FMP – Pre-Production – Floor Plan

A floor plan is a top down view of a set where you can plan the positioning of the cameras, actors and props. This is used for the crew to see easily where each shot will be and what position the camera is next to the actor. This is also good to plan where the furniture is in the scene and plan what the set will look like during filming.

I used a floor plan to plan the one-shot scene which takes place at night to show my actors where I want the camera to be and at what point. Showing them visually what I want is easier than verbally because they can see it and not get confused with what I’m saying. Below is the diagram I used to show my actors where my camera will be:

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With a one-shot scene, I had to draw the movements of the camera because if there weren’t any lines, it would come across that it’ll be static that will cut between each camera. I didn’t draw the actors in because that would’ve taken too long but it’s obvious where they’ll be in the scene as the camera is following them through the dark.

Camera 1 starts off in the dining room where Mike was talking to Adam about the killer. It starts off with Mike turning on the torch revealing his face, and then the camera follows Mike into position 2 when he picks up Adam. At this point, the camera follows behind them until position 5 when Mike puts Adam in the bathroom. The camera then goes back to 4 moving backwards while Mike shines the torch towards the camera.

It then turns at 4 which allows Mike to go in front of the camera and then moves to 6. When the music kicks in, Mike turns and then the camera walks backwards heading to 7 to reveal the iPad. Mike then realises something is wrong which makes him go back to the bathroom. The camera then goes from position 7 to 3 then 4 and 5.

The shot ends there when it cuts to inside the bathroom but this just shows how much is going on in the floor plan and how useful it is to show my actors where I’ll be and where they’ll be during the scene.

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FMP – Pre-Production – Location Scouting

Location scouting for a film can be done before or after the script, depending on how much time you have. I planned them before, giving me an idea of what space my characters would have access to. This way I have a clear image of where my characters can go and what my characters can do. It’s hard to write a scene then try and find a location that fits that description.

I picked Hound Tor due to the fact its name. My killer is called a hound multiple times in the script and it’s a recurring word in a rhyme and a song. So this Tor fit perfectly into the script, and I only had Google maps and images to plan what happens in the scene, rather than visit. It was hard, but not impossible, to do it this way.

I used my Grandparents house for Mike Bolt’s base of operations. I’ve been there countless times so there wasn’t any need to visit in advance. I had this location in my head from the start. There were a few challenges with this scene, including the floor space. I suspected we would need to move furniture around, which we did, to clear enough room to spread the case file over the floor.

Picking the locations for my film wasn’t hard but a challenge to write my ideas into those scenes, especially when I hadn’t been to one of the locations. If I had a choice, I would have head over to the Tor to see what it had to offer but with little time at hand, I couldn’t.

FMP – Pre-Production – Script

Writing a script is one of the main skills you need to make a film. Without this skill, you’ll look unprofessional and you won’t be able to get actors and crew to understand what you want and what you need when shooting.

I’m going to go through how you write a script and look at all the things that are used to show what you want out of your film.

Script example

This is a basic use of all the main attributes you will use when writing a script. I will break down each one and explain when and why you’ll use them.

Scene heading:

Scene Heading

This explains the scenes surroundings in three easy steps. The first step is to say if the scene takes place inside or outside. If inside then you’ll abbreviate inside to ‘INT.’ and if outside

you’ll write ‘EXT.’. If it’s both then you’ll either do ‘E/I.’ or ‘I/E.’ which is depending on if your character goes outside or goes inside. The next one is where the scene takes place. For the example I have given, I’ve put ‘Rob’s Livingroom’. The last step is saying what time of day it is when the scene takes place.

Transition:

Transition

This is mainly for the editor. When editing, the editor will have the script at hand, reading through and following along as they edit. When there are transitions requests in the script, they’ll know and carry out the transition.

Action:

Action

This one is used to explain all the movements the characters do. This can get very big so it’s recommended every line or two, you create another paragraph just so it’s easy to read and that avoids massive blocks of text occurring.

Character Name:

Character

This one is simple, it’s the name of the character.

Parenthetical:

Parenthetical

This one is used to describe how the character feels and sounds when saying the line. Usually, actors won’t want or need this as it’ll be obvious to what the characters are expressing.

Second Parenthetical

This is another parenthetical that says where the character is in the scene. For example, ‘O.S.’ means ‘Off Screen’ meaning the character who is saying the line isn’t on the frame at the time he’s saying the line.

Dialogue:

Dialogue

This is everything the characters say, it’s what the audience will hear so it’s a good idea to make the dialogue perfect because if it isn’t, you actors will have an impression of you and not a good one.

