The Production Process…

Posted: October 2, 2010 in Media

In lesson we were shown an interview from ‘behind the scenes’ of the short film ‘Ghosthunter’. Various people from behind the process of making the short film were interviewed, such as lighting technicians and cinematographers as well as a lot of other people.

From this I learnt a lot of important things about the process a film goes through before it is actually made, here are some of the most significant things I noted from the documentary (In bold I have explained  how this relates to my work and how it can help me think about what to do to make sure my trailer is as good as it can be…)-

-The story for ‘GhostHunter’ itself came originally from a location (church) the two writers/directors knew well. Being a church this naturally inspired them to think about writing a ghost story.

I think this was  a very good idea as in the AS course I tended to think of my plot and then settle on locations later on, usually just before filming. But here I can see it would probably be a better idea to do it the other way round: pick a location I know and like, and then think about how a story could be linked to it. This way it is easier for me to be settled on a location (because of the limited places I have to film) and also easier to get a location that fits the plot itself (as sometimes I have plot ideas and then have to develop them because I do not have the appropriate locations to film in).

-So, with a key theme in mind, they went to the local library to research other stories about ghosts and these inspired them to think of and develop their own.

This is a good idea. In ways I am already through this process, but the difference is I do this by analysing trailers and films to get ideas about the conventions within my genre of thriller/revenge. And also it is helpful to inspire me in my own trailer and when I am trying to work out a plot. But of course it would be helpful to go to the library and do some research aswell…

-Not having many contacts, the pair desperately tried to get the attention of experience film makers for advice.

Yeah ok I can see how this would be helpful when making an actual short film- if you get experienced people in the film industry to give you advice you are likely to go far- they’ll point you in the right direction and tell you what is good/bad about the film and help you develop it further to improve it. Their knowledge in particular areas like cinematography, lighting or special effects are very likely to be much more in-depth than any amateur film maker’s is, so of course they would be a great help. Even though I’m not very likely to get this kind of help in the filming of my own trailer, I am sure I could get some form of help (though it may not be as impressive as theirs) from friends, relatives or perhaps neighbours who have knowledge or equipment that could help me make my trailer as good as it possibly can be.

-The pair spoke about how that keeping a schedule and preparing for filming to the minutest detail helped the majority of their filming to go smoothly

I think this is very good advice. From the AS course I learnt that it was much much easier to storyboard every single shot before filming to make sure everything was going right and there were no problems or mishaps- and this way I can have a strict layout to go by so that I know how every scene should look and therefore will be able to direct actors better as well as other things. Basically I know that being prepared is the key to having a calm atmosphere on filming sets (everyone knows what they’re doing and this therefore reduces stress) making sure everything gets done (everything to be done is written or drawn down, so we can literally see what we need to do) amongst a lot of other things…

-The pair also mentioned that the actors and crew they had working with them on their short film were very enthusiastic about whatever they did to contribute towards it. They said that this was a key part in making filming go smoothly.

This is something I think is probably easier said than done. Yes, obviously a keen and happy filming crew is more likely to engage with the story and want to produce a good film as well as it’s writers/directors do. But, this is quite hard for me. Actors particularly, I need to choose them wisely…I need to think about not only acting skills (because although this isn’t what I’m primarily assessed on this may help my trailer’s atmosphere and overall effect) but enthusiasm. I need actors who can take my project seriously and realise that this isn’t just for ‘a bit of fun’. So I’ll need to think about who I know who is able to passably act…and will take into account that this is for my A2 course and is quite serious. Perhaps I’ll pitch my idea to some of the people I think could act in my trailer and then upon hearing this it might spur them into enthusiasm (that’s if they like my plot idea!)

-Consultants were used to analyse pieces of film/storyboard and pick out what was good/what could be improved.

