Reservoir Dogs Research

After researching into one of my favorite Tarantino films “Reservoir Dogs”. I learned that it technically isn’t the first Tarantino movie to be produced.

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I’d say it’s arguable that “Reservoir Dogs” was the film that truly made Tarantino popular. It’s not quite the first film Tarantino has made though. Relatively well-known is the fact that Tarantino co-wrote and directed “My Best Friend’s Birthday” in 1987, while still working at Video Archives in Manhattan Beach.

Image result for my best friend’s birthday (1987)

The soundtrack Quentin Tarantino used in Reservoir Dogs was amazing in my opinion and so I felt I had to include at least one of the songs in my FMP. The problem with this was that there would probably be copyright or something wrong with posting this on the full production that everyone will see. Luckily I found a place for it in the behind the scenes. I personally love this song and feel it suits the behind the scenes perfectly.

 

 

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FMP Evaluation.

Throughout the process of creating my Final Major Project: ‘Engage’, I wanted to learn new skills, work with new people, and most of all; make sure everyone involved enjoys themselves and the final production turns out to be the best piece of work that I’ve produced. I can safely say that I have achieved all of those goals as I directed two new people I’ve never worked with before, learned new skills when editing, and learned how to film with a Canon 5D Mark 3 glide cam, (a camera I’d never used before.)

Having looked at the latest version of my proposal, I’d say I’ve achieved my aims to a good standard. One part in particular where I said: “I intend to make a short action film which is around 6 minutes long”. I know for sure that I’ve achieved that as the full production comes to five minutes and forty-four seconds. It was originally set to be a bit longer but I edited out some of the ‘less believable’ shots in the fight scene and sped up the credits to make it shorter and to try and keep the audience’s attention for longer.

I also stated in my evaluation that “My FMP will reference famous action films like Jason Bourne and The Raid for the action”. I’m very glad I included these references as best I could. I got them spot on with an example of a fight move shown bellow.

I learned this move from my cousin that knew martial arts at the time.

I also stated in my evaluation that I’d use influences from “Batman v Superman for the visual style and lack of saturation in the image.”

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This is Batman v superman‘s colour grading, vs my colour grading below.

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Both are really desaturated, dark, and have that negative feel to it. This is why I’m confident and pleased with the colour grading. The first screen shot (from “Batman v Superman“) was taken from a scene filmed inside and so it was darker than my screenshot which was taken from a scene filmed outside.

I feel I could improve some of the planning for my year two FMP. Even though I’ve done a lot, I still feel that if I gave myself more time I could take a couple of my main actors and the cameraman up the location before hand so I could plan the shots accordingly. The reason I am saying this is because I planned the whole ‘fight scene’ in my back garden and compared to the filming location at Heybrook Bay. It’s tiny and cramped.

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The problem is, it takes a lot of planning and time to get to the filming location and then to get back. That’s the distance from my house to the filming location. Unfortunately, it takes longer as I’d have to meet people in town first. Then get the ‘2’ bus to ‘Hooe’ and then from there either walk or get a lift to Heybrook Bay which if we walk, can take another hour.


Use of time

I’ve mostly learned about my own workflow that I spend a lot of time experimenting with different scripts and talking with my film crew about when we can film. It has mostly revolved around when my main actors and cameraman are free. Unfortunately, everyone has busy lives and so I’d have to keep pestering everyone in the Facebook Messenger group chat until I could confirm a day to film. I have to make it so whenever they are free to film, I am too. It would be a disaster if the reason my FMP never got filmed.


Project scope

I knew when planning my FMP, I needed to have every shot planned as best as I could with the script available and finished ready for the actors. In my opinion, I’m happy with the way I planned it and how well it all came together. I feel I can celebrate the fact that I’ve managed and directed 7 people all at once confidently, as I know what I’m doing.

