Thursday, 25 April 2013

Shooting Day 3

Today was finally mine and Georges shoot, in the workstation, with lots of lighting work to do it was a very different shoot to the others. We moved a few walls in the Workstation, and I understood how the set works out after doing CPR last year, and got the set as ready as we could before the actors arrived. The biggest problem of the shoot was 3 bad marrantz's that took about an hour in total off our shoot. Being worried about time Connor wanted us to get a 2 camera setup and run the whole scene for coverages sake. I got on one camera and George got on the other and we lit some brilliant shots. We used blue filters on all of the lights to give it a cold aesthetic.We were framed a little differently  my shot was quite a bit closer than Georges so we got a second similar setup with my camera wider and Georges closer. For this shot I lit Brad with an intense but cold light when he sat forward and when he leaned back he had a strong backlight outlining the right side of his face. The detective we lit only when he sat forward so that when he leant back there was only "fall off" light on his face giving his character the dark, slightly sinister look we wanted.

This again ate up a lot of time and we considered shooting the scene in order but with the lighting change being in this scene we decided it was the most important shot to get next. George and Connor had an idea for the shot in which the top light spots down to highlight the evidence bag containing the wallet. I personally didn't like the shot and the fact that I hadnt been able to get my shots in was frustrating. With the amount of people moving about on set and the shot not being one of mine I let George get on with it.

We then moved on to one of Steve's ideas that George also had storyboarded, a birds-eye shot of the interrogation. It was a brilliant idea but the execution was very difficult  What we decided to use was a C Stand and clamp holding the handle of the tripod (with the legs detached). It was a little precarious and the camera is heavy so whilst the scene played out we had someone close, steadying the camera. Although an unusual shot I think it fits the aesthetic and will cut brilliantly in between the close ups.

Time was getting short, this was the one off schedule shoot and we had to start deciding what not to shoot, as we had a close and med of both characters I let my two tracking shots go and we decided to get another lighting change as it wasn't just me that was unsure of the previous one. My personal idea for a lighting change was to set up the spots on Brad and top light him so that he looked really dark intense and panicked. Then we flooded the rest of the scene to make it more natural so that once the wallet is dropped on the table we drop it down to the spots to enhance his reaction. We also kept the spot on the wallet in a similar way to the lighting change before and it worked really well, I was extremely happy with the reasult.

Finally we got a basic two shot, with similar lighting and ended the day with enough coverage and some exciting shots.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Shooting Day 2

Despite being the hardest shoot of the week, on schedule, today went really well, again we were really tight and worked like a well oiled machine. Mainly Mark's shoot we again all got a look behind camera and had little inputs and in fact got in front of camera as extra crime scene officers. Much as the day before I dressed the blood and not much more can be said. The weather was brilliant and the actors were great and it was one of the smoothest shoots I have been on. Sound was a little bit of a problem because of bad equipment and bad wind but it worked out ok in the end.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Shooting Day 1

After being set back a little by actor problems we decided they were worth the wait and that we were a tight enough crew to get it all done in short time. So we set for shooting monday, tuesday and thursday.  So today's shoot focused on Connor's sections, the flashbacks. The shots are to be cut between the interview material, when the detective suggests a turn of events or when Brad tells a turn of events these are the visuals we will see. Whilst we may alter their colour in post as in television programmes such as CSI and Cold Case the core visuals are still important. We didn't need sound which made things much easier and with strong scheduling and storyboarding with Connor it all went smoothly. As a group we all got a look at camera and made little suggestions to make the shots stronger and stronger. I am really happy with the aesthetic and with the rate of turn around of shots, I am confident we will shoot everything on schedule due to us working as a strong team.

