Reservoir Dogs – A Class Task…

We were given a task as a class to remake a section of film from the opening of Quentin Tarantino’s film… Reservoir Dogs. Due to the small size of our class we worked together as one large group in order to try and re create it as specifically as possible.

Reservoir Dogs is a Quentin Tarantino film which was released on the 23rd of October 1992. It is an action thriller and created US$2.8 million in the box office. To start off with, we watched a portion of the film in order to get a sense of what it is about. We were then shown the part of the clip that we would be recreating. We would begin at the end of the scene in the cafe and finish at the end of the opening titles. Here is what we had to re create…

Planning

Firstly, we had to carefully plan out everything to do with our film as we would only have one lesson, 50 minutes, to film. We had to plan our roles within the video, the location where we would be filming, the positions we would have to stand in, the actions we would have to do, the camera shots and movements etc.

When watching the extract we assigned ourselves different tasks to carry out so that we would have as much detail as possible. We made storyboards, noted down the actions of the characters, noted the appearance of the characters, noted the script and of course planned out the camera shots and movement.

Next, we had to assign members of the class to different members of the Reservoir Dogs. To do this, we found out who would be willing to participate, looked at each character individually and matched a person to that character as best we could. The roles were as follows…

  • Mr White (originally played by Harvey Keitel) – played by Adam Zayee
  • Mr Orange (originally played by Time Roth) – played by Owen Timmins
  • Mr Brown (origionally played by Quentin Tarantino) – played by Me, Emilia Pearce
  • Mr Blue (originally played by Eddie Bunker) – played by Grace Clayton
  • Mr Blonde (originally played by Michael Madsen) – played by Katie Kitchen
  • Mr Pink (originally played by Steve Buscemi) – played by Kieran Cross
  • Joe Cabot (originally played by Lawrence Tierney) – played by Millie Stanbridge
  • ‘Nice Guy Eddie’ (originally played by Chris Penn) – played by Sean Stubbs

Next, we had to plan what we would be wearing. In the film, the characters are mostly wearing black blazers, white shirts, black trousers, a skinny black tie and some wear sunglasses. To achieve this, we wore black trousers/jeans, our school white shirts, skinny black ties, and a males blazer from school. The characters that needed to also brought in sunglasses. The character of Nice Guy Eddie however does not wear this. Because of this, Sean had to buy a blue jacket and a gold chain. He paid close attention to the small details and also drew on chest hair! The character of Joe Cabot also did wear the classic black suits in the film. In order to fit the scene as close as we could, Millie Stanbridge wore a polo neck and high waist trousers. Obviously, quite a few of the roles were being played by females and this is not accurate or similar to the film. In order to get over this as best we could the girls who needed to drew on moustaches and beards. They also tied their hair up in order to best fit the authentic footage.

In the film footage some of the characters are seen to be smoking. As we were on school grounds, we could not re create this as effectively. Emelia Rodgers managed to acquire a cigar; however, she was absent due to illness on the day of filming so we had to improvise and roll up some brown cardboard. We also did this to recreate the cigarette as we could not smoke in real life.

Next, we scouted for a location best fitting the location of the film. When exiting our school grounds there is a section which contains two brick walls and a road. For the beginning of our remake we were able to film in the school canteen. These two locations were good as we could easily move the dolly and camera; however, in the driveway of the school we were often interrupted by cars entering and leaving the school which meant that we had to move our filming equipment.

Filming 

Arguably, the filming aspect of the task is where we let ourselves down. Initially, we were only meant to film during one lesson; this is a 50 minute time space. However, we were unable to complete the task in this time frame and so we had to film over another lesson as well. We had to get changed, draw on beards, set up the cameras, be in the correct positions and obviously film in the short time frame. This mixed with people disagreeing with aspects to the filming led to the time being pushed.

Firstly, we decided to film the scene in the canteen. We decided to do this part first as the canteen would have been used by other students in the school later on. We also began with this scene as it was arguably the easiest scene to get right. We camera did not need to be moved and the positioning was fairly simple. We all agreed on the positioning and actions straight away and carried out the first scene fairly well and accurately.

