Lenny – Reflection On

During the first semester of Master of Media – RMIT, I enrolled in Sound and Image course. We had an incentive day to produce a one-page script and more than two hours to shoot three scenes. I was assigned to direct the shooting with other four students, a First Assistant Director (First AD) to manage the whole production, a Cameraman,  a Boom Operator, and a Camera Assistant.


Pre-production

It took us nearly three hours to finish the storyboard for just only 1 page script. To be honest, it was the first time I was the director. I discussed with Miro, the cameraman and another group member to do the drawing. We analysed the script, determining what to shoot and where to shoot. The storyboard was drawn by a student who has a back-ground of Bachelor degree in Games Design, she took our ideas about the duration of the shooting, camera shot types and the transition to transform into drawing. There were 18 drawings in total, filled with details. When we were about to finish the storyboard, we found out we had miss-understood about the genders of the characters due to the sample we had worked with previously, so the drawings were fixed all over again.


Production

It was on a Sunday morning, we went to school to get the equipments. We asked another group to be the actors for the film. While other members were setting up the camera, I asked our actors to read the script and did some practices. The trouble was that they were not real actors and also it was the first time I directed. We were all students, my actors did not get paid for their jobs, so I had many difficulties of trying not to be bossy. Although I was not satisfied enough, I was so respectful for their help.

We spent a lot of time finding the exact locations we wanted to shoot. I was my fault, I had not checked the location properly before producing. Furthermore, the constructions nearby caused too much noise, we were interrupted whenever a truck passed by.

Finally, when we were ready to shoot, there were some technical problems that Miro could not adjust the focus on the camera properly. I was “freak-out”. It was always about the time-management. On a real production, every thing needs to be on time. Otherwise it will cause money-related trouble when the budget is limited. However, we decided to keep shooting.

The whole process of film-making did not only have problems, we had fun as well. None of the group member remembered how to call in a video shot procedure, except me. I got only “Action!” and “Cut”. First AD had so many lines, she had to hold the instruction to read her lines and even she needed to remind every member.

Fortunately, we finished on time. I now know that being a director is really troublesome. I was struggling in transforming what was drawn on the storyboard into reality. I had to keep my eyes on every detail, every movement of the actors. I had to watch the time, decided whether to move forward or to retake the shot. I had to maintain the positive atmosphere because none of them getting paid. I needed to balance between my high requirement and satisfaction of what I had.

Nevertheless, we have learnt how to do our roles and how to work in a group. We helped and encouraged each other. We all tried to focus and maintained positive attitudes. No matter how imperfect our product is, we all had a chance to know what it is like in a film-production process.


Post-production

It was only when I started doing the post-production, I realised how bad I was a director. The shots did not have strong connections to each other. Some scenes were too long, some were too shot so there were not many choices of editing. And even our reflection was showed up on the window, you can see it at 1:15 on the Version 1.

Lenny Version 1:

The content of the film generates a little bit of suspense, so I decided to edit the film with green and blue tone. I used the Fast Colour Correction in Video Effects to balance the white in different shots. The colour was adjusted with Temperature: -10 and Tint: -15. Some footage was adjusted with exposure of -10 and contrast: 10; highlight: -10 and shadow: -16. To avoid the “suddenly appear and disappear”, I used Video Transitions with Fade in and Fade out, beginning with Cross Dissolve and ending with Dip to black.

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The background music was a little bit creepy to increase the thrill and suspense. Due to the noisy background, I used some filter in Audio Mixer to lower the unnecessary noise.

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After reviewing several times of the first rough cut, I noticed that the same scene when the two actors had their conversation did not match the tone of colour, I adjusted some more Temperature and Tint to make them look-alike, also to cover our reflection on the window as much as possible.

Lenny Version 2:


 

I have learnt a lot from doing the Lenny Incentive exercise, including the three stages of production. Although I have experience of working in Media, I have never had my hands on the whole film-production, from Pre-production to Post-production. That was a really valuable experience not only for me but also for all of Media students.

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