DRAMA The Commercial

Commercial

Commercial

Filming: 16th March
Director: Ian Hunt
Camera: Panasonic AG AF101
Lenses Used: Voigtlander 28mm F 0.95, Nikon 85mm, Nikon 50mm, Nikon 20mmPink Shoes

I decided on using this location from photos that the Producer supplied and while I felt this was an excellent choice the natural light on the day caused some issues.
At the start of the shoot the sun was directly overhead with this changing over time until the point that the Sun was coming in directly through the windows, which caused some exposure issues.
Another issue I’d overlooked was with mirrors. One whole wall was made up of mirrors, it was a challenge to film and not show the camera in the shot and there where also some light reflections that were unnoticed until post production.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The shoot was planned for 4 hours and there were times when it seemed we would go over, which of course was not possible. Without this time constraint I probably would have filmed more sequences for post production.Women in towell
I used the 20mm lens for the wide shots for the commercial and for the cloning sequence which was later discarded from the final edit. For the closeups that is the makeup scenes I used the 85mm and 50mm. Although I had some lighting with me the litepanels from the previous days Drama shoot these proved to be underpowered to compete against the strength of the Sunlight coming through the windows. To work around this problem I moved the camera and subject to get the best light although I was fighting continuously against the high contrast light coming through the very large windows. Closing the curtains cast a bright yellow light across the subject so this was not an option.

I made one use of a slider for the reveal of the picture scene.

Documentary, Production Portfolio

Documentary Showreel

The first semester is completed and during that period I have worked on 4 official Documentaries and 2 Dramas filmed in the documentary style Cinéma vérité. In addition there have been several non assessed projects and of course several private projects.

This Portfolio or Showreel is derived from these, not all are represented, only what I consider to be the best examples of my work. This includes visuals that I think represent good camera work, movement or lighting and hopefully some that include all of these attributes.

Narrative Constructions, Video Essay, John Sturges & Genre

Narrative Constructions John Sturges & Genre

Opening Title

John Sturges The Director and influential filmmaker credited by his peers for his contemporary approach to character based multiple stories narrative and the birth of the formulaic action movie.

Part One: Introduction

Genre is a French word meaning type or kind Genre movies are those commercial feature films, which through repetition and variation tell familiar stories with familiar characters in familiar situations.

[Inter-title: Genre and Hollywood. Steve Neale. 2001. Routledge. London. p. 9]

This video essay will look at John Sturges early work in regard to Genre and the two films The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape.

The essay will then go on to consider the films that they in turn went onto influence within the western and war films genres, in particular their influence on popular films of the time for example the war film Von Ryans Express and the production of the westerns that that temporarily breathed life back into the western genre and became known as the Spaghetti Westerns with examples such as The Good the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in The West.

We expect Westerns to have certain features: as their name implies, they are set in the American West, typically between the end of the Civil War and the beginnings of the twentieth century, focus on masculine conflicts, and involve battles with either outlaws and/or American Indians.

[Inter-title: Thinking about movies 3rd Edition Peter Lehman and William Luhr, Blackwell Publishing 2008 Oxford. p.100]

This essay will in addition explore and analyse how these two films may have had some influence on contemporary filmmaking through character development and multiple storylines. It will also propose that the action sequences featured in his films are the forerunner for today’s action films with directors acknowledging his influence on their own work.

Part Two: Character based Multiple Storylines

The Magnificent Seven as the title suggests is essentially a story of seven characters, although in consideration there are actually eight influential characters in the film when including the leader of the outlaws Calvera in that analysis.

The Magnificent Seven is essentially a remake of the Japanese film Seven Samurai directed by Akira Kurosawa made in 1954.

