The Weekly FMP Blog #15 – (29th May – 2nd June)

Let’s go hiking for the day, shall we?

This week, more specifically Wednesday 31st, I took my actors up to Hound Tor on Dartmoor to shoot various shots throughout the film, and the final scene with Mike and the killers. This was the biggest scene to film, so managing my time was crucial.

At the start of the day, I only needed two people with me, TJ, who plays Mike Bolt, and Jowan, who plays two killers at the start of the fight scene and helped me with the fight choreography. I told the rest to come at 2pm which meant I didn’t have 4 people waiting around all day.

We started filming the various shots that are shown throughout the film so we could have more time to concentrate on the fight scene. The scene changed location due to the number of hikers who showed up, although this actually helped with the later shots, so I was pleased we found a different space.

The fight choreography changed as well. When I told Jowan what I was going for, he suggested more ways of performing it, and he made it look more realistic. He also cleaned up bits that weren’t working during the fight, so I was very glad I brought him along in the morning.

In the end, we didn’t stick to the shot list. We had very little time to keep looking back at the list so I improvised a lot of the shots and with the fight scene changing location, it was basically thrown out the window. I did use it for the shots that are spread out through the film but even then, I still changed them. I treat shot lists as some sort of reminder when it comes to on-set shooting. I only use it for a quick look at what I was thinking before to get in the same mindset, then I carry on without looking at it again.

Everything went very smoothly while shooting. I didn’t miss anything so I didn’t have to drag my actors back out into the middle of nowhere.

Wednesday was my original filming deadline but had plans to shoot after that, if needed. While looking through the footage, I made a big script change, moving and deleting scenes that either didn’t make sense, felt out of place or was slowing the plot down. I realised, after doing this, I’ve done all the filming I need – Mike settling into the house, the montage, the night scene and the Dartmoor shots… I was going to do extra scenes like Mike being given the case, but it felt very out of place and it slowed the plot down too much.

Now that I’ve done my production stage, it’s time to go full on into post-production where I’ll be editing, VFX-ing and making everything look good.

The Weekly FMP Blog #14 – Preparation is Key (22nd – 26th May)

Next week is the week where I film on the moors which takes up much of the film, so if I don’t get this right, it won’t be good. I’m in the middle of making a shot list for the scene I’ll be shooting on Wednesday on the moors at Hound Tor. This scene will be spread out through the film but is the main climax at the end where Mike Bolt dies. It’ll be a fight scene so planning those shots aren’t crucial because I’ll go through the fight a couple of times and shoot from different angles.

I’m only shot listing the shots where there isn’t any fighting so I can quickly get those shots done and then concentrate on the fight for the majority of the time I’m there. I’m doing this so that I can spend more time filming and less time thinking up shots on the spot. I will be changing some of these shots to fit the scene but at least I have some sort of structure to follow.

Organising actors is a challenge but was quickly done. I told the two actors I needed for the morning shoot to head to a location for pick up, and the rest are coming in the afternoon. There’s no point in having everyone there all day, when they won’t all be needed. For the afternoon shoot, I told the driver the plan and allowed him to organise the rest.

I have also finished the Live by the Riverside logo, I spent around an hour a night to complete it and it didn’t dominate my work time but now it’s over I can now concentrate fully on my FMP and prepare for Wednesday.

This is a short one, only because I’m preparing to film and nothing else is happening. I’ll have a long one for next week as that’s when I’m filming up on the moors.

The Weekly FMP Blog #13 – Black Out Filming (15th – 19th May)

This week I completed my night scenes involving TJ and Toby talking about the killer.

From the start, it seemed to go smoothly, with a few shots taking longer than others because of the actors either messing up or laughing. Once we got into it, we started to speed up with the conversation scene going fairly well. We finished with the killer invading the house, knocking TJ’s character unconscious and killing Toby’s character.

