Unit 8 Reflecting on Pre-Production

When it comes to planning out what we are going to film and how, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration.

Finance

I personally have made no financial contributions to any of our filming as of this time of writing, however my fellow class mates have including Sam Edgar who brought in his own camera which cost him around £400. If were we called upon to pay for our own props, transport, facility and equipment hire, purchase our own equipment, actors, fuel for transport, and transport fees; we would set aside a certain amount of money and try to work within that set amount. In order to get some money for our budget we would need to raise it ourselves as we don’t have a big time producer to find funding for us. In most cases we may have to turn to our own money as we are students, for example San Edgar brought in his own camera.

Even in the professional world most independent productions are self-financed, as students this a route which we personally have experienced. However there do exist alternatives such as the College providing us with the necessary equipment such as Cameras, Dictaphones, MAC software like Final Cut Pro and Soundtrack Pro. We have used cameras at the Herbert Art Gallery, I used a Dictaphone when I was swopping genres in movie scenes.

Facilities

Organising where we will film is just as important as all the other aspects of filming if not one of the most important. For example when the Lady Godiva documentary was being made we went to the Herbert Art Gallery to speak with the staff so that we could get an interview with someone who could shed more light on Lady Godiva. We met with someone at the front desk who gave us the contact details of the curator, we emailed the curator in order to arrange an interview with him. We decided on a date a place within the Art Gallery’s Lady Godiva exhibit. When we recorded footage we needed a base to edit what we had recorded, the college n.17 classroom would serve this purpose for all of our editing work. The classroom was a good place to carry out our technical work as it provided us with MACs and their final cut pro editing software to use. The college also provides us with the necessary equipment like camera’s, microphones and dictophones . This makes our work a whole lot easier to manage as it would take too much time and money to provide and organise our own equipment for class projects, plus not all of us can afford the right kind of cameras as they can cost up to and including £3000. If I was working for an actual film studio I would have spend money from the film’s budget in order to rent the equipment for shooting.

Time

As with any project there are deadlines that need to be met and we were no exception. Time management is vital to our projects because we need to arrange for shooting locations, filling in risk assessments, locating, contacting and arranging time with contributors, planning out production schedules, writing a script, writing a treatment for said script, conducting primary and secondary research, hiring and arranging time for actors, booking equipment and finally shooting the film all before the deadline. During our film projects we decided to dedicate a certain number of weeks sorting out all the paperwork and the remaining weeks to the actual shooting. This thought process was developed and put into practice for our second recording projecct which was the music video and it really helped us get the project done on time. We continued this trend into our Godiva documentary where we were able to arrange with the curator to go to the art gallery during Iain’s class, which meant we didn’t have to record outside of college hours or in another teachers class time. We also had to keep in mind when arranging locations to book the equipment for the same time so we decided to arrange the date for the interview and book the equipment for the same date a week in advance that there was no danger of the equipment not being available. If this was a full production film we would have more time to work but we would have a lot more work to do because of the much bigger scale.

Personnel

In the film industry you the right people working in the right places in order to get the best out of your film. For example if you were a producer looking to create a romantic comedy film you probably get better results hiring Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride) than Michael Bay (Explosions) as director. Film makers also need to the appropriate staff for the many tasks, for technical roles such as equipment maintenance you would require someone with technical skills and for editing you would need someone with editing skills. In our case we were lucky to have Sam edgar who was well versed in the MAC’s editing software final cut pro. When we were in the planning stages of each project we attributed certain tasks to different members of the group. In some instances I was in charge of the production schedule at one point but where I did the best job was in the on screen performances which you can see in the Siren video (I play the masked killer). Sam and Cherie were two individuals that I thought really showed off skill in their respective areas. Sam had skill in editing, story-boarding and script writing, whereas Cherie was very well organised in our pre-production paperwork such as the risk assessments. With these traits in mind I know exactly who to turn to for certain within our own group which is vital to our organisation as a team and will prove invaluable in professional film making.

