Dear Assessors

Please see  below the links to my assignments and tutor reports.

Assignment 1:
https://gusanofilmsblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/assignment-1-framing/
Assignment 1 Tutor’s feedback:
https://gusanofilmsblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/18/tutor-feedback-to-assignment-1/

Assignment 2:
https://gusanofilmsblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/assignment-2-creating-atmosphere/
Assignment 2 Tutor’s feedback:
https://gusanofilmsblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/tutor-feedback-assignment-2/
Assignment 2 Re-submission:
https://gusanofilmsblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/14/assignment-2-re-submission-meditation-time/

Assignment 3:
https://gusanofilmsblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/09/assignment-3-creating-meaning-tea/
Assignment 3 Tutor’s feedback:
https://gusanofilmsblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/assessment-3-tutors-feedback/

Assignment 4:
https://gusanofilmsblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/assignment-4-constructing-a-narrative/
Assignment 4 Tutor’s feedback:
https://gusanofilmsblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/assignment-4-tutor-feedback/

And the link to the allocated Google Drive supplied by OCA:

https://drive.google.com/drive/u/1/folders/0B5lk5GtcG6RiZU5ydWZOaVUtNW8

Assignment 4 Constructing a narrative

For this assignment you’ll gather documentary footage and use it to create a short documentary sequence representing a portrait of a place. You should try and capture the spirit and feel of the place as well as representing what happens there. Choose a location This could be a train station, a market, a housing estate or a car park. It will help if you choose somewhere that you can get to easily as you may want to film at various times of day. You will also need to consider any restrictions on your ability to film there. (Military bases and children’s playgrounds may cause concern. See note below.) Recce your location at different times and think about:
• What happens? What are the important events that occur daily in your place? Are there any unusual events that might be interesting to follow?
• What or who is there? What and who do you need to show to represent the various elements of the place and paint a full picture of it?
• What is the character of the place? Can you apply any of the ideas of characterisation to the place? What elements typify its mood and atmosphere? What kind of pace and rhythm does the place have?
• What is the timescale of the place?

Can you represent its essential elements over a minute, an hour, a day, a week? Plan a narrative. Considering the information you have, try to think of the best way to represent the place you have chosen. You could go for a day in the life, starting early in the morning and showing events as they occur in a chronological order through the day, or you may choose to visit the location for the same hour every day over a week, compiling a rapid montage of the frenetic activity that takes place at that time.

Draw a chart of your narrative structure. Identify the climax. What is the story you are telling?
Create a shot list – Note the essential shots that you will need to represent your place and construct your narrative, the shots you might like if they are available and any ideas for possible shots that may arise. Obviously you will have to be flexible and respond to events as they occur but this will be easier if you have the confidence of knowing that you have basic footage already. Record your footage. Don’t record too much. Remember every hour of footage will take you over three hours to watch, capture and edit down to useful clips. Try to follow the shot list you made.
Review your footage carefully Watch it through on a TV and make notes (it’s useful if you can see the timecode). Identify useful sections, the elements you knew you needed and anything else unexpected that crops up. This may seem like an unnecessary step, as you could just capture it straight off, but it helps you to focus your mind and become familiar with your footage. You may start to see something different from your original narrative emerging… Capture and edit Start by trying to throw together something like your original plan. Does this work? If so, you can work through it carefully choosing the very best shots, trimming and fine cutting. If not – by far the most likely outcome – you will need to reconsider your structure, narrative ideas and footage. Don’t be afraid to make radical changes. Put your original pre-conceptions aside. Look at what you have and think how to use this to create an impression of the place you know. If in doubt say less. Pick one or two key elements to focus on.

Evaluation
Write an evaluation of your finished sequence (500 words). Submit your sequence online to your tutor with the pre-production notes and evaluation.

Assignment 4:
Ralph Martyn – Turn Up The Silence

Pre- Production:

I had decided from the outset to avoid a literal interpretation of the imperative –  a “place”.  I felt that my long term friend Ralph Martyn and his studio at his home in Sussex, was an interesting setting of its own. Many years I have seen this location as one of creative sanctuary and of channelled energy. As a subject matter, Ralph’s musical output is an interest worthy of focus, one that has been fruitful since his teens in the mid seventies. So my selected place of discussion would be that of Ralph’s mind, or at least his studio.

