This FMP represented a huge learning experience for me. I have had to overcome obstacle after obstacle to complete it, but feel I have managed to achieve a film that closely fits the brief given and has a visual appeal for my audience.
Before I started this FMP, I was seriously considering taking my interest in doing VFX further, however, after attempting to apply some new techniques and levels of vfx in this project I have realised it is not the area I would like to go for at this stage of my career. I am much more of an up and about practical person than a sit behind a computer person. For this reason alone, I feel this particular project has been very successful for me on a personal level and indeed has been life changing. I now know where I am going and have no doubts cinematography and directing are where I want to be eventually.
I have undoubtedly, demonstrated my creativity in this project. Using tried and tested techniques, such as brain storming, word free associating and mind mapping, I came up with a wealth of ideas that fitted the stimuli given and I explored at least four of these in more detail to ascertain their strengths and weakness and in doing so managed to make an informed decision as to what I wanted to film. I ended up combining aspects of two or three ideas, that I was really drawn to in my final choice. This surely, meant my film would fit the brief of flow on more than one level.
I believe I have demonstrated in this project that I can plan effectively and prioritise my work load to meet deadlines given. I researched what other filmmakers advise you to consider when planning a short film and produced some very useful tools and documents for myself to keep on track and keep an overview of my progress. For example, I produced at timeline, planning checklist, production diary record sheet, resources lists, action plans/to do lists, a risk assessment and call sheets. I will recycle some of these in future projects as they have been a big help. The biggest strength of my planning though, is that from the ‘get go’ I recognised that I needed to ‘crack on’ and film as soon as possible as I could see I had a lost of post production to do. This primary aim, I feel has saved my project. If I hadn’t gone so full steam ahead at the beginning I don’t think I would have managed to get my film in on time, on this occasion. My timely, planning has allowed me to attempt new vfx and abandon them when I felt they were spoiling the continuity of my film and were taking me to far, off target. If my planning has one glaring weakness, it is that from my initial idea selection, right through to how many roles I took on and the shots I planned to do in one day, I have been massively over ambitious. I have got carried away trying to push myself to my very limits and to give my all, to this final project to the extent that my mental and physical wellbeing has suffered. I have managed to achieve all deadlines given but my family and friends would probably agree that other areas of my life such as contributing at home and keeping in touch with others have largely been neglected. My ambitions I believe, also don’t proportionately, reflect the grading criteria of this unit. My post production didn’t warrant the time and effort I put into it and is not justified by how the unit is assessed. I must add here, that my tutors did question me on this very issue at the beginning of my project and I simply did not give their cautions, the respect I should of. Next time I do a film project, I will concentrate on planning to excel in the more fundamental areas of film production of cinematography, shot planning, framing, colouring, directing etc. I will leave the vfx to the vfx department and hope they have a render farm to support them.
In this project I feel I have satisfied my proposal aim to demonstrate that my work is well informed, by both primary and secondary research. I have done primary interviews of a choreographer and a health assessor. I have done moodboards to seek the opinions of my peers, friends and family when designing my costumes. I held a preliminary meeting with my dancer and I have carried out extensive secondary research of relevant areas using books, online articles, websites and videos.
One of the most useful areas I researched was that of narrative development. It made me focus on including a clear beginning, middle and ending in my film as well as plot points, conflict and conflict resolution in the right places. However, I don’t feel in this project that I spent enough time considering the two characters, what their dramatic need is, what their back stories are, what incidents have shaped them etc and I feel this does show. The character’s are a little lacking in depth and detail. For example, it is not clear who they really are, what they need and why. If I were to repeat this project I would go into much more detail when thinking about my characters and would see if a narrative is more clearly, suggested from this.
Another area that I researched for this project that will be useful for my future, was how to pitch a film. When I pitched my film this time, I was thrown of course by nerves. I received positive feedback that I used good eye contact, had good body language and they liked the way I used power point in my presentation as my slides added to the visuals and didn’t take away from my verbal communications. Learning from the constructive criticism I was given, next time I will be more concise and take more care to outline the narrative to the audience as this is what they really need to know about. To help myself achieve this in future, I will write down the main aspects I need to cover on prompt cards, to have with me as a back up when the nerves take over.
