HND – Week 6 – Genre Studies and Themes

This week was more on Genre studies and introduced themes into the equation as well as discussing cliches, the general “rules” around comedy, thriller, horror, etc.

We also worked on movie posters, designing posters for our upcoming short movie and other projects.

The practical exercise on Thursday seemed to be a bit chaotic and unplanned –  Made worse by only half the class having actually turned up 🙁

We were told to think of sci-fi story ideas over lunch, come back and pitch them and the winning one would then be chosen (which then meant we had 5-10 minutes to come up with a script), and the crew were chosen by Zulf using the age-old “spin the bottle” trick. (Talk about cliche’s 🙂 )

The brief was to use “unique” applications of light and colour and to make full use of the gels and lighting kit.

Arabella was selected as Director, Asaturs got Cinematography, Josh on camera, and as the writer, I was told to sit back and let the Director get on with things (this was difficult!) without interfering but to answer questions on my “vision” if asked. 

I quickly defined how I thought the “transport” sequence should work, which everyone bought into, and then I sat back (in my “trailer”) and observed – until asked to help with one of the sub roles (be it sound, lights, etc) – and of course started to get into character.  It was my intention to channel Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) from Back To The Future.  You can judge how well that worked (or didn’t) when you watch the clip!

As we were a total of 5 for the afternoon and we needed 2 in front of the camera, one operating the camera, and one directing we found that we had to double up on most roles.  Due to technical difficulties with the sound equipment (and the distinct lack of a boom operator), Arabella made the decision to shoot just using the on-camera microphones.

The whole shoot was pretty shambolic to start with, although after a patchy start Arabella quickly gained confidence and started to take charge.  The shoot would have gone better had the Director spent 10 minutes planning, drawing up a scene and shot list to communicate to the crew, however after some confusion things started to happen and we managed to shoot the (roughly) nine scenes within the allotted 2-hour window (just).

I have edited a rough cut together.  This is definitely not our best work, but it stands as a record of what happened in the afternoon. 

Transporter Accident (Short)


Bloopers and Outtakes

HND – Week 5 – Genre and Horror

This week we started work on Genres, discussing the various types of genre and where they fit into the film world.

We covered the basic format of a screenplay and some of the conventions, however I felt the lesson wasn’t overly informative or clear and think we need to spend more time on this important subject.

We worked on our script ideas and filmed our own little horror story where we ended up decapitating a stuffed toy (“Mr Fluffikins”) on a project called “Under Duress” by Josh Farrell.

The filming exercise went well and with Orlando in the Director’s Chair, myself as 1st AD, Chessie as Sound, Santi as Clapper Loader, ?? on Camera and Josh and Arabella in front of the camera, we worked efficiently to shoot the various scenes.

The evening was more time spent on script analysis led by Elliot Grove as part of a five week foundation course on script writing.  The foundation seems to be mainly analysis of other scripts, how they are translated into film and then a bunch of tools for story generation, as well as Elliot’s rules for story types.

Stories are based in one of four arenas, Wilderness, Village, City and Oppressed City.


HND – Week 4 – Story Telling and Colour

This week we learned more about storytelling, pace and tempo. We reviewed the use of colour in films (both in camera and in post) as well as the differences between subtractive (CMYK) and additive (RGB) colour references.

We discussed Plutchick’s Wheel of Emotion and how different Directors/DoPs use colour to enhance their story

Over at we referenced two films (Gridlock and The New Tenants) which both tell stories in different ways.ën.html

This is a rehash of an old joke but the pace and delivery are well done, leading to the punch line which is left for the audience to fill in the blanks. A great use of suspense, anticipation and drama. (The version I had heard years ago asked the child to go get Daddy’s gun and shoot “Uncle Bob”, mommy then runs out onto the balcony and falls into the swimming pool .. but I guess this is less “traumatic” as it isn’t enticing a minor to commit murder) 🙂

This opens with a lot of dialogue. A large amount of exposition .. something which many people may not sit through considering today’s Facebook generation where attention spans are down to just a few minutes at a time.

