BSA227: Refraction.

Refraction is the title Kate and I have ended up giving to our film. It’s very different to anything either of us have ever made before, but I think we are both quite happy with the end result.

I spent about 30 hours straight in the Mac Lab, without a wink of sleep, eating mandarins and working on compositing photos on the blank pieces of paper that our actress, Teneill, was looking at. I was aiming to get a photo on each piece of paper and then cut between the photos and film of the same locations. Unfortunately I ran out of time to do all the photos, but I did manage to successfully composite two of them. I’m really pleased with how well I managed to mask them into the scenes and I think they look quite believable. However I did overlook the fact that the photos are larger in some shots than others, but with the way the film is cut, it’s not hugely noticeable.

Kate filmed a really neat timelapse of the clouds which in parts looks as though it is filmed below the sea. This is emphasised by the blue colour grade Kate put on it.

Kate edited the film to a piece of music which I had found and used earlier in the year. It is quite up beat so I thought it would be quite a good one to use.

Below is the final film.

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BSA227: Changes

Our story has gone through quite a lot of changes from the initial idea of incorporating tiny planets.
I will be honest, I haven’t had a huge hand in the actual story development – most of that has been Kate’s work. As we got into the process I found I preferred to be working more the practical filming and editing side of the project. I think this was because I felt Kate had more of an idea of what should be happening in the story from the start and some of my attempts at ideas really weren’t working. Developing ideas for stories is usually something I really enjoy spending my time on, but for some reason I didn’t do well with that for this project.

Even though our story has been changing constantly, we’ve generally had a pretty solid idea of the content of the film. We were always planning to film various landscapes then manipulate and distort them to give an uncomfortable feeling. With this in mind, we were able to go and film and photograph different locations, providing us with a bunch of material that we would be able to decide whether or not we use later on.
I ended up going on a couple of solo missions out to Riverton with a Canon 7d, a fisheye lens and a macro lens (which I have already posted about).

I found myself stressing over the project and thinking I couldn’t do anything because Kate wasn’t there at that moment so I just opened up Premiere Pro, imported the best clips and began colour correction. I wasn’t very confident with After Effects and didn’t think I would be able to produce much from spending hours trying to figure it out again, so I thought my time would be better spent doing something I was confident with.
With the colour correction on the Fortress Cliffs clips, I tried to make it feel a bit like an Instagram post – like someone had put a filter on a photo and was now imagining it coming to life. I did this by pulling out the blacks, lowering the whites, and bumping up the saturation a little. Considering it was filmed on the Black Magic camera it was quite dull to begin with.

In After Effects, I played with the presets and effects and found one (I can’t remember what it’s called) that pinched together parts of the images and puts them into spheres which I then made move around the frame. Parts of it looked a bit like the tiny planet effect Kate and I wanted to create in the first place.

I also put together a sequence in Premiere Pro where I flipped the footage of the cliffs 180˙ then cut, frame by frame, between the flipped images before settling on the upside down one and fading it into black and white. I also reversed the upside down footage so the waves move the wrong way.

I’m not sure how these will fit into the final film, but I’m interested to see how we can incorporate these sequences.

BSA227: Out and About

Kate and I have been doing a lot of filming and photographing for this project over the last few weeks. Now it will just be a matter of putting it all together to create an interesting story.

Below are some of the photos from some of the locations we’ve been to. These are my own photographs.


A few weeks ago Kate and I went to McLean Falls. We were experimenting with long exposure to make the water seem as though it was moving even though you’re looking at a still image.
I also looked for areas that, if photographed close up, could appear a lot larger than they really were. The photo below titled “Riverbank” I felt was the most successful. I can easily imagine a person walking along the riverbank in the picture.

 

On Sunday I took a couple of cameras with a micro lens and a fisheye lens to Riverton and then to Queen’s Park. I tried to take photos and then film the same thing from the photo, but zoom out to reveal it’s surroundings.
I tried this with a couple of interesting holes in the rocks. The idea was that inside the hole could be a cave that someone is exploring. Unfortunately I used the fisheye lens for some of these so when I zoomed out it created an effect that made the hole look like it was closing up, resembling a particular part of the human anatomy.

I focused a lot on getting shots with the micro lens of surfaces with interesting textures, or really tiny shells. I then switched to the film mode and filmed the same things from a distance that you would more naturally be looking that those things from showing how small they are. I imagine these being used in our film to intrigue the viewer with photos of these interesting textures or pretty shells then follow with the pieces of film. The idea with the following film is to show how insignificant these things in the photos seem in this bigger picture, but yet you were so interested and invested in them a few seconds beforehand.

