Archive for October, 2011

Filming Day 2


Technically I could count today’s filming as a success, given that the remaining three scenes were all shot, as were the introductory Christmas card shots. Once more, we were able to build up a dynamic which had to be even quicker and more efficient than the last given the shorter filming time we had. Even though it was a bit more muddled than last time, it generally went like this:

  • The actresses would change and do a run-through simultaneously, as I decorated the corner of the cafe
  • I had managed to use two cameras, meaning we could half the time it took to shoot the over-the-shoulder shots we took first of each scene
  • Any other necessary shots were shot after the over-the-shoulders
  • I did the Christmas card shots all together at the end, seeing as we were pushed for time

Although I am not proud of many of the shots I took today, I think there are some which are quite effective to an extent. Both these shots are from the 2008 scene, which we shot first and were probably most relaxed in.

One of the close-ups from the 2008 scene

The two things I like most about this shot are the character’s expression and the background. Ellen looks both nervous and excited to tell Louise and Miranda her news, exactly as I had imagined. The background is also effective, as it looks completely realistic and not false at all. Although the lighting is not ideal for a film, the audience clearly gets the impression of a dark, December evening. The lghitng also casts and effective shadow across Ellen’s face, acting as foreshadowing and re-setting the tone of the film.

The wide-shot from the 2008 scene

By far, the aspect of this shot I like the most is the characterisation it offers. All three character’s expressions and body language really emphasise the state of their relationship is at this stage. All hunched over the table, clearly they are all close, for example. Louise and Miranda look obviously concerned and advisory, whilst Ellen looks both interested in what they have to say, especially given that they are her friends, as well as slightly disagreeing with the advice and criticism they are offering her.


Although technically all scenes were shot, looking at these shots from a critical point of view, there are many many flaws. These are listed below:

  • We were placed at a different table than the one before. Although some may argue that this makes it more realistic, as it is extremely unlikely that one would be able to sit at the same table five years in a row. However, with the other table, I felt as though it had a more cosy atmosphere, and gave the impression that it was a regular event that the girls met up at this table, and it was the status quo that they always sat there, á la the coffee house sofa and table in Friends. I don’t think that the above table gives off the same impression, and looks more cramped and awkward.
  • It is very obvious that all these scenes were shot within a very short space of time. With my original schedule, each scene would have taken around half an hour, meaning that over around three hours, outside factors would change, such as lighting, vehicles and people in the street and even weather, giving an impression that they were all shot differently, it would like they each scene was on a different day to a greater extent. Obviously these shots do not have this.
  • My actresses were also unable to bring them an array of costumes, meaning the costumes look very much the same throughout the scenes.
  • The shots as a whole look very makeshift, rushed and amateur, and as far as I am concerned, I think I would only use them as an absolute last resort

Next Steps

I think a re-film is definitely in order. For now, I intend to work with this footage, and see if any of it can be salvaged so that very little should have to be re-filmed.

The most difficult task now is finding a suitable time where me and my actresses are all free. The original filming took place over a half-term , meaning time was not partiuclaly a problem. However, what with school during the week and part-time work over the weekend, finding a time slot is difficult, and is something I would have to think about. 


How to Make Yourself a Technophobe


My first day of filming was originally very successful. I had managed to stick to the schedule, and both I and my actors were ready to film at The Lounge at 8:30. We decided upon our own little production schedule for shooting each scene in order to enhance efficiency and make sure the filming ran quickly yet professionally. We decided that:

  • Whilst I decorated our corner of the cafe appropriately, my actors would change into their costumes
  • We would then run through each scene entirely to ensure that the tone and mood of each line was suitable
  • We would then shoot all necessary shots in relatively chronological order
  • We would then repeat this process

Furthermore, I had created a list of the shots required for each scene, and decided that we would film the shot-heavy scenes first (2009 and 2010) and save the rest until last, so that technically the process should become easier as we went along, especially if we began to run short of time. A PDF of list list can be found below:

We had successfully filmed 2009 before problems began to arise. I personally believe that this scene went really well, and had the rest of production continued in this manner, I would not be writing about filming problems in a few minutes time. Some shots from the 2009 scene can be found below, and as soon as possible, I intend to upload a video of some of the best parts.

