Archive for March, 2011

Montage of Beautiful Things. Evaluation and Reflection

Posted in 260MC 5 Post Submission on March 24, 2011 by Mick Le Mare

My eventual montage which can be seen on disc as part of my hand in. I shall have to wait a week before uploading because I am at my content limit.

My final montage, which takes the best bits from most of my work and puts them together into a showreel for the module, has eventually been put together. We have been working for ten weeks towards it and unfortunately I am not totally happy with it. It is inevitable that work such as this one will never be happy with because each piece had to be created so quickly. Some I am happy with, some I have managed to take parts from which I like and some I have had to drop from the montage.

If more time had been available to complete each section I feel I would have ended up with a better montage. A week with no other distractions is enough time but with the amount of other projects and University work I have been involved in has meant that it suffered slightly. However like I have said I am still happy with plenty of it. If you see my post referring to A Hanging under process and development you will see I went fairly quickly from idea to execution but I feel that it was a good idea and this is where I struggled on other weeks. A good idea continues to inspire and once I had had the idea I began to think of ways to achieve it and this is why I ended up with a decent piece.

In another way there are certain pieces that were a good idea but because I was inexperienced with the particular medium there was too little time to perfect it. There is a short section in the montage of a time-lapse taken on a starry night and I really like it but there are issues with it that I would like to improve on and address in the future. You will notice that a light flicks on during it and this ruins the very end slightly and I was so intent on the technique and technicality in what I was doing the framing of the shot is of no particular merit. Isolating these problems has helped me subsequently to produce some time lapse work that I am beginning to be happy with. I am fascinated by shutter speed, especially when shooting at night and this process has dramatically improved my proficiency and understanding of this.

Another piece which excellently illustrates a good idea that had to be slightly rushed is Four Stories High which is the four way split screen that can be seen here

4 Stories High from Richard Neal on Vimeo.

Now whilst I can’t claim this to have been my idea I was part of the group that shot it and I love the way it is edited. This is really something that can be taken and run with – it is the sort of piece that becomes very popular online and would even work in advertising or on inner city big screens. We in fact would like to re shoot and improve technically to submit to the BBC big screen in Coventry for it hopefully to be screened. This is something I have really liked about the module as a whole and that is that it has brought forward plenty of ideas that can be further developed, it stimulates discussion and this in turn creates interesting ideas that can be adapted, re done and made into longer more technically proficient pieces.

My still images of a man made waterfall taken with a really fast shutter speed I think are really nice. I am not sure they fit perfectly into the montage however because personally I do not like still images juxtaposed with moving. It works in factual film making but in a purely artistic sense this is not something I would normally like to see. However because I like them they have appeared. Having recently bought a new camera I am surprised at how much I have enjoyed taking stills because previously my motivation lay with moving image. Of course my time-lapse work is still imagery but works on a different level because of the frame rate. Digital photography is such an amazing tool when wanting to achieve results such as I did with the photos of the waterfall because endless experimenting can be carried out without great expense or time. Because I could play around with the settings and instantly see where and when I was going wrong I was able to improve it the following photo.

My piece responding to the word ‘wall’ drew some interesting comments and it was interesting debating where it could be improved or changed slightly to get my message across. I was trying to convey the claustrophobia that comes with the ever growing amount of walls that are in our lives and especially our cities. I open with a shot of an urban area enclosed totally with walls as my long slow shot pans round the surrounding area an argument is heard from within the walls (I layered the argument in having used an argument that happens in Fish Tank) eventually the camera swings down to a shot of the words ‘Life is Beautiful’ and the music comes up and we finish with a bright flash. Now one of my tutors commented that he preferred it without the music and I tried it without but personally I think the change from the sound of the argument is needed. Overall I was pleased because it instigated debate and it was a first experiment with a more abstract way of approaching the issue.

Life is Beautiful from Mick Le Mare on Vimeo.