 

Yesterday I went back to Riverton to get pick ups, but this time it was raining so that wasn’t ideal. I took some photos and videos from inside the car so the camera or I didn’t get wet. Eventually the rain eased off so I jumped out and ran down to the water to get some different shots.
I think it will be quite nice to have the difference in the weather with these photos and videos because everything else we’ve shot has been during sunny weather. It will be nice to have a little variety.
These photos haven’t yet been edited so they look a little dull. My plan is to do some colour correction on the videos and editing on the photos later tonight.

BSA206: Mind blown

When I first saw Lord of the Rings I didn’t know what to expect because I didn’t know the story. I was just told that it was about hobbits (not that  knew what hobbits were).
The films blew me away. Sure, I was just a little kid and a lot of things do blow you mind at a young age, but the Lord of the Rings movies were just amazing. I knew that the movies had been filmed in New Zealand so seeing this fantastical world set in such a familiar environment made the experience even more magical for me.
The places in the world of Middle Earth that stood out to me the most were Rivendell and Lothlórien. They were just so beautiful and I think it gave me a little hope that maybe those places could exist.

 

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Falkor

Falkor from The Neverending Story (1984) blew my mind as a child. I remember the first time I watched this film and first seeing Falkor, I wasn’t sure if he was good or bad. I remember thinking that he seemed nice, but he was so huge that surely he must be dangerous. I really wanted him to be good because he seemed so soft and cuddly, but I couldn’t help but think Falkor was playing a trick on Atreyu. Thankfully, I was wrong and Falkor was the absolute best.
The reason this character blew my mind was because of how huge he was, but also how realistic he seemed (at the time). I also loved the way he just seemed like an over grown soft toy, in fact he reminded me of my Cuddly Bear, the most favourite of all my soft toys.
The Neverending Story was another of the videos my Nana had at her house so I would watch this film over and over again, and every time I would cry at Artax’s death, but I would know that Falkor was going to show up soon so that was okay.

If I think of what blows my mind now, completely different kinds of things come to mind. Mostly, I am now impressed by the cinematography in a film or the excellent story rather than how magical a world seems or how large and cuddle a character is.
Every time I watch an episode of Peaky Blinders (2013) I get really excited over the beautiful cinematography. This show doesn’t have really epic shots like the Lord of the Rings, or just about any other film set in New Zealand, instead Peaky Blinders has a lot of gentle, intimate  shots and this really impresses me because that’s exactly what I love seeing in cinema and photography. It also helps that the story and characters are really well written.

BSA206: Drugstore Cowboy

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Directed by Gus Van Sant ❖ Released 1989

Drugstore Cowboy (1989) follows Bob, Dianne, Rick and Nadine as they pop pills and evade the law.

I don’t think I enjoyed this film, I was certainly interested in the story, but I didn’t find it enjoyable. Perhaps I would have been a little more engaged with it if I hadn’t missed the first 15 minutes. Even so, the story seemed to make sense so I can’t have missed too much.

There was one particular technique that I did enjoy in this film; when the main character, Bob, was high, there would be extreme close up shots of random things, such as the trigger of his gun or Gentry’s tie, but as he started to get clean, the ECUs turned into close ups. I thought that was a clever way to show his state of mind and how he was beginning to see things clearer.

In some ways this film seemed to glamorise the drug culture and promote it by making it look like an exciting, fun kind of lifestyle, but there were also some moments that it did the opposite.
Nadine, the “innocent victim” of the story, suddenly commits suicide and this causes the main character to examine his life and make some changes.
It was almost as if the filmmakers wanted the audience to want the fun and exciting lifestyle these characters have had, but when this change of events happens, to be ashamed that they thought this seemed to be a good life.

BSA206: Sequels

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013), directed by Sam Raimi, was basically a prequel to The Wizard of Oz (1939), directed by Victor Fleming. The Wizard of Oz has been one of my favourite films since my mum showed it to me as a young child, so I was naturally a little excited, but also a little skeptical, when Oz the Great and Powerful came out in 2013. Admittedly though, I didn’t watch it until a few weeks ago and to say I was disappointed doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt about it.
The promise of returning to that fantastical world that I loved as a child, but as a revamped version, made me a little giddy with excitement and I felt like a child again. The beginning of the film I enjoyed. I liked the way it seemed to pay tribute to the 1939 film in the way it started in black and white with a smaller ratio picture then transitioned to “glorious technicolor” like The Wizard of Oz did. After that it was just a complete let down, it really just felt like a grab for money by the film makers, and, honesty, I really wish I hadn’t watched it.