Initial planning for the film was to discuss with Ralph on what particular aspect of his work would be suitable for presentation. He is currently involved with two acts other than his own work. It could have been possible to follow him at the studio of one of the bands he is working with, the veteren Sussex based act Josi Without Colours, also now on their fourth decade of existence. However, it was a personal journey for myself, as I have such a close friendship with my subject, that it was his unique self-produced ambient electronic music that I wanted to celebrate most, even though I have been involved personally with a number of other musical projects with him throughout the years. But it was his musical journey I wanted to document, and that alone.

Ralph Martyn is a spiritual individual and his studio contains a Buddhist shrine. This has become a factor of the energy that he develops his music within. I have seen over time how this has been integrated into his work and this has added a further dimension and profundity to his art.

A fairly reclusive life allows Ralph some thinking time and with this his prolific output is phenomenal. Countless new songs, poems, prose and compositions have adorned my emails from Ralph for years. After his long walks with his dog Murphy, Ralph often retreats / ascends to his studio in the spare room of his home to bring thought-waves into reality, I am the lucky recipient, often, of the first drafts of these fragments of ideas and concepts. In turn, Murphy must be described as the healthiest dog in the South East.

However Ralph’s health has been an issue of late, and we had to postpone time for shooting a few times, but finally we managed to set aside a day together to get the film shot. As my assignment deadline quickly approached, it became apparent that certain ideas had to be re-thought.

The narrative is presented below in the diagram. I am pleased to see that the final edit,  remained true to the plan as far as possible.

IMG_20170417_1048142

Final Film and Evaluation

The principles that I wanted to communicate were as follows.

  1. A life in music. Not of musical theory or notation, but of experimenting, a love of instruments, especially of synthesizers.

  2. Music as a spiritual journey, of atmosphere and creative output.

  3. People like Ralph are dedicating to this grass-roots approach, not just the mainstream of commercial music, whatever the genre.

As explained previously, Ralph has had some health issues in the past few months and it had proven difficult to commit to a day of shooting, after our initial discussions to make this film. I had alternative ideas, but eventually we managed to arrange a day of shooting.

Focusing on ambient music, it would require a slow paced, long-edit style. I wanted the first sequence to reveal synthesizers and studio “electronica” – Ralph’s workstation. I blended this in with shots of Ralph meditating alongside his Buddhist shrine, however despite capturing footage, Ralph disputed whether Buddhism was relevant as an ingredient within his work. Instead I selected a shot of his Buddha light, which was a “joke” gift he had acquired, more in-keeping with his humour.

Going through the footage, it was interesting to show what Ralph had revealed about his creative process. He had not learned to read notation and that it was a tactile approach, the actuality of learning to play by feel. I had footage of when he was a drummer in one of my own bands, we were recording live drums in a rock venue. I thought it would be an ideal cut, to show the extent of his excellence in percussion.

In the next section I wanted to document Ralph’s extensive career playing in various acts throughout his adult life with archive photographs and video footage using a list of bands. The footage seemed distracting to the focus on the titles, therefore I opted to use solely a slideshow.

The final act of the film would show Ralph explaining the process of recording, whilst explaining that music should take people on a journey and create an inner emotion. Throughout the film I had weaved footage of Ralph walking his dog, where much of his creative thoughts are allowed to breathe. The final frame to show him returning home as dusk approaches and Ralph’s narration describes that music should make you feel that “you’ve been somewhere”.

In evaluation of the completed film I can see that the intended atmosphere has been reached. Ralph’s personality and his ambient music style is apparent. I note a few things I would have liked to have improved upon.
1. Had more opportunities to film his day been available, I would have had more footage. I believe this is a downside of my film. I had plenty of interview shots, but little cut- away footage.
2. If more archive footage had been available, I would have made more of the slideshow and used video edits as well as stills.
3. The final title sequence is rather long, but this allows the song “ Turn up the Silence” to have enough airplay. I wanted to focus on the mood and lyrics of this song as they represent the current focus of Ralph’s latest project.

Peter Owden

Project 18 Motivation

Exercise:
De-edit a sequence Choose any scene from a film or TV programme. Load this into your editing package. Watch the scene a couple of times, try to identify if there is any particular rhythm to the speed of the cuts. Does this change as the scene progresses? Is the rhythm suggested by action – dictating how the cuts should be made, or is it created by the cuts themselves? Cut the scene up into each of the individual shots. Look closely at each shot.

