The Screening & Final Reflections

The screening, once again was an awesome night; and I was incredibly impressed by the standard of the documentaries presented. It was amazing to see the progress everyone had made since last semester, even just in terms of the cinematography!  It was a great experience to see my group’s own film on the big-screen for the first time and to get a gage of audience perception of the final product, which was nice as it seemed to be pretty well received. I really enjoyed all of the films of the night, everyone choosing such great and diverse topics! There were, however, in my opinion a few documentaries which stood out among the masses.


To Be A Poet 

Fabulous choice of participant! His story was so captivating, his speech so articulate I found it so hard to imagine that not long ago he had been illiterate. I loved the way it was framed around the poem, which was able to capture his story perfectly. It was short and sweet, and although it did leave me wanting to see more; I think keeping it short worked perfectly. The audio was perfect, and I actually can not fault anything!!

Long Story Short

One of my absolute favourites of the night, so touching! (a lot of tears in the cinema during this one) I think the choice of participants, two elderly people nearing death who had lived such different lives without regret was brilliant. Not only were the questions asked and the sections of footage perfect, but it was also impeccably shot. I loved the dolly shots towards the bright, bright light at the end of the nursing home hallway that suddenly changed direction as it neared the light and headed up to the doors labelled with the names of the individuals. Oh and the music was so fitting to. All in all just an amazing documentary!

Alternatives

That cinematography!! The one thing I couldn’t get over whilst watching this documentary was how amazingly it was shot, from the framing of the landscape to the amazingly bright yellow-green of the grass; it was fabulous. The participants were also very passionate about their sustainable lifestyle, so good choice there too!

The Things That Nana Remembers

A sensitive, moving and personal story of the events of the holocaust. I loved that they took the topic in a different direction, as well as the juxtaposition between the now and the recollection of memories. Oh and the end was brilliant.

At The End of The Day

A fabulous film about drag queens. Loved, loved, loved the central character! He was so perfect, love the contrast between his natural blokey, man’s man appearance in juxtaposition with him all made up in drag was amazing. The way he spoke about manliness and his analogies was hilarious. The choice of colour style from black and white to colour, and the song choices were also fabulous!! Watching the make-up process on the younger guy (assuming filmmaker) was also brilliant, as well as the Drag Bingo clip in the credits – all in all a great film.

Henry The Magpie

So creative. It was so amazing how the narration was able to shape and create humour out of what would not be considered humorous footage! To think of the time it would have taken to capture the perfect footage to tell the story also, is definitely impressive.  So different to all the other docos presented, job well done.

Just A Game

This was yet another very entertaining film. So fast paced and jam packed with information. Loved all the sketches they did, and think they did a fabulous jobs communicating their contention – one of the very few incredibly subjective documentaries presented.

Circus Stew

I thought they did a fabulous job in presenting and piecing that beautiful archive footage together, absolutely loved hearing the stories and memories from the guy who filmed the footage all those years ago; especially the one from which the film derives its name Circus Stew. Good choice of music, and great work in allowing the amazing archive footage speak for itself – it truly was visually spectacular. Am definitely interested in what Mark Holden will do with it in his  pieces. Only criticism, some of the audio cuts were a bit abrupt and cut off too early.

Jehova Who

This group did an amazing job in objectivity, allowing the subjects to speak for themselves without twisting it to fit a contention – which could oh so easily have happened!! Although, I’m sure all the audience came to their own conclusion about what they thought about the Jehova’s Witness community; all ethical boundaries were respected and no one was made fun of, rather presented as they are. I loved the church elder from the beginning of the film, so firm and aggressive in his belief system, and also the contrast between him and the family with the young child.


I honestly was so impressed by all the films, and enjoyed them all!  After a great deal of time spent editing, and a few minor disagreements about certain elements of the film, I think my group all came to agree on won thing in the end- that we were happy with the film we produced. Focussing solely on Jason, which was a completely different direction than we ever intended was a bit of a risk that paid off in the end. The collaborative effort of our group and advice from both the class, Paul and Robin; allowed us to utilise everyone in the groups individuals skills (Neha’s after effect geniousness, Simon’s ability to make music, Moses’s cinematography skills, and Michael and my own editing skills) to produce the dramatic, stylised piece which despite all the changes in subject we as a group been aiming to achieve from the outset. I am so proud of what not only my group but everyone else has achieved this semester, was definitely an enjoyable semester overall and everybody has amazing films to show for it too!

