The film begins with scenic shots of plants being watered, leaves blowing in the wind and windmills turning in between plants. This is intercut with shots of newspaper clippings and rosettes for competitions won by our main character for his award winning plants, and we possibly see him washing the windows of the shed on his allotment. As people walk by, they stop and chat to our elderly protagonist and we get the impression that he is a genuinely friendly man and is known by all around him. Whilst he is chatting to passers by, we see him become increasingly nervous if anyone touches his plants, a woman asks to try some of his fruit and he is shown to become quite anxious about this. As the film progresses, we get the impression that he spends quite a lot of time here and is very obsessive about his allotment. On a very grey and miserable looking day (enhanced in post production) we see a man and his dog walk by. The dog stops and sniffs at his allotment and begins to start digging into the mud. We see the elderly man become very nervous, his brow is sweating, heart racing and his eyes twitching. He then begins to shout and the sound of the film is cut and replaced by a high monotone ringing and the screen blurred, suggesting a fit of uncontrollable mania. When the sound returns, the man and his dog are scurrying away and anyone who is at the allotment is starring at him. Flustered, he walks into his shed to retrieve the tools to cover over the burrowed land. As the kneels down over his shoulder we see a very muddy finger sticking out of the ground, a focus pull will draw attention to it. There will then be a graphic match of the boys finger picking at the old mans fruit. The man asks him to leave and the boy refuses to do so. Instead, he takes a handful of the fruit and continues to harass the old man. By the time it gets dark the boy eventually turns to leave after a while of verbally torturing the old man, he throws a drinks can over his shoulder which lands in the centre of his allotment. Again, the mans brow begins to sweat and he becomes very nervous. With the same high ringing, the man picks up his shovel and swings it. The screen goes to black with a loud bang. As the picture comes back, we see a shot of the elderly man digging a large hole in his allotment with a body laying by the side of him. Once more, the screen fades to black.
In todays media lesson, we went around the class and we all described the ideas for our film. I have decided to go with the allotment idea as I feel as though it has the biggest scope for interesting camera techniques. I decided to just describe my pitch off the top off my head as I knew my idea completely, however in hindsight I wish I had prepared since my nerves meant that I rushed it and missed out any explanation of camera techniques.
Although I visibly don’t seem confident, I think I managed to get across my basic idea without it being boring to the audience.
There was limited feedback on my pitch today which I suppose means that I’ve got quite a solid idea which is something I’m very happy about. I was told that there ought to be a bigger reason for the elderly man to kill the young boy, as that would be a very unrealistic over reaction. It was then suggested that maybe the boy repeatedly vandalises or litters on the old mans allotment and the man becomes progressively more angry towards the boy the more he misbehaves and then one day he’s pushed over the edge. Secondly, it was also mentioned that it may be difficult to find an actor that can get very angry on camera and it still be convincing, so I considered other ways around this and decided that maybe the man could have a severe panic attack whenever somebody comes near his allotment and that when he comes to kill the boy, he is in a complete state of panic and isn’t actually aware of his actions. So instead of anger it’ll be more of an anxiety which is something I’ll need to research into in order to make my film as realistic as possible. This was all of the feedback I received from my pitch and I found it quite helpful as now I can respond to this and ensure that my film is as realistic and believable as possible.
The film starts with scenic shots of fruit and veg plants in an allotment and people tending to their gardens, the music is light and happy. It then cuts to a friendly looking man, watering his plants with close ups on the water falling onto the ground. We see him converse with people walking by and we get the general idea that he is known and liked by all. As the film progresses, there is a growing sense that the man is slightly obsessive about his allotment and can become anxious whenever anyone simply walks by it. We get the impression that he is always there, and maybe possibly sleeps in a shed near his allotment. One day, a walker and his dog passes by the allotment and the dog starts sniffing/digging at his land, the elderly man gets very angry about this and we see an incredibly aggressive and scary side to him that the audience wouldn’t expect. After the man and his dog leave, we see the elderly man get his gardening equipment from the shed and begin to smooth over the patch from the dog, to which out of focus there is a finger or some other body part/piece of clothing only just slightly. The camera then cuts back to the man again at the allotment at dusk, when a younger person walks past and litters on the allotment, where we see the same amount of rage that he showed towards the dog. The young person answers back and the old man strikes him with a shovel and drags him into his shed. At night we see the man digging up his allotment and then the screen cuts to black.
The film will begin with a blurred shot from the point of view of the protagonist with the radio playing, facing out or a car window. There will then be a low level shot of a car pulling up into a car park, and we see the main characters feet as she steps out the door. The camera follows her into a GP or hospital, showing the sign so the setting is established. The camera will then cut back to a shot of an older woman, presumably the girls mother sitting in the car looking anxious. The girl comes back into the car looking upset but tells her mother that there was nothing to worry about and that she isn’t ill, to which the camera cuts to her shoving a leaflet into her pocket from the doctors. Once they get home, the girl runs up to her room to read the leaflet she was given, which reveals the title which basically explains that the girl is loosing her sight rapidly. The camera could come into focus during this shot, showing the girls initial struggle to read this. She then gets her laptop and begins to write a blog explaining how she is going to learn to cope with being blind on her own, rather than asking for support from her mum as she doesn’t want her to worry. We will see her typing the blog over the top of the film as underneath this the film will show the girl learning to move around her house blindfolded and teaching herself brail and maybe some other everyday things that require vision. The film will then develop more of an upbeat tone, repeatedly showing her progressively getting better at these activities and maybe occasionally showing the film from her point of view so that the audience can understand how poor her vision is getting. At the end of the film, we hear her alarm go off and again the camera is from her point of view, however we see that now she has become completely blind with maybe a ringing tone over the background to show the girls panic and the tone of the film becomes more solemn again. She then shouts for her mum, and the camera cuts to black.