List the elements of composition within the shot and try to think what purpose each element serves. What effect does it have? Identify the motivation/justification for each element. Identify the motivation for each cut. Could you have cut any earlier in the shot? Try to cut each shot down to the absolute bare minimum. Reconnect your shots and see how short you can make the sequence without losing its meaning. Upload your finished sequence and invite comments. Answer these questions: • Does your sequence still convey the meaning you intended? • How does it feel? Has it changed? Why? • Has the feeling affected the meaning?

The Thin Red Line ( dir, Terrence Malick, 1998 )
The opening sequence of this epic cerebral war movie uses long picturesque takes to set the scene. Sequences include a crocodile entering a body of water, trees in the jungle, the inhabitants of the South Pacific island, the local children swimming under sea, an AWOL American GI canoeing with the island’s fishermen. All these shots run ten seconds and over. By shredding seconds off the shots and re-editing them together still keeps the mood, but with much less impact. In the original each shot dissolves into each other and there is a sense of timelessness and calm, as well as peace and tranquil. By joining them together again I opted not to use the dissolve transition to see how this would alter the mood, and yes it affected the ambience of the piece dramatically.

Project 17 – Time

Research blog Choose a film with a nonlinear narrative.
• Try to devise a diagram of the narrative structure that represents the relationship between the different time frames.
• Upload your diagram and compare it with others. Look for good examples of time being contracted or expanded.
• Try to find at least one example of each technique listed above.
• Try to identify a couple of examples of the same techniques being used in very different ways. Describe them and explain how they work. If possible upload examples. Write a short script extract for two scenes that connect different parts of the same day.
• The transition should suggest what has occurred in between.
• Upload your script and ask other students to describe what they assume has happened in the intervening time.

Hotel Room
• Is this what you intended?

Project 16 Other narratives

In this project we will consider two areas that demand a different approach to narrative.
Documentary
In some documentaries it is easier to recognise the narrative form than in others. The ‘true life stories’ approach is often structured much like a drama, maybe even including fictionalised scenes or re-enactments to provide the material needed for the chosen narrative. An investigative report has a similar narrative structure. The situation or problem is laid out in Act 1, the investigation carried out in Act 2 and the answers laid out and conclusions drawn in Act 3. In observational documentaries it may be harder to recognise a simple narrative.

A classic observational documentary like the work of Frederick Wiseman takes its cues from the material that is observed. He tries not to impose his preconceptions or influence the action in any way. In editing the film he has to create a unique narrative from the hours of footage observed. Other documentaries have a clear agenda; the starting point for the film-maker is to put across a point of view or discuss an idea. This format is far more scripted; the structure or the key plot points can be laid out in advance. The film-maker then goes out to find or create the necessary footage to fit their script. An example of this might be Michael Moore’s ‘Farenheit 911’ in which he sets out to make a series of points and chooses locations, people and scenarios to test and illustrate these. The narrative here follows the structure of a discursive essay: an introduction, a series of assertions with examples, and a conclusion.
Crudely put, documentaries tend to fall into two categories: those with something to say and those which seek to explore. In the first case the film-maker must fit the evidence and the material they find to their story; in the second case they must try to discover what the story is in whatever they find. In both cases they will have to decide at some point what the story is and create a narrative to tell it.

Viewing
Think of documentaries you have seen and try to identify which category the film falls into:
Asking – the film-maker goes into the project without pre-conceived ideas of the message or conclusion
Telling – the film-maker has a point to make or a message to convey
Pick a film from each category and try to draw a diagram of the narrative structure. (You will probably have to watch them again for this.) You may find there are multiple narrative strands.
Try to include these in your diagram. In each case try to identify the central narrative. Choose a single scene from one of the films and draw a diagram of the structure of the scene.
Upload diagrams to your site.
Compare your diagrams with those of other students.
• Do you notice any patterns? Do your analyses generally agree? Are there any anomalies?
• What do you notice about your diagrams of scene structure?