Although there was a lot of stress coming up to the filming date, I had to be brutally honest with myself and cut out potential things that would most likely go wrong. This includes shortening the script, removing some props from the story, and just using visual effects when editing the headshot wound at the end. This is because I thought to just use fake blood with nose and scar wax to physically make the wounds was a bit too ambitious as after experimenting with it, the results were disappointing, to say the least. I feel that just sticking with using fake blood on the day was a very good choice as it was quicker, easier and overall looked so much more effective. I was originally writing the script so Jack’s character would introduce himself with a dialogue asking permission to enter the base (acting as if he had a scheduled delivery for the general). The prop was a case full of money. Jack’s character would then get allowed in. Once inside he would stealthily take out all the members of the military. I changed this because I’ve worked with Jack before and he isn’t the best at saying lines without laughing in every take. I also didn’t want anything to turn out cringy, and if Jack went around silently and no one noticed it would most likely look bad and less exciting than the final cut.

I knew I had the deadline slowly getting closer and so I knew that it was vital to get all the filming done in one day as getting people together for a second time to film would be too impossible.


Aims

My aims were to make a short 6-minute action film that I would be proud of and could call my best piece of work. Arguably I’d say it was the best film I’ve produced. It may only be five to six minutes long but I feel it’s just the right amount of time to leave viewers wanting more, removing the possibility of losing the viewers attention or leaving them bored. As I stated in my proposal, I aimed to properly “showcase cinematography, and script writing skills and then plan the film accordingly”. I knew I wanted to act in my film but it would be the directing of all 7 members of my film crew that would be the most challenging part. I was unsure on who would be the designated cameraman at first as the usual cameraman I work with ‘Ed’, wasn’t available. But I spent the day before we shot my FMP with Tom (my new cameraman) to confirm the plan for the next day. Although Tom was now the designated camera man, my aims were to tell him exactly where to stand and who to film. So to guarantee I complete my aims as director, I usually stood behind the camera directing him to make sure he films the shots exactly as I wanted them to look. Additionally, as the producer, I set myself an aim to get all the props and outfits sorted the night before to ensure there are absolutely no excuses for it not to work. Finally, my last aim as I also stated in my proposal was to “edit everything myself either at home or at college to show I can manage the project independently”. I certainly did put a lot of time and effort into editing as it took me 8 full days of solid editing and blog work to get it done. Overall though I would definitely say I completed the majority of my aims and I was sensible enough to figure out what was too ambitious early on to ensure the filming goes as smoothly as possible.


Skills gained

In my opinion, I’d say my skills in both directing, planning, script writing, and editing has definitely improved since the start of the process. I’ve learned a lot about how the Canon 5D Mark 3 works and most of all my leadership skills as I had to direct people I hadn’t worked with before. It was truly an exciting job being the creator of my FMP Engage and now can confidently work on editing platforms such as Hitfilm4 Express, Adobe Premiere Pro, Enlight, and Adobe After effects. I’ve also learned how to keep myself motivated when I’m stuck on a specific part when editing. I’d just look at other films that I’m proud of that I’ve made in the past and then hopefully get motivation from that to make my FMP even better.


Research

My research into ‘Logan’ and Tarantino films has influenced the story as its a violent and thrilling reference to the Marvel universe. Plus anytime I was writing the script or was stuck for ideas, I would just refer back to my research or watch another film for some more inspiration.


Overcoming the hardest problems

When making my FMP I faced some difficult problems. However, I feel I would have had to face a lot more problems if I didn’t plan the production as well as I did. There were a lot of problems when editing the laser dot on Jack’s pistol. I had to go through every frame to make sure it worked smoothly. I chose to do this because when I let the editing program attempt to track it on its own it was almost guaranteed that it would mess up.

Another problem arose when Ethan messaged me on me the morning of filming saying that he was too ill to come today. At that point, I was speechless. I spent the whole day with him the day before when we were filming Ceri’s FMP.  It did leave me speechless though hat the time as Ethan was a vital character. Anyway after what felt like hours of persuading. I frantically got Conor (another new actor that I hadn’t worked with before) to play Ethan’s role as well.

Comparing concept posters to the final poster

This was an original idea I had for a poster.


This took inspiration from the book cover of ‘Gone’ a book by Michael Grant that I read once and thoughourly enjoyed.


