Monday, December 19, 2011

5 Most Valuable Minutes- Research Practice

The first 5 minutes of Taxi Driver are the most important because they explicitly present the story and characters which is required in order to understand the rest of the film.

The film revolves around Travis Bickle, and his first scene introduces him as being an insomniac ex-marine. Additionally, there are slight subtleties that illustrate how lonely and separated from society he is. For one, he prefers to work long night hours as opposed to day hours. Thus, he isn't a very social person because he would most likely spends his day sleeping. Secondly, it appears that he isn't very appealing as a person because he isn't articulate. For example, he makes a joke to his interviewer about his conscience, but the interviewer gets frustrated. Travis replies "sorry sir didn't mean to uh --" Bickle can't finish his sentence, & he appears to be frustrated at himself because of that.
The rest of the interview continues with Bickle carrying the same facial expression:
Bickle doesn't understand how to deal with this social situation. So, he feels very awkward and begins to talk with a monotone and morose voice which contrasts the previously jubilant and playful voice that he spoke with. This sense of awkwardness is further intensified by a close-up pan of Bickle while he said "sorry sir didn't meant to uh --". Of course, this was an emotional reveal of the character which emphasizes his characterization.

Much of Bickle's characterization has been revealed by the tone of his voice. However, his characterization is also portrayed by the content of the dialogue itself. From it, the audience learns that he was an ex-marine who most likely served in the recent Vietnam war. Additionally, Bickle's dialogue reveals that he isn't in tune with his social culture. The interviewer asks him if he's moonlighting which is slang for finding a second job, and Bickle is clueless to what that means.

Bickle's loneliness is further depicted when the audience is taken into his apartment. A long pan reveals how disorderly his home is.
The pan also reveals Bickle's diet which is composed of a soda, and take-out.
This isn't the ideal meal that a man would be eating. These props in Bickle's room allow the audience to truly get a sense of how lonely and disorganized Bickle is. Also, how he doesn't really take care of himself.

The first 5 minutes of the film depict Travis Bickle very thoroughly in order to establish the film's focus. The focus is clearly of this inarticulate, disorganized, and lonely man who is not a real member of modern society. This character focus recurs throughout screenwriter Paul Schrader's films because he studied existentialism while he was in school. The film also explores how war may have affected a soldier's life after it ended. This pertains to the film's socio-cultural aspect because the film takes place and was filmed soon after the Vietnam War ended.

The importance of this extract is that it addresses Scorsese's theme that his modern society was a complete wreck after the Vietnam War. He did this by portraying a former soldier as a lonely, unintelligent, and socially awkward man who simply didn't not understand the world around him anymore. This was conveyed through Bickle's inarticulateness, his disorderly apartment room, and his dialogue with his interviewer. Additionally, this extract exemplifies the Film Noir Genre because the scenes are very gritty and utilize dark lighting in order to create a solemn tone that emphasizes the character's characterization.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The American Anti-Hero

What historical factors influenced the rise of the American Anti-Hero in cinema and how does this hero contradict the Classic Hollywood Ideology.

After WWII America experienced a social paradigm shift. Americans were very rebellious and were very aware of the horrors in the world. Likewise, Americans were aware that every person had their own faults, and that no one acted in a perfectly moral manner. This increased a yearning for an anti hero because "they were true representations of life, who were faulty and vulnerable, like America's real life heroes". These real life heroes were the soldiers who fought in WWI, and who returned to America with deteriorated mentalities. Most likely, their new perception of the world mirrored the anti hero's perception. The anti hero, after all, was meant to present a new yet old perception of what the average human is like. The average human is likely to commit moral and good acts, but they are also fully capable of committing immoral acts. These immoral acts are done by the antiheroes frequently and they demonstrate how complex and imperfect people truly are. With relation to the time period, the American antihero most likely rose after WWII because Americans began to realize how horrible their and other's actions were during the course of the war. The war truly opened up society's eyes to a dark side of human nature, and people became interested in exploring why people behave in these ways. That also shows why Americans began to watch Film Noir as sort of "guilty pleasure".

The antihero also portrayed the duality in human nature which was very prominent during the Cold War. In the Cold War Americans were very paranoid because they did not know what to believe in anymore. They wanted to avoid war with Russia, but they did not know how to act because they no longer could differentiate between right and wrong. That caused a blurred line to form surrounding morality. Americans were puzzled at how people could appear to be moral, yet at the same time commit immoral crimes. The antihero allowed the American to explore why people had this dual character. In fact, Americans pondered over this "long after the projected has been turned off".

Again, the rise of the antihero stemmed from a social paradigm shift in America. This occurred once more during the 1960's when the Civil Rights Movement reached its peak. Leaders like MLK, Malcolm X, and other revolutionary leaders rose against society to illustrate why society's practices were wrong. In reality, they were real anti heroes. They all illustrated that anyone who went against society was going to be deemed as rebellious and a bit psychotic. This is what captivated the American audience the most because they yearned to be exposed to new perspectives of the world. After all, they were unsure of their own perspective because they had trouble understanding what truly was right and wrong. This ambiguity was caused by, again, the Cold War and the Civil Rights Movements which all presented problems in American society.

The anti hero constricts the classical hero because their actions are based upon very convoluted and complex motives. They are not so clear cut as the classical hero because the classical hero is simple. They always do the right thing and end the film with a joyous life. The anti hero usually ends life bitterly, and this is supposed to mirror the typical life of a person.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Intensified Continuity

According to David Bordell, explain how and why continuity has intensified in Hollywood cinema. Also consider whether anything has been lost with this change.

