Monthly Archives: December 2013

Plan for Production Exercise – The Gun Run

The Task

In Media, recently the class was told about the production exercise, which is effectively the coursework for AS Media Studies. This counts towards quite a large chunk of AS and therefore it is an essential component of the overall course. The total amount of marks available from this task is 60.

Videos need to be the opening 2 minutes to a film, which a group of 2 must produce. There are no limitations on what genre the film must be, and therefore groups could go in numerous directions to attempt this task. The only real limitations are that the footage used must be original and the audio must be taken from a copyright-free source.

For this task, it is essential to consider camerawork, editing, mise en scéne and sound design in order to achieve higher levels.

The Film

I began planning in class what the film would be, and with my group partner, Connor, we discussed a potential film we could realistically create without it being completely cheesy. To start with, we looked at different genres. We began to brainstorm different genres and crossed off those which we decided would not work as well. In the end we had the option of doing; comedy, action or crime. We looked at this further and decided that we would try to focus on action.

As we had both seen the introduction to the film “Goodfellas“, we decided that we might go down a similar route. We planned that we would have a male character as the lead, who appears to be quite wealthy and well-spoken. As the protagonist, the film would follow the story of this man, where a negotiation turns sour and a gun dealer is murdered by the protagonist. The rest of the film would follow the protagonist dumping the body and escaping with the guns, with a few suprises along the way.

Pitch for the opening

Initial thoughts for the first 2 minutes

In the first 2 minutes, me and Connor’s idea is that we will have our protagonist playing golf with the gun dealer in a casual meeting. Ideally we will also show the gun deal going wrong and the protagonist escaping with the gun dealers body in the trunk of a car and the bag of guns in the front.

Obviously the guns would cause problems, and as a result, there will be not be any real guns on display. The idea is that we get the audience to think that there are guns inside the bag, which will be on display but not opened during the introduction. Also, the idea is that the protagonist uses a golf club as a weapon to kill the gun dealer, not a gun, which also reduces the number of problems which we may encounter.

So far one of the problems I am trying to figure out is how all of this will fit into the space of 2 minutes, and whether or not it is too much. We might only have enough time to show some of the meeting.


Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, 2012)

django unchained

Django Unchained is a film, directed by the famous Quentin Tarantino, director of previous highly successful films such as Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. I eventually watched this film after several of my friends expressed their own opinions on it, which were mainly positive. This film also won 2 Oscars.

The film is set back in the past during the slave trade. The protagonist, Django (Jamie Foxx) plays the role of one of the unfortunate slaves captured by the Americans. Not far into the film, we see a German bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) who rescues Django and the other slaves from the Americans. The bounty hunter seeks out to find Django because he is thought to have information on some of the targets. Once Django has been rescued, he makes a deal that he will help the bounty hunter so long as he helps to rescue Django’s wife, Broomhilda von Shaft (Kerry Washington).

Throughout the film, Django gains more and more power, and whilst there is a huge amount of racism within the film, it shows some of the historical content despite the plot of the story being fictional.

The film is quite long at 165 minutes, but it does capture the audiences attention throughout the duration and there is plenty of action and gun fights, which is typical of a film directed by Quentin Tarantino.

It’s rated one of the best films of 2012 and I would definitely recommend watching this film.

8.8/10

-08spencerh


Production Exercise (Evaluation)

Looking at my groups replication of the intro scene for Reservoir Dogs, it was certainly more successful than previously. The storyboard was completely finished by the date of the filming, and despite the fact our group had some actors missing on the date, the filming process went reasonably smooth.

Of course, there were some errors and the film created is certainly nowhere near being “perfect”. One of the main issues to address is the way that we tackled the camera movement of the group of actors walking towards the camera. In the film, it appears that the camera would have been held quite far in front of the actors and then zoomed in accordingly, with the actors actually walking towards the camera.

However, when this was filmed, we had placed the camera on a tripod, which was wrong and also tried to get the walking effect by having the actors bob up and down. This clearly did not work and was a major problem within the recording. In future, if trying to replicate a film, or even produce a unique piece of footage, it must look legitimate. The way the actors bobbed up and down whilst the background remained frozen clearly showed that the actors were not actually moving.

Overall, the costumes were reasonably good, with some additional props which added some nice touches to the recording. However, there is still some room for improvement here, and looking back at the recording we should have done more to get the right costume for the occasion.

Another problem I noticed when I thought I’d finished editing the footage was that you could hear the audio capturing device making a clicking noise before the words were spoken. This would have been easy to fix, but I did not notice it when I was checking through once I thought I had edited the footage. In future, I must check the entire footage very carefully before I submit it.