I basically acted as runner for the day whilst looking at shots and working with the rest of the team. My main job was to sort out the blood, my own recipe of strawberry treat sauce and red and black food colouring. Unfortunately we didn't plan the drug dealer's costume, or more specifically we didnt own the drug dealer's costume so we couldnt get blood on it. Instead I painted the floor with the blood as close to the actor without ruining his clothes and hoped for the best. The blood looks real in real life but as it was reflecting the sky came out a little purple on camera which was a shame but still looked realistic enough.

Monday, 15 April 2013

One Hour Photo (Romanek 2002)

One Hour Photo is a character psychological horror by director Mark Romanek, featuring one of the best performances of award winning actor Robin Williams who plays Sy, a character as far away from his typecast as possible. Sy is a neurotic and lonely character who, through photos, creates an emotional attachment to the Yorkin family. One of the most important and interesting things to look at throughout the film is the colour, not just specific colours but the overall colour scheme and shifts in white balance and warmth that emotionally punctuate the story.

As we start we have a narrative frame of Sy in an interrogation asked why he hates Mr Torkin so much, although this is just a frame for us to expect the worst the colours are important from the very start and Sy's relation to the colours blue an white are instantly cemented.
The blue in the background matches the bag Sy usually carries and the waistcoat he works in and the general colour scheme associated with his character. Along with the white of his home, workplace and interrogation room all balanced to be tinted a little blue or completely neutral we get a feeling of sterility, it is almost like a hospital in its colouring, through this we get no emotional hints about Sy's character, he is blank and sterile himself. The colour isn't so much cold as it is bleak and the extreme use of a pure white is unsettling, the pollution of a colour generally associated with good things.

Here we come to the lighting change featured in the film, whilst the lighting doesnt change a large amount it is significant and signifies darkness, the other side of the mall and the other side of Sy.
The idea of what happens after the lights go out, what Sy does when he isnt under scrutinisation of the public is extremely important to the film which hinges on the idea that Sy wants to bring things that he figures out in the shadows to the light of the mall.

This is accompanied by a momentary change in white balance from white to a more neutral yellow:
At this point Sy is living out a fantasy in which he is a member of the Yorkin family, looking at their photos he tells the waitress they are his family. The yellow balance both symbolises fantasy and works as a bridge between the sterile life of Sy and the vibrant warm colours used in the Yorkin home and photographs. This colour awareness is clear, in the film Sy himself sees it as his job to make the Yorkin home warm and beautiful, when the colour goes .3(minimal) blue he prematurely gets a technician out who refuses to fix it. This is one of the angriest we see Sy, it is clear that getting into and preserving the warmth of the Yorkin home is his wish, this colour balance is half way there as Sy fantasises and lies as though he is already completely there.

The difference in colour balance is most noticable in this scene, Sy's white home is intercut with the Yorkins, his home is silent and lonely, white, silver and transparent. It is blindingly pbvious when intercut with the Yorkins warm, populated, vibrant and happy household.
This colour balance is again compromised as the camera pans from the beige nothingness of Sy in his chair to the wall full of Yorkin family photos, as the camera gets closer the wall literally gets brighter and warmer showing that the photographs and the Yorkin family are where Sy steals warmth and builds emotional connections.
Sy's second fantasy involves him imagining he actually walks around and lives in the Yorkin house, whilst the colour scheme isnt as warm he actually alters his clothing, wearing a blue jumper signifying strength and comfort instead of the beige nothingness of his cardigan.
The next significant image is interesting, it involves a lot of green and is one of the few images in the film that does. It seems somewhat honest, pure and innocent maybe because it is between Sy and Jake, the scene represents the innocent and kind side of Sy which is usually hidden by loneliness or social structures. This is possibly the last time in the film that things could go well, however Sy oversteps his mark and Jake wont take a toy from him. This realisation and the discovery of Will Yorkin cheating on his wife present one of the turning points of the film in which Sy decides to bring to light from the "dark" information in the form of photos.
This red scene is actually the first time we actually see a full character in the "dark room" at the photography booth, the colour red symbolises rage and anger, Will has everything Sy wants but is throwing it away and the rage inside Sy needs to come out.

