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OwnVideo Short Film

OwnVideo Short Film


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Published by: shawkiagipenimellitah on Sep 03, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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In a competitive marketplace, where producers and distributors

are on the lookout for inspiring and inventive material, or

television viewers run their fingers impatiently over their remote

228 Chapter 16 . Piecing the Jigsaw Together

controls, your film needs to assert itself from the outset; to let the

audience know that this is a story worth investing their time in; a

story that has been thoughtfully put together and will not


I once viewed a rough-cut about a police training academy that

opened with new recruits singing hymns and being welcomed to

the force by the commanding officer. Eight minutes in and still

very little had happened other than a couple of induction talks

and some training exercises, by which time the audience would

have drifted away, with little hope of persuading them back.

The fact that there were several awesome scenes of high speed

chases, attempted murder, stabbings and a major drugs bust were

of little relevance to a viewing audience that had no idea such

attention-grabbing scenes were on the agenda. Pulling up part of

one of the action scenes to the front of the film not only created a

breathless, dramatic opening, but established the kind of world

that these raw recruits were about to step into, thus making us feel

for their safety as they moved closer to real life situations, and

increasing the dramatic tension from the word go.

Options and choices in devising a hook

The opening to your film does not necessarily need to be an

explosive all-singing kaleidoscope of action and noise. It might be

a long, slow, hypnotic pan across a desert wasteland, accompanied

by a low whistling wind and tumbleweed drifting across shot –

coming to rest on a man in a suit playing a white piano watched

by a curious tribe of nomads who happened to be passing by.

There is every chance the viewer will be fascinated by such an

opening scene and be keen to know what is going on, happy to

give you their undivided attention.

Chapter 16 . Piecing the Jigsaw Together 229

You may feel that the opening minute of your movie is so

appealing that it draws the viewers in and keeps them glued to

the screen until the final scene fades. On the other hand, you may

view your edit and decide that, despite a strong opening message,

it lacks the creative pull to hold the viewers’ attention long

enough for you to display the delights that they will eventually

come to appreciate if only they could just be patient. Devising a

creative template before the shoot could well have solved that

problem, but if the material you have now pieced together is

absorbing enough, there is invariably a way to use it to best

advantage to draw the audience in.

Tricks and devices with your shot material

Mystery and intrigue are always guaranteed to hold someone’s

attention. Even momentary confusion or disorientation, providing

you do not keep the viewer confused or disoriented for so long

that they lose interest. The tricks and devices you can use are

many and varied. Laying an eerie, mystical, music track in your

edit at the start, for instance, accompanied by a montage of

intriguing brief visuals from later in the film, with an inter-

viewee’s voice talking about a particularly chilling recollection is

bound to rouse our curiosity; images of dark shadows in woods,

for example, accompanied by someone talking about Seasonal

Affective Disorder without us, at first, realising the alarming

connection between the two.

Remember Dream World and the various nightmares people were

having. Claire’s car crash had initially been incorporated into the

creative framework drawn up prior to filming, but even if it had

not, one of the many dream reconstructions could be moved to

the front of the edit to create a stark and immediate awareness of

230 Chapter 16 . Piecing the Jigsaw Together

the depth of the problem that we, the viewers, are about to be

exposed to. That is a far more interesting opening than an on-

screen interview, or watching Dr Myers at work in his clinic.

To summarise:

& Assimilate your material before you begin your edit.

& Devise a paper edit.

& Make a timecode list of the various sections for reference.

& Put together an assembly before fine-cutting.

& Trim, tighten and constantly reassess your edit.

& Consider moving scenes around to give them more impact or

to set up people and situations more clearly.

& Maintain light and shade throughout the edit.

& If possible, create an engaging opening hook.

Implementing any of the above does not mean that you are

changing or interfering with the integrity of the story; indeed, in

some instances, the chances are you are probably strengthening it.

This, however, may not always be the case.

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