For our Image and Sound capture we were required to create a short 2-5 minute film, in a style of our choice within a set time frame and I believe I successfully fulfilled the brief.
I enjoyed all elements of this unit, from idea developing, to shooting and editing, it would be hard for me to pick a highlight in the process.
Production Process (4.1)
I found developing an initial idea and narrative for my film a challenge at first, I tend to have a lot of ideas but find it hard to narrow down and focus on one. However, being made to slow down and dissect each of my ideas using mindmaps was useful practice that I will continue to use in future projects.
I decided to make a film depicting mental health disorders as it is a subject matter that is deeply personal and important to me. I have continually explored this theme throughout my time on the course, as I want my work to have direction and consistency. Researching for this film was something I particularly enjoyed, I read a lot of articles about mental health and how mental illness in women is addressed on screen. I used some of my own personal research to strengthen my ideas for my film and made sure to research into mental heatlh statistics for women in the UK, to ensure my film would be current and well informed. What I would like to improve for future skills is how to present this research in a way that works well, rather than scan in the pages as I have done for this unit. Similarly if I could do the project again, I would make more mood boards as I felt they really helped inform the tone of my film, this particular area of my research could certainly be more developed.
Having previously completed work experience in a pre-production office, I was somewhat aware of just how much paperwork and planning was required for a film, however I was still surprised by how time consuming this part of production ended up being. I wanted to create a comprehensive plan of my film before shooting. Using the materials our tutor supplied and doing my own research, I was able to produce most of the paperwork that would be needed if I had been shooting this project professionally.
As I previously found in my animation unit, the storyboarding took a few redrafts before I was satisfied. I think this was particularly challenging on this unit as I was shooting a documentary style video rather than a film with a traditional narrative. There are a few differences between the storyboard and my final film, some of the sequencing changed and there were a few additional shots. The sequence changes happened during editing, I decided some footage worked better in another position on the timeline and I would rather have the film be different but producing a stronger final product, rather than stick to the storyboard scene for scene. I have more camera angles and shots than originally planned because during the shoot, my schedule had enough flexibility that I was able to experiment with shots not originally planned, some were successful some weren’t. These extra shots meant I had more options to choose from during editing, I felt like I had more freedom to be creative with my editing choices as I had more to play with.
Directing a set and an actor seemed daunting to me, when first given the brief but I felt like I gained invaluable skills in this role. Being organised and aware of what everyone needed to be doing and when was essential to get right in order for the production to flow smoothly, I was accountable for all decisions. It also pushed me to be a clear communicator with the cast and crew. As I have previously mentioned throughout this project, I am making a film about mental health so I wanted my working environment to be as least stressful as possible so it wasn’t compromising the well being of all involved. In order to implement this, I scheduled many breaks and made sure to make sure my actor was comfortable at all times on set. I don’t always agree with the rhetoric of working beyond health and wellbeing just to get the ‘perfect shot’, these sort of environments are often detrimental to mental health. As a person who suffers from mental heath issues myself, I have been discouraged by stories of ‘you won’t make it’ unless you are willing to push yourself. My mental health is my priority and why I wanted to priorise a safe work environment on set, I think this is particularly important in the wake of recent revelations of unethical working standards in the film industry, particularly for women.
As the director and producer of the film, I had to make a tough decision to cancel one of my shoot dates rather than reschedule, this was due unforeseen weather disruption. I didn’t reschedule the final shoot day as we were pushing closer to our deadline and I wanted to ensure I had enough time left to edit my footage. Instead, I extended the shooting hours on day 3, as I had planned only a half day shooting then anyway. The crew and cast were happy with this and we ended up getting all the material we needed anyway, my team were invaluable in helping me achieve this. Other scheduling conflicts occurred when I assisted on other projects, I had to push back recording my voiceover because of this and when I did record it, my sound assistant was not available so I had to get this done without her. Working in other roles with my colleagues required a lot of listening and being flexible to the directors needs.
Sound, Image & Visual FX (3.2)
I found the shooting an enjoyable part of the production, crafting the perfect shot was time consuming but rewarding. I found it required lots of small changes; of position or settings to get each shot correct. I was limited with my equipment so I couldn’t quite achieve some of the shots I needed, for example some of my planned over head shots were limited by the height of my tripod and a make shift platform. If I could reshoot with a bigger budget I could hire out the appropriate camera rigging in order to achieve this, however I worked with what I could.
Shooting in two different light conditions was also a learning curve for me, none of the settings I had during the nautural day light shoot could be applied to the studio lit shots. Low lighting definitely affected the quality of my shots, I need more practice in order to perfect shooting in these conditions. I think stronger lights might have helped create stronger, more contrasted shots.
Editing my film was definitely one of my favourite parts of the production, however I do wish I left longer to edit. Only having fairly limited knowledge of Premiere Pro, simple edits took longer as I tried to make my way through the software, often consulting online tutorials for reference. I had sorted all my shots into the appropriate files before importing into Premiere, this made navigating all the shoot material effortless and allowed me to use the limited time more efficiently. A challenge I faced during editing was merging my time-lapse photos together to make a fluid sequence, to do this I experimented with different speeds and nested the clips together which made editing easier. I had originally planned for the sequence to play by itself, however I decided the pacing felt disjointed from the rest of the film, so I made the decision to overlay additional footage on top using the opacity function, I was actually happier with the result than what I had originally planned for.
To achieve the sound effects in the film, I sourced free online sound effects for the sounds of the ringing and recorded a voiceover to narrate the movie and speak to the audience about mental health symptoms. Getting the timing of the sound effects were challenging at times, I realised I had to be very intricate with cutting or a sound effect might be out of time with a scene transition for example.
I played my film to a test audience (friends) and the feedback received was that the last part of my film felt a little quiet, as I had the voice over and nothing else, so I inserted a soft ticking as background noise which I think improves the scene. Secondly the graphics at the end, the text about mental health, played too quickly and was unreadable so I extended the time it stayed on the screen. Testing the film on an audience was essential for my editing process as I could gage reactions and fix any mistakes I might have missed.
I thoroughly enjoyed this project, even the parts that I found challenged me. I think the visuals are my strongest part of the film, I really tried to be creative and evoke what some of the symptoms of a mood and anxiety disorder can feel like. If I had to redo the project, I would love to shoot with a bigger budget so I could achieve some of the shots and effects I initially planned for in my storyboard. I would also make sure to schedule in more time for editing, as this process takes a lot longer than I initially anticipated. I was satisfied with the finished film, though upon re-watching there are definitely minor adjustments to the audio and a few cuts that I would fine tune to perfect the film. Completing this project has given me the skills and confidence to go through this process again and continue creating films.