Monday, 29 June 2015

Review on Findings at Sussex University


This post details information gathered from books I analysed at Sussex University's library. It also explains how the information I gathered helps develop my project.

'The Film Handbook'
(de Valk, 2013)
-This book provided a lot of help in the technicalities of filmmaking in a broader sense; logistics, camerawork and distribution.
After reading the book, it was apparent that the contents were a little too basic and included a much greater variety of filmmaking aspects than I had hoped for. Essentially, the book merely covered aspects of film production that I already understand.

'Producing And Directing The Short Film And Video'
(Irving and Rea, 2015 - fifth edition)
-Scripting is a very basic part of any film and it is even more important in the short film because there is less time for characters to be developed or for the plot to become more complex.
-The logistics of short films are a lot different to feature length films and ultra high budget productions.
-Deciding on the location of a short film is important in visualising the plot.
-Casting is one of the main driving forces of the plot and storyline (this is relatable to my film study of La Haine).
-Camerawork is limited due to budget.
-Sound can be adapted with technology today - or youtube mp3 converter are just two examples of how the internet can provide answers to low-budget films' sound mix.

'Writing Short Films'
(Cowgill, 2010 - first edition)
['The Short Screenplay: Your Short Film From Concept To Production' was not available at the time I was there so I decided to read this book instead]
-The book starts with the very basics of writing a plot - which was what I was least confident about coming into the day. The book opens with a basic description of what a plot should entail, being: 'a hero who wants something, takes action but meets conflict which leads to a climax and finally a resolution'.
-Ideas for films stem from concepts someone wants to visualise. Short films should aim to be focused on one thing rather than multiple ideas.
-One should create a fresh plot, an effective or meaningful backdrop and a few surprises along the way to maintain a degree of uncertainty as to what will happen next.
-Good treatments should be able to be told in one or two sentences.
-A conflict-based plot between a few people provides solid ground.
-A combination of genres is usually quite beneficial [crime/gangster & comedy?]
-Using filmic qualities (mise-en-scene, camerawork etc.) is essential in making a short film visually pleasing for the audience.
-A clear theme structured by character, environment, incident, situations and informational area has got to be identified.
-Some of the questions I could ask myself when designing the storyline stemming from this chapter in the book included: 'what is the driving action of the story?' and 'who or what opposes the protagonist?'
-In terms of the actual structure of content in a film, one can split it into three steps:
The setup   -   The rising action   -   The resolution
-According to the Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms, story is defined as the 'sequence of events' whereas plot is defined as the 'arrangement of events'. This definition is very similar to theorists Bordwell and Thompson's view - that there is a clear difference between the plot and storyline of a film.

'Screening Strangers: Migration And Diaspora In Contemporary European Cinema'
(Loshitzky, 2010)
-'La Haine' was released in 1995 and depicted the story of three young Frenchmen troubled by the riots and civil conflict in the banlieues of France.
-The film won the Cannes Film Festival of the year it was released, as well as the Cesars (the French equivalent of the Oscars) the following year.
-It has been recognised internationally as the definitive film of its genre. It was not the first, but Kassovitz's La Haine is widely known as the best of its kind.
This book mainly concentrates on the representation of each group represented in the film rather than the filming of La Haine. Thus, it is not as useful as it could have been for me but it still provided me with the basis for further research into this film and Mathieu  Kassovitz's - the director.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Sussex University Trip Review

The university's library is due to be expanded and a new building constructed on campus.
This post reflects on what I achieved yesterday at Sussex University's library and whether or not I felt the trip was useful and worthwhile.

The recent lack of posts has merely been down to the fact that there have been no considerable developments in the film's concepts, up until returning from the university trip that took place yesterday.

Upon arriving at the library, myself and the group of students doing EPQ received a brief tour and talk about searching for books efficiently, where books would be located and categorised in the library of over 600,000 books, and finally how to study from prints effectively.
After this, I proceeded to gather a few books which would aid me in my research and planning. As shown in the previous post, I had created a list of five books and their locations in the building that I believe would help my project reach the next level. Unfortunately, I was not able to actually locate all of these books, as one had been taken out for use by another student already. However, I overcame this obstacle by finding another book to use that was very similar to my original. I found researching in the study area where quiet discussion was permitted to be enjoyable and effective.
Overall, I feel that the trip was definitely valuable in expanding my knowledge of what a university library is like and how to use it. In relation to helping my project, I would also say that it helped me understand filming techniques and practices as well as greatly influencing my concepts into the plot of my short. I did not achieve as much as I'd hoped to in researching film noir and La Haine, but the day was successful overall.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Plan for Sussex University Trip


This entry acts as a plan of things I hope to take away from the Sussex University library school trip.

