Production Diary Developing Meaning in Media Production

28/09/2013: On Friday the 27th I was given the first of my University assignments. I have been tasked to get into a group of around 6 people, preferably two boys and two girls. In these groups we have to produce a two to four minute film from a genre of our choosing. At this time of writing I have been unable to find a group, which is causing me some stress as I don’t know any of the other students or their contact details. I could use Moodle but I am still trying to get to grips with the software. I do not wish to send out random emails to people who may or may not have groups already.

The tutors have stated that if we have not found groups by Friday, they would put us in groups. On Friday we would have lost a week of time which makes the situation even more difficult to produce a Soundscape on time. I have decided to plan a Soundscape, Story ideas and Script myself, which I know will be difficult. Although this is the first assignment I feel like I am being tested already and I still have not settled into this new environment.

29/09/2013: Today I looked some of the links that the module on Moodle provided. I found the one about the Wall E soundscape particularly interesting (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eySh8FOUphM&list=PLCKl6WihXPZP9hE2yvA_oS0AnOtGnON_T&index=4), it covered the history of soundscaping from the days of Walt Disney and the intruments he used to more modern techniques. The video revolved around Ben Burtt and how he produced the sounds for Wall E using a variety of materials. Mr Burtt used a lot creative words to describe what sounds he used for the characters. For instance when he was describing the sound Eve would make, he used quiet smooth and high tech sounds that would also create an aura of mystery about the character. I was intrigued by his notion that sound alone can tell you so much about a character and how it can make them unique.

Mr Burtt also showcased some of the materials he used in the film, including an old army generator that he bought off of Ebay to create the sound for Wall E’s tracks when he is moving slowly. He continued with how he added additional sounds for different situations, for example when Wall E picks up speed he would add sounds created by a device called an inertia starter, which was to start up engines of older air planes. It then occurred to me that there was a reflection of the character in the materials used to produce his sound effects, what I mean is Wall E is meant to look old fashioned and the devices that produce his sounds come from an older era.

This had made me curious as to what kind of sounds I can produce by using mundane items.

02/10/2013: Today I consulted Debra on my situation with assignment 1. I was told that I should pitch my idea solo while waiting to be put into a group. During the talk with Debra I mentioned my philosophy surrounding hope and despair and then the gears in my head started to turn. I remembered a scene from No Country For Old Men when the assassin makes a bet with the owner of a Gas pump and flips a coin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iAezyDzj0M).

03/10/2013: The premise of my idea is a young man/woman is walking down the street when he/she notices a beggar in the street, he/she contemplates giving them the coin they are carrying. He/she is approached by two characters representing the two choices they have, they each try to convince the character to do what they want. In the end he/she decides to flip the coin to determine their course of action (the outcome is left ambiguous). I incorporated a character from the presentation I took part in during freshers week. The Mr L character would represent the cynical selfish element of the central character. The theme of the story revolves around the question that should we leave morale choices to chance? shades of the Two Face character from Batman (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJma8pVAvH4). I have drawn a storyboard and plan to pitch the idea tomorrow, I have also started work on mock script that I will show my group when I join them.

04/10/2013: Today I joined my group which is comprised of Myself, Cameron, Jenny, Halim, Sage and Camarel. During the lecture we exchanged phone numbers and discussed when we would discuss our idea. We agreed to meet on Monday at 11:00am outside the Ellen Terry building and we would discuss our ideas.

07/10/2013: I arrived early in order sought out some business with student finance. When I was leaving the student centre I received a text from one of my group members who informed me that that the group wouldn’t be coming in. No explanation was given but I did ring him back to ask when we were going to meet, he said we would meet tomorrow during break. This is concerning I was not given an explanation as to why the meeting was cancelled. I could of asked why but I had a feeling that may have been confrontational, in hindsight I feel that was a poor course of action to take.

08/10/2013: Today I tried to get contact with Sach as I was concerned about when we would meet up to discuss the ideas for our short film. I rang his number but there was no answer so I left a message. Around 7:00pm I received a text from him asking me to meet him and the others in the group tomorrow on the first floor of the Hub, after the Add+Vantage Module. The Add+Vantage Module finishes at 10:00am at least according to my time table.

09/10/2013: Today I arrived in the Hub and met up with my group, we discussed ideas and eventually chose a story that revolved around a student who was suffering from extreme depression. We decided to utilise clever camera angles and lighting to make our project unique and the main character would not utter a single line of dialogue, instead all the sound would come from diegetic sources within the film and his own memories. I was tasked with writing the script and drawing a storyboard. I was given some notes to build my script around.

