Sunday, March 5, 2017

Week Four: Work needs doing

While we have made strong strides into pre-production, there is still work which needs to be done.

Casting is critical right now, we need to know who it is we’re working with and what they’re able to do, costuming will also play a big part in this. As we have three different stories, we’re going to have to need three different sets of costumes.
I myself have already began work on what the costumes for the My Little Pony characters can be like, but until we know the gender/height/size ect of the actors, we can’t progress with the actual physical side of the costume.

Title Sequence

The title sequence is due to be shot by week seven, this means we need to have our idea chosen, equipment booked and set(s) built by that time. Some of the ideas floated require green screen, so being able to light/shoot green screen will be critical knowledge to pull that off beforehand.


I don’t believe we can get away with shooting everything on the soundstage in front of the green screen, apart from looking maybe bad, the sound-stage is in high demand for many other students as well at the uni, we can’t hog it.
I believe we’re getting close to the narrator’s room, however for other locations I don’t know how close we are. Different episodes will have different vibes and locations as well, so there’s a lot of work to be done in this area.

We’re getting ever closer to the middle of the trimester, we gotta’ get moving soon.

Week Three: Title Sequence

The idea behind my pitch is to focus on the writer of the Fan Fiction themselves. While a lot of pitches focused on the fan-fiction or the presentation of the fan-fiction (a lot to do with books being opened, looking like a classic fairy tale ect), I personally felt that focusing in on the creative mind behind the works is an interesting way to open the episode.

It would star a tween (or most likely a adult who is dressed up like a tween) who storms into their bedroom frustrated after a day at school, after tossing their bag on the bed, they bring out their laptop to start typing (only major light source in the room).

Behind them is their thoughts, which would be the ideas of the Fan Fiction they are conceiving, then they start to type. The camera would spin around and on the screen is a word document, which would have the name of the episode.

Another thing I wished to include is a disclaimer regarding copyright, that this isn’t our works, that the original copyright isn’t either. We’re walking a double-whammy copyright brigade issue with our project, not only the original holder of the IP, but also the fan-fic writer themselves.

The first attempt at my pitch didn't go well, not enough detail, too vague. So my second pitch I think went a lot better in terms of what my vision is. It seems however a version of my idea is being considered, but some old man on a typewriter instead of a tween on a laptop.
Which to me is going back to the old classic fairy tale vibe of the other intros, which is perfectly fine, I understand it, however I think it does miss some of the reality of who it is that is actually writing these stories.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Week Two: Crew Roles

I am still unsure what role I wish to take in the industry, however I believe I am leaning more directly towards post-production.
As much as I enjoy the creative process in terms of script-writing and the general concept of the show, I don’t think I am focused enough.

I don’t have the people skills required for directorial or producing work, or the artist mind for production.
I am not quite strong enough for camera and I don’t know if I can deal with the pressure of being around people when they’re worked up (of which I have been led to believe happens quite a bit on set in the real world, my experience at uni so far has been great on set, however I know that isn’t totally representative of on the job).

If I was to be camera, I think I would prefer a smaller unit such as news or current affairs kind of camera work, while still stressful, there isn’t a lot of other people with flashy lights either.

So I think editing could be where I fall into place, I am quite skilled with computers and know Adobe Premier at a decent level right now.
The only thing is I am not very good at AVID, I did an editing unit with it when I was still a games student and as I never used AVID outside of that class, I forgot how it all worked despite getting good marks at the time.
I am so used to how Sony VEGAS and Adobe Premier work, that I would honestly need another class in learning AVID again, for me it feels a bit jank in comparison.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Week One: The Pitch

My pitch wasn’t done very well. Instead of having a solid story idea, I instead came in with a vague concept. So, it wasn’t too surprising that my peers weren’t sure to make of this, at the time this was by design as I thought in my mind that I could custom shape the vague idea to whatever they thought could be cool. But in hindsight the vague nature of the pitch would look poor in comparison to fully fleshed out ideas with character and resolution.

