Tutor Feedback to Assignment 1

Very pleased with the tutor’s comments. Please click the link below to view.

Peter Owden 1

I was overjoyed to have read the feedback and also a big sigh of relief that the work was met with a positive  view.
With the feedback in mind, my focus will now be on the following issues.
1. To find actors to play in my short film exercises. I have recently moved to a new area and I have put posts up on local FB sites and on Gumtree asking for help. So far I know very few people locally, but in the worst case scenario I have friends from my ex home town I can call to act, in the meantime.
2. To use better formats to upload with. As I have explained previously, currently my camera equipment is rather old and therefore I am using older editing software to put it together. To upload quickly to YouTube I used MPEG2 format and that has meant the frame rate is rather small, and the tutor suggested at least MPEG4. I plan to be upgrading my gear soon, once money is more available and once I have decided on what to buy ( the latter probably the main reason for hesitance ! )

I’ve been gathering ideas of film treatments, as I know it adds further cannon if already armed with ideas and scenarios. I’ve always got stories in my head so its not hard to gather. Its interesting though, that this particular idea just jumped into my head only a day before I embarked on my assignment, overtaking previous scenarios. It has often been said that ideas fly around the ether like radio-waves and its our own antennas that detect them.

Anyway back to Section 2…

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Assignment 1. Framing

This assignment has a diagnostic element in that it will help your tutor to get a feel for your work and decide how best to support you during the course. When you’ve received your tutor’s feedback, you can if you wish repeat the assignment. If you choose to submit your work for formal assessment, only this revised work will be submitted for assessment.

For this assignment you will produce a short sequence, of no more than five shots, that tells a simple story using images alone.

Planning
• Write down the details of a simple story, similar to that in Project 1.
• Storyboard a short sequence. It should contain no more than five shots. Include as much detail as possible about each shot. Consider the framing and camera angle carefully.
Think about:
– what information you must show on screen (what do you need to show?)
– how you want to show it (how do you want each shot to feel?)

Although you’ll be recording moving images, think about each shot as you would a still frame. Don’t try and include extensive action. Provide the information by what is included in the frame.

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 the meaning it conveys.

Write an evaluation of your finished sequence (500 words)
• Critically assess your finished product. Consider each frame individually.
• Identify and analyse the reasons for both successful and unsuccessful techniques that you have employed.
• Consider where you need to strengthen your own skills and understanding and explain how you will achieve this.

Submit your sequence to your tutor online with the pre-production materials (written story, scan of storyboards, any production notes) and evaluation.

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BEACH

 

A man ( played by myself ) is driving his partner to a place where she had always wanted to go.  At first seen through her POV . They arrive at a beach where he leads her to follow him. Setting up things from his bag next to one of the groins, he reveals a birthday fairy cake, a bag of sweets, a flower, a birthday card and a mobile phone with a picture of her on display. This reveals that he is actually alone and that he is either imagining her presence or is talking to her metaphorically.

He whispers “Happy Birthday” to her. “ I’m going to let you go now, I love you.”

We hear his footsteps on the pebbles as he leaves – out of shot.

We close-up on the picture and hear her voice-mail, obviously that of her last message. One that it is so normal and routine, but clearly shows that she never made it home. We are left to imagine what happened to her.

She asks him to remember to pick up some sweets for her, they were obviously going to have a relaxing evening together. She says she loves him, as normal, the message is just one of the usual “check-in”.

Finally, we see the sea breaking on the shore. We know that the sea will take the phone and other things away eventually.

Beach

  1. Passenger POV shot looking at the man driving them to the beach. As they drive, he tells her he’s taking her to somewhere she had always wanted to visit. In the frame we see him to the right of the shot and in the background the beach area in the driver’s window.
    Its essential to clearly show he is driving but close enough to give the impression of the POV of his passenger.
    I want this to give the idea that he is about to take her to a place of surprises and that I will attempt to shoot this with a high shutter speed to show the background flashing by to create some anticipation.

  2. Same first person POV as they arrive at the beach on foot. He comes from the left of the screen now and looking back to tell her how perfect and beautiful the scenery is. In the background we can see the shoreline and the beach ahead of them. He entices her to follow him.
    Essential to show that the beach is calm and blue and that this place is relaxing and fits suitably into the serene fantasy that she had anticipated. It’s important that we see him happily presenting the area to her, smiling and excited.

  3. Objective shot of a groin on the beach, looking over his shoulder which is to the right of the frame. We see him place a flower, a card, a fairy cake with a candle on it, a bag of chewy sweets and finally a smartphone with a picture of his girl highlighted, on the wood of the groin.
    This is where we learn that all is not fine. A sombre change to the scene. The shrine that he is developing indicates that this is a memorial to his lost love. He whispers how much he misses her and that its time for her to be set free from his grieving. A long shot, giving time for him to fill the shrine with artifacts. Just enough of his body to show what he is doing but with the majority of the frame shows the scene in question.

  4. A zoom close-up of the picture on the smartphone as we hear the voicemail of the deceased. A lingering shot to show her face as it gradually goes out of focus, and blending into the final frame. The mood is meant to play on the heart-strings as we hear her almost routine message and how poignant as such it can be, as we gather that this was her last.  Voicemail and photograph courtesy of my partner, Catherine.

  5. Blending into the shot of the gentle crashing white tide against the groin. We know that eventually the sea will take away the shrine. Slowly fading away, bringing the scene – hopefully – to a thoughtful end.

 

My Assessment

I wanted to give the scene a powerful emotive mood. As the assignment was to include just five frames, the story should have emphasis on atmosphere rather than be swamped by exotic visuals. The exercise dictates carefully thought-out shots and I tried the best ways to tell the story with each frame.

The first of which proved to be most difficult due to lighting restraints. I chose to use a high shutter speed which would reveal a frantic background, e.g, whizzing by the parked cars as they approach the destination. Sadly by doing so I compromised on the brightness of the shot, and upon re-shooting I would allow this to be lit better. I do believe that the first person POV was successful in getting across a feeling of two people in the scene.

Shot two allowed some colour – a bright sunny day as they are walking towards a calm blue sea . Still filmed from a POV continuing the illusion of two people. Only a short shot, as he leads her further down the beach.

The third shot, filling the frame with a beach groin. The most essential frame, a third person canted angle view revealing that the man is in fact alone and he is creating a shrine saying goodbye to his deceased partner. Time for him to whisper his eulogy to her, and placing various items there.

Final two shots: a close -up on the picture of the girl on the phone whilst we hear her last voicemail followed by a blend-in with the sea.

I wanted this to explain that the sea would eventually wash away the shrine and thus allow closure for the man. The message left on his phone since her death, has probably lead to scenarios of him talking to her, imagining words from her last message as part of their dialogue.
( e.g, “Yeah” cut from her message to represent conversation with him ). Employing the concept that he would sacrifice his entire device rather than simply erase her message or photographs from it.

The shoot and the edit were pretty straight forward, only made complicated by synchronising diegetic soundtrack by using a separate audio recorder and also adding the music score. Lighting was an issue in the first frame, I would certainly focus on this in future shoots, especially when attempting high shutter speed capture. In hindsight, simple lighting of the man’s face would have improved this.

I feel the need to brush up on my understanding of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. I felt comfortable visualising each frame and shooting, however using the camera efficiently would make me feel a lot more confident. I will be watching various tutorials on this matter.

I am pleased with how emotive the piece could be and I feel that it is successful in that. I was wary of using cross-fades, but I felt especially between frames four and five, this transition effect would add to the sorrowful nature of the scene.

Peter Owden