Materials

The word materials can cover a variety of things including stock footage, audio clips, CGI and just about any piece of equipment that is used in the making of a film counts as a material. If you watch a typical news broadcast you notice words pop on the screen to show someone’s name, occupation and location, a graphical software was used to create that. When a news broadcaster shows footage from a place that footage was taken somewhere else with a camera and transfered to the studio for them to show. You might notice they use stock footage of past event in a report, that footage was most likely stored in an archive vault. In my case we used the college cameras to record our footage, we used the MACs to do our research on the internet, store our data and use final cut pro to edit the footage and audio that we had recorded. On the subject of the internet we used to download musical pieces and sound effects to put into our videos. All of that which I have listed and much more is counted as materials and without we would not be able to conduct any filming, editing, we would no way to edit our footage or store it in a safe place. When I was editing the Siren I download a musical score from Purple-planet.com which was royalty free so long as I credited them in the description of the youtube video. I could have faced a terms of use conditions like this from the BBC for 12 seconds of a meerkat: “The use and/or exhibition of Content as the prominent part of the shot or display via full screen in projects or productions intended for a public audience that are scripted programmes, television or video movies, dramas, programmes created for entertainment, diversion, or amusement, and re-broadcasts of events/programmes. Choose this package when you only intend to distribute your project through video cassettes, DVDs, Blu-ray, video discs, or other devices that reproduce visual images and sounds which may be played back by the use of a playback device in conjunction with television or other device, where use of the reproduced product is offered and sold for individual use. This use also includes in-context Promotional use of the Content in the project.” (http://www.bbcmotiongallery.com/gallery/clip/1B011406_0098.do?assetId=asset_8342787/clip_23081161) this for 12 seconds of meerkat footage can command arranges prices if you wanted to use it. Prices can go up £700 try it out in the link if you don’t believe me.

Contributors

When you on working on particular subject it helps to get someone with professional experience to contribute to your video in some fashion. However you must have their permission in order to due so otherwise they could force you remove the footage from your video. We as a group have had 3 instances where have had to call a contributors to assist us. The first was during filming of the bullying documentary we arranged to meet with one of the college’s support teachers who has dealt with instances of bullying in the past. We arranged to meet her by going to student services where we asked the staff if there was anyone we could interview for our project. The staff gave us her contact information and we managed to email her and arrange a date and location. Some difficulties could have started when the teacher refused to sign our consent until after she had seen the recorded footage. luckily she was pleased with what we had recorded and agreed to sign our consent form. The second experience with contributors was when Cherie organised to meet with someone called Roger for our music video production. Cherie already knew Roger so it was easy for her to get in contact with him. Roger agreed to let us film at his studio after Cherie got his consent in an email. The third experience was at the Hubert art gallery where we managed to get the contact information of the curator from the staff at the front desk. We emailed him to arrange an interview and he agreed, when we got there with the equipment we brought the consent form and he signed it on the spot.

Locations

Locations are one of the most important parts of filming because if you don’t have somewhere to shoot how can you make a film in the first place? You must also ensure that you can find a location that suits the scene described in the script but you must be aware of limitations like budget, transport, risks, distance, permits and the weather. Location was one of my biggest hindrances this year as I was unable to attend the shooting of the music due to the distance from my home and lack of transport. Another instance was when my group was planning to film the original draft of the Siren’s script during the half term break and the typical British weather made it impossible. In regards to safety the group and I filmed near a busy road and in a car park for the bullying video and the Siren which brought with it the risks of cars and bad weather. When we wanted to film in the herbert art gallery we needed the permission of staff who worked there, luckily we managed to get in contact with the creator who agreed to let us film and interview him on the premises. If we were to film in a public place we would need the permission of the council due to public liability insurance, which would protect us from being sued if a member of the public was injured by us during filming.

