SIT BACK AND SEE WHAT WE'VE DONE
With all three films completed, we all sat back and watched the fruits of our labour in their glorious finished state. We started with BASKET BULLIES, a tale of perseverence and overcoming bullies, then onto DOWN PROFIT, a crazy tale of capitalism gone wrong before finally FADING OUT where one young boy's utopia of a world without anyone else isn't all it is cracked up to be. After discussing, reviewing and reflecting on the films, everyone gave some written feedback before reconvening outside to take some publicity photos for the films ... and STRIKE A POSE EVERYONE!
ALL GROUPS GRAB A CAMERA!
With all lead actors correct and present, all groups were able to continue with filming today. We started the session with a quick review of what has been filmed so far, with some of the footage being edited into scenes so we could see how the films were going to work. After a bit of constructive feedback, we split into three and got productive ...
The BASKET BULLIES headed outside to continue the filming of their tale of morality, whereas the DOWN PROFIT group stayed indoors to continue their portrayal of what happens when power overwhelms the natural instinct for good ...
The FADING AWAY team got back on course and started afresh on their film, playing catch up to the other groups. The lead actor was back, and after a couple of simple opening shots they concentrated on getting the special effects shot in the bag ...
FILMING, FILMING, FILMING!
Two of the groups got busy making their films and the third group split to give helping hands to each group. The Down Profit group had a scene to film in which we get to see the ugly side of the Prickly Orange company whose motto might be 'Profit at all costs!' and whose methods leave you in no doubt as to where their priorities lie ...
The Basket Bullies group took advantage of the nice weather [i.e. no rain] to film some of their scenes outside on the basketball court. The small portable cameras the group are using are ideal for quickly moving from location to location plus great for getting extreme close ups and being able to put the camera in interesting places to get different kinds of shots ...
EVERYONE PICK A ROLE
The filming continued this session although one group couldn't film as their lead actor wasn't here this week ... an ever so slight spanner in the works! The other two groups started filming their first scenes amid inclement weather and some rogue basketball crew members. Enthusiasm prevailed and much shooting of film ensued ...
With the small and mobile cameras the student are using, the camera operators can move easily and they took advantage of this by trying out some very dynamic shots, moving with the actors wherever they went. The actors were getting into role and even threw in some improvisation as they adapted the the environment [and weather] around them ...
CAMERAS AT THE READY
The group got their hands on the new cameras and we all quickly tried our best to work out which buttons did what - there are only four of them so it shouldn't be that hard ... We did some test shoots and then did a quick reminder of how a crew works and what the key roles are. An extra introduction to the equipment pool was a clapper board, and so the crews had four key roles to fill: Director, Assistant Director, Camera Operator and Clapper Person ... plus the talent onscreen.
QUIET ON SET ... AND ACTION!
Team FADING OUT were ready to start filming for real so they took a camera and the clapper board and got on with the business of creating their film with help from one of the other groups. The third group decided to test out the camera further by making a mini behind the scenes film about what exactly their film is all about ...
The film crews will continue on their quest to make their epic films next week ... that's it for this week ... CUT!
CREW ROLES AND SET PROTOCOL
We started with a quick reminder of crew roles and set protocol. The small filming groups will need certain key roles behind the camera, including DIRECTOR, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR and CAMERA OPERATOR. It is also important that the crew say the right things in the right order so that everyone knows exactly what is going on. As a group we did a quick test in the form of a three shot film, with groups members acting as DIRECTOR and ASSISTANT DIRECTOR. We then quickly edited the shots together as a quick preview of how to edit, before each group grabbed a camera and started filming test shots for their respective films.
TRYING OUT ROLES
The group members tried all of the various behind the camera roles to that they could see how each role worked and get a feel for being in a film crew. The DIRECTORS were considering both what the actors should do and how the shot should look, the latter with the help of the CAMERA OPERATOR. The ASSISTANT DIRECTORS were generally being loud and bossy and trying to communicate what was going on to everyone ... you need a good commanding voice for this role ...
FINDING THE ACTORS AMONG US
The stories are sorted, the characters are all written, now we need to find out who the actors are in our groups. The three film groups all listed the characters in their films and then worked out who wanted to put themselves forward for which parts. Where there were more than one person for any part, the groups held auditions or decided on another fair way to work out who should play which character.
ACTING OUT THE SCENES
The groups chose a key scene from their film to act out, both to help work out who should play each character and also to allow the director to start seeing how the scene is shaping up and what the shots might look like from the storyboards. In addition, the groups were making a final list of what props and costumes they needed, where there were coming from and also whether the locations they wanted were going to be available.