Asking

My Scientology Movie ( dir. John Dower, 2015 )
Louis Theroux’s “My Scientology Movie” is a good example of a project that is not particularly pre-conceived. Despite Theroux’s extensive research into the subject, the film expresses a somewhat aimless sense, that is a metaphor to the confusion and secrecy that the subject matter is allegedly hidden behind. With total non-compliance from the organisation themselves, which is of course the production’s anticipated outcome, the narrative has more than one strand. Theroux’s attempts to interview the current leader David Miscavige; in failing to do so, to recreate interviews using Hollywood aspiring actors to perform documented incidents; and by telling the story of ex-Scientologist Marty Rathbun.
Having grown up in East Grinstead in Sussex, the home of the European headquarters of Scientology, I have been interested in this subject matter, not simply because of its locality, but also the organisation’s secretive and allegedly threatening stand-point to its critics and ex-members. Guilt is often the default reputation to clandestine activity and the movement appears to have done little to alleviate these rumours since its inception in the early fifties.
This particular scene involves Theroux’s attempt to hand a letter for Miscavige to the gatekeeper at one of Scientolgy’s Californian missions. The letter is rejected and Theroux is left with his own opinion of why, rather than a resolution, something which is common practice whenever investigative reporters and Scientologists converge. (1)

IMG_20170414_1356275

I preferred to use this format to portray the scene. Still broken down to three acts, the scene is set by explaining a letter is about to be delivered. The conflict is that the security guard refuses the letter, leaving a faux-conclusion as the reporter can only assume the guard is fearful of repercussions from the organisation he defends.

Telling

The Devil and Daniel Johnston ( dir. Jeff Feuerzeig, 2005 )
The artist Daniel Johnston is the lyricist’s lyricist, producing sad songs to die for. His traumatic life, documented via hours of cinefilm and audio cassettes captured by Daniel himself is blended with his artwork and interviews with friends and family,  even his older self in this outstanding documentary biopic. His mental health is recorded via his astonishing scribbled drawings and his unique songs which are brought to life so hauntingly here. The film is a telling of a life story, Daniel Johnston’s creative achievements crushed by paranoid schizophrenia and a lifetime of anti-psychotic medication. (2)

The scene in which Daniel and friends tell of his absorbing obsession with Laurie, the girl of his dreams, is very poignant and depicting of a creepy nature, indicating a very poorly soul, however his muse allowed him to tap into a creativity that is original and personal, which has a rare honesty that I can fully appreciate. The songs that are the result are incredibly touching and reveal an astonishing lyrical genius.

IMG_20170414_1437499

Non-narrative films
Narrative can be said to exist in painting, in music, and in poetry. Yet any description of these narratives would occur outside the artwork as they themselves contain no description. In describing them you either describe the story that you imagine they were trying to tell or you try and describe the artwork itself hoping this will somehow reveal the narrative you imagined. So it is with more abstract forms of film-making. It is often argued that rather than being non-narrative these films experiment with different forms of narrative. They may not have a plot but all films present a series of images one after the other, so all films present some form of narrative. It may be that the narrative takes place on another level that is not directly evident on screen. Perhaps the film-maker wants to take the viewer on an emotional journey. This journey could be seen as the story that is being told.

Going back to the dictionary definition, narrative is “that which is narrated, a story; a written or spoken account of a series of events in the order in which they occur”. In this case, rather than writing or speaking the film-maker is communicating emotions directly through images and sounds; the events are the emotions you feel as a viewer. There is no need for the images to make sense in a traditional, plot driven, way for there to be a narrative. The narrative could also be conceptual. As a viewer you are forced to ask questions; the conceptual journey you make as you struggle to find answers is the narrative. By definition it would be impossible to describe these film in a meaningful way so it is important that you find and watch some films with alternative narrative structures. You can find examples of this approach to film-making in other areas. They often crop up in mainstream films and are prevalent in advertising and music videos. Look for examples of narratives that are represented without a plot and try out the exercise below wherever you find them.
Viewing
Find some examples of alternative narratives. In each case try to identify the nature of the narrative. This is best achieved by watching the film without any pre-conceptions. Don’t analyse the first time you watch, just watch. Afterwards ask yourself how you felt as you watched. What were you thinking?
• Did the film take you on an emotional journey? Did it cause any reaction – even irritation or boredom? Why was this?
David Lynch ‘s Inland Empire is a difficult film to follow and it takes the audience through what can only be described as a true nightmare, filled with confusing time-frames and red herrings, disturbing imagery, terrifying sounds.
• How was it achieved?
each time the film appears understandable, cuts are taken in such severe tangents, that leave you disorientated and confused.
• What questions were you asking yourself, what puzzled you? What strange ideas popped into your head?
I loved this movie, it was the disjointed nature that achieves its goal the best, it really is a surreal nightmare experience. Few films achieve the distrubing nature of bad dreams.
• Did your feelings or understanding change later when you remembered the film? It is often necessary to watch a film a couple of times before you form a strong sense of it. Of course your interpretation may be very different to someone else’s. This is how it should be. Consider it as a form of poetry. Try to draw a diagram of the narrative. In some cases you may have more than one narrative – for instance there may be a simple plot and a complex emotional narrative in the same piece. Upload your best diagrams to your blog.