I think it is a very helpful idea- getting feedback from a wide range of people is the best way to improve my trailer. They might pick out things that need improving that I myself wouldn’t notice, which would be helpful to improve my trailer as a whole. So I think that it would probably be a good idea to get various audience feedback throughout the most important stages of the process to overcome problems with ease and speed. This would probably be at the basic plot idea, storyboard, more developed storyboard, first trailer, developed trailer and so on depending on how many changes I go through (which depends on the feedback I get).

-The pair said that when put in the editing process, it was very useful as they literally see on the screen what would work/what wouldn’t and it also helped them think about effects, transitions, titles etc…

From the AS course I learnt that this process was very useful, as like the creators said in the documentary- this allows you to look over what you’ve filmed to see whether it looks good, there are any continuity problems, special effects can be added, titles or transitions can be added etc etc. And this all helps to make the piece look more professional. before editing my actual film I like to have editing techniques already written down (usually on the storyboard) so that before I even go to edit I have some idea in my head of how I am going to approach it (like what titles I’m going to add, which transitions would look best etc) and I think this could be a good idea to do for my trailer as it would help me when I actually reach the editing process.

-The pair explained that they are distributing their short film at various film festivals and with a book/DVD combination to be on sale briefly after it has been completed. This ensures they get their film out to the public and as wide an audience as possible

Well this may not relate to me in my own work (as I am only creating a trailer and will not need to distribute it) it does give me the knowledge of how important distribution is to a film/short films success. They need to get it out there to be seen by as many people as possible, and sometimes film makers can find this hard if they are on a particularly limited budget (as making DVDs and getting it in the cinema can be very costly- such as each ‘reel’ containing their film can cost up to £300 if they wish for it to be shown in cinemas)

Overall, how will the information I have evaluated and interpreted from this documentary help me specifically?

-Well, before watching this I thought that acting and the actors themselves weren’t THAT important in relevance to the other things I need to do, like camerawork and sound. Of course I knew that I needed to find actors who have at least SOME talent at acting (and it doesn’t need to be a lot) but watching this documentary has made me aware of the glaring fact that although my actors don’t need to be amazing, they are very important. Although I’m only making a trailer, bad acting can ruin a trailer’s atmosphere and mood that I will be working hard to create, so it is therefore vital I find people who can at least act a little bit…Also what I’ve found from watching the documentary is that I need actors who have enthusiasm and are engaged with the film’s plot. So I want them from the start to be wary of my film’s plot, the trailer’s intended mood and the character that they are playing. And I think a good way to do this would be to give a copy of my plot to all the friends and family I am considering asking to play a part in my trailer so they can decide for themselves whether they’d like to star in it. If they are positive they would like to be in the trailer, and like my plot, I’ll give him/her a character to play as, and create character profiles for them to help them (and me) to know exactly what role they are playing in my trailer. This will therefore help everyone on set to get engaged with what is going on and hopefully enthusiastic with what we’re about to create.

-Well, I need to very prepared. This’ll help ensure that problems do not crop up (and are easily solved if they do) I need to prepare everything: I need to storyboard every frame I intend to shoot, script dialogue, write notes on sound, check the weather won’t affect filming, that actors are on time, the locations aren’t being used etc so I am sure, when I come to film, that I know exactly what I (and the actors) are supposed to be doing. I think I may have to start story-boarding now, just to keep myself prepared…

-I have learnt that it does not hurt to ask for help/advice/guidance– it can only benefit me in the long run. Perhaps I could ask friends/family members if I can use their houses/gardens to film in for the trailer (as I may want the interior of a house to film in)and maybe even if they have various props/costumes I could borrow if needed. I feel this would be very helpful as I do not necessarily have everything I need to film within my own home, so asking to friends/relatives to lend me things would probably make the trailer look a lot more professional as well as raising the enthusiasm of my actors (it’ll make it seem all the more real if they have their own costumes, props etc). On another point of view I think that it would be helpful if I were to ask for opinions on certain shots/music halfway through the process of my trailer to get some feedback– this way I would know what was good and what needs changing/developing so as to make my trailer as good as it can be (as others may spot things that I wouldn’t notice on my own).

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