Cinematic Practice UACAHC-30-3
3-Minute Pilot and Treatment Assignment
Working Title of Film: Mind the Gap
URL of ‘Pilot and Treatment’ Page in Online Production File WordPress.com:
Password (if used):
URL of 3-Minute Pilot on Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/80407084
Names and student numbers of people in group:
Robbie Gray 11008966
Nathan Ellingsworth 10028804
Lucy Redfern 1100413
Pilot Treatment – Mind the Gap
URL for Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/80407084
URL for Word Press:
Our film project hopes to take some of the best aspects of classic British comedy in film and television, and translate it in to a modern and more topical setting. We aim to keep the trademark British sarcasm and wit whilst injecting the speed and style of modern filmmakers such as Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Josh Trank or Gareth Edwards. As huge personal lovers of different styles of comedy, we are trying to not let our film slide into the realms of pastiche, but instead think about how we can use some of the techniques we enjoy with our own ideas to evolve them further. Our biggest influence is the high-speed and colourful style of Edgar Wright, with the heavy focus on scene transitions and sharp editing to keep up quick pace throughout. We also want to adapt his typical colourful visual palette, as well as the almost whimsical comedic tone balanced with darker content and clever use of profanity. The plot of our film is about three friends moving into a flat together after their lives individually fall apart. Whilst they are not particularly happy about living together or the events of the film, they will eventually come together as any good group of friends do. This is the crux of our film, the strength of friendship in the lives of modern young people, and we feel the techniques and style we use will work well to translate our story whilst producing a comedic film to the standard set by some of our influences.
Our film’s main goal is to achieve the look and feel of a pilot episode of a sitcom, with a title sequence, character introductions and story threads all helping to underpin this. We have been looking to other sitcoms to see what might work for us, and whilst Edgar Wright’s spaced ( 1999 – 2001 ) is a huge influence we have found more use from looking at slightly darker and interesting comedy such as British show Green Wing ( 2004 – 2007 ) or the American sitcom Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia ( 2005 – 2013 ) . Green Wing differs from most television comedy in that every episode is an hour long, so they have the time to experiment with long scenes of improvisation, as well as not needing any particular character interaction.
However as our film is limited to a maximum of 15 minutes, we will only be able to include some short improvised sequences because we feel that doing too much may detract from the film and eat up precious screen time. Green Wing also presents interesting scene transitions by playing with speeding scenes up or down whilst accompanying music plays, these often present little standalone comedy segments with no relation to the main story but work well within the style of the show. We hope to adapt this technique without characters but with a much shorter timeframe, we will be using this technique to hopefully move quickly through our films timeline but also show the characters interacting at the same time. Instead of a standard cut to later on within the story this will help to make our characters feel more real and greater represent their relationship as long time friends.
Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a much darker comedy than many we have looked at, but it manages to balance very bleak situations and morally bankrupt characters with the constantly upbeat music, quick pace and clever use of humour. The four leads all do horrible things to each other at some point for personal gain, but always manage to resolve the situation, which is something that will translate perfectly in to our film. We hope to achieve a similar array of likeable ‘asshole’ characters, where they react realistically and selfishly to situations but redeem themselves through character, charisma and their actions. The show’s use of music is important; using upbeat ragtime music that feels like it’s taken out of early musicals creates a great juxtaposition to the dark subject matter, and helps to never let the show sink into too morbid territory. Hopefully a similar use of quick paced and upbeat music, but perhaps something more modern than ragtime, will help to balance the darker subject matter and tone.
Moving away from direct influences, we all have separate influences and loves within filmmaking that have fed into the way we approach this film. We all share a love of physical film, so hope that the stop motion scene we attempt in the pilot will be made using a Super 8 camera for the final film’s title sequence. This will aid in giving our film a sense of authenticity whilst giving a strong feeling of nostalgia to the images of our three leads, securing our belief in their friendship. Also the title sequence is important to setting the tone and pace of many sitcoms, so we hope to achieve that as well. We have found that the stop motion sequence in our pilot works well and is quick paced but it is slightly too long as a title sequence which in a sitcom needs to be fairly short to avoid taking up too much screen time. However we cannot make it too short because it is a useful device for us to establish the relationships between the characters. In the final title sequence we hope to end on a static picture of our three leads together smiling, only to pull it down and reveal them actually there smiling in the same way, but in an estate agents office. This will be one of the many transitions between scenes and styles we use throughout the film. We have researched the best way to create stop motion from various animators and believe the end product will be professional and individual.