After various visits to Inland Empire, I still maintain that it is excellent. With a running time of over three hours, which feels even longer upon viewing, it requires stamina. But with each viewing I find it harder to watch. Part of its attraction is the wonder of what is going to happen next. Just like in a dream. (3)
Inland Empire ( dir. David Lynch, 2006 )
IMG_20170414_1546020

SOURCE:
(1)  Official film website: http://www.myscientologymovie.com/ – accessed 12th April 2017
(2)  
Daniel Johnston website: http://www.hihowareyou.com/ – accessed 12th April 2017
(3)  
http://www.davidlynch.de/ – accessed 12th April 2017

Project 15 Traditional Narrative

The three act narrative
The most popular narrative form in mainstream cinema is the three act narrative. This is, in a sense, a simple expansion of the beginning, middle, end principle.
Act 1 The beginning. It establishes the background to the story, sets the scene and introduces the characters. Typically Act 1 will represent the world of the main characters in a state of stability. The climax of Act 1 will be an event that upsets this stability. This climax will typically come about a quarter to a third of the way into the film.
Act 2 The middle. The protagonists seek to resolve the problems created as a result of the first climax. The story may diverge, becoming more complex. The climax of Act 2 brings all the threads together presenting the possibility and anticipation of a resolution. This will often be the highest point of tension within the film. Typically this occurs about two thirds of the way through.
Act 3 The end. The final resolution plays out, the characters are returned to a state of equilibrium, their world is stable again.

Viewing
You can do this with any films you watch. Try designing these charts with some older Hollywood classics for a solid three act structure, and then compare these with more recent films. As you watch films, pay attention to the narrative structure. Try and identify if the film conforms to a three act structure. If it does, can you pinpoint the beginning of Acts 2 and 3? Can you identify any other narrative structures?
Try to sketch out a diagram of the structure of the film. Upload a scan of your diagrams and notes to the blog. Invite comments.
Do other students agree with your analysis of structure?

Psycho ( dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1960 )
IMG_20170409_1625531

Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho has an interesting structure. Although still a three act film, the film uniquely changes protagonist from act one to act two. The first act follows Marian Craine ( Janet Leigh ) as she impulsively steals her client’s money rather than take the $40,000 to the bank on her bosses request. She is in love with a man who wont commit to her because he is broke and she decides this will be their ticket to happiness. Setting off on a journey from Phoenix to LA, she tires and decides to rest at the Bates Motel, owned by the psychotic Norman Bates ( Anthony Perkins ), a character that murders her and also takes the throne for the movie from the beginning of act two until the end of the film. (1)

The Dead Zone ( dir. David Cronenbourg, 1983 )
IMG_20170409_1625580

Sweethearts John Smith ( Christopher Walken ) and Sarah have their marital plans dashed as John has a car accident resulting in a coma for five years. Upon waking it emerges that John has released a dormant gift of second sight as he goes through his rehabilitation plagued by visions of other people’s futures. He meets an increasingly popular right wing politician Greg Stillson ( Martin Sheen ) and he becomes aware that this man will one day become president of the USA with drastic consequences. Therefore he decides to assassinate him and save the future of mankind.
Although very episodic in its formula*, this Stephen King adaptation by Jeffrey Boam still follows a three act structure, when stripped down to the character arc of John Smith and that of the antagonist Stillson. As the movie industry advanced it is clear that although many films still followed the three act pattern, further options were being explored that blurred the edges of the particular template. (2)
* The Dead Zone was later adapted into a TV series, exploring in greater depth the visions of fate that John sees upon meeting various characters.

