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.

SIX – Updates, Updates, Updates

Today’s post is all about the updates. First main update is to the site itself. I’ve tweaked it to make it a more complete website instead of just a blog. This is more of a personal choice as eventually, I want to do some product reviews and have a place to show off my CV. These site updates have allowed me to lay the ground work for this.

Second (and more importantly for this Blog), a lot has happened since my last post.  I’ve also realised, some vital aspects have been overlooked. I’ve not gone over what it is I’m actually doing.

My idea is to essentially make a film that documents seasonal change and visually shows the feeling that goes with each season (Summer = Happy, Winter = Sad etc.). I want to do this, using my dads old lens as mentioned in the prior post.  To make it a bit more interesting, I decided to use decorated masks that would act as a sort of avatar for each season.

Early concept for the Face of Autumn, made by myself.

Overall the film would be an experimental/art film that partly plays homage to ideas put forward by American Filmmaker Stan Brakhage.

Ignoring the music this test video glimpses at what I’m wanting to do. I want to explore this idea of seeing. Not just briefly glancing at a tree and saying “its a tree” but looking and observing. Noticing details like how leaves move in the wind. How the light changes as the sunsets. The little critters that live in moss.

So I pitched this idea. It wasn’t the best pitch. I received comments along the lines of “its stating the obvious” and it’s not clear what why it’s called Dad’s Old Glass etc. I explained a few things, such it’s called Dad’s Old Glass because its shot with my dad’s old lens which is slang for lens. This helped a little as I then explained on a personal level it was my dad that introduced me to a nature as we used to go walking a lot and he’d explain what things were etc. etc.

Not a lot has changed since then except I’ve been gathering various bits of footage that maybe useful for the project and been playing with ideas suggested by one of my tutors around the opening.

Although I have creative freedom to basically do what I want, and sometimes I’d love ignore everything any of my tutors say to me about it (after all its my idea and something that is personal to me), I can’t. On a course such as this, I have to treat a tutor like an Executive Producer. At the end of the day they mark the work and give me a grade which I want to be high.

With all this in mind, I have began to formulate a plan that reaches a compromise between my objectives and the tutors scepticism . But that’s for another post later on.

Until Next Time.

 

FIVE – Old Glass

On the run up to starting filming (Details of the project to come soon)I was looking at buying some new lens so I can get the footage I’m after. The plan is to shoot using my Canon 700D. Despite being considered as an entry/enthusiast level camera and it not being a full frame DSLR it can still hold its own in terms of capturing professional level footage. Generally speaking for a film project I would usually use a 50mm lens. I like the “nifty fifty” for all the reasons everyone else does, the image quality looks beautiful and it can produce some awesome stylish “bokeh“.

For this project however I would at least like to have a telephoto, that way I can get closer to subjects (Like birds and rabbits etc.) without actually having to get closer. Which brought me to another issue to do with budget.

A cheap telephoto lens from a lesser known brand can start at around £50. These vary from preset lens such as the Opteka 500mm or a 500mm mirrored lens.

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A Opteka 500mm-1000mm Mirror lens Approx £70+ (Image from Amazon)

Preset

A Opreka Preset 500mm Lens Approx £70+ (Image from Amazon)

 

 

 

Both seem impressive. Both seem to offer a lot for the money. But with a miniscule budget, that amount of money could be a bad investment if it turns out to be no good. Official Canon Lens were not an option either, generally starting in the late hundreds of pounds for a cheap alternative and well into the thousands for the higher speced L series of telephoto Lens.

A Canon EF 28-300mm L series Lens. Starting at around £1300. (Image from Amazon)

A Canon EF 28-300mm L series Lens. Starting at around £1300. (Image from Amazon)

This got me thinking of what I already owned, what I could afford and what I could make. The only telephoto lens I own (technically my dads) is from an old Zenit SLR Camera (also technically my dads). The Zenit EM cameras were 35mm and made in the USSR. They use a 42mm mount for the Lens which means that out of the box, the telephoto Lens and my camera aren’t compatible.

Optomax 70-210mm Telephoto lens

Optomax 70-210mm Telephoto lens

Zenit EM 35mm

Exact same Camera as the one I have, with a 44mm Lens Attached (which I also have access to). Image from http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Zenit_EM

Obviously it was out of the question to use the Zenit to film with, for a start it has no film function. But one of the positives to old Glass (Glass is photography slang for a Lens)compared to new Glass is it is relatively cheap. A strong positive for me is that I already had a lens that would go to a respectable 210mm and it had a rather nice macro function. I also know the lens is almost mint condition too as my dad kept the original box, lens caps and pouch. It also had the instruction booklet. So to cut a long story short and for a minimal spend of £6.99 and a slither of sticky tape (to trick the sensor), I found an adapter which means I can use the Telephoto. Obviously I have to do aperture, ISO and focus manually as the lens doesn’t have any auto compatible functions. But in the end its well worth it.

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Test Shot – Mushroom in the Garden

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Test Shot – Up close from far away

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Test Shot – Macro Test

This is a Video Test with no post correction. With this, I wrap this entry up. Until Next Time.

 

THREE – REWRITE!

I’m going to open this one by firstly saying what I originally intended to write about, which was the struggles I had around coming up with a more original and less used title than “Warrior”. It would have said how titles aren’t particularly my forte and usually I’d leave them to the third or fourth draft. However, due to a series of recent reality checks I am forced to write an article of a different nature.

Unfortunately, I have been forced to not only rewrite my entire script. I am very much inclined to completely scrap the idea and start again. This down to two key reasons. The first, money.

For the film I had intended to have a budget of around £500. This would go towards casts and crew travel expenses and a few props I did not already own. The locations for the most part would be covered by using my own house, it being a relatively large house it is quite versatile in being multiple locations in one.  As I began the costing process I found that the original budget would be tight to work with at best. Using a simple formula based on a cast and crew of ten people at £10 per person and a shoot lasting 5-7 days, I would need £500-£700 in expenses alone. Plus around £100 for props and set materials and around £50-£100 to cover my own expenses (fuel, food etc.). I have always found it ill-advised and borderline irresponsible to NOT having a “when that thing goes wrong pot” too. This would be another £50-£100. Altogether, this comes to between £700 – £1000 minimum budget. Twice what I had planned for. Ever the optimist I was still ready to go ahead with the film idea until another realisation dawned on me.

What about all the other things I needed to pay for outside the film such as Car Tax and MOT, phone bills, internet bills and all the other costs involved with being an adult. Hope wavering at this point, the final blow came in the form of those dreaded “unexpected bills”. With a costly near £100 vet bill for the now deceased menace we lovingly called Stan Oleg Rasputin Hamster (Rest in Piece) I finally caved and accepted that the film in its current conceptualised form, would simply not be feasible. So I begrudgingly began to mercilessly chop parts out, play with the structure, remove none essential characters and have less ambitious props and costumes until it was closer to something I could afford. Then came the next nail of a reason.  Controllable factors.

Fictional Films rely on a lot to be good. I am relying on this project in order to pass my degree with a good grade. In my experience, fictional films just have too many variables that can go wrong. This is a project on a near iron clad deadline, deadlines that don’t really accommodate for worse case. Simply put, if any parts of it fail (an actor drops out at the last moment, locations fall through, the weather stops the show, crew members don’t show up)I run the risk of failing.

On reflection fictional film has been my weakest area over the last 3 years at university too. Mainly for the previously mentioned last-minute issues explained above. This in mind I have put together two separate ideas that focus on my stronger areas which were Factual Production, Client Based Brief and Experimental Film.

For my next post I intend to go over these ideas in more detail.

Until next time.