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The Rough (Fine) Cut Screening

The rough cut screening and more specifically the feedback from this was quite simply invaluable!! Having stared at the same footage and sequences for hours on end it gets hard to observe and critique your own work objectively; and as a group we haven’t exactly been agreeing on things 100% so it was great not only to see how everyone else was progressing with their films, but also to find out what a fresh set of eyes thought of our progress thus far.  Knowing that feedback would be provided I really pushed to include the Spider Lady footage we had, purely to pose the question should we bother using it? – The answer being a definite no.

The class seemed to really enjoy the introduction and found Jason to be really engaging. The main issue being the juxtaposition from the opening straight to spider lady created a false sense of a build up, the opening so fast paced and engaging in comparison to the tarot reader. The other thing every-body seemed to agree on was the use of re-verb being up way to high making Jason’s introduction way to hard to understand, also that some of the effects such as the flames that shot out of his hand and engulfed him were too much and a bit lame. (will definitely admit to getting a bit carried away there!) Other than that they seemed to really enjoy Jason as a participant and the narrative structure of the piece and the demonstrations with Jason – being the rough cut, we still do have the more impressive demos to still add for the final cut, have to keep some element of surprise! Robin and Paul also discussed condensing what Jason says quite a great deal as he often is very drawn out and takes a while to get to the point.

So now we have to decide where to go from here! One thing for sure is that we will definitely be taking on all the advice we have been given. So looks like our doco is now going in a completely new direction than we ever imagined, focussing solely on Jason. Now its all about deciding which are the best elements of his story – which in dot-point form would be a) how he got into being a mentalist b) the story where he put on a show for a bunch of psychics who informed him he was not just using trickery, sparking the transition c) the isolation he experienced from the magician society with the transition. Another key factor we have to figure out/ agree on, are cutaways and hunting down some archival footage to use for it.  SO alot of work still to be done.

Interview 3- Jason

This Sunday night we headed out filled with both anticipation and excitement to do our third and what we were all really, really hoping will be our last interview. It went pretty well! Jason our participant a once skeptical mentalist who now claims to be a psychic entertainer, was both incredibly fascinating, excited and friendly. We honestly could not have hoped for a better participant, he was so well spoken and the interview portion of the night (despite some incredibly annoying camera technical difficulties) just flowed, his stories compelling. The demonstration portion was equally compelling, as the interviewer I became the test subject for his hypnosis and psychic exercises. I was put under hypnosis, and unable to control simple movements which was definitely the most weird and surreal feeling I have ever experienced. We lit these scenes really dramatically, pretty much shooting in pitch black with a spot-light effect; so hopefully it will make for some good footage. The introduction went really well too, we set up the green-screens pretty quickly (even though the putting it away process was no where near as smooth), and Jason had actually already memorised the script, which was perfect! We got a couple of different takes and a bit of a framing variety between these takes, so I’m excited to have a play around with it in after effects and get our introduction together!

I am really excited to view the footage, and If the footage and audio ( which we were unable to monitor aurally due to a missing head-phone jack) turns out as good as we are hoping this interview definitely holds the potential to change the whole direction of our film!

Stuck in a Rut

We have reached that point in our film where although we can say that we have two thirds of the interviews we intended to get, we by no means can say our film is two thirds of the way done. We are really struggling to piece the interviews we have thus far together, and can all agree on one thing it is definitely lacking in a common thread. We do have one more interview to come however, this one with a very interesting man named Jason who started out as a mentalist/ magician and has now transitioned into being a psychic entertainer. We are really hoping he will be the missing piece to our puzzle, yet at the same time can not put all our eggs in one uncertain basket as we do not specifically what we will get, or if we will get anything useful at all.

