Recently we have been editing down the film when we meet each week. I have personally been working closely on the sound design, finding pieces of royalty free music and sound from https://archive.org/ to avoid any potential copyright issues. To make sure of this, we are also crediting the composers in the credits. It’s been really interesting to work on this, as I have found that the smallest changes to the sound design, such as layering two parts from separate locations to generate a crowd, can create a dramatic change and a much fuller sound.
The Red Turtle is an animated film directed and written by Michael Dudok de Wit and is his feature film debut. The film had gotten a larger amount of publicity for a filmmaker who had only previously made short films due to it being a co-production between Wild Bunch and Studio Ghibli, who actually reached out to him with the idea for the film. I was lucky to see it in the Odeon Leicester Square on the 6th October as part of the BFI LFF.
The film is dialogue free and follows a man who is left on an island after a storm and his individual experiences of him exploring and trying to escape, while he is slowly losing his mind. The film’s animation quality was amazing and the style reminded me a lot of the work of Herge. I also loved the lack of dialogue, which allowed for more focus to be brought to the beautiful soundtrack and sound design, something which Dudok de Wit talked about himself in a mini post qna, emphasizing that the sound design was extremely specific, with the characters breathing even being recorded and added very quietly throughout the film to develop the intimacy of the protagonist and the audience. The lack of dialogue also allowed for a larger focus on symbolism, with the responses to the film surprising him since it’s release due to the contrasting opinions on scenes. One in particular is where the character falls into cavern, unable to escape, leading him to dive underwater and through a hole in the rocks back to dry land. The scene acts as a way to develop danger and getting over hurdles, while also being a way to create tension, however the scene could be seen to symbolize rebirth as the character is coming out into the world again.
I really enjoyed the film overall and i’m excited to see it again in the future.
Today we finalised our ideas, creating a call sheet for filming the next day and finishing the script. The final draft of the script was much easier than I originally believed it to be, as we had collectively agreed on what had been filmed.
Today we began filming at our location, focusing on the beginning and end scenes with the box as this footage would need to be edited for the next day where it would be projected in the Studio at the BFI. The only problems we encountered were making sure no one was in shot, due to members of the public walking through the area, and ensuring that the lighting in the area was good quality, due to it being under a bridge. Due to Sheneil (Our director) acting in the scene, I took on the roll of director for the following scenes, which I enjoyed a lot, while difficult at times as I had to ensure that we were sticking both to the script and what had been planned on the call sheet. It was also our first day working with the Black Magic cameras, which I felt we used effectively, while we had to ensure that there we were people guiding the cameraman due to it’s weight and the need for them to look through the viewfinder, something which could pose as a health and safety risk.
We edited the footage for the next on premiere pro, which I wasn’t particularly familiar with using however, other members of our group had a lot of experience with the software, making it much easier to work with.
Some photos from the day can be found below:
We started today by filming in the studio screen at the BFI, creating the final scene in the film. The projector was easy to manage, however it proved a challenge to specifically time the character walking towards the screen and appearing on the screen. We found that the best way around this was by calling out when the character should walk and stop, ensuring that it blended together in time. A problem we experienced when filming was the lighting of the shots, as the studio only featured two light settings for the screen and the audience, both of which where not incredibly bright. While this did have benefits, it meant that the character fully disappeared when close to the screen, it did mean that some shots were found to be too dark to use and so we will have to re-film them.
The second half of the day we were filming with the Bolex / Black magic cameras, specifically focusing on the chase. The only difficulty we had was that the location did have people walking past and coming out of the buildings, and so we had to ensure no one came into shot, for both the sake of the shot and their own safety of being run into. Here are some images from this shoot:
Today we re-filmed in the Studio, bringing with us flood lights, which we positioned around and controlled using reflectors, due to them being too bright to use normally in a scene. We had to be extremely careful when filming, making sure that we turned off the lights between shots, due to them getting extremely hot, and that the wires were not in the way of where the character was walking. I felt like this was successful, as the shots were more clear while still keeping the darkness in some of the shots. Here are some images from this:
We also filmed the main bulk of the modern day scenes, as well as the modern chase scene. These were quite easy to do, with the only problem that we found with the outcome being the members of the public looking at the camera, which we couldn’t have avoided. Here are some images from this:
Today we split into two groups, one using there time to film extra scenes to bulk up the modern section of the film, and the second (which I was part of) recording foley sound with a boom mic. I didn’t have any experience with a boom mic before this, and so I felt it went pretty well considering. We specifically went for crowd sounds, which we could put very quietly in the background of the film.