[clip from Seven Samurai time code 1:43]

As in the Seven Samurai each of the characters has their own story, which compliments and then combines with the others to create the overall narrative. Chris played by Yul Brynner the veteran gunfighter and the leader. The drifter who loses his money on a throw of the dice played by Steve McQueen. Harry a friend of Chris who is looking for the big pay off in Gold or Jewels played by Brad Dexter. Then there is the knife wielding Britt played by James Coburn who features in the scene of the duel between a thrown knife verses a drawn gun. Lee is the gunfighter who has lost his nerve, played by Robert Vaughn whose character is just looking for a place to hide. Chico played by Horst Buchholz the Mexican farmer who aspires to be a gunfighter. Charles Bronson playing Bernardo the down on his luck gunfighter looking for his next meal. Each of these characters generate an individual storyline that runs in parallel with the main narrative, a technique, which has been borrowed by other directors since, for example Quentin Tarantino for his film Kill Bill among others.

Sturges is quoted as saying that while he listened to Brynner’s gripes and feigned concern, he was excited about how each actor fought for his turf. He realised that McQueen, Coburn, and the others were gradually becoming indistinguishable from their characters, and that this would imbue the film with a fresh, anachronistic quality.

[Inter-title: Escape Artist: The Life and Films of John Sturges. Author: Lovell, Glenn. Date 2008. Page 207]

Part Three: The Magnificent Seven a Western or Action Movie

In The Magnificent Seven the conventions of a western are all present, there are gunfighters, the outlaws the paraphernalia and iconology that comes with the western, it is there for all to see.

Neale refers to Buscombe who demonstrated clearly in 1970, the visual conventions of the western are both highly distinctive and highly coded.

[Inter-title: Genre and Hollywood. Steve Neale. 2001. Routledge. London. p. 133]

But look beyond the costume, the location and the historic references to the western era, this is an action movie with sequences that with minor changes are comparable to todays action movies.

There are big action scenes with gunfire coming from all directions; the seemingly hopelessly outnumbered gunfighters take out the outlaws as they ride through the village. Sturges has taken the western to another level, the action is continuous, and the violence exaggerated, each of the main characters engaged in their personal battle with the outlaws. The action sequences depicted could easily be used as templates for more recent films and in other genres.

Buscombe suggests that the visual conventions provide a framework within which the story can be told. However what is more important is that they also affect what kind of story it will be.

[Inter-title: Barry Keith Grant.(Editor) 1995. Film Genre Reader II. University of Texas Press. USA. p. 15]

The sequences appear to be derived from this concept of each of the main characters having their own stories based/developed around their character each therefore appear engaged in a personal battle with themselves and with the outlaws. A good example of this would be Lee’s death, he holsters his gun before kicking the door open then drawing and shooting the outlaws inside, appearing to regain his courage and self esteem only to be then shot. Dying against a wall in a fetal position, a hero dies, for this character there is no happy ending and a break with an almost Hollywood tradition where the hero generally survives. Sturges appears to get away with this by having seven heroes each with their own story and therefore some can be sacrificed without breaking this traditional, this historic approach to the storytelling of a western indeed any Hollywood story. This precedes the current trend where the demise of or sacrifice of the hero at the end of the film has found acceptance with audiences as long as it has value, for example the sacrifice of ones own life to save another or others.

Altman suggests that genre films must not only be similar in order to succeed, they must also be different.

[Inter-title: Rick Altman. 1999. British Film Institute. London. p.21]

It’s possible that outside of script considerations Sturges could have chosen to do this to add something new to the genre. With westerns as with any other genre while it is important to remain true to the style it is at the same time important to be different.

Sturges approach to the western genre itself considered a departure in many respects to what had been seen before it also appears to have influenced a sub genre of the western, that is the spaghetti western, breathing life albeit briefly into a genre moving out of favour with film studios and audiences by the 1960’s.

The Magnificent Seven, Its unabashedly stylized approach laid the groundwork for the darker revisionist Westerns of Peckinpah and Aldrich and the spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone, who, following Sturges’s lead, adapted Yojimbo as A Fistful of Dollars, starring Clint Eastwood as the Man with No Name. (The third in the Leone-Eastwood series, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, was co-financed by UA and featured Wallach as a comic Calvera.) “I won’t say Leone copied The Magnificent Seven,” said Sturges, “but he certainly profited by a lot of stuff in that picture, especially the multiple-character thing.”