10/10/2013: Today I collected my Macbook from the Ellen Terry building and was given the terms and conditions. I thought I’d use the Celtx program to write the script after I had completed a hand written draft to present to the group on Friday. I started and finished the hand written script after analysing the notes I was given, I also started work on the storyboard.

11/10/2013: Today we were shown the opening from Apocalypse Now and how the sound was used to give the audience an insight into the characters mindset. The character hears a helicopter blade and has flashbacks to a battle in the Vietnamese jungle with a number of helicopters flying by, these scenes fade in out between shots of the character and a ceiling fan spinning above him. We learned Apocalypse Now was a landmark in cinema history for its use of surround sound which gave me even more reason to watch the film now.

We were informed of a book by Michel Chion called Audio Vision which examines the relationship between images and the soundscape. It states the importance of sound and provides a new vocabulary with which analyse  it. I will surely need to track down a copy of this book as the points raised in the lecture could very useful for my own creativity. An example of this creative use of sound was presented when we were shown a clip from the Godfather, in the scene Al Pacino’s character is meeting the head of a rival mafia family and a corrupt cop in a restaurant, both of whom played a role in his father’s shooting. They exchange dialogue in Italian but there is no subtitles which puzzled me at first, then Pacino goes into the bathroom to get a gun that planted there. As he leaves the bathroom a train passes above the restaurant while Pacino clutches his head as if distressed. He walks back to his table and another train passes over, during which he shoots the mafia boss and the corrupt cop. The sound of the train is a very effective use of sound as it represented Pacino’s crossing a point of no return. After the lecture a member from my group told me that we were meeting on Monday at 12:00pm in the Ellen Terry building.

I also used Celtx to type my script in a professional manner, this will be used for the actual shooting although I will need to consult with the group to discuss shots for the Storyboard and Shot List.

14/10/2013: Today I got together with the group and we recorded some audio for our Soundscape. We went to the Hub and recorded the people there and we went to west orchards to record there. We were recording large crowd sounds for the scenes when Aaron (the Main Character) is among crowds. After we recorded in West Orchards the members decided to part ways, some of them went to the train station to record sounds there and I went back to the Ellen Terry Building to book a recorder for tomorrow during a lecture.

15/10/2013: Today I recorded audio during the Key Concepts in Media lecture, I managed to secure permission from Stephen Dawkins using a consent form. Because I only had Stephen’s permission I could only record his voice and no one else’s.  After I recorded the audio for the soundscape I handed the Eddieroll recorder to cameron who preceded to transfer the footage to his computer.

18/10/2013: Today we explored the various roles that exist within the production of a film. We mentioned Directors, Cinematographers and Editors. Many great films had talented cinematography, editing, sound design, etc in addition to directing. However the Director receives a lot more attention than the aforementioned roles. We were asked about who filled what roles in our production team during the lecture and I raised my hand for script writer, but none of the other members raised their arms when the roles were announced. This gave an impression of grave disorganisation and seeing as this is university not college we cannot afford to making amateur mistakes. I asked my group who was occupying what roles, to which Sach said we would remain flexible allowing everyone a chance at different roles. I think he was missing the point but not one to cause conflict I went along with the plan. We will be meeting on Monday to finish the storyboards, shot lists and call sheets.

21/10/2013: Today I met up with the group and we discussed shots for the Storyboard so that I could illustrate them. After that was finished I handed the Shot Lists and Call Sheet to Sach for him to fill out. We started filming some indoor scenes for the project.

23/10/2013: Today was primarily focussed on outdoor footage. We shot outside Ellen Terry all the way up to the train station. This kind of shooting forced us to rethink segments of the script and even invent entirely new scenes. While it was disheartening to see several planned scenes not make it the new scenes were interesting and changed the narrative from an ambiguous ending to a saviour whom shows up at the last minute (kind of like Superman in All Star Superman).

24/10/2013: Today we wrapped up the remaining shots and started editing. All together if this project is the stepping stone towards future projects I regret to announce that I do not feel that I will be able to live up the standards set by the University. My involvement could have and should have been better, perhaps I am not cut out for media and I have inadvertently wasted everyone else’s time. The reason I am saying this is because I cannot see myself coping with the University environment but that is entirely my own fault for not being mature enough, at the age of 22 I cannot see myself with a media career in the future it is truly regretful but it is just one of those things. Thank you for all your help and support and I apologise for failing you.

Kind Regards

Sean Maguire.

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