On the other hand, a sequel I enjoyed more than the original was The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004). I realise both of these examples make me seem like I watch a lot of movies meant for young people. I swear I don’t, these are just the ones that really stick out to me in the “sequel category”.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved The Princess Diaries (2001), it brings me much happiness, but I just enjoyed the second one more. Part of that reason is the characters were a little older and slightly more mature so that was nice to see. More than that though, The Princess Diaries 2 was just a funnier film. I think the fact that the viewer gets to know and love the characters in the first film contributes to this as you know what to expect.
Something else I discovered about these films, which I think have also contributed to the success of the sequel, is that they are both directed by the same person and written by the same people too: Garry Marshall (director), and Meg Cabot and Gina Wendkos (writers).
Also, Julie Andrews makes anything good.

 

BSA231: Inspiraish.

I was inspired by Brave (2012) and the trail of “wisps” that the character Merida follows. I really loved the way this added a fantastical, mysterious and magical aspect to the story. This element didn’t need to be explained as it was so fantastical that the viewer just accepted it. I wanted to recreate that feeling with the trail of photos that Lily follows in my film. The idea was that this in between world that the story is set in is a fantasy kind of world where things don’t make sense, but if you understand that you are in a world where normal rules don’t apply, you can almost control it. The boy in The In Between understands that he isn’t in the real world so he manages to almost conjure these photos out of nowhere.

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I wanted to show Lily’s confusion and panic when she first changes location and at the same time immerse the viewer in her experience. I liked the way this kind of effect was executed in The Forest (2015). As far as I remember, the 180˚ rule was completely scraped in the scene I am thinking of, but for the reason that it creates confusion and disorientates the viewer just as the character is feeling in that situation. I made the point when filming the first scene that Lily changes location to film it from different angles so that I would have options for cutting between various angles when it came to editing.

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BSA206: Funny Things

When I was little, my Nana had a video tape of Dad’s Army (1968-1977) which my brother and I used to watch when we stayed at Nana’s. Sometimes we would take it back to our house and watch it with mum and dad. I remember finding parts of it quite boring, but other parts were really funny. The problem was, half the time I didn’t know what was funny, I just knew that everyone else was laughing so that meant something was funny. My brother’s favourite episode was Asleep in the Deep so that was the one we watched most often and the one I actually found the most enjoyable. I probably found it enjoyable because I understood how ridiculous it was for these men to be stuck in a room that gets flooded. I watch this episode again recently after watching Dad’s Army (2016) the movie (which I really enjoyed), and I noticed little parts that I remember laughing at when I was young, but this time I understood why they were funny.
I still found that my favourite part is the “terrible way to die” line.

One of the other videos that my Nana had that my brother and I watched repeatedly was The Animals of Farthing Wood (1993-1995) which I always referred to as “Farthing Wood and Friends”. Apparently that isn’t the correct name.
The funniest part of this series for me was when Weasel gets drunk. It’s in the first season, in episode 13, when Badger and Weasel get stuck in a cellar. Weasel lies down on the floor under the tap of a barrel filled with wine which drips into her mouth. Again, I didn’t fully understand what was happening, but it was funny because Weasel just keeps blabbering on to Badger and repeating “‘ere we go, ‘ere we go!”. As a child, this was the funniest thing so my brother and I would rewind to the start of this scene and rewatch it countless times and always end up in fits of giggles. Once I realised Weasel was drunk, I found it funnier and it’s still pretty funny today just because of how ridiculous it is.

 

Obviously my humour has changed now that I’m older, but that doesn’t mean that everything I watch has “inappropriate” humour. One of my favourite films is Boy (2010) and even though it has very serious undertones, it’s still a really funny movie. A lot of the jokes in this film are good old Kiwi humour and they aren’t dirty or inappropriate, they are just funny.

 

Another film I love for it’s funnies, is Bridesmaids (2011). Sure, this film has far more adult jokes than Boy, but there’s also a lot of moments that are quite human and I think we laugh at them because we see ourselves. One of my personal favourites from this film is where the main character makes a fool out of herself by trying to better her best friend’s new friend by proving she is the better friend during the speeches at an engagement party. I really didn’t explain that very well right there, so here is the clip:

 

I also find absolute ridiculousness really funny, so I’ve included a few of my favourite videos:

[Warning: Inappropriateness follows]

 

 

BSA206: I so sad.

I remember watching Titanic (1997) when I was about 6 or 7 and just bawling from the moment the ship started sinking until the end. I think that little me knew that everyone was going to die and that just made me really sad. I also thought that the ship was really beautiful and it made me sad that it was going to sink and never be seen again.
Of course I also cried more when Jack dies, but that’s kind of a given. Most people find that part pretty sad.

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Another part of Titanic that made me really sad as a child was when Rose runs along the deck to the back of the ship, planning to jump. It wasn’t the part where she is hanging off the ship, just the short scene where she is crying and running along the deck. I didn’t really understand why this was happening when I was young,  but the fact that I could see this lady running and crying as if she was being chased made me really sad and concerned.