Continuity has intensified because of 4 different tactics.
For one, the average shot length or ASL has largely decreased as time has progressed. Before the 1960's the ASL was around "eight to eleven seconds", but nowadays it averages between "three to six seconds". This refers to all genres, but it is mainly faster for action movies. Still, what this has done is show the audience multiple views of one scene. In other words, the coverage of a scene has greatly expanded in order to reveal more details, and in order to add a cinematic style to each film. However, I believe that in some movies this has caused confusion to occur more frequently because the audience is forced to follow each shot very quickly; thus, our actual appreciation and absorption of each shot has minimized. This also shows how films have strayed away from a typical realistic genre since the shots are not being held for a long and more natural amount of time.

The second factor is that technology has allowed scenes to be shot in new angles. This is possible because of the creation and advancement in wide and narrow lens. "During the 1930's, cinematographers increasingly relied on wide-angle lenses" because they didn't distort reality to much of an extent. They were a simple way to show the audience what was in the shot, and how they all related to one another. However, the improvements in narrow lenses has allowed filmmakers to shoot their scenes from afar, and to distort reality by emphasizing certain details over others. Additionally, these new lenses allowed for multiple camera shoots because long lenses were "required to keep cameras out of range from each other". Thus, multiple shots of the same event could be taken, and this most likely contributed to the decrease in ASL. Still, the most salient aspect of the narrow lens is that it can focus on only one detail at a time which allows the director to manipulate reality easily. Because of the long lenses a sense of simplicity has been lost in film. No longer are sets simple locations meant to add a tone to a scene, but now long lenses reveal the details within these sets which forces us to view the set as an actual character.

The third factor is closer framing in dialogue scenes. In classical films, the camera distanced itself from the actor in order to give the actor some privacy. Also, this created the illusion that the camera wasn't being too intrusive which added to a sense of realism. However, as new lenses developed the camera was able to frame the subject tighter. This allowed directors to reveal and focus on their actor's emotions more. Thus, film began to revolve around characters more so than the story itself. Additionally, faster cutting was able to take place because new shots of the actor could be taken in one sequence. I believe that this change has actually improved films a lot because we are more likely to share the actor's emotions if we can clearly see all of their facial expressions which of course connotes an emotion.

The final factor that has contributed to intensified continuity is a free roaming camera. Cameras, thanks to technology, is able to freely roam around a set in swift and fluid movements. I agree that this builds a "continuous tension" because as we watch a long shot take place we begin to yearn to know where the camera will end up. We become aware that the camera is going to take us to a new place that will either add characterization to a character, or it will present us with a new conflict within the film. Our yearning to know this increases tension which in turn causes us to engage ourselves into the film more. All in all, this factor, along with the rest, has caused film to decrease our attention span, but to also become more engaged and interested in the film itself. Thus, we are able to appreciate film even more than before.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Soviet Montage and Realism

Soviet Montage and Formalism
What was Pudovkin's concept of constructive editing and how did it manifest itself on film?
He believed that constructive editing should be used in film. Essentially, this meant that every shot had to offer something new to the film, or that every shot had meaning. This was created by adding a lot of detail into each scene which shows how complex life truly is.

In this shot several civilians are marching together. Hoewver, there is one individual in the bottom left corner who is raising a flag of some sort. This minute detail shows that this march is political and most likely refers to freedom since there are several average civilians aggregating. Additionally, that flag gives the carrier an additional characterization of being more nationalistic than most since he is the only one carrying a flag. Those minute details add meaning to the film, and that is how Pudovkin incorporated constructive editing in his films.

What was Eisensteinian Montage and how does it work in the "Odessa Step" sequence?
The Eisensteinian Montage was an editing technique in which abrupt shots transitioned from one another suddenly. Basically, a sense of peace would first be captured, and immediately motion in the shot would challenge the sense of peace and create it into a sense of havoc. This is exemplified in the Odessa Step sequence because at first all of the civilians are very jubilant. Civilians ranging from the upper class to the lower class are all excited for the same exact reason. However, suddenly an army moves towards the civilians who run away from the soldiers. Through the editing, the peaceful tone immediately shifted to a chaotic tone which was created through the quick motion of the soldiers which contrasted the stationary and peaceful movement of the civilians.

Andre Bazin and Realism
What were Andre Bazin's frustrations with Classical and Formalistic film making?
Their frustrations with those genres were that they were too subjective. They imposed an opinion onto the audience which demerits the value of the film. Film is meant to allow us to form our own opinions concerning society, and film merely opens us to an interpretation of what society may be like. Additionally, classical and formalistic film making utilized montages in order to present one view of the director. This takes away from the complexity of life and the fact that there are several interpretations of how life should be lived.

What do Realist filmmakers strive for in their work?
They strive to present their audience with a realistic film in which the audience can form their own opinions of life. Additionally, realist filmmakers love deep focus because it allows them to incorporate immense amounts of detail into their scenes. This detail can then be seen by the audience which further allows them to see how our environment can also describe our nature.

What techniques to realists use in their filmmaking?
Realists use slow paced editing to allow the audience to truly notice all of the detail in the scenes. Additionally, they utilize deep focus in order to present the audience with several minute details in certain scenes. These details work hand in hand with the slow pacing because the audience is given time to observe all of the details. Then, the audience can form their own opinion of the scene which immerses them into the film more. Lastly, the advance in sound capture allowed Realists to add dialogue into their scenes. This further creates a sense of realism.

Blog- Trailer Review

Link to trailer:

1) Narrative
This trailer illustrates the typical story concerning two lovers who have something impeding them from being together. This trailer shows that there are several impediments between them such as social class -- which is shown through the character's wardrobe -- and the falling ship itself. Still, their love persists and this is shown through both compelling acting and dialogue, and through compelling scenes. The first dialogue that we hear of them is "when the ship docks, I'm getting off with you". This shows a clear devotion that the woman has for the man. However, this devotion is further supported by certain scenes of them together.

This image depicts the characters as being very intimate. From this, the audience sees that they are in love. The narrative progresses by illustrating the issue that they face.

