Planning Time.

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We have all our preparation done as far as the film is concerned all that is left to do is get the actors and locations in place to film. I have spoken with the main actors, Graham who will be playing Arthur/Herbert and he is available to film most weekend so we are close to get a date arranged. Graham has also put me on to an actor to play Sarah who I shall be speaking to shortly to get a final date arranged. However I’m hoping to either be filming this weekend or next weekend which I think is entirely possible as the actors are the only thing that needs arranging and as there are only two of them it should be simple enough.

– Jay

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Time-lapses.

During the scripting process of our film we decided we will need to shoot some time-lapses to indicate the passage of time Arthur/Herbert is alone, especially for this scene:

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As mentioned in my previous blog,; the idea of using time-lapses in this way came after viewing Requiem for a Dream as in Darren Aronofsky’s film they are used as short hand to show the characters loneliness or the repetitiveness of their addiction & lives. As can be seen in these clips from the movie.

So as with everything I took to youtube to find out how to do it with my camera (a Canon 600D) and I quickly found this.

This was a very handy tutorial and luckily I already had Magic Lantern installed, I followed the video with ease and managed to easily shoot my timelapse. I then had to move on to post production…

And again I found another useful tutorial for that here: (Please watch from 4.40)

As I’m lucky enough to have After Effects the process was very simple and I just followed his guidance while adding my own unique touch to it as you will see. So here it is what I came up with doing this little test:

I’m pretty happy with the way it looks and may use this in my film, however it is quite time consuming so I don’t know if we will have enough time either in the film or on set to do a time-lapse. We shall see!

– Jay

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Analysing the look of The Machinist

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After viewing The Machinist earlier this year I was blown away by the visuals of the film, the slight saturation and the pure verging on over exposed whites really stood out to me. These combined created a clinical and haunting look which I thought could also be used in my film to visually reflect a man breaking down.

As you can see from this scene the colour grading is very contrasted  which emphasises the shadows and gives it a very noir style. I feel emulating this would work well in my film as it is quite a somber and dark film so achieving this kind of look would visually show the gloomy nature of the piece.

I’ve tried a couple of tests of my own to try and recreate it so when it comes to filming I know what settings to use on the camera and how to grade it easier, which will make the entire process quicker. Especially getting the camera settings sorted so that I’m not wasting time on set trying to find them. Here is one of the test I’ve done:

So as you can see from the video I’ve used a number of effects in order to achieve the look, and while it isn’t perfect it is very close to what I want. Now I’m certainly no expert at colouring and everything I know about it has been through watching films, interviews with colourists or watching tutorials on Youtube but I feel I have enough expertise to speak on the matter.

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 14.19.50Firstly I started off by applying some contrast and lowering the brightness to give it a shadowy and dark look.

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 14.19.59I then used a Luma Curve and gave it an ‘S’ curve to further increase the contrast and darken the shadows in the image. The Luma Curve is good to use as it allows you to really play with the image without increasing the amount of noise in it too much.

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 14.20.14I then used a RGB colour corrector to try and balance out the colours before I moved onto the final grade, In this instance I upped the blue and decrease the green levels to get rid of the green fill the image had and give a purer white.

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Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 14.20.24The Tint tool was certainly the most handy, as you can see by using the colour picker function I could actually pick out the whites and the blacks from my reference image and apply them to my image to get similar colour blacks & whites. This really helped push my image closer to the Machinist’s look and was very simple too.

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 14.20.47On top of my other colour correction I felt I needed to use the ‘Fast Color Corrector’ in order to retain a slight orange glow so that it had the almost sepia look that The Machinist has. I used this tool as more of a grade than colour correction but it worked successfully.

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 14.21.03Finally I added another layer of contrast but this time, did the opposite and decreased it to give an overall flatness to the image which I had noticed from my reference image that the film has. The reason I added all the contrast on the other ones was to emphasise the shadows and by having two layers of contrast it meant I could have the best of both worlds, maintaining the darkness while having a flat image. I then added some slight sharpening as DSLRs tend to have a softer image so by adding it it regained a sharp and more rugged look which I felt suited it more.

So there it is, my analyse and attempt of recreating The Machinists colour grade, I think it went quite well and the only way to improve it would by changing my setting in camera slightly so it gives a flatter image and actually lighting it. So for the actual shoot I will make sure I do that, I will also have to do some more experimenting with lighting! But I’m glad to have this as the foundations for the look of my film and certainly is one less thing to think about now.

