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.

FMP Experiments – Shooting in Dark Spaces – How to do it?

At the start of this FMP, I said I wouldn’t write any more night time scenes because last year they were difficult to shoot, perform in and hard to get everyone in the same place so late. While writing the script I knew I was going to break that promise so now I’m going to talk about how to shoot in the dark.

There are two main factors you need to consider when it comes to shooting in a dark place; whether you have enough light, and the ISO (International Standards Organization) your camera is at.

If you are planning to shoot in the dark, you are going to need some sort of light source for your camera, and for the audience to know what is going on. Without any light, there won’t be any detail for your camera to pick out and consequently, no image will be shown. I’m using a torch as my light source which I used to demonstrate the ISO below. I’ll be using the light to show the important things in the scene while everything else is either black or hard to see.

I need to keep in mind that it might be confusing to some people as it’ll be hard to understand what is going. However, thinking about putting the audience in my main character’s shoes, he won’t be knowing what is going on so the viewer is as confused as he is. This might go down well or it might not but as an experiment to see if it works, it’ll be cool to see everyone’s opinions about it.

Now that I have my light source sorted, I now need to pick an ISO that will give me enough brightness to see what is going on. As you can see the gif above shows all the ISO’s my Canon 600D has and as the ISO gets higher, it increases the brightness. 100, 200, 400 and 800 ISO are where you want to stay without your image becoming too grainy and ugly.

I ended up using 800 ISO as I wanted to get as much light in my image as possible without having too much grain in the image. If I went 1600 ISO and above, I’d see more but then the image becomes too grainy and when it comes to colour grading and correction, it makes it look ugly. You could use grain to your advantage by using it as a style for your film, giving it an old-time film look which is what I’m going for but I’m not the type of person who likes the look of grain so if there is any, I will be removing it.

Shooting in the dark is harder than it sounds as you must take everything I’ve talked about here into consideration when it comes to making the best-looking image you can. I’ve finished my night shoot and I’m happy with what came out of it, there was a little bit of grain but I can easily fix it in After Effects.

FMP Research – Catching Up With the News

Recently a man called Ian Brady was brought to light again as the news of his death was confirmed. Ian Brady and his girlfriend, Myra Hindley, committed five murders of children spanning from 12th July 1963 to 6th October 1965. They were sentenced to life in prison, with Myra dying on 15th November 2002. Ian died on 15th May 2017.

Four of the five bodies were found but one is yet to be discovered and now Ian is dead, there is very slim chance the last victim will be found.

His death has brought these tragic deaths back into the news once again and I began to have concerns with my film’s name and the whole concept of it. My film revolves around a murderer performing killings on top of Tors in Dartmoor, dumping them there until someone finds the bodies. This plot and the name of the film, ‘The Moors Killer’, might remind people of Ian Brady’s doings and upset them. The murderous couple who were famously nicknamed ‘The Moors Murderers’.

To avoid people comparing the two, I’ve decided to change the name of my film to something that has less chance of being compared to the killers. I haven’t got a new name yet but in the coming weeks, I will begin to brainstorm and come up with something better.

Unfortunately, I am too far into production to change the plot entirely. If I had known that this story would be back in the news for hopefully the last time, I would have changed the idea to something people can’t relate to real life events.

I know that it’s unlikely people will compare my film to these murders but in case that situation does arise, I need to be careful. Changing the name will avoid people making claims that I’m disrespecting the five children who were murdered.

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.

FMP Research – The Film Review Blog – The Third Man

REVIEW WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS

The Third Man is directed by Carol Reed, who also directed the 1968 musical ‘Oliver!’, and stars Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten and Alida Valli.

The story follows a writer named Holly Martins, played by Joseph Cotten, who travels to post-war Vienna in Austria because his childhood friend Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles, offers him a job. He arrives only to find out Harry mysteriously died in a traffic accident. Holly seems sceptical about Harry’s death and is positive that his death was a murder which is the opposite to what everyone else says.

Joseph Cotten plays Holly Martins, giving a memorable and terrific performance as a strong minded writer who looks where he shouldn’t and gets into a lot of danger by asking the wrong questions. He is a very human character in that he’s very stubborn yet determined to get to the bottom of what’s going on. The surroundings of the character really help us relate to him. He can’t speak the language of where he is, so he as to ask what people are saying and with no subtitles, the audience relies on him to work it out.

The character of Harry Lime is a snarky and inhuman character, not caring about people who take his phony drug. He became deep in the black market, selling counterfeit medicine that kills instead of saves. Leading up to when Holly was coming over for the job he offered him, the police were hot on his trail so with the help of his associates, he fakes his death. Throughout the film, we get to understand what Harry was up to and the devastating effects his product has on the human body.

He is one of the most putrid yet lovable villains ever to be thought up, making it onto countless top villain lists. If you are looking for ways to make such a classic villain, this is the film to watch and even though he only comes in half way through the film, he steals the whole thing. He is set up from the beginning as the mysterious person, only a hand full of people saw what happened when he supposedly died. But the build-up and the anticipation of meeting him is all satisfied when the face of Orson Welles is revealed and he puts on his devilish smile, classic.

Image result for orson welles the third man gif

It’s been known for a long time that Orson Welles is a marvel when it comes to film. He excels in both acting and directing compared to others. He would normally direct and act at the same time, as he did with his 1942 film, Citizen Kane, but for The Third Man he wrote the script, taking massive influence from the novel with the same name, and let another director take the rains. But it is well known he was a real pain when it came to filming. Orson wasn’t present for the first two weeks of production, forcing people to stand in for him like the crew and even the director. When he did show up, he basically threw out the script, improvising most of his lines which lead us to the famous cuckoo clock speech, so it wasn’t all bad.

The cinematography is truly outstanding, filming a lot of the scenes on location in the bomb ruined streets of Vienna. The film popularized the use of the dutch angle which is where the camera is tilted sideways giving it a unique style, making everything feel out of place and creating long shadows. In a place that was destroyed by the events of World War 2, the dutch angle really makes Holly’s perspective of things show if he’s confused or not. The dutch angle is used when he’s being chased, not knowing where he is and blindly going whereever he thinks is right. The dutch angle is also present when he is trying to figure something or someone out. The camera is Holly’s mind and really helps the audience understand the character a lot more.

The music of this film is a high-pitched set of songs giving at lively an upbeat feel and gives the feeling Holly is always on the move. The main theme has become one of the most recognizable songs ever made making it into films like David Fincher’s 1995 film, Seven and the 2002 action film, xXx starring Vin Diesel. All the music was played on the same instrument, a zither and was performed by the then unknown Anton Karas who was approached by Carol Reed at a party to write a few songs for the film but then gave him the task to write all the music for the film. It’s a true masterpiece and adds so much to the films tone.

The writing is very well done, throwing you into a place you are unfamiliar with, just like Holly. For the audience, Holly is the most relatable character in the film because with no subtitles for the foreign language, we need to ask others what they said or ask them to repeat themselves but in English just like Holly. This is the best way to make the audience think to try and work out what they are saying because it’s written in a way that even if you don’t speak the same language, you still know what they are saying with body positioning, hand movements and the tone they speak in. If we had a translator with Holly everywhere he went, we wouldn’t have this mystery, it would be very easy to work everything out.

In a film that has amazing writing, directing, acting and style, I take everything on account when it comes to making my film. In my eyes, this is a perfect film, captivating its audience with its use of words, cinematography and story. It throws you into Holly’s shoes as you attempt to find out what is going on, revealing awful truths and coming to terms with what is really going on. With Orson Welles on board making the film, you know it’s going to be good which is why I’m giving The Third Man a…

10/10