Wanted Seminar 1: Non Fiction

The very first seminar in the Wanted series was pretty well done, especially factoring in the amount of time they had to organise everything, just 3 weeks!  They kicked it off with four amazing guests: Terry Cantwell, Genevieve Bailey, John Hughes and Maya Gnyp.

The promotion for this seminar was well done, I saw many posters and heaps of posts on Facebook in the lead up to the event.  On the day we were given a bag of nuts as we walked in with the same logo as the posters which was a nice consistency, and the branding ‘nut-fuction’; a sucker for a god pun I thoroughly enjoyed this. It was a little disappointing that the trail mix was the only food provided though, especially given the length of the seminar.

The guests were very informative and knowledgable in their various spectres of documentary. The main thing I took away from each of the speakers was how important it is to be passionate about what you’re creating, and the importance of knowing who your audience is and how to communicate to them.

Technically the crew did an awesome job with the set-up on the day and there weren’t as many technical issues as I had anticipated for the first group. In terms of format, I don’t think the pitch segment worked so well. Maybe if it was modified to be a more specific pitch it may have worked better or if the guests had been given the idea before the seminar? It just felt a bit all over the place and as though the guest were reiterating what they had said in the questions immediately before. I also didn’t think the tweeting in questions to a hashtag idea worked too well and was rather disappointed in how the Q&A had no audience interaction people’s questions ignored due to a lack of time.

Overall, I think this group did a great job and offered a really good start to the Wanted Seminar Series.

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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.

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 Inspiration :: Decoding The Past – Secrets of the Playing Card

This History Channel documentary which focusses on the origins of playing cards as we know them today was rather fascinating. Its visual expository style worked really well, and the use of a voice-over narrative, mysterious music, graphics, sound-effects, relevant cutaways, and face to camera interviews with experts; really made for a good informative/ unveiling type of documentary style. I particularly thought the effect of having the cards seem as though they were floating around in a black space, before various zooms on particular cards was rather clever and a good way to interchange between points. This kind of effect could be really visually stunning with the use of tarot cards as opposed to playing cards. Graphics and animation something that we as a group should definitely consider.

At the 24 minute mark the documentary moves into talking about a different deck of cards, which directly relates to our theme! The mystical deck of the tarot cards!! – note I really thought the fast manic pace of the cuts between cards and the eerie/mystic styled music worked perfectly for the tarot theme. The angle exploring the egyptian origins and the myth of gypsies as the first to bring the cards to europe, an interesting way to bring in both the history and the stereotypical gypsy association.

After doing some research into the origins of tarot, which no one is a hundred percent certain of despite the many, many theories; it was interesting to hear a new story delivered by both the ‘voice-of-god’ style narrator which indicated historians believed the tarot deck was created as an addition to the standard playing card deck for the duke of Milan, the richest man in Italy at the time. The extra suit called triumphe or triumphs, was that they beat the ordinary cards. The suit consisted of a set of 21 cards each with a symbolic picture on them, were added to the standard deck of 56 playing cards, a further playing card known as The Fool then brought the standard tarot deck to the total to 78. Thus they were made to originally play games with not for the occult. But the striking symbolism of the design of the tarot separated these cards, which had no definitive explanation, separated the cards from any other. Then there is all the templar symbolism, and the legends of the knights and the Holy Grail! Some even believing their secrets were preserved on the tarot for future generations, being able to keep them hidden yet broadcast them at the same time.

The documentary brought up many questions too, one being if the tarot deck was made for fun and games why were sinister images such as the skeleton of death, the devil, the hanged man and the burning tower included?  The fortune telling aspect of the cards, as I had discovered in prior research went back to a french man named Ettelia who was the first and most professional of the fortune tellers, assigning several meanings to each card. Each card having various meanings once reversed or in different positions. The immense symbolism within each card playing a key role in these meanings, capturing the attention of many occultists who came up with various theories. The cards have even played a role in the art of voodoo, priestesses claiming the cards can give directions.

Overall, this documentary was enlightening on just how immense and mysterious the tarot deck actually is; and that the history could be a potential and very fascinating angle to head in, in regards to our documentary. The immense symbolism of the cards has truly grabbed my attention and I am rather fascinated by the enigma of it all. The mood of this particular documentary, however, is a lot more intense in style than what we are aiming for. At this moment int time we want to keep it more whimsical, bright, light-hearted and mystical.

The Major and Minor Arcana – [Film-Tv Research]

The standard 78 card deck used today can be split into two sections, these being the Major and Minor Arcana.

The 22 cards of the Major Arcana are often considered the most important cards of the deck and usually represent significant issues in the life of the Querent (person having their tarot read). They bring up the key principles core to human life and consist of archetypes- recognised and highly symbolic figures across mythology and religions.

The 56 Minor Arcana cards are considered to be the ancestors of contemporary playing cards, and just as so they are divided into four suits with ten pip cards and four court cards. (Wands corresponds to clubs, cups to hearts, swords to spades and coins to diamonds>)

The suit of  cups is generally associated with emotions corresponding to the astrological element of water. The suit of swords which corresponds to the element of air is generally associated with intellectual activity . The suit of wands is associated with career and corresponds with the element of fire. And lastly the suit of coins/ pentacles corresponding with the earth element is associate with financial and material aspects.