[Inter-Title: Escape Artist: The Life and Films of John Sturges. Author: Lovell, Glenn. Date 2008. Page 213]

Part Four: This time it’s War but it’s the same story

For the most part, the category war film is uncontentious: war films about the waging of war in the twentieth century: scene of combat are a requisite ingredient and these scenes are dramatically central.

[Inter-title: Genre and Hollywood. Steve Neale. 2001. Routledge. London. p. 125]

The Great Escape a war film with few scenes of combat, the escapees are unarmed, only the Germans have guns, which appears to undermine Neale’s theory somewhat, fortunately there are many other visual conventions that satisfies the war genre requirements, for example it’s historical setting, locations and uniforms to name but a few.

As Altman proposes that if spectators are to experience films in terms of their genre, films must leave no doubt as to their generic identity; instant reconisability must be assumed.

[Inter-title: Rick Altman. 1999. British Film Institute. London. p.18]

Sturges style of filmmaking developed in The Magnificent Seven is transposed to the war film The Great Escape. Within minutes of the films opening and the trucks rolling into the camp Sturges begins to develop the characters in the same fashion as he did previously.

As John Sturges says “I knew it was too long, but we couldn’t shorten the damn thing anymore,” he said. “We had multiple stories with ten different characters. It was constructed like a house of cards: Take one thing out and it all falls apart.

[Inter-Title: Escape Artist : The Life and Films of John Sturges. Author: Lovell, Glenn. Date 2008. Page 238]

Starting with the character Bartlett, Big X, played by Richard Attenborough whom we see has been almost emotionally destroyed having been in the hands of the Gestapo, but also driven to seek revenge no matter the cost. As the opening scenes progress the individual characters are introduced, their stories developed, each with special skills and backgrounds that add to the overall narrative.

Roles are created specifically to cater for the films American market. For example the character Hilts played by Steve McQueen is a case in point it appears that McQueen is again playing the lone drifter as he had done in The Magnificent Seven, rarely does his character come into contact with the others, his character appears to have its own storyline running in parallel with the main narrative.  A forerunner perhaps of the multiple storylines used so effectively in modern films particular examples would include Quentin Tarantino’s film Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill series of films.

Among the movies that have either reworked the plot or referenced it; include Von Ryan’s Express (1965), The Dirty Dozen (1967), Escape from Alcatraz (1979), Reservoir Dogs (1992), Disney’s Parent Trap (1998), Hart’s War (2002), and Chicken Run (2000), with its trash-bin Cooler and tunnel trolley.

[Inter-title: Escape Artist: The Life and Films of John Sturges. Author: Lovell, Glenn. Date 2008. Page 241]

Part Five: The Conclusion

[clips – Steve McQueen’s motorcycle jump over the barbed wire then cut to show the final sequence from The Magnificent Seven]

John Sturges directing style appears to have been influential across genres and for generations of filmmakers. Several films made since can trace their roots back to Sturges films The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape. Through his use of character development and in conjunction with the multiple story approach to directing his fingerprints are clearly visible on some of todays films.

He is also possibly credited with the development of the contemporary style and direction of Action film sequences and across genres, for example Action/Adventure films such as The Raiders of the lost Ark and others in the series of films by Spielberg.

As the pendulum swung back toward formalistic action movies in the 1990s—due in large part to the high-concept blockbusters of

Jerry Bruckheimer and the hyper-kinetic crime thrillers of Quentin Tarantino—Sturges’s style of moviemaking came back in vogue. Name an action director and chances are good that he will have been influenced by Sturges. Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, Andrew Davis (The Fugitive), John Landis (Three Amigos! ), Edward Zwick (Glory), Lawrence Kasdan (Silverado), Peter Weir (Witness), William Friedkin, John Carpenter (The Thing), Kevin Costner (Open Range), Christopher Cain (Young Guns), Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future I–III ), Paul Thomas Anderson, and John Frankenheimer have all acknowledged a debt to the director.