Next we filmed the scene of the Reservoir Dogs walking against the brick wall. We carried this out in our first session by using a dolly and crab shot. This is where we all began to disagree. The people who had originally noted down the positions and actions left their notes in their folders in the media room. Because of this, we had to position ourselves using a clip of the opening titles on Millie’s phone. The first time we filmed this, we changed positions a lot. We all got in our positions and began to walk, Emily then moved the dolly with the camera facing us as a crab shot. This resembled fairly closely how the scene took place in the opening scene. However, we soon realised that it would be much more practical for further filming if we filmed from the other side of the pathway. By doing so this would match the scene from the film much more accurately also. We knew that we would have to film the scene again. We did the same as before but from the other side of the pathway.

The next aspect of the scene to film were the various close ups. This is where we let ourselves down the most. As people had varying opinions on how to film, we ended up filming with the camera on a tripod rather than a dolly. Because of this, the close ups were not as close to the shots from the film as it was clear that the characters were not actually walking in ours. We did this to save time; however it would have only added a few minutes to get it right. We had the camera on a tripod infant of the characters. During the shot, the characters waled on the spot to make it look as if we were walking. This looked unrealistic and somewhat reduced the accuracy of our film. We focused on the positioning and managed to get the correct characters in each shot just like the original close ups; however on a couple of the shots we characters were on the wrong side and so I had to flip the shot in editing.

The final piece of the opening titles needing to be recorded was the end where the Reservoir Dogs are shown to be walking away from the camera. For this part of the scene we focused on the positions and managed to fit them fairly well. We placed the camera on a tripod behind us in the driveway. We then walked into the distance as a group like in the film.

Editing

The editing aspect to the task is the part that took me the longest. It was also our last chance to get our footage to match the footage from the film as accurately as possible. To edit we used the software, Final Cut Pro X. We have used this before and so I was comfortable with using the software once again and rediscovered aspects, such as the marker,  from when we edited our music videos for GCSE.

Firstly I had to download the footage, I then opened this footage in Final Cut Pro X. I then found the original part of the film that we were re creating. I needed this to use as a guideline as I wanted to get my version as accurate as possible. With help from Bryony Grant I opened up the original opening titles alongside my version on the viewing screen in Final Cut Pro X. This was really useful as it meant that I could fit the two versions as exactly as I could. Next, I began to find the correct footage and crop it down to fit. To get the exact footage was hard as ours was of varying length and accuracy to the film. I found it hard to find the correct pace of slow motion and whenever I changed my mind and changed the speed this of course altered the rest of my footage and where it is placed. I also had to flip a couple of pieces of footage as the positioning was not correct. Although this somewhat distorts the geography and location of the shot, so far no one has noticed! I then had to add in the transition of darkness from the canteen scene to the walking scene. I also had to add a black screen for the credits. Once I had matched all of the footage up, I muted all of my footage so that it would not effect the soundtrack from the original. The music helped edit as the different shots often changed with the beat of the song and so it ended out more accurate.

The trickiest part of editing for me was when we had to add the text for the credits, titles and names of actors. In order to get this as accurate as possible I researched the font which is… Garamond and Palatino. I then had to find the perfect colour. To do so, I used the tool that allows you to use the colour of a selected piece. I used the original footage to select and so the colour is as similar as possible. I then had to use shadows and text outlines in order to get it the same as the original one. I also found it difficult to get the end titles to rise to the correct positions.

Finally, I had to select the correct options so that ,when playing, my footage would be shown but the original soundtrack would play. Here is my final artifact…

We encountered various problems with this task. Firstly, we were working in one large group and so there was a huge mix of opinion which led to disagreements. This also caused chaos and a lack of organisation. Another problem was that we did not film the shots for long enough, if we had then we would have had more freedom with the editing. When filming in the driveway, cars kept on driving in and out of the school; this meant that we were constantly moving all of the equipment. When filming the close ups, it is obvious that we are walking on the spot, if we were to do this again we could put the camera onto the dolly and move with the characters to improve this. If we were to film this again, we would also have tho focus on the continuity of our filming… In this version our characters are shown to be walking one way in the opening scene yet walking the other way at the end! Although there are many negatives to our remake, I am happy with my version and had a lot of fun making it!

 

 

 

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