I’ve never written a shooting script for a documentary before so decided I needed to do some research before I started. I looked at scripts for other documentaries online and also came across this great e-book by director and screenplay writer Trisha Das:
I am really interested to see how our pre-shooting script will differ from our post-shoot script.
Below I have made a short visual storyboard of our script to show the colours of our documentary and the style of shoot we have in mind. Our film will start bright and go into slight shadow as Sarah discusses her struggles. It then comes back to bright colours but eventually fades to black as the light turns out.
I have decided to set my stage for Act 2 in The Cherry Orchard.
The open country. An old shrine, long abandoned and fallen out of the perpendicular; near it a well, large stones that have apparently once been tombstones, and an old garden seat. The road to Gaev’s house is seen. On one side rise dark poplars; and there the cherry orchard begins. In the distance a row of telegraph poles and far, far away on the horizon there is faintly outlined a great town, only visible in very fine clear weather. It is near sunset. Charlotta, Yasha and Dunyasha are sitting on the seat. Epihodov is standing near, playing something mournful on a guitar. All sit plunged in thought. Charlotta wears an old forage cap; she has taken a gun from her shoulder and is tightening the buckle on the strap.
This evening I visited Shin Ramen to start filming a promotions video for the restaurant to upload to social media.
I worked alongside another videographer so we could concentrate on different areas of the restaurant. While I was filming inside the kitchen, capturing food being prepared and cooked, the other videographer could be filming guests arriving at the restaurant, cocktails being made at the bar and meals being brought to the table.
Service was quick and the restaurant was very busy this evening so we had to be careful not to get in the way of the staff or customers as we filmed.
I really enjoyed my professional experience at Shin Ramen. The owners were fantastic and granted us access to all areas, were extremely understanding about equipment and made no fuss about us being there.
Filming at night made for some beautiful shots with lots of bokeh and if I was photographing or filming for a restaurant again I would highly recommend they do a night time shoot alongside a day one. It really helps to tell a story and show the change in menu and clientele from day to night.
For my exhibition I am hoping to show a selection of my photography work. I have spoken to a few other students who are also interested in photography and we are hoping to put our images together for a themed exhibit.
I have two main ideas. The first is Coventry. So photos taken in and around Coventry and then exhibited at local venues. If we go for this idea I’d probably select the photo below along with a few others taken in the same area.
Ideas for possible Coventry exhibition venues:
- Inspire Cafe
- The Artisan
- Fargo Village
The second theme was Entertainment, as both Corina and myself have shots from this year’s Swingamajig Festival that we could use. If this theme is chosen I would probably opt for this photo and a series of cabaret themed images.
Ideas for possible Entertainment exhibition venues:
- Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School
- The Old Joint Stock Pub & Theatre
- MAC Birmingham
- The Hare & Hounds
To link our work into the community we would ask that the venues possibly leave our work on display for 4-6 weeks with prices listed so customers could consider purchasing pieces. Taking our art right into their own homes!
(Note to self: Possible problem: I am unsure if we may encounter problems with the Entertainment exhibition as the photos all contain people who’s permission we would probably need, particularly if we plan to sell our work.)
I’ve been thinking more and more about the saying “It’s not what you know but who you know” recently, in relation to gaining Professional Experience. So I decided I needed to be a bit cheeky and start approaching a few more people I know, and a lot more that I don’t. Essentially I am offering my services for free in exchange for the opportunity of gathering more experience, and I may actually be able to help some businesses if they end up with images and footage they can use to promote themselves, so I need to be less embarrassed about asking people.
So, today, I took my daughter to the Herbert Art Gallery for a halloween film screening. Looking after the event was a really nice lady who we often see there. She asked how we were and after a few moments I plucked up the courage to ask her if the museum might need anyone to photograph or film events or promotions for them. It turns out the lady I was speaking to was the Marketing and Events Planner and said she would love for me to come along and photograph the next event they have on the 18th of November and possibly several other things after that.
Following on from this success I have also contacted a friend who works in the Health and Safety Office at the University to ask if they need any photography or filming doing and I’m just waiting to hear back.
Another student I worked with last year has also contacted me to work on a project with him taking some promo photos and film for a local restaurant this weekend. I am really excited about this project as the restaurant is really beautifully painted so will make a great subject and the finished video will also be a good advert to show to potential clients.