The final montage itself has been difficult. Naturally one is likely to have a range of videos so it is hard to string them together in a piece that works. I hope that I have done a good job – pacing was the hardest part because I am, as I have said previously, very keen on the continuous slow moving camera shot and this unfortunately none of these lend themselves to a slightly faster cut particularly well. This is why I cut the montage to Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’ because whilst uplifting it winds it’s way slowly through and that lends itself to some of the longer shots like the fairly long hold of the tight shot from the end of A Hanging. I hope that the montage and my videos make for interesting and stimulating watching, I enjoyed the process.



Posted in 264MC Short Film Production on March 22, 2011 by Mick Le Mare

I have begun to look into ways of distributing our short film. I think it would be a shame not to enter it into all the festivals we can incase we manage to secure a screening at one. I definitely think with a little bit more polishing it could be capable of gaining a place.

Last year I visited Encounters film festival in Bristol and this is the perfect place for a film such as ours to be shown. We qualify for the Best of the South West category because the director (myself) is from the West Country and we have locations around the West country in our film. Submissions are fairly soon. I absolutely intend for us to enter our film here.

Rapid Eye Movement

Rapid Eye Movement is a short film screening that happens quarterly at Warwick Arts Centre and is for films based in the Midlands which of course we qualify for as well. Overall the standard at rapid Eye movement is, with respect, nowhere near as high as it is at Encounters and we really do stand a chance. I am keeping my eye on the next submission date and we shall swing into action once this crops up. Here is a link to a very short article I wrote having attended Rapid Eye Movement a month or two ago.

BBC Film Network is obviously a great way of distributing film and I am fairly confident we could get ours put up there once all permissions were cleared to our music rights. We obviously will not be putting up the film on there untill we have tried a number of festivals because most festivals will want exclusivity on short films such as ours. This will be a way of getting our film shown if a few doors are closed to us whilst we distribute.

The flatpack festival in Birmingham is also a possibility but as it is starting next week it would be the 2012 festival we would submit to. I intend to go to the festival next week anyway for research purposes so I will be able to check out how appropriate it is for our film.

Montage of Beautiful Things. Analysis.

Posted in 260MC 5 Post Submission on March 21, 2011 by Mick Le Mare

Jack Goldstein is one of the most influential figures in film art and analysing his work has been particularly beneficial to me during the process of this montage of beautiful things project. It has taught me about the place that video art has in the wider art world and it has also inspired and developed my understanding of creating moving image and how best to display it.

Goldstein worked from the early seventies through until the early nineties. When his work first began to get known he was regarded as one of the pioneers of his genre and this is why it is important that students such as myself study his work. Here I will show you his most famous piece – The Jump

I hasten to add that youtube is NOT the place to watch this or any of his other work but this gives you a flavour. The brightness of the dots in this video rather smudges the image but this is not representative of the video being properly projected.

The piece stood out to me when I saw his recent exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary and the reason for this is the smoothness of the movement created even when being projected through a 16mm projector. I love the simplicity of this visually because it is clear that to produce such a piece is technically very complicated with the limited resources available compared to extraordinarey capabilities todays video eqiupment has. I watched extrememly closely the tape running through the projector and you will notice that at the end there are some letters flashing very quickly across the screen, this is actually text written as a sentence straight down the length of the film itself, when played properly it is far more effective than the digitised version you see before you here. I found the experience of watching art displayed in this way was particularly beneficial to me in understanding the context with which my work is going to be working under. This was art, it documented nothing, it informed of nothing and had no narrative. Goldstein was one of the first to create pieces such as this and it is now a well established genre. I love the idea that more experimental work is being widely excepted and understanding this and analysing the way in which it is taken by the art world helps me to make pieces that are more informed.

Displaying work is another area I have become interested in as part of this process. I have learnt that if my work is being made to look the best it possibly can, which in this instance it is because our brief is very clear on the montage that our pieces must have some form of beauty to them, that it must be shown in a way that best displays its quality. Goldstein’s films were all projected in one high ceilinged, darkened room and this created an amazing atmosphere to watch film. The characteristic hum of reel to reel projectors and the beams of light they were emitting were beautiful in themselves quite apart from the images produced.