BEING THE AUDIENCE
We continued to watch films in the session so that we could gain more experience of different film types and discuss what we liked and didn't like, what worked and didn't seem to work. The first film was a horror about some young people who disappear. We liked the film but we weren't totally sure on why somethings happened in the film and so we discussed the importance of the message of the film being clear and thought about our own stories and whether a viewer would understand them. The second film was a documentary and the group thought that the message of this film was very clear, which made the feedback on the film more positive.
We started the session by watching a short film entitled 'The Astronaut'. One of the key features of the film is that it has very little dialogue and in fact only one very short line at the end of importance. The group considered the importance of showing but not telling, and started to think about their own films within that context. We extended our critical thinking to consider the merits of the film, how it sometimes used sound without visuals and what the overall tag line for the film might be ...
FURTHER FILM PLANNING
Each group received a master document for their film onto which they had to input all of the important details they need to have in place including title, theme, genre, locations, props & costumes and characters. There is still some debate within each group as to the exact details of the film they are creating - next session they will have to all agree on the finer points of the story so that they can move forward in pre-production towards being ready to move to the production stage.
We talked about the various roles behind the camera and how many of these we were likely to need for our film crews. We decided on Director, Assistant Director, Camera Operator and Clapper Person. We also discussed the things that each role is responsible for and who says what on set. We will practice on set protocol next session so we are a fully functioning film crew before we start filming for real ...
WATCH AND REVIEW
With our newly acquired knowledge of shot types and camera techniques at the ready, we watched two films made by young people taken from the Into Film You Tube site and then discussed them, from the genre and theme of the films to the shots types and camera movements, and the reason the filmmakers may have had for using them. The films watched were Zombie School: A Survival Guide and Blindside. Watching other films will help us think in more depth about the type of shots we choose for our film and the effects we would like each shot to have on the viewer.
Each group was asked to come up with a working title for their film. This doesn't have to be the final decision on the title but it is useful at this stage to have an identifying name for each group rather than just the theme of the film. The chosen titles were 'Down Profit', 'Basket Bullies' and Fading Out. For good measure, each group took a team photo featuring all members who were still in the room.
CHARACTERS AND CASTING
Each group compiled a list of the different characters that appear in their story, and then compiled a separate list of those people in the group who would like to act in the film. Acting isn't for everyone, and so some people will not have put their name forward. Next week we will be exploring all of the behind the camera roles, plus looking at casting, locations, props & costumes, shot list, rehearsals and any other pre-production elements we need to consider. This may involve writing a few short lists but as the old saying goes: 'Failing to prepare is preparing to fail'. We will not fail ... we will be prepared!
We all watched a great 'how to' animated film about creating storyboards and then another one about types of camera movements. This included wide shots, mid shots and close ups as well as pan/tilts shots and tracking shots. Armed with this new-found knowledge we set about creating a storyboard each for our stories, trying to fit the whole story into 12 shots.
IMAGINING THE FILM
Storyboarding is the stage where you start to imagine your story in pictures. The creatives brains and budding directors got busy coming up with fantastic ways to represent the story visually and our storyboard sheets will be of great use when actually making the film as we use it to remember what shots we want to get and then tick them off when completed.
STICK PEOPLE ALLOWED!
It doesn't matter if you are a fantastic or terrible artist. The only thing that matters is that you can get the message of what you want to everybody else working on the film so they can help you achieve your vision! Therefore stick people drawings are definitely allowed ... just use the space underneath your picture to add words of explanation for the shot such as shot type, camera movement or other useful information about the scene. Our team of storyboarders were busy working on their pictorial masterpieces until the end of the session with one storyboard making its way home eagerly to be completed later. Good work!
Finalising the stories
The three groups had created their stories from the three key themes, and in today's session we discussed the three stories and fed back to each group on our thoughts about how the stories made us feel, if the message of the story was clear and any other constructive ideas. The task for the groups today was to imagine their stories as fairy tales or fables that started with ONCE UPON A TIME ... They could then write the rest of the story out in that style and maybe use that as a narrated soundtrack ...
This session was an opportunity to answer a few key questions about each story so that everything made sense. In addition, it is important to think about whether you will realistically be able to make your film i.e. if you have some ideas in your film about travelling to other continents or having roaming wild animals, how are you going to do this or could the story be adapted so that the key theme or message still works but the details are easy to achieve ...?
Locations, props and costumes
Once the stories are written, we can start thinking about some things for pre-production, such as locations, props and costumes. The first thing to do is write down all of the locations you will need in your film, followed by all of the props and costumes. After you have written these things down, you can then start to think about finding these locations, props and costumes somewhere in the real world ...