The falling ship is a clear impediment that the couple faces, and its severity causes the audience to want to know whether or not the story will have a happy or morose ending.
2) Cinematography
This film's cinematography is gorgeous. In the picture of the ship above, the grandeur of the ship reflects the grandeur of the film itself. Additionally, the cinematography uses lighting and color to manipulate the mood of the scene.

This shot uses naturally lighting from the sun to add warmth to the scene. This is caused by the harmonious colors of blue and orange which the sea and the sun create. This sense of warmth adds serenity to the scene, and this causes the audience to truly feel what the characters are feeling. The cinematographer also manipulates how much space is in the shot in order to add a sense of intimacy between the characters.

In that shot the characters are framed very tightly, and the background complements the intimate mood that the scene evokes.
3) Editing
The editing emphasizes the emotion in the scene through the slow pacing of the shots. Each shot is held for a generous amount of time so that we can truly feel what the character's are feeling. Additionally, the slow pacing also provides time for us to realize how intimate and compelling the story is.
4) Sound
The sound is incredibly powerful because it matches and enhances every scene presented. During the couple's most intimate scenes, the score creates a very compassionate and romantic mood which allows us to further empathize with the characters. When the impediments that the characters face is presented the sound suddenly shifts to evoke a more cautious and frightening mood. This new mood allows us to realize that the couple is in peril, and altogether the sound allows us to follow the narrative more accurately and more emotionally.

Short Film Critique

A. Rationale:
The film we made was a drama that incorporated realist techniques. We made this film to present our theme that love blinds people from the truth, and that it alone is not reason enough to dedicate your life to someone else. In this film we experimented with realism because we wanted to create a compelling, yet realistic film that actually affected our audience of young adults. This film was poignant, and very frank which we hope conveyed our message well.

Your areas of responsibility on the film.
I was one of the editors for this film. Additionally, I served as a confidant with the director who always sought after all of the crew’s advice. Likewise, I aided him in casting actors for our film, and I helped him visualize a scene to perfection. First, I recruited the actress in our film, and the director casted the actor. However, our initial actress became unavailable for us, and so I had to cast another one who was less ideal than our first choice. Because she was not as qualified as our first choice actor, our film crew had to guide her acting meticulously which became quite time consuming. As editor, I knew that I would have to cut for continuity. Also, I knew that we needed an ample amount of shots to add coverage for our scenes. Therefore, I implored and advised both our director and cinematographer to film while being aware of these factors. Thankfully, we are very open to each other’s thoughts so they heeded to my concerns and addressed them when filming.

Problems and Challenges that arose in your area of responsibility.
Because we intended our film to embody realism, we incorporated several sequence shots in our scenes. Unfortunately, we did not notice errors in continuity while we were on set. We could not refilm these because of a lack of time, so it became my and my partner’s duty to solve them through editing. In the opening sequence we filmed in a bart station. Several extras were in the scene, and since we had no control over them they entered our shots sporadically. Instead of simply cutting between shots we simply inserted our opening text between the shots that had continuity errors. This way we created the illusion that our intro was coherent, and we were able to present the audience with the opening credits as well. Another problem in our film was that we lacked eloquent scene transitions. My partner and I had trouble trying to move from one scene onto the next. After much thinking we concluded that having the following scene’s audio begin while the current scene ends would allow for a smooth transition. To help us, our sound editor gave us several sounds to add realism to the film. For example, with the park scene there were ambient sounds such as birds chirping that created the scene transition. In other scenes we used our actor’s dialogue to create the scene transition.

Problems that arose on the film as a whole
The most malignant problem that our group incurred was that our actress constantly flaked on us. At first we understood that she had other priorities, so we tried to form our filming schedule around her own schedule. However, whenever our filming date came she would ignore both my and the director’s phone calls. For at least an hour, our film crew remained in awe wondering what she was doing. Eventually, she told us that she was incapable of filming for very unbelievable reasons. Of course, this pushed the production of our film several days back. Additionally, my partner and my time to edit was minimized because we wasted certain editing days due to a lack of footage. As the deadline drew closer and closer I implored my director to advise our actress of our commitment to our project. Fortunately, my director was able to finally convince our actress to continue to film with us. Unfortunately, we had to work off of her time schedule again, and so our final filming dates occurred past our deadline. This caused my partner and I to edit after school to make up for lost time. Additionally, for some of the final scenes, such as the train scene, I and our cinematographer remained at school editing so that our other two crew members could film. This allowed us to film and edit during the same day. Aside from our actress, we had no real detrimental problems. All of our crew members contributed equally to the film.

