EIGHTEEN – Reflection on the Film

This is my final post regarding my final major project. As mentioned in my last post, I will essentially analyse the film against what I wanted to make.

The first goal of the film was to contain Documented footage of the different landscapes of England during the different seasons. I feel that I have mostly achieved this goal. The majority of the film does contain footage filmed in England. It shows various different types of plants, trees and wildlife during the seasons of Autumn, Winter and Spring. Other footage was filmed during the later parts of Spring on days that would be considered as stereotypically  Summer.  However, some of the footage was not filmed in England and one sequence (A beach sequence) was stock footage. The footage not filmed in the UK was still filmed by myself whilst in Europe. Although I personally feel that it goes against the documenting ethos of filming within the UK,  on reflection I feel to audiences will not know due to the lack of narration. I also feel that, due to the fantasy element and the effects used this will have little to no effect on anyone that should watch this film.

The next goal I wanted to achieve was to include a fantasy element that would create and drive the narrative of the film forward. This was an idea introduced in the second draft of the script, with the introduction of a character that would interact with avatars of the seasons. These avatars were to be masks designed to represent the seasons. The idea was further developed to involve a series of miniature sets that would see the character traverse via chroma keying techniques. Initial edits were created with the sets in a partially built state and animations that showed what the character would do when interacting with the season and set. Perhaps the largest regret I have when it comes to this film is not being able to complete this phase. This was due to unforeseen health conditions that prevented their completion.  I regret not being able to finish them as I feel it cemented the film as being experimental and it made the film more relatable to a wider audience. The final film was representative of the second and third draft with the addition of one or two elements of completed set (seen in the winter sequence).

One of the original ideas was to solely use two lenses that were from the 1970’s that belonged to my father.  The idea was that the documented footage would represent the places that my father introduced me too and that we still go to now on occasion. The lenses were a representation that I am essentially viewing these place through my fathers eyes. As a the film maker, the film still represents this. To the audience, this link is not apparent. Overall I have mixed feelings on this aspect of the film. Personally it makes the film more special to me but by the same token, I feel that some of the shots could have been much more sharp and therefore more visually appealing if I had used a more modern lens such as a 50mm Prime.

Possibly one of my favourite elements of the film was the music. I wanted the songs to be made up of sounds that reflected the elements of the seasons. This was done perfectly in my opinion by the very talented Stuart Ankers. He managed to create four very unique tracks that evoked the feelings I wanted to suggest in the film.  Some parts of the tracks also provided some inspiration for additions to the film. One of which was the linking between the sounds of fireworks for the Autumn track and a synced flashing effect to represent off-screen fireworks. This allowed me to include one of the popular events of bonfire night to the film by linking flashing effects to those sounds. This created a dramatic sequence of footage which I was very happy with.

Finally, in regards to stop motion. I failed to incorporate this in any meaningful way. Again this came down to problems with my health. I did manage to salvage some test stop motion footage and include during the section of spring, but this was a minor part and did little to create visual interest.

In conclusion, I do feel the film had many successful elements. I’m sure many people would see the film as something unremarkable. I understand that, but it was never meant to appeal to a mass audience. It was made on the principle of the act of seeing. Not seeing mass spectacle or exotic imagery, but seeing the simplistic beauty that surrounds every person that lives in England. In many ways it’s a social statement. We live in an age where much of the world has been explored and can be viewed through online outlets. It’s therefore, in my own opinion, easy to  forget about the simple marvels that surround us. I wanted to make a film that shows the places on your doorstep are just as mysterious and magical as the highest peaks and deepest rainforests of distant lands.

My overall feelings are that despite the above mentioned plus points. It will also be the film that was never fully completed. I hope that one day I will get the chance to come back to this film and add the missing parts. I doubt it will be a film that I openly advertise because it serves as a reminder of a very hard, very trying time in my life.

This concludes my blog for this project.

SEVENTEEN – The Vision for the Final Film

In this post I’m going to outline what I wanted to create for my final major film project. As my final post will be an analysis of the film, I feel it’s a good idea to do a post that acts as a check list that essentially helps me see if I’ve achieved the films goals.

First, a little update. Due to the changes the film had a name change. This was because Dad’s Old Glass no longer fitted. The final name was A Journey Through the Seasons of Change. it was changed to this as the new title basically describes what the film is about.

With that mini update done, lets begin.

