Critical Evaluation

The task our group had was to create a short 5 minute film. We also produced a storyboard, script and a trailer. The first thing that the two members of our group did was sit down and talk about what sort of genre are premise we wanted for our film. We were searching for ideas, when we came up with the idea to do a crime/gangster film. We thought this would be a good idea to go with, as it is quite unusual for students to make a ‘crime’ film, and we thought it would be a good thing to produce.

Last year, my task was to create a magazine, I decided to use a Street sports related magazine. We also learnt how to use Photoshop and Final Cut Pro, which we also used for this production. As we will be using these programmes extensively this year, learning these skills early was a big help to completing our production. We used Photoshop this year to create the images, such as the film posters and the image storyboard. We used Final Cut Pro to edit and put together the whole film.

We decided to base our film in an urban area, which is common among the genre. After this, we started to come up with characters for the parts in the film. We decided their costumes, motives, names and personalities. We decided to make ‘JT’ a ‘Black-British’ character as using actors from different cultural origins would enhance our film to the modern market. We also held auditions so we could find our actors and cast.  During these auditions, we came up with the idea that we should use younger people in the film rather than the traditional middle-aged men used in this sort of film, as we felt it reflects the current media climate with many crimes taking place involving younger teenagers. We also decided to use quite a suave ‘Mob Boss’, as we thought it is quite a Juxtaposition with films such as ‘James Bond’, where the Protagonist is normally the character who is dressed and acts this way.

We decided to use a ‘flash-forward’ at the start of the film so it basically shows the audience what could happen, and then they watch the rest of the film to try and see how it happens and the events that lead up to it. We also thought that it would be a different way of showing the narrative of the film.

When we were doing the research for our film, we looked at current films that were in the same theme as us. Films such as ‘Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’, ‘Snatch’ and ‘RockNRolla’. These films allowed us to look at all of the different conventions of the genre, as well as how the characters act and behave. We also looked at the costumes, so we could accurately reproduce this in our film. The camera angles and the way that the shots were done was studied in depth, so we could replicate this in our film. For example, we noticed that in fight scenes there are many short quick cuts, which we re-produced in our film. We also looked at other student films of the same type, and discussed what we liked and didn’t like in them, and then created our film based around the things that we liked, For example, we really liked the walking shot and the way the boss acted at the start of this video ( called Sacrifice. The way the two men walked straight at the camera inspired us for the title sequence of our film.

We also created promotional posters for our film, as well as a blog for all of the films work to go on. The blog allowed us to make the work we are producing public, and so we can get opinions from outsiders about the work we have so far, and that we can update people on the progress of the film. We made the posters using Photoshop. The poster that I created had a kind of ‘dark’ feel to it, and was based off of the poster for the film American Gangster. I decided to use this because it adheres the the genre’s type of promotional art. The other poster we produced was a small one, almost like a DVD cover. It was much more light hearted,  with silouhettes of the two main characters standing in front of a picture of a town. I think this poster was better, as it fit the style of our film much better.

As we had not met the actors that we cast through our film auditions before, we had to hold a few rehearsals so that we could see how they acted and what their acting Strengths, Weaknesses and the individual styles that they had. We adapted our character styles to these, so that we could use our actors to their full potential. These rehearsals also allowed us to look at different camera shots and angles, and test different ways of filming things before the time came that we actually had to record the film. This time was very useful, as it allowed us to record quickly and efficiently, even more helpful as we usually only had a small time bracket to film in, as the actors had time restraints, which only allowed us to film up to an hour at a time. So rehearsing the shots while the actors were rehearsing their parts was a good use of time.

We used quite a few props, including guns, costumes, places and weapons. These were all found and gathered before hand, and used to help show what time period and what type of film this was created to be.

The target audience for our film would be from ages 16 to adult. We thought that this target bracket would be more receptive of this sort of film, as most movies of this genre have a high age restriction. Since our entire cast are in-fact teenagers, we thought that this would be less appealing to the older generations, so we made the age band 16-25 for our target audience. We felt that this accurately represented the audience that our film would be watched by.

We spent a whole day walking around town trying to find the best places to film. We went all around the town just to find the best places to film the outside scenes. We took pictures of all potential places, and wrote the names of the pictures onto the rough draft of a storyboard, so we had a location to go with each scene. This also allowed us to visualise how the shots would look before we started filming them. The other location we used was inside the college. We originally decided to have the Mob Bosses hideout in an abandoned warehouse type place, but we could not find a suitable location anywhere, so we used a room in the college, which gave the illusion of being in some kind of office block, or hidden away building.

We created a rough storyboard so we could see exactly what shots we needed, and what order that we needed them in. This helped us to plan our shots, and also allowed us to combine what shots went with what piece of dialogue. It also allowed us to show what camera angles and different shots we would be using.

When we were editing, we ran into a few problems. A few of the shots we had filmed had no sound due to a problem we had with the boom microphone. This forced us to add a voice-over in, to compensate for the lack of sound in the scene. As the missing sound was a shout from a distance, we just replicated the sound by standing far from the boom mic and shouting the line. We then stripped the sound off and put it into the video. I think this went well as all the people who have viewed our film have not noticed that there was in-fact a voice-over in the film, so it fit really well.

