Now that I have finished the required days for the module, I have shown to myself what I am capable of achieving and the skills that I already did have and those that I have obtained. To advance beyond the module however, I need to use these new skills and experiences to my advantage.
Whist some of my projects still continue, I am fortunate that I have gained longer term contracts through this module, in order to gain more work on the completion of these though I have begun to reflect on where I am professionally, where I would like to be and how I aim to get here. This course, particularly the undertaking of scripting ‘Crash’ showed me that writing for children is not only where my strengths lie but it is something which I am passionate about to continue with.
In order to devise a plan on how I will do this I have referred to my original SWOT analysis, and updated it to be specifically about this career in reference to what I have learnt and obtained from this module.
- Carry on course in writing for children
- Develop skills as a freelancer whilst looking for contracted and stable work
- Gain professional contacts within the sector using networking such as twitter and Facebook as well as attend conferences such as the London Screenwriters festival
- Postgraduate study in more specialised area upon graduation
- Continue to update CV and online presence
As a first step to these plans I have been updating my website and will continue to do so http://lynchkatiemarie.wix.com/onethousandpics4kids
And have also updated my Media producer cv, so that it now notes my new skills and experiences whilst hopefully appealing more to potential employers. For example it now states my experience with sound, as well as project highlights with cooler, event photography and the community channel.
The most beneficial outcome which I feel will serve me well is the vast amount of variety experience that I have gained. Whilst I feel passionate about screen and radio writing, I now have more experience in sound, research and photography which will contribute to these specific skills as well as allowing me to still undertake other projects also to a good level.
Whilst gaining more professional work for a children’s channel for etc would have been advantageous, I know feel prepared to compete in this highly competitive industry in order to gain this in the future.
The internal strengths of my placements are that I feel I worked hard and did stay focussed to keep to all deadlines that were set. I have continued employment with several placements so feel that this is a good measure of my success. Although time management was at times more challenging and a bigger weakness than I expected, particularly with juggling several projects at once, this is some thing which I have shown myself to have overcome, despite several obstacles, to meet my own and employers targets.
Overall I have learnt a lot about my own abilities. This has given me a great deal more confidence that the best way to improve my skills is to give lots of different areas and to practice my skills at every opportunity to give myself a competitive edge too.
Today my sound editing skills have been tested to the max as I have begun to put together all of the individual sound files from the recordings my actors did for me.
I had over 400 sound clips to work with and that was after I had taken out the outtakes! To begin with this mission I renamed the files accordingly in the layout of Scene-Take-Actor, this use of initiative although taking a little time before I could get started it did make it considerably easier to find the clips that I wanted and in the right order.
With the clips named accordingly I put together a sequence edit, I put the audio footage simply into an edit which made sense. As to be expected this edit lacked a colour to it, so again I used a mix of royalty free and sounds that I had recorded myself to bring the story to life and I feel that this worked well.
With the footage all in the right order with the extra sounds that I had sourced too, I took each clip and edited it with the extension of sound editing software Audition. I played around with the different audio settings but eventually found that the settings were efficient enough in creating a professional edit.
The biggest obstacle, with the sounds being sourced from different people’s computers and mic’s was the variation in reverb and volume. To level all of these things out I used a parametric EQ effect across all of the files so that they would all have the same quality and I think this effectively covers this fact. When I show the final project to an audience I will be interested to see how this comes across, then I can see how effective my editing skills have become throughout this project.
Editing the sound test was a good practice for editing multiple layers and feel this was a good plan to get some practice in before this part of the project. The final edit does offer new challenges, as obviously this is not just a test and uses the layering of many more sounds and effects to tell the whole story but I feel confident in using Premiere Pro and Audition to do this efficiently.
I showed the final edit to a fellow professional and he pointed out some strengths and weaknesses for me to work on.
Most importantly, he felt it met the brief but felt that it had a little too much silence in it. I filled the gaps in sound, thinking about what my writers course has taught me about the attention span of modern children being less of that than an adult and I hope that it now receives the positive feedback that I hope it will when I replace the trailer on my brand new website with the final edit.
I have begun to set about the last stages of working towards my final piece as the actors begin to record their pieces. My intention is to piece together all of the different characters to create a world that fits the original brief that I set myself. My aim from this brief is still to create a radio drama that is bold and fun whilst also having an educational element, listening to the pieces in their unedited form now I feel that I recreated the original image in my head as I intended to be, now I hope that after editing this with the addition of royalty free clips too my audience will feel that it fits this brief too.
Technically, for this project everything needed to be consistent in order for me to get these audio clips to blend in well together. As the actors messaged me one by one to tell me that they were ready to begin recording, I ensured that they were using appropriate recording software which was of a reasonable quality and that they were recording to a compatible file type for Premiere Pro.
The other element to the filming that I wanted to be effective was the acting and characterisation of my script, although I had an idea in my head of what I wanted I knew that it was going to be extra difficult to put this across to my actors via the internet. Whilst I did offer my actors assistance as much as if I was on set, answering questions and suggesting motives I also edited as went go along, so the actors could bounce off each other. This made it easier for the actors to leave the right length of pauses so other voices could be edited in fluidly and react appropriately to each other responses.