[Inter-title: Escape Artist : The Life and Films of John Sturges. Author: Lovell, Glenn. Date 2008. Page 295-296]

References

Lehman. P. and Luhr. W., 2008. Thinking about movies 3rd ed. Oxford: Blackwell. 100

Neale. S., 2001. Genre and Hollywood. London: Routledge. 9-125

Altman. R., 1999. Film/Genre. London: British Film Institute. 18-21

Grant. B., 1995. Film Genre Reader II. Texas: University of Texas Press. 15

Lovell. G., 2008. Escape Artist: The Life and Films of John Sturges. Wisconson. University of Wisconsin 196-296

IMDB, 1960. The Magnificent Seven [online]. Available from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054047/?ref_=nv_sr_1 [Accessed 18 November 2013].

IMDB, 1963. The Great Escape [online]. Available from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057115/?ref_=nv_sr_4 [Accessed 12 December 2013].

Dirks. T., Westerns. [online]. AMC Filmsite. Available from: http://www.filmsite.org/westernfilms4.html [Accessed 12 December 2013].

McFarland. M., 2013. Take Two: Seven Samurai & The Magnificent Seven [online]. TheFilmSchool. Available from: http://thefilmschool.com/general/take-two-seven-samurai-the-magnificent-seven/ [Accessed 12 December 2013].

filmschoolthrucommentaries. 2013. [online] John Sturges on his filmmaking philosophy – Part I. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6korx4cE1KU [Accessed 5 January 2014].

Steven Thomas 9/11/2013. The Man With No Name – Dollars Trilogy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgCz9qNaVJY [Accessed 16/01/2014]

The Magnificent Seven, 1960. film, DVD]. Directed by John Sturges. USA: The Mirisch Company.

The Great Escape, 1963. [film, DVD]. Directed by John Sturges. USA: The Mirisch Corporation.

Robson, M. (2013). Von Ryans Express [image]. Film Affinity. Available from: http://www.filmaffinity.com/en/movieimage.php?imageId=586897353 [Accessed 14/01/2014]

Mijat. (2013). The Good The Bad and The Ugly [image].

Penzionersko zabavište. Available from: http://zabaviste.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/the-good-bad-and-ugly-01-lr1.jpg [Accessed 14/01/2014]

Mann, R. (2009). Kill Bill [image]. 1 out of 10. Available from: http://4outof10.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/killbill.jpg [Accessed 14/01/2014]

Stevens, S. (2012). Once Upon a Time in the West [image]. Pictures in Motion. Available from: http://picinmotion.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/queued-up-4-once-upon-a-time-in-the-west-1968/  [Accessed 16/01/2014]

 

 

Documentary: White Lining

Cinematography from the Documentary: White Lining

This was an Exterior shoot using Natural Lighting only.

Camera was the Canon EOS C300 – tripod mounted but unlocked, that is operated loose head or alternatively handheld not using a shoulder rig.

Shot the road marking operations predominantly using the Canon Zoom EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM as the road crew worked extremely quickly and there was little time to stop for lens changes.

Used the Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM for close ups of the machinery.

For the interviews I used the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM for the mid shots and close ups. For the low level shots I positioned the camera on a book placed at ground level.

I shot with an open aperture to create a shallow depth of field particularly for the interview sequences typically F4 making use of the ND filters to prevent overexposure.

Tech:- C300

  • Canon EOS C300
  • Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L II USM
  • Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM

Documentary – Montage

Assignment Brief – Make a short Montage Sequence that could fit into the beginning of a longer form documentary.

  • Duration – 1 minute
  • Filming – 3 Hours
  • Crew – 3 persons minimum
  • Camera Kit – Canon C300 or Panasonic AG101

In a moment of untypical inspiration I came up with the idea for this film within a short time of the assignment being set. I’d always wanted to make this type of time lapse film and this concept fitted the brief perfectly.

My original idea was to film in a public location at a time and place where people would normally be funneled through a narrow gap or entrance to a building, for example a Train Station or large retail shop. But I discarded this idea o one wet day when it seemed that the entire student population was seemingly passing through BU’s Atrium thus making this the perfect location for my film shoot.

