I think having the right shots to tell the story can not be emphasised enough. If we hadn’t bothered to get the pick-up of Richard with the crate and Richard had made it to the final cut as a “pervert” instead of the “concerned delivery man” the film would have been a disaster.
This post comes from a highly regarded dissertation length reflection piece I wrote for the Planning and Making a Film module I undertook in the penultimate year of my BA (Hons). The module's practice was undertaken between October 2011 to June 2012 and it provided me with a hugely enriching experience. For a more detailed overview of the module and the projects I undertook as a part of it, see Planning and Making a Film: The student filmmaking experience.
A point that had been raised in the Peer Review session was that Richard didn’t comes across as a delivery man because we never saw what he was delivering. Furthermore, this added to image of Richard’s motives seeming less genuine and more perverted. It also didn’t help that we he was peeking through a letter box spouting a line like: “I’ve got something for you; maybe you could give something to me?” This we promptly deleted! However, it was suggested the best way to establish him as a delivery man would be to insert a shot of him in the front garden with the delivery crate. This was a shot we didn’t have so, during the Easter break, we went and filmed it.
As soon as we inserted it in everyone said it de-perverted Richard and if its inclusion removes the perceived perversion of Richard then its inclusion is vital! Its inclusion also helps to further enforce Richard as the same delivery man who is heard on the phone earlier. Therefore, this shot is well worth the effort we put into getting it.
The second pick-up shot we filmed is one that I pushed for throughout the whole of the editing process because, in my mind, this single shot explains a great deal about Amelia's motivation to trust Richard.
Earlier in the film she asks Richard if he can add paracetamol to her delivery; he tells her, though, that it is too late and rings off. Now jump to later in the film when Richard is pleading for her to give him the keys. Amelia doesn’t give him the keys not just because he is a friendly person; she gives him the keys because he has gone to the trouble of getting the paracetamol, even though he said he couldn’t, and demonstrated that he is an admirable person clearly willing to go out of his way to help her.
Originally, in our Rough Cuts he does post the paracetamol through but, because there is no close-up, you don’t actually know it is paracetamol. I believe you need to establish that it is paracetamol simply because it is the culmination of a major narrative thread of motivation throughout the film. It is what doesn’t initially come through the letterbox at the start (0:23 – 0:47); it’s what her mother is asking after for the Grandmother (0:38 – 0:47); it is what Amelia pleads Richard to get (1:20 – 0:44); it is what Amelia attempts to get herself, then fails (1:48 – 2:37); frantically, it is what Amelia searches for through the kitchen (2:38 – 2:47) and, ultimately, it is what gives Amelia the motivation to trust Richard. Therefore, the paracetamol is what enables Amelia to leave the house and supplies the conclusion to the story.
I think having the right shots to tell the story can not be emphasised enough. If we hadn’t bothered to get the pick-up of Richard with the crate and Richard had made it to the final cut as a “pervert” instead of the “concerned delivery man” the film would have been a disaster. This also goes a long way in showing the usefulness of a test screening because, as has been the case with our film, they can reveal major faults in the film.
Next: What you don't see: Sound - your sound is important. Let me repeat that in case you didn't hear me: your sound is important. Sound is just as important, if not more important than the visuals! Look after your sound!