The next step in our pre production section of the coursework is to create a full set of storyboards. This aspect of the process is arguably one of the most important parts as it helps us to clearly and accurately map out our film openings. It will most probably be at this point when we decide whether to stick with our original plan, or to start from scratch. The storyboards will also prove to be hugely useful when we begin to film because we can use them as a set of instructions on how to set up the scene and where to position the camera. By following the plan of the screenplay and storyboards, hopefully our filming process will be much easier and more efficient with the best outcome possible. In order to create realistic, accurate and ultimately useful storyboards I have researched into the codes and conventions of a professional storyboard…
Although I had a vague idea as to what a storyboard was, my understanding was fairly limited. Because of this, the first thing that I decided to research was… What ACTUALLY is a storyboard? From a brief search on Google, I found that a storyboard is “a sequence of drawings, typically with some directions and dialogue, representing the shots planned for a film or television production.” From this definition, I learnt that the drawings themselves would have to be drawn in order to display the specific camera shot and composition of the shot. From previous experiences with storyboards, I simply sketched the images in a chronological order in order to display the storyline of the video. I also noted that directions and dialogue would need to be included in our storyboards. Although I gained the main points from this definition, I thought it be best to research deeper into the conventions of a storyboard…
Here are a few of the legitimate storyboards drawn for Disney’s ‘Lion King’ released in October 1994…
Conventions of professional storyboards…
- Film Aspect Ratios – As storyboards are used in order to plan what the audience will see when watching the film, the size of the boxes must match the size of the screen. By matching these sizes, the storyboards can be more accurate as planning of positioning and angles can be made considering the space that would be given in real life. Some common ratios used in film are 1:1.85 and 1:2.2.
- Camera Angles – It is important to include the camera angles going to be used in reality when planning storyboards as when filming, the storyboards can be used as a prompt and visual aid in setting up the shot. By displaying all camera shots on the paper before filming, the variety and range can also be planned efficiently. Without planning the angles, it could be argued that storyboards would be almost useless. Camera angles may include long shots, close ups and down shots.
- Camera Movement – Planning the movement of the camera before actually filming allows you to get a sense of the film and how it will flow and work together. By planning movement in advance, rules such as the ‘180 Degree Rule’ can be put into place more efficiently. Some movements may involve pans, tilts and zooms.
- Location – The location of a shot can be planned in advance by using storyboards. Not only this, but mies-en-scene within this shot such as positions of props can also be planned out earlier and moved around if not aesthetically pleasing.
- Characters – The specific characters, their positions and actions can be displayed within a set of storyboards. By having a visual aid, the director’s of the film will be able to see the aesthetics of the shot and be able to alter them if not pleasing to the eye.
- Sound – Important sounds, including both diegetic and non-diegetic, must be noted onto the storyboards.By planning this out before, you will get more of an understanding as to when what sounds are expected and when.
- Timing – The length of each shot must be noted on the storyboards. Typically, this is noted in the top corner of each individual box. By planning out the timing, you can easily assess the flow of the film.
After researching the many conventions that are necessary when creating storyboards I was fairly overwhelmed as had not considered many of these before. However, now that Emelia and I have the knowledge of these conventions, we plan to use them when creating our own storyboards for our film opening. In doing so, we hope that our storyboards will be to as much use as possible in future aspects of the task such as filming and editing.
Here is the Wikipedia definition of what a pitch should be… “A pitch is a concise verbal (and sometimes visual) presentation of an idea for a film or TV series generally made by a screenwriter or film director to a film producer or studio executive in the hope of attracting development finance to pay for the writing of a screenplay.”
This definition displays what it is that Emelia and I will have to produce. However, we shall not be pitching with the aim of funding but rather with the aim of approval from our teacher. Also, from this pitch we shall receive feedback from our teachers and peers in order to improve our idea.
Firstly, our pitch should be between 30 and 60 seconds. This is short and concise and so we shall need to plan carefully and make sure that we include all of our main points as well as keeping it interesting. This sort of pitch can also be referred to as an elevator pitch due to the time limit, it would be just the right amount of time to share in an elevator with someone else!
Firstly, I had to think about our plot and what genre it best fit into. Emelia and I had previously planned for our film to be contained within the thriller genre and so I felt that this background knowledge would be a good place to start off. Next, I decided to highlight which features we would use in order for our film to best fit into this genre. In order to keep the pitch interesting and to keep the audience involved I stated two films that our film would contain aspects of. Emelia came up with the films ‘Babadook’ and ‘Dead Silence’. Next, I had to think about how to present the plot of our film. Due to the short time period I had to think about which aspects of the storyline to mention and whether or not they would sell our opening to be interesting and effective. We thought it be best to focus mainly upon the plot of the opening as this is the part we are making and wanted the feedback upon. We then followed with features of an opening, idents, that we intend to include and finished off by briefly stating the plot of the following movie.
