Drive Rescore

The movie Drive was rescored recently by Zane Lowe and showed on BBC THREE. I will stand out from the crowd here by saying that I really didn't enjoy Drive, I found that it looked stylish and I enjoyed the colours and shadows, but overall the amount of praise that this film got was just way way way too overrated. The characters are boring (having your lead not talk much doesn't make him nessisarily interesting) the script could be written by a 5 year old, it takes references and snippets of inspiration from other much better movies without ever trying to disguise them or make them look new, and there are so many moments that just don't fit - If the majority of the film doesn't involve car chases, don't have your very first opening scene contain a full blown car chas sequence. Well anyway, atleast it was better than its obvious inspired film Hyena, though far less entertaining to watch throughout.

One thing I did like about it though was the music, and when I say that I mean maybe 2 songs, the rest just doesn't seem to work, especially playing a nice lovely charming song with a mother and son, and then 20 minutes later someone is being beaten by a hammer surrounded by strippers in very dark fashion. Suprisingly though I quite enjoyed the new rescoring, the title sequence song is not as good, it just doesn't work with the feel of the city, but some of the songs are incredibly well working. I'm glad to see The 1975 do a rescore in this and it works much better over the more domestic scene of the movie.

One thing especially that I liked about this re-edit is that they even added songs where there was no music originally, so long sections of silence (which I suppose Refn did for 'stylistic' importance, in reality they just bore the heck out of me) are now covered up with quite suspenseful and engaging music. Refn just doesn't seem to understand that silences shouldn't just be used at any opportunity, just like closeups. Silences when picked out carefully next to shots of explosive drama can stir on an emotional reaction (See Scorsese: The art of Silence).

Overall I think this is a great case study for sound and should be viewed by anybody who needs to understand the importance of using the correct music to the correct scene. I can only wonder whether or not if some of these songs were used in Drive that I might have prefered it a little bit more.

Sound Research and so on

For our collaborative project in February, I have been assigned the job of being the chief audio mixer. This job involves a lot of preparation and perfect execution in order to get useable sound. Theres an old cliche that audiences will tolerate bad video quality, but will not tolerate bad sound quality, and as of such it is quite possibly the most essential job not to muck up.

In order to prepare for this I have been looking up tutorials and examples of sound in order to mould my mind into caputuring the best quality possible. The sound mixer Dean Humphreys gave us a masterclass in sound production whilst at encounters film festival, and whilst I sadly did not learn that much from his talk, a good tip that I gained from it was to always record the dialogue correctly, as this is the sound area that will draw your audience more towards the plot and not care about tiny little scratches in the track from time to time. Thus I think it would be best to direct Nick, who shall be doing boom recording to place the microphone as close to their mouths as possible without getting it in shot.

Another tip I learned was not to pay massive attention to books about sound, as it is majoratively audio based and thus best learned about via experience as opposed to theory, though it is best to get the basics noted down. Because of this I will watch audio videos as opposed to getting a book from the library.

Filmmaker IQ have released a video showing how to record sound properly for film making, I have not watched the entirity of it yet, however what I have seen regarding the best sound levels to get has been quite interesting an informative. It is best to get the levels in between -20 and -12 to avoid peaking, as when the audio is too loud the sound becomes distorted and unsalvagable.

We have also decided to make a short documentary about of lives at Swiss Road (our house) in order to get experience in recording sound correctly. I am looking forward to this.

Slaughterhouse Five

The other day I watched the movie 'Slaughterhouse Five' by George Roy Hill. The movie is taken after the book of the same name and is about a man who is unstuck in time and travels throughout numerous time periods uncronologically.

The film itself is not particularly entertaining, it is clearly dated, done with relatively bland actors and lacks depth. However what does shine about the film and what makes it brilliant for study is it's use of editing. Anyone can make a time travel movie and just go along with the same old status quo, but what seperates Slaughterhouse is that it uses matching shot transitions to make the movie seemlessly blend together as opposed to just making it scene by scene.