Scene 1 – Introduction/Establishing shot
A tracking shot shows the audience books on shelves in a library, tables, chairs, a librarian busy working and then finally comes to rest on a hand selecting an oversized book. It is Sarah’s hand. She is choosing a revision book for the maths course she is currently studying. We follow her as she carries the book to a table and sits down and starts to read. The camera pans out to get a view of the entire library.
Scene 2 – Background
We hear Sarah’s voice as she describes her childhood, her struggle at school and her problems with dyslexia. We see Sarah looking at photos of herself as a child and the camera lingers on children’s books, open at pages with illustrations that relate to her life. i.e: if Sarah talks about her dyslexia we show a book with blurred/jumbled letters; if Sarah talks about an unhappy home life we see illustrations from the book Matilda.
Scene 3 – Conflict and conclusion
We begin to see facts and figures on the screen. Recent library closures across the country, their dates and the government spending cuts still to be brought in, laid over more visuals of the library. We end with the library closing for the evening, lights switch off, black screen and silence.
Sarah’s Story is, exactly that, so we want to make the main body of the film- Scene 2- the heart of the story and as such it will be longer than the other two scenes. We want to let Sarah tell us about the difference libraries made to her life and then, at the end, tell the audience that the government is in the process of shutting down many libraries across the country. We hope to make them two separate issues that the audience connects together themselves and feels more informed for doing so. The library closing at the end, and the silence, hints at it’s possible closure for good and gives the audience a moment to understand this.
As this is a documentary we are aware that the treatment needs to be flexible. As Sarah’s Story unfolds other issues, we have not yet considered, may crop up and new visuals may become apparent. In preparation for this we plan to record Sarah’s audio first and then scout out our location to see what pairs to it. We also need to be flexible in our ideas so that we don’t try and force Sarah’s Story to fit the box we have designed for it.
When I graduate I would like to make a living making short films but I know that this is unlikely to provide a very consistent income. To supplement my income as I am starting out I plan to work freelance photographing and/or filming events.
I already have some experience in this field.
I filmed and photographed at this year’s Swingamajig Festival, was the second photographer and videographer at a wedding at Coombe Abbey in June, filmed and editing the first ever Guide to Campus for Coventry University, recorded evidence of Student Experience for the VCO, photographed and filmed a seminar for the DMLL and also helped with production and filming on a recent marketing video for Coventry University over the summer.
During my Professional Experience this year I hope to try out as many new events and work environments as possible.
So far I have:
- Applied to work at a local Photography Studio (update: unfortunately the company has now ceased to do studio work)
- Talked to the Theatre Department about helping to film, photograph and light theatre productions next term (update: this has been agreed and will hopefully go ahead next term)
- Approached the organizers of Guide to Campus to see if they had any more filming opportunities available (update: it has been suggested that the DMLL may require some digital activators and I am waiting to hear back if there are any places left)
- I have contacted several bands who have gigs lined up at the O2 Academy in Birmingham to see if I can obtain a press pass to film there.
Things still to do:
- I was recently contacted by a journalist at RT News over the Save Our Libraries Campaign and I plan to contact them to offer my services as a runner if they have any filming coming up locally
- Apply for a press pass for this years Comic Con
- Contact the local newspaper to see if I can shadow one of their photographers
One of the opening scenes in American Beauty tells us all we need to know about the Burnham family using only visual cues (framing?). The seating positions each family member chooses as they get into their car to head to work/school perfectly illustrates the family’s dynamic. The daughter takes the front passenger seat, the mum has the driving seat (both physically and metaphorically in their relationship) and the father is, literally, relegated to the back seat. The last seat, the inferior seat. He is viewed as beneath his wife and daughter and we learn all of this from one very short sequence. But incase we missed this scene’s subtly it is later reaffirmed through Carolyn and Jane’s treatment of Lester as the film’s narrative unfolds.
Today we talked about what films and documentaries we personally watch and how they influence our own work.
Last term one of our tutors recommended I watch
Montage of Heck (2015) by Brett Morgan
I loved the use of animation for reconstruction/flashback sequences. I would love to find an artist to work with to help me illustrate Sarah’s early life on screen but with time constraints I think it is an idea I need to save for a later project.
Stefan Nadelman’s computer animations of Kurt Cobain’s life are truly beautiful and really helped to link the audience to him in a way I never imagined animated images could.
The animation of Kurt’s notebooks, in particular, really made the Nirvana frontman’s thoughts come to life and filled them with the passion and angst he was famous for.