Our final project came out well considering that we lost several days because of our unreliable actress. However, if we did not lose those days then our film definitely could have improved on its story telling and the acting within it. In pre-pro we had a difficult time trying to form a realistic story that could be well told. We believed that we addressed all of the plot holes in our final script, but as we began to film we realized that some points were a bit complicated. For example, it was difficult to convince our audience that our actress could have truly believed that John had been blind during their entire time together. In the script, I attempted to address by presenting our actress as a very ignorant person once she receives her eyes. Thus, her ignorance would cause her to accept that John had always been blind. Even though it was highly implausible. Unfortunately, our actress had trouble conveying the right emotions for our scenes. Typically, she said her lines with a happy tone which definitely strayed away from the meaning behind her words. Again, our lack of time with her caused us to cherish every moment we had with her. This caused us to sacrifice the quality of her acting in order to complete the film. Thus, in our final film her lines lacked much emotion, but they did not carry the same happy tone as before because our crew urged and forced her to show some sad emotion. That sad emotion was minimal, but its presence made our film better than her being happy while reading solemn lines. Because the emotion that our story needed was not fully there, the story itself lost some credibility because, again, her ignorance could not be conveyed through her emotion. In an attempt to add more drama to our movie we decided to include other previously discarded scenes. The first was the train scene in which our actress is forced to take care of our actor. This showed how bitter and reluctant she was becoming towards him because she was not used to having to take care of others. This scene definitely aided us in characterizing our actress as selfish. Also, we needed to show that the two were indeed in love. This love was the motive for our actor to donate his eyes, but our film’s script had no truly powerful instances that showed his love for her. To address this, I told my crew that we should add a park scene in which our actor is pushing our actress on the swings. This would show them having fun together even though the girlfriend was physically impaired. Still, our actor needed a powerful reason to sacrifice his eyes. This reason came in the form of marriage. Our actress told our actor that if she had eyes then they would get married. Marriage became our protagonist’s reason to sacrifice his eyes. This reason reoccurs when the girlfriend returns home to tell him that she was gonna leave his life. As she leaves the house, our protagonist tries to chase after her but falls and drops the wedding ring box that he bought for her. These critical scenes definitely made our film better. However, we should have planned them earlier in order to avoid a rush to film them. This shows that the biggest flaw in our film was our inability to plan it well. We should have realized our film’s storyline errors earlier so that we wouldn’t have to shoot them last minute which definitely stressed out our crew. Also, we should have casted our original actress earlier so that we could be aware that she was busy. If we planned earlier with her then perhaps we could have kept her as our actress which definitely would have given us a much more emotional female character. Also, she wouldn’t have flaked out on us like our final actress did. In the future, we will make sure to cast the most brilliant and dependable actresses and actors. Also, we will cast them early in our production in order to avoid any sudden issues such as unreliability and a realization that our actress had difficulty acting. Still, I believe that the effort that all of our crew members put into the production created an elegant film that had some problems, but overall was a compelling film that was highly original and interesting.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Advanced Editing Notes- Overview/Classical Paradigm

1. How would describe the difference in camera work: composition, angle, movement
In "Arrival of a Train" the camera is stationary throughout the entire film. Additionally, the camera is at a long shot of the scene in order to provide extensive coverage for the audience. This allows the audience to see what every person is doing using any given point in the scene. Of course, this camera technique reflects a realistic approach which is in contrast to "Damsel in Distress". The latter film incorporates several camera movements that amplify the emotion that the characters are feeling. This film borrows from realistic films because it uses several sequence shots to illustrate the scene. However, this film falls into the genre of classical cutting moreso than the realist genre because it cuts to continuity. This is done through several match action cuts which add fluidity to the scenes. This was done in order to first present the character's plight, and to then show the emotion that is evoked because of their plight. The camera does this by first showing an establishing shot which presents the problem, and then fluidly cutting close to the actress to reveal her emotion of fear. This is in contrast with "Arrival of a Train" because it forces the audience to focus on an individual character's emotion instead of allowing us to be able to choose who to focus on.

2. How would describe the differences in the edit?
In "Arrival of a Train" there was no editing. This was done to add a sense of reality to the film, and this was done of course because the film falls into the genre of realism. This is contrast to "Damsel in Distress" because that film has several shots that depict the character's emotion and the situation in the story. All of these shots are cut from one another to emphasize certain things at a time. At first, the overall problem is shown, then the scene cuts to a close up of the damsel to reveal her emotion. Also, this film incorporates fast pace cuts to add create tension in the film. This helps present the dramatic story and to force us to feel emotions of excitement and anticipation. This type of pacing differs from "Arrival of a Train" because that film is simply one long shot. That allows us to truly appreciate the scene and analyze it however we want.

3. How would describe the characteristics of the story being told/narrative?
In "Arrival of a Train" we are able to form our own story because the camera doesn't focus on anyone in particular. Thus, we can direct our eyes to whomever we want. This is in contrast with "Damsel in Distress" which forces us to see one story and form an opinion of it based on how the film is being cut.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Run Lola Run Presos Critique -- Story Analysis

I. Interpretation of the film as it related to your assigned section and use of film language.
I believe that the interpretation that we had of the film was highly accurate and well supported. We included an introduction of Tykwer's life so that we could relate the film back to his own style, thus adding validity to our analysis of the film. For example, we discussed time as a heavy motif in Run Lola Run and we discussed its influence on the film. In this film Tykwer showed the role of coincidence heavily in life. He presented us with 3 different plots that start in the same manner, the only difference that occurs is a time difference. Either Lola does something late by a few seconds, or she is early a few seconds. This time difference creates several different outcomes not only for her life, but also for the lives of others. That is presented through the flash forwards that we see of people whose lives intersect with Lola's. We believe that this analysis is very accurate and intelligent because it is a new type of view of the film, and it ties back with Tykwer's obsession with time so it can be a plausible analysis. However, I feel that we could have used much more film language to describe our analysis of the film. Unfortunately, we excluded a lot of film language opportunities because we forgot about that criteria on the IB Film rubric. Instead, we used film language only a few times, and had we used it more perhaps our ideas may have been articulated more clearly.

II. Strengths of your presentation
Again, I feel that our analysis was very intelligent and cohesive. We all reviewed our slides together and made sure that they all cohered. So, none of the ideas that we had were repetitive, but they were all fresh and somehow relevant. By doing this our conclusion of our presentation seemed much more interesting. That is because Daniel and Alexis's presentations all hinted to small motifs in the film such as the motif of coincidence. Of course, this motif could not have been deeply analyzed until we covered the end of the film. That is why i gave a more comprehensive analysis of the motif of coincidence. By doing this, we added tension in our own presentation because our audience knew that we kept mentioning coincidence in our presentation, but they were never given a full analysis of it which is what they wanted. Therefore, they became more interested in our presentation I believe. All in all, I feel that the content of our presentation was very original and interesting, and the way we formatted our presentation was also very effective.

