Film Reviews

“Sorry To Bother You” (Dir. Boots Riley, 2018)

Sorry To Bother You is one of the best films I have seen over the past year. It is a scathing attack on capitalistic societies, as well as being packed full of jibes about the world’s current state of affairs. It is post-modernism at it’s finest and the film fully commits to its absurdity. It is impossible to see the events of the final third coming and the whole film develops in a way that cannot be expected. From Armie Hammer’s Steve Lift representing every single rich white billionaire getting away with shit in 2018 just because they have money, to the ridiculous dubbing of David Cross’s voice over Lakeith Stanfield’s (as his “white voice”), it is the best example of a modern dark comedy. Stanfield does an excellent job at somehow embodying happy-go-lucky and ruthlessness at the same time. Tessa Thompson plays a struggling artist, with the only way she can make her art matter to the the wealthy art world is by using her own white voice. The film deals with troubling and distressing subject matters, yet manages to be wickedly funny and while still being incredibly heart-rending. Overall, it makes me feel things and I love it.

 

Film Narrative

Dialogue Film – Crit

The final crit of the trimester was an interesting experience. It was great getting to see everyone’s films and I tried to give constructive feedback as much as I could. I’ve learned, however, that I need to be braver about speaking about people’s work as I often found myself having something to say and not saying it. In regards to my group’s film being shown, I’m fairly certain that any answers I gave to questions didn’t fully answer them due to me being so nervous and my brain clouding up. Overall, it was great experiencing was a crit is like and I really enjoyed it, but I need to break out of  being so nervous about speaking in front of a group of people.

Film Narrative

Dialogue Film – Filming “Lender”

“Lender” Dialogue Film

My group’s chosen idea involved a character being late with their loan repayment to a loan shark, and the ensuing consequences. My role was Producer and I was responsible for booking equipment, sorting out filming dates, and completing the risk assessments.

Production went fairly smoothly in that we made frequent edits to the script and our director had a clear idea of what she wanted to achieve. We communicated effectively and were able to complete our planning documents, book equipment, and decide on dates to film in plenty of time. A problem arose with finding actors due to lack of interest and it being a busy time of year for acting students. Thankfully we were able to find one actor for the character owing money, and my boss stepped in to help with the Loan Shark role. This ended up being a good casting choice as he was able to look the part and play intimidating very well.

Filming itself went very well. We dedicated our test shoot to figuring out our actors’ marks, timing and blocking the scene, and setting up the set/frame. The test shoot was excellent in that it meant we all knew what was going on and what we were doing, ultimately making the main shoot easier. On the main shoot we shot 17 takes in order to have an adequate selection to choose from, and we were very happy with what we came away with. We also received help from Leon, who came to our set and helped us out with lighting.

In regards to editing, the only problem that occurred was sound design. Due to some of our dialogue happening over the phone, it took us a while to figure out how to make it sound realistically like it was a voice over the phone. We were happy with the end result but it highlights an area that we need to learn more about.

Overall I really enjoyed this project and learned a lot from it. While being responsible for a bulk of the pre-filming planning was stressful at times, I can be less anxious in future projects because our group worked well together and got things done as a team.

Workflow and Creative Camera Techniques

Scene Recreation – 50/50: ‘I Have Cancer’ scene

Scene Recreation – “I Have Cancer”

Original Scene

My group chose to recreate this scene in particular for its use of practical lamps and supposed “simplicity”.

This was a learning experience for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is incredibly difficult to find decent actors for an unpaid project. It was noticeably harder to find older actors in particular, which we needed to play the character Adam’s parents. Thankfully, someone on our course stepped in to play Adam, alongside our director’s parents and producer filling the remaining roles. It worked out in the end, but we now know to place more importance on finding actors and to allow ourselves more time to do so.

