In order to be allowed to use their footage we needed consent, we made all the participants sign a release form. This provides legal stability protecting us and the participants from being abused.
Pessoas de Lisboa
1. Professional Aims
We set out to better ourselves professionally, this wasn’t an everyday opportunity, I needed to make the most of it. My aim was to put it on my portfolio so that future employers are impressed. Also to gain experience and enhance the skills I already had, Internationally I aim to meet people with different skill sets assemble contacts because I will gain more viewership on my work or even lead me into getting jobs. Circulation of my film entering it to festivals in hope of gaining recognition and critical acclaim. As a professional, I wanted to create awareness of a different way of life a UK audience may not be familiar with. Carrying Myself as a professional was exciting as we were based outside the university meaning we could take advantage of roles. I was the Cinematographer mainly and heavily contributed in building the idea.
2. Professional skills and educational benefits
Working with another language and putting subtitles was extremely difficult but was an educational process. I had the basic skills of editing but after this project it forced me to self study a bit more going through many youtube tutorials on how to do certain effects, especially with after effects because I wasn’t familiar with it. I wanted to make intro titles before every subject, it was successful but as a group we decided a simple look was better, but i’m grateful as now I have the skill to re-use in another project.
Being on the ball and ready is important as documentary is a very different environment to fiction films. Also Not cutting straight away as we noticed subjects say the most deep comments as soon as you stop rolling. This was annoying as it could of enhanced the film and on the editors point of view it can be annoying when the camera operator cuts early because it gives us less to play with. So always shoot more than you need.
Scheduling your time is important, it doesn’t matter that we are in a warm country, it was not a holiday so waking up early was a must in order to get everything done within the 5 days. It was worth it because filming allowed us to be adventurous rather than being on a beach all day not being productive.
On the first day we arrived a lens broke, we don’t know the causes but it was inside the luggage on the plane. This caused us to be extra cautious because we couldn’t afford another piece of equipment damaged. That obviously brought down our mood but keeping positive was key and motivating each other with great team work to get the best possible outcome.
We also forgot a camera battery meaning we had to think quickly, so instead we just recorded sound and got the visuals the next day.
3. Fieldwork Practises
Working abroad/ internationally is definitely a challenge, something I am not used to but a learning experience. The culture had its similarities and differences but after talking to locals and doing our own research beforehand we knew what is acceptable and what wasn’t. For example many Portuguese people find it rude if you try and communicate with them in Spanish because its disrespect you are basically insulting their identity. Luckily for us in the main city of Lisbon majority of people spoke english but we picked up a few basic Portuguese phrases to help us get around. We came across a problem, after attempting to interview some of the important elderly members in the community of Alfalma we had a huge language barrier. The older generation were less likely to know english and we found them to be more reserved due to their societies culture, this made it extremely difficult to make an authentic documentary so we ended up not using it even though it was probably the best shot. However, I didn’t leave empty handed as it gave me the skill of patients and understanding because previously I may have gotten frustrated that our preparations weren’t going to plan. Also laws on filming were important to check where and when we are aloud to film but it isn’t to different to England where we can film in public we just need consent, we can not go on private property and start filming without permission.
4. Global Experience
I’ve been effected on our trip to Lisbon, the influence on my work is evident, meeting many creatives from all over and even shocking. I was unaware of the discrimination to black people within the country and it and after a videographer/creative with dread locks told me that he struggles getting a conventional job because of his hair. It made me want to explore this issue in further detail, maybe in the future. Every single person that we had spoken to I now have on social media wether it be Facebook or Instagram making it convenient for any interactions in the future. Due to the fact we had release forms ensuring that participants had given content all their details are now on the sheet forming it to be easier to find a contact in the future if we every need them. I even had conversations with other artist about collaborating work when the come to the UK meaning we can be productive in whatever part of the world we are in if we keep on building contacts.
The idea was to portray the film with the words of the real people, we had a structure but weren’t afraid to go with the flow but to get that sense of realism we needed the people to almost take control and speak their truth. Artists Like Banksy mix political aspects with beautiful paintings on public building being able to express their true thoughts in their own way. Thats why we were excited to talk with the street artist John Douglas. We found him on Instagram before we went but hadn’t been able to get in contact with him, but we knew where his shop was set up. He creates art that connects with his ancestry history on red indians, every drawing is different. Freedom is what he feels when he paints and this was inspiring to us but we thought it may inspires too.