The wide shot of the table I would have used throughout the production


I really like this shot. Firstly, it is very realistic. The decor is suitable for that of a cafe at Christmas, and the character of Miranda is wearing clothes which would be of the season. The composition of the shot is also good. Both characters take up an equal amount of space, and even though the camera is placed slightly behind Miranda, her expressions are still visible to the audience. Also, the distance the girls are sat at is quite realistic of that of two girls who are still friends, but aren’t really close. Their phones are visible on the table and ready for use should they need a distraction from an inevitable awkward situation.


One of the OTS shots in this scene

Many elements of the previous picture are repeated in this one. For example, even though there is a lack of decor, the audience is still reminded of the season based on Louise’s costume. The composition is also very suitable. For example, just enough of Ellen’s character is shown for the audience to be able to get the gist of her reactions, as well as making it clear that it is an over-the shoulder shot without Ellen’s head and shoulder being too intrusive. Christy’s expression as Louise is also the exact combination of emotions I had imagined, for example, distress, sadness, slight panic and so on.


One of the introductory Christmas card shots


This would have, and still might act as the introductory shot to the 2009 scene. I had originally planned for a counter with fewer objects on it, however, the more I look at it, the more I like these unintentional props., as they add to the realism of the shot. I also like the composition of this shot. There is a greater focus on the foreground than the background, even though the characters are clearly visible in the background. The unintentional props also block enough of the cafe so the audience cannot see that it is not really decorated for Christmas.


There was one main problem which caused many others. This was that there was an error with the SD card that I was filming with, in that it would not allow for much footage to be put on it. We had managed to take all of 2009 in around 9 shots. However, during the middle of the 2010 scene, the SD card refused to take any more footage. After deleting any unnecessary footage, reading the manual of the camera and accepting that I would not be able to obtain another SD card, I had to give up and accept defeat. Since then, all I have managed to do is hastily re-organise with the cafe to film for an hour on Monday between 4 and 5. However, I can see the following problems arising with this:

  • We will be very pushed for time, meaning mistakes will have to be limited, something which cannot obviously be always controlled
  • Subsequently, the footage I capture may looked rushed and amateur. Whilst I am obviously aware that I am an amateur, this is still not a desirable situation.

Next Steps

Unfortunately all I can do now is repeat the organisation process I did before filming today, and attempt to carry on as quickly as possible with filming on Monday.

Script Poll Results

I thought I would collate the results of the script poll before my filming tomorrow in the event that I would have to make a fifth draft of the script. The results can be found below:


The results of the poll

Given that the results are unanimous on the vote that the script is effective in terms of characterisation, dialogue and tone and relevance, I do not think that another draft of the script is necessary, and I will use this draft for filming tomorrow.

Initial Film Poster Designs

Amongst the fun and games of pre-prodution must not be forgotten the other aspect of this coursework specification, the ancillary tasks. So far, he only work I have done on the first ancillary task (film poster production) is some basic research on posters with similar genres and themes to myown film. I feel that this research has given me enough knowledge and ideas to begin creating my own poster ideas. Obviously these will have to be subsequently put up for audience criticism and changed as such. Below are the initial designs for my posters.

Design One

Design One

 Shot Types and Composition

This design consist of only one main shots, which takes up the entire poster allowing no room for a background. This main shot would consist of the three main characters’ pictures in their own photo frame on a surface like a counter or mantel, surrounded by Cgristmas decorations. The im[pression I am attemtping to give is that this photo has been taken in the house of one of the characters at Christmas, where their photo frames are surrounded by Christmas decorations. What I didn’t present on the poster, mostly because I thought it would dominate the poster and look odd was that this poster would eb mostly dark, and the objects above would be lit by a light from below, giving a laragely shadowy appearance. This should tell the audience everything about the film that they need to know; the film is Christmas-related, heavily focussed upon the main characters and explores some of the darker themes related to Christmas.

