When I was researching previous films that had been shot at Beachy Head, I discovered that the Quidditch World Cup scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) was shot there. While I wasn’t inspired by the storyline presented in Harry Potter I found the aesthetics of filming at Beachy Head for this scene very inspirational, it’s what influenced me to attempt panning shots of the cliff edge in Eli. The effect of the panning up the cliff presented in Harry Potter creates the perspective of how high up the characters are, which is something I wanted to convey in Eli, to make the audience feel anxious at the thought of being so high up, and so close to the edge. When I watch films where the characters are in danger from being at a great height, it gives me a sense of vertigo and effectively makes me feel scared for their wellbeing.
I found inspiration from the film Fight Club with the character of Tyler Durden. Tyler’s character played Brad Pitt, is revealed towards the end of the film, to not actually exist. Tyler and Edward are dissociated personalities in the same body; therefore Tyler is actually a figment of Edwards imagination, this is similar to the character of Imelda in my film Eli. In Fight Club, the fact that Tyler doesn’t actually exist is only revealed towards the end of the film, in Eli I want the revelation that Imelda doesn’t exist to come right at the end of the film, for dramatic effect. Also, due to the fact that Eli is only a short film, it wouldn’t make sense to reveal it any earlier. I think Fight Club was extremely clever in the way it hides the fact that Tyler doesn’t exist, which made me think about subtle hints I could include in my film that Imelda doesn’t exist, without giving it away. At the start of Eli we were initially going to have Imelda approaching Eli as he stands on the edge of the cliff, however, after more thought into it we decided it would make more sense for Imelda to just appear on the cliff edge standing next to Eli, throughout the film we make subtle hints that Imelda doesn’t exist by showing clips of Eli standing on the edge of the cliff alone.
Quadrophenia is 1979 British film shot at Beachy Head, similar to our location in Eli of Seaford Head. The films ending was actually influenced by a real-life suicide which took place at Beachy Head, similar to our film, which was influenced by me walking on Beachy Head and discussing the suicide attempt of an old lady that my mum treated in hospital at the Sussex Royal Free. The shots of Beachy Head were very cinematic and influential in the shots I chose for Eli. I had initially wanted to use a drone in order to achieve some long shots of the cliff-edge, alike those portrayed in Quadrophenia.
I was particularly impressed by these shots achieved in the end scene where the main character Jimmy, is driving along the cliff-edge on his scooter. The the juxtaposition between the shots of the top of the cliff, to the close-up shots of the waves at the bottom of the cliff, created a powerful sense of perspective regarding how high the cliff is. As well as a sense of ambiguity, the audience isn’t sure whether Jimmy has driven his bike off the cliff into the sea.
Short film – Lovers lookout:
This film called Lovers Lookout won the Winchester Short Film Festival. It’s very similar to my film in the way that it’s a conversation between two people, located outside. I didn’t come across many short films with representation of older characters, it was good to see Lovers Lookout as the two main characters are older; a similar age to my character Imelda. It was influential seeing the type of conversations older characters would have, as I definitely struggled more with writing Imelda’s dialogue than I did with writing Eli’s dialogue. It was comforting to see the older female character reminiscing about her husband, which is what my character Imelda also does. The fact that there was a twist at the end of Lovers Lookout worked really well, because of the slow pace of the film because it was just dialogue between two people, which I’m hoping will have the same effective with the twist at the end of my film.
The film inspired me when it came to choosing shots for the dialogue between the characters. I wanted to use a variation of interesting shots in order to prevent the film being too static. There isn’t much movement present in Eli, therefore I wanted to have as much camera movement and transformation between shots as possible. I particularly liked the depth of field shot in Lovers Lookout, where the male character is in focus and the female character is out of focus. This is definitely a style I want to achieve in some of the shots in my film as I think it really adds depth to the film, having the character who is speaking in focus draws the audiences attention to the emotion being portrayed on the characters face. For Eli, the emotion behind the characters is very important to the storyline so I feel this style would work really well. I also felt the close-ups of the female’s characters hands worked really well in conveying both her distress and the fact that she is married. I have similarly used extreme close-ups in Eli to convey emotion, in the close-up below of Eli’s hand, I wanted to convey his distress and irritation through his incessant picking at the grass and soil.
Still from a shot where we’ve use depth of field in Eli:
I found the film Disco Pigs influential as it is a two-hand film, with only two main characters, alike my film Eli. The film revolves around the intense relationship of two teenage protagonists Darren and Sinead, whose relationship verges on telepathic.
