15 5 / 2014

This first year has definitely been a fun, challenging, strange experience! I am so glad I picked this university, I have made so many friends, and created some amazing memories. As fun as its been, I have also learnt so much over this first academic year at YSJ. Before coming here I had naive ideas about film and tv, but now I feel so much more ready to get into second year and start creating projects. I have learnt about post-production, pre-production, the art of working in a team, little details about editing, sound, cinematography. I have also learnt the importance of documenting your ideas and inspirations as you go along. Anything you find could be helpful in either writing a short script, or just improving your knowledge on film and tv is a worthwhile activity. Looking back on this blog I see so much of what I have learnt, and what interests me, all which will be useful to me when needing an extra boost of creativity. 

It isn’t just about the technical stuff either. As valuable as it is to know about the technological side of things (the editing and so on), it is also important to be sociable, to be interactive with everything. Ask the silly questions, talk to people, ask for feedback - it will all come in handy when you want to create a successful piece of work.

Talk to your peers too. I have made so many friends on my course, and have worked well within a team environment, but have also learnt how best to keep a team focused. Keep concentrating on the bigger picture, and we can all get the work done.

Activities like the peer review may have been a little daunting, but have taught me to be evaluative of my own essay writing skills, with regards to content and relevance.

I have enjoyed this year a lot. Of course, there is a lot I can improve upon; I’ll still be going into Avid to make sure I get the basics of editing, and I’ll always plan out an essay before starting it, to make sure I have an idea of where it is heading. But I feel I have gained so much already, and I cannot wait to start second year, and keep that creativity and knowledge growing.

15 5 / 2014

A Short Film That Connects With You

I’ve gone back to Pixar again. But this short film is just beautiful. Day and Night (2010) is a short film about just that - day and night. They come across each other and both end up fighting because they are unsure of the other. They then become jealous of each other; night is jealous of what the daytime has, and day is jealous of what the night-time can bring. They then show each other the delights of both day and night until the sun both rises and sets, and they switch roles.

I love this film for a number of reasons. Again, you cannot fault Pixar with its storytelling techniques, and its simple animation which is visually pleasing to the eye.

But I also love the story being told here, its ‘deeper meaning’ so to speak. To me this story is showing us to be accepting of all people and their ideas, cultures, beliefs. It is important to accept others, and appreciate what they have to offer. So much more knowledge and creativity can be imparted when we learn to accept and welcome other cultures and thoughts.

I connect with this film because I fully believe in welcoming others and learning from them. Learning their behaviours and thoughts can help improve my own general knowledge and appreciation for the little things.

15 5 / 2014

15 5 / 2014

"Any great story is populated with not just one interesting character, but a host of them."

Karim Ahmad, Creator/Producer of Futurestates 

Attention filmmakers, here’s why you need a storyworld for your film.

(via futureoffilm)

This is so true, and relates perfectly to what we learnt about storytelling in lectures earlier this year!

(via futureoffilm)

15 5 / 2014

"If your compassion does not include you, it is incomplete."

Siddartha Gautama (via loveyourchaos)

Be kind to yourself, you deserve it.

(via thetrevorproject)

(Source: joytania, via thetrevorproject)

15 5 / 2014

A Film That has Moved you and Why?

Whilst studying this course I have learnt to look for the deeper meaning in films. Some films may look simple as a whole, but when you really look at it, you will find a range of themes and emotions are portrayed. It is clear that a film without a theme is an aimless story, that could very easily lose its audience.

Our lecturer showed us an interesting short film; An Exercise in Discipline: Peel (1982, dir. Jane Campion). The first time watching was very confusing, but when talking through it with my peers, we could pick out a variety of themes; discipline, family, mutual understanding, punishment and hierarchy to name a few.

Moving back to the title of this post - a film that has meaning for me. This has to be the Harry Potter series, but in particular I have picked the last film of the franchise - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 (2011, dir. David Yates).

This is the film in which (SPOILER) Harry finally defeats Voldemort during the big battle at Hogwarts. Anyone watching this film can see the special effects of the magic, and the mythical creatures, can fall in love with the ditsy, strong, characters we have all grown to know in previous films. 

But this film actually means a lot more than that to me. It is a story of sacrifice, of love and friendship. Harry has to deal with so much loss throughout his story, and uses that to his advantage. He fights for his loved ones, dead or alive, and does not give up.