Originate Ideas

New ideas our the driving force behind the media industry and where those ideas begin is one of the most important elements of the pre-production process. Before almost all of our projects began with us brainstorming ideas for a synopsis followed by writing a treatment to pitch to our producer (Iain Bruce). One of the infamous moments that I can remember in regards to originate ideas was when we were brainstorming ideas for a documentary and went back and forth between racism and social depravation until finally after almost 3 weeks we managed to settle on bullying after our tutor stepped to sort out the mess and co-ordinate our minds. When our Ideas were finally decided upon and pitched to our producer Sam would set about writing a script and drawing some storyboards for us to work with. During our music video production we were tasked with finding a song and developing a music video based around that song which a lot easier than the previous documentary work but none the less came with it’s fair of bickering, especially between me and Sam as we both wanted creative input. This experience has taught me about the importance of personnel just as much as originate ideas. For the Godiva documentary we learned the importance of research and how that would influence our ideas, very early on when we were conducting research we decided to visit the Herbert Art Gallery after we read about it online and conduct an interview.

Develop Ideas

When someone has an idea a film, in order for that idea to be fully realised it must be developed and expanded to reach a producer. When we had established our ideas we needed to flesh them out with a treatment. The treatment would detail everything that is going to happen in the story when we write the script, it also details locations, characters and message of the story. The treatment is part of a larger piece of work called a proposal which details other important factors like the genre of the film, the film’s target audience and the character’s biographies. using this treatment I wrote a fully fledged script. The script was subject to change as I wrote it and my tutor helped me reorganise the story so that it flowed better but I stayed true to the original core concept of the story. Finally I managed to finish my scripts final draft under the title of the interrogation. What I learned was that you never write a perfect first draft and you should always re-read your script and make changes where necessary in order to get the best results.

In my case I actually re-wrote the proposal with a new treatment after the original script was accidently lost due to a technical issue. But I can safely say that the experience taught me the value of developing an idea from the ground up. I needed to explain the important parts of the narrative and why they were important such as the part where the girl is being interrogated which became the whole focus of the script after I realised that would not be able to film my entire original idea. You have to know what your intended audience for the film other wise your producer won’t know who to market the film to. Character biographies are vital for when your writing your characters as the more fleshed out they are the easier it is to write dialogue for them (at least in my experience).

Research

Research is vital if you want to understand virtually anything in film making, If you want to know about a certain subject that plays a role in your film you would need to research it. If you wanted to look for the best actors and equipment you would need to research them. when we did the bullying documentary we needed to scour the internet looking for information on bullying and the psychological effects it can have on people. When we worked on the music video we needed the fashion senses of both the modern era and the 80’s era in order to get an idea of how people dressed back then. During the Godiva documentary we did some research on the various legends surrounding Lady Godiva and how the different versions told different stories and the historical accuracy or inaccuracy of them this is what lead us to the Herbert art gallery which we held an interview in. The various of research techniques are:

Primary research:

Primary research can be described as physical research as information is given directly to you, usually through interviews, Phone conversation, focus groups and questionnaires. Watching an Interview also counts as primary research as you are watching someone deliver information verbally.

Production companies use Primary research technique to gather information on a target audience they wish to sell a product to, they can hand out leaflets that have questionnaires, the companies analyse the feedback and determine the most popular answer to be the correct one. Another fashion of primary research is focus group, this is where they gather a group of people who represent the target audience for that product and they are asked their opinions and views on the product. They would use this for films in the form of test screenings in front of a selected audience whom they think represents their target audience. If the reception was good the product will go into production and sell at retail, but if the reception was bad the results can vary from complete scrapping of the product to improvement attempts.

The Questionnaire is one of the more popular forms of research carried out by corporations. Usually they will target a certain age group and ask them simple closed questions that relate to the product, which requires a simple yes or no answer.

Example: do you like high heels? Yes/No

There are also open questions that ask for more depth in the answer.

Example: do you like high heels? Yes/No please explain your answer

The strengths of primary research are that it yields in-depth results, it allows you control of your sources and the questions you ask, you can approach people that you consider to be trustworthy and you have a strong base for your research.

The weaknesses of primary research are that its time-consuming and costly for you to carry out. You would have pay the workers to carry out the research and their Travel, accommodations and etc. you would have to wait for results to get back to you and it can be very time consuming.