We spent a great deal of Wednesday planning/mind mapping ideas, themes and resources. Again aimed to a) get us using a new piece of software and b) to start to get ideas down on “paper” – a resource we can refer back to when trying to come up with ideas for stories.

It worked quite well as given the theme of “knife, abduction, 2 characters” I spent the train ride in Thursday morning drafting an outline for a new horror/drama. The story is quite dark and has me wondering about my psyche .. but I guess it is good that I’m able to write this stuff down and that I find it disturbing rather than “normal” 🙂

Thursday afternoon we had to come up with a short story idea which we were then going to film using one of two shoulder rigs. We were again split into a team of 4 and very quickly found our niches with Arabella choosing to “run and gun” on the camera, Josh came up with the story which featured Martin and himself, this left me to do what I enjoy the most and “Direct” (and also DoP – yes!!).


We discussed the premise and did a quick walk through to rehearse and design the story and shots as we walked. During the rehearsal phase, one of the Raindance interns (Dora) came to watch and we quickly roped her in as an additional character in the film (which she was very keen to do!)

We were going to have Josh following Martin and then as Martin followed Josh into a room Martin turns and attacks Josh. We would then cut to Josh being tied up in a chair .. we didn’t have much more of an ending planned at this stage, but again it was more about familiarity with the equipment than the story.

One of Zulf’s instructions was to consider the use of colour, and we came up with the idea of using the character’s clothing to denote their intentions (as Edgar Wright does in Baby Driver), we also quickly decided that we would play the “racial stereotype” card and had Martin and Josh switch roles. Josh wearing a white hoodie with a dark red t-shirt and Martin wearing a dark hoodie with a lighter colour t-shirt underneath worked out nicely, as did Dora’s black coat. Martin’s t-shirt was a lighter blue and we used this to highlight the change in his perceived character from the “villain” to the victim.

We had originally intended to use the rope to tie Martin up, however, Ana’s group were quick to commandeer that particular prop, so we opted for the packing tape option instead.

Dora got into her role really easily (perhaps too easily!) and Martin being the soldier that he is told her to not to hold back (we were talking about staging the slaps and using sound effects in POST .. as it was, we didn’t need to!)

Through the 1 minute short, you will see initially a dark shadowy figure following the young (innocent) student down the stairs at college. Furtively he follows our “hero” around the corridors and into a classroom. We know he is up to no good just by looking at him! Suddenly we see a fire extinguisher rushing towards our head and our “hero” in the background but then we’re unconscious!

Cut to the “villain” being tied up and beaten by this woman whilst our “hero” stands at the side watching and laughing. The villain is now our hero and the hero has become the villain. I also wanted to try and play with the shadows being cast by Dora and Martin to try and show a “duality” although I’m not sure how well it worked in the final product.

We end with a pantomime villain laugh and the strange and eery sight of “big brother” watching through the doorway in the distance. (I felt this was a nice twist, and I’d originally tried to get Zulf to stand in the doorway in shadow but he wasn’t playing the game, so we used the Raindance poster with the camera/lens to symbolise “Big Brother” watching on)

A fun exercise … made, even more, fun by the challenge of trying to edit and put the first assembly together for a screening before the end of the class at 5:30 … I made it just and that first cut can be seen below.

Subsequently, I’m working on colour correction and colour grading and the finished version will be embedded towards the top of this post when it has been completed. The idea is warmer glow when the students are in their safe college environment and a colder harsher “reality” when we “wake up” and see Martin bound and being beaten by our “new” villains”.

First Assembly –
Final “Director’s Cut” after colour correction –


What could I have done better personally? I had some issues explaining my “vision” to Arabella and ended up getting a little more involved in camera op than I should have done (I guess I doubled as 1st AC) .. otherwise I think we worked well together and I’m quite happy with the result considering we only had an hour to plan, rehearse and shoot the scenes. We have a few nice camera angles and pickups, and the finished edit does a nice job of telling the story – at least how I envisioned it as the Director 🙂