Each character’s photo takes up an equal third of the shot, implying equal focus upon all characters, as well as implying that they are all separate characters and people within their own right, who need to be carefully observed by the audience.

Overall Composition

I haven’t attempted anything outrageous as far as overall composition. Whilst I am aware that I have made great focus upon the rule of thirds in my previous film poster analyses, this is simply because I believe it is the most effective tehnique film poster technique and have thus applied to my own. The three thirds of my own poster are actor titles, main shot and title. I’ve split the various types of title across the poster, to draw audience attention across it. The main shot is sandwiched between the various titles meaning the main aspects of the poster should receive acknowledgement.

I have made a slight odd move by merging the billing block and the main title within the same space. This was for two reasons. Firstly, I believed that there simply was not enough room for  the billing block to be placed underneath the titles, without taking away space from other important features such as the main shot. Also, this way, all official information, such as the release date, production company and the billing block itself ae all on in the same eyeline, making the poster more formulaic and structured.

Titles, Font and Colouring

I personally believe the most important aspect of my titles is their colouring. I tried to keep the colouring bright as possible. Firstly, to i-keep with the Christmas theme. Secondly, I thought a completely darkened, shadowy poster would give off the wrong impression in terms of genre and theme. The bright title colouring should counter this imbalance.

The same very much applies to the font. I wanted something which was not outwardly ‘Christmassy’ but enough so to brighten the poster and not distract from the darker themes. The font I have attempted to replicate above can be found below.

The intended main title font

Despite my drawings, I have not yet made an official decision reagrding the font of the actors titles and release date. I had originally planned to make them the same as the main title to in-keep with continuity, however, this font becomes quite unclear at small sizes so I didn’t think it would be effective. Seeing as I have not actually decided upon this as my poster, I don’t think this a pressing issue. However, should I chose this design, I would leave these font choices down to my audience.

Design Two

Design Two

Overall Composition

I believe that composition is the most important feature of this design. It is loosely based on the design for the poster for The Holiday. I hoped to emmulate the sophistication of this poster. As far as composition is concerned, the things I have replicated are the white panels containing information. I use more panels than the original, as I wanted to spread information across all areas of the poster. An element of Design One can be found in this design, in that each character also receives their own block for their picture. Overall, there are eleven blocks or panels for information. This desgn means that the audience has to sopend a longer amount of time looking at the poster to understand it’s message. It’s message would obviously be the same as the first design, namely, Christmas, characters and darker themes. To take myself out of my comfort zone, this design does not particularly conform to the rule of thirds.

Shot Types and Composition

The idea with this design is that the panels would be covering one central image in the background that would sum up the film. The only problem with this is, is that I am struggling to think what this image could be. Should this design be chosen, this would be decided by my audience. This design incorporate three other shots. These would be one each of the characters, which would be placed in the blank blocks in the above picture. The expressions of the characters would eb varied in order to match their characterisation and the themes of the film, otherwise, these do not come through very clear. For example, Louise could look upset whilst Ellen looks concerned.

Titles, Font and Colouring

The titles are another aspect which would be inspired by The Holiday film poster. Thyey would be as similar as possible, as I believe these titles really express the sophisitication I am looking for. These titles can be found below. Serif fonts are a stereotype of Christmas media, as it is reflective of it’s traditional, Victorian roots. Depending on interpretation, these titles also have a quite serious and sombre look to them. ombined with the black lettering, this could emphasise the darker themes within my production.  Black is also the most dominating colour, meaning the human eye will be drawn all across the poster.

The Holiday titles

As with design one, the font of the other titles is undecided, as I am unsure whether to keep up continuity or break it for effect. Once more, should this design be chosen, the font of th other titles would be chsoen byu my audience.

