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WEEK 2

MY ART & MY INCOME

Its difficult to understand what the media and politicians say about how torn apart the world is at the moment. Wars have been fought before but yet our so called heads of state never learn from the past or do they? People helping people yet why do we only see the violence when scrolling through our smart phones? Can everyone actually live together? What creates social stigma? That is my art!

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My art is to try and understand these stigmas and break it up using the power of film. i want to show how diverse the planet has become and the common ground that all of us as human  share. Least to say, this is not a money making idea nor a permanent income source. Working part-time jobs  now helps me get by but ultimately i would like to have a steady income source. With the talents I posses, i can still produce quality films and and at the same time work, whether a production company or freelance work, to fund myself in my endeavour to make my art.

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Currently, I’m doing my best to get more experience by working on short films and music videos. Some have been paid and some not, but its a start!

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Blog 6

This week we asked to shoot our title sequence for Average Joe. Before the shoot, Emily, Josh, Jill and I have been in contact to prepare the costumes and props needed for the shoot. We finalised everything a day before the shoot as costumes could only be sorted once we confirmed the actors.

On the same day that we were shooting, we also had a fundraiser where we sold Indian food outside SAE Institute. It was slow initially but picked up around 1pm. We managed to raise $252 from sales and are planning to do another one in couple of weeks. I also manage to get another $186 over the weekend through crowd-funding at local club in Melbourne. I manage to convince the organisers of DRRNB entertainment and BrownBeats Music to put a box near the DJ area for anyone who wants to donate money to our web series. This was done over the weekend and i hope to do it again on the following weekend, as there is another event they are doing that could prove to be profitable for our web-series.

In addition, I have also looking into crowd funding from various websites but due to time constraints I felt it would take a longer time to gather the money needed for our budget. At the moment, out budget is looking good for our production. Nevertheless, we are still going to open a crowd-funding site next week to help draw in extra funds. We would have some footage where I can work with the editors to make a teaser to help attract people to give money for our web series.

WEEK 4

This week we shot a test for the Guru in our web-series Average Joe. I volunteered to be the Guru and Andrew played Joe, the lead actor. Before getting into the test, we had a quite a bit of preparation as the scene required lot of dress up as we were building a set in the soundstage. I helped source the materials for the back drop and some of the costumes to make the set more genuine. On set, i helped build the set while at the same time practice my lines with Andrew in preparation for our 1 min on screen time.  Building the set took nearly 2 hours as we had problems trying to figure out the lighting and camera set up. Fortunately we had a good facilitators who gave us a big hand on how to get around certain shots and guide us through some basics for setting up light. It was frustrating at times for me as an actor as the crew kept changing the light between takes but it gave me an insight on how we must be well prepared on set. It is key to have a well drawn out plan, especially lighting, as  it will make the set look more professional while at the same time it will help move quicker between shots and setups.

Our test scene was quite long but we learnt a lot about lighting and how pre-production  is very important. We as a team worked well together to ensure we get the best shots. I have a better understanding on how to setup lights and blocking.

WEEK 2 AND 3

These 2 weeks was a very tough and long week. I had to present my pitch and get roles on week 2 but unfortunately due to family emergencies i was unable to attend.  However, this did not stop me from still getting 2 roles on Average Joe and presenting my pitch Next Top Superhero.

My idea is basically a cross between Dragons Den( Reality tv ) and Superheros ( Marvel, DC). Its a parody comedy satire on how reality tv is so scripted, the fact there is superhero craze going on film and to give the audience a sense on how hard it is in the 21st century to get a job. I was very nervous presenting this concept as i find that many would find this idea mundane and ambitious. After presenting, i had a better response that intended from some of my colleagues and both my facilitators. I was advised to work on a pilot or brief treatment about episode 1 by my facilitators to help the audience get an insight on how the story was going to take place. Though my idea was not picked, I have taken the feed back and currently working on script that i hope to shoot on the final week of August.  Im glad it was not selected as i felt at that time the idea has still a lot of kinks to fix up.

