Thursday, 24 March 2011

Defining a Look

After many months of discussion with Dan about the look of the film. We have decided upon a few simple ideas that will help us to further define a look.
Firstly we are going to try to soften up some of the harder digital edges that you get with 5D’s and 7D’s by using a pro-mist filter throughout, except in the inital flash back scenes when we will use a 1/2 fog filter.

1/8 Black Promist
1/2 Old Fog
The reasoning behind this is that as these are flashbacks we would like them to feel slightly hazier than the rest of the film. We have also discussed using a tilt-shift lens on this scene, to again make this feel more like memories obscured through a drunken haze.

My thoughts on this Chris were that if it is possible to create the effect of a tilt-shift lens in post we should, as it would be much quicker, easier and cheaper on our end. It means we won’t have to rent the lens and we also won’t miss any details that may prove to be important, I think we should definitely test this though before the shoot. If we are in anyway uncomfortable with the results we get blurring details out in post, lets do it in camera!

As for depth of field, I want to shoot this a f/5.6 this will give us a shallow depth of field, but will still give us some depth to the images. We will be able to knock things out but won't be killing our focus puller.

Lighting wise, what has remained in my mind throughout this shoot is the work of Marcel Zyskind, specifically his work on ‘Live With Me’ a music promo for Massive Attack.

Although the lighting is supposed to be naturalistic, it would be good to keep quite a high contrast ratio. Especially in the bedroom the should be areas (I’m thinking corners) that fall away into darkness.
The lighting will all be motivated by practical sources (obivously I’m going to cheat this a little bit).
The dominant colours in the bedroom will be, moonlight and a red glow from a lamp (their may be a tungsten source for some scenes). The colour for moonlight will be Steel Blue, here is a reference photo from a short I did recently.

For upstairs, although sunlight will be present, I think it would be best to feel this around the windows, but for it to only be creeping in. This has both practical and stylistic implications.


Wednesday, 23 March 2011


This scene from The Lover is absolutely perfect for both the opening sex scene with Sasha and Stan, and for how the scene with Lily escalates. The extreme close-ups, pacy editing work to create a collage of the couple's sexual euphoria without showing anything hugely graphic. This is exactly what I am going for! If you have any suggestions for scenes like this, please upload the links!

Sex Scene - Camerawork and Editing

The following scenes conveniently merge what I am looking for both in camerawork and editing.

This one from Sex and Lucia is, as ever, much more graphic than we will be going, but I really like how the quick cutting and constantly moving and swaying camerawork manages to not seem frenetic but keeps that playful urgency in the performance.

The next one from Sex and Lucia is really just a shot I liked. Again, ignore the nudity, but as an aerial shot for some writhing around on the bed, I like this as a reference.

The last one is from Lust, Caution. Although very quick, (the bit I'm referring to starts about 20 seconds into the clip) it gives a great representation of what I am going for. Though not as perfect as the scene from The Lover (see next post) it comes pretty damn close for very similar reasons.

Also, check out this one from The Last Seduction. This film is a huge reference point for Sasha's character, but re-watching it the other day I found this scene that is absolutely perfect for camera-work. Not so much in its editing, but composition, shot-choice and blocking, this is pretty much exactly what I'm looking for!

Sex Scene - EDITING

Another post will have a mixture of editing can camerawork. But although the camerawork in this clip has influenced me, its really the editing that stands out. It is not that I am looking to emulate it directly, but more as a basis for the rawness of the sex portrayed - its not glamorous, but it feels very real and sincere which is something I am looking for. Similarly, note the lack of sound effects, again something I am looking for in the Stan + Sasha scene, works sensationally well here. And generally, it is just a phenomenal scene, enjoy!

NB: Content more explicit than I am intending to go, but watch for cinematic techniques/devices

Sex Scene - Colour + Lighting

The colour schemes we are going for in the opening sex scene (Stan and Sasha) is deep reds and big shadows. Without wanting go into too much detail on how we plan to achieve this (Stefan is a much better person to explain this), I just wanted to upload a couple of clips that lean in the direction of the look we are going for.

As a side note, the sex scene with Lily at the end will follow the colour and look of the rest of the film but as the intensity build up and we cross-cut between that and the Sasha scene, the red will creep in, blurring the line between what is happening now and what has already happened.

The following scenes are from The American for the colour and from Lust, Caution to give an idea of the the lighting/shadows etc.

NB: Content more explicit than I am intending to go, but watch for cinematic techniques/devices

Monday, 14 March 2011

Opening Montage: Minority Report

I've slapped together a few scenes from Minority Report that I've been looking at in regard to the opening montage. I don't intend on making it as frenetic but in terms of how they convey a hazy, blurred recollections one has after a heavy night, I think its a good think to think about.