The trip is designed to allow me to find useful resources in the library there - excerpts, key ideas and inspiration from books - to aid my research section of the project. I am only going to find books to extract information from, as websites are available to me anywhere and using the small amount of time there must be effective. That is to say that I must utilise the resources specifically found there.

My two ultimate goals will be to gather information on:

1) Film production techniques

2) Film genre contextual knowledge

Upon searching through the university's extensive library database online, I have found five books that I hope to locate and study whilst there on the day:

'The Film Handbook' - Library Main PN 1995.9.P7 DEV
This could definitely be very useful for my research into how to improve my filming techniques.

'Producing And Directing The Short Film And Video' - Library Main PN 1995.9.P7 REA
'The Short Screenplay: Your Short Film From Concept To Production' - Library Core Collection PN 1996 GUR
Both of the above books are similar to the first but they will aid me in understanding what it takes to produce a high quality short film specifically.

'The Dark Side Of The Screen: Film Noir' - Library Short PN 1995.9.G3 Hir
This book will serve the purpose of introducing me to and develop my understanding of the film noir style.

'Screening Strangers: Migration And Diaspora In Contemporary European Cinema' - Library Main PN 1993.5.E8 LOS
This book contains information on the French film 'La Haine'. I saw this film in a recent French lesson and immediately observed aspects of the way it was filmed that could help this project. The book ocuses on other films too which will allow me to broaden my horizons. I will also hopefully find inspiration in other films included and complete studies on more productions for my research section of the project.

I will later post an entry recording my findings from the day, which will hopefully bring me very close to producing a treatment of the plot. Research into directors and the genre will continue.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Title Ideas


This post provides examples of different title concepts I have considered.

After reading the EPQ handout published by Manchester University, I have become more clear on what the project title should consist of. I have especially learnt about what vocabulary should be used in the title of my artefact project.
My ideas thus far include:

‘Demonstrate the successful production of a short dramatic film sequence’

‘Demonstrate an understanding of the successful production of a low-budget short film’

‘Illustrate the importance of filming techniques in constructing a professional short film'

‘Illustrate the successful production of a short film in the style of Kassovitz'

I am setting myself the task of completing my title after the workshop morning next Monday periods one and two. As well as this, I am hoping to make an initial document on research into the gangster/crime genre and Film Noir.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Concept Development


This post includes information on how I have developed my ideas on the style of my short film.

Initially, I came up with the idea of a production of Film Noir. This rather old film genre has always appealed to me; I find it a very attractive style of filmmaking. As gangster/crime genre films were born in the use of Film Noir, thus, I considered the possibility of this genre. Following on from this train of thoughts, I further realised that in relation to practicality, this genre does not require an elaborate location like action films nor does it need extensive levels of post production like sci-fi films.

This picture is used as the background of this blog.
It influenced my decision in creating a Film Noir production and I would like to recreate it. 

The picture above depicts the silhouetting of two characters in Joseph H. Lewis's 'The Big Combo'. Produced in 1955, it was one of the first of crime genre films to be shot from an arthouse perspective in mind. This is to say that, as a Film Noir production, famous cinematographer John Alton invested time in making the appearance of the film the most important feature. In relation to Lewis's other notable films - including 'Gun Crazy', produced six years earlier - many critics argue that the script and plot of this particular production was a lot weaker than others.
I believe that this may reflect the nature of my short film. By this I mean to say that I believe I will shoot the film predominantly to illustrate my film production skills rather than to show my creativity and script-writing ability.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Initial Planning Stage and Inception of the Blog


This entry, written three days after the Extended Project Qualification set-up day, introduces the blog for this short film and details the basic concepts and ideas I have explored thus far.

Firstly, before any other developments in my project, I concluded that I would approach the qualification through the construction of an artefact accompanied by a 1000 word essay. This is because making films has been a passion of mine for a long time, as I find great pleasure in creative thinking and film production. Making a short film (3-5 minutes in duration) would allow for me to illustrate my skill and enthusiasm in film production.

Plot concepts I have contemplated include a music video, a documentary or a gangster/crime dramatic short. Upon reflection of the practicality and where my confidence lies on each option, the latter appealed most to me. Through making a short film, I hope to illustrate my knowledge of the film industry - through research into the genre and directors' influences - as well as my skill in film production - through the use of a range of camerawork and editing.

Why include a blog page for this project? Through recording developments in planning and production on a blogger page (similar to the process of coursework in the Media Studies AS Foundation Portfolio which I achieved an A for), I will hopefully be able to provide evidence for every advance in this project. Regular blog posts recording my concept developments, production stages and editing processes will hopefully allow for me to demonstrate a good understanding of the requirements of the manage section of the EPQ marking scheme.

More to follow on my development of 'That Short Film'.