So for example, our main character is about to change time periods from a shot of him in the middle of Belgium during WW2, to a shot of him on an Alien planet. We could just change it to the next scene by a simple jump cut, but Hill decides to instead make the two scenes connect more. The character in the middle of the snow hears a woman's voice and looks over to the right, we then cut to the woman in question who is in a different location, and then cut back to the man who is now in the same location as the woman, but he is in the exact same position that he was during WW2.

This artful editing choices is a more interesting and novel way of connecting two periods, and as of such we don't get as bored as if it was just a simple cut.

Other types of cuts include graphic matches, the character is playing with his dog in the yard, then he wonders off screen and then slowly we see a dissolve into the next scene which is in the exact same position except that it is Spring time instead of Autumn. And finally there is classic intercutting between two different scenes simultaneously, a similar technique used in modern hollywood action flicks.

I am very much so excited by this type of editing, and I'm definately going to involve such techniques into my films.

Antichrist and my Pitch Idea

Recently I finished off Lars von Trier's Despression Trilogy by watching the experimental film 'Antichrist'. The film is about a couple who lose their child after he falls to his death out of the window whilst they copulate. After this the husband takes his depressed wife to a retreat where he tries to help her recover, but the forest feels violent and things seem to slowly take a turn for the worst. Lars von Trier has always been quite a strange director, whilst I liked Nymphomaniac and Meloncholia, Antichrist felt far more experimental and surreal than the others, I still cannot figure out the true meaning behind the film, or if there even is one. However I was very inspired by this film in regards to the visual aspect and feeling of dread that lies throughout the feature. Disturbing images come forward at different sections in the film, A deer with a dead thawn dangling out of her Vagina, a Fox eating it's stomach, and a crow buried alive that doesn't seem to want to die.

For my individual idea it regards a brother and sister alone in a house trying to survive, which in many ways is quite similar in setting to Antichrist. I might borrow certain aspects from Antichrist in regards to the surreal imagery. I was thinking things such as plants that appear the size of trees, an image of insects eating a dead animal corpse, or dreamlike logic such as ants crawling out of someone's hands.

What I found good about Antichrist is that until the very end there is not much superficial action, there aren't any jumps scares or super gore, yet it still comes across as viceral and nasty, probably due to the sex. I also want to replicate this kind of non scary style, not trying to intentionally strike fear into the audience but rather leave them with a weird slightly disturbed and confused feel.

More Film Ideas

From the moment that I saw the image of a water pond nearby Glastonbury Tor, in the middle of the baking sun and relatively dehydrated, I suddenly cooked up the image of an exhasted Soldier rushing for the pond to dive into it after hours of longing for thirst. I've since evaluated upon this idea and thought up an entire story for it.

It is set in a time where water is scarce and nearly vanished from the world. Our protagonist, armed with a rifle is searching for the juice, in desperation he kills a man to take his flask, but the flask is knocked to the ground and it seeps into the dry earth. At the very end he seems to enter a vivid environment, and discovers the pond of fresh spooling water. He jumps into and whispers thankyou, thankyou. However we realise from a match cut that he was in fact hallucinating and in reality he most probably fell into a pile of dry mud.

There were problems I found with this idea however after evaluating it over and over. For instance, a Gun might be hard to find and expensive, as well as not looking particularly authentic in a no budget movie. Plus if it were to rain outside during February then it would look strange that in a world without water there was plenty avalible all around.