A long tracking shot follows Sy's decision to stir things up, the photos were not enough so he has to take further action, after being fired a long tracking shot keeps Sy in perspective as he walks through the store, the shelves envelope and tower over him. As the music swells he takes a knife from a cabinet and stuffs it into his bag. The long tracking take forces the viewer into Sy's mind, we are towered over and pulled in sympathising with his decision despite its insanity.

Sy's inner conflict swells, after falling asleep during The Day The Earth Stood Still the dialogue "Your choice is simple, join us and live in peace or pursue your present course and face obliteration". This represents Sy's decision to commit social suicide and commit himself to the white nothingness of his dreams to "wake up" Will Yorkin and show him the same choice. The white and red in his dream clearly signify Sy's realisation that he will never be in the Yorkin family, that dream is now dead.
He wakes from his nightmare he has a shower, a classic sign of a characters change in perspective in films, and it is clear that the colour pallet has changed from a white blue to a calmer softer white signifying Sy's acceptance.
We even see Sy's wall again, this time however the room is neutral and the cold daylight shines on the dead wall.
I am surprisingly going to ignore the climax of the film, apart from a small section in which Sy runs away through a room of red, then blue, then red again mimicing police lights and signifying his imminent capture the colour pallet is the same beige nothingness from the rest of the film. That nothingness is what Sy is pushing Will away from and sacrificing his own warmth in exchange for the cold white of the police interrogation room.
The only spurt of colour in the room is the red chair, it is the exact same colour as Jake's jumper and represents Sy's empty memories of the Yorkin family however there is still some hope in his mind that he is still in some way "Uncle Sy".
This fantastic slow fade shows that he knows what he has lost, and understands that his body is trapped, but he might have kept the Yorkin family together and for that he allows himself a little bit of warmth.
It is clearly shown throughout the whole film and through these images themselves that white balance, colour schemes and warmth are extremely important to the narrative of the film. In a reflective way Sy himself is meticulous about the colour of his prints, this film proves his point that colour is one of the keys to emotion and the films use of colour keeps that in mind, manipulating and unlocking our emotions at perfect points.

1. One Hour Photo (2002), Romanek M., USA ,Fox Searchlight Pictures
2. The day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Wise R., USA, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation 

Pans Labyrinth (del Toro 2006)

del Toro's dark fairytale masterpiece set in the Spanish civil war, uses a range of washes and contrasting colours to paint a visual picture and bring the magical to life within the brutal shadow of Captain Videl's tyranny. Colour is one of the most important tools in del Toro's artillery and he uses it in many ways to support the narrative throughout the tale.

As the tale begins, the blue fairytale is told, of a magical princess and her fall from her world. This, the first of many blue washed images reflecting a "well lit night" and the dark side of the fairytale, introduces the visual blue motif connected simply to sad events often coupled with pathetic fallacy. As we see later on this is not the image of the fairytale kingdom itself but the sadness decay and despair since the loss of the princess.

From this we jump back into reality and the setting for the film, the forests around a military encampment, more of a country house manor than a camp, and beautifully full of golden browns and greens. The pervading nature reflected by the vibrant colour pallet setting the scene is essential to the film in which nature is the source of the fairytale, the fairy from the insect, the faun as the mountain and almost nature itself. Without the gorgeous browns we wouldn't believe del Toro's story because we wouldn't believe in the magical quality of nature. The browns are complimented by a general sepia wash that cloaks even the duller shots as beautifully golden hint.

The black cars cut through the nature, sleek and artificial, as do the hands, hat and glasses of Captain Videl as he un-gloves himself surrounded by grey uniforms that represent the dullness of war and army and the conformity demanded by the warped communist government Videl fights for.

The strong pervading blue of night is only pierced by the bright vibrant reds of blood, this contrast adds to the brutality of Videl and the darkness of the fairytale narrative.

