162mc

The man inside- Silent era (final edit)

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Using after effects I overexposed the footage and added a wiggle to create a projector effect before publishing my final edit. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed this project. Feedback appreciated.

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162MC Edit; The Man Inside, silent era

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For inspiration I watched several silent films such as Laurel and Hardy’s famous silent short the lucky dog and Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Talkie’ City lights and took notes on the the typical conventions of both. Initially I thought as ‘The man inside’ is quite dialogue heavy and probably partially to do with the fact I wrote the script that a sound film would be more appropriate and that I would edit it in a similar way to city lights so that I could keep more of the script in. After reading up on audience reactions to the initial introduction of films with sound however, where people felt it ‘had lost its artistic nature’ I decided to take on the challenge of a completely silent film. After taking this eventual approach I realised that the original narrative structure wasn’t actually as far off the genre as I thought and even without sounds the story was simple enough to be understood.

City lights
City lights

It was very important to me to keep the comedy element from the script. After researching the typical characters of comedy films from the 1920’s it soon became very clear to me how the character of the engineer stood out as a very traditional stock comedic character that you would expect from a film of this century.

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 21.12.46

A lot of the effectiveness of the man inside in terms of a silent film came down to the actors abilities to express the characters emotions convincingly enough that even without the script the audience not only knows whats going on but can enjoy and engage with the narrative and the relationship between them. Fortunately all of the actors we used did this exceptionally well and it made it a real enjoyment to see the characters come to life in a way I’d never even thought of before when scripting it or well to be honest ever.

No words needed
No words needed

In terms of the social elements of this film the context itself would have been controversial for its time so I considered this when editing. I thought about Laura Mulveys Male gaze theory; films of the black and white era were more often than not for a very long time made for men by men. So I considered this too.

The male gaze
The male gaze

It seemed a shame to take out some modern references to Iceland and Ann summers as they added a great deal of characterisation to the original edit but I felt it was pretty necessary to not ruining the atmosphere to take out obvious links to modern day life. Some modern conventions to the Man inside were inevitable and unchangeable to the script such as the lift and the 21st century costumes our actors so I researched into modern silent films to see how I could use this to my advantage.

The Girl Is Mime – Starring Martin Freeman from Tim Bunn was very useful to gain ideas from for my edit not only because it is a modern piece but because it was funny and had also had strong thematic links to the complexities of relationships . The line between humour from the silent era and humour now is gradually becoming apart so I wanted to find a line where my edit could being loyal to its conventions but still appealing to a modern audience.

The black and white conventions – No pun intended (Well maybe)

I wanted my film to replicate one of pre 6o’s/70’s so the first effect I added to the footage was a colour correction. Using Premiere pro i used a combination of a grey tint, Black and white and hue to create an early monochrome effect. As films from that era were projected in the cinema using an often temperamental projector I created a grain and dust effect on photoshop and placed it as an overlay it to create a worn out look.

I researched more into the origins of early cinema and after watching an episode of BBC series ‘Genius of invention’ which focused on the early days of photography, moving pictures and television I was able to think realistically about the types of techniques and conventions that would be expected at the time. For example the documentary revealed how flammable cellulose nitrate film stock was used before the 20’s which was not only easily damaged but often incredibly dangerous as it was prone to combusting inside the projector and burning at very high temperatures.

From what I learnt from this documentary I consequently included a very brief burn mark with in the footage for authenticity and after learning more about the function and reliability of early projectors I also added a flicker in After effects by wiggling the opacity and position of the footage to (25,1.5) to create an unsteady projection effect.

Title cards

From my research I discovered that these were important for characterisation in many films. Some films tended to use more descriptive titles with action on even where as others kept titles basic and left the visuals to do the talking alone.

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 21.31.35

For the man inside I decided to use short and sweet titles to not overload the audience and to make use of how powerful the actors expressions were.

Overall i was very happy with the visuals and whilst learning a lot about the genre and beginning of film I gained a lot of experience with after effects.

Split screen, Modern film/Silent film from Katie-Marie Lynch on Vimeo.

