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Critical Evaluation for the Making of Ridley

Critical Evaluation for the Making of Ridley

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Published by Jennifer Francis
Evaluating the work of myself and my peers for our first semester project.
Evaluating the work of myself and my peers for our first semester project.

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Published by: Jennifer Francis on Jan 01, 2014
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Jen Francis End of Module Critical Evaluation 20009618
Critical Evaluation
 –
 The Making of Ridley
My role for the semester two major project is director, in order to help me creatively realise my role and my working methods, this semester in our chosen groups we were given individually specified briefs;
Why do actors empathise with evil characters? Create an in depth character study, using only one actor, in order to explore the way in which actors come to inhabit their characters.
 This brief was not only a method for us to understand and develop the themes and characters of the major project, but it also acted as a warm up to getting us working together in our first real production crews. The first stage was pre-production and before we could really get started I called a face to face meeting as some of us had never really met, something I felt was important before we got the ball rolling. I was writing the script for this project, but had yet to settle on an idea so pitched a few of the ones I had come up with to the group for feedback.
With the excitement and challenge of  production, often we hurry through the planning process to get to the shooting and editing, But experience tells us good planning is key to a successful project. It is one area that you must not hurry through, skimp on or delete. (Cartwright, 1996, Pg.2).
Once the script had been written there was a slight miscommunication, whereby the producer interpreted the brief differently than I had, and suggested a new script altogether. By this stage however I had already marked up the script and done the shot-list and the cinematographer had done the storyboard. As this feedback was brought up late in the process I was not prepared to write a new script, especially as we were nearing the end of the allotted preproduction time. I suggested the producer write the script based on how he interpreted the brief, and when he came back to me it was the same premise told in a different format
. As this was the case I didn’t believe that we should change all the work that had already
been done. We were at a stalemate and so left it to the group to decide. My contribution to this stage of the production process was opening lines of communication with each crew member as well as writing the script, marking up the script and doing the shot-list. I did this all as efficiently as possible and then sent the shot-list to the cinematographer to draw up the storyboard. I allowed him to have creative control over it and we communicated very easily if there
was anything he didn’t understand
 or had an alternative idea of shots we talked through it. It was also making sure that everybody knew what was happening at each stage and checking on their own specific preproduction material deadlines for their specialities so that we were all in sync. The last responsibility I had was auditioning actors to play the part of Ridley for this short film.
Directors are leaders. Believe it or not, actors and crew members LOVE directors who have a clear vision and communicate it clearly. They want to be directed (Nolfo, Year Unknown).
As director I believed I managed to stay on top of everything that was expected and had all the answers when questioned. In terms of the work of my peers I think during this stage everyone was very eager to get started and we quickly got into a routine of the best times and place for everyone to meet. I think the one main pitfall was that I only had one actor to audition, as the Producer had this person in mind to play the main role in the major project. I did request a few more actors to see so that I could work on my auditioning skills and also in case someone else felt more desirable. The actor we had was very
friendly and read the script well but I couldn’t help but feel that he didn’t suit the role.
 The producer, found a space and an actor very efficiently and so the only other role that had much preproduction work to do was the cinematographer and as stated we worked well together. 
 
