We have been set a task to make a one minute short film based around the theme of friendship. In order to prepare for this, I have researched other short films on YouTube in order to get inspiration for my short film.

The titles/credits don’t count as the minute.

Here is the end result.

At first, I started researching just short films. Then I started looking at short films based on the friendship theme. I then did some research on location, equipment and props.

Special Date

In class, we looked at a short film called ‘Special Date’. We analysed things such as shots, lighting, colour and sound. The first observation I made was the ‘happy’ soundtrack called ‘Sunny Side Up’ This set the light mood for the short film. Foley sound would have been added in post-production like the hairdryer, spray can, shower etc. They use jump cuts near the beginning to signify the passing of time. This means they can compress a 15-minute activity of getting ready into thirty seconds. I also notice that there was no camera movement throughout. This could have been done to avoid the short film from looking dramatic as camera movement can make a film look more fast pace and tense. The bathroom scene was done with bright, soft lighting which added to the ‘happy’ mood throughout. The end, however, was fairly dark which would have contrasted the original mood if the music had stopped or changed but as the ‘happy’ music carried on it kept the light mood. Vibrant colours were used in the short film. This was probably done to emphasise the ‘happy’ mood. Examples of these vibrant colours include the bathrobes hanging on the shower curtain and the actor’s clothes (bright yellow trousers). Props such as the hairdryer, the toothbrush, the spray can, the shaving cream and shaver all helped to tell the narrative and make a clear storyline.

Misplaced

We also looked at another short film in class called ‘Misplaced.’ I preferred this short film to the previous one because it had a clear storyline to which most people could relate. The main thing that stood out to me was the camera movement and the use of it to tell the narrative. At first, there are just static shots with the exception of one panning shot. Then, when he realised that his phone wasn’t charging, the camera movement drastically increases. Shaky camera shots are used a lot to show the urgency of his frantic hunt for his phone. When it looks like he has given up searching near the end, the camera movement stops and we go back to static shots. The short film is done in black and white in a film noir style with high contrast. This can be linked with the theme that uses film noir most – detective films. This gives the film the quality of the said genre. The soundtrack also enhances the suspense of the film. Foley sound was used as well for objects such as the keys. There are a few props used in the scene, for example, keys, a bed, table, book, phone and a wallet but props like the phone charger help to tell the narrative and inform the audience what the character is searching for.

Surprise

Although this short film is five minutes long, I am going to make a shorter version lasting a minute. There are different parts I can use in my work. This is about a friendship between two people. I especially liked the part near the beginning in which there is a fade transition showing how the two children have grown up. The unexpected, sad ending was really effective and it was a good idea to use a letter rather than saying it face to face. I also thought the flashbacks at the end were clever. The lighting was mainly bright, soft lighting throughout the short film. There was a clever use of the sepia filter towards the end. So far I think this is the best example as it has the strongest narrative. Therefore, from this, I can learn that one of the most important parts of a short film is the narrative.

Friendship Forever

As you can see there could be an issue with the copyright as both are very similar.

Friends I Haven’t Met

This short film is different from the ones that I have previously researched because it hasn’t any dialogue. It is interesting to see how you can tell a narrative without using speech. What I like about this short film is that it leaves a lot up to the viewer’s imagination. For example, I found myself wondering what the main character observing these two individuals was thinking about. Maybe he is sad because they remind him of people he used to know. Perhaps he is lonely and longs to make friends with them but hasn’t the confidence to do so. He was obviously curious about these two people because he leans towards the window to watch one on them exit the train. He also tries to look at the other one’s notepad.  It appears they have just used the existing lighting on the train without the need for extra lights. This makes it seem more realistic. However, there are some things I didn’t like about this short film. For example, I think the shot length can be improved upon. It felt slow moving which can cause the viewers to lose interest. This can be rectified by decreasing the duration of each shot. The first shot could have started thirty seconds after it did and would have still had the same effect. This would have made it more interesting. Waiting for a train is boring enough but watching someone else doing the same thing is even worst!

Look Up

Although this is quite a long video, I like the section near the end where the two people meet on a street, marry and also the montage of them growing older together. Then, having the same street with the man looking down at his phone and walking straight past the woman. I can adapt this idea by substituting love for friendship. The voice over is also a good idea as it can help the viewer to understand what is going on within the scene. Techniques, such as time-lapses, are used to demonstrate how much time we spend using our phones. Camera movement is used to reveal people on their phones. The same idea is used in the ‘Surprise’ short film to show the ageing process of people.

Idea no.1

This is about a long distance friendship between a student who goes to university leaving behind his best friend. He uses media such as Skype and Facebook to communicate with him. He feels lonely as he hasn’t made any new friends. The short film includes a sad monologue expressing his feelings of loneliness.

Idea no.2

An encounter between two strangers on a street, results in a new friendship. Later they travel the world. This is presented in the form of a montage. The scene is repeated, the only difference being, one of them is looking at their phone so they never actually meet. There is a voice over explaining the obsession modern society has concerning mobile phones and the potential opportunities which may be missed due to constantly looking at them rather than taking notice of the world in which they live.