For my final Major Project, I wanted to:

  • Create an Alternate take on the Documentary Genre

I wanted to show footage that showed British Wildlife and Landscapes during the different seasons. I wanted the images to speak for themselves, without the aid of narration or subtitles. This footage would form the bulk of the film. Basically documenting footage with a what you see is what you get mentally.

  • Include a fantasy element that would drive the Narrative 

I wanted to create a film that had a elements of the fantasy genre in it. These elements would be in the form of masks that acted as avatars of the season. Each mask would invoke a feeling or reaction based on how another character interacts with them. Winter would be the most negative of the seasons, with the character acting hostile towards it. Summer would be the most positive, with the character acting in praise of this season.

  • Use footage captured using specific lens and equipment

All of the films footage would be captured on a 700D using a Helios 44mm Lens and a Optomax 70-210mm lens. I would also use lens filters to in order to emphasise different colours during the shooting phase instead of the post production phase. This was because the original name of the Film, Dads Old Glass. The film intended to use my dads old lens to evoke certain feelings.

  • Use a soundtrack that compromised of Found Sound

The film’s music and only sounds was to be made up of actual sounds that would be used to make soundtracks of each season.

  • Incorporate Miniature Sets that would use green screen techniques to create visual interest

The film would have several miniature sets that acted as cut away sections of the film. These sets would show the character traversing through them, acting as a visual representations of the difficulties of each of the seasons. 

  • Incorporate stop motion techniques to create visual interest

These were the basic elements I wanted to include in my film. The final film would be an avant-garde styled documentary, conforming to ideas presented in Woolens Binary of counter cinema film making.  It would contain inspiration from experimental film making philosophies as presented in articles regarding Stan Brakhages works and the art of seeing.

 

SIXTEEN – Last Days of Filming

This ones a little late in posting due to what can only be categorised as a trying period due to MRI appointments, Family Bereavements and a couple of technical issues thrown in for good measure.

Regardless of this, Filming (and editing) has finally been completed.

In this blog post, I’m going to talk about some of the final shoots and the costume used in the film.

Firstly, the costume. For the main characters costume I wanted to create a costume typical of a medieval fantasy character. This would aid in creating the dream like fantasy sequences when introducing the avatars of each of the seasons.

As seen from the picture above, it pulls this off quite well (even if I do say so myself). For the most part, the elements that make up this costume are in fact authentic of the medieval period with the exception of the robe, staff and one of the belts. The under-shirt is what would of been worn typically by most classes of the early medieval period. This shirt would be worn under anything from a tunic to armour padding that would have a shirt of mail armour over the top of it.

This is an example of (me and a Viking) the Under Shirt worn in full Norman period armour.

The robe was a simple green hooded robe. I chose green for its denotations that the character is seeking to escape the darkness of winter and find new life of spring and summer. The costume also featured a string of rosemary beads, to create the idea that the seasons and the masks are a spiritual entity. Other trinkets were attached to belts too, such as a set of eating knives typical of more later medieval periods and simple leather pouch which were often used as the ye olde equivalent of a purse.

The staff was created using a salt stone and a think garden stake. The stone was sanded down to fit a hole drilled into the top of the stake and then carved. the sake itself was similarly carved with various shapes and symbols. The stake under went various degrees of painting techniques. Mainly that of paint and then sanding down to make distressed followed by various washes to help add depth and age to areas of detail.

The staff helped me create the mise en scene that denotes the fantasy and magical elements of the film.

The costume helped create a robed wizard like looking character. Which was exactly what I was aiming for.

Finally, the last days of shooting involved capturing the mask and the acting part. This took place in my garage set, with simple black sheets put up as a back drop that would be cut out in post. These sequences would be used to introduce each season and how the character feels about them. Autumn is shown to be closely scrutinised by the character before raising his hood and venturing off to brave winter. The character reacts to Winter winter anger and defiance. Spring is a time of solemn prayer that beckons the coming of Summer and finally Summer is worshipped with kneeling praise.

With the film now almost finished, the next two posts will be the last. The first post will be outline what i wanted to create and the last will be a post that analyses if I had achieved this.

That’s it for now. Until Next Time.

FIFTEEN – An Overdue Update

In this post, I’m going to go over what’s been done so far and why I haven’t posted in so long.

To briefly cover the why, since my last post very little has been done that I can talk about. This is because of two things. The first was the the due date for Dissertation. I don’t want to talk too much about modules out side of my final film, but briefly put a Dissertation is a 7000 word essay that talks in detail and with examples of evidence the argument I am making. Needless to say, this takes a lot of preparation and research (which had been on going)  before writing. I had scheduled two weeks to type this up, which is one of the reasons its been so long since the last post.

