Tag Archives: film

So… we decided to change our location.




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We still need to move some stuff around and perhaps dress the place up a little. But other than that, it’s definitely an upgrade for our last. The new location is more spacious and its layout allows us to get more out of the scene in terms of camera angles. However, I have to admit, changing our location at the 11th hour, especially after we’ve figured out camera and lighting positions and choreographed movement, might not be a very good move. Also, due to time constraints, we will not be able to do a pre run of the shoot and that worries me. Nevertheless, I’m going to take a leap of faith and say everything will turn out fine.


The deadline for our production folio is drawing near. That being said, I figured it was finally time to stop procrastinating and get on it.

As production designer I was responsible for the set design, costumes, hair and make-up, and props. My main philosophy for the set design is that it’s a form of disguise. It serves as a back-up plan, in the sense that it may very well cover up any on-screen mistakes by distracting the audience. Hence, the better the set design, the better the disguise.

Talking about costumes (my favorite part), I thought Stu should have on a pair a of geeky glasses, and either a buttoned-up shirt with suspenders, black pants, and some sneakers, or a hideous blazer over a buttoned-up shirt, a funky tie, black pants and a pair of bally shoes; and as for Jenny, I reckon a short, body-fitting dress (preferably in red) and heels would suffice.

With regard to hairstyles, I imagine Stu having his hair gelled back while Jenny either wears it down in curls or up in a loose ponytail. As for make-up, i think Jenny would look great with just a little bit of eye make-up and red lipstick.

Last but not least, the props. After discussing it as a group, we came up with a list of things we needed – Men’s Health magazines, a wine bottle, wine glasses, a mobile phone, a can of fake cat food, cologne, hair wax, a bowl of salad, a carrot, zucchini, and an orange. This took little or no time to figure out and it was, by far, the easiest part of the task.

What started off being a drag, turned out to be a really fun task. I spent hours looking up geeky stuff and had so much fun doing it. And now, I’m just excited to see how everything will unfold on set and on-screen.

Production Design Notes

What? : Stu’s Date Auditions

When? : 26th April 2013 // 1:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Where? : RMIT Building 9, Level 2

Casting; what an experience! And I don’t mean a good one.

The five of us got to Uni early to secure a location (all the classrooms were booked, so we took a gamble and decided to scout for an empty classroom on casting day itself) and to set up. While Laura and Shierly looked around for available classrooms, Mar made a trip to the grocery to get bottled water for the actors, Lauren hired equipment from the techs, and I worked on the production design notes. A while later, Laura and Shierly came back bearing good news. One of the tutors had cancelled his class for the day and we now had place to hold our auditions! Needless to say, luck was on our side that day.

After moving all our stuff to our audition venue, we rearranged the tables and chairs, set up the camera, printed out extra copies of the script, and put up audition signs, all in time for the first candidate, who, by the way, was a no-show. We waited and waited, until finally someone walked through the door and put us out of our misery. Ryan Smith was the first person we auditioned. We thought he put on a good show but felt he didn’t quite fit the part well. And after Ryan made his exit, we went back to waiting again.

We short listed 6 guys and 7 girls in total, out of which only 4 people showed up to audition. The rest were either unreachable or no longer interested to be part of the short film. Also, we’ve been looking forward to this day for a while now; excited and eager to see the how the actors have interpreted their respective roles. Ergo, it was rather disappointing and demotivating when people started bailing out on us. And it is due to the poor attendance that we decided to call for a second round of auditions.

To sum it all up, below are some of the lessons I’ve gathered from the audition.

Lessons of the day:

  1. Do not be too picky when it comes to shortlisting
  2. Do not take too long before replying to applicants
  3. Do send out notices in advanced
  4. It’s optimistic to think that one round of auditions would do the trick

That’s all for now.

This week we take on the “Lenny” exercises.

The first exercise required us to edit the Lenny footage according to a pre-written script. This, to me, was the easiest task of all mainly because I’ve done quite a number of editing work throughout the years so I’m no stranger to editing. Hence, it only took half and hour for me to finish it. While doing the editing work, I realized a couple of problems with the footage in terms of its lighting and framing.

Firstly, half the lighting was messed up and because of that, the colour tones varied between the shots. Simply said, there was no continuity between the shots. So to solve this problem, I standardized the shots using the 3-way colour corrector effect made available on Final Cut Pro. Secondly, I thought the camera framing wasn’t very well done. There were one or two times where the boom mic was caught in frame. This isn’t a big mistake and it isn’t particularly hard to fix. It can be easily fix by cropping the video using the key motion tool. The third issue regards direction and was made apparent to me when Paul brought it up in class. The characters are supposed to be coming from two completely different places. So they should be taking two separate routes and walking their separate ways. However, it was shot as if they were walking the same way. This would mean that they should have bumped into one another before reaching their destination. So in order to fix this, one of the shots of either character (Lenny or Sharon) would have to be flipped.