Average Joe was my third choice on my pick of web-series to be made this trimester and i wanted to produce this brilliant comedy simply because its a simple idea that was original with full of hilarious scenes which could very appealing to an Australian audience. My roles that i picked however was Production  and marketing Manager. I have never done these roles before, so it will be pretty exciting as i want to experience as many role as i want before i join the professional industry.  Since then i have been contacting the producers and art department to find out how much we need. I have  also contacted some potential sponsors and have approached a few costume shops to help reduce our costs. As catering will be one of the major issues ,as we have nearly 6 shoots days with a big crew and cast, i have focused on sourcing food for those days. i have managed to get two restaurants ,Malaysian and Indian, to provide lunch and dinner for 3 days  where will have the most people. Im still working on sorting the food for the other days but i have now turn back to the set design and costumes as will be shooting a test scene next week. We have picked the GURU scene as it could prove to be one of the most challenging one to shoot, especially when it comes to building the set.

Our two production meetings have been very informative for me as have general idea on what we need for this production and what are departments need from me to help them with their roles. The scripts, though its just the first draft, have been good but seems a bit ambitious. However, this is just a start and i know we can find a way to deliver s good script while not going to overboard on the costs.

Reflection on 13 weeks Documentary

This past 13 weeks have been great for me in gaining both experience and knowledge on filmmaking, in particular documentaries. It was tough work from day 1 trying to come up with ideas on a particular mode and topic that would fit a 5 – 8 min short documentary. After 3 weeks of pitching with Sean and searching for interesting stories, i was fortunate to come across the a film maker that was making a community documentary  film about the bushfires of 2014 up in East Gippsland. I was fascinated with the film as it had some many people with so many stories. However, the most interesting story was the Mental health nurse, Birgit, who was running the interviews with the victims of the fires as a form narrative therapy. Thats how i came up with the idea to direct an observational mode documentary on how Birgit uses this therapy in that community film.

For the next 3 weeks, after seeking permission from the Birgit and the production crew, Prakash and I drove up 6 hours ,up and down, to Goongerah each weekend to film Birgit as she interviews the victims. This was certainly challenging as we had to cope with no form telecommunications, limited electricity and worst of all no internet. We had to rely on what we had learned so far till that day and improvise on the way. Prakash was their main cameraman for the crew and struggle a little on the first day as he was car sick due to  the curvy roads. He was much better after that and improved dramatically through till to the end of  the production. Being a director for the first time was certainly very exciting and scary. I learnt a lot working on the camera and audio, especially when doing the interview with Birgit, and learnt so much on interview techniques. The tips and techniques  from the practical class with Steve and Sean really helped in getting the information i needed from a 45 min interview. I was also fortunate enough to get some found footage from the Macdowel family up in Goongerah that proved to be a great asset to my documentary.

Week 7, was now me and my editor, Giuliane, to sit and transcribe the  interviews from nearly 800 hours of footage. We had Naveen and Edie to help us as well. By week 8 we had almost completed all transcripts but i felt that the story was not strong, especially after my KPI meeting. I sort helped from Alex and Aharon, to help me with bit of the story. My editor was the one who got me rolling when i was about to quit on this project by making an amazing sequence for the title. After seeing that, we sat down nearly everyday with a paper edit that we both worked on together. The paper edit was really useful and i should have done one from the start! Treatments are good starting point to come up with a structure but the story definitely comes from the paper edit. It helped so much in editing. We had a lot of characters to work with but we picked the best 4 and focused solely on them. That made it much easier to craft a story but we also had back ups if we felt another story worked better. We had struggles with the audio of recreating a bushfire but solved it quite first. The class screening of the rushes were certainly helpful in getting important feedback that helped make this documentary better. On screening night at SAE institute, the whole team was nervous. Our documentary was well received but i know there is still much room for improvement.

The 13 weeks spent making documentary has been so challenging and enjoyable at the same time. Working as a sound recordist on Alex documentary was great experience as well. I learnt a lot on animation and camera placements that were certainly useful to my documentary as well. Both are were crews were very small but we had a big team behind us for support. Aharon played a very key role in keeping both documentaries motivated as well add some of his feedback that was crucial for both films. There were many moments of frustration between both documentaries  but we as a team pull through together. I have never been to sure on what i wanted to do in the industry but i certainly know that i want to be making more documentaries.

MODES of DOCUMENTARY

“Each Mode of Documentary has its own relationship to truth”

Documentary is essential telling the truth through visuals, sound and even through some recreation.However, as filmmakers, we have the power to control the story, despite being factual or fake, and move the viewers in the direction we want but do the modes of documentary helps us establish its own relationship to truth? There are 6 modes of documentary but i will be discussing Poetic, Observational, Expository  and Participatory modes, as well as its relationship to the truth.

