Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Treatment Planning 2 - Cinematography


This post includes information on the shots and other filming elements I hope to include in my film.

-Casting: Two characters, either a boy and a girl or two boys are the most likely casting choices.
-Location: Either in a hall, located at my previous primary school. Or, in and outside a Church. Both of these locations are readily accessible to me, I just need to decide which is most appropriate - a location recce of each could be carried out.
-Costume: I don't think the costume will matter too much, as long as it portrays the character of each individual somewhat.
-Lighting : With a strong link between my project and film noir already, I hope to film with lighting constantly in mind, as I will be overlaying the footage with a black and white filter in post production.
-Non-verbal language: This is vital for my film. There will be no - or at least very little - dialogue in the sequence. Thus, the story must be told through filming and the characters' actions.

-Shot distance: This will vary from long shots (LS), mid-long shots (MLS) and close-ups (CU). This will enable me to incorporate a good representation of the location, scenario and character actions.
-Shot types: There are limited shots I can actually make use of during the production of this film, for I do not have all the equipment a professional film would. But, I am able to produce POV shots, over-the-shoulder shots and hopefully tracking shots (dependant on availability of equipment).
-Camera angle: Camera angle is very important in connoting a sense of power differentiation between two characters. A character seen in a higher position in frame is often the most dominant individual in that scenario.
-Camera movement: Kassovitz makes sure very few of his shots lack movement; he does not often allow for static shots of characters. I would like to incorporate a bit of both in my film - fluid movement in shots but also static ones to enable the audience to view everything. Tracking shots, pans and tilts are the most simple forms of camera movements; these will be included. One of my favourite shots from 'Fierrot Le Pou' is the 180 degrees arc shot and so I would like to replicate this, if it is possible.

-SFX: Natural sounds will be included throughout the sequence. It may be necessary to include one or two audio clips that will have to be recorded especially. This can be helped by the use of including audio files found on FreeSound.com in the post production process.
-Dialogue: There will be virtually no element of conversation in my short film.
-Soundtrack: I would like to include a soundtrack somewhere in my film. It is most likely that this would be towards the end of the short.

Editing/Post Production
-Cuts: I cannot say anything significant about the cuts I will use in my film. The cutting rate will most likely support one character more than the other; connoting that the audience is positioned with them as the main protagonist.
-Sequence type: The film will be a continuity sequence.
-Screen time: One character will be prioritised more than the other. I would say that one character will occupy about three quarters of screen time, whereas the other will only be seen in a quarter of the whole film's length.
-Post production: A black and white overlay is the most visibly noticeable part of post production I am hoping to carry out. Titles, credits and sound editing is also included in this heading. Cuts, transitions and trimming is also a part of what I hope to achieve in editing. I will be using either Adobe Premiere Elements or Windows Live Movie Maker. I am confident using both programmes, it just depends on practicality. I only have access to the more professional Elements at school.

Next, I will fill out a post that presents a storyboard of my film's treatment.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Treatment Planning 1 - First Plot Ideas


This post is the first in a series of short updates this week regarding the content of my film. There will be one post each for plot ideas, shots, storyboarding and casting/call sheets/schedule of sessions.

As my research into Film Noir, Mathieu Kassovitz, 'La Haine', 'Fierrot Le Pou' and different short films has come to an end, the last task I must carry out before setting out to film my piece over the summer is to actually develop a treatment.
After all of this, I have narrowed it down to two ideas for my film:

1) A comedy short of two individuals with contrasting talents at musical instruments.

2) A comedy short portraying a nervous, entertaining character attempting to talk to another.

These rough treatment ideas are most likely going to be subject to change over the coming week, but this is what I have thought up so far.

Next, I will discuss the cinematography I hope to incorporate into my film.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Gantt Chart (1)


This post summarises my plans for the future of this project in a gantt chart I have been developing throughout the planning stage so far. Another post showing my gantt chart will be uploaded in September.

As the school term is almost over now - one week remaining - I thought it would be a good idea to make a record of my gantt chart on the blog. I have completed the preliminary part of it, and I am almost finished in the research element too.
The chart provides me with a categorised, grouped timetable of tasks I have completed and tasks I am yet to do, with a note of when I plan to do it and when I actually do it. This, I hope, will benefit my grade in the planning and organisation part of the EPQ marking system.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Film Content Development - Linking my Film to 'Fierrot Le Pou' (Kassovitz, 1990)


This post gathers all I have found from analysing 'Fierrot Le Pou' and explains how the short will serve the final production of my film.

This film is only six minutes long (excluding titles and credits), which is approximately the length I intend my video to last for. In this amount of time, Kassovitz does not waste a single shot. He tells the story with every single camera shot he uses, in developing the two characters especially. It is fascinating to review his films, and I believe that his is one of his best quality productions for the amount of filmic techniques he manages to fit into such a short amount of time.