 

In the end, I went with the former idea because it seemed to maintain the theme of friendship more that the latter idea.

Click here to download the project proposal

Production Photos

Writing descriptions of each scene on some flash cards e.g. clothing, dialogue etc. (Shooting Script)

Story board & cards

Making a rough storyboard.

Story board

This scene is one of my ‘parents’ dropping me off at college but it was edited out in order to reduce the duration of the film to a minute.

Goodbye Setting Up

At the university, setting up a shot so you couldn’t see the lack of people because it was filmed during the holiday period.

Uni Min Sq & setting up

Another montage shot in the university grounds.

Uni Lake 3Padlocks 1

Reading a University of Essex book and applying the rule of thirds.

Bedroom set & camera

We had to make a room untidy in order to make it look like a typical student accommodation!

Bedroom set from above

As we were filming the room scenes over a two day period, in order to maintain continuity, we reviewed the footage from the previous day to ensure reconstruction of the bedroom was identical.

Bedroom set from above 3 thumbs upBedroom set from above 2

Editing at 2 am on ‘iMovie’.

Editing late

Script

When producing the script I ensured it was the correct length for the required time. This part of the pre-production process is one of the most important as it informs the actors of the dialogue.

Click here to download the script

Storyboard

I have created a storyboard in order to visualise the end product shot by shot.

Risk Assessment

The point of a risk assessment is to keep everyone safe during the production stage. The idea is to anticipate possible risks and avoid them from happening.

Click here to download the risk assessment 

Props

I will require a computer, a phone and a car.

Location

It will be filmed in four locations: The house, The drive, The University of Essex and Costa Coffee. In order to decide upon appropriate places, I first had to go to visit them as a location recce and complete a report. Here is the information I collected. The location recce sheet helped me evaluate my filming locations.

Click here to download the location recce sheet for the house

Click here to download the location recce sheet for the drive

Click here to download the location recce sheet for the University of Essex

Click here to download the location recce sheet for the Costa

 

Editing

At first I started editing it trying to get it down to a minute by removing unnecessary scenes and speeding up clips. I ended up getting it to 1:23.

But that still wasn’t enough so I had to be really brutal with my editing in order to take it down to a minute by cutting out some scenes which were necessary to the narrative but were less necessary than other scenes. I finally got it to a minute.

Then I edited it by adding music and playing with the audio levels and adding stabilisation and colour correction etc.

Evaluation

Overall, this project didn’t go to plan. The computer in which I saved the work lost the file. Therefore, I was really rushed to finish the project, so much so that I had to stay up to 2 am editing it.

The second version was more difficult to edit than the first one as I took too much footage. In order to limit it to a minute, I had to cut out small sections here and there and remove whole scenes. With the footage I had, the optimal film time would have been just over two minutes as that would allow me to have used all the material I’d previously shot. This wouldn’t have resulted in a rushed ending to my short film. However, as the criteria was sixty seconds, I had to be brutal in my editing in order to reduce it by over half. It didn’t help that I was away when I had to re-shoot and therefore I had to use equipment with which I was unfamiliar for example the Apple editing software ‘iMovie’. Although iMovie is very good as a free software, however, it is limited in it application. I have been used to editing with more advanced software, for example, ‘Avid’. There were advantages to producing it when I was away from home as well, like the access to more locations like the university. In the end, I used a lapel microphone for most of my shots in order to get clear audio when the camera was further away. I didn’t have a clapper board available to sync the audio, so I used my hands to clap in front of the camera in order to have a reference point to sync my audio. Framing techniques were used in lots of the shots like the rule of thirds, natural framing and a POV shot. Camera movement was also used for panning and tilting and more camera movements were used in the cut out scenes. I used the camera on my phone to film and someone else’s phone to record the audio from the lapel microphone. Because of this, I had to deal with problems like the phone’s storage becoming full and the notorious iPhone battery life. This meant there were a lot of takes and in some scenes, there were about twenty takes to a particular scene due to a multitude of different things but mainly technical problems with the equipment. When having this many takes weather becomes a problem because the sun sets and it becomes darker which will look strange when put together in editing because one shot its light then the next it is dark. Using things such as phones and cars and laptops I had to be careful to check the reflection when filming because the worse thing is to get to the editing stage and realising that there is a huge reflection of you filming. For most shots, I used a tripod and for the shots where the phone/camera was held (most of which were cut out in editing) I used iMovie’s stabilise function as I didn’t have a Gimbal or Steadicam available. Although iMovie’s stabilising isn’t as good as Avid’s it more or less still does the job. I used three different cameras to record. The main camera was my phone camera. I then used a GoPro for the two inside the cars scenes (one was cut out in editing). I realised that my phone didn’t cope well in low light situations – all the inside scenes – as it looked really grainy. I managed to get hold of a camcorder and re-shot the inside scenes which went a bit better as it coped with low light better. I didn’t really have much access to lighting while I was away so for the inside scenes I changed the light bulb for the brightest one I could find and waited for it to get bright outside so it was a lit through the window as well.

 

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