The Girl With All The Gifts
The Girl With All The Gifts (The Girl With All The Gifts, 2016) is set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world and follows a young girl who harnesses both human and zombie characteristics. The film portrays a dismal end to humanity, through a classy, non-clichéd manner - unlike your typical zombie thriller. Thanks to its well written script by Mike Carey, the film follows a linear structure, with strong character development from the onset. Carey immediately informs us on the character and their complexities and uses this to build crisis and resolution, but ultimately, intrigue. For example, Sgt. Eddie Parks, played by Paddy Considine, is a tough, straight forward man who often comes across as heartless. However, as the film concludes, his history unravels as we discover he lost his wife who was 7 months pregnant. This demonstrates Carey’s ability to develop a character and weave it into a plot. It's a technique I will use in my future scripts to supplement a character by introducing further complexities, helping to bolster the storyline. The only drawback with the script is the ending, where a serious film is rounded of with a happy ending, detracting from the surreal, but convincing narrative.
The Girl With All The Gifts. Directed By Colm McCarthy. (2016). [film] United Kingdom: Warner Bros. Pictures
La Jetée (La Jetée, 1962) is set in Paris during WW3 and follows a man who is psychologically sent to the past, present and future during his enslavement. Unlike other films, La Jetée is constructed with hundreds of still images and is a testament to photography and its ability to tell a story. Using just one medium, the photographic qualities of these images had to be conducive to a solid narrative and despite the obvious grain and small marks that you’d expect from 35mm film, the textures, tonality and compositions do contribute to the subtext. The use of available light during the past suggests a natural and candid relationship. The interesting use of depth of field allows the film to draw focus to the character and assists the narrator's dialogue. Furthermore, the strong use of symbolism gives us an insight into the character’s thoughts. For example, Davos is gazing up at a stuffed eagle. He is positioned under the wing, a visual metaphor of the protection of the woman he loves. This simple use of intellectual imagery is something I will take away and incorporate into my own planning and storyboards in order to create further underlying meanings and complexities.
La Jetée. (1962). Directed By Chris Marker [film] France: Argos Films.
Three (Three, 2016) is a Hong Kong-Chinese film that tells the story of a man escaping the law in a hospital and a tenacious police officer determined on capturing the antagonist’s gang. Though this piece of world cinema is entertaining, it is mostly for the wrong reasons. The film is set in a hospital and there is a lack of story development within this space and the characters are unrefined and one dimensional - primarily due to the poor script. However, this is overshadowed by the truly abominable practical effects. Three employs an interesting and failed technique to emulate bullet-time during an exchange of gunfire. Instead of filming in realtime and using an array of cameras to create the effect, they choreograph the actors to move in slow-motion. This devalues the quality of the work because the visuals prior to this were respectful and decent. However, the overall action and climax of the film was well played out and was welcomed after such a motionless and undesirable first half. A script that demands good practical effects must be well considered and planned and I will harbour this thought process in my next productions.
Three. (2016). Directed By Johnnie To. [film] Hong Kong.
My Visit To A Film Festival
Reflection on Rotterdam International Film Festival
In January I visited the Netherlands to view the wide selection of films exhibited at the IFFR (International Film Festival Rotterdam). Over the course of 4 days, I explored, became inspired and took a lot away from my first experience at a film festival. What I loved about the festival was the sheer variety of films and performances that were available and I enjoyed seeing films that I wouldn't otherwise see. I was inspired by a collective of 6 small films bundled into one, called ‘Where were we’ (IFFR, 2016). The films themselves I disliked as I found them to be too abstract, but through viewing them I began to understand that a film doesn't have to be a structured narrative that we are exposed to daily. Furthermore, a film can be experimental and can explore non-linear narratives and underlying messages and this is something I feel I am now open to and would like to explore in future projects. In addition to this, the films hosted a plethora of cinematography techniques, such as applying different footage segments of the same object over each other to create an interesting image with layers of stories behind them.