I since reconsidered the idea of two sibling surviving alone together in an old cottage and discover that the taps have run dry, and are scared the leave the house for fear of getting fatigued and dying. The idea of making it about two siblings was that it would allow them to contemplate the ideas of old days when the world was less painful, and or bring across the idea of possible unseen incest between the two. Several years ago I saw the film 'Come and See' which was set during WW2 in the Eastern Front, and at one point featured the protagonist, a young boy, being partially deafened by a shell exploding nearby, which gives the film the advantage of being able to fill the sound of the next 30 minutes of the film with a faint murmering, that gives the feeling of impending dread, hell like imagery and onericism. I also saw this in the film 'The Rising' at Encounters film festival, which also captured a strange dream like dread experience and also had a perculiar soundtrack in the background of each shot. This I would want to add to the film as it would emphasise the idea of hopelessness and constant fear and dread that is quickly aproaching them.

Encounters Day 3

Today was probably the best experience I had at encounters.

I'm glad that we were able to get some interesting advice and experience from the sound designer of The Pianist Dean Humphries. It was very insightful to learn that the most key important part of the film is to make sure that the dialogue is clean and heard well and not nessiarily the background noise. The next sequence we watched was a more experimental style series of films that featured heavy amounts of archive footage to put across their points. I did overall find this quite boring, espiecially the middle section because it was very unengaging, however the finale was very very simple yet incredibly charming and enjoyable to watch, a flurry of photographs of farm animals at a German meat farm, accompanied to some minimalist music. Lastly we got to watch a series of Ishort movies made by people breaking into the industry. What was great was that this was the only sequence where I was not bored by any of the movies, and really found it engaging. All of the films felt unique and thought provoking and gave me some great ideas and direction for my films to come. What this also made me think about was the selection process for encounters, the final segment that we watched was done via people being told to make their own good films and then collect them together, however for all the other segments they were grouped into theme catagories, such as Nostalgia and Nature. I think this is what let down many of the films at the festival, being chosen via a common theme and run time as opposed to whether they were actually really good and deserving, because the final segment of films definately worked better.

Overall I've really enjoyed my time at encounters and have learned a lot, although at the same time I do think they have a lot more to improve upon in terms of quality content (Brazilian Art House films) and perhaps not as many workshops as I would have hoped for, it would have been great to have seen the movie projector, or to handle some equipment and meet some more directors face to face.

Encounters Day 2

I found that today it was interesting and expanding, however very unentertaining and dull at the same time. The main problem came in the form of two sessions of difficult to watch arty films, these included that in the form of super pretentious to overtly offputing. I genuinely felt annoyed at the images I was seeing and even felt like reclaiming my money back at the end of it, I did not feel entertained or inspired by any of the projections today. I enjoy one or two short arty films at a time, but when they are all placed together one on top of each other, they begin to become monontenous and agrovating, so it wasn't an enjoyable experience throughout any of them. Sure, the excrement filled middle segment of the Brazilian short films projections was entertaining more so than others, however this was a Black Swan amoungst numerous dull or un interesting and really badly compromised shorts. There could have been a lot more care taken in readying the segments for projection rather than just showing them as they were. This was further explained in the fact that more than half the audience left before the end of the screening.

On the up side, I did enjoy some parts of the short films segment in 'Force of Nature' which included 5 short films competing against each other. After a shakey start of a 30 minute long bordem infested arty fest, it started to pick up steam when we were shown the experimental film 'The Rising' which was a kind of documentary about the Hogweed flower that is sprouting around England as we speak, it was very inspiring to see such an epic style film based around such a simple concept. The flowers felt like an invasive species and wanted to attack and kill people if they intended on hurting them, it has since given me ideas of what to do for the group project, perhaps that of a dystopian fiction about two people trying to survive on their own.

Overall today was not a very enjoyable today compared to the previous, but I still gathered information and hope to learn more the following day.

Encounters Day 1

Today was our first experience of this years encounters, it was very refreshing to see movies on the cinema screen again and with surround sound as it really helped me both enjoy the experience far more and stay attached to it.