III. Challenges and Areas for Improvement
Despite having great written format in our presentation, our actual presentation lost a lot of its flare because of nervousness. Again, I feel that Alexis and Daniel all had great ideas but at certain points during the presentation they became very nervous. Alexis's voice began to fluctuate as she became more and more nervous. Daniel became so nervous that he forgot to include some key points in his presentation. As i spoke i noticed that i moved around a lot and that may have distracted the audience a lot. The only way we can alleviate these presentation problems is by practicing more. We had plans to practice during an entire day, but Alexis unexpectingly became busy with her personal life so we couldn't practice. Also, we had a lot of plot in our presentation which i was aware of but felt was necessary. Since we were critiqued on it, however, I suppose that a lot of it could have been scrapped. Next time we will make our presentation more concise, and we will practice more in order to avoid nervousness during our actual presentation.

The Lost Brother -- Fall 2011 Treatment

A boy struggles as he does pushups. Sweat drips down his face. Still, in pain, the boy does one more pushup. The alarm goes off at 6:00.The boy becomes scared. The alarms rings again. The boy's face becomes more and more frustrated. The boy's hand slams it to turn it off. He sits on his bed, and there is a calendar behind him. It reads "6:00". The boy sits there with a blank stare on his face. There is a dark shadowy figure of a man standing in the doorway staring. The boy doesn't see him though. The lights go out. Long shot of the house with all the lights going off. We hear a loud scream. cuts to black.

It's a bright day outside. From a distance away we see two boys walking towards the camera. They skip around a few rocks to get to a cliff side. They boys start to look over the cliff. The younger brother pushes the older to the edge of the cliff [playfully], the older brother gets angry and starts yelling at his brother. Then the older brother pushes his younger brother towards the edge, but this time his brother goes over the cliff.

The boy is running from something. It's the same shadowy figure chasing him. The boy wakes up from his dream. We are in his room. His alarm clock readsis 6:00 exactly. His face his worried. As the older brother exits his home, a shadowy figure enters the garage, but he is unseen by the older brother.

The older brother runs away from the cliff, as he walks towards his home thoughts rush into his head. He doesnt know what to do; he doesn’t want to go to jail. “You were never with him” echoes in his mind. He returns home, and a week later “Missing” posters of the younger brother are posted all over the city.

We are back in the room. The boy does his daily routine of pushups. The boy stands up and turns to the mirror. He looks to the mirror to see the same dark figure in the reflection, standing outside his window. The boy turns to the window to see no one there. The clock reads 6:00. Someone is at the window. The door mysteriously opens. The man stares at the clock, and then looks away, as if time no longer has any importance. He doesn’t finish his final set of pushups, instead he just sits waiting for someone to enter through the door.

News report reports that bloody footsteps were found going away from a cliffside and to the main road. A month has passed, the blood testing is inconclusive. The older brother turns the TV off, and he tells his mother that nothing interesting was on. Then the older brother reflects on himself, and continues to live.

Pictures of the older brother appear. He has led a decent life, without much suffering or trouble. He got into working out soon after the incident. Him and his brother always wanted to be bodybuilders.

We are in the house. It is almost 6:05. The ticks get slower and slower. A shadowy figure enters through the door. The man looks up.

The house has no lights on, and it is dark outside. The man says to the shadowy figure [still outside of house] “I’m sorry, brother. I didn’t think you’d make it.”

A loud scream is heard from outside the house.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Broadcast Fall -- New Psychology Course

We came up with the idea because I was interested in taking the psychology course myself last year. However, I did not want to give up my IB Film course so I decided to just learn about what the course would have been about if i had taken. Also i wanted to let others know what it was about since it is a new course at Capuchino. It was very easy to find interviewees because there was a plentiful amount of people that were taking the course that i knew. Our interview questions allowed the interviewees to answer personally instead of objectively so that our audience could truly feel whether or not they would be happy taking the course. The questions directed towards the teacher were more about the course itself so that our audience could know what they could expect to learn in the course. We did envision something special for the piece which was the format that we asked our questions. We incorporated unique camera techniques such as whip pans to make the piece more interesting to the audience.

In conjunction, our audience would be more interested in taking the course which was after all the goal of our broadcast.

Production: Quality:
We chose to film the teachers' responses in their classroom since that was where the psychology course takes place. The students we interviewed we filmed outside of the classroom and in various places to make our piece less repetitive. Unfortunately, when we filmed the teachers there was construction work occurring in the back ground and some of that noise was picked up by our mic. Fortunately, the noise was less apparent when we added a soundtrack to our piece. Our B-Roll typically matched what the interviewees were saying, however, at times we ran out of ideas for B-roll so we just showed the interviewees. Our most creative shots were the ones with the questions. This is because they were a bit surreal which made them very interesting and funny. We did take note of the background objects in our shots and we tried to avoid having anything very distracting in them. Also, because we filmed mainly on sunny days we had to continuously change the exposure settings to get a pleasing shot.

Our audio overall came out well because we used a boom mic. However, the final audio clip came out very strange for some strange reason. We could not refilm it because our actor became busy. Still, the audio was not too horrendous.

Our voice over leaded into our topic and it provided for easy transitions between interviewees. To grab our audiences attention we used interesting shot transitions, but to keep our audiences attention we kept our questions short and simple. Our segment was informative because it outlines what the course was about and it gave detail of how students were reacting to taking the course.

Our final closing voice over added humor to keep with the tone of our piece. Additionally, this gave our audience more reason to take the psychology course, or to at least research it more so that they can decide if the course is right for them.

Our B-Roll accurately reflects the audio in our voice overs and SOT's to add coherency.

We did use transitions between shots so that our piece was fluid. The opening sequence of our piece involved the use of the application "Motion" because i wanted to create an animated sequence of words connected to psychology. We also used lower third titles to give our interviewees names and small back ground info [i.e. teacher or student]. The only effect that we added to our piece was a bit of color correction to the teacher interviews because the original footage came out a bit dull. So i added color correction in order to make the footage more exciting and alive.

There were no jump cuts in our piece because all of our interviews were taken in one take.