Overall it went very well, I got everything I wanted in a reasonable amount of time. I did make a script change with the fight scene as I felt like the concept of the fight, with the lights being turned on and off again, didn’t make sense so I decided to make the lights turn off permanently and only have the light of the torch shine the room as I’m wanting the audience to be as confused as TJ’s character is in the scene.

As this was someone else’s house, we needed to keep the noise down so we wouldn’t wake them. This caused some issue with understanding the characters as they spoke too quietly for the camera to hear. I’ve brought the volume up which works but then the background noise is a lot clearer so I’m needing to take each audio clip into Adobe Audition to remove that annoying hissing sound.

While there, I did take on board what I said in the ‘Shooting in Dark Places’ blog post with making sure there was enough light to see but keep the IOS down so the camera doesn’t have any grain showing. I did have some grain in the image but can easily take care of that inside After Effects with their plugin called ‘Remove grain’. All I need to do is put up the ‘Grain Reduction’ slider, but too much and the image becomes a bit blurred – so I also added sharpen to make it less out of focus.

I am needing to go back there to shoot TJ waking up and finding out where to go but I’ll do that at a later date as I now need to focus for the next big shooting day on the moors.

I’m also doing a secondary project for a studio I’m a part of, creating a logo for a new web series they are setting up. This might take a bit of time so it’s wise to manage my time to ensure I can get both of these projects done in time without making one a priority over the other.

Next week I will be focusing on making the essential documents to help the shoot go as smoothly as possible. As this shooting day is a big one, I need to be prepared.

The Weekly FMP Blog #12 – A Confusing Conundrum (8th – 12th May)

Filming, Writing, Problems. Sums up the week very well.

This week I have finally started filming with weeks of preparation leading up to it. It was a very tough pre-production for this film as I needed to buy props, clothes and sort out my script. I do feel like I wasted my time in pre-production which might have been the reason for such a late production start but now I’ve started, I feel like I’m getting somewhere.

I completed one scene with my main actor settling into his new base of operations and part of the montage scene which shows him slowly getting frustrated that he can’t complete this investigation.

Shooting went very smoothly; no big issues were found and I got everything I wanted. We did run into issues with lighting and the fact that the room was dark in some places bringing out the grain. I have a way of fixing this issue but it’ll have to be in the post-production stage as I couldn’t do anything while I was there. We did make the character turn the light on as he entered the room which removed some of the grain but not all of it.

Looking at my script, I’m only needing 3-4 more shooting days, one of those days is for re-shoots if needed. I’ve planned to shoot my last scene on Wednesday 31st May which will be the climax of the film with The Moors Killer eventually killing Mike Bolt. I have set another day for the night shoot I’ve planned which will be on Wednesday 17th May with Tom James and Toby Burnett which will cover two scenes of the interview and fight scene. I’ve yet to plan one day with TJ to shoot the rest of the montage that will be at his house.

Now that I have finished filming, I can test the black and white problem I’ve been having with footage that will be going into the final film. I have three choices to choose from; Black and White, Colour or both. I will go into it with more depth in a dedicated experiment blog I’m working on that will talk about the up and downsides with each choice and the eventually picking one. At this moment in time, it’s between black and white or black and white and colour but I will choose in the other blog.

I’ve recently fallen behind on blogs because I was focusing on making the props, sorting out the clothes, making shot lists and looking over the script. I’ve sort of forgot I even had to do blogs because I was just so busy with other things. Now that I’m into filming, I think I should really sort out my blog just to boost it up and get work done. I’ve finished making things for the main production, I’ve finished with the script and I’ll start editing nearing the end of the month so I’ve got nothing else to do but type.

The Weekly FMP Blog #11 – Money? Where’d you go, Money? (1st – 5th May)

Everything is proceeding as I hoped.

Everything I need to make the film is now bought: clothes, props and food. I’m needing TJ to wear one of his own shirts for the moment, as the white shirt I ordered hasn’t arrived yet. This is one of the main issues I have when it comes to time management. Some things were set to be delivered after my last planned filming day, so I had to find items I want that came at times that suited me.