When we were making the whole script, we had to come up with ideas for dialogue that was true to the character’s personal styles and personalities. We studied the previously mentioned films and looked at how different characters spoke and behaved dependant on their personalities. We noticed that the more laid back people spoke quietly and quite nervously, while the confident characters spoke loudly and usually use a lot of slang words. We didn’t decide to concentrate on this too much, as it is quite a minor issue. We also decided to try and keep many of the characters (apart from JT) speaking continuous prose as it is much easier to understand and fit with the more ‘sophisticated’ style we were going for.

We decided to give the film a ‘grey’ look, as we felt that it makes the image look ‘dirty’ and more grim, to fit in with the atmosphere  built up through-out the film. We also felt it reflects the broken up and ‘poor’ environment that the film is set in. We also have a very slight film grain on the film, which also adds to this effect.

We decided to use freeze frames in the title sequence to introduce the characters. This is because it resembles the old style ‘cop shows’ which use this sort of editing technique. I think that it is quite effective, because it keeps the film quite light hearted.

When we analysed our finished film, we were not happy with the way some scenes had come out. Some of the sound quality was poor on a few clips, and some of the acting needed improving. We decided to re-film these scenes, but this lead to more problems. The girl who was playing Mara was a very poor actor, and always got the lines wrong and spoke too quietly so it didn’t pick up very well on the footage. Because of this, we arranged to re-film this scene at a later date. When we all got together to re-film the scene, she did not turn up. So because we were on a very tight time restraint, we decided to re-write the script and story so her character was no-longer involved in the film.

When we were looking for music to use in the film we found many different songs, the difficult part was finding songs to fit what was going on on-screen. The song that we used for the walking scene was perfect, as it captured the quite light hearted, funny feel  to the film that we were trying to portray. The music to use for the fight scene was hard to find, as we knew we wanted a fast, ‘dance’ type of beat for the fight, and it was a while before we found a short clip in the middle of a song that we used.

We communicated meaning in the video by having the undertones of the current media, teenage shootings for example. We also touched on organised crime through the Mobsters and the Mob Boss. We felt these were important topics, and they fit very well with the premise of our film.

We decided to use a large narrative in our film, and a long story line as we wanted to produce a whole film, rather than an ‘arty’ film with no narrative or story line. Our narrative took a while to come up with, but once we had though of the basics, the rest of the narrative fell into place.

I feel that the Juxtaposition we used at the start of the film in the ‘flash-forward’ is very effective, as the way that the operatic music contradicts what is happening on screen. I also like the way that it is different to what happens at the end, which makes it almost a ‘foreshadowing’ of what is going to happen, rather than a flash forwards.

We had a big discussion about weather or not to include strong language and swearing in our film, as it is common place in this genre. Eventually, we decided against this, as this would inevitably make the film’s rating or certificate be raised. I think that at the moment the film would have a certificate of 12a or 15, because of the violent scenes that may be distressing to younger children. We also felt that swearing and strong language would not fit in well with our film, as we were going for quite a light hearted and funny feel to the film, swearing would have detracted from the overall impact of the film that we wanted.

I that the font that we used for our title fit the style of the film that we wanted very well. The grey text all skewered is representant of how the narrative on the film goes, because the characters get double crossed and ‘messed about.’ The colour is adherent to the slight tint that we put on the film, which made it look ‘grey and murky’. I also feel that the simple white text used to introduce the characters in the title sequence works as it is simple and un-intrusive.  It is not as important as the name of the film, so we kept the font simple.

We screened our film in-front of a group of 10 first year students to get their opinions on our film. We gave them a questionnaire to fill out after they  had seen a screening of our film. We also asked them to rate the film out of 10. We added up our scores and the average score we got was 8/10, which we were very pleased with.

One of the questions were ‘Would you like to see anything changed or added?’ The main result of this question was that people wanted to see better acting from the characters. So if we were doing it again, we would find better actors to use in the film. As we were on a tight schedule, it was almost impossible for us to find really good actors for the film, we just had to use the actors that we could find.

Another one of the questions that we gave them was ‘What was your favourite moment and least favourite moment?’ The main result for the most favourite moment was the start title sequence where they were walking. 60% of the people who watched it identified this as their favourite moment, because they liked the way that the music fit, the camera movements and the way that the freeze frames introduced the characters. The least favourite part of the film from all of the results was a variety of things. 50% of the people said that they didn’t have a least favourite moment, one person said that the Acting was their least favourite part, one said the end, one said the Boss shouting scene, one said the fake gun props, and one said Stevie’s line at the end of the film. As this is a varied response, we thought that it was down to people having their individual likes and dislikes.

40% of the people also said that they thought that the certificate of the film should be a 15, which is really what we were trying to achieve. 20% said 12A, 10% said 18 and 30% said they thought it should be a PG.

The main bulk of the audience feedback was positive, although we had one person say that they really disliked the film and they couldn’t engage with the film at all. When asked about this, he said that it just wasn’t his type of film, and he doesn’t like the genre as a whole.

We were slightly criticised for the story being a bit unclear, especially at the fight scene. A few people said that they were confused about what was going on at that point, and it should have been clearer. As this was the scene that we lost the sound on and it did not record, I feel that this is the reason that it did not make sense to people.



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3 responses to “Critical Evaluation

  1. This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

  2. Adil

    I love you for posting this.

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