Doing recording over the internet was a clear obstacle and I felt powerless not being able to be right next to the actors during the recordings. However my strengths at communicating and being able to edit efficiently at a fast pace help me to lessen the burden of this.
The fast pace of this part of production really showed me my own strengths and weaknesses. Although it was at types quite stressful to make sure all of my cast were happy with performing their character to the best of their abilities and knew what they were doing technically in terms of equipment, how loud to speak and in some cases what settings on the microphone, the Actors have luckily said my script was very usable. The actor for Chris said that he could easily understand his character within a first read, apparently this is rare so this has left me more confident with my own scripting ability.
With all of the sound files that I have now gathered I will be using premiere pro tomorrow to blend them into one which, similarly to ‘cooler’ uses sound to tell the story.
I have used social networking to cast all of the people in my audio drama, and now it has been a useful tool for me to actually organise the recordings from around the world and to ensure that everybody knows what they are doing.
I have created a Facebook group to send general messages out in bulk rather than to each person. I thought it also important to create a community, where the actors could talk to each other and bounce off each others personalities so that this would come across within the drama.
Because of the circumstances, where the actors are all from different cities from literally all around the world. It is essential for me to create as large a sense of unity as possible. The obstacles that I faced in organising my team in this way were different to that of working in a recording studio for one day with all my actors in one place. Although, this way meant that I could cast actors from all over the world, which in itself gives character to the story through the different actors accents and that I could request re-edits easily without having to go back into the studio, it does mean that with actors in different time zones and different timetable it is much harder to keep track off the recording that each artist does.
To overcome this, I have had to be extra organised and practice good communication skills to keep everybody informed of what each person has done so far. This has included some late nights to make sure that people who aren’t in England are still kept up to date.
The first actor to begin recording was Dane, who is voicing the role of Chris. Although he recommended a fellow actor who had a younger voice, this actor felt that the task was too big. Being in a position where I am unable to pay my actors is a little frustrating. For the next radio drama I will do, I am therefore going to fundraise before hand. This will hopefully overcome the obstacle of missing out on talented actors over money. However, I am still very happy with the casting of Dane, and think that he has interpreted the script well so far.
I have uploaded the clips that he has sent for me as I have edited them and hope that when the other actors come to record their parts they can bounce of these snippets of his character.
This experience has taught me a lot about the importance of communication and I feel I have learnt a lot about directing from being so far away from my actors and having to articulate what I want and when. My strengths with this I think have been my organisational skills, from setting up a Facebook group and casting everybody in a short amount of time despite a few unfortunate circumstances, but again I feel like this project could have been improved with more time if I started earlier.
As this is something which is too late to change, I have at least upped my game with all of the actors scheduled to complete their recordings in the next few days. As these recordings begin, it is more important than ever that I ensure my cast is happy, know about their characters and the ones which they interact with and what file type/where to send it to.
I feel quite confident that my actors feel comfortable working with me, although it being in a slightly unusual way this time!
Now that I am building my freelance skills and beginning to specialise more in creating media for children and young people, I devoted today to developing my online presence and to show as much as the world as I can these changes to my experience, and whilst I am at it to spread some excitement about the radio play I am currently working on.
The main purpose of building a website was to:-
- Give myself a professional outlook
- Begin to put together a portfolio of media specifically for children
- To gain interest and feedback so that I can learn from my audiences responses
- To attract the attention of professionals and employers in the same field.
To build my website I used free website creator Wix.com, this offered me plenty of templates as a starting point and I could choose one already built as a canvas for a media producer.
I chose a template which used crumpled paper as a background as I liked that this was representative of creative innovation, that plenty of ideas end up in the bin before a final product is complete. As the background was plain, it also meant that I could use bright colours to express this theme of the things that I create being fun and approachable by a young audience.
I used the OneThousandPictures logo as the focus point of the ‘Home Page’ with the subtle edit ‘For Kids’ added on in sketchy letters to straight away point out that it is a sister part to the mainstream company I am expanding. The Pencils and submarine were references to immersing yourself into creativity, whether that be as the artist or the audience and this is a reference I would like to use again as it is quite covert but effective.
As noted in my brief above, I put in a page purely for media which was not just suitable but created with children in mind.
Under each video I have put a note for the guardian/parent of the child who would watch the video as it would be them ultimately deciding if the material was appropriate for their child.
In reference to children’s Audio drama ‘Crash’ which is currently in production, I have put up a trailer to build some excitement around the project.
The parents/Guardian page I left as a cv of my experience and skills, this page is for adults to see that I am both a professional and care about the cause and for potential employers to see that I am competent in using the software that I demonstrate within the portfolio of work also on the website . Building this page in particular reminded me of the selling points that I am gaining for myself from undertaking projects, such as the ones I have done for my professional experience module.
Upon my websites I put up plenty of networking opportunities for people to get involved. Not everybody uses Twitter, Facebook etc so creating this website was a good way of drawing attention to these audience members but for those that do, social networking is a more convenient way of building a community and keeping them updated.