I thought this poster could act as the more sophisticated design as opposed to design one, which is quite young. The sophistication of this poster would come across in the largely dominant white colouring, serif font and the expressions of the characters, which I imagine would be varied.

Next Steps

Although at the back of my mind, the ancillary task is not my primary concern at the moment. Once filming is complete, I will have a short space of time before editing begins to focus briefly on audience opinion of my posters.

Call Me Hallmark

Over the past few days I have been collecting all necessary props for inspection before filming. This mostly involves checking that they are appropriate, easy to use/decorate with and realistic. One large prop flaw that I found was the designs of the Christmas cards which introduce each scene. I think that it is already unrealistic enough for the cards to have the year printed on them in large lettering, but for them all to be largely the same design over five years is completely implausible. Hence, I have spent the last few days re-designing the Christmas cards to make them more realistic.


Personally I don’t have access to more professional programmes such as Photoshop or InDesign, meaning I had to use whatever means open to me for design. The original design were made using simply Microsoft Publuher, however, to make these designs, I had to branch out to programmes like Paint, or even Microsoft Powerpoint to make the designs. Despite my amatuer software, I think I’ve made some designs which look a little more realistic. I still intend for the cards to be produced by


The Christmas card for 2007

The Christmas card for 2008

The Christmas card for 2009

The Christmas card for 2010

The Christmas card for 2011

Next Steps

Seeing as these cards do not play a dominant role in my production and are not essential to the plot, I don’t really think that audience research is necessary. The cards are practical and appropriate, and other than looking realistic, these are the only qualitites they need, and I think they all suitably tick these boxes.


I’m starting to collect together most of the props needed before filming, and seeing as I’ve only done a minor post on props, I thought I’d make a prop update, a propdate if you will. Props will remain the same from the previous post are ther giftbags, as well as the Christmas decorations. Below is a list and pictures of the props which have subsequently been added.

Christmas decorations

The main type of prop I have been collecting are Christmas decorations. I’m going to need to make the location look decorated for Christmas five times over. This has invovled finding lots more tinsel as well as things to act as decorations, such as small Christmas trees and reindeers, all of which can be found in the below picture

More Christmas decorations

At home I also managed to find a mini fibre optic Christmas tree, which I think will make quite  a nice feature for the table that the girls sit on. For realistic purposes I may only include it in a couple of consecutive years. The fire optic tree can be found below.

The fibre optic Christmas tree


Last time I posted about props, I was struggling to think of a solution regarding the champgane bottle in the fourth scene. Last week I was lucky enough to find an empty champagne bottle. This means that I cannot show the top being popped, but at least I have a cheap, convincing prop. To overcome the problem, I may try to find a sound effect of a champgne bottle popping and play it over the shot of the Christmas card. The champgne itself can be replaced by sparkling water, all of which can be found below.

Champagne and sparkling water

Other Props

Once again, any other props I use will be owned by the cafe, and will mostly include crockery such as mugs and tumblers. As mentioned, I will take photos of these as soon as possible and post them.

Script Poll

I’ve created a small poll to give to my audience in order to briefly sum up their thoughts and ideas on the fourth draft of the script. Whilst I am more confident that this latest version of the script is more effective, it is ultimately my audience’s opinion which matters the most.

I’ve focussed the poll around the areas of the script I am most concerned about. My audience can answer based on these individual areas on whether they think the ante has been upped. The poll can be found below

POLL: Do you think the fourth draft of the script is effective and realistic in terms of Characterisation (are the characters relatable and realistic?), Dialogue/Tone and Relevance (does the script become confusing at all?)?


OFFICIAL VERSION: The Season to be Jolly Official Fourth Script

BASIC SCRIPT: The Season to be Jolly Basic Fourth Script

THIRD DRAFT FOR COMPARISON: The Season to be Jolly Basic Third Script

You may choose more than one ‘No to’ answer.


Thank you for taking the poll!

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