This section is about the creative research that was undertaken during the production of my project, as well as the things I found inspirational.
Inspirational short films:
A short film about teen suicide:
Very emotive music, very limited dialogue, powerful shots.
I found this short film particularly inspirational as our film will be focusing on the idea of suicide, and the types of things that go through ones head when they are about to make that life changing decision of whether or not to commit suicide. This short film confirmed for me that limited dialogue and powerful imagery can make for a successful film with a strong message behind it. Sometimes less is more, with less dialogue the viewer is able to make their own interpretations of the film.
Again very limited dialogue, made up of mainly powerful imagery and emotive music.
I miss you:
Another short film with no dialogue; powerful voiceover. Emotive music.
One minute time machine:
Unlike the other short films listed above, ‘One minute time machine’ has much more dialogue. However, the dialogue is broken down as the man keeps going back in time to impress the woman he is talking to, so their conversation never exceeds more than a few sentences at a time.
I think it’s quite important with short films to have limited dialogue as it can become boring if there is excessive dialogue in a short film, as my film is only going to be 5 minutes long I want it to be as action-packed and eventful as a 5 minute film can be.
Faye’s documentary about Beachy Head:
When discussing the idea of shooting my short film at the location Beachy Head, one of my fellow classmates informed me that she had produced a documentary on Beachy Head in the previous year, I thought that it would be a good form of research into Beachy Head, and might give me some inspiration regarding my short film.
Watching this student made documentary on Beachy Head confirmed for me that Beachy head would be a very beautiful place to shoot a film. I particularly liked how the documentary switched in terms of mood, at the beginning it’s very happy, with interviewee’s talking about Beachy Head in a positive light, the sunny shots and upbeat music help to emphasise the happy mood, then halfway through the documentary the mood changes and it is revealed that Beachy Head is one of the most notorious suicide spots. From watching this documentary I was always made aware that achieving high quality sound might be a bit problematic when shooting up on Beachy Head, in some of the scenes the sound quality was so muffled they had to use subtitles.
Descriptive article of sunset on the beach that I found inspirational when planning potential shots for my short film:
“The sky consists of an assortment of shades, a blend of reds, oranges and yellows. The waters below mirror this effect. The waves are tinted vermilion, with underlying streaks of blue that clash with it.”
When reading this descriptive passage I could picture Beachy Head at sunset. I found it very helpful reading descriptive writing, as it inspired me to think about the sort of language I should be using in my script to get a particularly vivid description across.
Over summer I was thinking about the genre of TV Drama I would be most interested in producing, whilst reading the book 1991 novel Dirty Weekend by Helen Zahavi, what I found most enticing about the book was the strong female character Bella, at first Bella seems to be a weak and helpless character who is being tormented by her neighbour Tim. As the book progresses, so does Bella’s courage. She soon becomes a one-woman serial killer, targeting 7 men who sexually abuse women. What I loved about this book in particular, was the way I was rooting for Bella throughout, she held all the elements of a strong protagonist. Although she is technically a criminal mastermind who murders a total of 7 men, which should not be condoned. As a reader you cannot help but root for her safety and ability to escape Brighton without being caught out.
Plot introduction for Dirty Weekend:
Overturning the traditional notion of a pleasurable sex-filled dirty weekend, Zahavi’s novel instead examines a weekend killing spree committed by Bella, a twenty-something former sex-worker. She is targeted by men who sexually abuse women, but kills them instead of letting them victimise her. Over the course of the weekend she murders seven men through a variety of gruesome methods. In the end she escapes to a new life in the large, faceless city of London.
After thoroughly enjoying reading this book, I decided to research into whether it had been made into a film. I discovered that the book had been made into a film in 1993, by British film director Michael Winner. The film was exactly how I imagined the book to be, this one particular scene in an alleyway where three men torment an old homeless woman, before being interrupted by Bella, is exactly how I imagined it to be:
Over summer I tried to watch as many films as I could, as I was looking for inspiration for my TV Drama. One film that particularly made an impression on me was Wild Tales; a 2014 Argentine-Spanish black-comedy film written and directed by Damian Szifron. The film is composed of six short films united by a common theme of violence and vengeance.