Snape loves Lily his entire life, and sacrifices so much, even his life, for her.

Molly loves her children more than anything, and will stop at nothing to make sure they are safe.

I think another important thing to take from this film is that there are worse things than death. Harry understands that love is one of the most important things, and accepts that he must die in order to save his loved ones.

This film means a lot to me, because I think it is important to keep magic and imagination in your life. All the little whimsical extras put into that film just remind me to have fun. Never settle for the ordinary! This film also means a lot to me because it teaches so much about love. Not just love for your partner, but for your sibling, parents, friends. It is important to be happy and show the ones you care about that too!

13 5 / 2014

Audio-Visual Clip with a Good Ending

Toy Story 3 (dir. Lee Unkrich, 2010). This film is just brilliant. Pixar is my all time favourite animation company. If I was a good cartoonist or artist I’d work there in a heartbeat. But it’s not just the animation that is good about Pixar, it’s the stories they tell. Every story they have, however fictional, contains real emotions, values and morals to teach and inspire the younger - and even older - generation. 

Storytelling is vital in film and television. You need to be able to create a story that is entertaining and interactive with the audience. It is also very important to have a strong beginning, middle and end. Without these components, your film will go nowhere. I recommend Writing Short Films: Structure and Content for Screenwriters (Linda J. Cowgill, 2005). When writing a story you need to have a CONCEPT, a CHARACTER and CONFLICT. Those are the basics, develop from there and you will have a better grip on your story. 

I have learnt this year that a good story needs specificity, engaging characters, arresting backdrop and don’t forget to hold a few surprises, to give the audience a twist!

Toy Story 3, along with all Pixar films, has a strong storyline and a solid ending. This scene really finishes the trilogy off nicely, and shows us that letting go doesn’t always mean forgetting. Such a beautiful sentiment I think.

I would also check out Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling - http://imgur.com/a/fPLnM. They have a good idea of how to write the best stories!

13 5 / 2014

Absolutely love this film, cannot fault Pixar!

(Source: felicitys-smoaks, via purelypixar)

13 5 / 2014

Audio-Visual Clip that Inspires You

Love Actually (dir. Richard Curtis, 2003). This clip here is one of my most favourite scenes in any movie. I know this film might not be theoretically ‘good’ or seen as a ‘classic’, but let me tell you how this has inspired me on my own journey.

Firstly, I’ll explain the scene. Emma Thompson’s character Karen has just found out that the Christmas gift of a necklace she thought her husband had bought for her, was not actually her present. She tears the wrapping paper to find a cd, and goes to the bedroom to cry out of the way of her children and husband. She then composes herself and takes herself back downstairs, to take her children to their school play.

A pretty simple scene, but one that has been executed wonderfully. Thompson’s acting in this is incredible. Anyone watching this can feel how truly upset she is, and empathise with her as she tries to regain composure for her children. Such an emotional scene, and director Richard Curtis and Thompson must have worked well together to be able to pull it off so well.

I also love the simplicity of the camera movements in this scene. The cuts between photographs of her family, to the CD player, to this beautiful wide shot of Thompson crying. Love Actually (2003, Richard Curtis)I think this has been expertly done - placing Thompson to the side of the shot, showing the rest of the bedroom and an empty double bed - because it really shows how lonely she feels at this moment. Cinematography is very important in telling a story.

I also love the soundtrack to this - Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now (2000). This song fit absolutely perfectly into the story. This song is about being cheated on, and ironically she receives this album as a Christmas present from her husband, further emphasising emotions in this scene.

This clip has inspired me, because, if I want to be a director, I need to be able to work as well with my actors to coax the same emotions as Thompson in this scene. It also inspires me to focus on setting and the picture as a whole, to get across the story you are trying to tell.

13 5 / 2014

One of our first lectures we had was all about shot angles. I can’t tell you how much I didn’t know before starting this course, but this is probably one of the most valuable ones.

I recommend using Film Art: An Introduction (2010. Bordwell and Thompson) as a guide to anyone starting out in this industry, but it also gave me useful information about close-ups, medium shots, etc. And how to tell the difference between them. By understanding the range of shots, you can improve your camera work, because you will be able to understand which shot works best for certain scenes, to portray certain emotions, or to show one or more characters at a time.