My inspiration was shows like the UK version of the office or the ABC show Utopia. My general idea was a kind of dry satirical comedy. I know comedy is what often are the golden winners for web series and honestly after the more grim/realistic films we have been making last few trimesters I more than welcome something light hearted.

But on retrospect, the kind of satire I would have might only have amused me and nobody would enjoy watching a web-series about some guy letting out his annoyances of the world, it could have become very preachy against the nanny state.
Although I must say that I am very pleased with the actual result, of Fan(tastic) Fiction. As fan fiction was a good strong part of my own tween/young teen years the idea did resonate with me strongly.
I think this was the right direction, the more laugh-out-loud kind of less preachy humour is something all of us can get behind, not just me.

If I did it again, I would be less vague. I would come in with a more stronger vision, so I could offer concrete answers to what the story was about instead of just being open to suggestions.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Modes of the Documentary

Modes of the Documentary
By Mark Davenport

As time grew on and the documentary evolved out of its original rigid definition of an ‘unedited’ stream of footage (thanks to Nanook of the North), different styles of the art-form have taken flight over time.
Bill Nichols has theories five major modes of documentary, of which are still today in creating categories and sub-genres for works.


The poetic mode of documentary is the most abstract in many senses, often coming dangerously close to becoming experimental films and often incredibly avant-garde. Typically these films are without narration or an overall narrative, often desiring the audience member to take it upon themselves to create their own narrative or meaning from the piece (as is human nature).
Baraka is classic example of a masterpiece of a poetic film, with breathtaking visuals (the first film to ever receive an 8K scan, once described as the best looking DVD ever printed by Roger Ebert) and a spine-tingling soundtrack to boot.
However I would be hard pressed to tell you what actually is the story or point of the film, I can tell you things I saw, but how they’re meant to link together (if at all they’re meant to link together) is very much up to the digression of the viewer.
A less flashy, but no less notable example of a poetic film can be found in Junktopia, a film which shows art being made out of ‘junk’, however with the way it’s filmed and the musical choices give it a post-apocalyptic (dare I say WaterWorld?) world, lacking any humans but showing our material impact upon the Earth. While many dislike this film, I was quite taken with it.


Perhaps the most classically thought of mode of documentary, Expository documentaries revolve around the idea of telling the story of an event, person or fact-seeking. Such as the type of documentaries you’d find on the History Channel about the Second World War. They often have a presenter of some sort, although this presenter isn’t necessarily involved in the story itself, more as an avenue to get across information. They focus more on the actuality of the events, however the means of which they present this information isn’t just restricted to interviews or archival (although they do use these), they also can use recreations. These recreations can be as simple as an actor playing a general pointing at a map with a stick or one person walking down the street passing a secret document to another. However the entire film could be made up of recreations as well, however these recreations aren’t one continuous thing for the film (otherwise it would end up more in the realm of biopic), instead they can be interlaced with interviews from the people who were there or experts of the event.


Observational documentaries can sometimes be hard to define, elements of it can be found in both Expository and Participatory modes, the general idea however is that the documentary ‘observes’ the event without getting directly involved in it.
For example in a Participatory documentary about a racist man going to a rally, the presenter would be walking alongside the subject, talking with them constantly and would be filmed themselves standing alongside in the rally with them (such as what Reggie Yates did when he joined the race rallies in Russia). However, in Observational the presenter isn’t generally seen or heard, in this sense the camera acts as a first person perspective for the audience, so in an abstract sense they can feel like as if they’re standing in the race rally themselves, looking at the subject in question.
The only time you’d hear the presenter was if it was vital for the question to be heard or seen if say the police came and the fourth wall would be broken. In this way Observational, while highly edited can have a more ‘fast and loose’ vibe to it.