I also have some crib-notes a wrote a while back for the opening montage.

The montage both sets the scene AND style of the film. It is supposed to reflect the blurred remnants of memory after a night of heavy drinking, whilst giving the key plot-points the audience need to get cracking with the narrative.

They are familiar scenes that the audience can instantly relate to. Their purpose is to give a clear idea of what Stan and his mates are like in a lighthearted way. They’re just a bunch of lads who are only guilty of going out to have a good time - an ethos that so many disastrous nights start on. The scenes are not intended to vilify Stan, but ground him in a realm of reality, albeit exaggerated.

However, the cheery voice of Lily on the voice-over casts a darker and more ominous shadow over the images. In introducing only her voice, this emphasises that she is the primary force of tension - it is her impending arrival that is the catalyst for the action.

The flashback shots will be very chaotic, shakey close-ups. These will be juxtaposed with the static, composed shots of Stan asleep. The sex shots will be less chaotic but will stay in big close-ups, focussing on the bodies and limbs.

The montage should last 30-40 seconds. The images will flash up from black, lasting only a few seconds at a time. There will be no diegetic sound from the scenes, the only sound will be that of the voicemail message (ie Lily speaking and breathing).

Hope thats helpful!


Sunday, 13 March 2011

Bathroom + VFX

Again, following on from talking to Chris and discuss the mirror effect in the bathroom he put me onto this video. Also, just as a reference for how the light will be in the bathroom, I've slotted in a clip from Nathan Barley.

Bathroom Scene:

Nathan Barley scene (link) for the horrendously bright light.

Jump to 1:50 for bit when lights come on and Claire has to get up.

Black Swan VFX showreel for mirror effect.

Awesome video, but in particular the mirror stuff. Chris reckons he’s up to it!


Some ideas I've had for the music on a couple of scenes. Other than these, haven't got much else as I am yet to have a chin-wag with Joel.


Opening Montage:

Nine Inch Nail’s track “Underneath It All” covered by the Scala and Kolacny. I very much doubt I will be able to get permission for this but I’d like something along these lines. I want something really simple but haunting and utterly contrapuntal to both what we see in the montage and what we hear in Lily’s VO.

Stan’s transformation:

Grinderman track “When My Baby Comes” for when Lily and Stan have sex and Stan begins to change. I am going to try to get permission to use this. I love the build-up and how it takes so long. Furthermore, I think the break would be perfect for when Stan is finally consumed by blood-lust. I know someone who is very close to Nick Cave, so I’m going to try call in a massive favor with him. Fingers crossed!

The Look of Hanging

Following a meeting with Chris this weekend, we discussed some ideas for the grade. Still need to discuss these with Stefan. Hit me back with any opinions/suggestions!

Look of the film:

Trailer for Red State. I love the grade on this and am looking for something similar for Hanging. I like the ever so slightly washed-out greens. We were originally going to go from orange to red on previous drafts. I still want to keep the red for the sex scenes and flashbacks (a la The American) but what I like about the look of Red State is it has a very real and visceral feel but isn’t quite the plain crispness of documentary or reportage. Its shot on Red and 7D’s but the grade takes it away from the standard look of digital as well as the rich softness of film in a way I feel would suit the mundane world of our story.

Romain Gavras first feature Notre Jour Viendra. Though the look of Red State is closer to what I am after, I still really love the look of this film. I haven’t seen the film yet but I love Gavras’ work and his ability to make everything he shoots seem so real. If you watch his music videos for Stress by Justice and Born Free by MIA, what is so shocking about the violence in these videos is that it genuinely feels like he is just shooting it happen for real.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

What Is and Is Not in Place!

Ok so production stuff so far.

What We Have:

We now have a script that is pretty much locked.

We have dates - (shooting the weekend of 16th/17th/18th of April).

We have locations - my house for the majority of it. The Bar we have found the location and I am just sorting out permission - will update and upload pictures.

Camera/Lighting Equipment List - We will be shooting on a Cannon 7D and some stuff with a GoPro. See Stefan for more info.

We have a core crew: (with a few exceptions - hit me up with any suggestions)

What We Need:

A Cast! I was originally going to work with non-actors (friends etc) but with the nature of the script as it is now (ie. the amount of sex in it) has inclined me to get more experienced actors. If after reading the script, you have any recommendations, send them my way.

Some crew! We’re still looking for someone to take care of in camera effects (gore/prosthetics). Also someone to do hair and make-up. As you can see, it is a bit of a bloke-heavy crew and I would like to get some females involved, especially as we’re shooting sex scenes. So if you know anyone who you vouch for and is available, please put us in touch. We also don’t have a continuity position filled. This is something we are still yet to decide on as we don’t have a huge amount of room in the house and we don’t to over-crowd it.