The second reason is due to my health. Usually, I do not like to talk publicly about such matters but I feel in this situation there is a valuable lesson to be learned. Over the past year or so, I have been struggling with an issue to do with damaged nerves in my back. This damage is the result of a previous condition where I had slipped a disk in my lower spine, the disk had pressed on a nerve cluster that controls my left leg and caused me to use a walking stick as well as the usual pain problems associated with it. I had an operation in 2014 which seemed to fix this. Recently however, it is believed that the nerve damage is still present and has somehow been aggravated. This has left me experiencing high levels of pain and needing to use a walking stick again. Which leads me to the lesson I’ve been taught. Because I struggle doing most routine day to day tasks, filming the project has ended up being when my back and leg permits it. As this is a project that I am mainly doing on my own, I had never budgeted for additional core crew such as an assistant director, cinematographer or producer. This has resulted in me having no one I can use as a proxy to keep the project ticking over while I rest and recover. Ultimately, this has caused the problem of the schedule falling behind. Now, if I had decided to employ more people, then this could have potentially been avoided. I also don’t have the budget to now employ these people either as its already been allocated and spent on other parts of the film.

These issues aside, I am confident the project will still be completed.

So far, these areas have been completed:

  • Footage for Autumn Obtained
  • Footage for Winter Obtained
  • Footage for Spring Obtained
  • Costume acquired
  • Music Obtained
  • Masks of the Seasons acquired

These parts form the backbone of the majority of the film. I have completed various edits too with place holders in place.

Areas that need to be complete are:

  • Footage for Summer
  • Props completed
  • Green Screen footage filmed
  • Green Screen Set finished

The summer part is very much dependent on the weather at the moment. The props have been purchased, I just need to finish some small touch ups on them.

That’s all for now. I’ll hopefully have more soon.

FOURTEEN – Footage Tests & Music

In today’s post we get to see some big progress. First, lets talk about music!

So after a long search I’ve finally found someone to make me some found sound nature music. I’ve already received the first draft for Spring and I’m pretty happy with it. I’ll reveal more details as I get them and after I’ve spoken to the composer just to double-check if he’s happy to have his name in the blogs etc.

As for the footage tests aspect of this post, I’ve completed a Stop Motion Test for Spring. This test shows the Face of Spring revealed from two angles at two different speeds. The first two tests show it at 12.5 Frames Per Second and each shot is 1 Frame (this means each 12 and a half pictures equals 1 second of film). The second two tests are done at the same 12.5 Frames Per Second put each shot is 2 frames in length (so every 6 and a quarter pictures equals 1 second of film). Here’s the footage to show the differences.

The other test video is to give me an idea of how some of the autumn footage may look edited together with some colour grading, a few stock sound effects and some special effects.

Obviously both need a lot of work to bring them up to scratch, but I find myself feeling positive about the outcomes.

With that, I’ll end this one here.

Until next time.

THIRTEEN – Masks Completed

So today I finally finished the masks off! I also built the first set too.

As shown in previous entries I had already completed the Face of Autumn and the Face of Winter. I had to put the Faces of Summer and Spring on hold while I finished rebuilding my workshop. Here’s what the finished products looked like.

The Face of Summer

 

 

The Face of Spring

 

 

 

 

As for the set.

Originally, the film was going to be all done in the field and very little of it scripted or manipulated. The weather however isn’t playing ball. So to add a little variety to the film I’ve come up with a little plan to make the revealing of the Face of Spring a little more interesting.

I’ve decided to do the parts of the film where the Face of Spring sprouts from the ground as if its growing using stop motion animation. This will help to create the playful tone I’m after for this season as stop motion can be made to have a fun, jerky aspect to it.

The set for this is simple. I’ve taken a run of the mill cardboard box, filled it will a few potted plants and compost (to hide the pots) and left room in the centre for the Spring mask to go. I’ll then bury the mask, taking pictures as I go and when I edit it together I’ll put the pictures in reverse order. This will make the mask look like it’s coming up from the ground.

This is what the set looks like behind the scenes.

How it will look through the camera (The pots will be covered up fully).

Building this set and deciding to add in a stop motion element has definitely given me food for thought on how to do some other parts of the film. Before I commit though I would like to  run them by some other people to see what they think. With that I’ll wrap this post up here.

