Researching my practitioners:
BRYAN ELSLEY –
Bryan Elsley was born on 17th May 1961. Elsley co-created the famous British teen-drama ‘Skins’ with his son Jamie Brittain. He had a role as a producer on the show from 2007-2013.
Easley started out by taking an English and History course at the University of York and graduated with a B.A. in 1982. While he was a student there he met and worked with Harry Enfield, who also appeared as one of the characters in the TV show ‘Skins,’ and directed two episodes from the first series, titled ‘Chris’ and ‘Tony.’ At university, they created a comedy duo named ‘Dusty and Dick’ and performed a sell-out show at the ‘Edinburgh Festival Fringe’.
After university, Elsley went into theatrical writing, later taking up television writing after splitting from his duo with Enfield. Easley became artistic director for three years at the ‘Pocket Theatre,’ Cumbria which was based at Kendal’s Brewery Arts Centre. During this same period, he was also writing episodes for TV shows such as ‘Casualty’ and ‘London’s Burning’.
An opportunity was opened up when the BBC commissioned Elsley to adapt Iain Bank’s novel ‘The Crow Road’.
After this, he went on to create and produce the British teen-drama series, ‘Skins.’ He announced on 18th March 2010 that the final episode of series 4 would be his last as writer.
How the work of my practitioner will effect my film (analysis of work):
The Skins TV series relates to the work I’m doing in quite a few aspects; It connects to British teen culture with a somewhat realistic feel, however, it is dramatised to quite an extent. Each circumstance the characters are put through pushes the boundaries of reality just enough, but never crosses them which stops the programme from becoming silly. As well as this, the programme doesn’t skirt the topic of death, however it focuses more on the shock factor that the subject brings. For instance, one character dies unexpectedly from a genetic condition that effects the brain and another endures a brutal death at the hand of a jealous man, competing for the affection of a girl named Effy. These unforeseen events keep the audience latched onto the programme because it shakes them up, especially as the character’s who generally go through these experiences, are loved and well known by fans.
STEVEN B. POSTER –
Steven B. Poster was born on 1st March 1994. He was the cinematographer for the cult classic film ‘Donnie Darko’ which is the work I will be focusing when referring to him.
Poster’s first job was at a production company based in Chicago, Illinois called ‘The Film Group.’ He had a role as a creative assistant. During his time at the company, he was moved up to the position of director of photography thanks to his skills with lighting. After his time at ‘The Film Group,’ Poster founded a production company with the director, Michael Mann. He worked on multiple films as cinematographer throughout his time in the company.
In 1987, Poster joined the American Society of Cinematographers. He shot the music video for Madonna’s Like a Prayer after he moved to Hollywood.
He was awarded the ASC Award in 1988 for his Outstanding Achievement in Theatrical Releases for his work on the film ‘Someone to Watch Over Me.’ Poster was president of the ASC from 2002 to 2003.
Poster received an Emmy nomination in 2006 for his work on the film ‘Mrs.Harris.’ Again, in 2006, he was nominated as the National President of the International Cinematographers Guild, still holding that title to this day (2017).
Researching my competition:
I have found two staff picked films from the vimeo website as that is the outcome I am aiming for with my film:
After looking through the staff picks in the narrative storyline category, I found the two above short films: ‘O Negative’ and ‘It Eats You Up.’
Both films use sound to create a world through someone else’s eyes – what the character hears and experiences. In O Negative, sound is used to make the film tense and adds an eery atmosphere. There is little to no dialogue which makes the main character’s isolation from humanity more apparent.
In ‘It Eats You Up,’ there is practically no dialogue until the last scene. This creates suspense and drama because it builds the whole film up to that point. As well as this, although you can’t hear what the main character is thinking in the scenes with no dialogue, you can see that she is swamped in her thoughts as she makes her way to her destination.
As for the colouring of the films, they are quite different from each other except the last scene in ‘It Eats You Up’ is more similar to the whole of the ‘O Negative’ short film; O Negative is predominately green and yellow which creates a cold, sickly, horror movie feeling to it, which is just as well considering one of the characters is a vampire. In ‘It Eats You Up,’ the colouring is a lot warmer until the final scene which is an icy blue which helps to highlight the sad circumstances that the characters are meeting in.
Researching my target audience:
My target audience is late teens to young adults (17-21 year olds) (a similar audience to that of E4 where the TV series, ‘Skins’ was aired).
People in my target audience are likely to be living in England; My short film will appeal to young Brits because it relates somewhat to the drug and party culture of our younger members of society – go hard or go home, but obviously with a more sinister twist.