Sadly, one area I researched extensively for this project that I may not get to use much again was that of choreography. As mentioned above I used both primary and secondary research to help give me confidence on the best way to approach this for my film and I was very happy with how our duet turned out in the end. I used words associated with flow and conflict and youtube videos to inspire us and called on our past experience of martial arts. I recognised very quickly that my dancer was of a much higher level than me and more used to improvising and I used this to make him the lead character and encouraged him to come up with his own solo. Feedback from my peers was that they loved the choreography and it’s building pace. Personally, I believe it fit the brief of flow closely and the poses we adopted were good points to emphasize and extend with cg fire at a later date. With hindsight it was too much of a challenge for me to choreograph the dance and perform it, as well as trying to direct my film and take on so many other tasks both in my film and several others. I would definitely, reduce the stress level and delegate the choreography and performing to someone else if I were to repeat this project.
Designing the costumes and makeup for my film was suprisingly, the part of my project that I enjoyed the most. Searching for inspiration, building moodboards, seeking others opinions, gathering the resources, drawing out my ideas and working with my mother and sister to bring everything together and refine them with trial and error… didn’t feel like work and were great fun. I was surprised how easy it was to delegate tasks and have learned that if you communicate your ideas to others they may well be much better than you yourself would be at realising your ideas. Feedback on my costumes was very positive from my peers and my dancer loved his costume and wont give it back. Both costumes fitted well, were comfortable to dance in and everything came in on budget. I feel they enhanced my narrative and fitted the brief well. On the downside, the costumes did not make my attempts at rotoscoping any easier as there were so many tassels to negotiate. The makeup I used for the sandcreature didn’t show up as well as I had initially hoped following my test shots and it was very cold to apply and the dried clay did restrict my movement a little. Wearing a skirt for my costume gave me an unexpected insight into the feminist argument that the clothes little girls wear can affect their behaviour, as wearing a skirt definitely restricted my moves. I simply couldn’t cartwheel properly with a skirt falling down over my eyes. The black ribbons I used to form criss cross binding on my feet didn’t work when it came down to the shoot day. I had to improvise on the spot and use some black electrician’s tape I had brought along instead. The props really matched the travellers costume and looked great on film but we did have a couple of dogs to contend with during the shoot days which I only have myself to blame for as I didn’t think about this when I used gravy browning to stain an old curtain pole. On the topic of props with hindsight, I think the amulet could have been of a more prominent design and would perhaps of benefitted from having been custom designed especially for my film. Although, it is in keeping with a desert feel, it doesn’t look particularly, special or powerful if I am honest.
When coming up with the shots for my visual narrative, I did refer to some good books on cinematography and shots/ angles to use and I found some interesting videos on how to film dance and fight sequences. Keeping these ideas in mind, I did come up with a comprehensive shot list and storyboard to help me communicate my ideas to my crew and I feel that we have worked well together to produce a film with a cinematic look with good use of depth of field, a wide variety of shots and some interesting movement and fluidity to the shots. The majority of the filming was done with a hand held camera using the shoulder rig to help keep the shots steady. From the screening of my film to my peers, one of the shots everybody likes is my opening, extreme wide shot of the flowing sands. This is the one sequence I filmed on my own. I used a tripod to steady the camera as the winds were making the camera shake and I did have to wait for a day with extra wild and windy weather to achieve the shot and walk to the edge of a scar with all the equipment. I feel justified in having waited for the right conditions for this pick up shot after the positive feedback.
Editing my film has been a challenging task for me during this project. After my first edit, I had a film that was over 6 minutes long which did reflect the narrative but had a pace that felt wrong. It gave me a good idea of what pickups I needed and what sequences needed retaking. However, it was difficult to cut sequences from it and get the right pace, without detracting from the overall narrative or spoiling the balance of the film in terms of the comparative lengths of the beginning, middle and end. Continuing to recut and refine my film once I had all the footage and was busy trying to apply vfx, required me to kill so many of my darlings I felt positively pyschopathic by the end of it all. My film did end up being within the correct time frame, with an appropriate size beginning, middle and end and from the feedback from my peers it had a good pace. In my editing I cut to the following in terms of priority: 1. Performance 2. Pace 3: continuity. This in theory should mean that I would be getting the best edit for telling the story though it could contain minor errors on scene changes. However, I definitely feel my narrative really suffered from so much editing and in particular the prominence and importance of the amulet to the conflict was lost. I made sacrifices I perhaps shouldn’t of and with hindsight I think some exposition shots at the beginning, some explanatory titles or a voice over, would have helped with the backstory and establishing the importance of the amulet.
