Archive for December, 2007

Hackney Garden – An Introduction

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Shot and cut this today. It’s hardly Gardener’s World, but it’s nice to have a record of the starting point for project Hackney Garden.

I had particular fun with the subtitling. Started by downloading some freeware called DivXLand Media Subtitler, then I had to go off in search of a couple of codecs to give me the finished product. I can see myself having some fun with the subtitling from here on in, but for now this is probably (hopefully) the clumsiest and most humourless installment in this growing series.

Chicks joke at me. Apparently.

Friday, December 28th, 2007

This just dropped into my Gmail account from one ‘Dr Spencer Moreno’.

* * *

You Dont please with your male organ size.

Chicks joke at you.

It is time to solve this trouble.

Try our machine enla;rgement and Girls will love you promptly.

I changed my sexual life. Today it is your turn.

http://floparfold.com

* * *

Stepping back slightly, I can’t quite believe that the web has arrived at a place whereby I receive an email, bang in the middle of a perfectly nice day, from a man claiming to have achieved the highest level of academic qualification available, criticising me for being satisfied with the size of my penis. Adding insult to injury, he’s actually got me wondering.

Hackney Garden – Boxing Day ’07

Friday, December 28th, 2007

This was all shot on Boxing Day, as the title suggests. It’s a bit flabby, the sound isn’t great, and I’m not sure how much interest there will be in submerged walls and Pyrus Katsura, but I like the idea of documenting the work we’re doing on the garden in this way. It’s giving me some nice material to play around with in Movie Maker, and making me more comfortable operating a camera.

That’s not me in the cover image by the way. That’s my Dad. He always has at least one ‘project’ on the go, typically involving boats or gardens. One day I daresay he’ll try and combine the two into some sort of boat-garden. Rest assured reader, when he does, I’ll be there, and the camera will be rolling.

UPDATE:

Googled ‘boat garden’ and found this.

I LOVE the internet.

Homework

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

A while back I posted an opening sequence for a short film idea I’m playing around with, with a view to getting some feedback from a few friends of mine.

I was particularly interested in the question of whether short films need to follow a scaled down version of the Basic Film Paradigm, a model advocated by Syd Field in his book Screenplay as being the essential basis of any film script. The feedback tended towards the affirmative, in accordance with my own natural inclination.

As such, I’ve since spent what little time I’ve had to focus on the project remodelling my script to bring it into line with the paradigm. Before I go into that, I’m going to define what I understand as being the key tenets of Field’s model.

PAGECOUNT
A standard length for a feature length screenplay is 128 pages. This equates to roughly two hours and eight minutes, since a page – of dialogue or action – should equate to a single minute of film.

SET-UP, CONFRONTATION & RESOLUTION
A screenplay breaks down into three main phases – the SET-UP, lasting approximately 30 minutes; the CONFRONTATION, lasting approximately 60 pages; and the RESOLUTION, lasting a further 30 pages.

PLOT POINTS
These parts are delineated by two plot points, marking the transition from one phase to another. The first plot point is the point at which a dramatic need of one or more protagonists becomes clearly discernible. The second plot point is the point at a major corner is turned in the fulfilment of that need.

THE ENDING
The ending is the first thing you need to know before you start writing. Your storyline must have direction, following a path of development along which the ending lies. Furthermore, the ending comes out of the beginning; someone, or something, initiates an action, and how that action is resolved becomes the storyline of the film.

TWO INCIDENTS
The inciting incident is that which sets the story in motion. The key incident is a dramatic visualisation of what the story is about (and is often plot point one). These two incidents provide the foundation of the storyline.

SCENES VS SEQUENCES
A SCENE is where something specific happens. It is a particular unit of dramatic action – the place in which you tell your story action. A scene must move the story forward and/or reveal more information about a character. A SEQUENCE is a series of scenes connected by one single idea with a definite beginning, middle and end. It is a unit of dramatic action unified by one single idea.

These are the main elements Field establishes before he starts to write about how to build your storyline. He richly illustrates each point with examples, but I guess the real value for me has been taking on board the extent to which screenwriting is a literary and creative discipline of its own.

With reference to my script, it has helped me in the following ways;

  • I’ve chiseled out plot points one and two. I was pleased to discover that these were already present, in roughly the right place, in a version of the script predating my exposure to Field’s views.
  • I’ve realised that the film probably needs to be twice as long as I previously imagined. I had it down at fifteen minutes, but its looking more like thirty. This has much to do with the need to establish and develop the unfamiliar social context I am inventing.
  • I’ve added a great action sequence, to redress the balance between dialogue and action. It will be totally devoid of dialogue. I’m very excited about writing it.
  • I’ve focused on the ending. I’m still refining various details, but it’s now clear enough in my mind for me to try and finalise the storyline.