Overall we delivered our aims for the project, visually it is beautiful, we met various characters and made friends but also collaboration partners. I just wished I had managed my time better when it came to this and other modules because it definitely could of been edited better, we also were trying to stick to the brief with the 6 minute time limit meaning we had to cut of a lot of other interesting people we had met however, a longer version was made that will be submitted to film festivals. This experience is inevitably an experience I’d want to go through again, a different country but transferring all the skill and knowledge gained constructing a project I’m even more proud of.
Billions of creative ideas have already been done, it’s very useful to take away ideas which have been successful in the past and rebirth them with our own twist. Saw The Live Maze an attraction in UK’s Thorpe park is a franchise of the 6 saw films. Elements like the actors gave the experience an authentic feel cementing the frightening factor. We plan to execute this element within our idea of the ‘Chronicle Experience’ satisfying people’s voyeuristic tendencies, giving participants the opportunity to feel the situation as if they had been through it.
The plan is to base the location outside because the greater public generate a ‘normal’ environment which automatically would set the scene. Acts similar to Flash mobs also provided influence for ‘Chronicle Experience’. The first flash mob was created 2003 in Manhattan originally designed to make some sort of cultural-political statement, seemingly pointless at the time but extremely entertaining. Now the craze is worldwide, even T-mobile has made flash mobs because it’s an innovative ways of advertising their company. Instead, our group will try and evolve the idea by adding an educational aspect as well where the history of Coventry will be highlighted, also the experience is more interactive because you only watch flash mobs where as the public in ‘Chronicle experience’ are the participants.
Another survey we made asked the public questions regarding their thoughts on walking for periods of time, if they exercise and if they enjoy augmented reality games such as Pokemon go. The answers we received from it effected the time and length of the course, what type of narratives we included, and even questioned our idea itself. For example, if a person hates walking we would make the distance shorter. Reasoning for why we did this is because if this is for the people of Coventry we need a product that reflects them and is beneficial for the growth of the community.
(1) Nick Sim. ( 2010 ). Review: SAW Alive Horror Maze at Thorpe Park.Available: http://www.themeparktourist.com/features/20100410/1443/review-saw-alive-horror-maze-thorpe-park. Last accessed 22-03-17.
(2) Wonderopolis. (2013). What Is a Flash Mob?. Available: http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/what-is-a-flash-mob. Last accessed 23-03-17.
(3) Mark Sweney. (2010). T-Mobile flashmob wins TV ad of year. Available: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2010/mar/11/tmobile-flashmob-ad-of-year. Last accessed 22-03-17.
(4) Misal Eskender. (2017). Chronicle Experience. Available: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ZW8GN6S. Last accessed 22-03-17.
Taking on the role as the cinematographer was a chance to make my little individual stamp, after watching a few short films it is clear that good filmmakers develop their own style allowing the audience to recognise their brand. Savides, the DOP of ‘American Gangster’ starring Denzel Washington has said “I think that a film has to have just one style, one look, whatever that is” There is a need for stability, the frame shouldn’t be identical but should be uniform to an extent. The cinematography of the film will determine the mood and the meaning the viewer takes away, learning the impact my role had, it is not just choosing an angle. A BBC interview with Cohen, the cinematographer of ‘The Kings Speech’, when asked ‘what does a cinematographer do?’ answered “My job is to help the director realise what’s in his head. The cinematographer creates a consistent look for the film and makes images that help tell the story.”
Never have I ever worked in a team of ten, appreciating the challenge because it finally handed opportunity to work in a professional environment, emphasising the chance in comprehending what each role requires. In all honesty before the module I would have thought ‘whats the point of having a cinematographer, camera operator or a gaffer, ‘one person can do all that right? In the midst of all this, it hit me how difficult it was, it’s not a matter of pushing a red button while shouting rolling.
“On most feature film sets, the cinematographer’s team is the biggest crew on the production, which means that the cinematographer has to interact and delegate with many production members. Fortunately, the “division of labor” on the set makes this a manageable task.”
Every single person is essential, my role is literally to imagine the image, think about how I want it to look, I would delegate roles to my team. On a bigger set, communicative skills are crucial when for example, passing information through to the gaffer onto the best boy and then the spark ensuring lightings acceptable conforming to the mood’s conventions for the scene and overall film. However, in our case, we had fewer people so one person took charge of lighting, managing by all working conjunctly to achieve exactly the look we desired.
Considering my new found awareness of how little I actually knew about my role and the others I binged watched numerous youtube videos on what skills I need to be a decent DOP. Richarch Michalak emphasised the value of ‘mastering composition’ gr
asping the main rule of thumb and then bending the rules. Also not being boring by placing everything in the centre using tools like ‘Rule of thirds’ to cement the visual gratification.