Some things were easy to get; the knives and fake blood are accessible in Plymouth so I didn’t have to worry about getting those until I really needed them. That’s a big upside being right next to a big city because if I need anything, it’s there, from big shopping malls to small charity shops, I have a lot of options when it comes to picking out needed props and clothes. Obviously, for more specific props I’d need to look online, but there are a lot of options in Plymouth also.

I bought everything for the big case file about The Moors Killer and its victims. I went to Rymans to look for cliché detective folders and got 25 folders looking the way I imagined them. They are this very light brown colour I needed around 15 in total for all the victim files there are, The Moors Killer file and a couple of folders keeping everything together.

I went on Google images to research what real detective case files look like so I could have some sort of reference when creating my own. I gathered a couple of images that I will use as a reference and made a mood board out of them to have multiple references in one picture and have an overall tone in the picture to help me build the case file.

Due to plans not lining up and delays with the script, my original schedule has not gone to plan to force me to change the time planner to something more achievable.

In the original, I was meant to start filming in the second week of Easter but as the script wasn’t finished then, I had to begin filming much later than anticipated. I pushed filming back to 15th of May which was the week I was meant to start post-production, so had to push that back to the middle of the half term. This leaves me with three weeks to finish post-production and hand it in.

This all happened because of my time management, I didn’t finish my script in time meaning I need to push back set goals just to be able to have enough time to create the props and other necessary documents. Another factor of pushing the targets back is the things I’ve ordered online not being delivered in time. Without these props and clothes, I’m unable to begin filming so I’m forced to wait until everything I need to start shooting with is in my possession.

I have begun planning my shots using a table I’ve created with the different elements that make a shot work. I put the number of the shot in the scene and then the shot type. I have an option between eight different shot types; XLS (Extreme Long Shot),

LS (Long Shot), MLS (Medium Long Shot), MS (Medium Shot), MCU (Medium Close Up), CU (Close Up), BCU (Big Close Up), XCU (Extreme Close Up). This tells me how close the actors or objects are to the camera and is given dramatic effect with the angle of the camera.

I have three choices when it comes to the angle; high, low or eye level. High angle is the camera looking down at the actor or object and is used to show weakness of a character and a low angle shows the characters dominance. Movement is what it says on the tin – the camera moving, or not, during the shot: handheld, dolly, crane etc. The last column is the description which is where I put the part of the script the shot will show so I won’t have to remember what each shot contains.

The Weekly FMP Blog #10 – The Final Stages of the First Stage (24th – 28th April)

Making progress, now I should make the film.

First day back at College after finishing the script and my actors finally got to see what they’ll be doing. They both read through the script and didn’t have any problems with it. If they did have a problem, I would have changed the script, making it into something more comfortable for them to perform.

Costumes are very important when it comes to defining a character, so I took a while to research what detectives look like and then looked for pieces of clothing that would fit my character. I looked up everything I need on Amazon, then I’ll head down to a charity shop or a clothes retailer to see if they have something similar and cheaper. If they don’t, I’ll order it on Amazon and wait. It will get expensive but I’d like to think of this as an investment.

With Mike Bolt’s clothes, I wanted to be scruffy, have stains on his shirt and not take much care of himself. He would have dirty trousers with tears at the end of them and then a long overcoat when he’s outside. I was going to go for a hat, like a fedora or something similar, but decided against it because I feel like it would be too much and I had money to worry about. I’m sort of aiming for the stereotypical detective but I don’t want to be too cheesy as I want this to be a serious film.

The Moors Killer was an interesting one to pick out clothes for because in my head, I had no idea what it would look like. Obviously, it’s human but I don’t want to reveal that until the end so I wanted it to be fully black to hide its identity. I found a mask that covered the mouth and found a thermal hood that will go over the head and leave the eyes in the exposed. I’m torn if I should hide the eyes or not but because the first time basically confirms that they aren’t this monster everyone thinks it is, I’ll leave the eyes unprotected and if I change my mind, I can simply use brightness and contrast to darken the area of the face.

