Welcome to my movie blog, containing reviews and articles. I've been writing since 2004 - with a short break during 2009.

My beautiful career

The title is taken from a diabolical careers program they made us watch today, a few directorly things.

First things first, I've filmed my Film Studies coursework. Our practical application had to be either script or storyboard, for a brief sequence in either a horror or rom com. Or, you could be inconvenient, and take advantage of the new rules which allow us to actually film our coursework. Guess which one I chose...

I'd love to show you the finished product, but I'm not sure my buddies are too fond of their acting. We're meant to talk about our influences, we get points for intentionally hommmaging things. But I don't think they want my whole list

The basic premise of the film is this: bones are discovered underneath an isolated girls boarding school, sparking rumours of a ghost. A sort of mass hysteria spreads - they start imagining they see it, getting uncomfortable when alone. It's nevermade clear whether there really is a ghost, but the suggestion is that it's more likely a product of madness caused by the institution rules and enforced closeness with a small group of people (channels 12 Monkeys and Full Metal Jacket). I dunno what happens at the end - I think everything gets well out of hand, and something grotesque and charmless befalls the school.

My mum says it's quite like Carrie (which I haven't seen), but the type of thing I had in mind for the whole film was much more Picnic at Hanging Rock (which I managed ten minutes of. Hey, I was younger then!), or the bit in Master and Commander when they think there's a Jonah on board.

The sequence revolves around a game of hide and seek. Lauren goes hides, and gets stuck in a tiny dark little space; meanwhile, her friend (as yet nameless) takes as aaaagonisingly long time as possible to find her in the big, empty school (while in the corner of her mind, she can't shake her own worries about the ghost)

First and foremost, I drew it from my own fears, of which there are literally hundreds. It's set in my own school, which is built like a warren. The first few weeks there, I kept getting lost. It's styled like a castle, and you can access the third floor and several of the turrets only by staircases marked "out of bounds". I did break the rules once...briefly...and there are even more dark, empty corridors up there. It's certainly the last place you want to get stuck with a (possibly) malevolent ghost, or an overactive imagination. I actually have the ghost appearing in the sequence in flickers, briefly in and out of vision. An attempt to replicate the sense of "What if the ghost is there? Of course it isn't...but what if?", and because what you don't see is scarier than what you do (and hopefully, what you almost saw is scarier than both) This, I admit, I have pinched wholesale, from the first half of Fight Club. TS Eliot says that mediocre poets imitate while great ones steal.

I'm also thinking of citing a bbfc paper on what children find scary - even though I read it after finishing my storyboard (apparently, they're really succeptable to scary atmosphere, like people going off on their own.)

6th Sense is really the only pure horror film I've ever seen (and I intend to keep it that way...), and its influence is very clear. My ghost is clearly from the same universe - though any similarity to the bit where hero-kid gets trapped in the cupboard is entirely unintentional, and only occoured to me just now. Ooops. Also, the idea of putting fear in a neutral location, and during the day (no dark side streets for us!) More than that, though - when I'm big and famous, people will cite M. Night as my stylistic influence. I didn't really notice until I rewatched Unbreakable, but just the way I was using the camera - framing shots neatly, the obsessive attempts to shoot through mirrors, tvs and obstacles, THE SLIGHT SLOW ZOOM. Seriously, I thought this was just me subconsciously trying to annoy my cameraperson (who finds controlled zooms tricky), but it turns out that it's just me having watched Signs once too many. When you watch his films again, you'll know what I mean...and my hypothetical storyboards are crammed with them.

Meanwhile, as nameless-friend searches, I've been channeling Kubrick with some long, quiet, boring shots to emphasise how alone she is in the empty school - placing the camera and telling Friend 2 to just walk across the room. It's gonna be great, just hearing her creak across the floorboards. Though I might add a breathing effect. Cheap horror, I know, but if it works it works. That's the bad thing about actually filming my coursework - with the various storyboards, you can't tell if they're actually scary or not. Whereas mine...and I actively allowed meself to borrow an idea I picked up on in my Alien coursework. When Brett is searching for the ship's cat, there are a whole host of shots from above and behind him - the perspective of someone watching him.

Of course, it's not all pinched. Some of it is merely...inspired. And retrospectively inspired at that. The key to my sequence is half a minute inside the cupboard, when Lauren-character realises she is trapped and struggles to get out. I intend to hold the camera on that for as long as is excruciatingly possible. I'd like to coax sweat and tears out of Friend 1, if she's up to it. And when it becomes unbearable to watch, I'm going to keep the camera there for a few seconds longer. And then, cut away to nameless-friend who is going to take as long as is humanly possible. I said retrospectively - because recently, Friend 3's comment while watching a film whose identity will be very obvious to anyone whose seen it, ensured me my theory would work. Someone is about to set first character alight - and out of the blue, she expressed sympathy not for him, but another character in the room. Yes this other character was badly injured, but also unconscious, not in immediate danger and he hadn't actually said anything for about 20 minutes. But the shadow of worry hadn't gone away, and that's precicely what I intend to do. Albeit on a smaller scale...