To practise my technique while growing professionally I’d bring a camera to the location scout, take some shots, I also formed a storyboard so I could visualise my thoughts making sure everyone knows what is going on at any one time.
In the industry, there was a system ‘in previous decades’, whereby you needed loads of money to get your work printed and advertised before consumers even got to lay their eyes on it. “the main stumbling block for independent filmmakers operating within the low budget and DIY realms was always distribution.” Not too long ago VHS and DVD’s were a necessity, imagine the cost of printing just to enable you to reach a wide audience but even then profit is not guaranteed. Moving towards the present web 2.0, YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu and facebook are some of the tools used for effective but cheap distribution making it easier to gain viewership.
From the get go our crew discussed briefly how to go about the distributing, ‘P.s I stole your car’ would be entered in film festivals. Prior to this task uni projects was something you do then it’s over but that’s only the beginning. Studying other short films such as ‘The strange thing about the Johnsons’ and ‘Hageraseb’ they both went down the route of film festivals slowly revealing it to the world as weeks go on gradually acknowledging more critical acclaim. To be considered, an EPK would have to be created and that is exactly what we did. “Smart movie making means figuring out a marketing and distributing plan before you begin” Ideally putting research into “what genres are selling and what genres” distributers “feel will be hot in a year.” That’s one of our mistakes because now we will have to look for festivals that meet our requirements rather than us meeting theirs limiting our options. Also, many film festivals such as sundance recommend shorter films,”you might find yourself in more festivals if you make a 5 minute short versus a 15 minute one. A lot of this is simply down to the math involved. If two movies are of similar quality, and both deserve to be in the festival, it’s only logical that the shorter film has a better shot” P.s I stole your car is touching 15 minutes so if the movie isn’t mind blowing/revolutionary then the chances of making it into festivals are slim. For next time I know during the pre-production stage a list of every little detail will have to be made to ensure we don’t forget or underestimate the importance of each task.
“A 2009 report by stradella road showed that 80% of those surveyed said they were more likely to see movie after hearing a positive review from other moviegoers.” Leading us to showcase the rough edit to the class observing their reactions and taking in their feedback. If they liked it they would talk to their friends about it generating a buzz that may spread around the university to then grow nationwide.
Electronic press kit consists of …
Physical press kits with hard copies have almost completely gone out of style and have been replaced by the electronic press kit. Short films may present their EPK in PDF form like ‘Run’ but we wanted it to be interactive, we decided to create a website, Converging Trailers, posters and Crew Bios into one place that is easily accessible stirring a buzz.
The polished product is far from perfect but nonetheless victorious. The sound is not consistent which was a problem, messy external sound was a struggle to clean up. Visually every shot was very planned out from the production design to the frame composition following the conventions of the narrative genre ‘drama’ using quite dark/natural colour schemes in terms of lighting and prop colours. There may have been an overuse of drone shots within the editing and an issue on my part was the lack of creative transitional shots from scene to scene. I’ve improved professionally enhancing my confidence and encouraging me to make further projects in the future aware of what it takes to be a DOP make a short film and what needs to happen next time for it to be even more successful than what it was this time round.
Wandering Gio. (2015). Visual style: Cinematographers on cinematography. Available: https://waondering.com/2015/04/11/visual-style-cinematographers-on-cinematography-part-1/. Last accessed 22-03-17.
Danny Cohen. (2011). What is a cinematographer?. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-12540386. Last accessed 22-03-17
GABE MOURA. (2014). THE CINEMATOGRAPHER’S CREW: Lights, Camera, Repeat!. Available: http://www.elementsofcinema.com/cinematography/cinematography-team/. Last accessed 22-03-17.
Richard Michalak. (2012). Cinematography Learn from a Master.Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwtpJ3T8eK4. Last accessed 01-02-17.
Jason J. Tomaric (2008). The Power Filmmaking Kit. united states of America: Focal press. 385.
Joe Marine. (2013). Is There an Ideal Length for a Film Festival Short?.Available: http://nofilmschool.com/2013/03/film-courage-hollyshorts-ideal-length-film-festival-short. Last accessed 22-03-17.
Nolwenn Mingant, Cecilia Tirtaine, Joel Augros. (2015). Leaked Information and rumours. In: Film Marketing into the TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY. UK: British film institute. 97-111.
Nolwenn Mingant, Cecilia Tirtaine, Joel Augros. (2015). B. In: Brave new Films, Brave new ways. Film Marketing into the TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY. UK: British film institute. 97-111.