Pre-production

I spent a few lunchtimes checking out the location for natural lighting and for it’s camera and subject positions. In the final decision process It was the lighting that decided me on how to approach the setup. The natural light coming through the glassed areas of the Atrium I wanted to one side of the camera. This essentially gave me only one option for locating the camera and the subject where not only I could film with the light to one side but would also be safely out of the way of passing students and importantly not blocking any exits or in danger of being walked into.

For this shoot I used the Panasonic AG101 as the Canon C300 was still being serviced. Panasonic AG101Initially I was somewhat disappointed with the camera choice because I felt it seemed overally complicated and the sensor is quite small compared to the DSLR’s I usually use. But I changed my position on this somewhat when I saw the initial results of filming using the Nikon lenses that come with the kit.

The quality of the YouTube video does not really truly represent the actual quality of the video footage produced, needless to say the original footage quality is exceptional, I’d even say better than videos I’ve produced using the Canon 5D.

Negatives there is no Zoom in the kit but this is balanced by an excellent range of Nikon prime lenses ranging from 20mm up to 85mm. I’d have liked a longer lens say 135mm for the final close up but I did not know this at the time.

Filming

A lighting check determined that F5.6 was the prefect setting for exposure and depth of field. I used this setting throughout for the filming process across the whole range of lens changes. I also kept the camera and subject location fixed, just changed the framing by swapping lenses.

The opening sequence is shot wide using the 20mm, then going up a lens size to the 35mm then onto a 50mm and finishing on the 85mm lens. I then repeated this sequence but with the tripod lowered one section and adjusted the camera to focus onto the subjects boots. I shot 5 minutes sequences for each lens change and apart from some shots which were disrupted by outside events, for example people blocking the camera, the whole shoot took just under an hour.

Post-production

I edited the footage using Premier Pro CS6 by using the music soundtrack as a guide/inspiration for the editing points. I exported the media using H264 setup for upload to  YouTube.

Permissions/Copyright

I confirmed firstly with my subject that it would be OK to upload onto YouTube, I was also aware that the music is copyrighted and therefore I turned off monetisation and disabled playback for mobile device under YouTubes T&C’s.

Cinematographer – Roger Deakins

Roger Deakins Skyfall

Roger Deakins becoming a Cinematographer/DOP

Born: 24 May 1949, Torquay, Devon, UK, as Roger A. Deakins, son of actress Josephine Messum & William Albert Deakins.

Education: Bath Academy of Art [Still photography]; National Film and Television School [NFTS], UK [1972-75; shot c. 15 films in 3 years].

Career: During the late 1970s, Deakins and a friend filmed ‘Zimbabwe’, a doc sponsored by the African National Congress. They did it under the guise of making a tourist film, but in reality they were recording what was going on during the civil war. His next doc was about an around-the-world yacht race. He spent a full year directing and shooting a film onboard the yacht [‘Around the World with Ridgeway’]. There were also films about other guerrilla wars and anthropological doc’s. In-between these non-fiction films, Deakins was filming tv dramas, mainly for Channel 4.

Member of the BSC since 1986 and the ASC since 1994.
Source
http://www.cinematographers.nl/PaginasDoPh/deakins.htm

Freaky Mirror

I’ve just rediscovered this video I filmed and edited, assisting an MA Directing student with her project.

My edit of Robynne Batley’s performance in Samantha Else’s MA Ophelia Project.

Edited using Premiere Pro CS4 and filmed using a Canon 5D MKII.

The image was created by duplicating the video track, flipping one of these horizontally and then bringing the two tracks together at the centre of the screen.

I used cropping to remove half of each tracks side so that there was no overlap in the centre.

Cinematographer – Emmanuel Lubezki

Presentation notes for MA Cinematography.

One of the world’s best directors of photography and the best Mexican cinematographer of his generation, award-winning Emmanuel Lubezki shot to prominence with the success of “Like Water for Chocolate” (1991), directed by Alfonso Arau and has gone on to a career that has encompassed independent films as well as mainstream Hollywood fare.