Production Exercise (Editing)

After our group had obtained all of the recordings for the filming, we then had to individually edit all of the clips so that they would look similar to the intro in Reservoir Dogs. To begin with, the clips needed to be uploaded to the editing software and then all the important clips had to be chosen and added.

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 10.32.11

The first challenge was to put the clips in the right order. This was not very difficult as there were not too many clips to go through and sort out which would be used and which would be left behind.

After choosing which clips to use and sorting out the order, the next part was to add the audio file and try to get the cuts to work at the right time. This involved working with slow motion for the first time, and some of the clips had to be reduced in time, whilst others had to be increased. The slow motion effects seemed to work well and made the replication look more accurate.

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 10.55.00

Another challenge I came across was one part where there was a more complex animation which was not one of the preset animations for the movement of the text. I tried to replicate this by using two preset animations and layering them on top of each other so that the animation almost looked the same. A better way would definitely have been to make a custom animation, using a custom animation I would have been able to replicate the text in the exact same way that was performed in Reservoir Dogs.

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 10.42.05


Production Exercise (Filming)

Once the storyboard was completed and our team was ready to begin filming, we set out filming in the canteen. Although we did not have quite enough actors, this part seemed to go quite well, with the camera replicated especially well with the right angle and distance away from the group of actors.

A problem identified with replicating this scene was that we could not gather all of the props for the date. Although we did not feel that this was a major problem and so we went ahead and filmed the scene without all of the props. Looking at the recorded clips, there was good organisation overall and everybody got on quite well with the filming.

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 10.33.03

After the scene within the canteen – which was supposed to be replicating the restaurant in Reservoir Dogs, the next part to film was the walk from the side. We gathered the actors we could and began filming from the side. The problem with this part of the recording was that the camera was not positioned in the ideal place and was slightly too far away from the target. Also, the camera was placed on a tripod when in the film it does not appear that a tripod was used.

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 10.35.44

Nonetheless, this was certainly not the major issue which needed to be addressed within the production. The major issue was the next scene, where the camera was one again placed on a tripod. Our actors did not move for this part and the camera was positioned right in front of them. Looking back at this part of the filming, we should have had the camera positioned quite far back and the cameraman should have been holding it without the tripod. The camera should then have zoomed in and the actors should have walked normally, instead of bobbing, which clearly did not work.

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 10.38.44

In the final part of the scene, our actors were walking away from the camera. This recording seemed to work and was much more of a success than the previous part filmed. The camera was placed on top of a tripod and it almost replicated the film perfectly.

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 10.42.39

Once all of the scenes within the production had been captured, the next job was to individually edit the clips. The main jobs in this would be to add the intro text so that the font looked similar with the same colour.


Production Exercise (Planning)

Recently, myself and a group of AS Media Studies students, underwent an exercise where we tried to replicate one of the intro scenes for the film Reservoir Dogs (1992, Quentin Tarantino). This was our second attempt at filming and this time we began by setting out clear objectives and giving members individual roles for the production.

I took the role of being the director for the production. This meant that I had to try to organise the overall filming procedure. Before the filming, I helped the group with some of the problems we had to solve, such as translating a spoken part into text so that we could do our own spoken version. I also examined some of the other problems which may have occurred within the filming experience.

A storyboard was also important, but for the task it was easier to produce because we could screenshot some of the different parts within the scene. Once the storyboard was completed our group had a good idea of what we would do for the filming process.

Before the filming day, our group had examined the different costumes for the characters, looked at some of the most important props and identified a number of different locations to use for the filming process.


Oblivion (Joseph Kosinki, 2013)

oblivion_ver2

I recently watched the film Oblivion, which I had heard plenty about previously. There was a lot of media coverage, both in the news and also on the television about how successful the film was. This lead me to be quite hyped for watching the film and I had high expectations.

The film is set in the future and follows a man called Jack (Tom Cruise) who is on a mission with a woman, Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) to extract the remaining resources from Earth. Jack begins to look back at the past, and question what he is doing on the mission and eventually discovers something truly astonishing.

The visuals within this film are very good and the director makes good use of the large budget to avoid skipping anything which might have been expensive. This is shown in some of the action, with explosions, flying props and general destruction in certain scenes.

Although this sci-fi was nothing too unique, it was well done and undoubtedly the acting was superb. The story was captivating and action packed, with plenty of air-combat and weapons of destruction.

I personally would recommend watching this film on a large, high definition TV or projector to capture the visuals. Although the experience would not be badly ruined by watching it on a standard television.

I would give this film 7.5/10

-08spencerh