For my short film I have researched on a few topics that
would help improve the film’s connotative and denotative meanings. The key
topics that were investigated on were locations, colours, music, actors and
endings. All five of these aspects play a crucial role in the film as each of
them have different elements of the story that when slightly combined or
changed, changes the story is completely.
One of the most important aspect to my film was the
location, as the theme and story required an isolated area. It was also
important to find a location that was close by and had easy access so that the
crew and all the equipment could be transported efficiently on the day of the
shoot. Before looking for the location I read and watched articles and videos
on how other directors found their locations for their movies and what they
were looking for. From this I understood that finding a location is as
important as casting because a location can bring its own kind of personality
to the film. Locations give films like Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings and even
The Force Awakens a sense of enchantment and another-worldly feeling. In short
locations can easily elevate a script. During my research I came across a video
where Rick Moody explains how the locations in his movie gave his film a whole
While looking for my location I found it more reliable to
walk around Preston to find the location than use search tools such as Google
or Google Maps as it was important to get the right atmosphere for the place.
I narrowed it down to
three locations, one was an abandoned plot of land that was very small and
close to the main road, the next was Let’s Grow Preston, the local community
garden and my last location was an old church that was renovated into the Rock
FM Radio station. The issues with the first two locations were that they were
too obviously public areas for my film, as the sense of isolation seemed to be
missing. The third location with the old church seemed better suited as it had
a timeworn cemetery that had a gray and unsettling feeling to it. After finding
the location I used Google search engine to find out more about the radio
station and people I could contact to attain permission to use their grounds
for filming. After booking a meeting with the station head, we were allowed to
film at the location.
This location was apt but it was not perfect as it was still
not as isolated as required by the story. This lead us to plan the shots before
the shoot as we used more close up shots to make it seem like the area was
The story in my film involved a lot of digging as the the
character was burying a body. We came into an unexpected issue on the day of
the shoot as the ground at the cemetery was not suitable to be dug up. We dealt
with this problem but by using different camera angles and positions to make it
seem like a grave was dug up than actually digging it.
“In film school they never teach us in the knowledge of art,
mainly technology, which is very important to realize and portray the idea. But
nobody explains the meaning, the philosophy of light, the philosophy of
colour.” -(Vittorio Storaro ASC AIC, 2013)
Colour was an essential part of the storytelling in my film
because I wanted my characters to be perceived in a certain manner.
Historically, even before we could record sound we were more
fascinated to put colour in our movies. So to have a better understanding of
the effect of colour on an audience, I used the help of educational videos,
research on colour in film theory and referred to books like “If It’s Purple,
Someone’s Gonna Die: The Power of Color in Visual Storytelling” by Patti
Bellantoni and “Chromatic Cinema: A History of Screen Color” by Richard Misek.
I found that the educational videos, such as The Psychology
Colour and Colour in Storytelling, and the books were more useful to me than
the research papers on colour in film theory. The videos and the book
concentrated on the sole effects of colour and how it had a direct affect on a
person watching the film. From these two sources I learned how a singular
colour could have varying affects, like how a light blue tone can give you a
sense calm and a darker blue tone could bring a sense of sadness and depression.
Where as the research papers dealt with the subject of colour in a much broader
manner, such as how colour is viewed by different cultures and its cultural
effects and values. Basically, the papers discussed the connotative meaning of
colour viewed by different countries around the world.
Colour can help audiences digest complicated themes easier,
it can also help them associate colour to different themes and characters in a
film. In my film I wanted to use colours like gray, dull purples and browns to
give the film a bleak feeling and at certain times in the film a bright pop of
red to show passion. This is done so that the viewers can see that the person
being buried, died because of the obsessive love the murderer had for her.
“The most brilliant story in the world can be brought down
by lack of any useful ending.”- (Peter Damien, 2013)
Deciding how I wanted my film to end was a bit challenging
as I was not sure if I wanted to leave it open or closed ended. With an open
ended movie, or also called implicit ending, it leaves the audience thinking
about the film and the different ways it could have ended. On the other hand, a
close ended film leaves the audience feeling satisfied, as all the major plots
in the film would have neatly concluded with all the lose ends tied. I
personally liked the idea of an open ending which resonate with the audience.
So that each individual can add to the film.
Since my short film has no dialogues but just a voice over
of a poem, I wanted to find the find the right track to accompany it. At first
I was hoping to use the Johnny Cash’s cover of Vera Lynn’s song We’ll Meet
Again, as I liked the ironic atmosphere the song brought to the film. But after
further research I found out that I could not use the track because of
copyright issues. Researching into the sound and music in film shows that it
can heavily influence the viewer’s emotions on a scene. Videos on YouTube like
How Music Affects Film takes simple scenes like the the sunrise in the animated
Disney movie The Lion King and plays different songs to the clip. With each
song gives the video has multiple meanings. The scene could be interpreted as
hopeful, sad or mysterious depending on the song used.
According to the Kuleshov
Effect two consecutive scenes can be linked and understood differently depending
on the music. For example, if there are two consecutive shots of two people
walking towards each other and the music in the background is intense, the
audience would be lead to believe that the two characters are going to confront
each other. But if the music is changed to something more light-hearted the
audience would interpret it as two friends meeting.
Sometimes when there is a gory scene with an uppity track
the audience understands the characters in a deeper sense. Like the movie Reservoir
Dogs there is a scene where a character chops off his captive’s ear to the song
Stuck in the Middle with You, which show’s the viewer how unsettling and
psychotic that moment in the film truly is.
In my film I wanted to use a bitter-sweet track that would
clash with the raspy voice over of a poem about an obsessive love.
Casting the right people for the roles was a time consuming
process, as it was difficult to find the right actors to bring the character to
life. I was looking a one male actor between the age rage of 25-30, a female
actor also within the same age rage as the male actor and a voiceover actor
with a thick European accent. Another requirement for the female actor was that
she needed to petite, as the film has many shots where her male counterpart needed
to pick her up.
In search for my actors I put up casting calls on websites
like Bark.com. I was not very keen on the actors on the site and they did not
seem very reliable. So instead I put up flyers and posters all over University
and the library. Through this method I was able to find capable student actors
around the area and eventually selected my cast.
In conclusion, it was more reliable for me to walk around
the town to find the most ideal location, than blindly trusting Google Maps. In
researching colour in film, educational videos on YouTube and books on film
colour were more useful that research papers on the subject. In the case of
sound, after my research I narrowed down the track that I wanted to use as it
would nicely contrast with the poem voiceover. While for the casting I found
flyers and posters more dependable than using actual casting websites. In short
all these elements were what makes the film what it is. It might seem obvious
and insignificant at first but the storytelling power of their assembly becomes