Live accompaniment 

I chose a combination of 2 or 3 songs from Randy Johnson taken from an amateur silent film as he is a real pianist who plays for a theatre in colorado as it added a touch of realism and kept with the pace of the visuals well.

robert_bruce_silent_film_pr

Editing

Due to the nature of editing pre digital reel, I discovered many of the old films I was watching had unintentional jump cuts where the reel was literally snipped. To create this effect in my own edit I used different takes of footage and used longer takes than would be expected in a modern film. By adjusting the fps several times I was able to confuse premiere pro and create a jumpy editing effect which was not very fluid. That was exactly what I wanted for once.

I have learnt a lot about the typical iconography of silent films that will also help me with other genres. Taking a dialogue heavy script and turning it into a silent film has taught me the important value of simplicity and expression in ways other than words.

the end

The man inside final yes definitely this time final draft.

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The production of the man inside has been a mahoosively beneficial experience for me and I shall come back to the production of it in a later blog but for now my role as a writer.

As it is what I want to do in the future (for today) it was purely amazing that my script was chosen by my production group Neon Monkey productions to be made into a short film. The basic principle of the film hasn’t changed since I came up with the idea on my journey home from university on the day it was set. I wanted it cute, funny and simple. Girl meets boy but funnier. The man inside is one of the first scripts I have written that I could picture clearly from brief to every single draft and how it could be directed.

I drafted the first 3 versions of The man inside on my own re reading over bits of dialogue and adjusting it until it was was more natural. Working independently was an enlightening experience as I was able to craft my own ideas with only my self as a judge. It was on my third draft I fell for Isobel and Brian and they really came to life. I knew everything about them, their hates and loves, favourite songs and even why they got divorced. But all that still remains our secret.

After casting two professional actors that specialised in improvisational comedy I sat down with the group and acted out the script between us and made a few changes so that the chemistry could spark off the actors sleekly. A major change was the complete revamp of the engineer character into a proper old school incapable jester type which you can see in this final version. (Which I felt worked particularly well on set in production). I knew that attempting to master a comedy could very well backfire but these sessions with my group where we all got to know the mindsets and alibis of the characters meant I could sneak in things I wouldn’t have dared off confidently. (See boob plane in later post).

The biggest thing this experience of writing screenplay taught me is that silence is truly golden. Before writing the man inside and reading it over a million times I never really appreciated the genius of an ….

awkward silence. I took out loads of dialogue and focused on something really useful I was told in one of my first lectures and tried to ‘Show it don’t say it.’ I think this is why I am particularly proud of this script I know Brian , Isobel and the engineer I mean the characters sorry inside out that I felt I could bring them to life through actions and reactions alone so the dialogue wasn’t the only way the narrative was told. Considering the actors experience I encouraged them to ad-lib their lines to make it more realistic but very few changes were made by them. It was so confidence boosting to see the actors making the script come to life so colourfully yet naturally off my own labour and I have learnt many things about what actors thrive off in a script and what things are just not needed . It has genuinely been a breakthrough for me as a media practitioner. Long live Brian and Isobel ❤

I hope you enjoy reading the final copy of the script as much as I enjoyed writing it.

The man inside final

The man inside- Script

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“As the emergency bell rang and rang, he began to fear that it might somehow,electricity? friction? heat?,start a fire. Recently, there had been a small fire in the building, rendering the elevators unusable. The Business Week staff had walked down forty-three stories. He also began hearing unlikely oscillations in the ringing: aural hallucinations. Before long, he began to contemplate death.”

Being trapped is the cheese of nightmares for many.  Being buried alive or left deserted , what is it that actually creates the fear associated with entrapment? Is it the fear of abandonment or suffocation perhaps? Or is it merely loneliness that does weird things with our minds? That is what I wanted to know to get deep into the mindsets of our protagonists Brian and Isobel.

A real life case study, Nicholas white an office worker was using a lift to go out for a cigarette break but became trapped for a painstaking 41 hours. He didn’t just panic his mind seemingly began to freestyle without him. He fidgets, sits down , then lies , before curling up like a hedgehog. As the hours go into double figures he tries to occupy his mind rummaging through his wallet monotonously and even maybe plotting an escape route.

Being trapped inside seems to make people think. So is it worse to be trapped alone or being in the company of somebody that you do not particularly want to talk to? I chose an ex husband and wife to be trapped together in this situation as it means they have to talk. And open up their thoughts to each other and not just to us the audience thus really pulling out the cracks in their relationship past and present.

Using my treatment, outline and this research I have put together my first draft of short film ‘The man inside’.