Whilst at IFFR, I viewed a short series of documentaries called ‘Picture Palestine’ (IFFR, 2016). The films were a collection of 11 documentary shorts of historical, militant and civilian footage during the Palestinians battle with the Israelis and they demonstrate that Palestine’s creativity, care for meaning and own cinematic aesthetics and principals can blossom from even the darkest of times. Unlike a typical documentary, the films are primarily visually based and rely on the audience to deconstruct the subtext and connotations. This to me demonstrates that a documentary doesn’t need to be cladded with narration and explanations throughout, rather it can be solely suggestive. Indeed, documentaries aren't always 100% factual and can often be biased and by adopting this Palestinian-esque documentary style, we would be removing that chance of partiality and leaving it down to the audience to derive an opinion. I personally enjoy documentaries and this is something I would like to experiment with in my own work.
Lastly, I learnt a lot about character driven films after viewing the film, ‘Patterson’ (Paterson, 2016). This was my first encounter with a film that uses a character to deliver the film, rather than having a narrative curve. I learnt about the power of this style of film, as it resists this notion that a film has to align with the norm of Hollywood blockbusters. However, ‘Patterson’ came across as monotonous in many aspects of the film and I found that the film needed to fluctuate its pace to keep the audience engaged.
To conclude, the festival was both inspiring and educational and I feel I took away a new outlook onto independent and less commercialised works, but also a reassurance on my own styles and opinions. I hope to take on some new styles and ways of thinking in my next productions.
IFFR. (2016). Picture Palestine. [online] Available at: https://iffr.com/en/2017/programme-sections/picture-palestine [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].
A Place I've Never Been. (2015). [film] Adrian Flury.
Paterson. (2016). Directed By Jim Jarmusch. [film] USA: Animal Kingdom, Amazon Studios.
IFFR. (2016). Where were we. [online] Available at: https://iffr.com/en/2017/combinedprogrammes/where-were-we [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].
Burning Mountains That Spew Flame. (2016). [film] Samuel M. Delgado, Helena Girón.
Colossal Cave. (2016). [film] Graeme Arnfield.
Tempo of Tomorrow Revisited. (2015). [DVD] Josh Gibson, Annie Gibson.
The Stability of the System. (2016). [film] Sasha Litvintseva, Isabel Mallet.
Remote. (2016). [film] Eva Giolo.
Reflection on external work
Statik Records - Advert for an event
I was approached by Mathew Stokoe, a connection I made in Newcastle upon Tyne. Mathew recently set up Statik Records Music Label to use as a launchpad for his own music and future local musicians in the Newcastle EDM scene. I was asked to create a short, 30 second promotional video to publicise a launch event for the label. He set out a few requirements; it must be fast paced, informative, professional and suitable for social media use.
Firstly, I was given permission to adapt a music video from his latest track. I could use this footage and weave it into the advert. Moreover, the promotion acted as a boost for his music video, which has now over 2000 views on his social media channels. The video would also help support the text and progress the visuals. In hindsight, I would have liked to use more B-Roll footage such as cityscapes and musically themed images to support the video. This is something I should have communicated with him.
I was then provided with the music for the video. Being fast paced, I could make rapid edits and allow for a more effective visual sync with the beat. Keeping the frames synced up also retains audience engagement, especially for a production of such a short length. This needed to be taken into consideration because the platform for the video was a social media site, which is saturated with short videos with the aim of grabbing the attention of the user. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 17% of page views last less than 4 seconds (Weinreich et al., 2008). Facebook (Facebook, 2004) adopts a way of playing videos where they start automatically. If I could make the promotion play instantly, then I could increase the chance of immediate engagement and a higher view count. This demonstrates my thought into how the audience engages with media and the way in which it differs across various platforms and mediums.
To make sure the promotion was professional, Mathew provided me with all the business marketing assets and fonts that I needed to work with so that I could keep it inline with the overall look and theme of the marketing aesthetic. I was heavily inspired by Apple Inc.’s marketing style, particularly their latest adverts as they are crisp and well delivered. I took away a couple of key visual elements from this. I decided to make the font translucent such that the colours would come through and would stand out against the black. I identified this as a theme within Mathews work - the use of black, contrasted against bright colours. I also used the youthful and playful phrase, “be there or be square”. It persuades the audience to attend and acts as a punchline.
To conclude, the process went to plan and the promotion worked well with the launch event being full. The social media integration was smooth and I’ve since worked with Mathew in other projects for his business.
WEINREICH, H., OBENDORF, H., HERDER, E. and MAYER, M. (2008). Not Quite the Average: An Empirical Study of Web Us. Hamburg: ACM Transactions, Article #5.
Facebook. (2004). Facebook. [online] Available at: https://en-gb.facebook.com/ [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].