We all have a huge love for the pace and tone of Pixar films as well, in particular Toy Story 3 (2010) and Up (2009). Both films have a very contained visual style and comedic tone, whilst the films also move at breakneck pace, constantly moving between different locations and scenarios thanks to precise and sharp editing, and often the use clever scene bridges through visual motifs or sound. Sometimes a word will be repeated by another character in a different scene, or a scene will fade into a similar visual but again somewhere else. This technique helps to keep the pace of the films up whilst also allowing quick transitions between different scenarios and characters, with a limited time to work with but quite a lot of content we hope to successfully translate this technique to our film. We have attempted something slightly similar with the use of transitional pans in our pilot. Using a dolly we moved the camera across a shot into a black spot, for the pilot we used a black jumper, before coming out somewhere else whilst maintaining the pace of the previous shot. This technique is used a lot in Edgar Wright’s films and from testing it out in our pilot we found that it is really effective in maintaining pace and momentum. By shooting this pilot we have found that are film is technically ambitious due to the various editing and camera styles we want to use, to be able to move passed the generic student comedies as well as the original British sitcoms. The influences and sources we have used are only to guide and give us bases for creating a successful short sitcom into day’s society. Ultimately we have set out to provide a new and exciting way of making a comedy drama that all audiences can relate to. Using Cristopher Williams’s term of ‘The social’ we want to create a friendship group that acts as a community on screen. Williams implies that “British cinema’s interest in notions of community and society constitutes what our national cinema has been so good at doing”. ( Mather, N. 2006. Pp 6 – 7 ) This concept shows that British culture is widely used within comedy and gives the audience something that is personal and relevant within their lives, Overall providing a narrative in which they can relate to and love, whether it is through certain characters, groups or social experiences.
A particular technique used within our pilot, proved extremely difficult regarding lighting aesthetics. The way crash zooms need the camera to focus and adjust to the object or in our case person, means the light can’t catch up with the fast change in movement, thus, the reason for a delayed shift in lighting. This ultimately detracts from the subject, and gives an unprofessional look to the film. In future we hope to experiment with different lenses and resolve the issues we’ve had with lighting so far, we also hope more professional lighting arrangements will help to resolve this. We underestimated the amount of lighting it would take to fill a living room with that warm and colourful ‘sit-com’ feel, so will be using much more when it comes to the finished film. We found that maybe an additional set of redheads would have greatly benefited the style we are aiming to create.
The sequence where we tried to emulate one of the Green Wing style vignettes, a standalone comedy piece that experiments with the speed of footage, worked partially for us as we feel we created something quite interesting, but for it to be good enough to use in the final film, we would have to embellish on what we’ve done here. The lighting again was substandard, but this is an issue we hope to resolve throughout the whole film, we also hope to actually show some sort of narrative through the sped up footage, such as the friends getting ready for a party. This along with the collage editing sequences will help to move our film along with a lot of momentum whilst still holding a lot of narrative and allow for a large amount of character interaction. Our footage shot with the GoPro and shoulder mounted rig gave us the intended look for our sequence, it came out feeling quite comedic, whilst also making us feel uncomfortably close to the character and thus producing a sense of unease. The character in the film will be running around a party drunk, we hope a more steady GoPro rig as well as the incorporation of a party scene, groups of people and drastic lighting (strobe and disco) included, will help make the eventual shot equally funny and uncomfortable. From studying the skill of creating comedy from certain directors and writers we also found that certain theorists such as Geuens really helped forward and develop the relationship between the shot and the audience.