Here is our finished pitch…
Our film will be based on the genre of Thriller. Because of this, we will include features such as a dim, dark and cold colour palette, a tense composed score, many changes in angles of shots and of course the dark storyline to bring discomfort and disturbance to the audience.
Our film will contain aspects of the films Babadook and Dead Silence as we intend to re watch these films as inspiration due to the similarities in storyline between the three.
We shall begin our film by showing a young girl around the age of 4 in her bedroom. She will look out of her bedroom window and through an over the shoulder shot, the eerie, isolated, cold and icy field that she is looking at will be revealed. The young girl shall then begin to play with her toys and call for her mum. When she receives no response the young girl will stand and go downstairs to look for her mother.
After this, we will cut to a new scene outside. We shall use a wide shot and a pan in order to display the eerie and secluded field. However, towards the end of this pan we will see a limp, grey and motionless foot. We shall then reveal the dead body of the mother and as we do so, a shot of the young girl staring down at her mother in shock, confusion and distress. In the final shot to our opening, we shall see the reaction of the young girl but with a dark, shadow like man towering over her behind her.
We also intend to include idents, the names of producers directors and actors and playing over this a self composed score. The plot to the whole movie is intended to follow this event and learn more about what happened on that winters day.
Now that the pitch is written, I have made Emelia and I cue cards so that we do not stand there saying ‘um’ as this would make our pitch seem unprofessional. From here, Emelia and I need to practise the pitch so that it seems well planned and so that we know who says what etc…
Silence of the Lambs was released in 1991 and is about a psychopath called Buffalo Bill and his murderous ways. Directed by Jonathan Demme, the film can be categorised as a thriller.
00:00:00 – 00:00:10 : The film opening begins with the famous ‘Metro Goldwyn Mayer’ ident sequence. The ident involves the roar of a lion to link to the commonly recognised sequence. The sequence then fades to black.
00:00:12 – 00:00:29 : The next sequence shows the logo for the company, ‘Orion’. Orion is “a constellation on the equator east of Taurus represented on charts by the figure of a hunter with belt and sword.” (Merriam-Webster). This shows that often the name of the company links directly to the theme of the ident. In the background to the sequence, a calm and melodic composition is playing. The sequence then fades to black.
00:00:32 – 00:00:40 : Fade in to opening scene. The same composed score is playing, therefore linking the opening scene of the film with the previous idents. The scene shows a foggy, winters day in a forrest. In the bottom right the location, ‘Woods near Quantico, Va’, is displayed. This sets the scene clearly. Emphasised diegetic sounds such as chirping birds are played in order to set the scene further.
00:00:41 – 00:00:45 : Nothing considering the shot, scene and location as the previous aspect changes. Both the diegetic, and the non diegetic sounds are still playing. However, the shot no longer shows the location in the bottom right corner but shows the production company in the centre… ‘A Strong Heart/Demme Production’.
00:00:46 – 00:00:49 : Once again, the various aspects to the shot have not changed. However, this time the main character’s name is displayed, ‘Jodie Foster’. The picture then begins to move slowly in order to show more of the location.
00:00:50 – 00:00:54 : The scene continues to move with the same sounds. However this time, a new name appears… ‘Anthony Hopkins’.
00:00:55 – 00:00:59 : More of the scene is revealed as a new name, ‘Scott Glenn’, is revealed.
00:01:00 – 00:01:05 : As the scene continues to reveal more of the forrest, the composed score remains calm. This calmness increases the suspense and tension. The title, ‘The Silence Of The Lambs’, then appears in the centre of the shot.
00:01:06 – 00:01:14 : A wide shot now displays a part of the forest. Over the mud hill, a woman begins to climb over in a hurried fashion. The music intensifies and the sounds become more emphasised.
00:01:15 – 00:01:24 : As this scene continues and the woman becomes closer to the camera, two more names appear. ‘Ted Levine’ and ‘Anthony Heald’.
00:01:25 – 00:01:37 : The opening scene then shows the same woman jogging through the woods. She is shown to be taking part in an ‘FBI Academy’.
00:01:38 – 00:01:50 :As the scene further continues, three further names are shown. ‘Brooke Smith’, ‘Diane Baker’ and ‘Kasi Lemmons’. Afterwards, three more names flash onto the screen. These include, ‘Charles Napier’, ‘Tracey Walter’ and ‘Roger Corman’.
The opening scene of the woman running through the woods with the same soundtrack and emphasised sounds then continues…
I created a Prezi presentation in order to display the various conventions for a film in the genre of Thriller. Click below, on the image, for the presentation…
Emelia and I will use this research in order to create our own thriller as accurately as possible. We shall also keep these conventions in mind when planning how to film, edit and put together our film.
Emelia and I decided to pick a genre before carrying out any more of the other ‘pre-production’ work. We chose to do this because by knowing which genre we would like to base our film opening on, we could focus our other research around the specific genre. By doing this, our research will be more useful and will hopefully allow us to produce a more accurate and believable film opening.
