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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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This week we had another read through of the scripts and locked the final drafts of scripts. Syaheed, DOP for my web series, and i began discussions on how we feel on the shots we might shoot. I begun writing my directors treatment and breaking down the character of young Craig. I have been reading ” On Directing Film” by David Mamet(1992) and one thing that is stressed constantly is clarity and think visually. He much prefers less dialogue and the use of juxtaposition to tell a story which is ideal for this web series. As the dialogue in my part is quite minimal, the use of shots  and the visual is very important to keep the audience interested.   This has led us to start drawing storyboards and discuss other ideas that we could use to help engage the audience with the comedy.

 

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While researching, i have also come across the rule of 3 in comedy that suggests that events or characters introduced in threes are more humorous, satisfying, or effective in execution of the story and engaging the audience. This piece of information was particularly useful to us when we were discussing about certain scenes where there is no dialogue. We manage to improvise with the script and come up with shots that uses the rule of three to deliver the comedy as visually as possible. Working with a DOP like Syaheed is great as he tries to take on all my ideas and at the same time tell me what would work better visually.

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This week, I was given a chance to direct 1 episode of  ‘Craig Was here’ as well as help with the script. We had a read through of episode 1 and 2 in class on wednesday and a meeting with the directors and show runner to help with ideas. Though the show runner was very persistent with his concept,  he did take on certain suggestions. The story of each episode is going to be non linear so we broke up into 3 parts , 1999, 2017 and  the bunker. I was given the year 1999 and started working on the sylistic approach i want that year to look like. The show runner had suggested using the TV series  ” Last Man On Earth” as an example on the colours that he feels will suit the web-series. (   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WD7LywZ9JQ&t=149s). The colours are very bright and saturated on that Tv series which also could blend well with the humour on our web-series. However, natural vibrantand dark colours will work better with this black comedy  as the script in the 90s also  starts of with chaos, overcast and heavy winds.

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There will be more time to discuss this in-dept once all 3 scripts for the episodes are complete. In addition to this, i have also begun scouting for bunkers online and emailed Deakin University to find out if can use any of those locations for that shoot. I have also organised a crowd funding event for the 16th of October and Keysborough to help us raise funds for our budget.

BLOG 1 (Pitch)

This week, we had to pitch our idea for a web series. We had a group discussion to breakdown and flush out our ideas before the main presentation. Mine was called ‘Hero Oz’, a game show to find the next superhero by putting them through ridiculous tests that is judged by a bunch of out of talent superhero judges.

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 someday.  Im glad it was not selected as i felt at that time the idea still has not developed and i have an opportunity to direct one of the episodes of the selected web-series  ‘ Craig Was Here ” by Braydon Lewis.

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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.

 

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