I started off going straight into the script which is the one thing you shouldn’t do. I realised this because when it came time to write my characters, some of the dialogue and actions didn’t fit the character, forcing me to go through the script and make the actions fit the characters more.

I created my characters: name, country of origin, age, gender and occupation. Even though most of these things won’t be shown in the film, it’s a good way for my actors to know who they are playing.

I then went into detail with their personality, thinking about their likes and dislikes, their preferred appearance and their skills. I wrote two paragraphs talking about their past and how they came to be who they are today which builds up more personality for these characters.

But most of this won’t be said, this is only for me to write fittingly for the characters and for the actors who will understand what type of person they’ll be playing.

My main problem with last years FMP script was that there were massive blocks of text that we’re very hard to read and confused a lot of people, including me. What I’ve done this year is break the script up more, and have those blocks of text gone. I started off by splitting up the action, scenery and the appearance of the character. I’d start by describing the scenery and character’s appearance first, before moving into action. I created a new paragraph every line or two just to space it out more. I’m glad I did this because now it’s easier to read and doesn’t cause confusion.

With a film like this where it jumps around a lot, writing can be done two ways. The first way is to write this kind of script is to write it in chronological order. This will simplify the script to allow it easier to shoot then mess around with it in the editing stage but this could lead to confusion as I might forget what I had planned. The other way, the way I did it, was to write it how I’m going to edit it, with the Hound Tor bits spread out through the script.

Below is the script but some of it isn’t in the final film which is indicated by being highlighted in yellow:

 

 

FMP – Pre-Production – Research

Starting up any new project, especially a quick turn around like this one, can be difficult because you need to come up with a concept that is doable but unique and creative. I knew from the beginning what I wanted to make, what style I wanted my film to be, but couldn’t think up a concept. I started off by watching a couple of films that have the style I’m going for to take inspiration. ‘The Third Man’ was first with ‘Seven’ to follow and I began reviewing them, talking about the good and bad things about the film, behind the scenes stories and what I can take away from them to use in my own film.

In the middle of reviewing films, I had a discussion with a few people about black and white, and how bland and boring it is. That’s where I got the idea for selective colour and I thought I’d review a film that uses selective colour – the one I chose was Sin City. This was the film that made me settle for selective colour as the main style for my film. After that, I went onto watching Chinatown, one of the most popular and best detective films ever made, focusing on the performances and writing.

After watching a few films, I thought up a concept that seemed achievable but which will give me challenges along the way. It started off with a concept back in January that didn’t work out then, and this seemed like a cool way of finally making it.

The Weekly FMP Blog #18 – This is the Beginning of the End (19th – 23rd June)

The end is nigh.

My film is finally up with my blood, sweat, and tears attached to it. (That sounds disgusting, I’m sorry.)

I had a bit of trouble uploading it due to exporting troubles and internet connection but once it was up, the positive comments were brilliant. Everyone really liked it and my doubts were put to rest when people were giving good feedback. Now that it’s up, I do have some problems with it, the biggest one is sound design. Premiere was refusing to export the audio of the close-up sped up clips of the case file. I was annoyed at that but people said it wasn’t distracting them from the film and it worked well with or without the audio.

I’m now finishing up my blogs. I’ve got three weekly blogs to do, evaluations and then review two or three films. I’m also planning on doing posts about each section of making the film; Pre-production, production and post-production.

After them, I’m done, I hand it in next Monday and it’s Summer, which is a scary thought.

I’d just like to thank everyone who helped me make this film possible especially Richard Neve who answered every question I had and gave me feedback about all the things I did, you are epic.

Now, I wait for my results. I’m hoping for a merit so I can get into my preferred University, Plymouth. Let’s hope I did everything my lectures wanted…

FMP Research – The Film Review Blog – Chinatown

Chinatown is a 1974 film directed by Roman Polanski, also known for ‘The Pianist’ and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, and is written by Robert Towne, who also wrote ‘Mission: Impossible 1 and 2’. This film stars Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston.

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The story follows J.J. Gittes and his associates when they are hired by the wife of a chief executive of a water company because she accuses him of cheating. This all goes wrong very quickly when it’s revealed the person who hired them wasn’t the real wife and the husband is found dead the next day. There is this conspiracy about the water being wasted which is the cause of the husband’s death as he found out something he shouldn’t have. A lot is then uncovered about different people and what is going on. It’s interesting to see how all the pieces fall into place.

Jack Nicholson plays the cocky, kind hearted private detective, J. J. Gittes, who can be very violent when he needs to be. He is caught up in all this and there is no way he’s going to drop the case. This character is likeable in parts, then hated by the audience in other parts. He is introduced as a good-tempered, jokey kind of guy but when things begin to get rough, he becomes more resilient and does anything to get the answers he wants, even if that means beating up a woman.