Ex_Machina ( dir. Alex Garland, 2014 )
IMG_20170409_1626100

Caleb ( Domhnal Gleeson ) is an employee of Nathan’s ( Oscar Isaac) corporate BlueBook Enterprises, a fictitious Google-like search engine. Nathan lives alone in his “Jurassic Park” island hideaway. Caleb wins a staff lottery to spend some time with Nathan. This soon reveals to be an experiment, in which Caleb is the human element of the Turing test as Nathan has developed an AI robot called Ava ( Alicia Vikander ).
Ava and Caleb get to know each other and using her programmed sexuality, she secretly persuades Caleb to help her escape the imprisonment, which in itself is pre-staged as part of Nathan’s experiment, however this leads to disastrous consequences.
Still  three-act in its narrative, in a contemporary cinema that is more experimental ( post “Pulp Fiction” ), I selected this film for its impressive example of excellent story-telling. The three characters are superbly developed, and the Turing test is flipped upon the audience, as we all know she is an actress, but we fully submerge in the character of an AI, leading the audience down pathways of philosophical introspection. (3)

Do you agree with other students about their structures?
I looked at both Chloe and Ashley’s structures. Chloe had written a detailed graph based diagram to show the narrative of the 007 film The Living Daylights. She had successfully used the formula to display the flow of the film. Whilst it was easy to follow and was well presented, I had chosen not to use a graph for my structures as I felt that this could result in being unnecessarily complicated, although Chloe’s example was not. However in a structure that is episodic such as The Dead Zone, it could easily be the case.
Look at different ways people have attempted to represent the structure. Try some alternative approaches yourself. Do these different ways of representing a film structure change the way you think about it?
As with the previous question, my flow chart version below proves how complex the diagrams could become. I much prefer the examples I had posted above for Psycho, The Dead Zone and Ex_Machina.

IMG_20170414_1150514

REFERENCES:
(1) Obituary of Psycho screenplay writer Joseph Stefano, by Ronald Bergan, The Guardian September 2006.  – accessed April 10th 2017.
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2006/sep/14/guardianobituaries.obituaries
(2) The episodic structure of The Dead Zone, stripped down to the classic three act- formula in Jeffrey Boam’s screenplay. Blog post in Cult Projections by Bryn Tilly, April 2016. – accessed April 10th 2017.
http://www.cultprojections.com/horrorphile/the-dead-zone
(3)
Ex_ Machina in Magic of Story blog September 2015 by Selin Sevinc Bertero
http://magicofstory.com/beat-sheet-alex-garlands-ex-machina-screenplay-breakdown/ Bertero – accessed April 10th 2017.

Assignment 3 – tutor’s feedback.

Please see the link for my tutor’s feedback for my film for Assignment 3. I was very pleased to receive such encouraging words from Robert, as I expressed in my assessment that I was nervous that my approach was too literal. But Robert pointed out that whilst this was possibly true that the showing of the weapon of suicide was indeed, on-the-nose, the emotion of the piece and the approach made up for this by suggesting multiple layers of emotion.

I am therefore delighted that this was seen as the case.

peter-owden-31

Assignment 3 Creating meaning -“Tea”

For this assignment you will create a short sequence that tells a basic story and conveys implied meaning. The sequence should be based on one of the scenarios below. The sequence must be no longer than 90 seconds. (You may choose to have 60 x 1.5sec shots or 1 x 90sec shot – or anything in between.)
You will write a script, design the shots, record and edit the film. You should focus on meaning. Clearly describe the action or sequence of events and imply a second layer of meaning. Consider the techniques you have already explored for creating meaning with composition. Think about mood, atmosphere and where the audience’s attention is focused. Consider the space on and off screen and the assumptions your audience will make. Planning
• Choose a scenario from the list below
Action                                                   Implied Meaning

Somebody chooses a drink              One of the drinks is poisoned.
A snail makes a journey.                  Humanity fails to progress very quickly.
Somebody posts a letter.                  Somebody is following them.
Two people meet                                They have slept together.
Somebody makes a cup of tea     They are suicidal.
Or you can invent your own scenario along similar lines. Be clear about the action and the implied meaning. If you do invent your own scenario it must be agreed with your tutor before continuing.

• Consider carefully what information you must show on screen. Think about what you need to show. Think about the best framing and composition to clearly achieve this.
• Consider what information you wish to imply. Think about how you can create meaning by re-ordering your shots. Think about other elements you may want to include such as additional shots or sound.
• Storyboard a short sequence. Include as much detail as possible about each shot. Consider the composition, framing, camera movement and sound. Remember you cannot show the implied meaning directly – no flashbacks of the couple in bed, no shot of someone pouring from a flask marked ‘poison’, no shots of your suicidal person imagining themselves hanging from a rope. If you are in doubt about this check with your tutor.