Script breakdown’s from each department. If when you read through the script, you note down things you think we are going to need to source or sort out and make a list. If you could send that our way, we can factor it into our planning.

A shot list. Me and Stefan are working on this and plan to have it down by the weekend.

A Test Shoot. Once we have done the shot-list we plan to do a test shoot of as much of the whole film as possible to test the cut/blocking. We will also be doing camera/vfx tests at the same time.

A schedule. This myself and Quentin will compile once we have done the test shoot. It won’t be broken down into individual shots, but we will allot time to complete the scenes as a whole. As far as I am aware, we are planning to do the house stuff on the Saturday and Sunday and the bar/street stuff on the Monday afternoon/night.

A crew meeting! This blog is hopefully going to make up for the distance between most of the crew. But it would be cool to have a crew meeting closer to the shoot. I am thinking once we have a cut of the test shoot, we can all meet up to watch it and discuss what we need to do come the real shoot.

If you guys and feedback your breakdowns over the next week or so, that would be really useful!

Cheers very much


So me and Stefan are very aware that you guys will be taking time off your busy lives to get this thing made and although we can’t pay people, we will of course cover travel expenses and anything you need to buy for the film. Whatever happens, that is a given.

However, we have recently decided that we have nothing to lose in trying to get a bit of funding for external sources. This is not really with the intention of engorging the scale of the project, but more in the hope that we don’t have to rinse our own savings. It is a bit of punt, but we think if we can avoid bankrupting ourselves more than we already are, we might as well give it a go.

This idea really came from the safe-sex “strap-up” message inherent in the story. We figured this is an idea that is worth spreading.

The primary reason for this project is to make a short film because, quite simply, we love making films. But if it can promote a good cause as well, then all the better! We are not going to be asking for crazy money and anything we get we will of course go straight into the film. It would cool to have a bit more money put towards equipment, lighting, production design, special effects and actors.

We also plan to set up an online donation button (worked really well on a previous project, and that one had no such noble cause). Maybe even hosting fund-raising events.

What would be really cool is that if you guys have any cool stuff to say about yourselves and experience, its something we can put in to strengthen the proposal. So any awards or big credits or anything cool film related you have done, send it my way. Ideally if HOD’s can do a short paragraph bio, that would be awesome. Just the sort of thing you would send along with a film to a festival.

So yeah, that’s the story behind funding. We will keep you updated. We are very aware that we don’t have a lot of time, and that this could come to nothing, but as we are not asking for a huge amount of cash and we’ve got a noble cause behind us, it’s worth a crack!

Let me know any ideas/suggestions you have for this!


Following on from Stefan’s post, we’ve had yet another overhaul. Very sorry to keep doing this, its taken us a long old while to be wholly contented with the script. But we think we’re finally there!
So what’s new? Well the core elements of the script are the same. But we’ve simplified a lot of what was quite flabby in previous drafts. So now the story is very much focussed on Stan and his dilemma. We’ve cut down all the Dave and Sasha stuff and changed Lilith’s character (now Lily) to a much clearer contrast with Sasha. 
But I don’t want to get into too much detail in this post. Its best if you just give the new draft a read. There will be parts that seem familiar but I strongly encourage not skimming the bits you recognise as there are changes everywhere (eg the opening montage is pretty much the same, but Lily’s new voice-over changes it significantly).
The approach is the same as it always was - keeping it small (it’s arguably smaller now), shooting almost all of it in my house, small crew, over a couple of nights etc. Having fun cobbling together a little film is still very much at the heart of the project.  
That is not to say we’re not going to be well prepped - a huge amount of time and thought has gone into making sure everything we shoot is vital. Stefan (DOP) Chris (Editor) and myself have torn the script and shot-list to pieces over and over again to ensure that we are telling this story in the most efficient and engaging way. 
And we feel we’ve got to the point where we are content the story and our approach to it. So now we want to open it up to you guys. That is the main purpose of this blog. It is somewhere we can put our ideas, references, relevant information, production updates. But more importantly, it is a place everyone can input their ideas, concerns and suggestions.
I would really love for this blog to be a place where we can discuss the project over the next month and collect our ideas so that when it comes to shoot, everyone is on the same page on everything we are trying to do.
So please check in as often as you can! I will be emailing you the latest draft of the script along with log-in for the blog so you can all update it too!
Thanks guys!

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Update on progress

Tonight we met up and instead of as planned shot listing the story we had a good old-fashioned ran-sacking of the script.

Dan's planning on getting this done tonight, but going by our current success rate of keeping to deadlines we won't be done until October.

Shoot dates have been pushed back until April 16th,17th and 18th.

Test shoots are 25th and 26th of March.

And the planned edit for the test shoot is due on the 8th of April.