Jen Francis End of Module Critical Evaluation 20009618
I think my main strength as a director is that I’
m really easy to talk to and was open to suggestions that the crew made, especially if it could allow them to push themselves within their own specialty. I also compartmentalise very well which enabled me to make sure that we were all keeping within time. A limitation during this preproduction phase was the initial stalemate over the script, as it had the potential to make things very awkward from that moment on, especially by getting the other crew members involved. I did think however that it was handled in the fairest way and I was more than happy to take into consideration the producer thoughts on what
didn’t work/could be
developed further, which worked out a lot better. When it came to the designated weeks for production the cinematographer wanted to use a specific
camera which wasn’t available
straight away, so we pushed back production to the second week. I allowed this decision for two reasons, the first being I knew that it would only be a one day shoot and secondly, I was happy for the cinematographer to develop his skill with this new camera he had recently had a workshop in. That being said when it came to the
day of production we couldn’t film
as the room the producer thought he had booked, no longer existed, something that none of us was aware of. A
s we couldn’t find anywhere else on such short notice we had to cancel t
he shoot and we re-arranged a day the following week with the actor. After this set back I immediately tried to book either of the two workstation spaces, but as there was
only one day the following week the actor was available I couldn’t afford to be fle
xible. I decided
that if we couldn’t find a space then the producers’ house would have to be the back
-up location, as
it was the only one that was conveniently located and didn’t look like student accommodation.
This is where we ended up, but as all the shots were tight
ly framed the bedroom wasn’t too much of an
issue, I kept everyone informed and directed to the best of my ability on the day of the shoot. Thinking about my work as a director during the shoot I think that I used a lot of the information and research that I had done and been taught about the role. With all six of us crammed into one small room I found it difficult to keep my notes organised as I was running the clapperboard amongst making sure the actor kept to script and double checked framing on the camera etc. I was very fortunate that our preproduction documents were in sync, the producer, cinematographer and I were always on the same page so all I had to do was ask where we were running from and they both came up with the same answer. Everyone was very professional, the producer had decided on a shooting schedule and the cinematographer and sound recordist always spoke up if they thought
there was a problem with anything we had recorded which was great because it’s often through a
lack of communication on set that when you get to the edit you find a lot of the clips are unusable I think that a limitation is that we should have done a recce of the original location; because it was a space within the university we just presumed that it would be available. Once this discovery was made I was very proactive in trying to find another space, talking with the team at stores and with tutors. When there was nothing we could do that day I explained the situation to the actor and apologised profusely and immediately discussed when he was next available to film. I took into consideration a tip from an actor who came to talk to us named Rachel; Making the actor feel like they are the most important person. After the setback everyone was in low spirits but I kept them optimistic by reminding them that we still had weeks to go till the deadline, and that we could shoot it all in a day. A strength is that it is not in my character to panic, so in this situation, I was clear headed enough to think of the most logical solution and assured the crew that we had plenty of time
 
Jen Francis End of Module Critical Evaluation 20009618 to get things done. A definite weakness was when it came to our second cinematographer who had nothing to do on set especially as it was a single camera set up. There really was no solution to this conundrum, but we did try and include him as much as possible, getting him to verify camera and lighting set up. In the next project there will be a need for a second cinematographer and so he will be more involved in the production stage. Finally, something the group lacked was an Art Director as they were far and few between on the course
 Art Director: Oversees the ideas of the production designer, arranging furnishings, liaising with the construction manager and art department (Jones &  Jolliffe, 2006, pg. 206).
 Therefore the producer and I had to try and remember certain aspects from
an art director’s point of view. This was defiantly a challenge as
our plates were already full and even though the character had a limited costume, certain outfits connoted certain things so I had to keep track of what he was wearing, which was incredibly complicated but worked out successfully. The postproduction stage had two weeks for picture and two weeks for sound, and even though we were running a few days behind schedule there was still enough time to accommodate a fair share of time to each skill. I left the assembly and rough cut to the editor, then as the sequence came together l checked and made notes and suggestions for changes. After tis back and forth we came together for the final stages, where I had to make choices between shots and find ways to cut down the footage. No great soundtrack was needed for due to the way the piece was filmed; the sound designer therefore added some foley sound and an atmospheric track, as well as exploring ways to subtly display eerie sounds that would give the piece another dimension in a simple way. When the editor and I were together we worked very well, and we made decisions based on what
we thought worked best for the piece, but also sought each other’s opinions of creative decisions.
 When I watched the footage I always had in mind something that stuck with me from reading In The Blink Of An Eye;
Look at the lamp across the room. Now look back at me. Look back at the lamp. Now look back at me again. Do you see what you did? You blinked. Those are cuts (Murch, Pg.60, 2001)
.
 
This was a good process as it meant that there was a reason behind each cut and keep, and so when we got to the end we knew we were finished and not thinking about anything else there was to add or take away. The downside of this first stage of preproduction was that it was difficult when it came to trying to meet up with the editor for various reasons on their part. This meant that at the end of the day we were only left with a week to get the sound design finished, as the technical team for AV13 gave us an earlier deadline. The editor and I talked about this problem and the matter was resolved, and it was fortunate that we did not have a large soundtrack so we made the deadline. In terms of sound, as it is not something I am very proficient in, my comments stayed in the realm of making sure everything was in sync and making suggestions in duplications and movements of certain soundscapes throughout. Especially as we were working to a script I think one of my strengths was that I left the editor to get on with putting together the assembly and rough cut, and arranged to meet up at intervals to check on progress. This method was effective as I could then give an unbiased analysis of the sequence and notice things she may not have seen after hours of playing around with the footage. I also said it was fine for her to edit using AVID over Final Cut Pro so that she could develop these skills as it is becoming the industry standard format for editors. Not necessarily a limitation but more of an issue, as previously mentioned, was meeting up with the editor, I voiced my concerns as opposed to saying

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