The New World

To capture the earthy look as naturally as possible, Lubezki chose Kodak 5218 for most of the picture. It gave him the flexibility to work at a deeper stop. “We shot everything anamorphic with a depth-of-field between f/16 and f/11,” he says. “By shooting at that depth-of-field, we could really make the audience feel as if they were in this world with these characters.

“Sometimes, lack of depth-of-field becomes a barrier and we wanted to take that barrier away. To help the lenses as much as possible, Panavision created a new lens for us to use on the XL cameras. They combined the E-series lens that is heavy with the C-series lens. This allowed us to have close focus, keeping with our ‘dogma’ of being in the action and solve the anamorphic contradiction between resolution [which it gives us] and depth-of-field [which is not always possible].

“I wanted to use only the 35mm and 40mm most of the time,” he adds. “We added the 50mm for telephoto, when we needed to get close to the actors, but still give them some room to move.”

 

The New Worlds strong visual style is established in large part by extensive Steadicam work, which was shot by Jorg Widmer and Jim McConkey. “I like the Steadicam when it doesn’t look mechanical,” says Lubezki.”

Presentation Notes for iPad

Emmanuel Lubezki

Start by saying how difficult it was to choose just one Cinematographer and then which clip to show.

My first choice was Freddy Young in particular for the Well Scene in Lawrence of Arabia.

Then an obvious choice of Roger Deakins who I could pick several films that I find inspirational for example SkyFall, No Country for Old Men, Fargo.

I went with Lubezki mainly for the visuals of Sleepy Hollow and Lemony Snicket but what I want to show you is a clip from The New World.

Key point state you will answer questions at the end

I’ll begin by showing the clip from New World

The New World.

Now describe what you like from the clip key points would be natural light and stedicam.

  1. Shot in 35mm film with some in 65mm
  2. Predominantly using natural light – even the night scenes used just firelight and light from oil lamps
  3. Stedicam was used extensively mainly to follow actors or bring the camera into the action.
  4. Used  30mm 40mm and sometimes 50mm lens to again bring the camera close into the action.
  5. Had to work around contrast issues caused by the harsh light of the sun – didn’t have the option to use silks to soften the light.
  6. To summarise it is the camera movement and working with natural light that interests me the most about this Cinematographer.
  7. Also he is willing to change his approach depending on the project for example look to his latest work Gravity.

Final statement. I found the process of researching this assignment so interesting that I plan to continue my research, adding the knowledge and techniques of the best Cinematographers to my own.

Bibliography

Internet Guide to Cinematographers – http://www.cinematographers.nl/PaginasDoPh/lubezki.htm [Accessed 29/09/2013]
Source http://movies.yahoo.com/person/emmanuel-lubezki/

 

 

Filmography My personal choice

Cinematographer – Freddie Young, Lawrence of Arabia

Biography

Freddie Young (I) More at IMDbPro »
Date of Birth
9 October 1902, London, England, UK

Date of Death
1 December 1998, London, England, UK (natural causes)

Birth Name
Frederick Archibald Young

Mini Biography

Cinematographer with a long and distinguished career crowned with Oscars for three consecutive films directed by David Lean between 1962-1970. Awarded OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 1970.

Freddie Young was one of the great cinematographers who won Oscars for his collaborations with David Lean on Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965), and Ryan’s Daughter (1970). He was the first English director of photography to shoot a movie in the wide-screen CinemaScope, a process which he mastered, which is evident from his work with Lean.

Bibliography

IMDB. (Unknown) Freddie Young, [Online], Available:  http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002875 /[26 Jul 2013].

 

Header Photo Gallery

A series of black and white photographs shot using my Canon EOS 60D in and around the seaside town of Swanage in Dorset, London in particular the British Museum and in a Bournemouth photographic studio.

The lens used is the standard Canon 50mm F1.8 prime lens and all photos were shot using either using aperture priority or manual mode. The photos were then processed using Adobe Lightroom 4.

I picked these pictures for their Cinamtic style rather than by subject