The next strong visuals we are given come at one of the most visually "magical" moments in the film, as ink dances across the page and tells Ophelia our fairytale princess what her task is. The sun through the windows, or lights representing the sun, shine a vibrant, beautiful and magical gold that represent the good in the fairytale that returns at the end of the film.

Dressed in her green dress, the princess of nature, Ophelia goes back into the woods and into the toffee brown interior of a dead tree to poison a toad. Again the pervading sense of nature is clear, and whilst the toad is certainly disgusting Ophelia is never in danger whilst she is in her "own realm" surrounded by nature.

She is however snapped back into reality and danger, the pathetic fallacy and heavy blue tint returns and the battle between the rebels and Videl and the battle between Ophelia and an unbeknownst Videl continues.

It is also worth noting, outside of the fairytale, in the war narrative, the rebels hide in the woods and live in caves, they wear brown and are one with nature. Not only are they politically and morally heroic but they are also one with nature as is our heroine.

In the second task and before, the colour red becomes more prevalent and hints at a growing darkness. Firstly the previously golden enchanted book shows Ophelia's mothers bleeding womb  a short piece of foreshadowing as moment later Ophelia's mother calls to her, covered in blood. At this point all tuns for the worst, it is the midpoint of the narrative in which the rebels are trampled, Ophelia's mother turns ill and her fairytale dreams seem to turn evil.

This is reflected when she goes on the fauns next task, into another realm this time, unprotected by nature and surrounded by red walls, food and grotesque images of babies being eaten. It could be said the food represents the harvesting of nature further representing the apparent danger Ophelia is and explaining the faun's reactions to her eating the food as her betraying him and nature. The pervading red colouring in the scene clearly shows the danger and evil of the other realm Ophelia inhabits.

One of the nicest bits of cinematography is one of the simplest shots, the doctors death, brutal, blue, pathetic fallacy. A common visual theme but this is one of the most beautiful executions of the blue shot and the death of the kind doctor stings the audience.

Orange flames light the final scene, a glint of hope for the rebels and Ophilia however it is not enough, the end seems dark, the blue pervades and Videl shoots Ophelia and dark red blood flows from her lifeless body. As all seems dark a golden light pervades and we are transported into a golden realm of the fairytale and we finish with beauty and happiness.

1. Pans Labyrinth (2006) Del Toro G., Spain Mexico USA, Estudios Picasso

Children of Men (2006 Alfonso Cuarón)

Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men is a masterpiece in terms of both cinematography and long takes. Crafted in all ways around the wish for a documentary feeling, the long takes achieve that aesthetic as does the bland and dilapidated cinematography. Described by Cuarón as a kind of anti Blade Runner (1982 Ridley Scott) the futuristic aspects of the scenery have been allowed to decay and rot to add the sense of realism and grittiness celebrated in British cinema and seen in real life. 

When the film opens it sets the scene brilliantly, a future, decayed, with iconography easily recognisable but noticeably different technology. With London grey and grim no colour pervades, its ugly but real. The take is the first of many long ones following Theo out of a shop before an explosion in the background sets the tone fore the brutal destruction ahead. The president is set and the realism of the special effects, coming from where Theo just was, makes the audience feel like they just escaped the explosion along with Theo.

The lack of colour and lack of nature continues until the introduction of Jasper, Theo's salvation, the person with which he confides and can share his emotion. Jasper's relation to nature, gold and the colour green in general is clear and represents a bright change and a positive peaceful location.

The other point in the film in which art and nature unusually pervade is in the museum of arts that Theo visits. This time the colour represents the power held by the people inside the museum.
The emotion in the film often comes in the scenes steeped in nature and green, again we see an example of this after Julienne dies, our first real outburst of emotion, shrouded by green forests.