The man inside

Script Treatment

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After writing my treatment I have come up with the title ‘The man inside’ for my short film.

Characters:

Protagonists

Brian-young unshaven male

Isobel- pristine, Similar age

Extras

Woman at end of receiver- friendly,helpful

Two male engineers – Comedic , hardworking

A shoplift door opens and a man stumbles out holding his hand to his face. Dazed and out of breath it appears he has been slapped.

Flashback

A man and woman stand at opposite ends of a lift, both individuals’ attentions captured by their Mobile Phones as they stare and unconsciously tap random sequences of buttons.

The male BRIAN dressed casually, in his early 30’s leans against the wall with a CQ magazine underneath his arm. The woman ISOBEL of a similar age, oblivious to the man in her company stands grounded by several heavy shopping bags.

The doors shut and a Voice within the lift announces this. The atmosphere within the lift is quiet with the occasional notification of a text message being sent or received.

The lift mechanisms loudly pull into gear. Finally BRIAN looks up to his companion.  Every ounce of blood suddenly appears to drain from his face.  The pair recognizes each other.

Barely able to communicate they look nervously at each other as the room fills with an awkward tension. Nothing appears to be remotely appropriate to say as the pair gazes around the room.

BRIAN tries to speak but upon opening his mouth comes an inaudible dialect. ISOBEL gives him a scowl silently screaming to him to not even think about it.

Nonetheless a squeak comes out of BRIAN as his mouth cautiously cracks into an overtly forced smile. He greets her as if they have never met.

ISOBEL exhales almost painfully looking down at the floor, Eye contact with him being too uncomfortable.  She mumbles.

An uneasy atmosphere of almost silence intensifies almost ready to erupt as heavy and frustrated breathing pollutes the lift. With a loud shudder the lift jerks and ISOBEL eagerly prepares to make her swift exit much to the obvious effect of BRIAN’S emotions.

BRIAN holds his hand to stop her but her intentions are nonnegotiable. Thoughtfully she steps up to the door waiting to be let out and resisting the urge to turn around. She waits a while. Brain clears his throat to break the air.

BRIAN again does not know where to look as her impatience becomes more apparent. He prepares for the possibility that she may have to confront him the longer they wait for the lift to move.

BRIAN coughs again, this time certain he wants to talk. ISOBEL clicks on, she really doesn’t have anything to say and her refusal to turn around makes this known, she just wants to get away as she repeatedly presses a flashing button to no avail. The doors still do not open.

ISOBEL surrenders and turns around, it is official, they are trapped together in a jammed lift. BRIAN laughs emotionlessly but ISOBEL is far from seeing it as a funny moment.

Something’s never change. ISOBEL finally speaks in broken sentences. It has been a long time since they last spoke and many things have changed.  You’re a Johnson now right? BRIAN questions her bluntly without thinking. ISOBEL shakes her head almost without stopping. Like it is his any of his business anymore.

BRIAN stops ISOBEL from turning around again but she fights it. Facing away from BRIAN she presses the emergency button and a FEMALE VOICE finally fills the lift.  On asking if there is anybody else with her, her reply is that there is unfortunately so. The engineer is on his way.

BRIAN opens up with great difficulty. After the divorce he thought that would be it and they would never meet again. ISOBEL wells up. She has been bearing up but it has been hard at times.

They look at each other briefly for a moment still standing at opposite ends of the lift as emotion takes over them both. After a few moments they continue their catch up with BRIAN looking at ISOBEL’S stilettos and ISOBEL at BRIAN’S trainers . BRIAN has become a music producer and ISOBEL now a head teacher. BRIAN still lives in Devon but has come down to meet a friend. The 20 questions lighten the atmosphere

ISOBEL spots a ring hanging from a silver chain around BRIAN’S neck and involuntarily curses under her breathe.  BRIAN appears bewildered for a moment still after so long being unable to read her. He shrugs as ISOBEL exhales unable to hide her array of emotions.

She checks her watch to avoid facing him. What’s her problem now? He changes the subject. He hopes the engineer comes soon as he has to go the shop to get some potato waffles. She can’t help but stifle an amused smirk but doesn’t look up.

BRIAN looks down and it clicks. Ahhh. He gently explains to her that the ring was left to him from his father in his will who had recently died. Oh. She apologizes for many reasons. She didn’t know.