I loved watching the two short film segments the most, it has really inspired me more and given me ideas for how short films should be structured, rather than simply making it like a regular film, this was bolstered more so when we watched the feature length film 'Hyena' at the end of the ceremony. Contrasting the short films with the feature, it was far more clear as to how it would ruin the pacing of the film if it were made in the style of a feature. I have found that in regards to film making style and experimentation so far have not been that interesting or different, however I am looking forward to later in the week when we shall aparently be watching more experiemental film making styles, which will hopefully help me when I come to improve upon my editing in the future.

In between the two films we were shown into a forum on Animation, which whilst interesting I didn't really find very engaging or appealing to me. I think that it would have been better to have gone to an event that had more to do with what we are attempting to do as not many of us have much interest in animation, but then thats just me.

I found my favorite film of the showing was 'The Immaculate Reception' which is set in working class 1970's Pennsylvania. It was most probably shot on 16mm film and had a lushous colour style going on. For a brief moment it really felt like I had just been taken back in time to an older age. It drew parallels to British kitchen sink dramas of a similar variety, though at the same time it never felt too schmultzy, nor overly harsh, nor akin to typical American family comedies of the 90's... it just felt right, a small slice of life.

Christopher Nolan's 'Following'

Recently I watched Christopher Nolan's first feature film. No, not Memento, he in actual fact made his first film in native England, called 'Following'.

Following, to me, really stands out as a fantastic cinematic achievement. I've never been a huge fan of Nolan, I find his work a bit too reliant on gimmicks, being dry of emotion, taking a few too many liberties when it comes to plot irregularities (How the hell did the Joker know the exact route of the chopper during the convoy scene in 'The Dark Knight'?) and filling his films with a lot of Road Sign Dialogue due to extensive plots (Inception for sure). However I've lauded him for his subtle or lack there of usage of special effects, and his eagerness for perfection in the production department (He always tries to stay close to the Raw material of celluloid film)

But when I watched Following, I really was quite amazed by the level of craft Nolan had put into making this feature considering the production limits and the budget. Made for just £6000, paid entirely out of Nolan's salary, the film is about an unemployed writer who is dragged into the criminal underworld whilst stalking people, a hobby of his. He is taken under the wing of a man called Cobb, a proffesional burgeler who enjoys breaking into people's apartments mainly for the thrill. The plot soon thickens and even though it is only 70 minutes long, the film feels far longer and far more complex, most probably due to it being done non linearly, and keeping us guessing.

There are of course some silly moments in the film, Cobb tends to be a little over the top from time to time and the ending revelations do jump a little bit into the far fetched catagory. But for the most part this is Nolan's most low key film and thus they can be overlooked. And the main kicker for me in the picture is the production itself.

Nolan felt that many low budget movies try too hard to be Hollywood esc and never try to be what they actually are, low budget movies. To seperate himself from this crowd, he decided to shoot in black and white, which would give the film a bit more of an artistic look whilst also saving the added anchor of having to deal with colours. Next he took the camera off the tripod and shot handheld, this way his film would not try and emulate the look of a typical studio set up. And finally he decided not to use guns, because he found (as I entirely agree with) that firearms tend to look fakey and cliched when used in No Budget films, as they require a lot of TLC in order to look authentic. Rather he used a hammer as he found this would let his film know his place and not look pretentious.

Because he was paying for the film out of his pocket, he had to be careful with how many times he used valuable and expensive 16mm film negatives, so he made the actors rehearse the scene multiple times before he hit the record button. He also shot many of the scenes right next to a window due to the lack of light that Nolan had avalible. Because sound was difficult to capture properly, he tricked the audience into becoming entranced in the film at the beginning by making the sound quality extra special so they wouldn't be too fussed when eventually the audio began to become lacking.

I think I've figured out a lot of important movie making ideas from looking into this film and am looking forward to using these techniques later in my movie making hopes.

When Milton met Marx - Analysis

Recently I made a film titled 'When Milton met Marx', it was a dry comedy about two housemates living and arguing together until finally one of them breaks! - The movie is on my Films page.