See, most rational people aren't afraid of ghosts. But most rational people are afraid of suffocation, and get claustrophobic pretty quick. It all hinges on Friend 1 being totally convincing. I want 110% Mr Orange (though I'd probably settle for about 70%...) and if I get it, it'll absolutely sell the sequence. If not...well, what-ev-ah.

I mentioned the Make a Break ad contest a few weeks back. Well, we came second, and you can see the ads here:

Ours is Ian Brown's cycles, though I liked the Total Hug one best. I'm very proud of the judges comments - two of them said ours was good, but disjointed. Exactly what I thought. This sounds smug, but I didn't have the heart to speak up and fight for my ideas earlier. Why the hell is she talking about global warming, and then the joke at the end? Our team "lost", our concept was have it all in the shop, chop the global warming, and have the full jingle (what's in there is only half what we wrote - our jingle is annoying, but catchy, and the strength of the advert). At some point the power base got yanked from under our feet, and we ended up with a completely different ad. It's 20 seconds - agree with me, there are too many ideas going on?

The prize was two mp3 players, which didn't go far between a table of 5...


Meanwhile, me and Friend 1 are working on ideas for a Charlie's-Angels/Fox-Force-Five style cheesy action trailer.

And me and available buddies have settled on our next project. I haven't been talking about it loudly the way I normally do because I don't want the public pressure of actually finishing it. But I'm quietly announcing it here so I can't, y' know, chicken out. All I'm going to tell you is though the script isn't original, the way we're doing it is - and though it focuses around two characters, it has a cast of one.

And because I find myself short of friends when I need them, I'm that one. Possibly also because it requires a talent that, out of my posse, only I have. To put none too finer point on it, I'm very very worried (but not going to panic about it XD). I'd do a lot for my movies, taccy as they are - I'll get wet, cold, injured, I'm happy to put my actors in dangerous or unsanitary conditions, infringe international copyright laws, tresspass on private property. I feel I'd be able to die for some of them. But acting is a different barrel altogether...This will also explain why I've spent the time I put aside for a rehersal blogging instead of rehersing. My plan is to spend ten minutes in front of a mirror and do some character immersion stuff.

I voluenteered because there wasn't anybody else, and I've got approximately two weeks to pull myself together. Luckily, I already know the script pretty well - I've just got to deal with my innate dislike of the acting profession. It's not totally nerves. I'm ok with making an idiot of myself in public. It's more of a private thing - a fiction issue. I'm not the world's best person at separating actors from their characters. Several actors I just won't watch in more than one thing, several more make me feel distinctly nervous when I see them in other films. I take the whole acting thing way to seriously. I had a serious acting breakdown two years ago (not explaining why, as it's childish, silly and still painful) and haven't done it since. Here's my last acting rant.

It's not helping that I esteem the original actors pretty fact, the very idea makes me feel very ill indead. But it comes down to either I act and we make the film, or we don't. Which one's more important? The film. The film the film the film, I keep reminding myself. Hey, publishing your private feelings for the world to pick at is what blogging is all about, eh?

Seriously though, I don't want to moan to my co-maker, because I don't want her to worry. All will be well. I know I can force myself through this, and if not, you poor guys will be forced to suffer through my endless lists of miseries.

Half an hour later

I'm feeling a lot better now. Step 1 (acting in front of webcam while listening to the Beach Boys) worked, and I've got down to some proper charactery stuff. As I said, I'm playing two characters. I'm fine with one of them, because we are really very similar in the way we view the world. The other one, much less easy. I started by writing down everything I know and think about xu*, and it's actually going well. I've started stumbling over some profound truths, personal criticisms and occasionally slipping into the first person. Which is fantastic.
*xu (it's an all-purpose pronoun, standing for him or her)

I've even worked out what to do with my stage fright - you see, xu is pretty frightened too, so I'm just channeling it all in there. So I figure I'll have to watch The Sixth Sense and then [insert actor]'s movies on the way to the set, which'll contribute to a nervous frenzy, attack of hysteria, possible breakdown and perfect characterisation if I can keep it all under control.

"Why doesn't the dear boy just act?" said Lawrence Olivier. Good old method acting. Guessed what it is yet? XD Well I'm not telling you until we're finished...


Copyright 2009 Cinecism. All rights reserved.
Free WordPress Themes Presented by EZwpthemes.
Bloggerized by Miss Dothy