The first short film is set on a plane; it’s called Pasternak. Two people on a plane get talking, and discover they know the same person, Pasternak. The woman is his former girlfriend, and the man is a music critic who savagely reviewed his work. They discover that everybody on the flight is connected to Pasternak. An air steward reveals that Pasternak is the plane’s pilot and has locked himself into the cockpit. Pasternak crashes the plane into his parents’ house.
What I liked about this short film was its simplicity, the concept is so simple but very effective. I like the unexpected, dark twist of the film. It goes from two people having casual, flirty conversation on a plane, to the realization that everyone on the plane is linked in some way. It’s a very clever concept for a short film. I’ve always liked films and TV series that have dark and satirical themes.
Soderbergh is an American film producer, director, screenwriter, cinematographer and editor.
Paul Thomas Anderson:
- Steady-cam shots, camera constantly moving
- Colour and light
Paul Thomas Anderson The IT Factor:
Way back – Beachy head chaplicancy squad Daniel Henry Kaes
A long way down: book by Nick Hornby:
When telling one of my friends my short film idea of creating a film that follows a discussion between two people, one old and one young, about their decision to commit suicide off Beachy Head, he asked me if I had read Nick Hornby’s book ‘A long way down’.
A Long Way Down is a novel written by British author Nick Hornby, published in 2005. It is a dark comedy, playing off the themes of suicide, angst, depression and promiscuity.
The story is written in the first-person narrative from the points of view of the four main characters, Martin, Maureen, Jess and JJ. These four strangers happen to meet on the roof of a high building called Toppers’ House in London on New Year’s Eve, each with the intent of committing suicide. Their plans for death in solitude are ruined when they meet. The novel recounts their misadventures as they decide to come down from the roof alive – however temporarily that may be.
Then I discovered the book had been made into a film, I though it would be a really good form of both research and inspiration for my short film as it has a similar premise.
Camera shots, angles and movements:
So far I haven’t been thinking much about the camera shots, angles and movement as I’ve been thinking more about content and the storyline, as I am the script writer. However, as my group is a smaller one, with just two of us, I thought it would be a good idea to think about camera angles as different shots as well.
BAFTA Gurus website:
One of my classmates recommended looking at the website for TROPFEST, which is the worlds largest short film festival.
Wilfred – finalist of Tropfest Australia 2002:
‘A man and a dog vie for a woman’s attention. Can they come to a compromise? Not likely.’
I found this short film brilliant, it was shot in a very interesting way, using a gloomy colouring scheme which gave the impression that something bad was going to take place. I really liked the use of dark humour in the film, the dog Wilfred was very intimidating which I found created tension in the film but also had a humorous element to it, as Wilfred was a man dressed up in a fury dog outfit and face paint.
I like the varied use of shots used to create the impression that Adam was intimidated by Wilfred, the over the shoulder shot where Adam and Wilfred are both facing the camera, but Wilfred is talking to Adam from behind him, creates tension. The fact that Adam cannot see Wilfred suggests that he may do something to hurt him.
Sorry baby – finalist of Tropfest 2011:
DISCUSS FILM MAKERS WHO HAVE INFLUENCED YOU: Coen Brothers – fargo
One of my favourite films is the Coens Brothers Fargo
Article – 6 filmmaking tips from the Coen Brothers:
When thinking about the type of music I would like to use in my short film, I immediately though of one of my favourite emotive scenes from the 2010 film Shutter Island:
The music in this scene had always stuck with me, every time I’d ever hear it in any other film it would make me feel really emotional. This is exactly the type of music that I believe will fit really well with our film, something calm and soft that will compliment the sound of the sea waves, but emotive at the same time, to remind the audience of the potential tragedy that may occur.
Below is the full song:
Ben Wheatley films:
In class with Dave we were discussing director and writer Ben Wheatley for inspiration when filming our short films. One of his films that I really liked was Sightseers. The ending was particularly inspirational for the ending of my own script. I really liked the idea of having a big twist at the end of the film, to lead the audience to feel confused and question the film.
When writing my script I had already decided that my main character Eli was going to be very passionate about the sea. This made me think that it would be likely that he would start speaking to Imelda about the sea, seeing as they’re on the edge of a cliff looking down into it together. As you can tell from the first few sentences that come out of Eli’s mouth, he is incredibly unhappy with his current life, he isn’t getting on with his family, and he feels he has nothing left to live for, hence why he comes to Beachy Head, to feel close to the sea, and potentially end his misery.
