Not sure what to expect out of this course but from the first week of lecture, we were told that the requirement would be to come up with our own 5 mins film. From last semester’s experience, team work is crucial to the success of the film. We were pretty much going through a refresher from last week’s Writing Media Text. The terms protagonist, antagonist, plot, characters all sound too familiar. This time round we were going into genres and how the development of characters are dependent on the genre of the film. In our first tutorial, Christine taught us more about character development. We were given about 10 minutes to come out with our own character and story idea. It was quite daunting at first but I think this exercise trained us to develop our characters within a given amount of time but at the same time establish the character quite well within the given time.
This week we were learning more on script writing. Some important points I noted during lecture, the more plot heavy your script is, less character sophistication & complexity. We also touched on the three act structure in a typical storyline. However, in a short film, it could only be two acts instead of three. In tutorial this week, Robin briefed us on what was required; A 5 min film within 1 day shoot. We were also tasked to do our story outline and plot by this time. I must say script-writing is not one of my forte but I think the story ideas I had in mind were quite concrete. The challenge would be fitting it within the 5 mins constraint.
This week we were learning on sound design and sound operating. Sound is one of the most crucial part in a film. We were learning how to operate the audio mixer, the different pickup patterns of a microphone and microphone placement during recording. Points to note: always record main audio/dialogue separately from background sound, meaning to say record ambient sound to use during post-production.
In week 4, we were learning on shot construction and scheduling. The importance of storyboarding, constructing a shot list to avoid running out of time. Always do the most important shots first, the shots that require to be done outdoors incase of bad weather followed by the least important shots and those indoors. The storyboard should cover the frame of the shots, angle, viewpoint – objective, subjective, POV, shot size and camera movement.
Cinematography is a complex yet the most creative part of filmmaking. It takes practice to master this. It brings the personality of the filmmaker out in the film. It is a creative expression of the filmmaker. We were watching several films that Robin showed in lecture to demonstrate how cinematography can make the same plot look different with different cinematography directions. Cant wait to explore this in our own film! The use of different lenses, short and long focal length can manipulate perspective of audiences. One of the films that inspire me in terms of good cinematography is Moonrise Kingdom by West Anderson. Most of the shots are well-planned one takes, with camera tracking used in most of the shots. This creates a sense of continuity in every shots.
This week we were learning on pre-production. The importance of developing a crew whom you can work well with as it will directly or indirectly affect work relationships. This is particularly important to keep the crew going as positivity and morale boost makes a whole lot of difference from the work flow to the completion of a film. During Casting, several problems and obstacles came our way. We were casting for the role of Mr. Berkley and Phoebe. During the auditions for Mr. Berkley, one of the actors who auditioned decided to take things his way. He wanted to make some changes to the script and wanted to make his own direction to the film. We were caught between selecting him or another actor for this role as it was between work ethics or their acting capabilities. After much discussion with the group members, our script writer decided that person A (the one who demanded changes to the script) fit the role best as his acting was marvellous compared to the others. We decided to go through with it after sitting down and having a chat with him to set things right. Hopefully things will go well during rehearsals and our shoot itself!
Lighting is one of the key components in filmmaking that I am most unfamiliar with. I have done some lighting work for photography but am still not well-versed in it. I learned that lighting creates spatial continuity and temporal continuity, on top of aesthetic reasons. In class we were experimenting with the use of key lights, fill lights and back lights.
The following three weeks we were pretty much delving more into production stuff. The importance of blocking, shot planning, setting up a dolly and camera movements such as panning and tracking. We had our film rehearsals with the actors in week 9. We could not go through all the shots that we had planned due to time constraints but we managed to get the actors rehearse their acts according to the direction we wanted. In this way, we save time during our filming day and we could use that time to focus on pulling through the camera shots we had in mind.
Most of the time spent was in the edit suites. As our shoot was one of the latest groups, Robin managed to inform us about the problems that other groups faced especially in terms of technical issues they faced. An example would be the grainy effect on the Sony camera. We were told not to use the auto gain and use the manual control instead to avoid excessive grains. Our shoot went smoothly and were pretty much ahead of schedule. I must say that production can be intense and super duper tiring! At the end of it all, it feels very rewarding to watch the product of 12 weeks of learning up on the screens!