However, my short film will probably attract females more than males purely because the storyline’s two main characters are both girls. Although, the nod to teen culture in England could help in drawing in male audience members.
Generally, the beliefs and values of my target audience would say that killing is wrong, especially if it is carried out in cold blood. However, I believe my target audience would be more lenient towards the use of drugs as it is a popular part of party culture in the UK.
My target audience would probably come under C1, C2 and D social groups from the Social Grade (ABCs) chart. This is the same for the younger people included in the target audience’s age group; They are likely to be living with parents in the social grades of C1, C2 and D. The characters in my short film relate mostly to those in social grade D (semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers) as they are living independently but only getting by with a low paying job and an altogether small income. However, the dramatic storyline will bring in other audiences (C1 and C2) who would be attracted to the TV series (if my film were to become a TV series) aspect of it – something interesting to watch after a day at work/school.
The Explorer and The Reformer.
Promotion of my short film will be across multiple social media platforms which will again appeal to my target audience who are the main advocates of these particular websites. Most of my target audience will be using social media sites on a daily basis making it a lot easier to spread word of the short film.
Researching any legal or ethical issues related to my idea:
Almost at the very beginning of my short film, a murder will take place. The crime will be carried using a handgun.
In the UK, it is legal to own a sporting rifle or shotgun but it is illegal, almost without exception, to own a handgun. In 1998, an act was passed to prevent people from being able to have private ownership of a handgun. The act came after the Dunblane School Massacre of 1996 in which 16 school children and 1 teacher were killed. In my film, the character will most likely have the hand gun illegally.
There are multiple reasons behind owning a gun: for sport, for safety, because of its value (historic origins, etc), because of its rarity, etc. However, many disagree with anyone owning or having access to a gun because there is always the question of whether the owner plans to use it for unlawful acts.
The legality of using guns in a film:
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, (concerning the use of weapons and/or firearms* in film, TV and theatre) states that an assessment should be carried out by employers to:
- Assess the risk to employees and others who may be affected by their activities.
- Determine the control measures necessary to avoid risk or reduce it to acceptable levels.
The producer who is in control of a production is responsible for making sure that there are arrangements to:
- Co-ordinate safety
- Direct action sequences safely
- Exchange information with others including the person in control of the weapon and other contractors , premises managers, freelancers and the self-employed.
*Firearms includes live weapons, air weapons, blank firing weapons, imitation firearms, replica firearms and deactivated firearms.
My short film does feature the murder of one of the characters, bringing up a whole other kettle of fish.
In the UK, under the crime of ‘homicide,’ there is the subsections of manslaughter and murder.
- killing with the intent for murder but where a partial defence applies, namely loss of control, diminished responsibility or killing pursuant to a suicide pact.
- conduct that was grossly negligent given the risk of death, and did kill, is manslaughter (“gross negligence manslaughter”); and
- conduct taking the form of an unlawful act involving a danger of some harm, that resulted in death, is manslaughter (“unlawful and dangerous act manslaughter”).
The crime of murder is committed, where a person:
- Of sound mind and discretion (i.e. sane);
- Unlawfully kills (i.e. not self-defence or other justified killing);
- Any reasonable creature (human being);
- In being (born alive and breathing through its own lungs – Rance v Mid-Downs Health Authority (1991) 1 All ER 801 and AG Ref No 3 of 1994 (1997) 3 All ER 936;
- Under the Queen’s Peace;
- With intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm (GBH).
The act of homicide which takes place in my short film would most likely be considered murder as the crime is committed willingly and consciously with the person’s sanity intact.
Violence on screen:
Through 15 years of continuous research, doctors from the Surgeon General’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Television and Social Behaviour found three major effects that violence on screen influenced children:
- Children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others.
- Children may be more fearful of the old around them.
- Children may be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways toward others.
These effects may translate through to teenage years and adulthood through constantly being exposed to such violence and in doing so, create a bigger problem – the violence and aggression becomes physical. An example of this is copycat killers, imitating the work of criminals featured in certain films. A well known case of this is from the film ‘A Clockwork Orange,’ which led to many crimes imitating the character’s wrong-doings on screen.
Researching concepts, ideas and topics related to my idea:
Why do young people commit murder?
The media plays a big roll in teen murders today, television and film providing violent scenes which promotes crime and the internet providing easily accessible information on homemade weapons such as bombs. Cliques within schools are another cause for violence between teens; The tension between the ‘popular’ and the not so popular groups can lead to fights or worse. Carrying on from this, teen rebellion, maybe caused by years of being in the lower ranks of the schools social system, can again lead to some unfortunate situations.