Of course nowadays an awful lot of video art is shot digitally and although I fully intend to experiment with some 8mm film in the very near future all of the work I have done for this module is digital. We have occasionally been watching work done for this module through digital projectors displaying web pages with the work embedded and this unfortunately is not the best way to view it. Through a very good projector it would be ok but through a projector where everything looks a bit soft and colour is lost it is a shame. I will always contest to make sure anything showed that is mine is shown off in it’s best light and I am totally sure any artist would be of similar mind.

Another artist I have found it particularly interesting to analyse has been Bill Viola, his work is extremely famous and was also a pioneer of the experimental narrative. Here are a couple of his videos.

The first video of these two epitomises his work. Although with our sophisticated editing systems and magical cameras this would now be fairly easy to re-create, at the time it was like nothing anyone had ever seen and I think this has helped me understand that when contextualising your work it is important that if you see it’s place in the art world it must not only be beautiful but original and something people haven’t seen before. It is then you begin to make an impact

An ocean without a shore is a particularly beautiful piece and although created recently still retains that particular grain so recognisable of film based work as opposed to digital. I cannot wait to begin to use film because I have learnt an awful lot about the place it has in the world of moving image.

Graphics for titles and post

Posted in 264MC Short Film Production on March 20, 2011 by Mick Le Mare

Here in the two embedded videos you can see the title graphics that were done for the opening sequence of our film.

These were done by Jess Philips who studies Graphic design at Nottingham Trent University.

The sketches and text were drawn by hand before being scanned and eventually animated in after effects. We felt it was important not to neglect this part of the film because opening the film with FCP’s default text is very common in student films and we wanted to distance ourselves from this as much as possible.

Our DVD cover also stemmed from these graphics:


Posted in 264MC Short Film Production on March 19, 2011 by Mick Le Mare

Our wrap shot at Glastonbury Tor. My favourite location and place of my favourite shot in the film.

Location is of course an extremely important part of any film but the variant of locations our film requires is rather wide ranging for a short. Because, as you will know from reading previous posts on here, our idea is based around two of our characters travelling to meet up with their friends we want to pull out all the stops to achieve this. Our initial idea was to have all three of the men travelling from different areas around the country – one trudging past Stone Henge, one Glastonbury Tor and one past the Angel of the North. You can see this by referring to a post on which is our group blog.

Due to time and financial constraints it will be impossible for us to film at the Angel of the North so we have decided to scrap that and concentrate properly on our shoot in the South. We have a location to shoot our interior scene and where we can stay over the weekend which is near London. This has meant we are able to shoot in London very easily on the Saturday, shoot our interior scene in Hemel Hempstead on the Saturday night and then get up early on the sunday to drive to Stone Henge and Glastonbury Tor for the final two shoots.

We know that we do not need permission to shoot in the countryside around our two West Country locations and we will also not have our actors (see ‘The Shoot’ post on this blog) which gives us time to carefully plan our shots and take our time to get it right without pressure. This leaves Saturday as our most complicated day!

We do not need permission to shoot on Location in near Liverpool Street Station nor in Regents Park. All our other central London locations are going to be on the South Bank and for this if you can prove you are students, working on a non commercial not for profit project, permission will be granted to you be the riverside staff. This means our permissions are very straightforward, we must just remember our student cards and identification!

Our shooting script is very clear and we know the shots we want so our location preparation and planning will pay off during what could be a particularly pressurised day. We hope the chosen locations will pay off and our film will look as it does in our heads!

Here are a few shots taken during the shoot that I thought I would add to this post.

Shooting Stone Henge in the BRIGHT sunlight

The hugga mugga atmosphere of our interior scene. Great fun

Our alleyway. The location for the 'meeting' scene

Pub near Liverpool Street station where the telephone scene is shot

Testing near Regents Park


Posted in 264MC Short Film Production on March 18, 2011 by Mick Le Mare

Here is a copy of the script I wrote for this film.