Another problem that arose is that the scene was not as simple as we originally thought. We thought the lighting would be our biggest issue, but in our viewing of the original scene we did not pick up on the many, many subtly camera angle changes. This meant we had to storyboard the scene and figure out how many slates we were going to need. The amount of camera changes, along with technical difficulties (camera dying), we ran really late and ultimately ended up rushing the latter half of the scene. Analysing the scene more closely and figuring out how many slates we need prior to filming will greatly benefit us in the future.

Overall, while we encountered problems, the scene recreation was a fun project to work on and we have learned a lot about the minute details that go into filming a seemingly simple scene. We managed to capture the tone of the original scene in our recreation and we were really happy with what we made.

Workflow and Creative Camera Techniques

Visual Exercise 2 | Mister Stu Murphy

Filming this exercise was a unique experience and a different process to the other exercises. I chose The Stand Comedy Club where I work as my location because I wanted to film a comedian in an environment important to them. Stu Murphy was hosting the show that evening and I chose him as my subject since he is an incredibly seasoned comedian who performs at The Stand regularly.

My main practical issues were involving camera and direction. My subject was having to perform for an audience as well as my camera and so maintaining a good frame was difficult. Along with audience members absentmindedly walking in front of the camera whilst filming, this made getting lots of usable shots difficult. However, I believe the shots I have used for the final product depict Stu in his element and I am happy with what I have made.

Since using my own lights during the show would’ve been too disruptive to both my subject and the audience, I did not book any out. This made filming backstage tricky since I only had the overhead bulb lights at my disposal. Despite this however, I feel that the low backstage lighting offers a good contrast to the staged lights during the show. Overall, filming this exercise was enjoyable and I am very pleased with the final result.

Workflow and Creative Camera Techniques

Visual Exercise 1

Water of Leith | Visual Exercise 1

Workflow and Creative Camera Techniques

By Kate McIntosh and Lauren Prince

Myself and Lauren chose the location next to the Water of Leith because we were both attracted to how much the spot contrasts with the city it’s hidden in. We opted not to use a tripod with the camera for two reasons: the location had unstable ground and was right beside a body of water, and we wanted to use a POV perspective to add a sense of intimacy to the shots. Our narrative flows along with the river, with the POV character moving away from man made paths,  making their way further along the riverbed until they reach a place of tranquillity.

I really love this location for its variety; the river fluctuating from rapid to calm and back again, the sound of the wind in the leaves. It’s this along with how utterly quiet it is, despite the main road being five minutes away, that makes for interesting shots.

 

Film Narrative

Filming the tableau

Getting our first film of the year made was definitely a learning curve, at least for me. We got the bulk of planning details out of the way rather quickly (e.g. risk assessment, equipment booking form, floor plan), which ultimately made our lives much easier. One problem we encountered from the get go is that we left Screen Academy without checking we had all of our equipment. We arrived to our set sans circuit breaker and white board pen for the clapper board. We weren’t pressed for time and so it was easily fixed by briefly returning to the technicians cupboard for the circuit breaker (we used post-it notes for the clapper board). However, had this been a more time precious project this may have severely disadvantaged us, so it’s certainly something to remember for next time.

In regards to how we worked together as a group, everyone got involved and had helpful things to say and do throughout the process. In my case I think I’ve learned that there is no need to feel overly anxious about contributing ideas and saying anything that I think will help. I need to stop thinking the worst will happen, especially when it comes to smaller projects such as this.

In terms of my role as cinematographer, I felt relieved as I was worried my lack of technical experience would show. Using the camera was fairly straightforward and, while it was a challenge, I felt satisfied with my ability to set up a decent shot and frame.

When we finished filming we returned to Screen Academy to return our equipment and to retrieve the video files from the camera to later edit. It occurred to us that we didn’t actually know how to get the files off the camera, however thankfully one of the technicians helped us. For future, it will be highly beneficial to us if we make sure we have a clear idea of everything we have to.

Overall, today was a positive experience. We worked well together as a group and produced what we thought was a good film at the end of it.