Obviously I have learnt more technological skills since the Continuity task (see Evaluative question: 6), but there are more important aspects I have also developed since then.
In terms of media production I have found that teamwork is vital. There are so many creative ideas flowing through the heads of everyone in a team it is extremely problematic to include them all and manifest them in a coherent way. We thus spent a lot of time thinking through, brainstorming, and discussing aspects of the footage and the treatment in order to achieve a fulfilment of everyone’s idea. We exhaustively communicated to each other all our ideas. When it came to practical work – the filming, the editing, the writing, the planning, and so forth, we all gave different types of contributions but ultimately remained equally contributive. Although manually we did not do everything equally (I did the least manual operation of the computer in the editing; the others did not manually scribe the treatment or write the order in which the shots appear in the film), we did all sit present and equally contribute during everything. Only together did we produce our film. We played to our strengths: Andy in his meticulous approach to planning the shooting; me in my writing of the treatment and the complex task of selecting the order of the shots from half an hours’ worth of footage; and Harry in his manual editing due to his knowledgable use of the iMac. We agreed it would be unfair to say that I did not equally contribute to editing, or the others did not contribute equally to the planning because we were all present and we all contributed the same but it is fair to say that in literally clicking the mouse or writing on paper we did not do the same amount.
Due to our comprehensive method and our intimately-functioning execution of tasks we managed to be the first to finish our films, and weeks in advance of the other groups and months in advance of the deadline.
The creation of our product involved imagination and individuality in how we worked. Through our brainstorming we established some ideas of what our film could be about. There were three ideas we came up with – Harry and Andy’s idea of a film about a boy waking up in the morning and running through his morning mundanities with credits appearing in odd places. This was an experimental, querky, indie idea. However we dismissed this after we thought that it was too common and did not express enough imaginative flair. Then came my idea of a fulminant series of shots showing a person running through woodland being chased by a heard but unseen animal; this would be hard in terms of filming but good to hit a specific genre and create exciting viewing. Again however we dismissed this after we thought it was too common and a “cop-out” option. Harry suggested the idea of something so visually brutal noone would have ever thought to have shot something like it before. He suggested some sort of torture scene. From there I changed this to slavery and human trafficking, a theme I had not yet seen being explored in students’ blogs. I then fitted a treatment to this filming idea. Admittedly this was quite a reverse way of producing a film and a treatment; surely one would think to write the treatment first and then the footage, but we were so sure of our idea and thought it was so original we just had to develop on it. In my writing I was inspired by 3 key films I have kept referring to: Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, Barber’s Harry Brown, and Mcqueen’s Hunger. Thematically Honey is related to Eastern Promises, visually it is related to Hunger, and locationally it is related to Harry Brown.
I have thus learnt how to produce footage and a treatment which conforms to the conventions of real-media products.
In practice I have learnt the skills of writing, shooting, and editing.
I will start chronologically with the writing:
Obviously to base the treatment for 2 hours of viewing on a 2 minute clip we’d be making meant I’d have to produce an entire story with all the characters, events, themes, and nuances an actual bearable movie would hold. I drafted and altered the treatment frequently to include Harry’s and Andy’s ideas as well. I kept the story exciting without being farfetched; addressed social issues; and always had our audience targeted. I tried to make the characters dynamic and avoid a static plot. The writing for the 2 minutes of footage was easier: there was not a storyline in the 2 minutes but just an establishment of the prisoner holding room. This meant planning, in detail, what the room would look like and the types of shot we wanted but luckily didn’t involve copious amounts of writing.
I started the course with absolutely no understanding in using cameras or how scenes are shot. I literally struggled with even the most rudimentary terminology (i.e “shot”, “cut”, “reverse shot” and so forth). For the Continuity Task I had to learn the “match on action”, “shot/reverse shot” and the “180 degree rule”. Since then I have learnt “pull focus”, “establishing shot”. I have learnt how to take “panning shots” (horizontally and vertically). I have learnt how to take “dolly shots” and obviously setting up the dolly track correctly and efficiently. I have learnt “zoom shots” and how they should almost always be replaced with a dolly moving in closer, and that they are not very professional. I have learnt how important lighting is. I learnt how to use the floodlight and the reflector effectively to create the special lighting we had in the footage. I embraced this completely new experienced and feel much more well-versed in this area of production.
Editing was the last practical skill I learnt. In the Continuity Task I did nothing but watch when we edited our 30 seconds of footage. In our 2 minutes of footage for Honey I was not exactly proactive in operating the editing software but I did equally direct the editing and was present during the manual work. I did however develop manual editing skills using the same software in the other areas of the course: for example, the Anchoring task. The skills I learnt here are denoted in the previous post.
I have developed an eye for what looks professional and what looks home-made, and what looks subtly stylistic and what looks like a distastefully blatant attempt at expressing a theme or creating a genre. I feel I have definitely become a critical but fair viewer who has now been armed with the experience, know-how and technicalities to judge the quality of a film.