I feel like my film does fit the purpose I had originally set out to achieve. This is because, I originally wanted to create a film that was relatable to people, especially teens, that are transitioning or confused about their identity. I feel like my film has fit this purpose because it’s about a teenager and how they go through bed, yet good times during their transition. It also ends on how happy Ava is at the end. The other purpose to my film was to inform people about the hard times people go through. I feel like I touched on this, however I didn’t want my film to all be able to bad times of transitioning, because I feel like other short films only focused on this. As a result, I’ve inputted bad opinions people have on Ava, yet not having a massive aspect of the film as the negativity. Finally, I also think it fits the feel of it being realistic. This is because, the scenes and the reactions I’ve incorporated aren’t out of the ordinary. Also, I haven’t included any strange camera shots, like extreme close ups. To improve on the purpose I set out to achieve, next time I will have the transition into Ava a lot slower, by including more of a background to Leo and more of the upsetting times, to increase the informative impact.
The codes and conventions of the genre I have chosen include many aspects. I feel like I have covered most of these. I’ve made the script quite realistic, by using rambling, swearing, and other realistic dialogue. However, I feel like the actors could’ve made the dialogue seem a lot more natural, rather than forced. The actors I have chosen aren’t well known in any other films, this makes my film also slot into the social realistic genre because of the lack of famous actors. This added to the feel of the film because it meant that people weren’t confused about the actor, unlike in The Danish Girl. After watching this, some people were confused about Eddie Redmayne and his masculinity. Also, the actors had a broadened northern accent, which is a convention that I found out from researching social realism. This is because, the films/TV programs are usually based on the northern working class, around the mining times. Therefore, by having northern accents, my film is more included into social realism. The lighting and the shots were realistic too, since I didn’t use any Extreme Close Up’s, and the lighting wasn’t artificial, yet looked like the sunlight due to windows. This is another big aspect to social realism, because it adds to the whole feel of the genre. Finally, my locations were all real places. I filmed in many different houses, and also filmed in my college and public cafe. This adds to the look of social realistic films because it means that none of the locations look fake and artificial.
However, I didn’t use a few codes and conventions. One of those includes using the hands-on camera look. I felt like my film needed more of a stable look, however I also feel like the film would’ve looked more personal if I had used the hands-on camera approach. Another aspect I didn’t use was that I didn’t create my characters as working class, yet they were more middle class. Although I did this, I feel like middle class if more of a realistic class nowadays, because that’s the wider audience. Finally, I didn’t add any brutal action into my film like other social realistic films do. In This Is England ’90, there is a lot of violence. My film would’ve improved if I would’ve have used this aspect, however I feel like it would’ve taken the ‘happy’ feel away from my film and made it more focused on the bad aspects of transitioning. Even though, in my opinion you should always focus on the happier aspects because the person transitioning is becoming themselves, alternatively happier.
Overall, in my opinion my film fits the purpose I set out to achieve. When I showed my film to my classmates for critics, they agreed with me and said that they thought my film fit the purpose. They explained how they understood the concept and how they knew what was going on, and that the purpose is very clear. Therefore, even though there are a few things I’d do next to emphasise the purpose and the storyline, I feel like I’ve succeeded in pushing the purpose forward to my audience.
At the start of the film, my classmates commented on how the starting shot was grainy and also, it lacked headroom. When editing my film to make the final adjustments I was commented on, I wasn’t able to change this first shot because I had no other shots to use instead. It was hard to shoot this scene because of the lack of light, making the footage slightly grainy. I had used lights, however by trying to make it look natural, I couldn’t overload the scene with light. This is why it turned out grainy, because I was trying to achieve the natural party look. Also, according to Kensworthy, actors must share the screen when there’s dialogue involved, for a realistic feel (2012, page 176). Next time, I would give my subjects a lot more headroom and also mess around with many other lights to try and lessen the noise on the shot. Since I didn’t have that much time due to the battery running out, I couldn’t practice many times with the lighting. Overall, for this shot I couldn’t have really improved it with the time and equipment I had, although if I was to shoot it again, I would plan it out more thoroughly.
The second shot my classmates pointed out were these two shots. In one of the scenes, Mum tidies Leo’s room and finds some lipstick and nail varnish. The first shot is where Mum finds it in a sock, and the second one is the shot it transitions too. My classmates commented on how the lipstick and nail varnish were nearly out of shot in the first shot, taking the focus off the prop and maybe confusing the audience. And they also explained how the props aren’t the main focus in the second shot. To solve this, I changed the cut to a quicker cut, and also cropped the second shot to zoom in, so that the props are in the middle of the screen and are a main focus to the audience. I understood where my classmates came from with their critiques, and thats why I decided to improve these shots so that it emphasises the point I’m wanting to make, and improves my film as a whole.
Another aspect that I found needed improving on my film was the shots and amount of coverage I had. To improve this I went back to my hard drive to discover more coverage shot I had yet not thought I had needed, and I placed them on top of the rest of the footage I had. This meant that I had more coverage throughout the film, discovering more angles and shots. Another aspect is that there was too many medium shots, and no close up’s. One reason for this is because when looked into This Is England ’90 and into the codes and conventions of Social Realism, I found that you shouldn’t use close up’s because they’re unrealistic, as none tends to go so close to someone in real life. Therefore, I took this convention and incorporated it into my work, and that’s why there are no unusual shots. However, on some shots I have tried to crop them in so that I’m able to put across the focus of the shot a lot more effectively, however they’re on objects rather than subjects. Overall, I have added as much coverage as I can with the spare shots I had, however I couldn’t include any close ups of subjects because it went against my research.
