I loved all the films at the screening, and I wish I could talk about them here. I probably will, but I haven't had the internet over the past few days (I am typing this from the house of Zachary McSweeney, and we have to leave now, and it is awful.)
Here is the link to the film, now called The Jerk At Work:
I hope you enjoy it.
So, I'm almost paralysed with tiredness after going to work, but I thought I should probably do a quick blog entry before hitting the hay.
In terms of narration, I had spontaneously asked my friend Melissa to read out the lines for our rough cut, but for the actual film we needed to record Adam, who we were introduced to through Ellie as someone who was good at doing a variety of voices.
Through recording Melissa, I learnt that some of the narration (either hastily put together by me or revised by Alex) was difficult to say, or didn't convey the ideas or messages fully. For example, the line "when his colleagues returned, oh how they would squeal!" could be interpreted as Joe's coworkers experiencing excitement or joy instead of anger, and words like 'consternation' also deviated from the Seuss-like effect we were trying to produce (because, honestly, how many picture books have you seen the word consternation in? And if you have, then what the hell are you reading your children?)
Another concern that was raised by our peers in the rough-cut screening was that the narration was a little too sparse for the type of feel we were going for. Although we do need to cut down on some of the scenes in our film, I also thought that the narration could be a little more stretched out, and so thought of things to add to it that would further the story along. I tend to go by the logic that it's better to spend the extra ten seconds recording something you can later take out than be mournfully wishing you'd decided to record something earlier and be left with nothing.
I'd been letting a few different rhymes run through my head over the past few days, but I only wrote out a new version of the narration when I got to the city, half an hour before we were scheduled to meet Adam. (I had less than half an hour, really, because I had to go borrow a H2 Zoom and I also ran into a former classmate in the cafeteria where I was typing). In addition to that, my Mac decided to freeze after I'd written half and I had to do the rest in the edit suites and have Adam read off two separate screens. In the end, though, I feel quite proud of my last minute additions and tweaking.
Alex showed Adam a few different clips of narration styles he would like him to emulate, and Adam simply 'found a voice' and away we were. I was quite amazed by this and he seemed very experienced and professional. We did a few different recordings, or 'takes', as sometimes lines needed to be repeated for different emphasis.
I am going to put this next part in bold as I think it's something that's actually helpful.
An important discovery we made was that the narration was clearer when Adam paused between the sentences, rather than reading it all together like a poem. This was because when he was pausing, his voice remained strong until the final syllable of the sentence. However, when he was carrying on to the next part, his voice often faded away. Most people do this, and I remember teachers in primary school trying to get us to speak clearly and pronounce the last syllable of each sentence, but the reality is that most people will get quieter.
If you're recording narration, get them to pause. It's amazing. (And shitloads easier to edit!)
I'm also glad we used Adam because his voice really brought it all to life, and just listening to him made me filled with excitement and motivation to finish our film (as if the impending deadline wasn't enough-!).
So yes. Peace out until the next update.
I keep believing that I have no time for blogging when in actuality I probably do, but I'm just shying away from the really long ones (and then keep saving them as drafts, etc, to finish later, which looks good to nobody.)
Anyway, here's an update of how we are going with editing:
We will be recording narration tomorrow, which I'm still kind of worried about (I guess I will contact Paul).
Also, Steph and I were messing around with a few scenes yesterday and we got something which we felt was really good. She just told me that after speaking to Alex, though, he's decided that he'll just scrap it if he doesn't like it.
I mean, okay, he is the director, but he's also stated that he's been working on other projects he's been 'behind' on and the deadline is approaching. So I'm feeling sort of pointless because is there any point of me trying to do anything if it'll just be scrapped if it's not what he wants? And in that case, why doesn't he just do it all?
I guess this is how editors must feel all the time, though. A possible impediment to the director's majestic creative vision.
Still, we need to submit something...
1. Colour coordinating your script (when turning scenes into a shot list) is ALWAYS a good idea.
2. Getting Alex to listen to you is easier if you're Ruth Richards that if you're Cassandra Wright.
3. Having an organised first AD is something that you should NEVER, NEVER, EVER take for granted.
4. Ruth is amazing.
These are my complete feelings and sentiments after our day's filming of Office Grinch. I have been blown away by her efficiency and awesomeness.
The edit: the finished product:
made in pre-production (sound pre-production, storyboards, how you dealt with coverage)
documented in shoot by continuity and log sheets
and only finished in post production.
One may not attack their editing methodically enough:
it can get chaotic, confusing, unless you are really well organised
Even in a 5 minute film, most of us cannot retain all the shots in our heads
One of the benefits from digitizing off the tapes is that you are forced to watch every shot all over again.