Film Sourcing. (). Electronic Press Kit Tutorial for Film. Available: https://www.filmsourcing.com/epk-create-electronic-press-kit-film/. Last accessed 22-03-17.
Heather McDonald. (2017). What Is an Electronic Press Kit (EPK)?.Available: https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-an-electronic-press-kit-epk-2460365. Last accessed 22-03-17.
Zia Mohajerjasbi. (2016). HAGERESEB – Short Film – dir. Zia Mohajerjasbi. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaeBHbimUso&t=1408s. Last accessed 22-03-17.
Ari Aster. (2015). The strange Thing about the Johnson’s (2011).Available: https://vimeo.com/70163273. Last accessed 23-03-17.
The strange thing about the Johnsons had the capability to captivate the viewer instantly. It’s a short film released the year of 2011 but only recently in 2017 (6 years later) has it gone viral, shaking the internet by storm.
This 29-minute short film stars a middle-class black family who on the outside seem perfectly ‘normal’ but we very quickly find out that the father Sydney is being molested by his only son Isaiah. Taboo as the subject is, it was needed and probably the reason for its success, the shock factor left viewers disgusted but still proceeded in finishing the film.
Ari Aster the Director and writer mentioned that the Idea came about the summer before he joined film school, he and a few friends were talking about topics society does not like to discuss. Topics “That should never be made into a film!” So, it began on that level, but from there it evolved into something very different.”. Breaking boundaries was exactly what they wanted to do, even though the film comes off quite comedic especially in the opening shot when the makers reveal that Isaiah was masturbating to a photograph of his father, Of course, I laughed but that’s because inherently I knew this was absurd. Choosing innovative ways in raising awareness as such issues usually don’t get attention.
Being a student you would expect their budget to be quite low or non-existant. Where would they raise the funds? If they are a nobody as of right now then who would even have the confidence to fund them? Aster says they literally “had to fight to raise the budget ourselves, so convincing people to donate money” So I can only assume they were involved in a lot of crowdfunding using pages like ‘gofundme’or ‘indigogo’ but also creating events and sales which will not only raise awareness but gather in money. However, Aster talks about how difficult it was to raise the funds as the topic of the film is unconventional and many people found it offensive, especially the black community considering it was a white actor depicting black family life. The makers insist it’s nothing to do with colour as it happens in all races and it was mainly just focusing on the molestation aspect. In saying that they did include stereotypes within the black community but in my opinion that adds a sense of realism because people will be able to identify with or understand the characteristics of a character within the short amount of time the makers have to develop the character.
The process is not an easy one, in order for Aster to make his short film as successful as it was a crew would be not only necessary but essential. Producers, composer, Cinematographer, Editor, production designer, makeup department, sound department were only a few of the roles used within ‘The strange thing about the Johnsons’ and even within those roles there are many people performing various functions. for example, the sound department has a sound mixer, boom operator, sound supervisor and sound editor. So David Kitchens job was to hold a boom while Anthony Enns would mix the sound and within post Ben Zarai would edit sound. The more people involved the higher the budget would need to be but at the end of the day, it’s an advantage because a crew member would only need to focus on one point making it as perfect as they can rather than juggling two things at once, ensuring the film is the best quality.
Due to the introduction of web 2.0, there are now many ways of distributing your film, obviously, previously the only way to get your film shown was with traditional theatre. Websites like Youtube, Vimeo allow independent filmmakers to showcase their work. If you want to add more weight/substance to the film then entering it to film festivals would be a good Idea which was exactly what was done in the case of ‘The strange thing about the Johnsons’. If the short makes it through then this will give the film more critical acclaim creating buzz, interesting more audience in watching it. The distributors sent the film off to Sundance festival, Santa Fe Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Slamdance festival and even nominated for NewFilmmakers Los Angeles. The more festivals the film was shown at the more people wanted to watch it, increasing important people with power in the industry who are reviewing and highlighting it, forcing interest.
Social media built most of their achievements especially facebook after reading the Huffington post, the author commented “I first came to know of this short film’s existence after seeing a countless number of Facebook posts asking, “Have you heard about The Johnsons?” such an inventive marketing strategy, forming interest with consumers even if they don’t know what they are letting themselves into. They presented the film as if it was the worlds biggest secret and everyone wanted to get in on it that’s why it went viral online.
More recently people have been posting reaction videos on youtube, this is known as consumer-generated advertising, it’s more effective than using advertisements online or on billboards and also extremely cheaper.