I like the entire piece as a whole a lot. I think our interviews are really informative and I love the transitions that we used because they are creative and it took me and my partner a good amount of time to come up with different ideas. The only flaw in our project was one interview with one of the teachers because she was not facing directly towards the camera. It did look awkward when she was looking to the side of the camera. This interview could serve as a lesson for our next piece because now i can see how important it is to guide the interviewee's eyes.

Character in Time

Age 1: Girl is sick. Parents cannot afford to buy her any medicine and the mother is panicking because she does not want her only child to perish. Late at night the mother whispers to her sick baby "one day someone will come to us and help us. I promise". The mother says this as her tears fall on the tiny girl's forehead and cool her body. The following day the baby girl awakes healthily.
Age 2: Girl is learning how to walk. The mother is teaching her meanwhile the girl's father is in a factory working in grueling conditions making pennies an hour. In the afternoon, as the men are away working the girl's village is raided. The mother clutches her little girl and they hide in a small trench. The mother tells her daughter to stay calm . . . that everything will be alright. The mother's tears of fear hit the girls forehead. The girl remains silent and the invaders leave their home untouched. That cannot be said for some of the other villagers.
Age 4: Little girl is helping her mother find vegetables in the fields. It is a tedious task but it has to be done so that the mother can make a complete meal for her small family. The mother and girl look up to see foreigners in large cars drive to their villagers. They claim to be anthropologists and they ask the mother several questions. The little girl keeps wondering if this is the day that someone will help them. The anthropologists ask to take the little girl's picture. The mother says yes and she receives a few cans of food. The girl's eyes stare through the camera to see the anthropologist's eyes. It appears that they will not help her. The little girl's eyes become filled tears, yet the anthropologists ignore her and return to their large cars. The little girl turns to her mother is walking back to her. The little girl realizes that only they can help each other. The mother and daughter return to picking villages in the hot fields.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Review for Camera Exam- Cinematography Focus

The film starts with a blurred shot of straight lines of white light. Soon a woman, the main character, rises and her head is in an extreme close up -- note that the camera has remained static. The extreme close up allows us to see the emotion that the woman is feeling. She is out of breath and appears to be confused. As her head rises the film cuts to a medium shot of the woman to reveal that she is in a confined room; this room is very gray and dull just like a jail cell. The film then cuts to a medium shot of the woman and it seems that she is wearing a hospital patient's gown. There is some blood on it. The woman is very lit up which contrasts with her back ground as it is stark black. Perhaps this is done to draw the audience's eyes to the woman and away from unimportant details in the room so that they can see the blood on her gown. The scene then cuts to her rushing to a small mirror in the room. Several match action cuts are made that show the woman breaking the mirror then picking up a piece of the broken glass to see where the blood came from. The glass reveals that there is sort of a barcode on her neck. A reverse shot then shows this barcode more clearly and then another reverse shot gives a close up on the woman's face and shows the horror that she feels. The woman turns around and then looks at a wall behind her. A rack focus reveals writing on the wall.

Actually, it is not writing but rather engraved tally marks. As the woman turns away from the wall the rack focus blurs out the tally marks and again focuses on the woman's face.

She is still confused and unsure of what is happening. Then a long shot of the room reveals how small the room indeed is. This long shot however has been edited to appear like a security camera shot in which the image is black and white and there is a time indicator on the bottom left corner of the shot.

The scene continues and several varied shots show the woman exercising in her room. After all what else can she do? Eventually the woman starts to look for weaknesses in the room's architecture. She discovers a large gun that creates "portals". Visual effects bring these portals to life and a mirror like effect shows how the portals work -- you can go into one portal and you'll come out of the sister portal.

The woman utilizes these portals to escape security and she eventually goes outside. It appears that she is about to be free but as the camera pans around the city the city becomes 2 dimensional.

In all honesty, this is one of my favorite shots of all time. The camera panned around the woman in 3D space and because it was in 3D space it became apparent the background of the shot was indeed linear and just a wall. It turns out that she can not escape and is confined in whatever building she is in. There is no escape for her.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oral Presentation IB Grading

I would award myself a 20 because i feel that i did an excellent job in evaluating and analyzing my extract in a social cultural context. Also i did quite well in analyzing the financial institutions effect on the film's production. The inclusion of Walt Disney's nature to produce children's film and its phase in producing musicals such as The Beauty and the Beast was insightful and shows careful research. The history of the genre relating to the film also was very insightful. The history of course included the themes of the spirit of Christmas and themes of love. I also discussed the sound design and analyzed its role in the film. The connection between the actors and the non-diagetic sounds was a good point and it was relative to both the extract and the film as a whole. On a narrative level i did well at analyzing how the extract created conflict and why it's so important to the film as a whole. The tone that i spoke in sounded convincing and confident which added to the credibility of my points. However, the reason that i do not deserve the highest marking is because i failed to focus more on the extract. I tended to stray away and talk about the film as a whole and that is not what the presentation is about. Still, when i did focus solely on the extract is was insightful and coherent which is why i gave myself a 20.

Critique for Plenny's Presentation on I Am Legend

Plenny exceeded the extract time limit of 5 minutes and instead picked an extract of 6 minutes. The socio-cultural context is present, but it isn't relevant to the film or the extract itself so more research is needed for that part. The inclusion of the director's thoughts and reasons for creating this film is great because it supports her theme that Will Smith's character feels isolated, and that was the director's intention. The Butterfly Effect was an interesting idea, very original but i think that some expansion on it could be made. The presentation is a bit repetitive because she talks about isolation various times throughout the presentation, but it should be talked about once and during that one time all of the ideas should be presented. The lighting was adequately talked about. Still, there was some more time left in the presentation which i believe could have been utilized to explain why she chose that specific extract and why it is so important to her. I would award her a 15 because the analysis was adequate and the director's intention was clearly explained. However, she received this mark because she didn't go in depth of film techniques create meaning.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Oral Presentation - Narritive

Part 2
IV. Narrative
The Nightmare Before Christmas is a film that discusses the theme of emptiness in one's self and one's longing to fill that empty void with things never experienced before, while still maintaining their original character. Burton's characters Jack and Sally exemplify people who long to fill their empty void, and they fill this void through the love that they develop for each other.