Another thing that I’m please with is all of the montages in my film. The first montage when Leo is explaining to their mum about how they’re feeling, my classmates enjoyed this montage and found it very powerful. However, I feel like this montage wasn’t as powerful as I wanted it to be, due to the actors and some of the props that we had to keep on set. For example, the mat on the table had to stay on set because the owner never puts anything on top without a mat. Therefore, this aspect ruined the whole look of the shot.
Finally, my favourite part of the time is the montage where Leo transitions. I really like the look of the initial shot where Leo’s in the bath, and the camerawork is very symmetrical and bright. My classmates also agreed that they found this shot appealing because it was a nice looking shot, especially in slow motion. I like the size of the shot too, because it only focuses on Leo and nothing else, but him underneath the water. I feel like it’s a very good start to the montage because there’s no dialogue, and you can see how he’s feeling at that time just by his actions. Following from this, there’s a montage for the transition.
I really like the two top shots because of the natural lighting on the shots, yet they are also very bright and nice looking. I also like the composition because the subjects are both in the left hand side of the shots, which makes it symmetrical and even. Also, I really like the shot in the mirror because it’s a rack focus and also unusual at the same time, rather than a typical mirror shot the characters face in the mirror. My classmates also commented on how nice the whole montage looked.
Overall, I feel like my camerawork is rather good, due to my camera operator. Despite having a few problems with some of the shots, I believe that all of the good camerawork overweighs the bad ones. Next time I would pay more attention to detail, for example in the party scene and the 180 degree rule in the Winter Gardens.
One bit of audio that I was critiqued about by my classmates was the audio in the canteen. They explained how it had a lot of background noise and the dialogue was robotic. When I tried to originally edit the audio, I researched into how to reduce the background noise. The solution they gave me was to use the background noise reducer add-on on Final Cut Pro X, but by doing this it made the dialogue very robotic. After the critics, and talking my tutor, I realised where I went wrong and how to make the audio sound a lot better. I realised that the synced audio was marantz and camera audio, therefore what I needed to do was to take the camera audio off, since the marantz audio was nice a crisp.
Another point of audio that wasn’t great was in the Winter Gardens where the two boys shouting at Tommy and Leo were really quiet; meaning you can’t emphasise the point of them insulting Leo across. Once looking at this, and the edit, I found that all I needed to do was to up the level on the audio so that it’s louder and more clear. Also with this, I had an over the top audio for the party scene which was also quite quiet. This is because the party music was too loud, and the audio over the top sounded really fake when it was too loud. To resolve this, I ended up just lowering the party music a bit lower and upping the audio slightly, so that it’s made a difference yet still realistic.
Two things that I was complimented on were the crisp audio in most places, and the piano music. They explained how the audio is really clear for most of the dialogue and you can hear what they’re saying/hear the movements really well. Also, that the piano music over the montages worked well because of the emotion it brings to the montages. The first montage when Leo’s explaining to their mum, the music is emotional and emphasises the feelings in the scene. However, once it gets into a lighter and better mood, the piano picks up in pace and mood and emphasises the happiness Leo’s feeling when transitioning.
Overall, all of the audio was really good apart from the main canteen audio. However, once I had sorted that out, I feel like all of the audio is good quality and works really well with the film.
One thing my classmates enjoyed was my title transition, since it follows Leo and they look back as if they’ve seen the title. I found out how to do this just by looking on YouTube for some tutorials. I also like this title screen because it’s exactly what I imagined when I was planning out my storyline of the film. I’m very pleased with the title screen, purely because of this.
Alternatively, in the Winter Gardens scene, there was a shot where two mean boys walk past and insult Leo. This shot that was originally used, it defied the 180 degree rule. This wasn’t good because it put the audience off as it switched the angle of the shot. To solve this problem, I just took out the shot that switched sides and had the voice over going over the top. This works for the film and doesn’t confuse the audience. However, by doing this I had to change shots that are slightly different, meaning there’s a slight cut. To solve this issue, I placed a fade transition over the top, however it still slightly jumps. Next time, to improve this I will make sure that every shot is fully consistent with everything (distant to the camera, angle of props, where the actors hands are, etc). Despite all of this, I gained some compliments about the lighting and the look of these shots. I agree with the compliments because the light looks extremely natural and fits really well with the scene.
My classmates commented on how my scenes didn’t have any breathing space between them. When I looked through my film I found this too, however I wasn’t sure how to make it not cheesy. They gave me a suggestion of simply just placing black screens between every scene, that’s a good length so that it doesn’t seem like the end of the film. I feel like this is a good aspect to place for breathing space, because it gives the audience time to reflect and take in what they’ve just seem, but also to be prepared for a change of location and/or characters.
Finally, I think the editing for the montage was really well done. This is because of the timing of all of the cuts and the lengths of the clips. I also believe that the order of the clips work really well with the storyline. The slow motion and fast motion on some of the clips are small and subtle, yet effective. My classmates also agree that my montages are very well edited and creates the storyline a lot better and more emotional.
Conclusively, I think my film went really well despite any technical difficulties that I had come across. I think that most of the camerawork went really well, and looked really aesthetically pleasing. Especially the transition montage at the end, because most of the shots are lit really effectively and brightly. I also think that the audio went really well, apart from the canteen scene. Despite this, I feel like I fixed it well and made it sound a lot better than it did before. Finally, I feel like the editing was a lot better than expected because of the issue of not having a log sheet. After all of the hard work that went into getting the audio and footage synced up to the right clips, I feel like I did really well. Next time I will make sure that I plan everything through a lot better, down to every detail. Despite doing lighting research, because of the location changes, we had to adapt to different spaces. I will also make sure that I get better actors, more professional actors. I have also gained a lot of experience from this project, and I’ve learnt a lot and I now know what I will be doing in my next project, and how I’ll improve.