At the first fish checkpoint as Theo becomes a rebel, or at least becomes the surrogate father figure for Kee, an important change of clothes symbolises his move away from London and general aristocracy, out of his "suit" and into a new role, situation and mental state.
 Wonderfully set in a barn the cows and harvesting gear represent the production line mentality of not just farmers but society. Mixed in with the cows Kee is in danger of the same harvesting however she is not naive enough to believe she will be treated in any other way. Whilst Theo isnt as pessimistic he decides that standing by Kee's side is what is most important. Kee's clothing also represents her heritage, the sandy orange colour of her dress which flows just enough to show her bump works both narratively and symbolically. It is important to establish her heritage as racism and refugees are some of the strongest themes within the film.

After changing into "fish clothing" he immediately changes again when he is in control, not back to his suit though, to a more gentle navy blue top. This again represents the fatherly image developed as he becomes more and more of a father figure to Kee and possibly her child.

The film continues to get bleaker and bleaker, the Bexton Hill refugee camp realistically represents slums and shanty towns like that of Mexico with a bluer colder aesthetic to match the colder London climate.

Throughout the film the Long takes are extraordinary and fall into many types, one which stands out as much simpler is a gentle track forward on Theo. The stiller and simpler shot makeup gives the audience a chance to just watch Clive Owen's performance as Jasper tells Kee about Theo's dead son.

Alternatively one of the longest tracks of the film, towards the end of the film, in the Bexton Hill location, this jumps all over the scene, dancing around Theo through the street, through a wartorn battle and into a block of flats under siege. Lasting 6 minutes and covering a massive distance the shot almost continuously follows Theo in the hight of the documentary esque coverage of the film. Cuarón says in one of the special features that he wanted it to seem like you weren't watching a film as much as you are following the characters around in 2047 with a dv camera, this take is the perfect example of that. Theo is always well framed and the choreography of the shot is brilliant, it imbues an extreme sense of realism. 

One of the few unrealistically lit shots in the film is the following, the lighting is still believable however the goal of the lighting and sound is to add an angelic sense of miracle to the moment. This miracle stops all fighting around them as the baby stuns soldiers and rebels alike. The lighting audio and acting convinces the audience of the magnitude of the miracle and the importance of the baby.

Right towards the end of the film as Kee and Theo finally escape Bexhill two narrative lighting changes show that Kee and Theo are "out of the dark" safe again. Although still bleak and dim they are out of danger and the baby does have a chance.

The documentary feel of Children of Men is undeniable, the use of subtle lighting and symbolic colour in the mise en scene come together to fill the film with meaning beyond the political and dramatic narrative. Not only is the film well lit and coloured but realistically lit and coloured which, with the long takes, give the sense of realism that is the success of the film.

1. Children of Men (2006), Cuarón A., USA, UK, Universal Pictures, Strike Entertainment, Hit & Run Productions

2. Blade Runner (1982), Scott R., USA, Ladd Company, The, Shaw Brothers, Warner Bros

Monday, 8 April 2013

Storyboards and Coverage

The Script has been finalised and cut up into sections for us to storyboard. I get the first half of the all important interrogation scene. We have cut it into two, the first half being a calm interview and the second half starting when the crucial piece of damning evidence is brought to light. As this is the climax of my half I am going to build tension to this point with two long tracks inwards on both the detective and Brad. To cut between I will use a simple two shot. We talked about the second half and thought abuot using ECU's to show the tension with a quick cut rate. To prelude this I thought the first shot of the section would be nice as an objective close up of the tape recorder.

I also had a chance to look at one of the handouts that addresses a method of checking how much coverage you have of each scene. You draw a line representing each shot by the side of the script showing how much of the scene it covers. This lets you ensure you dont miss anything and looks like an excellent exorcize. Whilst its something I may do for longer pieces in the future it seems a little redundant for this project as 3 of my shots cover the whole of my section and the other is more of a cutaway.

We have also started gathering props for shooting, I have the boiler suits for the crime scene, with all the props I think it will be a convincing and decent shoot.