Category Archives: Pre-Production

Equipment Used…

Various forms of professional equipment were offered to Emelia and I. Firstly, Emelia and I were given one of the school’s Nikon cameras. These were high quality and fairly easy to use once you had the right idea. Along with these, we were given a tripod. Emelia and I used the tripod in each shot used in our film opening as it helped us to have a steady and still shot. Alongside these, we were given a sound recorder and boom pole. These allowed us to record high quality sound. Emelia and I were offered to use the dolly and/or steadicam. In our original version of the opening, Emelia and I decided to use the dolly. We found it fairly easy to use, but extremely hard to transport due to its large size! However, in our second version Emelia and I decided to stick to our steady shots on the tripod. We declined the offer to use the dolly and steadicam as we felt that our film opening would look more professional and legitimate with a mix of static shots. We also made our own equipment for the last shot and so did not need to use the steadicam or dolly!

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Last Shot of Film Opening…

For our last shot of our 2 minute film opening, Emelia and I would like to tilt the camera upwards in order to reveal the young girl staring at her dead mother and then move further upwards in order to reveal the title of the film in the sky. However, we would like to move the camera as it tilts upwards and so would not be able to do this effectively whilst using a tripod. On the other hand, Emelia and I did not want to try and complete this shot using free hand as the footage would be extremely shaky and unprofessional. If the last shot of our film were to be shaky, it could ruin our whole film opening! In order to get over this problem, our media teacher gave us the idea to make our own prop to help us complete a CRANE SHOT. He gave us the idea to create a sort of see-saw, we would attach the camera on one side of a pole. We would then prop this pole up on something such as a block of wood so that when we pushed down on one end, the camera would rise at the other end. I mentioned this idea to my Dad and asked him to help me make it, he was happy to help. The next morning, he came to me with a new idea. He suggested that I attach my phone camera, using a tripod for iPhones, onto the wheel of a bike. He then suggested that I would turn the bike around so that it is balancing on the handle bars. I could then use the wheel to move the camera smoothly. Here is some footage to show me doing this whilst filming the final shot of our film…

I am happy with how this footage turned out as it is fairly smooth and creates the effect that we had hoped for. Here is one example of a shot whilst using this method…

Gone Girl: Features

In order to understand the genre of ‘Thriller’ more thoroughly, I have decided to watch some well known films associated by this genre. Rather than write a review of the film, I am going to make a note of the various features used; this, for me, will be much more useful as I can refer back to this and incorporate the features found into my own film opening. Normally, I am not the hugest fan of this genre as I am scared fairly easily. However, I feel as though it is important for me to watch films from this genre and learn from them how to make our film opening more believable and professional. Gone Girl was released in 2014 and is categorised by a sub category of thriller, a psychological thriller. The film was directed by David Fincher and written by Gillian Flynn. Here is the trailer for Gone Girl…