Expository documentary is the mode most identified with documentary. This mode usually  addresses the audience directly with verbal commentary, often a narrator,   to propose an argument, perspective, recount the past, point of view  or pose a question. Expository documentary or sometimes referred to as essay films , is aimed to educate and explain things to the viewers about what they know little about. This was probably true 50 years ago,but in todays modern age where ‘GOOGLE’ had made it so easy to find out virtually anything simply and faster. This technological advancement has let a lot of audiences question the validity of certain documentaries like “Why We Fight” which were basically propaganda films commissioned by the U.S. Government. There has always been a lot of research when doing expository documentary but today the research is ten times more as filmmakers who want to make a documentary in this mode, must have a lot of facts and prove to support his film. The audience of today, who have their smartphones literally glued to their heads, will definitely do their own research to find out the truth and  will a film apart on social media if found the filmmaker was biased or bluntly making facts up. This mode of documentary certainly aims at telling the truth but its relationship with the truth lies with the scripted narration the filmmakers have made.

Poetic documentary uses a non traditional way to create a story structure. Unlike most documentaries that have narration or voice overs to tell the story, Poetic documentary filmmakers arrange their footage to create a story through tone,rhythm or spatial juxtaposition. Some filmmakers use music or score or even ambience to carry their story forward just like Junktopia. This mode of documentary, as abstract it maybe, allows the audience to create their own interpretation of the truth of the film without a narrator telling them the story. This mode tends to have hidden messages, subtext or personal views that is subtly relayed to the audience to evoke a response.Nevertheless, the filmmaker still has control of what the audience views which could mislead certain viewers from the filmmakers truth. Audiences that get the message, might be persuaded by the films message  but is that the right message? Poetic mode certainly gets the viewers mind stimulated when trying to digest the documentary. This mode certainly gives the audience a chance to make their own minds up and engage with others about their interpretation of the film. This is certainly one of the most complex mode for documentary  filmmakers to execute but a very effective way, if done right, to  deliver a message to the audience that is powerful as well as the chance to get them thinking to discover their own truth.

Observational documentary , also known as cinema vert, direct cinema or fly-on-the-wall documentary, is a mode that used ideally without any involvement of the filmmaker . In other words, the participant or social actor is captured on film as if the film crew and cameras were not around. This mode does not have no interviews, no reenactments, no non diegetic music or no voice over commentary. The film is  generally arranged  and edited by the filmmaker to   tell the story as it is happening at that moment. This mode documentary is well used by Wiseman in his film, where there is absolutely no intervention from the film maker, “Public Housing, 1997“. Observational documentary ideally tells the truth or story undisturbed but certain filmmakers certainly  play a part to re-enact  daily actions or important activities that will have influence in the film and the audience. The filmmaker will definitely not change the way the participant conduct himself but defiantly get him to repeat certain actions. Personally this does not effect the truth of the film but will always leave the current technological general public  questioning the amount of influence the filmmaker had and at the same time question how the camera plays on the behaviour of its participants, “The Act of Killing, 2012”. The improvement on camera lenses and sizes have contributed greatly to the advancement of this mode to help the participants of the documentary not feel he is on camera or capture certain things without the participants knowledge but this then brings about questions on ethics and morals. Nevertheless, Observational documentary certain does it very best to convey the truth of what is happening  compared to the other modes.

Participatory documentary, also known as Direct Cinema, is exactly opposite to Observational documentary. Participatory mode has the filmmaker heavily in the film interact with the participants of the documentary. Michael Moore uses this style brilliantly in his films to capture the audiences attention as well as interact closely with the participants to help them relax and ignore the camera. Louis Theroux also uses the same mode in a different style to pose sensitive questions to his participants but at the same time make them feel that they are in a comfortable environment. This mode of documentary, which requires quick thinking directors, certainly explores the truth through live interaction. It also give the opportunity for the filmmaker to be part and witness what is going on while at the same the freedom to the film maker to dig deeper into the story of his participant. The relationship of truth to this mode of documentary can be biased, depending on the filmmaker, but certainly helps the filmmaker push the participants story in the direction he wants and at the same time discover new facts that could change the filmmakers outlook of the story.