Auto save vault
HOW TO DO THIS
Create a new folder on your desktop
Call it the name of your film
Put this in the Film-TV1 folder (or it will get trashed)
Fire up final cut
close the last project used (in the tabs) or you could be saving all your work into someone else's project
Every time you open up final cut you must go SHIFT Q
(so all your video and audio filed go to the same place)
Choose DV PAL Animorphic 48 k
The FCP handbook (on the Film Tv blog) shows you in 4 simple steps how you have to start/save your project
Make sure you back up all the digitized footage and the final cut project
On your own computer, the autosave is set to a certain folder. If the server/computer crashes and you haven't been saving, it will have autosaved onto the local computer.
set up the tabs in your project
make a seperate sequence for each scene
File -> New -> Bin (like a folder) ->
(Apple N) for new sequence
logging bins for each scene,
folder for sequences (date modified)
folder for music
log THEN capture
timecode is KING
put your 'in' and 'out' inside the 'start' and 'stop'
'start' (on camera).....then 'in'.....................................then 'out'....then 'stop' (on camera)
You cannot capture the first 5 or 6 seconds of a tape (which is why we have colour bars)
Cut in seperate scenes so you can really analyse how that scene is working
The thumbnail is dictated by the inpoint of the clip
Double click on the shot and open it up in the viewer
Play out the shot.
You can keep hitting i and this will just move the inpoint along
L to fast forward
Hit O for out point
Apple F10 will drop it in and leave playhead at the outpoint of the next shot
Just do rough cuts, leave it
editing scenes seperately gives you the opportunity to be lateral or creative
keyboard shortcuts are incredibly useful, the beauty of reading them means that certain things are really important (and maybe you should think about using them).
I've been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about what Paul said in regards to narration.
It's true that I always had my scepticism when it came to using a narrator in our film, and this was one of the main reasons why I initially did not want to do Office Grinch. However, it was the only film that everyone else in the group seemed to settle upon, so for the sake of choosing a story idea I gave in and we went with it.
Paul's idea was that we scrapped the narration completely, or did two versions (one with the narration, and one without). We had a meeting with him and I didn't say much because I think this project has just taught me to shut up sometimes (since my first outburst in class where I announced that I didn't want to work with Alex). Alex and Ellie enthusiastically defended their ideas about having Ellie's friend Adam perform the narration.
I don't know if either of them really wanted to listen to what Paul was saying, because a) Alex already had his heart set on the concept and b) Ellie already had her heart set on the actor. This isn't a criticism towards them, it's just how it was. Frankly I think the meeting was unproductive except for the fact that it got me thinking. Watching The Inbetweeners (on recommendation from my brother, who said it was "like Skins and Misfits, you know?") brought this home to me, once again.
The fact is that this show (although produced by the same channel in England) was DIFFERENT from Misfits and Skins - vastly different, and I think this boiled down to the narration. This is a show obsessed with showing and not telling. Sure, there are snippets of action, but narration was overused as an easy way to connect scenes and not have to do anything very interesting visually. I did start enjoying the show once I got to Episode 5 of the 1st season, but with other shows it doesn't take me this long. I think it was also because the story wasn't too riveting (although Skins pulled off 'average teenagers' quite well).
I've always been worried that Office Grinch won't have that oomph that we want, and now, it's doubly worrying considering that the guy who wrote it is also turning it into a short film (which is quite annoying, honestly, because we were told that we weren't allowed to do that. If we were, I would have voted for one of the stories from our group, which I liked a lot better).
However, I guess we've just got to plod on with it. With the way it was shot on the day, I don't think it'll make much sense without narration. Besides, I don't really want to fight about it now because I just want it to be done.
On a side note, when we got our folio back Paul made a note about how it was the Producer's job to choose a more achievable script. I don't think this was really that fair. If we were allowed to choose our own groups, then maybe. But with things the way they were, with groups chosen for us - I mean, everyone wanted input into what we chose, because it was a group assignment. In the real world, the producer would hire everyone and tell them what to do, but that wasn't how it was.
I think Alex was right when he said we were all trying to be too friendly to each other, and that maybe it stood in the way of creativity. However, this was the only option we had. What we wanted was too different and the only way to move forward was to compromise. Sure, the finished product might not be exactly what each of us had in mind, but there's also no point in only one person getting their way while others are bitter and resentful about it. We did what we had to do and that is that.
We just have to keep going.
I'm currently watching Hungry Beast's episode on Power, and the segment on Rape in Prisons is one that I think is extraordinarly effective.
Firstly, it started with big white letters spelling out the audio interviews with raped prisoners.
This was scary because we couldn't see who they were, and therefore felt more connected to them, but also because we could see the words appearing on the screen on a black background.
The music used was menacing, the shots of the prison were often wide and empty. Combined with the very serious subject matter and expert opinion, this made me genuinely frightened and concerned for the prisoners involved.
I think that Hungry Beast is an effective show because it contrasts humorous clips with serious ones such as these for even greater impact.
I originally started writing this as a blow-by-blow account of what happened to us this fateful weekend, from the time we picked up the equipment until now (we are still filming the final scenes, but I felt it was important to get some sort of a record down.) Filming has been going much better than we expected, and the most beneficial thing from a post like this would probably be quick points of where we went wrong and where we went right. So here goes.
THE NIGHT BEFORE:
It was slightly difficult to get everything into Alex's car. In the future it'd probably be a good idea to have two cars being loaded. The plus side of this was that we thought hard about the equipment we REALLY needed and didn't just take unnecessary equipment.
