Posted in Short Film yr2, Uncategorized

The strange thing about the Johnsons

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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.

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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.

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Posted in 260 MC, Uncategorized

Chronicle Experience (Poster)

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, Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 1.36.04 PM.pngfor 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.

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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.

Posted in 260 MC, Uncategorized

Change of Plan

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-portraitsIMG_3156.JPG 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.

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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.

Posted in Global Experience, Uncategorized

Pre-production

The plan is to go to Portugal, film in the capital Lisbon, we know that is its a colourful cultural full of life city, crowded with artists and I definitely want to explore that. My Cousin is half Portuguese and visits regularly so I asked him if he or his family knew people and they recommended we go to algarve to visit the oldest restaurant in the city and get to know the owner.

We also talked to other friends who informed us on the culture so that when we arrive we would be able to adjust easily with and film within the law.

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Our accommodation is with Air b&b and because we are aware that they must deal with tourists on a regular basis we contacted the landlord, even asked for tips on how to get around and what we need to know for when we arrive.  As the documentary needs to depict real life we wanted to know the not so touristic places so we wouldn’t spend so much time figuring it out when we got there.

Obviously we couldn’t only rely on friends information, that is why we looked online for everyday people based in Lisbon who are artistic. On Instagram we found a street artist who seemed interesting plus unique. He as almost two thousand followers and he represented himself as quite a character so we knew we wanted to meet him. However, I know we have to be aware that there is a risk that he will not want to be part of the project and we would need a plan B.Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 20.24.56.png

Both street art and Street football is popular is Portugal so it would be amazing if we figured out a way we could link the two because the pair have a lot in common like the rural destination, the passion that goes into it, also more times than not these people come from similar backgrounds, usually working class, this is their way of expressing theirselves.

Looking on the Huffington post there was an article on street art in Lisbon, its so fascinating because it literally transforms the building. There is a political rebellious agenda behind it, not just a painting .

 

Watching similar documentaries like the Belgium ‘The City Game’ influenced as i felt the people being so genuine about the sport that they loved it really highlighted how strong a community can be. I hope our film can affect people in the same way spreading positivity.

 

Artists such as Banksy influenced me because of his work around London, I’ve grown up seeing certain pieces of his in tottenham where I grew up and its really cool how you don’t know anything about an artist but you know so much about how they think and feel through their art and thats the same with street artists.Image result for banksys work tottenham

Shepard Fairey the founder of a big clothing Obey is also one of my inspirations, he is also a street artist. People argue he is mainstream and his values have changed so then his art is not the same. Thats whats amazing depending on your situation influences what you make and how the public perceive you. He was very much the stereotypical street artist who loved skateboarding, just a rebel in general but I am sure he is more than that that is why its going to be interesting finding more on the people of portugal.

What I have done is looked at other interviews with other artists and seen what questions would be good to incorporate in out video. Basquiat a very talented artist who died at the peak of his career due to drugs abuse. His work looked quite child like but very relatable, what I love was he did not try and fit in. After watching the video I realised that you need to research into the artists work and the questions will come from there as every artist is unique so everyone will have different questions.

We intend to distribute it by sending it to film festivals, I’ve been looking at Cannes and Sun dance and if you want to submit it as a short film/ documentary then the recommended length is under 15 minutes as it needs to fit in with their schedule.

Social media will be a heavy influence on the success of the film and that is the cheapest and most convenient way of distributing our film ensuring all family and friends see it. However, many festivals will not accept the film if its available to the public so this is a decision we are going to have to make.

Short films like Hagreseb done well line many festivals internationally and I would like to follow the same success. The reason for this is because of a trailer, the audience need Hagereseb-poster-cropped.jpg

some sort of idea leading them to decide wether the film is for them or not. Advertising and marketing make or break a film.

 

 

By Jaime Rojo & Steven Harrington. (2014). Exploring Lisbon As A Street Art Tourist. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jaime-rojo-steven-harrington/lisbon-street-art_b_5611789.html. . (1), The Huffington Post.

 

 

Posted in Global Experience, Uncategorized

Possible Ideas in Portugal

Black Portuguese people

After speaking to a few students at the Coventry university a lot of people were not aware of the existence of Black people in Portugal ( Afro-Portuguese).  This is surprised me considering the amount of successful athletes, for example, Nani a player of the Uk premier league team Manchester united.

So now I am curious to see how Afro-Portuguese citizens live their everyday life if they are well integrated with society, if they receive any type of racism also if they feel Portuguese or feel African like their ancestors?

Many questions run through my mind and it would be interesting to explore this in more detail.

Street Football

It is widely known that Portugal is home to some of the best footballers and world class teams. Ronaldo has millions of followers worldwide but he was once a poor boy playing on the streets like hundreds of other children in his country.

I was talking to a Portuguese friend and he told me that literally every street corner there will be a froup of kids playing football. The innocence of it all and these poor kids striving to achieve a dream is beautiful.

We were thinking of following a main subject a child maybe around 13- 15 years old but in doing that highlighting the street football culture.

People of Portugal (Poetic Approach)

Capturing everyday people in their society like a market worker or a fish monger, getting them to recite their favourite poem while having shots of them in their routine environment.

360 Camera documentary

document an event/ festival

do a documentary on the architecture

Posted in Global Experience

Destination Decision…

 

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Coming up with the location we wanted to visit depended on various factors like budget, interest, and reality. It’s the fact that we are working with 4 other people so coming up with a suitable project.

Our Group includes Reginald, Maria, Husain Chloe and me Misal. After brainstorming as short-list was developed consisting of the following countries:

Morroco, Portugal, Japan, Philipeans, Paris

But how possible considering our lack of money due to the fact that we are full-time students was this. Japan would be amazing but the costs would not be worth it.

On the other hand going to Paris would be cheap but it isn’t adventurous enough, It is literally down the road. The reason I chose this course was because it forces me to explore my options within the world of Media, I am able to be ambitious and create a piece different to my competitors in the UK, hopefully enhancing my employability rate.

Also Leaving Europe would be hastle, especially for our first time working abroad. Having to get a visa and travel for long periods during term time when we have other lectures wouls hinder our growth in the course. a place for example like Morroco although we felt is rich in culture and a beautiful place to do a documentary

A place for example like Morroco although we felt is rich in culture and a beautiful place to do a documentary but some of our group members may have some Visa issues. However in saying that locations in Portugal look very similar to Morroco because of its colonial history and as an aspiring cinematographer visually it is very stimulating which excites me.

As for now Portugal is looking the most likely but more research and planning is required. If the subject is not good enough we may have to switch our idea.