However, another reason is problems at home such as divorced parents, abuse from a family member and so on. These circumstances may cause someone to commit a terrible crime in an effort to vent their anger and upset.
Researching the technical requirements of my project:
I may need two cameras so I would use my own and one borrowed from the CCI LRC as well as two tripods and an audio pack.
I believe I will need some lighting equipment for the scenes shot at night, however I do want to rely mainly on the flashlights and break lights from the car. I will also use some red bike lights to light up the interior of the car; This will help to cast an ominous glow onto the characters.
There will be another scene that takes place in a house where one of the characters is sat in a red or possibly blue lit room, so I will need to find lights that I can change the colour of easily. I will not need to pay for any as I can borrow some from a friend.
I used two different cars to see get an idea of which would look best in the film. The car used in the picture below would be the better option as the break lights, which are a main feature this scene, are a lot brighter and fill a larger area, and the car itself is more accessible to me.
Another thing to mention, is that the lighting in the photograph below is a lot better than in the one above; the actors face is lit with whiter light making the shot more appealing to the eye.
I think the test shoot went really well; I believe I captured the uneasy atmosphere that a situation like this would produce, as well as highlighting the dark events taking place. The colour red played a main part in this test shoot which is one thing I really wanted to make work and I think it did; Where the murderer appears, red light floods the area casting an ominous glow over her. This helps to develop her character because it reveals devilish qualities that may not have been noticed before.
However, I need to work on keeping lighting consistent in the real shoot, because in the test shoot I had a few problems with maintaining unchanging lighting. For this I will need to go over the manual settings of a DSLR camera such as the aperture and ISO. This will help me achieve continuity.
On the other hand, the shoot was great for finding good locations. Initially we planned to go inside a small abandoned building to see if the killing scene would look better in there. I have used the building once before for a photography project, but on that occasion it was still light outside, whereas this time it was practically pitch black. As well as this, the building is in a quiet, isolated area and in the end none of us were brave enough to even venture past the front gate. So, we drove further down the road and found a a quiet bridge which proved to be a great location and I will be using it for the real shoot.
Something that wasn’t planned was what the female character wore – the ‘Suspect’ hoodie. The actor playing the part of the murderer in this test shoot, added an ironic touch by wearing said hoodie and I will definitely use it in my final film.
Overall, this test shoot really helped in the development of my idea and I will benefit greatly from it when creating my final film. Before filming commences, however, I will certainly be doing more test shoots for the other scenes in my film.
(The actors used in this test shoot aren’t necessarily the actors I am going to use for the final film).
Researching costs/budgets/production issues:
For 3 night shoots.
- JVC GY-HM200E, 4K Ultra HD camera (Exeter Phoenix equipment hire) = £65.00 per day = £65.00 x 3 = £195.00
- E-IMAGE GA752 Tripod (Exeter Phoenix equipment hire) = £12.00 per day = £12.00 x 3 = £36.00
- Dede Lighting Kit (Exeter Phoenix equipment hire) = £25.00 per day = £25.00 x 3 = £75.00
- Gun Microphone and Boom (Exeter Phoenix equipment hire) = £23.00 per day = £23.00 x 3 = £69.00
- Lighting Cameraman = £485.00
- Camera Operator = £470.00
- Script Supervisor = £350.00
- Driving costs = £10.00
- Costumes = £15.00
TOTAL = £1705.00
Overall, I think the research that I have done has helped me to figure out what I want my film to look like and what I want it to include.
In the end I think the most useful research tool was the test shots; As I had more of a vague idea of what I wanted to do in the final film, the test shoots were really helpful because I was able to experiment more on set and gave me more of a solid plan for the real shoot.
However, I found the research into legal and ethical issues to be very useful; Through statistics and research carried out by different organisations, I was able to apply this factual information to my film and add more realism into my storyline.
Another research tool that aided in the brainstorming process was the practitioner research. Through this, I was inspired and influenced by others’ work and I changed bits of the storyline according to new ideas that came about as a result of researching my practitioners’ work. As well as giving me new ideas, I think looking at my practitioners’ work helped me visualise what I wanted to do more which was really useful when I did the initial test shoots as, again, it gave me more of a solid plan of what I wanted to do.
On the other hand, one thing I didn’t find very useful was the research into my target audience. Although it gave me an insight into who might watch my film, it didn’t really affect the actual production and continuation of the project. However, if I was making a short film that was going to be aired on a British TV channel, then this research would b more useful because I would have more of an idea of who was going to be watching and what would attract them.