The second exercise involved us shooting the second half of the Lenny scenes, and editing it in camera, according to a predetermined script. We did this is groups of five.

For the second exercise, I was in charge of the filming. I’ve been itching to get behind the camera and actually go around filming something. So needless to say, I was very excited. We were given approximately half and hour to complete this task and in that time, we spent a little too much time planning the shots and had to relocate a couple of times due to the unpredictable weather. In the end, we only had 10 minutes to shoot the entire sequence. So we put our game faces on and finished the job as quickly as we could and at the end of the day, I think we did a pretty good job.

This week’s lecture was on the topic of focal lengths and their effects. I personally thought the lecture was both interactive and engaging, and I found it really helpful that Robin had set up a camera in class and gave up on-the-spot examples as we went on about the lecture.

Then in tute, Paul showed us how to properly set up and connect the mixer to the camera. Working in groups of three, we started setting up the audio mixer, which took no more than two minutes, followed by the camera. That, for me, was the tricky part. It took us a while but we managed to figure out where the cables connected to. Then, we were told to do a status check to see if the camera was indeed connected to the camera and that the camera was picking up sound. After that, Paul talked about the some mistakes students commonly make when handling the equipment and while filming on set. He also lectured us about white balance and exposure. Playing around with the white balance was never my strong suit. I’ve always struggle with white balance, in the sense that I’ve never been able to get it right, at least not on my first try. So the tute as well as the reading for this week helped clear things up a little.

On a separate note, I found the “Producing Videos” reading rather interesting and helpful. To elaborate, I was never good with white balance (as mentioned above) and prior to doing the reading, I was unaware of the common mistakes when fiddling with the white balance. So it was good to know exactly where I’ve gone wrong in the past. Besides that, I’ve always been a stranger when it comes to the camera aperture. Before this, I had always assumed that aperture only came in one setting. That its size was fixed. So I was surprised to discover that there are several different aperture settings and that the images shot with large aperture openings have less depth of field.

And that pretty much sums up all that I’ve learnt this week and all in all, I think I’ve learnt a lot.

We’ve been briefed on the assessment task and we’ve been put into groups. Now it’s time to get the show on the road!

We were given time to talk about our assessment towards the end of tute and I think we managed to get a lot done. By the end of tute, we had mutually decided on a story idea, discussed the script, assigned roles, talked about potential locations, explored costumes, and talked through the set design.

Back on the topic of the story idea, our film revolves around Stu a geeky, socially awkward fella who scores a (first) date with his dream girl, Jenny. He anxiously practices pick up lines while waiting for Jenny to arrive. But little does he know, Jenny isn’t the person he thinks she is. On the outside, Jenny is an attractive woman who catches guys attention as she walks into a room. But on the inside, she’s a huge slob that eats like a pig. Our short film basically follows and/or chronicles Stu on his first date.

Next, we talked about the script. We drew inspiration from films that shared a similar storyline. White Chicks, How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and Bad Teacher were some of the films brought up during our discussion. As for the location, because Stu is still a student and does not have a high paid job, we all agreed that either an apartment or a down market unit would suffice. Subsequently, with regard to set design, we talked about having posters all around Stu’s bedroom, action figures displayed on the table or shelves, etc. Following that, we debated weekly meetings and assigned roles. I volunteered to take on the role of production designer and first AD.

Ultimately, It was easy working with everyone and I think the group discussion went really well. We managed to cover almost every area of our production and by the end of tute, our script was well on it way. This was, no doubt, a productive week.

This week we dove into the topic of characters more extensively. Sitting through the lecture made me realize just how little I know about developing a good, well-rounded character. And so here are a few things I’ve gathered from this week’s lecture.

For starters, characters are never typical or ordinary. They’d just be boring if they were. An easy way build character and to ensure they aren’t banal is to give them a want – an external or conscious drive, and a need – an internal or unconscious drive. In addition to that, we must also ask ourselves what’s at stake. Take a boy who deals drugs for instance. There’s nothing out of the ordinary judging by that action alone. It’s when you add in the ‘why’ factor that gives it meaning. For example, the boy deals drugs in order to pay for his mother’s gambling debt.

Subsequently, when building a character we must always consider the believability of it all. That being said, we must take into consideration whether or not the character’s action is appropriate or in sync with the character’s personality. For instance, you wouldn’t make a person who’s allergic to fur to rare a cat. It’s implausible. Unless he/she is absolutely insane or mentally unstable.

Lastly, not all genres require character complexity. Horror, mystery, and comedy genre films are often filled with twists or unexpected events, hence they are considered plot driven and it is for this reason that they do not require well thought-out characters. Conversely, dramas play on the viewer’s emotions, and so the employment of complex characters are essential in order to bring about an emotional response. Thus deeming dramas character driven. Below are some examples of plot and character driven films.

Plot Driven Films

Inception (2010)

Panic Room (2002)

Character Driven Films


Into The Wild (2007)


Slumdog Millionaire (2008)