Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Assignment 3–Creating meaning

Objective: To chose a scenario and film a sequence with an implied meaning with any number of shots but no longer than 90 seconds.
For this assignment I have chosen:
Action Somebody chooses a drink Implied Meaning One of the drinks is poisoned.
I have my friends Julie and Cavan helping me with the acting and while I am starting with a script and storyboard, this usually is flexible with suggestions and ideas from the set.
Here is my basic script and story board:
Frame/shot 01
Man arrives home: close up of key unlocking door.
Frame/shot 02
Medium shot of man opening door and stepping inside
Frame/shot 03
Medium shot of woman pouring drinks in kitchen, “Hello darling, just pouring us a drink”
Man: “Just what I need, I’m exhausted!”
Frame/shot 04
Closer shot of woman placing tray on table. Zoom in on the lipstick smudge.
Frame/shot 05
Man picks up smudged glass,
Woman:  “Oh dear, here have this one I’ll get a clean glass” Man takes the other drink, woman goes to kitchen.
Frame/shot 06
Woman washes glass;
Sounds off: Thud and a chink, the man has fallen. Woman looks over her shoulder and smiles to herself.
Frame/shot 07
Down shot of man’s legs sticking out from behind the coffee table with a spilled drink.
Either a pan up to the woman dialling a mobile phone or a separate shot:
Frame/shot 7A
Woman is speaking to the emergency services, “Yes. I’d like to report an accident………………”
Having recorded the sequence and put together a rough edit, I couldn’t find any other way of sequencing the shots to make any different sense of it. I finalised the edit as shown below.
On the whole, I am pleased with the way this came together. I had the idea initially working on the premise that whichever drink was chosen, the poisoned one or the dirty glass, the poisoner would succeed by taking away the safe drink if necessary. The implication is not obvious until the sound of the body hitting the floor is heard and not confirmed until the body is seen behind the table.
I was pleased with the opening shots, starting outside and filming from inside as the man entered gives a nice flow. Shot 3 was not so successful, Julie should have been pouring drinks as Cavan called “I’m home”. She paused until he spoke which was a mistake. Also I didn’t leave enough time for the shot and cut too soon. As it was I had to edit out my calls from the audio track from the start and end.
Shot 4 worked quite well although I did depart from the storyboard/script here. The lipstick smudge on the glass wasn’t really clear enough so we decided to just refer to it. I think that was perfectly OK and made the point. It would have been good if Julie had said “You have mine” rather than assuming Cavan would take the second drink. Julie and Cavan are quite good at ad libbing. Perhaps I shouldn’t rely on this at the expense of losing meaning in the script.
Shot 5 is again too short. I had to edit out my calls again. We forgot to film Julie’s reaction to the sound effect of Cavan falling i.e. a knowing smile as she washed the glass. This makes the sound a little ambiguous although the reason for it is shown in the next scene. Because this take was so short I inserted a fade to and from black, to signify time passing. There were several ideas for the final scene as indicated in the story board but in the end, I combined the two ideas by panning up from the body to Julie speaking on the phone in a calm detached manner showing that she had planned it all along – or had she?  The ambulance siren over the credits rounded the act off nicely.
My own skills and understanding:
  • Working with actors is great fun but I do need to balance their needs with mine. I was conscious that these people had given up a couple of hours of their time to help me so I was rushing a bit as I knew they had things to do. Less haste, more speed.
  • Panning and zooming – more practice needed. I need to loosen off the fluid tilt head on my tripod a little more and practice slow, smooth panning and zooming!
  • Planning and preparation – I need more. Because these sequences are so short I have tended to rely on just the storyboard/script and my memory to shoot with. Perhaps for the remaining assignments I will make detailed notes for each shot so I don’t forget things. Working on the premise that it is always better to have too much and leave it on the cutting room floor ………………

    Assgnt03 Creating Meaning from Richard Down on Vimeo.


    1. Hi Richard,

      what a shame I read the text first. I knew what happened when the glass hit the ground :-).

      I like the sequence and only one thing came across my mind: When he took logically drink on his side she interrupted him that the glass is dirty but why the poised drink was not on his side? Just a thought.

      All the best.


    2. Hi Emil, thanks for your comment. The reason for the dirty glass is that he would always get to drink the poison. He could, of course choose the poisoned drink first of all and the wife would quite safely drink from the dirty glass without raising any suspicion. The dirty glass is a distraction.

    3. Hi Richard
      I thought I had posted my comments here days ago but can't see it. I thought the film flowed really well - varied framing was good; sound was good although I thought the noise of the man falling to the floor could have been louder. Well done. Good for you working with actors. Not sure if it's my bag!
      Best wishes

    4. Thanks for the positive comments Margaret. The actors are just friends with amateur experience. It took a while to find them, I needed to join the group and go on stage myself before I could ask for their help but they are very willing and give their time freely. I'll be using them again when I re-run assignment 2.

    5. Hello Richard,
      I'm also taking the course and came across your blog.
      I really like this sequence, it misleads the audience as they concentrate more on the drinks and the woman's loving behaviour instead of thinking what may happen next. This is also created by the fact that you don't show her putting the poison in his drink, and only later (when she pours the other drink into the sink) the audience gets there is something dodgy going on.
      I also like it because it has two layers to it, that's hard to achieve.
      The shots and light are very nice as well as the location.
      I only noticed two very small flaws : when the man comes home the woman is standing at the sink in an unnatural way, as if she is waiting for you to tell her "ok, action!"
      I think she could have been facing down already pouring one drink into the glass and then as the man shouts "I'm home" she could have turned her head towards the camera.
      Also (a small detail) the audio stops as she is pouring the second drink. Is that done on purpose?
      In general, I think it's great.
      Please feel free to comment on my works as well, I would be very pleased to get some feedback !
      Have a nice day,

    6. Hi Tuija,
      Thanks for your comments. I've hopefully learned a lot more about shooting and editing since this assignment. I am working on assignment 4 now and want submit the course for assessment in November. I haven't looked at your assignment 2 yet, I will soon.
      PS I had to do a bit of research on your first name and concluded you are Finnish and female. Is that right?