“At the very time that the close ups threatened to disrupt the continuity of an event it helped the involvement of the viewer by bringing the impact of the story nearer and nearer to the individual protagonist.” (Geuens, J. 2000. Pp228)
This uncomfortable closeness will help define the tone of our film, with the shot recreating the general theme we are attempting to get across. When we see what a person is truly like, with all their flaws and idiosyncrasies, the only people that put up with it are true friends. This is the main recurring theme for our film, and we hope our techniques and style will help to bolster this. We believe by using a fixed shoulder rig placed at a low angle will further the unique and distinguished camera movement we want throughout our film.
Whilst we used ourselves in this pilot, which worked fairly adequately to display editing and camera techniques, we are already well into casting, so our actors for the eventual film will hopefully display a genuine relationship on camera that will help to elevate our film, whilst also greatly serving the comedic aspects. We want to be able to create a short film which is not only targeting young adults but to a whole range of audiences. We believe that our viewers whatever the age, ethnicity or gender can relate to each character within the film and feel a sense of friendship amongst them. Are main aim is to create a universal emotion of how positive friendship can be no matter the circumstances. From our pilot his theme is certainly noticeable from the first Stop motion, however we really need to focus on developing the narrative so overall the audience can begin to like the three main characters. Each member of our crew feel greatly passionate about this film and believe the shared love for comedy and the goal for producing a professional short film, will provide us with the confidence to succeed in the brief but also to form a film that is personal to us as a group.
Spaced: SPACED EP 1. Spaced gives a range of fast editing as well as creating scene with little going on.
How I met you mother opening Sequence: A fantastic example of the stop motion animation we will try to re-create:
Fast paced collage editing Technique used by Edagr Wright:
Finding it very hard to create a professional whip pan we decided to research it:
Geuens, JP. ( 2008 ) ‘Film Production Theory’. Albany: State university of New York press. Pp 225 – 254
Mather, N ( 2006 ) ‘ Tears of Laughter, comedy – drama in 1990’s British Cinema’. Manchester: Manchester university Press. Pp. 5 – 30
Staiger, J ( 2000 ) ‘Blockbuster TV: Must-see Sitcoms in the Network Era’. New York: NYU Press. Pp. 34 – 56
Green Wing (2004 – 2007) [DVD] Directed by Victoria Pile. UK: Channel 4 Television Corporation
It’s always sunny in Philadelphia ( 2005 – 2013 ) [DVD] Directed by Rob McElhenney. UK: fX Network
Spaced ( 1999 – 2001 ) [DVD] Directed by Simon Pegg. UK: Channel 4 Television Corporation
Toy Story 3 ( 2010 ) [DVD] Directed by Lee Unkrich. USA: Walt Disney Pictures
Up ( 2009 ) [DVD] Directed by Pete Docter & Bob Peterson. USA: Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture
Main shooting schedule available here: Shooting Schedule
Pilot Shooting Schedule Below:
|22/11/2013||Stop motion photo montage||St. Matts Campus||Canon 60d, tripod and lighting.|
|Footage to be sped up in Post||St Matts Campus||Canon 60d|
|Black wall transition||St Matts Campus||Canon 60d, tripod, dolly track|
|Whip pans||St Matts Campus||HMC, fig rig|
|24/11/2013||Crash zoom out.||Nathan’s House||Canon 60d, tripod|
|Jumping on to the sofa (Nathan)||Nathan’s House||Canon 60d, tripod|
|Extreme Close up of Nathan||Nathan’s House||Canon 60d|
|Jumping on Chair (Lucy)||Nathan’s House||Canon 60d, tripod|
|Mid shot Nathan changing channel||Nathan’s House||Canon 60d, tripod|
|Mid shot Lucy responding to Nathan||Nathan’s House||Canon 60d, tripod|
|Crash Zooms in.||Nathan’s House||Canon 60d, tripod|
|Whip Pans||Nathan’s House||HMC, fig rig, Canon 60d.|
|Close up of action. (Door, mug, remote)||Nathan’s House||Canon 60d, tripod|