BRIAN repeats himself; he is eager to leave to get on with his day. Suddenly ISOBEL takes this badly as she fires him with questions about their relationship that she had obviously been holding for a while.

BRIAN stands rigid and takes the interrogation showing little movement except an occasional blink until tears appear just in the corner of his eyes. He tries to mouth an apology but isn’t sure if he should. ISOBEL is barely listening anyway.

Her list of complaints is endless as she shouts and waves her manicured hands getting slowly almost dangerously closer to his unshaven face. BRIAN simply never managed to match his socks. Her voice echoes loudly in the lift.

BRIAN agrees with a simple nod still struck motionless for a while refusing to retaliate. He asks her a simple question; whether she is still an excessive bubble bath user.

She cracks her feisty front and stops the interrogation as she starts to break down. She confronts him softly this time. It feels like old times with the petty arguments and annoyances taking pointless importance. She remembers now why they broke up.

ISOBEL looks up at an obviously upset BRIAN. He wasn’t expecting anything more than waffles he tells her. ISOBEL picks up her phone and scrolls down to the name ‘Leo’ on her phone but changes her mind. BRIAN looks like he is about to cry as he swallows hard.

They look at it each other again and ISOBEL divulges yet another question, struggling to maintain a reasonable level of eye contact with BRIAN she asks in a mumble if he ever really cared. BRIAN looks back up to ISOBEL now practically shaking and her shopping spilt out on the floor.

TWO ENGINEERS work outside the lift both in fluorescent vests and bright fireman’s-yellow hard hats. They talk briefly about their lunch break and their annoying boss as they take the cover of a fiddly electric panel and crossover several wires with interesting looking tools. The lift buzzes and whirs unhealthily for a while but as the TWO ENGINEERS pack up their tools and depart the doors begin to open.

BRIAN stumbles out the lift dazed and out of breath he holds his cheek as if he has been slapped. The perspective switches to the other side and we see between his fingers and on his neck two bright red lipstick marks.

He smiles.

 

Script outline revised

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Following comments off my peers I redrafted my Short Film Outline:

A young Businessman stumbles out of a lift, dazed and out of breath he holds his cheek as if he has been slapped. A flashback reveals why.

This has got be a joke. Right?  Is Brian’s first desperate comment. For once he knows the answer. Being stuck in a lift to your own devices is everyone’s idea of hell but can it get worse? For Brian and Isobel it does as after a five-year divorce they find themselves reuniting in awkward circumstances . Trapped together alone in a store lift they cannot believe their luck (or rather lack of it). Left to each others company until someone puts them out their misery they reluctantly decide to talk and a frustrated argument between them again reveals the petty things between them that broke them up; Brian’s Mismatched socks and Isobel’s extortionate use of bubble bath. Things get emotional and intense.

Isobel a feisty young woman finally cracks. Did you ever really care about us? Brian looks into Isobel’s tearful eyes and a flood of emotions takes over. Things seem hopeless, as they both look equally frustrated. He takes her hand with a look of guilt. The first time they had been honest with each other in a while he looks to the floor.  The audience is taken outside the lift as engineering works begin outside. The door finally opens and we see the man walk out from another perspective. He has a lipstick mark on his cheek.

Script outline

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A young Businessman stumbles out of a lift frantic and out of breath he holds his cheek as if he has been slapped. A flashback reveals why.

This has got be a joke. Right?  Is Brian’s first desperate comment. For once he knows the answer. Being stuck in a lift to your own devices is everyone’s idea of hell but can it get worse? For Brian and Isobel it does as after a five-year divorce they find themselves reuniting in awkward circumstances . Trapped together alone in a store lift they cannot believe their luck (or rather lack of it). Left to each others company until someone puts them out their misery they reluctantly decide to talk and a frustrated argument between them again reveals the petty things between them that broke them up; Brian’s Mismatched socks and Isobel’s extortionate use of bubble bath. Things get emotional and intense.

Isobel a feisty young woman finally cracks. Did you ever really care about us? Brian looks into Isobel’s tearful eyes and a flood of emotions takes over. Things seem hopeless, as they both look equally frustrated. He takes her hand with a look of guilt. The first time they had been honest with each other in a while he looks to the floor.  The audience is taken outside the lift as engineering works begin outside. The door finally opens and we see the man walk out from another perspective. He has a lipstick mark on his cheek.