OCA Assignment 3 Creating meaning
You may not convey the exact implied meaning to everyone, but try to get close. Choosing a simple action will not necessarily make your task any easier. You have a free choice about the style and form of your sequence. You can be as literal or as abstract as you choose, as long as both pieces of information are understood. Record and edit your sequence
• Try and stay true to your storyboards during the shoot.
• Do not worry excessively about the quality of the image. Concentrate on what message it conveys.
• At the editing stage start by following your original structure but experiment. Try different versions, see what happens when you change the order of shots. Write an evaluation of your finished sequence (500 words)
• Critically assess your finished product.
• Identify and analyse the reasons for both successful and unsuccessful techniques that you have employed.
• Explain any major changes you made from your storyboards.
• Consider where you need to strengthen your own skills and understanding and explain how you will achieve this.

Tea

I had initially opted to shoot the sequence with a snail on the decking of my garden. I had filmed him making his way from the left of the screen to the right, and I had positioned an A1 green card behind him with the intentions to edit in images of World War 2, the thwarted Budapest uprising, VietNam, the Balkan conflict, 9 /11/ 2001, the Gulf war and Syria. Time has not allowed humanity to learn… I liked this idea but I opted out as I felt I would not be able to use the skills I had learned in this course, as most of it would be green-screened news footage and not anything I had shot.
Secondly I had arranged to shoot the sequence involving two people meeting. I had written a piece featuring two women dining at a restaurant,  with the implied meaning they had slept together. But the logistics of shooting the two actors I had lined up had finally proven impossible during the time available. I was  disappointed I could not make this happen.

Therefore I had to shoot a sequence using myself again as the actor. I am not best pleased that I have had to do this as I really wanted to use other actors, but again, the time frame and organising performers has not been possible this time. Given these unfortunate issues, I am able to submit work that I have worked on with the knowledge that I have at least achieved what I set out to do, despite having to act in it myself again.

Therefore, I present “TEA”:

tea-script

tea-storyboard

An evaluation of “Tea”

From the outset, I am fully aware that this sequence prohibits the image of the tool of suicide. No nooses, pills, razor blades etc. However I chose to show the gun despite this, to convey a possible red herring, maybe a homicidal act rather than a suicide. The character apologises to his daughters, perhaps he is going to kill their mother, for example.

I chose to make sure that the man’s face was not seen during the film, or out of focus from a distance. Specific props were used. The “Best Dad in the World” mug, bank statements and utility bills, for example. I wanted the viewer to be aware that there was genuine love in the household or at least there once was. However the pressure of money, alongside whispered self-doubts and the words of an unloving partner, the breakdown of a marriage etc, is leading the man to desperation.

I found the French singer An Pierle’s cover of Tubeway Army’s Are ‘Friends’ Electric? online and I thought that the obscure lyrics and the haunting piano score would suit. I am pleased with how this seemed to work. There is an almost uplifting rise to the song, that I positioned alongside climbing the stairs and I wanted to represent a “computer game” ( à la Tomb Raider, Medal of Honor ) involving a first person POV shot as he ascended the stairway, the gun in display.

Finally back to the close up of the tea, the camera steams up as it zooms in,which suits the fade out not only of the piece but of the life of the protagonist. I added some non-diegetic moody synthesiser to the fade out, for dramatic effect!

I stuck closely to the storyboard, only removing a shot of a picture frame of his daughters, as I thought this would be too obvious.

In conclusion, I do believe I was very close to being too literal with my piece, but as I pointed out, it was intentional to offer an ambiguity. There is a number of clues to suicide. Feedback that I  received was that the implied meaning was spelled out too closely, but also the ambivalent nature was also noted, one even thought the children were to be the victims and the note was a twisted decision to absolve himself. One particular point was made of why did the character de-robe before going upstairs? I put this in to cloud the intention. Upon reflection, it may have been better to have removed this.

I felt very comfortable with the technical aspects, and despite some probable narrative issues, I am pleased with the outcome. In future, I would most certainly not use myself as the actor, as I feel I need to focus deeper on my film making rather than be spread across different roles in the shoot.

Peter O.