 

 

BLOG DIRECTING TREATMENT

The short film that i would pick to direct is ‘ The Magnificent’ written by Alex Sovax. This film plays lightly on the concept of death with a touch of illusion or magic. I feel the film is basically trying to describe the mortality we all have to face and the great escape we all are looking for despite our age. When i make this film, i want my audience to be captivated with the main character, Eric the magician. I want them to feel the loneliness he feels, the sense of being prisoner in this nursing home and his joy when he his finally free to be part of the stars. This film does exactly that as his i can see the character of Eric change especially in his final act in the nursing home. The film does need a rewrite but i would love  to modify the montage in the final act. I would like to add more scene in the nursing home of them running through the hall with the nursing staff strapped to wheel chairs. I would have the montage in a playground  surrounded by trees as it will bring more meaning when seeing an old person and their younger self on swings, sliding down and even climbing and sitting on trees.

This film will have a comedic satire which will set the tone for this drama. There will be a lot of focus and close ups of Eric to capture the drama of this film but also a lot of visual humour to maintain that comedic element. My directing will be more like ‘ The Negotiator’ where i will use both ideas from the production team and actors to shape my film. This style will deal with a lot of rehearsals, at least 3, to get a general idea for what the actors have to prepare for their performance. I feel this style is much better suited as majority actors on screen will be older and they can share their insights on how older people are on a day to day basis. Casting for this film is tricky as i will need to match the older resident to the younger selves. However for Eric and Joe, i will definitely be focusing on how well they take direction and their potential to go the extra mile to act as 80year olds.

For the look of the film, i would want to make all the out door shots bright with  orange and yellow being the main colour palate. In the nursing home, i would want a dingy and bleak atmosphere so would have a lot of dull colours like grey and pale green to reinforce that feeling to the audience. The locations i would pick will be a nursing home, a park for the end scene and the house for Eric. I would also include another location at a city location for the opening scene to help increase the production quality. There will be a lot of moving shots that i would have on the dolly and try not to have any hand held as that might spoil the visual story. Props are especially important as the cart and other magical items are essential to Erics Character. The props in the nursing home like wheel chairs, walking sticks, oxygen mask and other nursing home equipment is also essential to make the film and the scenes more genuine.

Lastly and most importantly is the score of the film. Since the script has very little dialogue, the score will play heavily in carrying the films story. Ideally, i would have a piano score with 90’s theme to it and a violin as well. These 2 instruments will  be vital in carrying the tone of the story and delivering the clear message of helplessness and the rise to freedom.

 

BLOG 4 – REFLECTION

The short films that i had worked on this past 8 weeks, ‘The Magnificent’ as co producer and ‘Objectified’ as first AD were certainly an experience that gave a glimpses for the first time of what it might be working on a professional industry set. In the beginning of the semester, i had set out goals which are to gain experience as a producer, to learn how to make a budget, to deal with legal work, to make a good film and to learn how a film is made from scratch. My role as co producer covered all my goals and more especially when dealing with location agreements and gave me an insight into set design. There is still a lot  i must improve as a producer, in particularly confidence and time management as those were the two skills i lacked in this short film.

My role as First AD on ‘Objectified’ was certainly exciting. I have First AD on a few short films and was well prepared for my role. I had organise call sheets to the best of my abilities and learnt about different ways to approach a call sheet with the help of the DOP. I ensured the set was running smoothly, while making sure everyone on set are happy. I feel i let down the team on the last day as was not there due unforeseen circumstances but is something i intend to improve on in the future. I must make sure never schedule or be part of two film with there shoot dates almost a day part.

I know i worked well with both crews on their short films. The amount of time spent working on both films, brought the team closer and got everyone on the same page. Everyone on both film certainly worked together very professionally and with little complacency. I am very proud to say that we manage to finish filming both the films in an orderly manor. ‘The Magnificent’ was very well filmed but we want to make it better and add a few more shots to the montage and changing the opening scene. This is essential as we intend to send our film to festivals and making sure we put our best work forward is the plan. We have schedule reshoots for late January next year and if all goes well, will have a fine cut of ‘The Magnificent’ by early February.

I feel have come along way as person and a film maker after completing both these short films. They have really inspired to make more films and even matured me as individual. The obstacles faced on both these projects helped greatly in improving my problem solving skills and people skills. The one aspect that i have yet to master is time management which is an important element to make me a good or hopefully a great filmmaker.

