Archive for the Films Category

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.


Another Year – Mike Leigh

Posted in Films on November 24, 2010 by Mick Le Mare

I adore Mike Leigh films. My absolute favourite is Nuts in May, the screenplay is second to none and the pace of the film is like no other I have ever seen.

Another Year, Leigh’s latest, is another masterpiece. Although joyful in parts the film is quite harrowing and tells a number of stories, each one seemingly sadder and deeper than the previous. Acted beautifully and shot in Mike Leigh’s unmistakable style I thoroughly recommend you see it.

Cinematography – Citizen Kane

Posted in 261MC, Films with tags , on October 28, 2010 by Mick Le Mare

It is such an enormous undertaking to talk about the whole of Citizen Kane as a cinematic project, it is regarded as one of the greatest pieces of cinematography ever. On watching it I find it amazing that such modern techniques are used, it really was ahead of its time. A POV shot is used within five minutes of the start of the film and sections of the opening sequence are cut very quickly together. Silhouette is used to great effect, they wore such fantastic hats in those times and lighting is used so cleverly to highlight this in a number of memorable shots. When filming in black and white lighting is so important, the constant use of rays of light and shadow show how meticulously each shot and was timed and planned.

Opening sequence from Citizen Kane

SiCKO – Documentary Review

Posted in 261MC, Films with tags , , , on October 21, 2010 by Mick Le Mare

SiCKO is Michael Moore’s third documentary following ‘Bowling for Columbine’ and ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’. The film is an investigative piece using personal stories and some typical Michael Moore grandstanding to illustrate the quite ENORMOUS and, in lots of cases, disgusting problems with the US health system. It is a film about true victims of capitalism. The greed and ignorance of the rich has led to the suffering and desperation of the poor, in the richest country in the world. Moore also visits France and England, both of whom put the US to shame in this area. The documentary is shot using handheld cameras with little to no effects, the absolute key is the intertwining stories of the health system victim. Moore excellently tells his stories whilst being a fascinating character himself.

Watch SiCKO online at

Banksy creates Simpsons title sequence

Posted in Articles, Films with tags , , , , , on October 12, 2010 by Mick Le Mare

World famous street artist Banksy, who I have written about many times on this blog, has made his own title sequence for The Simpsons.

What is extraordinary about the piece is the fact it will actually be broadcast as part of a Simpsons episode. As ever with Banksy this piece of work has caused lots of controversy, the depiction of a South Korean sweatshop producing Simpsons merchandise and animation cells being the key issue. The work is said inspired by reports that the animation studio for The Simpsons has been outsourcing some of the animation leg-work to South Korea. On agreeing to show the sequence before the episode called MoneyBart the producers came under intense pressure from broadcast standards officials and their own animation department, who threatened a walkout. Having overcome these problems the episode aired in the US on Sunday and will appear in the UK.

In the last few years especially Banksy has branched out his work to include stunts such as this latest piece, making a film and taking over Bristol Museum. I am currently working on a project about street art and its place in society. Banksy is such an interesting case study, his work has moved from the back streets of Bedminster to the very biggest of international stages, does this mean he is no longer a street artist? Does it mean he should be shunned by the urban art world? Or does it mean he has brought exposure and great worth to a fantastic artform? I shall be answering these questions over the next fortnight in my work, all of which will be posted on here.

In the meantime check out the Banksy episode of the Simpsons which will be broadcast on The 21st October.

Exit Through The Gift Shop at Lambeth Palace

Posted in Films with tags , , , on March 4, 2010 by Mick Le Mare

I don’t know quite where to start, I sit here at Euston Station in awe of my evening at Lambeth Palace. I have never seen, and I never will see, a film quite like that, in a setting such as that, ever again!

I shall start with the setting. Imagine yourself in a dimly lit, slightly damp, disused tube tunnel. Sounds grim I know but hear me out. This tunnel is filled to bursting with beautifully lit original artwork in the form of paintings and installations(I include what photos I could take, no flash and dingy surroundings set the scene perfectly but are not conducive to decent photography!) There is a bar, but no ordinary bar – drinks are served from a burnt out ice cream van. There are popcorn vendors selling to you from the furniture of a North American diner and countless red leather sofas scattered around, some of which gather round a huge canvas bonfire burning recognisable Renaissance classics. All these aspects are nothing new to Banksy fans however, although there is new art in a new location it has become expected of Banksy to display his work differently, the reason people were here was for once not to see paintings or installations but cinema.

Eventually, a little later than scheduled due to the lure of a beer round the fire, what everyone had been waiting for began – and what an extraordinary piece of cinema it was.

Without wanting to ruin it for anybody the story is about a French eccentric who’s strange obsessions lead him to be involved with one of the most elusive groups of people in history…street artists. This inevitably leads him to Banksy and what happens to these two men when they meet is hilarious, disastrous, brilliant and astonishing all at once.

Filmed almost entirely on poor quality handheld cameras this film illustrates perfectly that the key to a brilliant movie is a strong story with engaging characters, not how clever the 3D effects are or the amount of money spent on special effects. I refer of course to Avatar which I saw last night – the first five minutes of which are interesting because 3D is a clever formula but after that you are left desperate for plotline, half decent acting and a hero to engage with. Banksy’s film is so brilliant for exactly the reasons Avatar isn’t. Charming, funny and insightful, I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this evening and I totally recommend Exit Through The Gift Shop.


Posted in Films with tags , , on February 23, 2010 by Mick Le Mare

Much to my delight I have a ticket for the London screening in Banksy’s Lambeth Palace!