I am slightly unhappy with the colour of the text on some of the pages and this is something I will change. I would also like to develop the information about ‘Crash’ as this is my biggest children’s radio challenge so far in terms of length and how I will go about recording it. This is a unique quality which I would now like to sell.
Despite all of this I feel that the website is starting to have a good professional feel to it and the publicity on searching my name to a page about my work can only be a good thing.
As suggested, I left it a while before returning to my script and completing the final draft. Luckily, even with a fresh mind there were very little changes that I felt needed to be made other than to smooth out bits of dialogue from what I have learnt from paying attention to speech this week, so with that done I was ready to see how the real thing would work.
My first plan, to use friends who are actors again, just to see if the idea worked before taking it to the recording studio with actors of whom I had auditioned for the part in terms of being close to the character somewhat fell through due to unforeseen circumstances. Although this was a stressful and frustrating situation after working so hard on my script this did give me a very good incentive to go straight into the deep end and try and hire actors and edit something together as soon as I could, as closer as how it is working in the industry. Although most writers for audio dramas, for BBC radio for example, would not have to produce the final edit themselves I feel that it is good practice for me to experience all areas and thus make me a more versatile producer . On the completion on this edit myself, I will also have the advantage to my abilities to not only write for children but to also edit sound. I feel this would make me a better right too, to know the limits and boundaries of what I write.
I used several casting forums and Facebook groups to put out a casting call for the drama. The characters were difficult to cast because of the ages, the two main characters being under twelve. Particularly for a boy it was difficult to find male actors whose voice had not broken. After researching more though I discovered that many studios actually use female actors to play the role of young boys because this is much easier to so I left this as an option. Casting actors who are under 18 comes with lots of ethical issues and a requirement of parental consent which was some thing I was running out of time for.
Luckily through the various approaches that I took to casting, things have started to fall in place.
The character of Chris, was originally set to be a male actor whom I know personally. Unfortunately, due to unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances this could no longer happen. The second person that I casted was an actor called ‘Dane Spurrel’ after he sent me a superb voice demo from reading from my script after I sourced him on a voice acting agency.
Communicating and casting actors from America, although an interesting experiences also poses other potential problems such as the differences in time zones.
Although I loved the character in his voice, he recommended a friend who had a younger voice who could possibly suit the role better. He sent me over this demo to start thinking about my decision.
I am waiting to hear back from him but think that both of the voices have their strengths to my piece. And look forward to casting one of these.
For the character of Scout, I put a casting call up in several places over the internet from amateur to professional. However the best responses that I got were from a local youth theatre, on their Facebook group page. I am going to look carefully between the qualities of these potential actors but, luckily for this role, if there are too many complications with timing etc then this is a role I could do myself.
Casting these more complex roles has shown me the importance of time keeping as a freelancer. If I had started this project earlier, than I feel that I could have put more time into casting and production, however this is something which I have picked up from the experience and will be more efficient from throughout the rest of the project.
For the character of the Mum, I casted an actress after seeing her perform locally a few nights ago. I felt that she would be perfect for the sternness of the role.
She will be recording her part when she returns from her holiday. Another Time Zone to think about!
For the character of Tom, I was very lucky that, when I was casting the character of Scout one of the potential actresses who was unable to partake passed on the details of a friend. Who happened to be perfect for the role.
Although, putting together a radio drama with actors all over the world rather than in a studio together is a little unorthodox, what I learn from the challenges that it presents will stay with me through out my whole development as a freelancer.
I came back to the editing I had already started with a fresher mind and decided against my earlier idea of grading the footage in its entirety. Instead, I re-imported some of the footage in its modern and pure self to contrast with the older looking footage earlier on. I liked the effect of a journey that this made.
As my client asked for ‘experimental’, I wanted my layering idea to have as many dimensions as possible and some sort of movement. In relation to the idea of a journey I decided that the base layer for my composition should be water, to reflect the movement of a journey overseas and a dreamy state in the way that it would also move and distort the footage in the layer on top.
Although setting the transparency and motion levels was a little tricky in parts I liked the effects of having the two moving and would like to play around with the idea again.
Although the effect might be a little too experimental for mainstream cinema, the effect of layering and the motion between the footage tells a story in itself. As a filmmaker I think that the amount of interpretation that this allows for is more thought-provoking than playing one layer at a time, or even layering two static visuals that don’t move at all or not very much.
In terms of the brief that I was given, to play around with the available effects on premiere pro to my heart’s content, to create a film which fitted the song but was also fun and deep, I feel like I have pushed myself to do this to a good ability. Putting together a music video was something I had ever done before but looking back on the footage I had create I feel that this has improved my skills in editing visuals in ways I had never done before. And that is the best way that I can develop my skills.
I used templates off the internet to see what the norm was for music titles edit and ended up following the MTV template as a guideline, with the artist’s name in bold first and my name below much smaller.I also found a font very similar to the one used by many larger industries and this fitted in well with the start of the film when stretched out a little. With the titles complete and on the film, I felt that the film looked a great deal more professional for it and I was very happy with the final footage.
I have sent off the footage to the musician who seems happy with it and said that he really liked the techniques that I used. One film down and only 6 to go!