Until Next Time.

TWELVE – Summer Shots!

This a quick little update about some footage I managed to bag last week.

When I started this project, I had a concern that the Summer Scenes may be a challenge to capture due to the film needing to be made by May. Due to the recent weather, I managed to get some nice Summery clouds on blue sky. This footage will work brilliantly for the scenes that require sped up footage of rolling clouds. As spring is rolling by, if the weather holds I should be able to get some nice footage all in all.

 

ELEVEN – Update

It’s coming up to a month since my last post and as much as I dislike leaving large gaps between posts, the fact is I’ve got very little to write about.

At the moment I’m in that tedious place in filming where its a chain of paper work. Shots lists are being made, risk assessments are being typed up, people are being emailed re this and that. All time-consuming and all necessary, if not a little bit dull.

Next week I’m hoping to show some more progress. With any luck I’ll be out this week with the camera, getting the last dregs of winter and starting the spring shoot.

With that, until next time…

TEN – Post Shoot Whitby

In today’s entry I’m going to quickly talk about the shoot in Whitby. So with out further ado, lets get started.

I think the first thing that comes to mind about the shoot is how cold it was! It was the type of icy windy cold blasts that leave your face and hands both numb and stiff instantly. It was also foggy, the sea was choppy and the clouds were low and utterly miserable. Perfect then, for capturing some scenes of winter.

Taken by Jack Watling

Taken by Jack WatlingMy first port of call was to go down to the harbour. There, we (I was assisted by my Girlfriend Katie for the day) set up the camera and captured some footage of the cliffs, sea and a few rock pools near the harbours edge. My objective for the harbour/sea shots was to capture movement as well as footage that fitted the theme of winter. The tide was out which was good as I could see rock pools that are usually hidden by several feet of water, it was a pity in some ways though as it meant I was not able to get footage of waves crashing against the harbour wall which would of been nice. I also got some nice shots of the cliffs further down the coast, which due to the fog and low cloud, looked very effective and gave me some ideas of how I could implement this footage into the film.

Taken by Katie

 

 

These two pictures were taken by Katie, the left one is of one of the rock pools that can only be seen when the tide is out. The right one is of me, the cloud behind shows just how grey and grim the weather was.

 

 

While shooting, I noticed on the other side of the harbour were two rock formations out to sea. Being now virtually frozen, we decided to get dinner (the obligatory fish and chips) which gave us a excuse to sit down and warm up before heading to the other side of the harbour.

Fish and Chips devoured, we headed to the other side of the Harbor to get the last few shots before heading onto the moors. By this point the weather was a little warmer which meant less numb hands and dripping noses. On this side of the harbour the sea was a little bit more choppy too, this would give me some good opposing images to the slightly calmer sea footage on the other side of the harbour. The way the sea, rock formations and cliffs worked with each other was also brilliant for the type of shot composition I was after. After about an hour filming, we headed back through Whitby to get to go to the moors.

Taken by jack WatlingUnfortunately, by the time we got to the moors heavy fog had set in and severe weather warnings were mentioned on the local radio station. Not wanting to get caught in a bad situation I decided to forgo shooting on the moors. Besides, as I could only see about 4 feet in front of me it felt it would be a pretty redundant task anyway.

Overall the shoot went well. Due to high wind speeds I have a little bit of shaky footage to sort out in post and the audio is no good but I got some good solid shots. I may reschedule a shoot to go up on the moors but hopefully I can find somewhere a little closer to home to save on travel expenses and time etc.

That’s it for this post.

Until Next Time.

NINE – In Search of Winter

Lets start this post off by commenting on the weather. Although its been rather cold (and that’s putting it mildly), as far as how things have looked from a lens point of view it doesn’t really look like winter. The Sun has been shining, the sky has been blue and the grass is green and lush. This is all great in many ways, but as I’m meant to be gathering dramatic winter footage it’s not idea for my film project.

So, to remedy this I’ll be taking a trip to the North Yorkshire Moors! The North Yorkshire Moors has always looked dramatic anytime of the year. The plan is to go to Whitby and spend the night meaning I’m in a prime position to hopefully get some rough sea shots and some barren and bleak moorland shots the next. This way, even if it’s not typical winter I’ll have some footage that I can grade and play with to make it look like winter.

Heres to some dramatic winter time footage and a dusting (but not too much that I can’t drive) of snow.

Until Next Time.