I found it influential to assess the ways in which the closeness of the characters friendship came about. While my two characters Eli and Imelda are supposedly strangers, there is a sense of familiarity between the two, both characters feel comfortable revealing private things about their past, which suggests that there is some sort of underlying bond shared between them.
The ending of Disco Pigs was particularly influential with some of the shots I chose to include in my film Eli. The close-up emotive shot of the character, juxtaposed with the long shot of the sea, to reveal tranquility and a sense of freedom that the character Sinead is feeling, influenced the shots I used at the end of my film. I wanted to convey the feeling of open space, and that the character Eli finally feeling free to live his life as he pleases without the strain of his family anymore, which I think was possible to convey through shots of the ocean; which symbolises a wide range of things including subconscious and emotion.
Two shots from ending of the film Disco Pigs:
Similar shots used in Eli:
I think the juxtaposition between shots of the sea and shots of human life and emotion, conveys the message that the world is such an enormous place, and that we should sometimes look at the “bigger picture”. While Eli stands on the edge of the cliff contemplating suicide it’s as if looking out onto the vastness of the ocean beneath him puts things into perspective, and makes him realise his life is worth more than he believes.
Waltz with Bashir:
In this animated 2008 Israeli war film. While the topic of war, isn’t relevant to the topic of my film, I found the significance and representation of the ocean in this film very powerful. The ocean plays a central part in this movie, and throughout the movie there both real and dream sequences that feature the ocean. One of these scenes, that I found the most influential, is at the beginning of the movie. Calmly and peaceful, men are swimming, or rather floating, in the ocean, under a surreal yellow light, this peacefulness is then juxtaposed with the men walking out from the sea holding rifles. For me, this scene signified the ability to find peace and tranquility in the sea, even in a war situation. I have tried to emphasise this point, of the sea being a tranquil thing, in my film Eli. Even though both characters in Eli are clearly distressed and are both contemplating suicide, they find a sense of peace and relief through looking out onto the ocean.
I came across this 2016 horror film called Hush, which is about a deaf woman called Maggie, who lives alone in the woods and gets terrorised by a sadistic masked killer. While I initially thought the film would be very cliche, I was really impressed by how atmospheric it was. The beginning sequence was particularly influential for me as a director, it combined a montage of extreme close-up shots of Maggie cooking dinner: pouring herself a glass of wine, chopping up ingredients etc with the sound of each action made very prominent, only ambient sound noticeable throughout the scene. The camera then focuses on Maggie, rather than her actions of cooking, and the sound changes from very loud and prominent to dimmed and eventually completely silent, to emphasise her inability to hear. This worked so well, and was such an atmospheric technique to give the audience an insight . It really inspired my choice of extreme close-up shots of Eli scratching his beard , rubbing his hand through his hair, and pulling at the grass etc, with heightened sound of him doing these actions, to emphasise his distress. The silence around him apart from ambient sound, adds an atmospheric tension.
Hush also inspired me in terms of considering the different options for sound design in Eli. While the majority of the film is just going to have ambient sound and dialogue, there are a few shots where we want to convey the impression of drowning through sound design. There’s a line where the character Imelda says that there’s nothing more tranquil as immersing your head under the water and blocking out all the chaos of everyday life, while Imelda is saying this we use a shot of Eli with his eyes closed as if he is imagining the act of immersing his head under the sea waves, we chose to use a rumble to accompany this to create the sound of drowning. This is similar to the rumble used in Hush, to present Maggie’s inability to hear. There’s something incredibly eerie about this effect, it’s scary not being able to hear as it means you are unable to hear danger approaching you. I always get panicky if I have my head under water for too long as I feel vulnerable to someone approaching without me hearing them.
One of my favourite Martin Scorsese films is Shutter Island (2010).
What I really like about this particular scene, is the ambiguity of it. The shots jump very abruptly, one minute the female character Dolores, is holding a bottle of whiskey, and the next the bottle is gone from her hand. The abrupt shots emphasise that Leonardo Dicaprio’s character is dreaming, as dreams don’t flow naturally, and strange unexplainable things happen. I wanted to achieve a similar effect in my film, rather than using abrupt shots, I chose to have the character of Eli go from standing with Imelda at the edge of a cliff, to a shot of him standing alone, alike the shot where Dolores has a bottle in her hand one minute and the next it has vanished. Treating Imelda like the bottle, one minute she is on screen and the next she has vanished. This suggests that she never existed.