Archive for the 261MC Category

Final Reflection

Posted in 261MC on December 10, 2010 by Mick Le Mare

I have hugely enjoyed this module, the wide variety of areas studied within documentary has been fantastic – a lecture where both Man With a Movie Camera and Spice Girls in America were playing simultaneously springs to mind. Attending Sheffield Doc Fest was fascinating and inspiring, I am applying to work there next year as a result of our trip, I can’t wait to get involved. Our work at The Russell Tribunal was a great opportunity and I feel we really learnt a lot from the experience, which of course is so invaluable when starting out in the world of documentary making.

With regards to my work I am really pleased with my blog, I feel like I have documented everything that is relevant to our final piece and also gone above and beyond that by detailing other proposals, ideas and research. I am happy with our final piece, I like the pace of the film and the varied shots of Mavis give constant interest. The calm with which she answered the questions during the interview really helped us develop a style for the piece, her measuredness and the natural pauses she takes gave us great scope for engineering a story into three minutes. I hope it was enjoyable.

I also made a three minute piece about EDO ITT and their involvement in the weapons industry – I was slightly less happy with this…for a start I committed a cardinal sin and spelt Israel wrong in the titles – this ruined my day! I tried in the piece to portray the bizarreness of the evening I conducted the interview, it was a freezing cold, snowy night and a few protesters were outside banging pipes and blowing whistles, I wanted this sound to be an integral part of the piece but in the end I feel it actually detracted from what Chris, my interviewee, was saying. I was also slightly unhappy with the structure as well, it almost acts as a promotional video for anti EDO group SmashEDO and this was not as intended. I was happy with some of the shots I took however, my night time shots of the factory in the snow I personally think were very pleasing on the eye and I liked my final grading on them. I also liked the grading I applied to my locked off footage during the interview, The cold harsh blues and greys of the factory acting as a counterpoint to the warmth I have on the interviewee I think works particularly well. If I were to shoot again I would shoot when it was warmer and spend a little more time taking some footage for cutaways and other wallpaper footage. I was also conduct the interview during silence instead of having the banging and record the banging separately so I had the option of both. Under difficult circumstances with the weather I feel I did an ok job of putting something together that I think has potential, even if it isn’t quite as I would have envisaged.

I am sad documentary production is nearing its end, I have been regularly inspired and enjoy every moment of the seemingly endless struggle of putting a film together!


Real Lives – Mavis Garwood

Posted in 261MC, Films with tags on December 2, 2010 by Mick Le Mare

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


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.


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.

Ai Weiwei at Tate Modern

Posted in 260MC, 261MC, Articles, Photographs with tags , , on November 25, 2010 by Mick Le Mare

I had some spare time in London on Monday after the Russell Tribunal Press conference so I decided to take the opportunity to see a few exhibitions. Ever since the Ai Weiwei opened I have been longing to visit but ever so sadly I was left hugely disappointed. Having watched BBC’s Imagine on the artist I was already prepared for the fact that I wouldn’t be able to touch or interact with the work because of the porcelain dust fears but I still thought the piece may have some impact.

Unfortunately a piece of art that from the very start was always intended to be interactive can never work when the interactivity is taken away, you cannot get near the seeds so unfortunately the floor of the Turbine hall ends up looking like it’s covered in gravel. I envy hugely the people who were able to take part in scenes such as these:

Every seed was individually hand painted by the women of a village near Beijing and each is absolutely beautiful, photographs such as this one show the gorgeous juxtaposition between the delicately hand crafted seeds and the powerful steel girders;

It is always nice to visit the Tate, I only wish my most recent visit could have been earlier in the month!

BBC Placement

Posted in 260MC, 261MC with tags on November 25, 2010 by Mick Le Mare

Last Thursday I attended an interview at the BBC to try and gain a placement with them this summer. Whilst I knew that the selection process was rigorous, a covering letter and a CV to be assessed by tutors before even being put forward to the BBC for interview, I wasn’t quite aware of how rigorous it was. Having been lucky enough to be put forward by the University for interview I began my preparation.

I read the papers and listen to BBC radio anyway but I made special efforts to listen to local radio as well as national so as to keep abreast of issues that may come up in the interview. I also prepared by reading up on what the BBC expects from interns and the benefits that an intern gains from their placement.

The interview itself was far more formal than I expected, the first thing I was told was that the interview would be treated just as any BBC interview for any position would be and that I should expect the same level of questioning. Half an hour of intense questioning followed giving me opportunities to be creative, to show awareness of current affairs and show motivation. I hope I managed to show all of these during the interview, I tried my hardest! I have since found out that some questions such as ‘Every morning at the BBC there is an ‘ideas’ meeting, what is your idea?’ are absolute standard questions asked during BBC interviews, maybe I should have been slightly better prepared to be challenged in this way. I know for next time!

To my enormous delight three or four hours after the interview I had a call to say I had been offered the placement, I am absolutely delighted and intend to take the opportunity with both hands – you never know where it may lead!

The Russell Tribunal London session

Posted in 260MC, 261MC with tags , , , on November 24, 2010 by Mick Le Mare

This weekend I worked at The Russell Tribunal at the Law Society in London and it was a fantastic experience. To be given the level of access we had across the weekend was absolutely an honour and made for a brilliant weekend.

We took an enormous amount of footage over the three days, two days of which were the Tribunal and the third day was a press conference presenting the findings from the weekend.