What I’ve noticed that many short films would have their own website explaining, giving behind the scene knowledge and other useful information for whoever is interested. I am aware that ‘The strange thing about the Johnsons’ had a website but I believe it’s been taken down as all the pre existing links are disabled, which is slightly annoying because I’m inttrigued in knowing what it contained but to be fair it has been 6 years and there was no way of knowing that it would go viral again in 2017.
Emmanuel Akitobi . (2011). “The Strange Thing About The Johnsons” Director Ari Aster Talks To Shadow & Act About His Provocative & Controversial Short Film. Available: http://www.indiewire.com/2011/11/the-strange-thing-about-the-johnsons-director-ari-aster-talks-to-shadow-act-about-his-provocative-controversial-short-film-149735/. Last accessed 21-03-17.
IMDB. (2011). The Strange Thing About the Johnsons (2011). Available: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1772398/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt. Last accessed 21-03-17.
Ari Aster. (.). BIO. Available: http://www.ariaster.com. Last accessed 21-03-17.
Malcolm Harris. (2012). What’s So Strange About the Johnsons?.Available: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/malcolm-harris/srange-about-the-johnsons_b_1147630.html. Last accessed 22-03-17.
There were a number of scenarios and journeys we considered. We definitely knew that we would have one fictional story and on true story but that involved a lot of research. We went away separately and looked up a few stories. The strongest ones were…
“Become an undercover detective to protect Coventry from an unknown attacker”
“you are escorting Mary, the former queen of Scotland to Coventry Castle to stop the north England rebels along the way.”
Now knowing this information It was time for me to make a poster, for some reason I struggled and it took me many attempts to get it right.
Firstly we discussed about having a split screen so that the public are aware of both scenarios. I mixed the spy idea with the olden day queen together but when I showed the group they had mixed reactions, some hated it and some thought it was ok. The main problem was that I had too much going on which is overwhelming so I didn’t bother finishing it and moved on to the next draft.
Basically, my task now was to simplify the poster but I still wanted to keep within the theme so I stuck with the old worn out paper and wrote the basic information on. Once I had shown it to all 8 members of my group they all liked it but it looked very basic, the font didn’t look right I needed to had some depth to the image. Micheal suggested I put a drop shadow and texture in it which I did not know how to do so I watched few youtube videos and taught myself this little skill.
Personally, I wasn’t sure what was the problem but I could see something was not right, Meida then Messaged me with some advice and some inspiration for posters to look at.
This was extremely helpful, Just because our idea is set back in time doesn’t mean our poster has to look outdated. We especially need to think about our target audience as well, if we want a lot of young people to participate the way we represent ourselves is important and the way in which we do that is through the poster. So I totally understood where she was coming from and took the advice on board which lead to this.
Doing This task even though it was a small element of the whole project I still learnt a lot, my skill have developed tremendously, you can see the improvement from the start to now.
We lost focus on the project due to other modules getting in the way, as the deadline day was approaching faster than we thought. The original idea of the escape room was a great Idea, I loved it but members of our group were Having doubts which I agree with, all our money had gone to short film especially because one of the conditions of the module meant we aren’t allowed to film in Coventry we had to pay out for accommodation, travel, food and other expenses.
Managing our time was difficult we had to actively choose where we would prioritise our time and in order to make a good short film, I think we ended up putting the majority of our efforts there. Not only that but our location fell through so we went and decided to go with another idea.
At first, we thought about leaving cameras around Coventry allowing the people to express themselves then we would collect the cameras and make an exhibition with those photos. However, considering the size of our group we didn’t think that was a significant amount of work.
What ended up happening was that we remembered back to the ‘Birmingham People and Change in the InnerCity’ Exhibit how they had self-portraits of different people who have different cultures. We could incorporate the camera in Cov idea do the exhibition but also have loads of stalls with people representing their country, you would go to each stall and learn a bit about their traditional food, music or clothes as these people make up the city of Coventry.
On the day Micheal made a poster and Reginald started emailing all the different cultural societies to see if they had an interest in what we were doing and I also posted in the voices society.
However, weeks went by and nobody was replying, or the people who did reply backed out last minute which was getting us anxious and yet again we scrapped the idea because it was failing slowly and slowly.
We needed an idea that did not involve the reliance of other people, something we could do and it doesn’t matter how many people participate because it would still be a success. But also an idea which would allow a lot of development so everyone in the group has done a substantial amount of work.
That leads us into our final idea the ‘Chronicle Experience’ playing with the actual streets of Coventry. Whereby we would give each person an Mp3 audio file they would then listen to the instructions and follow the mission to complete the story. we would have actors along the way and they would need to find the clues, the stories will have fictional and non-fictional elements to it as they are walking through Coventry some of the events will correlate with the actual history.