I decided that I would make Eli’s story even sadder by revealing that he had recently been travelling around Australia visiting the top ten Beaches, but he never managed to make it through the list, as his parents urgently called him back home…
As I’ve never yet been to Australia myself, and have a limited knowledge of the beaches there, I decided to do some research:
I found this article very informative and descriptive, and it enabled me to name drop a few of the Australian beaches into my script, which emphasised Eli’s passion for the sea.
As I was writing the script and had decided to make Eli very passionate about Australia, I thought I’d add in a symbolic fact about Kangaroo’s that came across on this article when researching some facts about Australia. There was a fact stating that ‘On the Australian coat of arms the Emu and the Kangaroo were selected as symbols of Australia to represent the country progress because they are always moving forward and never move backwards.’ I found this would be a good fact to include in the script, as it’s symbolic of the way Eli is feeling.
Inspiration from real life:
For much of my script I have used real life experiences of myself and the people around me. I’ve got lots of friends from North London who don’t have the best relationships with their parents due to the fact they want them to follow in the same career footsteps as them, this is something I wanted to convey through the character of Eli. It’s clear from the way he speaks about his father that they don’t have a good relationship, and this for me is the crooks of why Eli feels the way he does.
Another thing that inspired my script was something that happened to one of my close friends when he was travelling this year. He had gone travelling and was planning on ending up in Australia, but before he could make it there he was sadly informed that his father had passed away, so he had to come back to England. The whole time he was in England there was a very strong sense that he was desperate to return to his travels and leave the devastating news of his fathers death behind him. I found this experience incredibly inspirational as I think it’s a very strong moral conflict to battle with; wanting to go away and live your life and try and move forward, but feeling responsible for staying with your family and being there to offer your moral support to your mother etc.
My fellas niece never came back once she went. She was only supposed to go travelling after she graduated, like you, but she met a hunky aussie and stayed there with him. It’s been almost 10 years now.
In addition to this my cousin, who I’m very close to, went travelling in Australia a few years ago and never moved back. She first intended on travelling for a short period of time after she had graduated, but she ended up loving it, meeting someone who she got engaged to and moved there permanently. What I found inspirational about this particular story was the fact that my cousin had a very close and somewhat over powering relationship with her mother, and distant dysfunctional relationship with father. It felt to me that she was trying to escape from the conflicting relationships she had with her parents, perhaps she wanted some independence from her mother, and distance from a father she never felt was there for her. I wanted to convey a similar concept with the character of Eli, he’s close with his mother but he does not get on with his father. We know that he clearly wants to be back in Australia but ‘family responsibilities’ have caused him to move back home. Without explicitly saying so, I wanted the audience to realise that Eli has had to return due to something to do with his father, which has increased his hatred towards him.
Short of the week:
Each week I’ve tried to watch a short film on the website ‘short of the week’, to help inspire me when writing my short film.
On film in particular that I really enjoyed was called Volume. About a deaf boy called Sam. Sam lives in a place where everything is polished and secrets are cleaned up and kept. So when Georgina goes missing, everyone acts like nothing happened. But Sam can’t stop thinking about her, the enigma who lived next door, swimming daily in her pool. As Sam drifts back into his memories of Georgina, he comes to realise he may know more than he wants to remember.
I really enjoyed the way this film was shot, with a combination of beautiful underwater shots, to emphasise to the audience what it would be like for Sam not to hear. Some of the underwater scenes in this film, especially with Sam, inspired me to write something about the peacefulness of being underwater in my script: “There’s nothing quite as tranquil as immersing your head under the water, blocking out all the noise and shit going on in the world, and just being at one with the sea.” I just felt a strong sense of the ‘real world’ being avoided when the characters of ‘Volume’ were underwater, and it’s a concept I found really interesting and wanted to apply to my own short film.
Meanwhile is a five minute animated short film, blending CG 3D and 2D drawn animation techniques. The short animation follows four characters traversing a city, each lost in their own separate worlds, trapped in their memories, regrets and frustrations. Meanwhile uses bold colour schemes and fragments of narratives to examine empathy in urban insularity.