– Jay

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The Script

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So here it is, after my troubles with formatting and typing it up here is the finals script!

THE FRENCH LEAVES

(Please click the link above to be taken to a PDF of the script)

– Jay

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Scripting.

So over the past week or so Courtney and I have been working on our script in class, which we finally finished today. It was a pretty easy writing process as we weren’t concentrating on formatting the script while we wrote it, so we could just work on getting the conversations & actions to work. However after we completed it I was charged with the challenge of formatting what we had, which was harder than I thought.

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Luckily I found a program online which made formatting scripts a lot simpler called Celtx, it is a great tool as it guides you through the process of writing your script.

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 12.32.06 The drop down menu at the top is especially useful, if you want to write a character’s action you select that and it automatically positions the cursor in the correct area and formats the text accordingly.

Celtx is most useful when writing dialogue as it intuitively can tell when you are writing a dialogue section. Once you select the character option it puts your cursor in the middle of the page and formats the name in all caps (how it should be on a real script) then when you press enter it will automatically switch to the dialogue format option. Then when you press enter again it automatically switches back to the character option. This is really handing for speeding through typing up the script and was especially useful for me as my script does contain a lot of dialogue.  

I think the reason for my script containing a lot of dialogue was definitely due to me admiring Tarantino’s work. When I knew I’d have to write a script I started off by looking at one of his scripts online at IMSDB . Viewing his script really made me think about how to use dialogue effectively without it being boring, also it taught me not to worry if my dialogue didn’t always move the plot along as it still gives depth to the character instead.  And this is what really inspired the ‘bus stop monologue’ in my script.

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As you can see this is quite an extended bit of dialogue, but I believe extended speech is what makes characters stand out and become real in the audience’s minds. When a character speaks in a film you are listening to them and by listening to them you are connecting with them almost as if you are there in the scene with them and who they are talking to. Whereas when you are watching them do something, 9 times out of 10 you feel like a 3rd party bystander who is looking on at what they are doing rather than there with them. This is why I admire Tarantino’s work so much,  as you can see his monologues make mine look like a sentence! Here is just a segment of one of his more famous ones from Reservoir Dogs:

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And here is it is in action:

Its a fabulous piece of cinema and is definitely compelling storytelling, however it requires a good actor to be able to pull a monologue off as the focus is purely on them but I think I have the right people at my disposal, due to my connections with a theatre group, to really sell it.

But don’t worry my script isn’t all dialogue there are certainly some elements of showing and not telling to mix it up a bit. The scenes in Arthur’s house contain a lot of ‘showing’ as it portrays his loneliness through the use of time-lapses.

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This part of the script was inspired by Requiem for a Dream, a hugely visual film which also uses time-lapses to portray Sara Goldfarb‘s loneliness and her reliance on prescription drugs. She to is an elderly lady so the reflection to Arthur’s situation was natural and I feel will work just a well in our film as it did Requiem’. Here are the time-lapses in action here: (From 0:15 seconds onwards)

I’m really happy with how our script as turned out and I think with the correct planning in place we can really make this film successful.

– Jay

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Break down of a short film.

As we have decided to do a short film I decided to break down a successful one in order to really get an understanding of how the story and pacing is laid out.

The film I decided to break down was a film I’d previously mentioned in this blog – ‘Top Floor’ as it is also about a man hiding a big lie and the structure of how the lie unravels could be useful in the scripting of our film. Here is the film which you can watch beneath through Vimeo:

And here is the breakdown of the film which I did, I learnt a lot about through doing this about the structure of short films:

– Jay

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The Story

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Today Courtney and I developed the story to our film, we decided that rather than doing a full on war film we would do it from a veterans perspective recounting his memories to a doctor, we started to build on his personality of being a lonely man with a possible mental health issue. We felt this would add depth and aid the viewers empathy of the character while also resulting in a interesting plot, as it is very character driven. We thought about what would increase the drama and tension within the story and decided that the film needed a twist. We thought we would implement this through his character and have him turn out to a be a fraud who is lying about being a war veteran. 1337256000000.cachedThis was inspired by the real life story of Alicia Esteve Head, the 9/11 Faker, who lied and said she survived the 9/11 attacks when she wasn’t even there. This story was interesting to me and I wanted to use that kind of false empathy for a character to have the audience really being effected by the twist, almost like a friend had lied to them. It is going to take some clever scripting to get this to work right, but at least Courtney and I have all our ideas pulled on to one page to focus on how to develop it.

– Jay

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