Image result for Chinatown 1974

Jack Nicholson is a master of anger, he knows how to control it and knows when to use it. I’ll be talking about Chinatown and how Nicholson controls and uses anger in this film, but he has a whole array of films where he uses different types of anger. In Chinatown, he understands what type of character he is playing so he uses anger when he doesn’t get what he wants.

In a scene that’s hard to watch, Gittes thinks he has a good, and truthful, story of how everything happened. But when Evelyn says he’s wrong, Gittes loses it. Jack keeps his anger level to a minimum before the slap, only raising his voice a little to entice Evelyn in telling him the truth. She keeps refusing, so his anger rises and grabs her. He realises what he’s done, and calms himself, telling her what happened to her husband, blaming the murder on her.

When she lies again, he slaps her. , He doesn’t hold back, his anger is full-on, and if he doesn’t hear what he wants to hear, he will slap again. The next couple of seconds are hard to watch because Gittes doesn’t understand yet and even though she’s telling him the truth, he won’t stop. When he realises she was telling the truth and he doesn’t apologise for what he just did, it adds another layer to his character – he doesn’t want to be wrong and when he is, he hides the fact he was by moving on quickly.

Faye Dunaway plays the secretive and seductive widow, Evelyn Murray. From the moment you meet her, it feels like she’s hiding something. She doesn’t like to have long conversations as she’s afraid she might reveal something she shouldn’t. When she’s talking to Gittes, who can see right through her lies, she gets anxious and shakes. To calm herself, she smokes, a lot, and she’s sometimes so panicked, she forgets she already had one lit. You could take from this that she’s so overwhelmed with her husband’s death she gets confused, but she doesn’t show much emotion when learning of his death.

Image result for Chinatown 1974 Evelyn Murray

The screenplay was written by Robert Towne who perfectly captures the stereotypical detective, with their distinct accents and overall tone. The conversations between people get to the point, nothing they say is filler – it’s important to the case or foreshadowing something later on.

This film has a ‘kick in the stomach’ ending that leaves you disgusted and sad, and I won’t spoil it because it’s a lot more shocking if you don’t know about it. It also has one of the most famous quotes in film, ‘Forget it Jake, It’s Chinatown’, which has since been used in other films and TV programmes.

With everything this film has to offer, I’ll be taking inspiration from it’s writing, with the way the lines are structured and spoken, and how every line is necessary to the plot and the growth of characters. This film is a classic, with shocking and hard to watch scenes that leave you distressed and uncomfortable. The stereotypical detective role is given time and care to establish, and Jack Nicholson nails it.

9/10

The Weekly FMP Blog #16/#17 – Sleep? Who Needs Sleep? (5th – 16th June)

Filming is done, now I’m going full Post-production with editing and VFX.

I finished editing later than I planned. I allowed 5 days to lock my edit ready to begin work on the VFX but it took 8 days with new ideas coming in, like the sped-up shots which I shot on my desk but used extreme close-ups to hide where I was filming.

With the scenes I deleted during week 15, I decided to spread the Hound Tor scene out more. Originally, the climactic scene at the end would start when Mike Bolt runs up to the top of the tor and the smaller shots spread throughout the film were going to be Mike walking up to the Tor from the car park.

I then changed this so that the beginning of the climactic scene would start with the fight and the smaller shots would cover Mike walking up to the Tor from the car park to seeing the killer. I thought it would be better this way so people are intrigued with why I’m showing them these shots. It keeps them wondering what will come next,, which will keep them watching.

The music I found was by an artist called ‘The Kilimanjaro’, from their album ‘Darkjazz Ensemble’. The track is called ‘Celladoor Lobby’. At first, I was going to have Frank Sinatra’s My Way playing at the end but when it came time to edit it didn’t work as well on screen as it did in my head. At that point, I began to panic as there wasn’t anything I could find that fit what I was looking for. Then I found a 50-minute video called Darkjazz and the first track was Celladoor Lobby. From there I used it throughout my film, and I think it works well.

VFX is a big part of my film with all the selective colour that is happening, I need to put time and effort into this part, to make it look believable yet stylistic. I showed my friends and my colleague, who has a master’s degree, my tests for the selective colour and the response was positive. They said the interaction between the red and the black and white works well and gives it a unique look to the film. I was very surprised because when I started it, I was having doubts so when the feedback came back, I was certain that this was the right direction to take.

There are a few extra VFX shots that needed taking care of, like a shot with a car park in the background that was full of cars which I covered with the surrounding trees.In another shot, I removed a friend standing in the background, by covering him with surrounding grass.

Next week I’ll be exporting, uploading and finishing all the blog posts I’ll need to complete the course with a good grade.