Real Lives – Mavis Garwood

Whilst I have also been working on projects such as the Russell Tribunal and hunting down potential documentary characters I have been fully involved in the process of making the documentary entitled ‘Real Lives – Mavis Garwood’.

You will read here in the treatment about her story and why we found it such a compelling subject for a short documentary, the emotions an elderly woman living on her own goes through after such an intrusion are dreadful and we hope our piece tells something of this pain.

The following is our Treatment for the piece:

Mavis Garwood tells us the story of how two youths entered her house under the pretence of being involved with the neighbourhood watch. Our piece begins without credits or a text introduction as Mavis begins her story, sat in her favourite chair in the place she is most at ease, at home in the living room. During the first section of dialogue we have the title of the piece ‘Mavis Garwood, Real Lives’ fading in and back out again.The break in itself happened at the house where we hear her story, setting the scene nicely to hear of her traumatic experience.

We envisage from what we know already that Mavis will find it hard to talk about particular aspects of the story as it is still raw in the memory. As she explains to us the sequence of events we intend to have at least two cameras recording her talking. One camera shall be locked off capturing a front on shot of her whilst one camera is given the freedom to roam. From previous screen tests we know that shots of Mavis’ hand can be quite powerful whilst she talks about her emotions. Older people tend to have a fragility somewhat summed up by their hands, the translucent skin, prominence of the bone and the slight tremor are unmistakable characteristics. We intend to utilise this as a way of conveying the fear she felt and providing an extra interesting visual aspect to our film.

It is important that not only is Mavis comfortable during filming but that she comes across as such and so we intend to let her talk as little or as much as she wants and use her as a guide. A few questions, the sound of which probably not to be included in the final edit, will be asked such as ‘what were the feelings you experienced?’ and ‘how has it made you feel since?’. We agree, thus far, that the camera should very rarely, if ever, leave Mavis, as we hear the story it is important that the way she feels, looks and moves comes across and too many cut-aways or camera effects will distract from this.

For our final shot we intend to try and convey the fact our character has experienced such an event but still lives alone, the room in which we will shoot this is a large room for someone living on their own and a wide angle shot showing the empty space around her we feel is important and an addition to the story.

A simple fade to black with no music at the end seems the most appropriate at the moment without having taken the footage yet. We don’t feel music would really add anything to this piece.

Our film will address the issues faced by an elderly lady dealing with a situation she shouldn’t have to face. An empathetic piece letting the audience in on a personal experience that should never happen, we intend to move the audience and give them the opportunity to empathise fully with Mavis

I hope this treatment gives a clear idea of the film we are trying to make, we envisage the finished piece to follow a very similar pattern to the one detailed above.

Here is the two page Shooting Script put together before the shoot

Here I will insert an edit plan once it has been formatted on computer, so far we have worked off a hand written edit plan

UPDATE:

Here is our edit plan:

Reflection 4 – Editing Process

The editing process for this film has been made particularly straightforward because of the amount of footage we have. Two cameras filmed the interview process in its entirety so at any given point we have a choice of shots to use, any shot we don’t like is likely to have an alternative that we do. The locked off camera stayed fixed on Mavis’ torso for the whole interview which gives us the insurance that we can always return to that shot.

The hand held camera however filmed a variety of shots throughout the shoot. Extreme close ups, focus pulls and a range of different angles on mavis has given us room to manoeuvre as we edit. The handheld camera also took footage of the immediate surroundings, ornaments, bookshelves, lampshades, family photographs and other household items all help to compliment the content we have of Mavis herself.

We have toyed with a number of ideas, an initial idea that came early in the process was not to use any of the locked off camera until the very final shot in which our slow zoom, that you can read about in the shoot script and treatment, tries to portray the loneliness of an elderly woman who has been subject to such a shock. Whilst we liked this idea initially has become clear that the locked off shot is actually comforting, it compliments the roaming images well throughout the piece and therefore we decided it was important that during the three minutes we would keep returning to footage from the stationary camera.

We have, right from the very start, wanted to keep the sound for the film very simple. No music or effects, just Mavis talking. We feel this has gone very well, a few sections have required some tweaking of levels but essentially we have kept the sound as initially recorded and this is a conscious decision, there is no need for us to play around with it. Our final process will be to grade our final timeline, colour is very important and we wish for ours to have a warmth that hasn’t been perfectly captured onto tape, a little warmth will go well with a few of the shots we have of the fireplace and the cosy living room for example. Overall the editing process has been made easy by the variety of options we have but also challenging creatively because we have had to carefully analyse each section and make sure it is exactly right.

Synopsis:

Mavis Garwood tells the story of how two youths entered her house under the pretence of being involved with the neighbourhood watch. Sat in her favourite chair by the fire, the place she is most at ease, Mavis tells of the trauma she went through. Elderly people living alone are so vulnerable and the cruelty of breaking into their house is exposed during this short film.

With the event still raw in the memory we hear the lasting effects and changes to Mavis’ life as well an account of the disturbing events of the break in.

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