I’m now using a technique Field described to work with the storyline, before I try and write again. This involves writing my ideas for each scene or sequence, along with a few brief words of description, on a series of 3 x 5 cards – by his reckoning fourteen cards equates to about thirty minutes of screenplay.

By arranging and rearranging the cards, you can use them to play around with your storyline, and view it from different angles. I was doing precisely that this morning whilst lying in a lovely hot bath, and switched two of the cards into a deliberately unintelligible configuration. A couple of possibilities occurred to me, and rippled through the rest of the cards, until I found myself looking at a significantly new arrangement. I feel certain I’m going to follow the new structure.

I guess I can see where Field is coming from with this. A basic framework exists for any workable screenplay, but within that, you are master of all you survey. Invent problems, then find solutions. Conjure up the unintelligible, then redraw reality to make sense of it. Doing so causes you to examine the questions of ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ – questions that need to be addressed before you can even begin to embroider your story with language and imagery.

Fairy Elf Lola

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Presenting the second of our festive features:

Chocolates & Tangerines

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Woke up this morning and decided to can my plans to buy myself a PS3, in favour of a Mini DV cam two thirds of the price. Lola and I went up to Angel first thing, and eighteen hours later here we have our first production, cut using Windows Movie Maker, and posted to a cool little video hosting site called Vimeo.

In Rainbows

Friday, December 21st, 2007

This is pretty cool. Been listening to this for a while, on Mr McMaster’s recommendation. Blogging the widget for further examination.

Birthday treats

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Ems’ birthday. Lovely trip to our favourite cinema – the Genesis, on Mile End Road – to watch THE DARJEELING LIMITED. We make it out to the cinema so rarely these days, it was a real treat to watch such a delicate and entertaining movie.


I took this photo at Mile End tube waiting for the train down to Stepney Green. I used to take mobile phone pics on the tube every day, when we first set up Ploggle, sometimes just to check that it was working properly – you’ll find a hundreds of them at underground.ploggle.com.

Ems took the picture below on Saturday before the baby shower. Lola was having a spot of lunch with her cousin Amelie at ‘Lola’s table’. I’m posting it in the hope that I’ll look at it a bit more often. When you see kids this happy, all your troubles turn to dust.

WHY SO SERIOUS?

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

So there I am, minding my own business on a friday morning, trying to get everything pointed in the right direction, then somebody says something about DARK KNIGHT teaser posters, and my ears prick up. That’s the thing about this whole fanboy malarkey. There’s no shortage of stuff to get excited about.


This could so easily be a comic book cover, especially close-up. Batman looks very lonely and forlorn, his back turned, his head slightly cowed.

The parellels between this and the first poster are pretty obvious, although it’s anybody’s guess what’s on the Joker’s mind, and exactly what it is he’s planning to do with that brutally prosaic switchblade.


This is a great treatment, blurring the lines between the two characters. Anyone else noticing a crucifixion pose in the lips? Please tell me it’s not just me.


I couldn’t find this as a straight one-sheet, but I have Dark Horizons and whoever that is you can just make out reflected in the glass to thank for this pic of a fourth teaser. For me, this is the closest anyone’s come to showing me my Joker. The crude and unnatural positioning of the head and body, all detail concealed by the mists of moral ambiguity, left to our virulent imaginations.

And the punchline. That’s no ‘crazy-looking’ typeface, created by some font technician in Seattle who turned up to work in a funny mood. That’s real blood, sweat and tears, scrawled across the page with a child’s paintbrush, resolving into a deranged smile.

“Why so serious?” Good question. But quit looking at me funny.

CLOVERFIELD & JUMPER widgets

Friday, December 14th, 2007

These aren’t two of ours – want to get that clear straight up, so that nobody thinks I’m claiming them. Not too proud to admit that there are other people out there producing visionary grabbable goodness 🙂

The CLOVERFIELD widget is nice and simple, and, crucially, offers a really juicy five minute excerpt from the movie, along with a simple, clearly communicated incentive for people to spread the word.

It’s just a shame for the rest of us that the chance to host an advance screening of the movie in your hometown is only available to “legal residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding the province of Quebec)”. Damn those guys in Domestic have it easy.The JUMPER widget also looks like part of the domestic campaign, although these things always spill over into international regardless. It’s much simpler, but the point is it’s out there early and grabbing eyeballs. Who knows what’s to come as we get closer to the February release?

I’m pretty excited about both movies. CLOVERFIELD has always been pitched as a working title, but given how much buzz there is already around the movie I think they’d be crazy to change it. As for JUMPER, I’m really looking forward to seeing Hayden Christensen, Jamie Bell and Samuel L. Jackson under the direction of Doug Liman (THE BOURNE IDENTITY).