After viewing the film some people stated that they enjoyed it, but found that the meaning behind it was too subtle for them to understand. So I decided to make this Analysis to show the amount of subtext and easter eggs that I laid in the film.

So lets begin...

First off the names. Milton is a reference to the great American Economist Milton Friedman, who advocated for Small government, free markets, property rights and the power of the individual. Marx on the other hand is a reference to Karl Marx, a supporter of Collectivism and state control, who thinks that property is theft. For the film Milton will represent the Libertarian Individual, and Marx will represent the Socialist, the modern liberal, or in some instances, the State itself.

Together these two contrasting individuals will teach us an important lesson about politics and economics from a more domestic environment of two arguing housemates.

The first shot we see is one of Milton sat at a bench. We could state that the first bit of subtext is that he is sitting on the 'Right' side politically, however this is moreso a technical issue. The first piece of symbolism is the coca-cola can he grabs on the ground. He then drinks it and feels happy afterwards. His free movement and ability to use the refreshment is sort of a symbol of the free market, the ability to take from the land what you have avalible to you and use it to fulfill your self interests. After this Milton gets up and walks down the path, which could also count as a road.

In the next scene we see Milton on the phone, Cola can in hand, and standing in front of a Tesco express store. Right here we have two symbols of Capitalism, Cola and Tesco. He then leaves and heads off down another path, this time right next to a road flooded with cars.

Next Milton enters a store and is about to buy some Jelly Babies, however his direction is turned when he finds a newspaper, showing two leaders, Tony Blair and George Bush and below it the heading of 'Debt collectors hound the poorest over tax credits', essentially some high up political stuff. Milton shows his distaste for these themes by throwing the paper down and moaning.

Milton then walks down a road, with both Jelly Babies and Coca-Cola in hand, walking past a Volkswagen car - More Enterprise! And if that weren't enough, another brand car is seen driving down the road. This is the third time we see the Road Motif. Roads are a commonly spoken about topic when it comes to small government and or free market Anarcho-Capitalist idenifiying people.

At last Milton has entered his house, where he hears on the radio some pundits talking about companies finding tax havens. Milton is again frustrated with this and goes to turn it off. We also notice a picture of John Hurt on the wall, this is an easter egg refering to his role in two Collectivist/Totalitarianism films. '1984' and 'V for Vendetta'.

Milton enters his room and finds that his housemate (Mark/Marx) is in there stealing his phone charger. The two then exchange words in a small arguement over personal space. In this confrontation we are seeing an argument that Libertarians are all too familiar with seeing, the nessisity of private property. Marx seems adamant that he is entitled to enter Milton's room, which is a representative of Milton's private property, and thinks that he has the right to just enter his room and take a charger from him for now because 'It's OUR house'. Milton on the other hand is defensive and believes that it is wrong of him to enter his room without his permission, because this is his space. You may also notice the l and R on Milton's door, this is an easter egg refering to Milton Friedman's views "I am a Liberal with a small l and a Republican with a big R"

After this confrontation Milton decides to watch a crime film for his thesis (Crime is also a hot topic when it comes to talking about the role of the state and whether it's laws create crime). Behind him is the graphic novel 'V for Vendetta' that symbolises state control and corruption, and above it is a poster of an Eagle, which could be construded as the Eagle of Liberty. This shows a dominance of liberty over the state. However this is cut short when Marx comes along and blocks the view of this with his head.

When Milton declines a cup of tea, Marx seems to coerse Milton into having one by slapping him with the cup and noogying him. Libertarians view coersion by anyone as a wrongful thing to do and Marx is displaying state force when used to get people to do things they don't want to do. This is made ironic later when he says in reference to Milton's choice of films "Dude theres nothing cool about forcing people against their will".

Milton then asks Marx if he managed to deliver the money he gave him to his friend, to which he replies no, but that he will do it soon. It is evident that he probably spent some of the money on the chocolate bar he is currently eating. This is another reference to the bad results delivered by the state. We all know that the government doesn't have a good track record when giving certain things to us, it will take money away from us and then spend it on things the people didn't want and then take a long ardous time getting the things we do want done fast.

