Sunday, 27 December 2015

Preliminary Edit

Preliminary Edit

After the shoot, Sam went home and did a quick preliminary edit of the first half of the opening (up to the fight scene) to check that we had all of the shots we needed for our piece. This was really useful (and immensely exciting) as it meant that we got to see a VERY rough draft of how our opening might look when finished. Below is a video of the preliminary edit, plus a conversation where we discuss the edit, our plans for the final edit and some reactions we have had to our prelim.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

The Shoot

The Shoot

We shot our film on the 22nd of December, from about 3 until 7. It was a very interesting, fun, and informative evening, and by the end we had all the shots needed for our opening. Our shoot went fairly smoothly, although we did face a few problems as we went along.

     Setting up

Crystal, Sam and I arrived at 3 o'clock, an hour before our actor was due to arrive and we were scheduled to start shooting. During this time, Sam set up the camera and lighting, Crystal got changed and prepared for her role, I created the symbol and all of us created the mess necessary for our opening.


Our actor, Oliver, arrived at 4, and we started shooting at around 4.30, half an hour behind schedule. We started shooting late because we took more time setting up than we expected, due to the fact that we had to unpack and prepare various things, then brief our actor on what to do. After a few practice runs and planning of the first shot, we were ready to start. We shot our first take of the first shot at about 5.

Around 40 minutes later, we had finished filming the continuous shot. We had a quick break to gain some energy and relax a bit. We then carried on filming, moving on to the fight scene between Crystal and Oliver. We carried on until about 7, when we finished filming our final shot of the day. We tidied up the flat and packed all the equipment away, and about 30 minutes later, we were out of the flat and gone.

     The continuous shot

We decided to film the first shot, the long continuous shot, first, partly because it made sense chronologically, and partly because it was getting colder and darker as we filmed. We had scheduled 2 hours to film this shot, as we thought coordinating it would be really difficult, and it seemed like a hard shot to execute well. However, the first shot actually only took us about an hour total. This is because coordinating it was actually relatively simple, and with good communication we successfully planned out the timings and orders. When filming this part, Crystal and Sam would stand inside the flat, and I stood outside with Oliver. Me and Crystal would call each other and count down from 3, after which I would signal Oliver to start walking whilst she told Sam to start filming. As a result of this good communication and teamwork, the shot only actually took 4 takes before we got a perfect take, which was really surprising. We moved on from the shot much faster than we had anticipated, meaning that we were well ahead of schedule.

     The fighting scene

The fighting scene balanced out our timing success in the first shot, as it took much longer than we expected. Our plans for this scene were much less specific than the ones for the continuous shot, plus we still had to choreograph the attack. This was one of the reasons why the scene took so long to film. As well as that, we also took much more takes, as we wanted to get the action from several different angles. This means that we filmed the fight and death many times, improving the choreography and building on the action as we went along. Eventually, however, we were finished, and started packing to go. We left at about 7.30, half an hour before we were officially due to finish.


We faced a few problems when filming. The main problem we faced was that the fake knives kept on breaking, as they were quite cheap and not especially well made. However, we fixed them up with some tape and used them as much as we could. We also had a minor problem with the first scene in that the door to access the flat would lock automatically when closed. To get over this problem, I stood by the door out of sight, keeping it slightly open so that Oliver could get through and up the stairs. We also had the issue that the lights and mirror in the bathroom could potentially reveal Sam with the camera. To overcome this, we planned out the shot carefully, ensuring that he could not be seen in the light.


We made a few changes when filming compared to our plan, and most of these were to do with props. Firstly, I decided that a poker would be inconvenient for travelling and difficult for Oliver to pick up quickly.Therefore I decided to bring a walking stick instead, as it was lighter and more convenient to carry, whilst still being quite threatening as a make-shift weapon. We also decided to ditch the top secret file, as there would be no use for the papers to be messy if they were all in a pile. Also, the assassin would have taken the top secret file with her if her aim was to gather information, which it was. Therefore, we left the file. We also decided not to use the fake blood, as it would make re-takes of the fight scene really difficult and be harder to work with continuity.


Overall, I think that our shoot was quite successful. We got all of the shots that we needed, plus had extra time to film more shots, such as a B-roll of paper. We worked very well as a group, and Oliver was a fantastic actor for the scene. If we were to film again, I would have got permission to mess up the room more, pulling objects out of place and on to the floor rather than just scattering a few papers. I also wish that we had tried getting different reactions/facial expressions from Oliver so that we could play around with shot sequencing and meaning making in editing. However, I think that what we have is good, and that there will hopefully be no need to film any of it again.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Research into Symbols

Research into Symbols

As part of our film, we need a symbol to be left by the assassin that links to the organisation he is fighting. I decided to research into symbols in order to create one that we can use in our film.

     Potential Symbols

     Some Ideas

Here are some early designs for our symbol. Most of these are based around the Jupiter symbol, as it has many relevant meanings, plus it looks quite good.

     The Symbol

We chose some of these symbols and added them together to create our symbol, which we have called Arc Diath.