V. Film Language and Representation

1. How are characters and issues represented?
The characters are represented through their dialogue and through the actions that they perform. Jack, the main character, is especially characterized by his own musical monologue and by the musical score itself. In the extract chosen he sings that "there's an empty place in my bones that calls out for something unknown. The fame and praise come year after year does nothing for these empty tears." Jack feels that those around him don't understand him because they don't see anything to Jack other than that he's the king of Halloween. However, there is much more to Jack and Jack knows this. That's why there's something in him that "calls out for something unknown." The "unknown" is the central problem that Jack has to face in order to become happy once more. In the film Jack first believes that the "unknown" is Christmas which is why he goes out and explores Christmas land. However, it turns out that what's missing in his bones is love. Sally is the one that grows to love him as seen by the extract. She follows him to make sure he's safe, and at the end of Jack's monologue detailing his longing for something new Sally says that she "knows how [he] feels." From this critical scene the story follows Jack's journey to fill his emptiness, while Sally follows Jack to get him to realize her love for him.
2. What is the style and effect of acting and performance?
The style of the movie is a claymation animation meaning that the actors are dolls, and because they are dolls the movie had to be filmed with stop motion technology. Because of this every single frame had to be individual manipulated to create fluidity. In order to add realism to the dolls the art crew created about 400 individual "Jack" heads. Every Jack head had a different facial expression which varyied on whatever word Jack was iterating, or depending on his emotion in any given shot. Of course every other character had a bountiful number of heads as well for the same purpose as Jack's heads. The purpose for this is to make it seem like the dolls are really saying what the audience is hearing. This of course adds realism to the film, and to the performance of the "actors" because they are able to change facial expressions fluidly. Also, the art designers gave each doll a special body with movable and fixed joints. So whenever a character had to walk or raise an arm or tilt their head the film crew was able to move the doll accordingly. This also adds realism to the film. Lastly, the dolls were voiced by phenomenal voice actors who were able to bring the characters to life with purposeful and articulate language. Jack, for example, was voiced by Chris Sarandon whose voice brought the characterization of life out. He was able to sound gloom when needed, or excited when needed. However, the most noteworthy voice in "Nightmare" was the voice of Danny Elfman. Danny Elfman was both the score writer and the lyricist. Because of this he was able to sing every note to the music as it was intended to be sang by its creator, since he was the creator. His voice in the scene showed how glum Jack was and how misunderstood he felt. It greatly brought forth the emotion within the character. Whether Jack was praising himself as being the menacing Pumpkin King or if Jack was in dismay due to his realization that there's something missing in his life, if you will, Elfman was able to bring forth these emotions through the sound.
6. How is meaning created by lighting, shade and color?
The use of dark colors simply reinforces Jack's location which is a cemetery. Also it adds to the dark feel that the holiday of Halloween gives, and of course Jack is in Halloween Land. There are several cast shadows on the grave stones which adds darkness to the scene, but they also edge out the grave stones themselves and make them clearer. For example, there are several grave stones in the shape of the Christian "cross." Perhaps this is to show a connection between Halloween and Christmas. Halloween usually is depicted as being a dark holiday because it celebrates the spirits of the dead, as represented by the grave stones. However, the grave stones are in the shape of a Holy Cross which may be Burton's way of showing that Halloween isn't a pagan holiday as some Christians view it. ( Rather, Christians should view Halloween as a holiday of mystery meant to fascinate kids with spooky yet visually enticing images. Like the trademark pumpkin of Halloween. They are interesting because kids can carve them and place lanterns in them, but in the film they are spooky as well as shown by the pumpkin patch whose pumpkins are releasing the spirits of souls. These souls are the typical white color because "people have always used white to dress up as ghosts(" So the white color keeps in line with the Halloween tradition.
7. How is meaning created by sound and music?
As previously stated, Danny Elfman wrote the score for the film. He spent 3 years working alongside Selick and Burton when ever he was present. These 3 years allowed Elfman to score music that pleased the director and producer. The score pleased them because it added meaning to the scene. When Jack is trying to escape the townspeople, he enters an ally which has musicians playing a sorrowful tune. From here a new more hopeful tone starts to play when the audience sees Sally. The score shows that Sally may be Jack's salvation. In this sense the score foreshadows the end of the film which allows the audience to become more alert of Sally and her characterization. After Sally Jack is all alone. The music becomes louder and more exciting and somewhat scary. This adds to Jack's characterization because he is currently quite mysterious and scary. The music also adds a sense of malevolence to Jack's characterization. This of course is supported by Jack's singing in which he proclaims scarily that "He is the Pumpkin King!" But then the music shifts to a more dismayed tone when Jack starts to explain that "somewhere deep inside of these bones an emptiness began to grow." This makes Jack uneasy because he doesn't know what this mysterious thing is. The music then picks up and goes to a more malevolent tone again as Jack praises himself as being a well known person because he's so scary. Yet again, almost instantly Jack starts singing in a melancholic tone and the score shifts accordingly. Jack explains again that "there's an empty place in my bones that calls out for something unknown. The fame and praise come year after year does nothing for these empty tears." The music follows every note that Jack says. If Jack elongates a word then the score follows, this creates a very intense relationship between the score and the actor's voice. In a way, it feels like Jack himself must have written his own score because the score very accurately and precisely depicts Jack's every emotion. The fact that the score kept changing from spooky and exciting to melancholy almost instantaneously shows how confused Jack is in this scene. He has no clue of what's missing in his life, but he knows that something does exist that he must experience in order for him to be happy again. As Jack leaves the cemetary, his music slowly fades out. Then the music changes when Sally is revealed and it becomes hopeful once again. This again reminds the audience that she will have an important part in Jack's journey for him to become happy again.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Oral Presentation- Part 2 - Historical and Socio-culutural