BLOG 3 PRODUCTION AND POST

My role as first AD on “Objectified ” was an amazing experience. Before the shoot, i had already done the call sheets, with the help of Jack Carter the DOP. I was present for all the shoots except for the last shoot due to an unexpected problem on “The Magnificent”. The 2nd day of ‘Objectified’ was the most busiest as most of our extras had cancelled and we had to get some student from SAE Institute to fill in, including the producer. The shoot went on well after that and we accomplished all of the shots needed for the scenes. This was also because of Emily, coproducer, who kept me on my feet and pushing me to move the setups faster as we had a limited time in the bar.

On the ‘Magnificent’, we ran into an issue with filming two days before shoot. The council had just told it was unavailable, when already issuing the permit weeks ago. I manage to convince our director to make use of another park for now while we can do a re shoot next year for that particular scene. He agreed and i managed to convince Monash Council and Stonington Council to give us permission to shoot in their parks with literally 48hours left before we had to shoot.

On the second day of ‘Magnificent’, we had to deal with the cloudy weather and the chance of rain. We managed to film most of our shots but the winds got pretty heavy towards the end of the day. The 3rd and 4th day of the ‘Magnificent’ was at the scout hall. Here we had the whole day on Monday the 3rd day to shoot but the fourth day, we had to be out by 530pm. We moved really quick on the fourth day and the crew only had light snacks throughout the day as they were pumped to get as many shots done. We did not accomplish getting a lot more montage shots, but team really worked hard and had a professional work ethic that was certainly praised by many of our actors and even the scoutmaster. Both sets i worked on were very organised, disciplined and professional. Crew and cast were very working together with little or  no arguments.

The post- production was certainly tough for our editors as they had to work day and night for 15 days to get the film ready by the 16th of December. They spent nearly a total of 138hours in the edit suite to perfect the film and the special effects. I came in a couple of times to the edit suite as i just wanted to see the progress and help if they had any issues. Alex and Ryan, writer and director,were also there side by side with the editors to help with story and the Directors vision. I really learnt a lot as a producer on ‘The Magnificent’. I enjoyed working with the cast and crew. My job on set was mainly in catering and helping with lights but our first AD, Chelsea, played a major role pushing the crew to their best of their abilities. Since i did not do the edit for ‘Magnificent’, i have a small trailer that i hope you might enjoy.

 

Blog 2 PRODUCTION TEAM

I was fortunate to be part of 2 wonderful short films. I co-produced the “The Magnificent” and first AD for ” Objectified”. In this blog, i will be focussing on my role as co- producer and the various aspect of preproduction for ” The Magnificent “.

The first 2 week of preproduction was a bit slow and messy. We had already got the team to gather and communication was good but i was not pushing the team team hard enough to get their work complete for the Greenlighting presentation. At my KPI meeting with my facilitator, Scout, she helped address some of the problems i had with the crew. Her advise was to be  firm with the crew and set deadlines for each of them. Scout also told me to get more face to face production meetings with a list of what has to be done and reenforcing every ones roles. After the KPI, Alex, writer/coproducer, and i sat down and divided our roles before meeting with the entire crew. Alex worked more on the creative side with director and DOP while i handled all the logistics.  This made preproduction so much smoother and efficient. We were not able to get the green light but we were amber lit. This was mainly due to councils who kept changing the dates on shoot availability and majority of our extras have not been sorted.

During our meeting with the production designer, she helped us in identifying how colours are very important and everything we put on screen has a meaning or a purpose. She helped us break down the colours we should focus on for wardrobe and gave us various places to hunt down props. Our audition workshops were also extremely helpful when casting for actors as we had a lot of extras but with very little dialogue in the film. Our director suggested we use the same dialogue for everyone  as the most important point we learnt in class is to make sure your actor can take direction despite the lines given to him initially.

The last 2 weeks before the shoot was a little hectic. However, we still manage to meet every other day to check on progress and to help anyone else on crew with difficulties they were facing.We had to acquire a nursing home but it was impossible. Instead, Scout advised to get a scout hall and dress that up as nursing home. The scoutmaster was very detailed in his work and demanded a list of gears, lighting plans and story board before we got the agreement to film. Once we got all the agreements signed, we were given the green light to start making our film. The crew really came together as one solid team and worked really hard on their roles and their responsibilities to ensure we were ready for our 4 day shoot.

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