  • The first thing that I noticed about Gone Girl was the dimly lit, cold colour palette. The colour palette itself is focused around colours such as blues and purples. These are colours often associated with negativity and sadness; this arguably sets the tone of the film as the audience are made to feel uncomfortable. It could also be foreboding events yet to come…
  • The length of shots are fairly short; this allows there to be more shots which is therefore resulting in a faster pace of the film. The pace of the shots could be matching a fast heart beat; this also makes the audience feel uncomfort as the heart beat increases as you feel fear.
  • During the first minute of the film, a contrast between narrative and picture is used in order to create a sense of discomfort and fear from the very beginning. The first thing that the audience hear are the words… “When I think of my wife, I always think of her head. Picture cracking her lovely skull, unspooling her brains, trying to get answers”. This disturbing narrative plays over the top of a scene of a couple in bed, calmly holding one another in their arms. This shot shows the vulnerability of the main character whilst the disturbing narrative played over the top suggests that something horrible is going to happen. Nick is shown to be stroking Amy’s head, his hand on her skull also suggests that he holds the control in the relationship and displays some sort of disturbing fantasy that he imagines, suggesting that there is something wrong with him psychologically. The scene then fades to black as the words “What have we done to each other” are spoken. This forebodes the rest of the film and leaves the audience with questions unanswered, feeling awkward and uncomfortable.
  • The structure of Gone Girl is fairly circular; this structure portrays the people within the film as they are trapped in this ongoing cycle. It could also represent that the characters are trapped within the expectations and ‘rules’ of society. The idea of being trapped also adds a sense of discomfort and terror.
  • The film plays on expected stereotypes and shows the true character of the people trapped under this stereotype. For example, the stereotypical blonde, pretty, fragile character (Amy), hides a dark personality under the expectations of society.
  • The majority of the film is filmed in dim light, if not then with a back light; this lighting creates a mysterious tone but could also represent the darkness that the characters have within them. The dark tones and lack of light adds discomfort as things always seem to be more cunning and unexpected when displayed this way.
  • The two characters, Amy and Dunne, have very different personalities. They seem to be binary opposites but are held together by the judgement of society as their relationship is fairly public. This adds discomfort as the two people are harming themselves and one another in order to keep up a reputation and the audience see how this pans out.
  • The main two characters in the film wear monochrome coloured clothing throughout. They are only seen to be wearing greys, blacks and whites. Not only does this match the colour palette of the film, but it also displays the emotions of the characters. It could also be argued that the clothes act as a barrier and so the plain and simple colours represent the characters trying to put across a ‘normal’ personality and life in society whilst they hid their true selfs.
  • The non diegetic sound throughout the film has been used to create an uncomfortable effect upon the audience. For example, the music played throughout the opening is fairly eery. The simple and somewhat whiny soundtrack matches the disturbing narration and portrays the discomfort felt by those in the film to those watching.
  • Diegetic sounds such as the expected sounds of nature, for example the cawing of a blackbird, are emphasised and exaggerated. This gives the film an eery tone and creates tension as it often feels as though something is going to happen.
  • The location of the film seems to be fairly run down and somewhat depressive. The run down buildings could represent the emotions of the characters and also creates a tense tone.

I did not expect to enjoy watching Gone Girl as often movies such as these scare me too much. However, I have surprised myself and enjoyed every second of the film. The various ways to look at the storyline have interested me and I plan to watch the film again sometime in order to look at it from a different perspective in order to see how this changes the film. The various features that I noted down from the film will help me when I am creating my own two minute opening as hopefully, it will seem much more professional by using these.

Decision To Start Again…

Emelia and I were hugely grateful for the various comments made when we showed our original rough cut to our classmates. However, we have together come to the decision to refilm. We have come to this decision for various reasons. Some of these include…

  • Firstly, we have decided to refilm the entire opening as we previously made some critical mistakes, such as breaking the 180 Degree Rule, that we can not include in our final product. Although we could simply refilm these specific parts of the opening, this is not an option for us as our original location is no longer available!
  • We also believe that the original location was a bit too dark and our lighting needed improvement in order for our film to seem legitimate and professional. In order to get over this issue, we plan to film in a much more open house with many more windows!
  • Due to problems with the SD cards, Emelia and I previously had to resort to filming much of the opening on my phone. Although this was not a huge issue, we feel as though our opening could be a whole lot better with improved quality and continuity. Many of our original shots were blurry and not in focus. This could have been due to the fact that we were inexperienced with the equipment, but could also be because of our pushed time limit and inclination to rush. In order to get over this problem, I shall invest in new SD cards and make sure that they are ready for filming the night before.
  • When watching our original footage, Emelia and I noticed that in many you could actually see us! These pieces of footage can not be used and so we have decided that when refilming, we need to be fully aware of shiny and reflective surfaces!
  • Emelia and I had not originally filmed the outdoors scene and so believed that if we were to refilm and do it all on the same day, the continuity of our opening would be a whole lot better.
  • Due to problems with equipment, Emelia and I had no sound for our original footage. Recreating the sounds needed in post production may have worked, but it would have included many hours of effort for an end product that would not fit perfectly in sync. Because of this, we feel as though it would be much better to have another go at filming the whole opening and having sound that fits perfectly with what is happening in the picture!