Secondary research

Secondary research is when you gather information from various sources including Internet, Books, Magazines and notes from search studies. All forms of secondary research are written down and can be used as quotes for my own work, but they must be referenced to avoid copyright infringement.

Secondary research is one of the most used forms of research, especially the internet though reliability of the source can vary from site to site. Books can be more reliable although it is a dying trend with younger people. Internet information sites are updated a lot sooner and more often than books plus referencing the website is a lot easier than it is to reference a book. With books you must take the quote, the title of the book, the Author, page number and date of publishing but with the internet you just take the quote and the web address.

The Problem with secondary research is reliability, the sources can come from anywhere and for all we know they could be flat out lies. Reliability is very important otherwise you could face legal action for misinforming audiences. The strengths of secondary research are that its faster and cheaper than primary research because its data that’s already been collected. The weaknesses of secondary research are that you are using someone else’s work and you cannot be sure of its authenticity and reliability.

Quantitative Research

An example of a Quantitative question is how would you rate The Terminator on a scale of 1 to 10? This is a closed question that requires a definite answer such as 9 out of 10 or yes/no depending on the question. This form of research is tracking the figures portrayed by Charts, Diagrams and tables. You could call it mathematical research. Both Primary and Secondary research can involve quantitative information such as TV rating reviews and global product sales (Secondary) and interviews with people who work in those departments (Primary). The strengths of quantitative research is easier and faster to conduct as it asks for definite answers, example a closed question could be asked – do you like The Terminator yes or no? This limits the answers to yes or no. simple information that is easy to process. The weaknesses of quantitative research are that it does not provide in depth answers to your questions.

Qualitative Research

These are opinionated research techniques that often stems from other people’s opinions on factual evidence. Qualitative can also be groups of people called focus groups who discuss a topic. This form of research has entertainment value in the media as some programs are all about debates. This type of research is called an open question which means the answer requires a lot of detail and your personnel opinion/feelings, an example of an open question would be “what do like about the Terminator?” The strengths of qualitative research are it provides in-depth answers to questions and can sometimes give you more than what you intended. The weaknesses of qualitative research are that like primary research it is time consuming and costly as you have sit down with your sources and wait for their answers unlike quantitative research which is much quicker.

Planning

When writing a script you need to know the core structure of the story, to draw a storyboard you need a script, to design a shooting script you need a storyboard to work with. As a film maker you need a technical crew to maintain the crew, each and every member of the crew needs to know what their roles and responsibilities are. If you do not plan out what is going happen in your pre-production then you are not going to get anywhere. virtually every element spoken of yet has required a lot of planing.

During the Pre-production phase we were divided into groups and I was put in with Cherie, Adam, Sam and Andy. At first we had to research bullying before we could write about it, each of us was alloted a certain aspect  of bullying to research. I was tasked with finding the types of bullying(Cherie – effects, Sam – Implications, Adam – causes) I used the internet and visited a number of anti-bullying websites to learn more about the methods of bullying, this was all part of my secondary research for this project. We agreed that each member of the group would handle a different aspect of the production work. Cherie did the risk assessments (risk assessments are vital in the planning so that we can prepare any medical supplies and have medical personnel on stand in case of an accident) after we were briefed on them in class, she was also involved with the production and shooting schedule alongside Andy. Sam was the Script writer but we all had some input on the direction the story would take. When it came close to the time of shooting we practised with the equipment from the studio that had been signed out by Iain, our Tutor. We learned the safety measures to ensure none of the equipment got damaged during shooting. Sam and Andy scouted out a suitable location behind the College car park for us to shoot, luckily we didn’t need permits because it was college ground and their was no chance of any unintentional advertising. Because it was on College grounds first aid problems would be minimised as Health and Safety checks should have been carried out on college property. We also used our own common sense to avoid injury. Money wasn’t really a problem as we were using college equipment which would be partly paid for by our entry fees and insured by the college itself. All this was an example of how we planned for the shooting our bullying documentary.

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