I’m going to look into the way Wes Anderson shoots his films, as I really like the tone of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Fantastic Mr Fox and think it may make the film look a bit more quirky. The film will be in the Drama genre, as these films tend to feature real life people in real life situations, and although this may not necessarily happen in real life I think it would suit this genre best.
In order to create a short film, I ought to have some idea as to what they might typically contain so that I can make my coursework as realistic as possible. I will do this by researching online and in the school library and analysing what I find, and after doing this I will watch a couple to see how these aspects have been put into place and whether or not all qualities I find in my research are essential into creating a well made short film.
According to Script, these are the ‘seven simple secrets into making an outstanding short film’:
- They need to be a visual medium. This means that they shouldn’t just include dialogue, but also utilise music, atmosphere, colour and should be manipulated to evoke emotions. Through including these aspects, the short film will be enjoyable to watch rather than just feeling like an omnipresent person in a two person conversation for the duration of the film.
- The writer needs to have a personal connection with the film. Since I will be taking on the role of writer, director, camera man, editor etc., I really need to enjoy what I’m creating and be immersed in the process completely. That’s why I will carefully think about my idea before I commit to anything, since I need to be 100% behind it all of the way.
- They tell the story of one or a couple of character’s journey- no more. Since my short film will only be a duration of 5 minutes, it really needs to be centred around one main protagonist or maybe a couple if they have a strong interlink. In such a short timeframe there’s not enough screen time to create a Magnolia like plotline, and through only featuring a handful of characters I will be able to fully explore their story rather than just only briefly introducing them.
- The films utilise available resources. Obviously this will change from one director to the next, but for me, my short film needs to be created to a fairly low budget cost and utilises the equipment available to me from the school’s media department. I think this will be best achieved by creating a film in the Drama genre, as these focus on real life people in real life situations, meaning that I will not have to go to elaborate extents to create a 1920s inspired flapper party when really I don’t have the access to much set design, costumes, actors or anything other than the things I already own or can be bought for a reasonable price.
- Include a twist at the beginning and at the end. Most cinematic pieces (including television shows and short films) set up an expectation and then ultimately subvert this, thus keeping the audience on their toes. I’m not quite sure how to include this into the initial ideas that I’ve already considered but if I find this is a recurring theme in short films I will find a way to make it work.
- Has a largely optimistic outlook or ends up on a high note. I can understand this reason since they are so short that they ought to include something positive, rather than just a short snippet of a seriously depressing story. I feel like this could easily be incorporated into my film, possibly by turning it around into a moral lesson of some sort if anything seems suitable.
- They feature memorable characters. Script advised that I…
“Give your characters strong personalities, quirks, wants, and goals. That way, we’ll care about them, and willingly follow them on their journey.”
… which I feel is an incredibly important aspect in creating a short film, since there’s such a short amount of time for the characters to make an impression on the audience, so by making them very distinct individuals they may stick with the audience even though the film is a much shorter length than normal.
It’s always a struggle to come up with a film idea right on the spot and this coursework is no exception. After racking my brains and looking everywhere in my daily life for inspiration I couldn’t come up with anything.
However, since being told about our coursework brief I’ve come up with a few ideas that I might be able to churn into a short film, but these are just seeds of ideas and will need a lot more thought before I’ll be anywhere near a final plot. Here are a few snippets of my thoughts:
- The journey of a penny: The film follows the journey of a penny (a pound) as it is exchanged by people in their daily lives. This could feature someone giving money to a homeless person, who then pays for something in the shop and then the shop uses the money given to them by the homeless person to pay someone’s wages etc. The journey follows this coin until it exchanges hands to the point were it comes back to the first character at the start of the short film. Since there wouldn’t be much of a narrative to the film, I would have to work very hard in making it cinematically beautiful which is something that I’d really enjoy working on. Also, the characters would need to be really interesting in order for people to want to continue to watch the duration of the film. However, I think I could make this work quite well.
- The allotment: The film follows an elderly gentleman who is loved by all and is generally a very friendly gentleman. He is known for always being very attentive to his allotment and he’s always seen down there, just watching over his plants. After building up the friendly character of this man, a walker and his dog are travelling through the allotment one evening and the dog stops to sniff. The walker tries to pull the dog away but it continues to sniff and untimatley begins to dig into this mans allotment. The elderly gentleman is distraught and the audience feels very empathetic towards him. It is then revealed that the elderly man has a dead body buried under his allotment thus his reasons for taking such care of it. I don’t really feel very passionate about this idea and it’d be difficult to create my coursework without some drive towards it.
- Squatters rights: The film would depict an elderly woman living on her own in a large house. She would begin to notice strange things every so often, such as litter about the place and noises at night; this causes her a great deal of discomfort. Since she is elderly, she is moved into her home as her family thought that the noises could be a symptom of her old age and once she has left her home the audience sees that there has been a squatter living in her home with her, unbeknown to the old lady. Again, I’m not really sure how I could develop this idea into a really interesting short film and I feel I might struggle to make it different to other thriller films with similar plotlines.
- Blind sight: The main character of this short film would be a teenage girl around 17 or 18, who finds out that she is rapidly loosing her eyesight and will become blind within a matter of months. She is afraid to tell her mother since she doesn’t want her to worry and put her life on hold to deal with her daughters issue; so the protagonist learns to cope with no sight before she looses it completely. The film shows her walking around the house blindfolded, learning to type without looking at the keys and other activities in her everyday life that would usually require sight. I quite like the idea of this and I think there’s quite a bit of room to develop it into something that’s a bit different.
Out of all the basic ideas I’ve had, I think I’ll try and develop my final idea into a detailed plot and see where I can take this as I feel quite excited by this idea.