Our film club sessions will continue after Christmas when we will be looking at shot types, creating storyboards for our films, casting and how to be a film crew. We still need to work on all being quiet after we hear ACTION but we are making progress! :)
Exploring the story structure
The three excellent writing groups from the previous session were reunited and each group had a series of questions to answer about their stories. This was to enable the stories themselves to make structural sense i.e. it is clear what happens and why from beginning to end. At this stage the details don't matter to much but instead you just need to know that your story is getting the message of your film across loud and clear. All of the details can be added once this is in place ...
Putting on your practical producer hat
The groups were also asked to consider whether some of their story elements were practical to include. This meant thinking about possible locations they had in mind and other details that might be hard to source or create. Hopefully you can start of with 'anything is possible' and then get as close to what you want as possible, but sometime reality can make you rethink things sometimes but hopefully that shouldn't affect your story and will just involve some minor detail changes.
Each group then reviewed their story and we discussed what details still needed to be added. The story structures were sound and each got its message across clearly. Next week we will add any further details and then start looking at some of the pre-production elements like locations, props, costumes, shot types and storyboards ...
Writing teams - the serious work begins ...
The great work done in Session 3 meant that we had some great ideas around three key themes of Loneliness, Bullying and Perseverance. The film club team split into three writing groups and each were assigned with one of the themes and all of the associated notes and ideas from last week. The task - come up with a great story for that theme!
A young person wakes up and realises they are the only person in the world. How do they feel and what are they going to do? Has everyone disappeared forever or can they find everyone again?
A company run by old PC computers is threatened when a new company run by modern tablets comes onto the scene. Jealous, they try evil tricks to make the new company fail and when the new company retaliates, all out war ensues. No one wins.
A young person is excited to try out a new activity but they aren't very good and get teased. Instead of giving up, they practice and practice until they are fantastic and eventually earn the respect of everyone.
Pitching the ideas
The teams all presented their ideas to the rest of the film club, explaining their theme and story structure. There was some great teamwork in the writing groups with all team members having an input and the story created as a collaborative effort.
From the five great stories the groups created in the last session, we picked out some of the key themes of those stories so that we could concentrate more on what the main theme of our film could be. The three key themes we identified were LONELINESS, BULLYING and PERSEVERANCE. We split into groups and tried to answer some key questions about each of these:
1. What is it?
2. How does it make you feel?
3. Do you know any examples of it happening to you or someone you know?
4. What can you do about it?
After discussing it within their teams, each group then fed back their thoughts and feelings on each of the three subject matters and helped create a master document that could be used to create stories around each of the themes.
Ideas, Ideas, Ideas ...
After a quick round of ideas generation at the end of the last session, this session would be all about coming up with possible ideas for our film. We used the random word generator method again to come up with key words for our ideas, and then split into five writing groups to come up with some great stories.
Writing a story
We all discussed how to write a story, and how this might be broken down into sections. We also talked about asking why things happen in story. If a character is feeling sad, why are they feeling sad? With those questions fresh in everyone's mind, the paper and pencils were brandished and the writing began ...
The stories ...
Five very different stories were created. The boy who played games to much, got in trouble for it and got angry before buying hat that magically made him better at both homework and games. The bored boy who was looking forward to playing with his friends in the park but then got beaten by bullies. The boy who didn't pay attention in class and so got in trouble for playing games instead of learning. The girl at school in Candy Land who gets pushed over by a bully but feels sorry for him because he has a hard life. The bored laptop that nobody would update who played a file of Donald Trump singing but realised that this was a big mistake as he was a terrible singer. The groups then presented their ideas to the rest of the film club ...
Meeting the new film makers
The Film Club met up with the filmmaker for the first time, and to ensure that all names could be remembered, we played an alliterative memory game where you had to say your name to the group plus something that you like doing, which had to begin with the same letter as you name. Plus you had to mime the action as well. We had igloo makers, cheese eaters and even someone looking for gold ... hopefully we can remember some of the names as well!
How is a film made?
As we are going to be doing all aspects of film making throughout the 15 sessions, we thought we better check that we know all of the things that go into making a film first. We started by putting the five stages of film making in the correct order [Development, Pre-production, Production, Post-production and Exhibition & Distribution] and then each young film maker was given a film making element and had to work out where in the process it went. These ranged from script writing through acting to screening the film. In the end, after a little bit of swapping around, we all agreed that we had got everything in the right order, which is useful because that is the order that we are going to have to do it in as well!
We just had enough time to fit in a quick ideas development session. The group created some random words and then, in groups of four, used the three random words they were given to come up with an story idea for a film. After ten minutes of lively discussion we shared our ideas with everyone. There were four fine stories in all. We had an apple who made an ill-fated bid for freedom, a magic pot that transported all that touched it into a crazy new world, a football player who battled all the odds to overcome a bad injury and return to the field and finally a computer network that went rogue and fought the human race and caused total oblivion. Some interesting themes there - we may look at these further in the next session ...