Script Final Draft

Once we had had all our initial ideas and eventually settled on this one I volunteered to go away and write it. Having not written a script for a short film before it was a fairly daunting undertaking.

Before the writing process began I read a couple of feature length scripts and a couple of scripts from sitcoms to begin to familiarise myself with how they should sound in one’s head. I read An Education and Chinatown as well as reading a couple of episodes of Extras. I also watched a certain amount of short films such as Goodbye to the Normals on BBC FilmNetwork which I saw for the first time in a lecture given by the tutors but have since watched a number of times because it is a fantastic example of dialogue in short film. Another film I watched was 8, a short film by Stephen Daldry, who eventually went on to direct Billy Elliot. 8 wasn’t a good example of the sort of character dialogue that will happen in our film but visually it had given me plenty of ideas to incorporate in the script, especially during our montage section.

When I sat down to begin writing the script for the film I basically just let the story come straight out without worrying too much about the tightness of the dialogue – I think this shows from one of the first drafts which can be seen here

First Draft

Here is some of the feedback I received from tutors regarding what I had written and you will notice the difference between the final draft and the initial one posted above that was affected by the feedback.

Hi Guys

Generally quite good but:

- starts out well but peters out at the end

– end is too quick (last page is the problem)

– read out dialogue: moves from being middle class to ‘upper class’: “It’s treachourous out there”

- It has lost some of it’s spark in the writing.

- Final shot = problem (we will see immediately that they are in lounge UNLESS we see band on the TV or something).

I like the ending “It’s late now: time for bed” and the hand coming out the tent.

Hope this helps.

Steve Dawkins.


have had a chance to read this now and I feel that while the story is still good and will work well you are taking too long to actually set it up.
The humor comes from their situation but we do not get there until page 3 of a 4 page script. You should set it up in half a page max then get to the scenario that is funny and the final pay-off with the reveal.

Also the dialogue is very stilted and succinct, would the guys really talk this way? I suggest you read the script out loud to hear it spoken…the read it again out loud twice as fast.

These are guys on a mission to get pissed get laid and get wasted…..except by the end we see they arent at all but again this will make the ending better. The dialogue as it is is not nearly naturalistic enough,

If we dont go this year we never will

You don’t think we’re like…
over the hill now?

:Bollocks, no way, we’re younger than most of the bands!

What about

He’s in. Anything for a weekend away -
even if it is loud music, drug
abuse and cold baked beans.

All the way from Newcastle?!

 Trust me, he’s in.

Work it through the set montage would be great as would another as they get boozy and probably a couple more incidents, why no reference to girls? Guilty pleasures is what they are after even if at the end it is all in their dreams.

Such a good idea!


Now whilst plenty of this was encouraging there was obviously a lot to work on and you can see from the final script that’s at the top of this post that we did plenty of work to tighten it up.
Linda M. James says in ‘How to write Great Screenplays’ (2009) that what all comedies have in common is “a plot designed to amuse and provoke laughter by exaggerating the situation’ and this was key to my writing. I really wanted to exaggerate the friendship these three have, as if they are so totally absorbed in their friendship and their weekend together that it hardly matters they are actually inside and not really at a festival at all! This I think makes it funnier and why I think I was so lucky to have our actors in mind as I wrote.

Script when shooting:

During the actually shoot we allowed plenty of ad-libbing because we wanted as naturalistic a performance as possible from the three friends. Eventually our script is followed fairly loosely in terms of dialogue which in some ways I am disappointed in but in others very happy. This is because having a relaxed attitude as a director to how they manipulated the script like I did when on set actually made for a better film and this is eventually what we are heading for.

Story Boards

Posted in 264MC Short Film Production on March 17, 2011 by Mick Le Mare

Here you can see the story boards that were drawn up during the pre production phase. Adam drew these up from the script and they are a thing of beauty in themselves. They really helped us to visualise when drawing up the shooting schedule and shooting script.

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