To assist with getting ourselves out we have decided narration will be a perfect way to initialise the story and the thread, virtually setting everything up in an expository type manner. Using almost every history channel cliche` ever and making the whole thing a bit over the top we came up with this:

“Beyond the world of the five senses, lie subtler realms known only to the initiated. For, time is not what it seems, with one event following the next like an endless row of dominoes because according to the ancient scriptures – all events, past, present and future – unfold simultaneously through infinite parallel universes. It is the role of the fortune teller and psychic, to pierce the veil of the present and illuminate a path for those who seek to know. “

We are hoping to get it said by our final participant Jason, filming it on a green-screen to make the opening really strange – think him floating space, all seeing eyes opening and closing behind him, light illuminating from his hands – the works!! Stylistically we know what we want, and it won’t be your standard doco that’s for sure!!

Now we just have to hope our final interview goes well and get editing like crazy.

Interview 2: Barbara

We recently interviewed our second participant Barbara, a spiritual psychic who specialises in spirit drawings/ art. With a crew of four, Simon, Moses, Neha and I we headed down to Barbara’s house; she was a fascinating, warm and very genuine seeming woman who was keen to show us everything around her house that displayed the range of her abilities. The shoot went relatively well, and we got some particularly interesting stories one of the ones I found most intriguing regarding how she predicted that a bushfire would completely wipe-out a woman’s house destroying everything and leaving the yard covered in ash.

The spirit drawing component was also extremely interesting, in this section she looked beyond Simon’s head to connect with one of his spirit guides discovering he was an elder named Thadeus a writer who lived in germany around the 1700’s. She then proceeded to let the spirit come to her and draw his image as he would have appeared when he was alive in this world. As she drew with her pastels both spectacularly and brilliantly she had this heavy breathing going  on – which was ridiculously trippy to listen to whilst monitoring sound, wasn’t quite sure if there were spirits floating around or I was going insane or what for quite a while!!

We got quite a lot of footage from Barbara, however, it was very much on her times- for her she was really almost using it as a promotional tool it seemed to me at times and she was really in control of what she said when – often when asked saying, oh I’m going to talk about that later can we skip it for now. She also didn’t do the greatest job explaining what exactly spirit drawing was, which was a shame because visually that was one of the most interesting components. Another major problem we had was in regards to sound, during the interview portion there is a massive fridge buzz that is really over-bearing and barbara being soft spoken can at times be hard to hear. We have a lot of evaluating to do after this interview, our two participants thus far have both been incredibly different.

The First Shoot: Elizabeth

The first interview we had for our documentary was with a tarot reader named Elizabeth; being our very first shoot we had no idea what to expect or the general direction of the film. We did however gather a general sense of Elizabeth from speaking her to before hand the type of character she was which gave us big ideas to how we wanted the film stylistically. Elizabeth having done events such as hen nights and such also classed  her-self as an entertainer and was more than willing- (in fact she even suggested it) to amp it up and dress up in costume cape and all. Given this, we did want to make the framing and the lighting very dark and dramatic, and really wanted to get a tarot reading read directly down the barrel of the camera hoping to give the illusion that she was reading the fortunes of the audience.

The shooting went really smoothly, we had 3 crew members come along as Elizabeth felt that given her home setting any more would be too crowded. Simon was on sound, Michael was on camera and I was the interviewee. We had a two camera set-up with one stationary and one floating, which proved to be really efficient and provide  an adequate amount of cutaway and interview material. Despite a minor moment where the camera cut out just before we were finished with the reading component of the interview it was all smooth sailing- thankfully we had opted to shoot sound and video separately and still have the option of using sound over cutaway footage if necessary.

We were able to get quite a bit of information out of Elizabeth however, she wasn’t inclined or very willing to go too deep into the big and emotional things and would skim over them lightly. She provided a lot of general statements, and even the predictions given to me about my future were quite generalised: ie. there will be a man in your life very soon, someone will get married in the next couple of years etc. etc. This could potentially be a really good contrast to the other interviews, it is at the moment hard to know what we will use and how it will fit in with everything else we still need to get. We did get some great footage, with some truly beautifully framed and lit shots.

My Favourite Shot of the Day