The book is about a boy called Sam and his friends as they discover that anyone over the age of fifteen disappears! His teacher along with every other human who was over the age of fifteen completely disappears in the Californian town of Perdido Beach. At first there is complete chaos as the town now free of adults has no system of control and no law to keep the young citizens at bay. It’s a thrilling story yet unfortunately didn’t inspire any ideas for my FMP.

So that was my first concept for a poster. I then wanted a more scary looking poster that really makes the audience feel uncomfortable yet intrigued. I started by finding a picture of a gas mask off google images. I then did some quick edits and ended up with this.

Now I thought this was good but. I needed a thumbnail for when I upload it to YouTube. I edited the posters above on an editing app on my phone called Enlight. It’s a £2.99 app that I got of the App Store and I’m very pleased with it. It’s a pleasant and fast alternative to photoshop, the only drawback is that the availabil editing techniques and tutorial videos are extremely limited compared to photoshop.

This is the final thumbnail for the production.

Getting a better understanding of my target audience.

https://docs.google.com/a/pca.ac.uk/forms/d/1Yr36PyqUYCxSkNuIe_ybksSEVjX3rDWPP-BAhrrTUP8/edit#responses

This is a google form I put out on Facebook to gather honest feedback about people’s thoughts and feelings towards action films. I was shocked by the results as hardly any people said that action films were their favorite genre.

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Surprisingly the majority said ‘other’. The majority of people that took part in this were men ages 16 to 18.

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How I changed my idea on the filming day

This was the original script, and although I liked it, I still made some changes on the day of filming.

I wrote the script from home in notes on my iPhone. It took me over 12 hours worth in total over the days I worked on it to get it complete. Once it was finished I send the screen shots to the group chat so everyone could read it and be more prepared. Unfortunately, I ended up finalising it the night before filming! Thankfully this didn’t effect anything and I’m glad I did because I spent enough time on it that every shot was properly planned and everything went smoothly.

One thing I would do if I had the chance would be to go back in time and have the script ready days before filming so people could see it and be more prepared and ultimately lower the overall stress of filming.

While the majority of the film is accurate to the script, it was the ending that changed. Here you see there’s dialogue after Jack gets shot at the very end.


I originally planned for Jack’s character to be ‘dead’ for longer before his head shot wound begins to heal. I changed this on the filming day when I found a rifle scope (like the ones used on a sniper rifle) that was able to go onto Nick’s assault Rifle.


Although the size was different as the scope was meant for an ‘air rifle’ not an ‘airsoft bb gun’ it had to be tied and wrapped around it. Unfortunately, it kept becoming loose and falling off when we weren’t filming causing me to become stressed and agitated. Thankfully I overcame this problem by getting everyone in their positions first (making sure they were ready) while I then helped Nick tie it back on which sped up the process.

The shot where Nick shoots Jack in the head wasn’t originally planned to be a point of view sniper shot. I’d planned and practiced the filming so the shot would be a low-medium shot that’s still close enough that it feels as intense as the actual fight.


It would then just cut to Nick there with smoke coming the barrel of his gun.


After trying that however on the day. I decided it would look cool if we had the camera back where Nick was and zoomed it in like the zoom of the scope. I could then overlay a scope layer on top in post production.

I did debate however not using the sniper scope effect and just staying with my original idea. This is what the end of the fight scene would have looked like if I didn’t overlay the sniper scope in. This is also the first test edit of the official fight. So no effects are added in at this point.

Overall I’m happy with the way it turned out and I do prefer seeing Jack’s head shot through the scope of a sniper. It makes it so much more impressive and I feel makes people appreciate the hard work I’ve put into this project.

Meeting the Cinematographer of The Water Horse

Today we had a one and a half hour talk with Oliver Stapleton! This was a real pleasure as he’s worked with huge names such as David Bowie and The Rolling Stones in the 80s, Oliver has progressed to become one of the most renowned cinematographers – his credits include director of photography on The Cider House Rules, The Proposal, Buffalo Soldiers and many others. He now also co-runs the Master’s Degree in Cinematography at the National Film and Television School (NFTS) in London. 