Props need to look real to be convincing. There’s no point of trying to use a plastic gun for close-up shots because it’ll look fake which I need to take in consideration. I’m needing retractable knives for the final scene, knives where the blade goes inside the handle when pushed against somethings giving the impression that my character got stabbed. With a bit of fake blood splashed on, you’ve got yourself a convincing knife wound.

I’m also planning on buying folders to fill up with paper and use that as a case file. I want it to be thick, with all the kills the killer has done for Mike to use throughout the film. I want it to be a pale folder with other folders inside which are categorized by information and crime scenes. I’ve had a look online and Rymans seem to be the best course of action as they have exactly what I want.

Next, I need to create the shot list. A shot list is a text version of a storyboard. I will write up what shot number it is and what scene it’s in, then go on to say what type of shot it is; close-up, medium shot, long shot etc. I will then either describe what happens in the shot or copy and paste straight from the script so I can point right to where the shot is based on the script. After doing this for the scene, I’ll then start my storyboard, giving a visual representation of what I want.

I will storyboard the fight scenes, though, as while it’s easy to visualize a conversation in your head by looking at the shot list, a fight scene would be more difficult. It is crucial that I storyboard the fight scenes so my actors and I can understand what shots are needed and how to get the shot.

I have started to write up the reviews of films I’ve been watching for research. I started with The Third Man which is an awesome film by Carol Reed. I reviewed the writing, directing, acting and cinematography of the film. I also talked about what I could take away from the film in each category. I’ll do that the same for the next review, which will be Seven by David Fincher. As I’ve finished my script, I’m mainly looking at the cinematography now, so I have inspiration and reasons for some of the shots I want to achieve. I will still review the writing but from now on, that isn’t my priority.

The Weekly FMP Blog #9 – Guess Who’s Back, Back Again (17th – 21st April)

It’s me, I’m back.

After a two-week break, I’m now back regularly at College. Before the holiday, I think everyone was going a little crazy walking into the same room, day after day, and staring zombie-like into the monitors. Now I’ve taken a long needed break from the Wednesday to Friday routine, I feel refreshed and livelier than I was before Easter.

I will admit that I can’t work in that room all day. There were moments last term where I was on my phone, taking a small break because I just couldn’t write. It is hard to explain and I know you won’t believe me but that’s just the person I am, sadly.

THE SCRIPT IS DONE!!! HALLELUJAH!!!

The first draft of the script is done and I am very pleased with where I have taken this story. It was a very hard script to accomplish and at times aggravating but now I have finished it , I can relax. I could start filming right now but there are a few things I want to do before moving onto the next stage.

I want to get my second and possibly third draft done as well. It’s all good writing a script and begin filming straight away if you don’t care about what you make. I printed out my first draft and let my parents read it (because they’ve been asking for it for like, foreveerrr) so I could get constructive and informative feedback from a teacher and writer.

Mother’s feedback was changing the name of a secondary character because it sounded too much like the main character. This would have confused my actors and the audience into thinking they are one character when they are another. Father’s feedback was major but didn’t break the story in anyway. He mentioned that private detectives don’t carry guns and this did panic me at first because the gun was used often in the final scene but remembered knifes were already at the fight scene so I made the detective use a knife instead of a gun.

I then went through it, correcting spelling mistakes, adding a few sentences and fixing the problems I saw at first. All these changes were added and became my second draft which is ready to give to my actors. I still have the first draft printed out and I will keep this as evidence of my changes and if I make a third draft, I will keep the second draft as evidence also. But at this moment in time, I am very happy with the second draft and will be giving it to my actors next Wednesday.

Now I have finished the script, I can confirm I’ll begin filming the week beginning 1st May. This gives my actors time to read through it and me to make any necessary changes to the script and create extra paperwork that will help me with filming like storyboards and shot lists.