This is my first year at Queens University Belfast. I first began my university journey in September 2016 to study Film Studies. In this post I will be showing you what went into the making of our first two films I helped to create in this course. During the two films I worked with Ben Ross, Jenna Mealiff and Jack Tollerton. Our project brief was to come up with two scripts that were associated with the terms ‘Order’ and ‘Chaos’ that would be feasible in order to make a 1minute and 30 second film. Ben and Jack’s scripts were selected for our group. Bens script ‘For a Future’ related with the theme ‘Chaos’ and Jack’s script ‘Chairs’ related with the theme ‘Order’. Once the scripts were selected each of us decided on a role that we would take on whilst filming. We first started with our pre-production which meant we needed to take care of locations, actors and admin etc. Next was the production process which is when we were out on set and is when a film comes to life. Finally, we headed onto the postproduction which meant we had to edit the film and do colour correcting to create the film the way it was envisioned.
My role in ‘For a Future’ was Producer and Editor and for our film ‘Chairs’ I was the Director. I decided to take on the role as producer as I have had quite a bit of experience in organising productions before. As producer I first went through the script and discussed it with the director (Ben). We discussed what he had visualised the characters to look like and how their personalities would be so I could write up an advertisement for actors. Below I have included two screenshots of the advertisements I posted onto some film groups that I am apart of (Figure 1 and Figure 2).
Using this method of advertising allowed us to reach a large audience within our local area, we got many responses by using this method. Any applications I got back I forwarded onto the group so we could discuss who we thought would be best for what part. We ended up picking two characters for ‘For a Future’ James McAnespy and Andy Boyd. We also used James as our caretaker for ‘Chairs’. Next on our agenda was to find and book locations. For ‘For a future’ Jenna and I went a walk around Belfast and Botanic to find a suitable location for our film. While we were out I took some pictures of locations to forward onto the rest of the group. Our group decided on a seminar room located right beside the reception for Film and Drama. This location was really convenient and it had everything we were looking for. We also provided food for our actors and ensured restrooms were nearby. For ‘Chair’s’ I emailed the technician for our course to book out the film studio which fortunately was available on the day we needed it. Jack also helped me out producing as he filled out the forms to collect the equipment and also completed a risk assessment. The last step I took before moving onto our actual production was to create call sheets to forward onto both our actors which included all the details needed for that day. An example of both call sheets are shown below (Figure 3 and Figure 4);
The filming process took place on the 30th November and 1st December. Our first shoot was for ‘For a Future’. At the start of the day the crew arrived half an hour earlier than the actors to gather the equipment and set up our location. We used the front window of the building and made it look like a jewellery shop window, Jenna was in charge of setting this up. Below is an image of her final design (Figure 5);
When the actors arrived I went through the scripts and got them to act out the scene. It allows them to become comfortable with each other before they go on set. When we got round to filming I took notes of all our takes as I was also editing this film. It is important for the editor to remember about continuity in the scene so the editing will seem invisible as editing is described as the ‘invisible art’. During the filming we took a lot of handheld shots and POV’s to make the film seem a lot more realistic and exciting. A familiar example of this is in the Omaha Beech scene in Saving Private Ryan (1998) where Spielberg uses a lot of POV and handheld shots to present chaos within the scene. We were also influenced by the robbers in Home Alone (1990). The two robbers in Home alone gave us ideas of how we wanted Josh to act at the start; nervous and uncertain.
During the production of ‘Chairs’ I was the Director. My job was to visualise the film and structure it to the way I wanted it. This was my first time directing a film which was not only my own so I had to communicate effectively in order to inform the actors and crew what was expected off them. We were inspired by a scene in Shaun of the Dead (2004) which used a lot of frantic zooms and quick cuts. However, when we came to filming I decided to avoid using quick zooms as I felt if they were done incorrectly they would look quite amateurish. We had a lot of montage scenes within this film so we had to repeat a lot of the same scenes over and over again. We also decided that we could use this film in quite a comedic way since there was no actual dialogue so I asked the actor if he could act like those in Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) films, very expressively.
Jack took on the role to edit ‘Chairs’ and I took on the role to edit ‘For a Future’. Editing was the role I was most looking forward to as I have had experience in it before and is something I wish to pursue a career in. To edit ‘For a Future’ I used Final Cut Pro X that is installed on my laptop. I am using this software because it is a step up from iMovie and I have been using it for a couple of years now so I am quite familiar with it. When I was editing I was influenced by the movie Saving Private Ryan (1998). This movie also used the Bleach Bypass effect with high exposure and low contrast. I decided to imitate the look of Saving Private Ryan, since it is a well established thriller action movie and is a perfect film to aspire to, especially since it is within our chosen genre. Below you will be able to see a screenshot from my final edit (figure 6):
I really enjoyed taking part in this project. I feel like our films were successful but if I could go back I would amend some things and do them differently. In the film ‘For a Future’ I would have liked to add in a significant shot of our Jewellery shop. I feel it could have been made out a lot more obvious what the two thieves were going to steal. However, I did like the fact that we decided to use a long take of outside the building and add in some non-diegetic sound to let the audience interpret what was going on. This scene was similar to one in the film Unforgiven (1992), Clint Eastwood used the same kind of effect when Morgan Freeman was getting whipped while the rest of the town were standing outside listening to the slashes but they weren’t able to see what was happening. ‘Chairs’ was my first time directing a film so I definitely improved my leadership and communication skills. I had to be confident when telling people what to do and ensure I was appropriately communicating with the actors if I wanted to make any changes.
Links to the two films are attached below;