The title for this film does not have a direct translation into English. Despite this, it is quite easy to understand the plot as there is no dialogue and Kassovitz's use of camera techniques immediately allows the audience to make sense of the genre and scenario. A rough treatment for the piece would be; a man in a gym who is not very talented at basketball attempts to impress a woman who is much better than him. During the time they are both practicing in the gym, the male protagonist psyches himself up before shooting and scoring. He appears proud before he messes up the next shot.

Kassovitz introduces the male protagonist (himself) in this shot. In this one frame alone, there are many cinematic devices present. There is rule of thirds in the composition of the windows and the hoop horizontally as well as the windows and Kassovitz vertically. Mise-en-scene in the form of non-verbal body language and costume portrays the protagonist as shy but confident in his ability as he is dressed in sportswear. I would certainly like to use rule of thirds in my film; I believe it is a simple yet effective element of cinematography in creating a professional-looking production.

This tracking shot introduces the second character in the film; a female basketball player. As I have mentioned before, Kassovitz does not waste a shot. Here, he introduces the new character - who is portrayed in a way that conforms to Todorov's theory of narrative equilibrium because she acts as an obstacle in the protagonist's line of action. She appears more prepared than Kassovitz is and therefore he must try harder to impress her. This is all connoted in a small number of CUs of her and her appearance.

The use of an interior location obviously serves a number of purposes. It is a lot easier to manage factors affecting filming, such as lighting and natural sound. But here, the setting is very simple and Kassovitz left himself the task of making this work effectively and entertaining too. The large area connotes the large gap between the two characters' ability at basketball. They are the only two individuals in a large open space which presents them as open to each other's judgement and competition.

I really admire this shot. The framing used enables Kassovitz to include two lines of action; himself in the background attempting and failing, along with just repetitive shots by the female constantly succeeding. This shot is simple to set-up, however it is Kassovitz's creativity that made it possible. It is not an obvious shot to create, yet he thought it would fit suitably to the narrative. Once again, I would like to recreate a shot similar to this. The composition of it is simple again, with rule of thirds present once more.

With this POV shot, we are introduced to something new by Kassovitz. His previous shots were all rather objectifying of the characters; the audience watched them from a distance. This shot represents the viewer as part of the narrative - from the protagonist's viewpoint. From a higher angle above the female character here, we are almost observing her actions and contemplating as Kassovitz's character would in the actual situation. It is simple yet powerful filming from the director once again.

Kassovitz does not often make use of close-ups in his films, he is somehow able to develop a character without the frequent use of CUs on characters' faces. However, this big close-up is very effective in portraying a number of feelings and developing the audience's attitudes towards the protagonist. His face fills the screen, with his non-verbal language connoting multiple feelings. It is a powerful shot and I would like to recreate it in the character development stage of my film.

This shot is great. A 180 degrees panning shot takes the audience all the way around Kassovitz, from him watching the female character to him eyeing-up the hoop. This camera movement allows the audience to look at the protagonist from every angle in one swift shot. It is a shot that builds up suspense in the audience as to what will happen next. I believe that it would be too difficult to reimagine for me.

A classic dolly zoom towards the hoop is used by Kassovitz here. It is nothing different to other dolly zooms from films elsewhere but it illustrates again how efficient Kassovitz is as a director; he does not waste a single shot. The shot keeps the hoop and backboard all in frame throughout which is quite tricky to do. Unfortunately, I do not think I will be able to create a dolly zoom in my film. They are certainly one of my favourite camera shots but I simply do not know how to use the camera and track this way yet.

This is a tracking shot tracks backwards, away from Kassovitz. It is very effective mainly because of the previous shot. The dolly zoom tracked towards the focal point whereas the very next shot tracks away from it. This movement maintains the fluid movements Kassovitz uses in his films.
Another BCU here, this time focusing on the female character's expression. As Kassovitz uses a reaction shot here, we are introduced to the nature of the second character for the first time really. It is unclear who Kassovitz wants the audience to sympathise with in the film, although the indicators do suggest it is him, the male protagonist. This is because he occupies the most screen time as well as motivating cuts.

This shot is really impressive. A combination of movement, post production, lighting and action here creates a very dramatic shot. As the enthused Kassovitz leaps to take his shot, the camera follows him - in slow motion - in the air and lighting coming from outside flashes behind the figure. It is a very different shot to what is previously used in the sequence. It is quite difficult to make sense of exactly how he filmed the shot; was it with track?

Upon landing, cheers can be heard. During Kassovitz's leap in the previous shot, extra-diegetic sfx were audible for the first time in the sequence. In this shoot - after he lands - applause is introduced as an extra-diegetic element. This is quite a surprise for the audience, who have become accustom to virtually silence in the previous five and a half minutes. I think sound could be quite an effective device if I managed to shoot a sequence and only introduce sound towards the end.