To add insult to injury Milton notices that Marx has thrown his chocolate bar wrapper on the floor. Symbolism again for Private Property and the economic situation known as the tradgedy of the commons. Marx drops his litter onto Milton's land because he doesn't have an incentive to clean up, but if it were on Marx's land, he would have incentive to do so because he would have a dirty room. You may also notice that on the wall next to Milton there is a poster of the video game 'Twitch Plays Pokemon' a video game where users from across the world play the same game of pokemon together. There were two ways to play it. Anarchy and Democracy: Here is a link to find out more so you get a hint as to what I am referencing.

Milton is then seen playing a single player game 'Fallout: New Vegas". The single player nature of the game is supportive of Milton's individualist personality. Marx enters and asks if he can play a game with him. Milton shows him that the majority of the games he owns are single player focused games, further evidence of his personality. The topic of Roads is brought up again, and Milton states the reason he doesn't have any of those types of games is because "He didn't need any" a reference to how many Libertarians only want what they decide than something they don't need. The scene is also swampped in Red as a symbol of Communism/Socialism, and Milton as the lone individual in Blue.

Marx goads him into playing a Multiplayer game with him, and thrashes him at it, quite like how the government thrashes in the individual. When Milton leaves in frustration, Marx steals some of his Jelly Babies and lies back like an evil genious as he watches his victory in the game and we hear a Nuke explode. This is clever representation of the government destroying places with force, and taking from us without our permission.

Milton decides to waste some time by building a Road of books, and we find him firing a yellow Berlin cabby into a wall. This shot shows clear representation of Berlin during the cold war. Two opposing sides, Capitalism and Socialism, East and West Berlin, he the fires the cab into a wall, showing that he wants to destroy the boundaries and bring back freedom.

Marx then appears and informs Milton that he is going off to pay the bills, and that he requires a hefty sum of money from him. Milton is outraged, stating that he wanted to be individual and pay for his own energy usage. Here three economic points are brought up...

  1. The spreading out of wealth amoungst people incentivises others to use up more because they know in the end they will pay less.
  2. The debate as to whether it is fair for someone to go without if they don't have a job avalible.
  3. Whether it is selfish to keep the money that you earn.

In the end Milton is defeated and comes out with Marx to pay the bills.

Outside, Marx crushes a cola can, this should be very clear symbolism, the can represents capitalism and Marx is clearly destroying it. Marx is then seen continuously pestering Milton by telling him of how the Bush years were absolutely terrible with his war in Iraq, these comments are hypocritical however seeing as when Milton reminds him that Obama is just as bad Marx tries to make excuses to cover himself. These were typical lines stated by many who were sceptical of Bush's presidency yet were compliant and supportive of Obama without question.

Marx then complains about how rich people can afford to pay a little bit more, yet Milton allows reason into the argument by reminding him that those lines are never mentioned outside of business oriented people, never Brain Surgeons.

The discussion finally boils up and Milton bursts out on Marx for being unfair and irritating to him throughout the entire day. He states numerous things that mirror many of the actions of a government. - Barging into his room/ Barging into someone's property, or a foreign country. - Take advantage of his posessions/ Take money from people through law rather than persuasion. - Breaking all the promises he was asked to keep/ Breaking political promises to gain support.

Marx simply tries to brush these off by smearing him as being silly, but Milton doesn't stand down and tells him that he is going to pay for the bills that he owes, for the energy that he used, with the money he earned, from the job that he works at. The entire scene takes place on various roads, again using the same motif, Marx final trip as he exits the scene could be viewed as a finger to the government established roads.

Milton stares at Marx, and when he leaves, he feels puzzled, almost amazed, he has done something that every Liberty minded person has wanted yet seldom accomplish; He has triumpthed over a Statist hands down. He punches air in his joy.