The symbol is a combination of Aries, a circle, and a diagonal thick line. The symbol represents ambition, determination, potential, beginning, strength, tension, and uncontrolled energy. These traits very much represent our evil organisation, and shows what they stand for and their aims. The name was a combination of all the names of the symbols, and we have decided that it will be the name of the evil organisation.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015



     Initial Ideas

We decided to design some potential costumes for our film that our characters could wear. Of course, the costumes may change depending on availability and actors involved. For now, however, these are good ideas to base our final costumes around.

We decided that the spy should wear plain, normal, nondescript clothes in dull colours (brown, beige, blue, etc.). We decided that he should wear a plain shirt, jeans, and a dark overcoat. The assassin, on the other hand, would wear black, comfortable clothes that she could move in. We decided that she would wear black trousers, black shoes and a black hoodie or cloak.

Here are 2 mood-boards of clothes/costumes for the spy and assassin. I found pictures on google relating to my idea of how the spy and assassin could look, then added them together with some keywords relating to their character.


Here are the costumes we used in the actual filming. For the spy, we decided on a blue denim shirt, jeans and some plain black shoes. This works as it gives the idea that the spy is just any random stranger that you could pass on the street, making it seem like he is blending in. My one wish with this costume is that a different shirt had been used, as the one in the opening is still slightly different and unusual, whereas the spy should blend in completely. For the assassin, we decided on a black hoodie and trousers, with a flowing long black sheer shirt over the top and high heels. I think this is a really good costume, as it creates a sense of dark and dangerous mystery. 

Sunday, 13 December 2015



     What We Need
  • Fake knife - for assassin to stab spy
  • Fake blood - for the stabbed spy
  • Poker - for the spy to grab when they feel threatened
  • Top secret file - for the spy to rifle through
  • Papers - for the spy to rifle through, and to create mess in the flat

     Where We Will Get Them

Samuel is going to get two fake knives for us to use in the film. They work by the blade retracting when it is pressed against an object. They look quite fake close-up, but they will pass for actual knives if seen from a distance in the dark for a quick flash of time.

Crystal already has some fake blood in her house, so we will use that for our film. She has tested it out to see how it looks, and it passes for blood pretty well, especially in the dark.

I have a fire poker at home that looks fairly dangerous but is actually pretty non-lethal. The only issue is that there is no fireplace in the flat - however, it could be in a room we don't see, or the spy could keep it in his house for protection.

Crystal has some plain brown paper envelopes in her house. We can write a 'TOP SECRET' sign on top of it in red pen, to make it look like an important package of papers.

My family keeps scrap paper in our house, so we can scatter them around the flat and put them on the table for the spy to look through. Several of the papers we own look very professional, important, and serious, so as long as no-one reads them, they will be perfect for the scene.

Saturday, 12 December 2015



For our scene, we need a spy and an assassin. These are the only characters in our scene. We ideally want the spy to be a nondescript young adult male, and the assassin to be a young, athletic female. We have cast people that match up to these characters, and that suit the role well.

     The Spy

We looked into actors to play the spy. One actor we considered was my friend Reuel James, who acts in some of his own short films. We think that he would be good for the part because he can act well. He also has experience acting in short films, so he should know what to do and understand the process. Below is a picture of him.

The second person we considered for this role was Oliver Nicholls. He is more of a theatre actor and has been in several plays. He would be good because he has experience and will be used to working in a group situation. He also has the advantage of looking older and more mature, which is a plus for our film.

In the end, we decided to cast Oliver, as he looks more the part of an ordinary unrecognisable spy that could easily be passed in the street without a second glance. He also looks older, which is an advantage because this suits the type of person we would like our spy to be more. Therefore, we chose him.

     The Assassin

We have decided to cast Crystal as the assassin. This is because she has a relatively slim build, and can move around well. She is a very good actress, especially when it comes to slightly scary characters. She can also run in heels, which is an advantage as it makes the assassin seem more professional and dangerous.

Thursday, 10 December 2015



We decided that our film should be set in an urban location, which fits in with our genre. We decided that the opening scene would be set in the spy's living quarters, which the assassin has broken into and searched. We decided that the spy would be living on his own, due to his dangerous profession, and would probably not be very rich. He would also want to live in an inconspicuous place that is easy to miss. We therefore decided that the spy would be living in a small flat in an ordinary neighbourhood.

A friend of Crystal's was willing to let us use his flat, and it is the ideal place to film. It is relatively small and fairly homely, plus we have permission to cause a mess. The area around it is also very normal and unextraordinary, and there is an alley way that can be used during our film. Below are some pictures taken of the location.



     In our film

Most of our film is going to take place in the living room, as this is the largest space in the flat. We are going to film it in the wall opposite the window (shown in the left photo) as there is a door there that the Assassin can come out of. For the starting continuous shot, we are going to go from the window to the door to the living room, covering most of the room. Below is a plan of how that will look in our film.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Shot Sequencing

Shot Sequencing

The order that shots are placed in has a huge effect on meaning-making for that moment. Below is a storyboard for the first minute or so of our film. It shows 4 consecutive-ish frames from our continuous shot from the opening. I have explained the meaning of the frames, and how the order effects the meaning of them.