Overall, Emelia and I have chosen to refilm because we feel as though we could achieve a much better film. We had higher expectations for our opening and would like to meet these as best as we can. Some of the problems that we have encountered are impossible to rectify without refilming that certain shot. However, due to the lack of access to our previous location, the continuity of our opening would be a whole lot better if Emelia and I were to simply refilm the entire opening. Something that Emelia and I have to consider first, before rushing ahead, is what we are going to change…

Production Log – 28th of December

Today is the day! Last night I charged up all of the equipment and checked it all over to make sure that it was all working. I then wiped my SD card so that we could have the full storage space just for our film opening. By this morning, all of the equipment was charged up and ready to go. At around 11am, I made my way to Tom Scullion’s house with all of the equipment, the storyboards, chargers, ribbon for Rosie’s hair plus much more. By the time I arrived, Emelia had also just arrived. We then went through with Rosie’s mum exactly what it was that we needed Rosie to do. After this, we asked Rosie to pick out a couple of her favourite toys and to find her Wellington Boots. We then set off for Tom’s Grandma’s house. Upon arrival, we could tell that Rosie was not going to be shy with her acting! After we had set up all of the equipment, we watched through our animated storyboards. We then decorated the designated room with all of Rosie’s favourite toys so that the room would look more like a young girl’s bedroom. After this, I did Rosie’s hair for her into two high bunchies and tied them off with a ribbon. Not only did this hairstyle exaggerate the stereotype for a young girl, but it kept her hair in place throughout filming. We were now ready to begin filming. At first, I was on camera whilst Emelia did sound. We also asked Tom to do the clapperboard. After filming Rosie getting out of bed, looking out of the window, playing with her toys (very awkwardly) and exiting the room from many angles we moved onto the stairs. The staircase at Tom’s Grandma’s house was fairly spacious which allowed us to film from various angles. It was at this point when the storage on the SD card showed to be full. Confused as to why this was, considering I thought I had wiped the card the night before, we turned to using my iPhone on a tripod. After filming various actions in the kitchen and back upstairs again, Emelia noticed that the light on the sound recorder hadn’t been coming on. Although this worried us, the recorder displayed on the screen that it was recording and so we carried on. After filming Rosie looking around the house for her mother, it was time to go outside. For this shot, Emelia and I wanted to use the dolly. After initial confusion when setting it up, we were once again ready to film Rosie. Firstly we filmed her walking out into the garden and then cut to her walking in a field. Although the continuity of this wasn’t fantastic, it was the best that we could do considering the circumstances with the location! It was after this when Emelia and I noticed that hardly any time had passed. We were rushing our filming as the atmosphere was extremely awkward filming at our friend’s Grandma’s house. Emelia and I felt slightly uncomfortable and also guilty for being loud and filming around her house and so decided to finish here with intentions to film the outside scenes another day. In our next lesson, Emelia and I will upload our footage and sound and will start editing!

Makeup and Hair Practice…

To make sure that I am ready for filming, I have decided to briefly practice the hair and makeup on myself. I am no pro in makeup or hair and hardly ever do much with my hair and makeup on a daily basis; therefore, don’t expect a miracle! For makeup, I decided to go for a natural look. However, from watching makeup tutorials for research, I found out that in order to make someone seem older you must define their features. For example, use contouring and highlighting to define cheekbones and the arch of the nose. This step is critical as our actress is not age appropriate and so we will need to focus on this aspect of mise en scene. Although the Mum is meant to have been sleeping, I feel as though the enhanced features such as cheekbones and eyelashes will establish the role of the character better. I asked many of my friends and family about what hairstyle they would expect on a Mum at nighttime. From this, the majority said a low and messy bun with pieces of hair falling out. On the real day, Sally will be able to help me with hair and makeup as she is much more skilled when it comes t this field! Here is footage of my practice…

Due to the lighting in my bedroom, when watching the video you can hardly notice any changes! However, when looking at myself after in natural light I looked a whole lot more defined and I must admit, slightly older than I had before! I used highlight and contour powder in order to define the nose and cheekbones. I then applied white eye liner in the lower waterline in order to make my eye shape larger and then added mascara after curling my eyelashes. The emphasis on the eyelashes adds femininity to my face which I hope will allow my character in the film to seem much more role appropriate. For the real thing, I would mess up the hair more in order to fit the events that take place! Also, for the real thing I would add a pale white powder to the face in order to make the skin seem icy cold and dead…

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I would also use colour correcting concealers in the shades of blue, purple, orange and yellow in order to add tone to the face. If placed in the correct places, adding these colours to the face could help with creating a believable dead body!

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On the day of filming, my friend will help me with hair and makeup in order to make it seem much more believable! Although you can not tell from the video provided, due to lighting, I am happy with how my practice went as I managed to make myself seem slightly older and more defined!