As you have probably noted by now, I have spent a lot of time learning to do and applying computer generated visual effects during this project. In doing this, I certainly, have demonstrated that I am a good self directed learner not afraid to try and test new things. I feel that in the end the visual effects I did use, (the rotoscoping of the beach shots so they looked like a desert, and the cg fire) have given my film a good visual appeal for my audience and they have helped reflect the brief stimuli of flow. I think, I have ended up with an original film very different to any of my peers from having gone down this road. I do wish that I had spent longer on the first fireball though. It niggles me that it doesn’t have the same quality as the others and doesn’t fit well in the scene. The amount of work involved in adding vfx even for this short film has been a very trying and has affected my mental and physical wellbeing. As I want to take cinematography and directing further, I know it has given me a a much better understanding of the needs of a vfx team. The considerations a vfx team need in respect of lighting, colour, movement depth of field, costume, set design and pretty much every aspect of the visuals.. This is of growing importance given the rate at which cgi is impacting into all forms of media. In terms of the visual effects that I attempted, I now also better know what they need in terms of prossesing power and RAM (as my computer certainly couldent cope). In future, I shall be more aware of the equipment at my disposal and what it can do in the time given by performing some more thorough preliminary tests.
Towards the start of this project I completed a project proposal as the unit specification requirs. This was based on my reflecting on feedback from previous projects on this course and on an analysis of my strengths and weaknesses. The proposal was succinct and of the required word count whilst showing my main aims and objectives for the project. Thinking back to this now, I remember stating that I wanted to focus on delegating more and communicating better during this project whilst maintaining an outward show of positivity. I feel I have definitely shown I can delegate effectively and communicate well during this project as I managed to delegate the making of my costumes and props to my mother and sister. I managed to communicate my ideas to my dad to produce a storyboard. I communicated my ideas to my dancer Mattie using words and videos for inspiration. I also delegated the choreographing of his solo to him in recognition of his experience and talent. I produced call sheets, resource lists, action plans and shot lists and in doing so feel I have demonstrated a much improved ability to communicate with team members. I absolutely maintained an outward show of poisitivity during our shoot days despite having to improvise a dance, perform and direct proceedings. Both shoot days where pleasant experiences and I feel certain that Mattie (my dancer) is now a friend that I will be able to work with in the future. Matthew Tucker (my main camera operator) and I are both hoping to go to different Universities but are determined to stay in contact and work together on projects in the future so I must have been reasonably positive to work with. I feel any low mood I have experienced in the project came later in post production and that I have hidden how much they impacted on me from the outside world.
In my proposal, I stated that I wanted to demonstrate I was a safe pair of hands. I feel I have done this in doing a health and safety risk assessment and following the steps I outlined within this to reduce the risks has helped keep my cast, crew and the equipment safe. I will be able to use my research on how to risk assess in future projects and have identified that I need to have training in First Aid and also in Risk Assessing in the near future.
Similarly, in my proposal I stated that I wanted to demonstrate that I can be more flexible about adapting my ideas and that I would adopt an evaluative approach throughout. My response to the problems I encountered when trying to apply vfx certainly shows I ccna adpat my ideas and am not as stubborn as I once was. I devised a production diary record sheet when first, planning my project and in regularly completing these with the strengths and weaknesses of my activites noted and my regular reviewing of my progress against a timeline, I feel sure will have shown I can maintain an evaluative approach.
Over all I am happy with the way this project has gone and that I have largely achieved my objectives stated in my proposal.. I feel that my film though a long, long way from perfect looks good and making it has given me a good insight as to where I am now and were I want to go next. Its been fun (mostly :P) and all the hard work has brought me on as a filmmaker! I am looking forward to the screening on 20/06/17 to get more feedback on the final product and to take the opportunity to thank those that have supported me throughout. My film will be uploaded onto YouTube by the time you read this, it shall also be shared to relevant Facebook pages such as “BFI alumni” “film and TV network” etc as well as publicly for prospective employers and fans.