It appears all my posts past S2 W6 and the Documentary Project have been shifted onto another, identical blog of their own so I will begin moving all of those posts back over to here.
Yesterday we shot 2 hours and 30 minutes of footage for our documentary project with the help of the wonderful staff and students of “The New Earth Works”, a shop on Bruntsfield in Edinburgh which is intriguingly founded upon philosophical themes regarding individuality against materialism as well as the social implications of money.
Hopefully, all will be made clear once the documentary has been completed, but for now I want to dedicate this post to talk about how the filming process actually went.
It greatly saddened me to hear Martin Scorsese’s statement that he only has a few films left in him. At the Golden Globes, DiCaprio pretty much summarised the views of many regarding the name of Martin Scorsese: that it should be forever inscribed in the halls of the founders of film. Scorsese is an inspiration to me not only because he is a great film-maker, but his outlook on film-making is refreshingly simple. I feel that I am living in a time where those just entering the movie industry (such as myself) are having their creativity restricted by petty industrial constructs and expectations, where critics stamp the word “pretentious” on innovation and judge everything else as “cliche” or “superficial”. It frustrates and confuses me personally, I am no longer sure what kind of films I should be making, I don’t know if what I make is going to be socially acceptable. Listening to Martin Scorsese talking about films is refreshing simply from the fact that he loves what he does, he pours his passion for movies into the films that he feels are important to him, it seems to be as simple as that.
Paul Sayer and I set out to recreate some of the more crucial shots from the ending of Nicholas Winding-Refn’s film Drive for our final project. In execution, we found that the shots had deceptively demanding lighting set ups, which we were keen to replicate and I feel that both the value and difficulty of lighting a scene are important lessons that I personally learned while working on this project. For me it also brought the realization that I need to stop working with my own editing tools. Due to an issue with rendering, that I still do not understand and that only manifested during the critique, resulted in a slightly embarrassing moment where our project failed to play despite using the exact settings that were required for rendering at the critique. Regardless of whether I find out what went wrong and if it can be rectified, I need to start using the Avid Media Composer platform as well as the teaching in its usage that the university offers.
For our final project, Paul and I looked at some of the closing shots of Nicholas Winding Refn’s “Drive” for a sequence to recreate. The shots were relatively demanding, particularly in terms of lighting, where the first two shots relied heavily on having correct daylight and reflector usage and the third requiring both manual and practical lighting to stay true to the original shot. The original film used neon lighting and was heavily stylized in terms of colour correction, which I tried hard to replicate as editor. I was also director and camera operator in the first shot, director in the second and assistant director in the third shot.
The first shot involves a long pan up the subject from shoe to head as he sits wounded in his car. This is followed by a long pause and then a second pan as the subject moves to turn the car ignition. The original shot had some small forward movement as well as a slight zoom to go with the first pan. As we did not have access to a slider and going hand-held would not give the smooth turn from the original shot, I instead did a digital zoom in editing to give the illusion of movement. We used a reflector to bounce sunlight onto the subject’s face but due to the vehicle we used, we were unable to have light coming through the car window that would illuminate the subject’s face in the same way that the original film did. However, I feel that both the light coming through the window and the way that the protagonist’s jacket gleams from it very much resembles the original shot and I was happy with the outcome.
The second shot was a much more straightforward affair but we were left with little time to set up due to us running out of sunlight. The camera tracks the car as it pulls away and then stays with a body and a bag in the lower left of the shot. I had wondered if I had over edited the shot in terms of the extremely orange colour correction, but I feel that it matches the stylized look of the original shot.
The third and final shot is from an over-the-shoulder perspective as a girl walks down a corridor, knocks on a door, waits for several seconds and then returns back down the corridor with the camera still facing the door. With much more concerns for lighting in this shot, we set up one light behind a door and shone it through the windows of the door, blocking off the unwanted parts of the window with jumpers in order to create a similar looking blue light on the wall in the original scene. We also set up a light in a small toilet along the corridor and bounced it off a blue wooden door to replicate the blue light that the subject passes by on her way up and down the corridor in the original shot. We also reflected another light behind the camera onto the ceiling to provide some general lighting for the location, but I think it may not have been all that necessary in hindsight. There is also a green fire exit light that could not be turned off or covered up, but I think it adds to the variety of colours in the scene along with the reds and blues. The corridor was much smaller than the one in the original shot, this meant that a lot of our equipment and wires had to be properly secured and even then it was dangerous. We always made sure to have a spotter for the camera operator on this shot.
Overall I am happy with the results of our work and I think I understand the absolute importance of lighting in films much more now that I have had to make proper use of them in my own work.
Visual Exercise 3 - 1 Minute Portrait - Pedro, Three Coins Pizza
Description from Vimeo:
"Pedro is the sole owner and worker of Three Coins Pizza at Tollcross in Edinburgh. His eccentric, energetic and happy personality are what positively contribute to his working environment, giving it a homely and welcoming charm that few other places can achieve.
Thanks to Pedro and his customer whom I did not catch the name of for allowing me to film them.”
This exercise was shot without the use of a tri-pod due to the lack of space inside the working environment combined with the need to hastily move around, but I would have liked to have had at least some steady shots, particularly of the shop as a whole.
I also think I am still struggling with working in low light conditions and adjusting the aperture appropriately. I edited and rendered this on Sony Vegas instead of Avid and it appears to have darkened every shot substantially after rendering. I attempted to play around with levels in order to fix up some over-exposed shots, particularly on the signs inside the shop.
I much prefer editing on Sony Vegas compared to Avid, for me it is a much simpler and more effective platform, but I will still make further attempts to familiarise myself with Avid.
Music: Blue Without You - The Volcanics