II. Historical and Institutional Factors-

1. What are the institutional factors that may be important?
1. "Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1994) released through Disney’s Touchstone division due to concerns over potential controversy due to its dark themes, but later wholeheartedly embraced by Disney as evidenced by its merchandising and the annual change of the Haunted Mansion into a “Nightmare Before Christmas” theme." Walt Disney funded the Nightmare $18 million dollars. That's an average of $6 million dollars every year that Nightmare was in production. This budget is actually relatively little when compared to other Disney blockbusters but it grossed $50 million dollars in its first theatrical run in the United States.
2. What is the film’s historical significance?
1. as a document of its time? None?
2. as a part of history of film?
This film wasn't the first stop motion film, but it was the most advanced stop motion film during its time. The film ran at 24fps so there were 24 movements per second. The movie is 76 minutes long which means that the film crew had to move the characters a total of 109,440 times which was unheard of. The team was made up of over 100 animators and technicians and it took them 3 years to finish the creation of the film. No stop motion film ever needed that much dedication for it to be produced.

III. Socio-cultural context

In the making of this movie and i learned that Jack Skellington is somewhat of a parallel to the Grinch. But instead of hating Christmas Jack finds and becomes infatuated with Christmas. From here i can see a theme relating to the true "spirit of Christmas" which basically revolves around love. In the Grinch the Grinch lacks a heart, figuratively, but gains one at the end of the movie when he sees that the world is a kind place. Jack on the other hand literally has no heart and says that theres a longing he's never known, something that he's never experienced. He at first believes that the longing is for Christmas, but it turns out to be for love - the same thing that the Grinch was longing for. Jack of course finds love with Sally, and Christmas is then experienced by those in Christmas Town, and those in Halloween Town -- those in Halloween Town experience snow. In the end the spirit of Christmas brings joy to all who take part in it -- those in Christmas Town, Halloween Town, and the Grinch too.

Something else that the film explores is some aspects of Christmas, and additionally the film contains several children themes. In the Christian Christmas, the exchange of gifts has become a core aspect in modern day. In Christmas town the residents receive presents from a Santa Claus. Santa Claus is said to bring gifts to the homes of the good children during the late evening and overnight hours of Christmas Eve, December 24. As Jack travels to Christmas Town he sees only benevolent kids of all races. This was probably done so that Tim Burton wouldn't receive any criticism for being an advocate for racism, and he's not as shown by the children in Christmas Town. Anyways, these sweet children were excited to receive gifts from Santa Claus, but when Jack delivered them "gifts" all of Christmas Town became hectic because they were given gifts of horror. The military tried to shoot down Jack because he was an impostor of the real Santa Claus. Perhaps this shows another underlying theme. The theme that people shouldn't strive to be what they're not but should instead be happy being what they are because they're good at. At the conclusion of the movie Jack realizes this and says to himself that he is the Pumpkin King, not Santa Claus. Of course the children in Christmas Town receive their gifts, and Jack is able to find love. Jack is able to of course because he realized that what he did was wrong and asked Santa Claus for forgiveness. This theme relates especially to children who must learn between what is right and wrong and always stick with whats right. Of course these themes are present because this movie was released during the Christmas holidays and was meant to be a kids movie. Or rather kids of ages 8 and up. Also the movie revolves around the Christian and Halloween holidays because the film was released mainly in America. This makes sense since Americans practice these holidays yearly and like watching Christmas movies.

The last and more obvious similarity between "Nightmare" and other Christmas films is that they are musicals. Musicals tend to catch kids' attention because children like catchy tunes and like the magical feels that musicals have. Also musicals are happy and exciting for the kids. This explains why Burton recruited Danny Elfman to create the songs -- he is an extremely good song writer and lyricist who's easy to work with and who is dedicated to his work. Also, the musicals are very dreamy for the kids because Walt Disney is the company that the movie was being produced under. Typically Walt Disney creates kids' films which explains Burton's move towards a musical approach.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Oral Presentations- Director's Influence-

I. Genre and Audience-

1. Fantasy
2. The movie is purely fictional, and takes place in a cartoon world. The movie targets kids and kids usually like fantasy which is why this movie is a fantasy.
3. Vincent, The Grinch, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
4. Tim Burton. He grew up watching films like the Grinch which inspired him to want to create animated films. 10 years prior to the movies creation, Burton was writing plays in which the character of Jack manifested itself. He presented the idea to Disney but was shot down. 10 Years later Disney reexamined the play and bought the rights. They only bought the rights then because of Burton's success with "Vincent." In his eyes "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is the opposite of the Grinch because Jack Skellington finds and falls in love with Christmas. Also, Disney knew that this film would be entirely made via stop motion. So Disney wanted to test the limits of stop motion and wanted to advance it with "Nightmare."
5. The producer and writer Tim Burton is famous for dark and quirky films. That explains why he used several silhouettes and shadows in the film more specifically in "Halloween town." He's worked as Disney's animator for several years which is why he decided to make this kids film. The director, Henry Selick enjoys to make scary films for young kids.
6. How does it fit within the director’s other work?
1. Not necessarily, because it is a kids film the main theme is basically good triumphing over evil.
2. Yes, stop motion animation is the director's trademark. The Corpse Bride shares the same use of stop motion. This film has been credited as being dazzling and unprecedented because of its incredible visuals and usage of stop motion that had never been seen before. About 400 "Jack" heads were created to emulate every sound and facial expression that he would make when he speaks. The dark imagery, heavy use of shadows, and silhouettes is present in Burton's "Vincent."
7. Good triumphs over evil.
8. Kids. By creating a surreal and magical world that both scares the kids, but brings out several other emotions such as laughter and wonder in kids.