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Another thing that made me very sad when I was little was a scene from the TV Series The Animals of Farthing Wood where the hedgehogs die. We had this series on video so I watched it hundreds of times and I swear I cried every time without fail, and I would still cry if i watched it now.
I do remember the first time I watched it. Mole was my favourite character because he was small and shy and liked to snuggle on Badger’s back – I think he reminded me of myself to be honest – but Mole, as my favourite, was followed very closely by the hedgehogs. I think I liked them for the same reasons as Mole except, instead of snuggling into Badger, they would always stick close to each other and I found that very endearing. So, as you can imagine, I was very upset when they died. The clip below is the scene where they die (they get run over crossing the road), and when I was little, I had such hope that they would make it out the other side and part of me didn’t quite understand when they didn’t get back up again. I think I didn’t quite understand that the people that made The Animals of Farthing Wood had no idea that the hedgehogs were my favourites and shouldn’t die.

Now, I don’t find it so sad. I find it more frustrating than anything because they literally just curl up and die. The hedgehogs get themselves in a difficult and dangerous situation which terrifies them, decide they can’t make it through, curl up into a ball and let death – or a speeding car – take them. Oh, but at least they have each other.

 

 

 

When I am asked what movies I find tragic nowadays, my mind immediately springs to Clint Eastwood’s Changeling (2008) starring Angelina Jolie. It is based on the true story of Christine Collins who’s son disappeared and was never found. What I find particularly sad or tragic about this film is the part where the police bring a boy to Christine and tell her it’s her son when it isn’t. Even though they know this is not her child, they won’t admit this to her and force her to take this boy and take care of him as if he were her son. This makes me sad because through the action of carelessly handing off a strange child to a grieving mother, it becomes clear to the audience and the character, even at this early stage in the story, that no one is going to help her find her son.

We do receive a kind of resolution at the end of the film, but it is not a happy one. We discover that Christine’s son was kidnapped along with several other young boys. Some of the boys managed to escape, but Christine’s son never did. Although Christine gains some peace from knowing what happened to her son, but it’s a tragic ending because, not only does she find out that her son was murdered, but she has to watch another mother be reunited with her son who did survived.

 

BSA206: Scary Stuff.

When asked to think of a scene in a movie that really scared me as a child I immediately picture on particular moment from The Wizard of Oz involving The Wicked Witch of the West. It isn’t when she melts like most people think it might be, it’s when her face fills the screen as she laughs. The Wizard of Oz was my favourite movie as a child and I would watch it as often as I was allowed, but I couldn’t watch that one scene alone. As a child, it felt as if she was bursting out of the screen and was directly in front of my face, laughing at me. In fact, that scene and that feeling made me think the triangular shape of the moths that would sit on my window were the tip of the witch’s nose. It took me a while to get to sleep sometimes. If I watch this scene now I no longer find it quite so scary, but the little Johanna within me still cringes. Although, I do notice that the witch’s face doesn’t seem as big as it did when I was small.

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Trying to think of a scene in a movie that scares me now like this scene used to doesn’t result in much. I find that I’m more likely to be disturbed by something and have that stick in my mind rather than something scary. I’ve certainly been scared plenty of times during films – The Conjuring (2013) had me on the edge of my seat and hiding under a blanket the whole time (like just about any of James Wan’s films), The Haunting in Connecticut (2009) gave me the shivers, and I stupidly watched Case 39 (2009) alone and I think that speaks for itself – but there isn’t anything in particular from these films that really scared me or made me look twice in the dark. The things that really stick with me now are the things that I can relate to my life, the things that could actually be possible.
I remember watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (2006) and seeing Leatherface hook a girl in the shoulder and collarbone with the kind of hook we would use in the woodshed to move bales. That gave me the shivers and really stuck with me. I think that is because I have often been around those tools being used and know how easy it would be to get in the way and have one of those hooks land in your arm. I also just really hate the idea of sharp things landing in people and I don’t really trust people with knives or other sharp things, so that may have something to do with it too.

There’s another scene from a movie that disturbs me far more than the hooks in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Again, it’s something that could plausibly happen, although I’ve never actually been around anyone in this particular situation.
In Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac: Vol. II (2013) there is a particularly horrific scene where the lead character, Joe, terminates her pregnancy alone on her kitchen floor. It’s brutal. I won’t go into detail. Before watching this film I had known that abortion was an horrific ordeal, but this scene made me realise that on a new level.
Nymphomaniac certainly focuses on a delicate and controversial topic and is quite graphic, but I did enjoy both volumes. I found it quite refreshing that it focuses on such a sensitive topic and doesn’t shy away from being really honest about it.


References

  1. https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth32537/m1/1/med_res/
  2. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/60/29/45/6029452d4879136b1a5ec8782b6a1dfb.jpg