Here is a photo from the press conference showing the amount of media interest in the findings, the camera set up next to mine is Al Jazeera and sat just behind where I was filming from is the largest channel in France.

All of the footage has been taken to be dumped onto digital hard drives so currently I am unable to show you any of the stuff but I hope to be able to soon.

The law society is a spectacular setting for an event such as this and again I took plenty of photos that are currently sat on a disc that is out of my possession. I shall try to get these soon to give you a flavour of how and where we were working.

The Tribunal itself was regarded a huge success, the sheer amount of witnesses giving extraordinary evidence against third party complicity with Isreal was astonishing and in lots of cases sickening. I learnt an enormous amount from the evidence and it was fascinating to hear the responses and questions posed by the panel, which included Michael Mansfield QC who was recently on Desert Island Discs. It was interesting to hear him on the programme talking about the transformation from once canvassing for Thatcher to becoming one of the most radical lawyers around today who famously worked on the case of the Birmingham Six. Here is the link to the podcast:

Desert Island Discs

I look forward to gaining access to the footage we took over the weekend and being able to show some of it on here. I also hugely look forward to making something out of what we took. Other film crews were covering the event so I think it is important that our piece has it’s own voice and doesn’t just document sequentially the events. We have some very interesting interview footage as well as audience reaction and shots of the setting so I feel we will have plenty to work with and express ourselves through the piece.

Sheffield Documentary Film Festival

Posted in 261MC on November 16, 2010 by Mick Le Mare

Last week I attended the Thursday of Sheffield DocFest. I haven’t had the time since to write up my day so sorry this is a little late.

The festival, which has been running for nearly twenty years, is the UK’s premier factual film event and attracts some of the very best film makers from around the world. The festival also has guest speakers from the highest reaches of film making and cultural criticism and boasts a huge array of workshops, Q&A’s and seminars. Recent speakers have included Nick Broomfield, Alan Yentob, Michael Palin and Anand Patwardhan.

This was the first time I have been to the festival and it was a fantastic experience. I saw five or six films all of which I enjoyed. The first piece I saw was Andrei Ujica’s three and a half hour biography of Nicolae Ceauşescu, a piece totally devoid of narration and subtitle, I only managed to catch half an hours worth, not speaking any Romanian I began to find it very difficult to follow! However the piece contained spectacular footage of state visits and some extraordinary speeches.

The following screening I went to was one of the single most inspiring moments of my life, the film was Nic Dunlop’s Burma Soldier which tells the story of Myo Myint, a soldier who rebelled against his army, broke away and became an activist fighting for the freedom of Burmese people from their brutally strict military regime. This astonishingly moving film uses archive footage gathered by the directors, some original footage of the country and a sit down interview with Myo Myint himself. The effect is an absolutely compelling film that shows the true and absolute horror faced by Burmese people every day.

Of course this is a very topical subject at the moment with the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, such good news for a country that has been plagued with the very worst of times for decades. Aung San Suu Kyi features in the film, even meeting with Myo Myint at one stage in an emotional exchange. The film finishes with Myo Myint travelling to the USA to meet his brother decades after last seeing him and the exchange is so powerful it brought the entire cinema to tears. I couldn’t rate the film higher than I do and feel it is so important that more and more people get to see it, now is the opportunity whilst Burma is in the global gaze to get the film seen. It will change opinions, encourage activism and help to make people understand the magnitude of the situation.

Two other films stood out for me. One was Werner Herzog’s ‘La Boheme’ which took ‘O Soave Fanciulla’ from Puccini’s famous Opera and set it to images of African tribespeople gazing at the camera. So still are the characters the shots almost appear to be photos before the sway of a branch or the blink of an eye shows movement. Beautifully lit and wonderfully paced I love this film. I can actually show you the piece via YouTube, of course it loses quality and shouldn’t really be seen on anything other than a cinema screen but this gives you a flavour. Try and watch it in full screen and in the highest definition your bandwidth will allow.

The second film was another short film on which I can find very little information about, but it was so sweet. Called ‘Waiting for Godot’ it was the simplest of films observing Bangladeshi men and women going about their business. It shows the importance of title in film, using Beckett’s play as the starting point the viewer understands the reason the film depicts nothing other than patience and contentedness of the subjects. Unfortunately I can’t show you this but I fully recommend it.

Next year I am applying to work at the festival for the entire long weekend, I can’t wait!


Posted in 261MC with tags on November 16, 2010 by Mick Le Mare

My process and development has been all bundled into my research really because my research has been active as well as reading. My source of motivation is absolutely clear, Ewa is actively engaging in something she is clearly totally and utterly passionate about and has proved this through her tireless efforts. This makes a fantastic character, some one with her enthusiasm and energy inspires me and that I think is an excellent combination.

A few ideas have been discussed and are looking to be put in place. An interview on the DLR is an idea I am really interested in. Here is an article about the Light Railway being built in Jerusalem and the issues surrounding it. It has strange echoes of apartheid South Africa especially the debate about whether both Jewish people and Arabs should travel on the same train. That is why an interview on the DLR would be entirely appropriate. I hope that this weekend at the Russell Tribunal I get to meet people who may be able to contribute to this piece whether by interview or by footage of their reactions to decisions and influential moments during the tribunal.

The Jerusalem Light Railway