I was truly amazed by the work he has produced and the story of how he became to be who he is now! The fact that he started when he was 28 left me shocked! I was honered I got to speak to him especially as he criticised my FMP work as well! Although it was partly negative, I don’t mind as much as it’s from a professional and honest feedback is what I want. He said that some of the ‘hits’ in the end fight scene for my FMP “weren’t believable” and that I could “cut some bits out”. This made me feel sad as I thought he didn’t like it even though he said “the amount of footage you’ve filmed in a day is impressive. I could understand what he was saying though and I have taken that into account and removed some of the orginal shots that didn’t look as polished as the others. This shot in particular where Jack’s character goes to kick me in the head.


This shot was filmed on the day of filming but I took it out when editing because as you can see above (in the practice fight) I encountered the same problem where it doesn’t look “believable”.

Anywag back onto the Oliver Stapleton! This is the film poster for the water horse. I love the colours they’ve used and would love to make a film like that in the future if I ever got the opportunity. This is because I’ve always been a fan of films that use CGI well enough that you believe it. It’s always something that will impress me as it leaves me asking the question “how did they do that!?”.


I remember seeing the film ‘The Water Horse’ when it came out in cinemas. I was only 7 but I enjoyed it very much. I haven’t seen it since though, so seeing the behind the scenes and how it was made really inspired me. I would have never guessed how much of it was actually CGI and edited on a blue screen.

Research on silenced pistols. And spy weapons.

One thing I’ve always wanted to do is make an action film in the style of a James Bond movie. I knew that it would be too much of a challenge to make a full on agent film for my FMP but I wanted to include some references. Jack’s character in my FMP ‘The mutant’ has a silenced pistol like James Bond does. As the mutant ‘never misses a shot’ I emulated the ruthless efficiency that James Bond has, showing Jack’s character with the same level of threat and brutality making the film more sinister and really emphasising the danger that’s to come.

Last Thursday I watched the Bond film ‘Goldeneye’. It’s one of my favorites for its unique action and story. I absolutely love Pierce Brosnan playing the character as he fits the role so perfectly. It was the Pierce Brosnan James Bond films that got me interested in the franchise.

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A problem with a silenced pistol prop was neither myself or anyone I knew had one. So I looked online for cheap plastic, brightly colored airsoft ones that I could just spray paint black to make it look realistic. I’ve sprayed the cheaper bright plastic BB guns black before and it seems to work really well so I was confident that if I bought a silenced pistol that’s the right size then it would work fine. This is the one a found online.

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After seeing the price I was actually considering buying that but I didn’t in the end. I actually made a silenced pistol completely from scratch!

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Well, I basically found a light gun controller for my old PlayStation. Didn’t really think anything of it at first. But then put a metal pipe I found next to it that I very luckily found in the garage, (I don’t know it’s original purpose) but asked my parents whether I could use it for making a prop and they said ‘yes’! Now with the all clear, I then made this.


It’s almost like they were meant to go together! I was both shocked and delighted as they fit really well! The only problem was the barrel looks too long which is a shame. But I didn’t let that bother me and superglued them together.

After letting the glue set, I sprayed it up with its first coat.


I unscrewed the handle so I could remove the wood part so I could add that back on when it’s finished. So far I’m happy with my result. I bought a new full can of Black Halfords spray paint to remove the possibility of it running out on me during the painting of what was becoming the silenced pistol.

I wanted to make the prop myself as I’ve seen video tutorials on youtube before on how people have transformed things like ‘Nerf Blasters’ into polished looking props. A video I saw recently which had inspired me to make my own was the video below!

After the paint on my prop had dried. I screwed the wooden handle back on and judged whether I was happy with how it was.


Although I was over the moon with the way it turned out I still wanted to make it as polished as possible, so I added in some finishing touches with the paint.


This is the finished product. Can honestly say that I’m thrilled with the result. It was an incredibly exciting task with the most rewarding outcome. All I can say is I’m proud of myself and I’m grateful for the YouTube tutorials that have inspired my idea. I’ve never managed to do anything like this before my FMP either so it truly was a great new experience.

Next year I hope to do the same or similar.