Firstly, Emelia and I plotted all of the genres that we could think of onto a mind map. Once we had completed this, we picked out our favourite four genres. We ended up choosing Thriller, British Social Realism, Alternate History and Romantic Comedy. From these four genres we then began to research and to think of possible ideas and plots. For each one we researched what would be expected, what would have to be included and how to create a film of our own from that specific genre. We then came up with a plot and then deducted a genre at a time. Here is what we found…
British Social Realism
“Social realism is a genre of film that focuses on topical issues alive in a modern society which is represented by different ideologies. Themes such as money, drugs, prostitution and sex are quite usual in modern contemporary social realism films as well as class, religion and political views.” – Slide Share
The conventions included in British Social Realism films are:
- Location Shooting… to film in a real life location, not a studio.
- Non Professional Actors… in order to give the film a feel of reality.
- Semi Improvised Scripts… so that the film has structure but also has a sense of reality to it.
- Seriousness… as often these films are based on serious, modern day issues.
- Many Wide Shots… in order to allow the audience to get a sense of the location.
- Regional Identities and Stereotypes… this genre relies on the location and actors to fit within one another in order to make it as realistic as possible.
Our idea/plot for British Social Realism:
Emelia and I had two main ideas for a British Social Realism film. Firstly, we wanted to focus on the modern day issue of sexuality. We were going to focus the film on the prejudices towards a gay individual in a group of stereotypical teenage ‘lads’. We would have based our film opening in Boston as Emelia knows this area well and the area could represent our issue clearly. In the end, we were not fond of this idea and so came up with a new plot to fit the British Social Realism genre. We decided to focus on the issue of class. We planned to focus on the lives of two families, one rather wealthy whilst the other had much less wealth. To film this, we would film once again in Boston. However, this time, we planned to be based in Fenside and Sibsey Road as these two streets show the clear contrast in class as Sibsey Road contains huge homes for the more wealthy compared to Fenside that contains the cheaper housing. Although Emelia and I were happier with this plot, it was still not perfect and after researching into the conventions of a British Social Realism film, we did not think that this genre would showcase our skills in film making as the conventions, such as ‘Non Professional Actors’ and ‘Semi Improvised Scripts’, would make our film look rushed, not planned and not legitimate.
British Social Realism film openings that we watched…
- This Is England… (2007)…
- Nil By Mouth… (1997)…
- Face… (1997)…
- It Always Rains on Sunday… (1947)…
After watching these film openings, Emelia and I were sure that this genre would not be perfect for our film opening…
“Romantic comedy films, or simply romedy films, are films with light-hearted, humorous plotlines, centered on romantic ideals such as that true love is able to surmount most obstacles…Romantic comedy films are a certain genre of comedy films as well as of romance films, and may also have elements of screwball comedies.” – Wikipedia.
The conventions included in Romantic Comedy films are:
- A typical “boy meets girl” scene.
- Two protagonists… one male and one female.
- Often seen from the point of view of the female character.
- Sexual Innuendos.
- “And they all lived happily ever after”… the inevitable happy ending where the couple get together.
- Young and attractive actors.
- Based around a heterosexual relationship.
- Comedy and humour.
Our idea/plot for Romantic Comedy:
Emelia and I wanted to base our plot around the idea of speed dating. We were going to display a speed dating meeting in a stereotypical village hall for the first two minutes. We would focus on the conversations of the various characters in the hall and show that one male and one female are coming up with the same answers to questions and would be perfect for one another. However, the meeting comes to a close one section before they meet one another. Our film would then show these two characters going about their daily business whilst displaying the similarities between the two. We would then often show that the two characters are close to meeting but never do… however, to fit to the ‘happily ever after’ ending we would have these characters meet one another, get married and live a happy life together. Emelia and I were fairly happy with this idea but decided it was not perfect and so moved on.
Romantic Comedy film openings that we watched…
- Love Actually… (2003)…
- Bridget Jones’s Diary… (2001)…
- Friends With Benefits… (2011)…
After watching these film openings, Emelia and I were still not so keen and so once again moved on…
“Thriller Film is a genre that revolves around anticipation and suspense. The aim for Thrillers is to keep the audience alert and on the edge of their seats. The protagonist in these films is set against a problem – an escape, a mission, or a mystery. No matter what sub-genre a Thriller film falls into, it will emphasize the danger that the protagonist faces. The tension with the main problem is built on throughout the film and leads to a highly stressful climax.” – thescriptlab.com
The conventions included in Thriller films are:
- Low lit and dim lighting.
- Protagonist in mercy of Antagonist.
- Tense composed and compiled scores.
- Changes in angles of shots.
- A storyline to make the audience feel uncomfortable.
- Many jump cuts.
Our idea/plot for Thriller:
I will describe out plot in my next blog post as Emelia and I have decided to go with this idea!…
Thriller film openings that we watched…
- Seven… (1995)…
- The Silence of the Lambs… (1991)…
Emelia and I have decided to go with the Thriller genre for our 2 minute film opening.