Monday, 7 December 2015



For our film, we created a storyboard. This allowed us to visually see what the film will look like. It also made us consider which shots to use, why we should/shouldn't use them, and what meaning making we can make with the shots. This storyboard gives us a plan to work with, although there will likely be some improvising on the day. Below are our storyboards with descriptions of what the scene will look like. Note that pages 1 - 3 all cover the same continuous shot.

Saturday, 5 December 2015



Samuel wrote a screenplay for us to use in our scene. It is very good, and really helps  to demonstrate the atmosphere in our scene, and the action that will take place. It is good because it provides a basis for us to visualise the scene, and to understand what will happen.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Todorov's Theory in Our Film

Todorov's Theory in Our Film

We have decided to follow the theory in our film. So far, we have decided that the plot of our film will be like this:

1. A group of spies are living their normal spy lives
2. A spy is killed in his home and a strange symbol left by a mysterious evil organisation
3. The main character is sent to go and investigate
4. The character attempts to take down the organisation
5. The character takes down the organisation, and life returns to the spy version of normal

Our opening will show the first spy being killed in his home, and the strange symbol being left.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Dos and Don'ts for a Successful Final Piece

Dos and Don'ts for a Successful Final Piece

I looked at some examples of final pieces from previous years in order to create a list of tips/rules for creating a good final piece. I looked at these 3 samples:
Here are the things I discovered.


  • Use suitable music that relates to the genre (e.g. tense, crawling music in example 1 to create suspense)
  • Create suitable colour schemes, both in filming and editing (e.g. the dark tones and colours in both examples 1 and 2)
  • Use a suitable and interesting variety of camera shots and angles (e.g. the depth of field shot with the vodka at 0:30 in example 2) to show off skills and create an enjoyable opening
  • Use suitable fonts and colours for titles (both example 1 and 2 use simple clean, white fonts in accordance with their thriller-type genre openings)
  • Obey all of the filming rules, such as 180 degree line and match on action, so that the viewer is totally immersed in the opening and is not jolted out

     Do not:

All of these points can be seen in example 3 at some point.
  • Have moments of silence without there being a valid reason - for example, a short moment of silence could be used for suspense - but if there is no reason it should not be used
  • Break the fourth wall at any time (e.g. 0:45)
  • Use unsuitable titles with unsuitable animations (0:0 to 0:13), or ending it with rolling credits like the ending of a film - it's an opening, not a short film
  • Have a confusing plot with bad continuity (e.g. the disappearing snow and muddling story line)
  • Break the 180 degree rule (when the man is standing there and calling)

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

The Target Audience

The Target Audience

We believe that the target audience for our film would be young adults of any gender. We think this because action/thrillers are generally fast-paced films that are more suiting to a younger audience. Generally, action films are more suited towards younger people, especially teenagers, as they prefer excitement and fast-paced action. However, thriller films are more targeted towards older people as they require more thought and often intellectually challenge the audience, therefore drawing a more mature strand of people. By having a film that is a combination of these two genres we believe that our audience will be quite diverse - it will attract the thrill-seeking younger people whilst having enough intelligence to attract older people, without having too much of either side so as to put anyone off.

An example of this would be Skyfall, a James Bond spy movie with similar themes to how ours will be. A report from Box Office Mojo stated that on the opening night 'the audience was 60 percent male and 75 percent were 25 years of age or older'. This shows that males are slightly more likely to watch this film than females, as expected. The action/thriller film attracted mostly over 25s, suggesting that the audience is more likely to be adults; however, younger people still made up 1/4 of the audience, showing that it is still enjoyed by the younger generation. Similar to this is the data for Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Another report states that 'the audience was 61 percent male and 65 percent over the age of 25', which is similar to the Skyfall data and so further backs up our claims.

Although these films suggest that most of our audience would be 25 and over, as our rating is a 12 we can expect our audience to be a mix of people over 12. Most action/thriller films are rated either PG (Mission: Impossible, Bourne Identity) or 12 (Skyfall, Batman Begins). This shows that the minimum age for action/thriller films is quite low, suggesting that our film would be suitable for a pretty large range of people.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Our Idea

Our Idea

Our idea is to show a spy returning to his house to find that it has been searched, and his objects strewn around the room. He picks up a poker and rushes to a file on his table, where he desperately searches for something. He sees a mysterious symbol on a piece off paper, and as he bends down to pick it up, a dangerous assassin is revealed behind him. After a brief struggle, the assassin kills the spy, and leaves a strange symbol on the dead spy. The symbol then burns into the credits, showing the title at the same time.

Here is a record of some of the things we discussed when planning our film idea:

Below is a mood-board made by Samuel to show the atmosphere and feel of our film. It creates an idea of the suspense and mystery that we wish to create, and suggests elements of action whilst not being completely full of car chases and fight scenes.

In terms of an age rating, we have decided that it would probably be a 12. This is because although it contains some violence and suspense that would not be suitable for young children, there is not a huge amount of intense blood, gore or suspense.