The Participatory documentary has become one of the most popular forms of documentary of recent times, in some cases the audience is more interested in watching because of the presenter than the actual interest in the subject itself, this very much lines up with the way a lot of internet content on YouTube works these days, they’re personality driven, instead of pure content.
The classic examples can be found in the ever delightful Louis Theroux, where the man finds himself among Neo-Nazis, Sex Offenders, Dangerous Animal Owners, Porn Stars, Gambling Addicts and almost anything else you could possibly think of.
Louis Theroux is of course not alone, other examples can be found in Ross Kemp and Reggie Yates. Part of the appeal is not just the core personalities, but the idea of ‘privileged access’ or the pure audacity of the presenter. These presenters find themselves in the company of people the audience are deeply interested in, but wouldn’t ever dream of meeting. They can often get invited into places out of bounds, in a sense they’re thrill seekers of an intellectual kind. This can extend to programs like River Monsters, the most popular show on as Planet. Those who might not normally care about fishing (like myself), are deeply invested in the program.


The Self-Reflexive form of documentary is one which can have the most twists and turns, in this the documentary is typically about the filmmaker themselves. In the purest sense, they would film and edit the work themselves. A somewhat crude, disturbing, yet intriguing example is Tarnation. A young boy of 12 starts to film his life and amazingly still kept filming his life for years and has the footage years later. Of course in his case, it helps that his story is one full of despair and tragedy. Abused childhood, raised by kooky grandparents, a broken mother, a disappeared father, being gay at a time when it wasn’t as easy and experimenting with his own sexuality at a very young age. Having such a unique story to tell allows the film to be a standalone piece, despite being up of random footage with text on the screen to tell the story.

The documentary is an interesting form of filmmaking, it unfairly gets a bad rap often as being boring and lame, something shown on terrible VHS tapes at school, however just a slight bit of care and digging will grand the audience an insight they might have never had before. Documentaries are not only entertaining, but can be very informative.
I have often said I have learnt more from the internet than I did at school and that also rings true for the documentary.
While not a documentary really, on QI last night I learnt that Killer Whales are in fact Dolphins with the name misquoted from Killer of Whales. I didn’t know that, now I do. That is Quite Interesting.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Blog #13 - Until next time

The final blog.

I am not sure if the future units require blogs or not, going into documentary next trimester, does that have a blog? I am not sure to be honest.

Time to reflect!

I think overall we did a decent enough job although the final product is yet to be final.
We showed off the film in front of a bunch of people at uni and the result wasn't... well, what we had hoped for.

There were audio problems and visual problems, simply put there was not enough time in post-production. Originally we were meant to have three weeks, but we ended up having two. Because of this, we got picture lock done on the night before, which didn't leave enough time for audio to finish or the colour grade to be done.

However it's not over. The group has decided to push on. The two audio have decided to finish which is fantastic, they're under no obligation to do it, so it says a world about them that they will. So the score will also be done.

The colour grading will also be re-done and the credits will be rejigged (many problems, such as not showing up right away, long gap after and our 2nd A.Cs name not showing up).

But I think as a group we have learnt a lot, I sure know I have learnt a lot.

As for next trimester, the future!
I am not sure what I will be doing a doco on yet, haven't seen the brief. Although I am thinking something about lifeguards or surf lifesavers could be interesting.
Cannot wait!

- Mark

Blog #12 - The perfect coffee

The Director of Photography requested that I make him a coffee as he nominated to stay behind and watch the equipment as it was separate to our base.
His perfect coffee was three chunks of instant, two sugar cubes, a lot of hot water and only a dash of milk.
I thought he was mad, but I took it to him and in his words "perfect".

Having a setup for food and drink is something we can improve on in the future. As it stands we had a giant kettle thing which provided the hot water and a bunch of loose tea-bags and coffee. Which changed from day to day.
In future we need to be more specific about what we need, how many cups we need and have more to eat than biscuits.

Thankfully one of the actors mothers brought alone sandwiches, so that was great. There were also heat up food which was good too, but sparse.

There is a lot of people to feed when you start to think about it, our core group, audio, extra helpers, actors, actors parents, ect. I think we need to overestimate the amount of people on set in the future.

Let's not forget that it was an issue of hot food which caused the entire Top Gear scenario.