititi

Taika Waititi is a New Zealand director, actor, writer, and producer best known for his films Boy (2010) and Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016). His acting credits include one of the main roles in Boy, the lead role as Viago in What We Do In The Shadows (2014), and Tom Kalmaku in The Green Lantern (2011). Currently, he is working on Thor: Ragnarok, due for release in 2017, which Waititi is directing. [1]

Hunt For The Wilderpeople, released in 2016, is Waititi’s latest film and focuses on the themes of family and acceptance. It broke box office records in New Zealand in it’s opening week grossing $1.26 million in it’s first four days of release. [2]
The film is based on Barry Crump’s book Wild Pork and Watercress.
I thought this film was excellent, I spent the whole time either laughing or crying. Boy is one of my favourite films and I also loved What We Do In The Shadows, so I was really looking forward to this film. I really enjoy the way Taika Waititi tells stories, like Boy and Hunt For The Wilderpeople, more or less through the eyes of a child. I think it’s very clever the way he makes them largely humorous, but there’s always something more serious going on.


  1. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0169806/?ref_=tt_ov_dr#director 
  2. http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/film/78514350/hunt-for-the-wilderpeople-breaks-kiwi-box-office-records
  3. https://youtu.be/n8Xvsjy57X0

BSA234: Stuck

So for my film drama project I decided to film my non-dialogue short film Stuck. This is about a girl having drinks with a guy in a club, but nature calls so she goes to the bathroom where she ends up stuck in the cubicle because it won’t unlock.

Last Sunday a classmate kindly arranged for me to be able to film in Barluca on Wednesday, so I spent the few days in between stressing over finding actors and organising shots.
I didn’t have time to look through the database for actors so I asked Daisy and Josh if they would act for me. Thankfully they were happy to do so. The biggest struggle was finding enough extras to make the setting look convincing. Not many people were able to come on the day, so that was a little disappointing. If I’d planned everything a bit better and given myself longer to find extras I’m sure I would have been able to wrangle some more.
Because of not having many extras I had to cut some shots, but I’m really happy with what I did shoot. Although, it turns out I have an issue with focusing shots properly. When I looked over the footage, some of it isn’t quite in focus (as far as I can tell) even though I used the focus peaking. I was told afterwards that the focus peaking isn’t quite accurate.

I filmed the bathroom scenes on Friday at SIT. This was quite a fun part to film because Daisy’s character has to fall off the toilet after standing on it. I spilt water on the floor, scattered pieces of toilet paper, and walked over it to make the floor look really gross and dirty. i felt a bit mean because made Daisy sit in it at the end, but by that stage it wasn’t very wet so hopefully it wasn’t too gross.

Again, I wasn’t as well organised as I could have been, so I missed one or two shots that I wanted to get (like Daisy’s leg or hand hitting the door when she falls which makes the door pop open), but when I looked over the footage I realised I didn’t really need it. It turns out Daisy is pushing on a pull door, so it just looks like she’s being really blonde and the door isn’t really stuck.
I’m really looking forward to editing this. I think it’s going to turn out really good. The only thing I’m going to need to pay extra attention to is the audio because we ended up not recording sound except through the camera which will sound really terrible. I’m not sure if I’ll have time to fiddle around with that for this assessment, but I’d like to work on it at some point.

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Storyboards for shot 13
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Shot 13
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Storyboards for shots 16 & 17
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Shot 17
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Storyboards for shot 19
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Shot 19
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Storyboards for shot 68
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Shot 68

BSA204: Final Short Film

It took me long time to think of something to write about for this last project for screenwriting. I did want to write a web series, because I thought that would be quite different to write, and a lot of fun too. The problem was that I couldn’t think of something that would be entertaining and that I would enjoy writing about and eventually making. Having a lot of other projects to think about at the same time didn’t help with this process at all.
With the due date for this project, which I was constantly thinking about because it was unusual for our tutor to set the due date on a day we don’t have class with him, looming closer and closer, I decided a short film would be easier to write than a web series. Although, that didn’t mean I had any ideas for that either.

On Tuesday, the day before this screenplay was due, I settled on developing a piece of writing I did with Duncan into a short film. I had wanted to avoid doing this because the piece was quite personal and I didn’t really want to play around with it and turn it into something that didn’t do it justice.
The story I wrote is called Acceptance. It’s the story of a girl who, for no reason in particular, is an outcast so she sits alone and just watches people trying to figure out why she isn’t included, but then someone includes her and they eventually become friends. I know it sounds really cliché, and I really hate cliché things, but i didn’t have time to rewrite in a way that fitted what was in my mind.

With everything else I’ve written, I’ve kept in my mind that it needs to be achievable to film, but with this project I tried not to think that way. When i set down to write it, I let myself be free with how many extra members of the cast i wrote into it. The story is set in a high school and many of the scenes in the courtyard during lunch break so if I were to film this i would need a lot of extras.
I have to be honest, I really don’t want to film this. I think that’s partly due to the fact that this basis for the story I wrote came from a piece of writing that I was really happy with as it was, so to me it should stay as a piece of writing. The problem with that is this screenplay is meant to be filmed next semester, and I have absolutely no desire to film it, not even just for assessment purposes. Perhaps if I change the story around (basically re write the entire thing), I’ll be okay to do so.

