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.

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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

Film-TV Archive Footage :: Trionfi: Tarot Playing Cards

This piece of archive footage could come in handy when it comes to the making of our own documentary as it has images of the cards within a tarot deck, which we would easily be able to pull apart and piece together as we wished!

The music in this piece of footage is also quite comical and whimsical, and musical along these lines may be fun to include at some point within the doco.