updated: Mon 22 June @ 2:38pm -- Added Dramatic Scene #4 link from Vimeo.
Well, well.. We've come to the end - in terms of this blog series and also the semester. It's been one heck of a two-termed period. So I'm concluding it by discussing some things behind the latest pieces that I've made. In particular, I'll be talking about the last four pieces that I have produced for assessment - in BDM234, including: The Demise of CUE (News), Stalker (Horror), Cooking (3rd Showcase Piece) + Dramatic Scene #4 (Table Play).
The Demise of CUE
Known now as one of the most controversial pieces that I've ever done (as of 21 June 2015), The Demise of CUE is the little gem that allowed me to go back to the days of Newsweek. As one could pick out, the cinematography within the piece aligns itself with the modern standard of current affairs programming.
However, saying that, one thing that I enjoyed and will probably have to continue working on is lighting set-ups for interior interviews/pieces. As a person who watches a wide range of programming, when possible, I've been getting a glimpse at how the Aussies do their thing by watching ABC's The Killing Season.
Knowing that there is, of course, a technical limitation on creating a masterpiece lighting setup like the one above (due to lack of range of equipment) - it still gets me to build a desire in getting a shot like this.
We can see that, if drawn (can probably add this later - during semester break), there are three segments, split by clear 180º lines, seperating the lighting rigs, the interviewer + interviewee and finally, the cameras.
Now, of course, what would be the SIT-equivilent to Dedo lights, on C-stands and flagged off using barn-doors, are acting as the fill lights for both people. All of this, whilst individual Pro-lights - set to Spotlight - light up parts of the curtains at the back of the studio and neatly contrast the main subjects (Pro-lights/Dedos[?] also used for backlight, detailing side-figures of subjects).
Apart from that, there isn't much more to decypher from that. This was a great piece to work on.
watch: The Demise of CUE on Vimeo
Right from the get-go, perspective and composition (framing) was important to me when developing the pre-production paperwork and the execution of shooting of this Horror Genre exercise. This was especially the case after being inspiried from the work of Mark Borchardt's Coven, which I've been given the task to argue for the filmmaker being a sufficient-enough person to base my ideas from - by, you guessed it, the only reader of this blog: Patrick Gillies.
Cult filmmaker, Mark Borchardt, is known for creating Coven (2000) and being the star subject of documentary American Movie (1999).
Although his directorial filmography extends to Coven and a few short films which no one has really seen in its full entirety, all of the Horror genre - one could effectively take part of his craft seriously as he both understands the tropes/conventions of the genre, due to viewings of both popular + underground horror films during his childhood years (as discussed by his other syblings in American Movie), and knows on how to execute them well on his own films.
One of the aspects of Mark's work that I was heavily influenced by was the genre's grungy/underground 90s look to the picture - the striking high contrast between light and dark, which both hid and enhanced certain details to keep the audience at bay as to what they could see.
Borchardt's particular detail to the composition/framing of his work, seen in parts of this trailer, stuck with me as well - especially when it came to the framing of the extreme wide shot of our protagonist walking into the park (which distorted the perspective of the trees [iconically scary/haunting in horror films]), the wide shot of her in between gates and the shots of her walking with the camera behind trees (fore/background elements creating three-dimensional space)
watch: Stalker on YouTube
Now of course, this piece was the epitome of what the requirement of the third showcase piece was - as per the description of what to provide:
a complete, narratively coherent, video item of your choice
(minimum of 6 set-ups).
But with that in mind - the elements of cinematography that I took seriously within this hilarious piece of work were the different set-ups of the initial process of getting the dish ready (before cooking), lighting of the first scene (both inside and outside) and the sequencing of the entire piece which made everything flow naturally.
I was initally inspired by a documentary series on BBC Four, which, without narration, screened the Handmade manufactoring of three different goods - Glass, Metal + Wood. The fact that each individual set-up had their own dedicated part of the making of household items gave me the idea of doing the same thing - but doing it with Tyler Baikie making some god-awful eggs.
Although I was passably happy with the outcome in the end, I do have some regrets. For the kitchen, there was only two lights at play here. A dedo was heightened, with the Lux @ 100%, to the roof and allowed light to bounce off and light the room alright. The other light came from a weak source, the cooking extractor-fan, which was bounced off the reflective material, known as aluminium foil. If I were to shoot this again - I'd want to use more lighting, just so that the footage didn't have as much grain as it does.
Talking about the raw footage, I was uncomfortable with the grading of the piece (partially due to the fact that we weren't really taught how to grade and how to do it properly) as the problems that arose from this probably came down to two factors. First, the Blackmagic's terrible way on getting its operators to perform a simple White Balance. Finally, the fact that I was shooting using the Film color spec and not Video (which I hear is conformed to the Rec 709 color space).
P.S: Hearing that Tyler has been somewhat delivered Withdrawl Papers from SIT after poor attendance, this is one of the many videos that him and myself have made throughout the year that I'll remember him by (that's if he doesn't come back next semester/year)
watch: Cooking on YouTube
Dramatic Scene #4
Firstly, I would like to say that everyone who worked on this test production did an amazing job - as the performances were great and I was happy with the shots that I got at the end of the day. However, that isn't me saying that there isn't anything wrong with it - as there is a few things that I have to disclose, surrounding my thoughts about the piece.
If one has a look at the pre-production paperwork that I carried out before I started shooting it - Scene 1 wasn't officially carried out - hence it isn't within the final piece. There are a couple reasons for why this occured, the major one being the bitchy attitude of the weather - as its behaviour was incredibly temperamental. The minor reason would be due to the schedule, as we quickly ran out of time.
Another criticism to myself that I had, especially within the editing stage, was that I had too much coverage within one/two of the scenes (both based in Kitchen). There was a variety of angles to choose from, which is great - but having to piece them together to reach the required amount of set-ups to be in the final edit, (including me having to create beats/pace between actions) it was something that I could have avoided all together by minimizing the amount of set-ups. This inheritly affected the point addressed in the previous paragraph.
Apart from the points above - I'm happy with the work that I've created in the end and will probably use this in the future as I plan to rework parts of the latter parts of the script and send it off to the NZFC's Fresh Shorts programme. Although I wonder if they'd ever think about funding the next Once Were Warriors, or if they'd just keep away from anything negative about NZ Life.
watch: Dramatic Scene #4 on Vimeo
Final Comments to Consider
To prevent the pushing back of assessments (which caused hell this year), please test your proposed schedule in an modelled experiment so that things align themselves in a way where students can get each assignment done with enough time to reach their full creative potential.
Remember, working in the industry is better than doing a student project at a film school because you can put all of your heart and soul into a short film without being bombarded by other papers/projects.
Apart from that - at the very least, I had a good time.