One Last Waltz

In this project for Cinematography (1704GFS) (late 2016), we were required to make a 6 minute film with no dialogue. My roll in this project was as writer, editor, sound recording and sound designer.

 Reflecting on the production I am proud of the final film. We started with a concept of a story which in comparison to the other productions in our class was not only ambitious with its choreography but also simple and not heavy handed with its story. Some of the shots look very pretty in our film (picnic scene, dramatic lighting ending scene, opening dolly shot, and chapel scene) which is due to the talents of the DOP, director and lighting department and also a bit of luck with location scouting and weather. The performances from most of our actors and actresses were passionate and mesmerising.

Things that I wish I could do again would include a more in-depth collaboration with the director and DOP to synthesize shots/edits that add to the story BEFORE shooting so we know if an idea will or won’t work before shoot and therefore can go to another idea. Another thing I wish would be that I had more experience going into this production as an editor. Doing it again I would now shoot for the edit. A lot of our footage had continuity errors dues to lack of someone taking the roll of continuity person. Although most of the time this can be fixed in post, this adds more un-necessary time to the post-production which could be spent elsewhere. I would also have a clear shot list and shot notes on the day so that going into post I would know what a good take was. I would also use a slate in every shot and also have most shots with audio recording (in our case we didn’t record audio for some takes and also didn’t use the slate in some, making the naming convention in post quite intuitive). I would again work with the director and DOP prior to shoot to create a rough animatic prior to shooting as this film had in planning some transitions that didn’t work wasting both time in shooting and time in post. In regards to sound design, as a film is around % 80 sounds and even more noticeable when there is no dialogue, there is a large responsibility on the sound designer to create an atmospheric soundscape to add extra depth to the story. However my experience in this roll is small and most of what I was doing was intuitive with smalls pearls of wisdom passed down from editing courses that gave a broad, general view of sound recording and editing. Also in regards to audio recording, some of the audio in good takes was unusable due to people talking on set, so having someone in place as the 1st AD would rectify that. Despite all these things I think the final product sound wise is quite good.

Things our group could have done better to have a smoother production include a better plan from cinematography POV. A lot of the coverage filmed was unusable or bad in the edit room because they didn’t follow the 30 degree rule resulting in jump cut-esque edits. This would be rectified by a more collaborative pre-production. We also didn’t do an in depth storyboard in pre-production which hurts us in post because a lot of the shots planned didn’t work. This resulted in (in the case of the first 3 shoots) a lot of improvisation on set. Also, the original lighting set up and the props for the living room scene was (and still is in the final film) in some shots dull. I think this could have been rectified if our production designer, director and DOP visited the location before shooting. Additionally, the performance from our elderly female actor was poor in our first living room shoot. This could be due to her lack of acting experience or lack of preparation and maybe direction. In regards to her performance, perhaps more rehearsal before filming may have been needed for this actress. In regards to direction, a lot of the shots weren’t done while playing out the whole scene; only certain parts. For example, the director would tell the actor to go and sit down onto a chair, but the actor wouldn’t be in the correct mindset of a woman who is dying sitting down to a chair, instead just looking sad falling into a chair which looks fake and uninspired. In retrospect I would have instructed the actor to play out the scene and then start rolling the camera to get him/her into the correct mindset of the character.

In conclusion, a criticism of our final film is that it feels too much like a music video than a slow-burn cutesy feels train drama and this is largely due to my and the directors oblivious use of the transitions / cuts that look cool and lack of editing with a purpose. I mean this in the sense of how, when planning the edit, does this transition make the viewer feel. Yes, what we have looks cool but cool and flashy aren’t fitting in with the tone of the film. Overall, I enjoyed working with this production and with JC as director. He is a passionate film-maker with an addiction to shooting something. I found his experience as a huge help in the edit room and that with the footage that we received we did a great effort in essentially making/saving/salvaging the film as a lot of the planned cuts shot were un-useable.

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