Today we got to watch the film ‘Born In Flames’, a 1983 documentary style feminist science-fiction film that explored various issues, that are still very relevant to today’s society, following a fictional rebellious feminist group in a socialist democracy. The film was extremely relevant and used experimental techniques to create an extremely unique viewing experience. When I watched it, at times the documentary nature / found footage style that it was filmed in made it hard to understand if the events were fictional or not, a detail which we learned in a post qna with Lizzie Borden was particularly because the film’s plot was controlled a lot by the actors themselves with some parts being scripted and others being completely real. An example of this is numerous riots where some of them where scripted, although members of the public attempted to join in, and others were real riots which the actors simply joined. At times the visuals would take on an almost montage approach, which I felt was really effective in making the audience think but also developing the idea of how the society worked, and how crowded it could be at times. I would like to watch it again at some point, specifically for this reason as I feel that I would appreciate it even more on a second viewing.
Today we got to have a talk given to us by Dr Vasco Hexel, the area leader in composition for screen at the Royal College of Music. He talked to us about the importance of musical composition in film and the effect it has on both the mood of the scene and the audience itself. Some of the examples he showed us included films / television which has soundtracks specifically composed for them, something, which I think is important to bear in mind in the future as using music that has not been exclusively made for a film could lead to copyright, not allowing it to be used at all.
We were also given a talk by Dave Darch, a DJ who explained to us the job of the sound/music designer, which involves looking closely into scenes, thinking about what sounds would sound realistic to what’s going on, while think about the mood that it makes. It’s also important to make your choices of sound as clear as possible, to make it easy for the audience to understand. He also showed us the ipad app Thumbjam, a much more simple way of creating music if you don’t have any experience with this in the past. I found this really interesting and useful, due to having worked on music composition software in the past myself.
Today we experimented with 16mm film using Bolex cameras at the no.w.here lab, the location where James Holcombe worked on his film ‘Tyburnia’. The group I was in didn’t necessarily try to create a narrative with what we filmed and instead mainly worked on developing and trying out various techniques and shots. I personally experimented with lens whacking, the process in which you remove the lens from the camera and moves it away and towards the camera, distorting the image in front. I am pretty doubtful that the effect will work on the film, because I feel we may have let too much light in when taking off the lens. While I enjoyed the day, it did remind me the importance of planning ahead as at times we were very disorganized and were throwing around ideas, which if we were filming an actual film, wouldn’t be good. Having said this, I felt that we worked together very well as we had similar ideas of what kind of film we wanted to make. I think also, in the context of this being the first time filming on the course and our first time using Bolex cameras, our individual excitement to experiment and film really boosted the enjoyment of film for all of us.
Today we were able to watch the film ‘Tyburnia’ with director James Holcombe who will be helping us out later when we begin working with Bolex cameras to film. The film referred to the Tyburn Gallows in central London and the history that it has left which can be still seen in the present day. It was extremely experimental, using strobe effects and repeated shots of the same thing but from different angles. I found this to be extremely effective, as it really symbolised the act of watching as an audience both looking at the past and the past looking at the executions.
You can watch the film in parts using the link below.
Today we went to Exploding Cinema at the Cinema Museum, an event where anyone can send in any videos that they have made and they will be screened. The whole night was separated into two sections, the first section being completely independent filmmakers who created their films using disposable cameras and the second section being the more professional films. My favourite short film of the night was a film called ‘Gardens are Great’ which, while it didn’t have a precise narrative or trail of thought, it was thoroughly entertaining, especially how it’s creator fully embraced the fact that the film didn’t have a very high budget, using it to comedic effect. You can watch the film below.
Today we met the other two tutors on the course (Emily Bailey and Edwin Mingard) and we were able to receive a talk from Tega Okiti, the project coordinator for various events including the BFI Blackstar season.
She studied English Literature and film at uni, due to her interest in film and writing, and afterwards got an internship at the press department for the BFI film festival, making her more interested in working with events. This has allowed her to learn organisation skills through her various internships and event coordinator rolls at the BFI. We were also recommended many films which are part of the season and the film festival, one of which was the film ‘Restless City’ which used coloured lighting and little dialogue to create a really interesting / unique mood for the film.
I found the talk really interesting and it made me think after about what Black actors I have really enjoyed seeing on screen, with actors like Laurence Fishburne and Naomi Harris coming to mind. It also reminded me of the lack of representation for actors of other races in film, something which I hope to keep in mind, especially when writing any scripts in the future.
Here are some photos from the talk.
Today everyone met each other for the first time in Learning Space 1 at the BFI southbank. As part of the induction evening, we learnt about the course itself, as well as meeting two of the four tutors we are going to have on the course (Anna Maguire and Alex Shipman). As part of and icebreaker, we discussed what our favourite and least favourite films were with the person sitting next to us. I said that my favourite film was Alejandro Iñárritu’s ‘Birdman’ because I love the style of the editing, I find the story really interesting and the acting is amazing. I also said that my least favourite film is ‘Space Chimps 2’ because while having only watched the first one, I hated it terribly and reviews have said that the sequel is worse. I’m looking forward to getting to know more people on the course and doing the course in general.