I wouldn’t say I’m unhappy with this screenplay, but I do wish I had more time to work on it. That being said, I actually had more time than I thought. I ended up staying up until 5am Wednesday morning to finish this and it turns out we had been given a 5 day extension. Somehow I’d missed this important piece of information, so… good job me.

BSA204: Web Series

It was sad to say goodbye to Duncan this week, but I will look forward to seeing him again next year. He’s been a huge help with my story writing and development and a great encouragement.
I really enjoyed the last couple of days we had with him. He got me doing a bit of improvisation (as he does) which I thought I wouldn’t really enjoy, but I actually did.
What he was getting us to do was to change elements of our ‘story’ and see how it changed the mood or effectiveness. I found it to be a real help because it got me thinking about how good it is to change a story or piece of writing, even if you think it’s great how it is, because there’s always going to be ways to improve it. Sometimes it’s just something simple like making one character talk a little more or even making one talk less.

During the writing exercises where we put this advice into practice, I started thinking more about what to do for my web series of short film. I’ve been really wanting to write a web series because I think it would be a bit more of a challenge and will just be nice to do something a little different too.
I had an idea while listening to the conversations we have at dinner that it would be fun to write a web series that were basically dinner table conversations. Sure, it will be a challenge to make each episode different enough and make it really engaging too, but I think it will be fun to play around with how you can get to know characters and reveal a lot about a person, or a family, from what they discuss at dinner.
Sitting down to dinner and getting to hear about everyone’s day is something I really look forward to in my own life. For me, it’s where I’ve gotten to know the people I live with and it’s the place we all come together and start to connect. Plus, we always have fun and interesting conversations.
To be honest, I think I’m going to start taking a pen and paper to the table and taking notes just in case any gems pop up!

BSA234: Horror.

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The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
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The “control room” from The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

The horror genre is heavily influenced by the German expressionism movement from the 1920s. Some of the early German expressionist films like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) and Nosferatu (1922) are classed as horror film and even ranked as the top 2 horror films on Rotten Tomatoes. For out research on our genre project, our genre being horror, we looked at several classic horror movies. Two of these being The Ring (2002) and The Cabin in the Woods (2012). Even though The Cabin in the Woods isn’t exactly a classic, it is an excellent example of all things horror and can almost be considered as a parody of the genre. It almost pokes fun at horror movies, it focuses around a group of teenagers, has a creepy, isolated setting, but doesn’t really take itself seriously and this is emphasised by the men in the “control room”.
For our short horror film we’ve decided to lean towards the parody side of the horror genre. By doing this it we will be able to take all of the classic horror set ups and put them into one short film and not have to worry about not having it look ‘cheesy’.
Below are the story boards for the set ups I worked on:

  1. The antagonist emerging from a shadowy hallway
  2. The protagonist approaching the camera curiously
  3. The antagonist looking back over her shoulder while running away through a forest
  4. The antagonist framed in a CU while going about ‘daily tasks’ that involve opening doors, then having the antagonist appear behind a door
  5. Leading the frightened protagonist slowly down a hallway with the antagonist darting around behind her
  6. The protagonist hiding in a dark cupboard/wardrobe with only a slit of light showing her face

We also have a location for our film thanks to my lovely second family. The house I live in is an old, dark house with long hallways so it’s a perfect location. Photos are below.

BSA204: Return of the Sarkies

Duncan came back this week and just in time to be able to give me some advice on my table play before I handed it in. The screenplay was due on Tuesday and Duncan arrived on Monday so i met with him to have a read over my step outline and get some feedback.

He like my idea, but suggested I rework the ending to reflect the beginning. I did have the story end with the two children, Katie and Tom, deciding to play a different game. Taking Duncan’s advice, I went back to the story and rewrote the end entirely. During this process, I got a bit stuck. I came to a point where I just didn’t know where to go next. Thi got me to thinking and I realised that ending a story is the part I seem to struggle with the most. I can start a story and take it to some interesting places, but then I just come to a standstill.
Duncan asked us at the end of class on Thursday to have a think about what we would like him to cover while he is here so I went up to him straight away and told him about my problem. I feel that the ending of a story is one of the most important parts because I think it leaves the biggest impression on you. I’m really looking forward to whatever advice Duncan has to offer on this, and hopefully it will help me to find ways to effectively end my stories.


Below is a little snippet of my finished table play that I titled The Play Date.

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BSA234:Week 1

12711256_1118970141446831_3713537092653105600_oOur first practical activity was given to us this week for Cinematography. After a very useful and much needed lesson on exposure and the ways in which aperture, iso, and shutter speed effect your photographs, we were set into pairs, given a camera and sent outside to experiment, our focus on shutter speed. The brief was to take three photos of our partner waving furiously with each shot set at a different shutter speed; one at 50, one at 100, and one at 250, and compare the differences.

The first image was taken with the shutter speed set at 50. The effect of this is that while the things that were still when the photo was taken are crisp, the moving parts (in this instance, Nicola’s hand) are blurred.
In the second image the shutter speed is set to 100 and while Nicola’s hand had been moving fast, there is far more definition than the first photo.
The third image here is not the best example of higher shutter speed (for this one the shutter speed was set to 250) as I was not using a tripod and my hands were a little shaky. If a tripod had been used, the higher shutter speed would have resulted in an all round crisp image, regardless of the moving hand.