Kassovitz ends with him looking back gleefully at the female character. Despite him looking very close to the actual camera, the fourth wall is never broken in this short film. This shot portrays the success of the adventure his character undertook through this film. The shot is designed to encourage the audience to smile and admire his pride. Subtly, Kassovitz tells the moral story that if one strives hard enough, one will attain the reward they hoped for. Albeit not for very long in this case, as Kassovitz then misses his next shot and the credits roll.

This film was very enjoyable to watch, for me. The plot as much as anything is simple but ingenious. The cinematography that Mathieu Kassovitz employs in the space of just over six minutes is inspirational. Certainly, it has inspired me - I hope a lot of similarities between my film and Fierrot Le Pou can be identified in the final product.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Film Content Development - Linking my Film to 'La Haine' (Kassovitz, 1995)


This post gathers all I have found from researching 'La Haine' and explains how the film will serve the final production of my short film.

The group of three meet with another minor character.
As La Haine was a one-off film representing something that happened in real life, Kassovitz had to previsualise his techniques for filmmaking before shooting actually begun. Interestingly, despite the event in reality being surrounded by just one specific narrative - the riots as a result of police injustice - Kassovitz explored more than one story in the film. This is a very hard thing to maintain in a ninety-minute feature film. I believe that he achieved this through continuously changing the filming styles and techniques. There are some shots that are used more than once in La Haine, but the frequent alteration between MLS and tracking, between BCUs of the characters' faces and cutting on action - this contributes to the fantastic narrative of the film. I hope to incorporate this style of filmmaking. I believe that it will aid me in proving my filming talent as well as maintaining an enjoyable, professional narrative.

Mathieu Kassovitz claims he knew the ending to La Haine before he knew the rest of the story - "everything is about the end, the last few seconds" [Kassovitz, 1999]. I feel a lot more confident actually filming something rather than developing a narrative or treatment. Despite this, I hope to have previsualised the storyline of my short film before the summer holidays in order to maximise the amount of time I have for filming.

I admire Kassovitz's use of merging Vinz's fingers with the barrel of the gun here.  Not only is it hard to tell whether it is a use of CGI or just a custom-made prop, it is simple and potentially unnoticeable upon first viewing, but very effective in developing a hostile atmosphere.

It is very interesting to see Kassovitz not use a single character to drive the narrative in the film. Instead, La Haine is a story of three characters. It is never clear whether one of the three protagonists is given priority. The film begins and ends with Said's eyes opening and closing; the narration at the end is provided by Hubert and Vinz is shown alone more than the others. I believe that this helps to make the film so powerful in representing all those affected by the riots - not one single person should have been portrayed as it was an event that influenced many. I think my film will focus on only two or three characters too. This is obviously an easier decision in creating a plot and providing an simpler task in logistics - casting fewer people means that it is a lot more straight forward in finding time to shoot with all characters.

My early decision to produce a film noir sequence was influenced by this film. As one of my favourite films, I have to explain what about it makes it one of my most memorable watches. The fact that the entire film was shot in colour but Kassovitz then decided to print the filmstock in black and white is very effective. He claimed that this fitted the story much better and I would agree with this statement.

Kassovitz clearly prioritised framing when designing specific shots.
In conclusion, I believe that La Haine will greatly influence the style of filming I undertake in creating my short film. His cinematography in the film inspires me to take his approach and make something new out of it. 'Fierrot Le Pou' will be heavily linked to the narrative/plot of my short film...

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Initial Planning and Proposal A


This post is designed to conclude upon what I hope to take out of the initial planning review session I have scheduled with my project supervisor in a week's time.

At the very least, I would definitely hope to have confirmed my project's title by the end of Thursday.

I would also like to have reviewed my research that has taken place since my trip to Sussex University's library.

I have begun the development of a gantt chart in the past few days. This spreadsheet is designed to record when I have planned to carry out a task and then when I have actually completed this. It will greatly help me in staying organised but will also aid me in visualising what must be done to reach a deadline. I would like to review this chart in the session in order to evaluate whether or not my time schedule is appropriate/achievable.

Finally, I hope to set-up a critical analysis chart. This will enable me to make use of secondary research sources with greater contextual knowledge. As every source I have used so far is recorded in my bibliography, it would be necessary to make an analysis chart to assess the credibility and importance of each, too.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Influences 1 - Research into 'La Haine' and 'Fierrot Le Pou'


After completing my Sussex University library trip write-up, I decided that the last research I should analyse two films created earlier on in Mathieu Kassovitz's career as a film director. These films - 'La Haine' and 'Fierrot Le Pou' have greatly influenced my planning in generating inspiration for camera shots and plot structure.