For the assessment task – Single Shot Video, the students of Media Objects were to get into a group and develop an idea for a one-minute single take video incorporating the theme of “success”. On the first day of our intensive I met Brenda, Bo and Mari. We got together and worked on a practise task, which enabled us to work together and get to know each others strengths and weaknesses regarding the production of a short single take film. Our practise task was successful and with our newfound confidence in filmmaking, we began developing our single shot assessment task.
Success as a theme can be represented in many ways. The night before I had watched The Wolf of Wall Street directed by Martin Scorsese. That film explored the idea of success by tracing the rise and fall of a Stock Broker who cheated his way to the top. The character of Jordan Belfort played brilliantly by Leonardo DiCaprio believed success was directly tied to being rich. Money was his main motivation throughout the film, and he would stop at nothing to ensure he had as much as possible. After hearing that our theme was success I automatically thought of that film and of doing something similar. However every good idea that I had would require a multiple cuts. The single take was limiting to my vision and I had to rely on other ideas in order to be successful in this task. We eventually decided on the idea of someone being robbed and chased and then being rescued and that would be the “success.” It would be shot with an in your face, action aesthetic similar to director Paul Greengrass of The Bourne Identity films. These films incorporate a lot of handheld action, which give you the experience of actually being there. It is thrilling and leaves the audience with a dizzying effect. We knew because of the constraints of having one shot, we had to make it as thrilling as possible so the audience would be able to experience something new in this format. We decided on including a chase scene, which would give the viewer a sense of the real time action. As we developed the story further we agreed on a location and who would act and film.
The story would be as follows;
Brenda would walk down the stairs of a train station, walk down an empty alleyway where she would get a phone call. As she answered the phone, unbeknown to her, Bo would snatch her bag and run down the alleyway. I would play a local merchant who just happened to be there. I would intervene, get the bag off her and return it to Brenda. The success would be her getting her bag back.
We filmed the scene in a few takes and were happy with the results. As we returned to class our tutor Jeremy took a look. He gave us feedback and said that perhaps we could include a bit more to the story, perhaps some form of a narrative twist. We all agreed and decided to meet up the weekend after and re-film our scene. During the week we kept in touch via email and discussed how we could improve our one shot film and add a twist. We decided to have Brenda have an envelope with something important inside and put it in her bag. As she is robbed by Bo, I would again intervene and rescue her bag. However the twist is that Bo and I are in it together and I get the envelope from her bag while I return it to her. As Brenda leaves happy her bag is returned. I meet Bo and tell her I got the envelope and that’s our “success”.
Our second round of filming took longer than our initial film, however due to the advanced storyline, many takes were required. We had up to 19 different takes and the last one was the best. As we filmed that day problems with the film included the actors not being able to keep a straight face and shaky handheld filming. We didn’t use the Sony Video Camera we used the week before, we used a Canon DSLR, which unfortunately wasn’t as stable as the Sony Camera from the University. The smooth filming from the first day was lost in the process. Our final cut is shakier however it does incorporate the handheld action aesthetic that we originally wanted. Our video now looks more in the style of the action films of Paul Greengrass and Michael Bay.
Our final cut will be uploaded to youtube for public viewing. I will advertise it through my blog as well as social media such as Twitter and Instagram. I am happy with our final cut and hope to make a film with my group again.
Title: The Envelope
Written & Directed by Bo Dechphant, Mari Guren, Daniel Hennequin & Brenda Au-Yeung
Brenda Au-Yeung as Lady with envelope
Bo Dechphant as Thief
Daniel Hennequin as Stranger/Helper
Director of Photography: Mari Guren