There was also only one camera left and we had to wait for Robin's tute to return it to the tech's office before we could use it. This did change our schedule a little but but an advantage to it was having that tute test out all the equipment for us, so we didn't need to test it ourselves. Ally 'crashed' the tute to oversee this process and make sure our equipment would be okay.
Choosing to do a film in an office probably wasn't ideal, and our setting was really in a large office, not a small one attached to a carpet shop. But we made this work, and I think having my dad working here (and able to stay til 10pm with us on Friday night - he was willing to stay even later - and all day today) was a big advantage because otherwise we would really be putting somebody out. Also, the staff today were incredibly accommodating of us, even giving up their kitchen space for us to use, and I thought this was amazing.
By the time we got to Hoppers Crossing (the location of our shoot) it was already about 7pm. Alex and I were then hungry so we went to Maccas and got dinner, and when Ellie got here she also went to get dinner. This was understandable - we had to eat - but we probably should have organised it so we wasted less time. We had a lot to do and then had to stay til 10, and everyone was a bit tired the next day (and also, Alex had over an hour to drive to go home). Bringing something to eat for dinner would have been a lot quicker.
ON THE DAY:
Script/shotlist: We hadn't yet collected our folio back from Paul and so talent & location forms had to be redone as well as a shot schedule to the new revised script Alex had released a day before (phew!). This was a little bit stressful but got done.
I structured things so everything that took place downstairs would happen before lunch, and then all the office stuff would take place after lunch. This was so we wouldn't have to move everything from upstairs to downstairs all the time. However, Alex wasn't happy with this, and I just couldn't get through to him. Fortunately Ruth managed to talk him around.
Noise: Carpet Court was kinda noisy! There was just so much going on downstairs, as the shop was still open. Also, some of the footage had noise recorded in it.
Be prepared: The biggest mistake was that, halfway through the shoot, we ran out of batteries for the mic. We couldn't find the spares and I was completely freaking out, so we had to record the end without sound - which would have been disastrous if it was a 'talking' film. Luckily, we have no dialogue, but Steph is going to have to do a shitload in post production :\
Through the pre-production of this film I have come to realise quite a few things about myself & my peers, as well as film-making as a whole.
Surprisingly they are not just the things you expect to learn, such as how to use a camera or what bounce boards are (although these are very valuable lessons in themselves).
This abridged quote, from Ira Glass, and the video it comes from, really speaks to me at the moment. For those of you who don't know, Glass is the presenter of This American Life, a radio program with an audience of over 1.7 million, broadcast on over 500 radio stations (we even listened to it in class last year). He is a big deal, a successful radio personality - someone inspirational, and so his words have a profound impact.
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.
I think this links in to what Paul has been telling us, about our expectations, but this puts another twist on it by saying that it is OKAY for us to have these expectations, to want to create amazing things, and to be unsatisfied with poor quality work that we produce, because we have this taste.
I've been thinking about this ever since someone pointed out on Facebook that the short film is only worth 40% of our mark (half of which is self assessed) and yet I'm dedicating more time and energy to this project than any other subject (and also to my blog! which is worth more, really.)
Also, it's been something I've been really stressed about, to the point of panic, procrastination and the incapability for coherent thought. I realise though that this comes from a deep-seated fear of failure, and this is something that most of us share. We want something that we can not only be proud of and show off, but fulfills our own expectations and satisfies our own wishes and desires.
This is only my first film. I want it to be the first of many projects, instead of giving up.
Also, in terms of university - yes, I am finding it difficult. I am poor. I am very pressed for time. But if I look at myself and the life I lead, it's easy to see how much money and time I actually waste: I went to Groovin the Moo yesterday which not only cost around $135 for the ticket but required us to stay overnight in the city so we could catch the 7.15 train on Saturday morning (as we otherwise wouldn't have gotten to Southern Cross on time, from Frankston) and also recklessly spent money on overpriced junk food and alcohol. I didn't need to do this, but I did. Yes, I wanted to see the Wombats (who were amazing!) and the festival was a good chance to see a lot of bands together, like Washington, Architecture In Helsinki and Gotye, but it wasn't necessary to my life.
I know I'm only nineteen, and there is this constant thought that if I don't live my life now, while i'm 'young', then I will somehow miss out and have to grow up and be forever unfulfilled. However, I need to have priorities and make sacrifices. Sure, it's good to have some sort of a life and see friends (who all complain that I never have time to see them, anyway), but I need to be doing things for me and making choices for me, and spending more time on things that I can be proud of. (Also, getting healthier would be good, because I feel pretty awful today.)
Thank you, Ira Glass. And in terms of our lives? Well, "if this is a rom-com, then kill the director".
The video can be found here.
I had never digitized raw footage before, so I was a little nervous. I also thought I'd made a big mistake with it when I realised I couldn't hear anything, but it actually turns out that Alex forgot to record with sound.
I could blame myself for not checking, however when I asked if he needed any help with the camera he told me that it wasn't his "first time at the rodeo" and that he was fine.
Luckily, we have a silent film.