Monday, 21 July 2014

Retelling a Story: The Eager Student Redux

Sometimes the first way you tell a story isn’t always the best way; sometimes you have to go back and retell it a different way.

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.

Technically, I feel that I have gained a great deal from the module. From being the cinematographer on Where will it all stop and the Lighting technician on One Door Opened I now understand much more about how light works and how the manipulation of light, both inside and outside the camera, can inform the story you are trying to tell. In terms of organisation and group work I have gained a great deal of experience and learned some valuable lessons here as well.

Editing is something that I am stronger with now and together with the theoretical skills editing One Door Opened has provided me with I feel that I am better suited to assemble a succinct and engaging story. To illustrate this I have gone back and re-edited my group’s version of The Eager Student. Now with a slightly altered premise - a student has gone to her seminar, discovers it has been cancelled and then leaves - I have re-assembled it into something that tells the story in a form that, I believe, is much more engaging.

The Eager Student Redux

I think this process of re-jigging a story sums up the module and filmmaking as a whole. What I have learned from the making of One Door Opened and by analysing the adaptation of Busybody is a story can improve and be told more effectively the more it is worked over. 

One Door Opened was originally told in a script that we deemed to be slightly bloated, so we cut out quite a bit and preserved what we thought was the story. Then in the editing suite we cut it together as the shooting script dictated and realised that there was even more material we could get rid of. Once we had done that other people looked at it and suggested some lines of dialogue be removed here and shots be changed there. Even after submitting the final cut, I now look at One Door Opened and think it can refined further. 

Therefore, a narrative film can be vastly improved the more it is recycled through the various stages of its creation. The Filmmaker’s Handbook explains this process perfectly when it quotes Robert Bresson:

“My movie is first born in my head, dies on paper; is resuscitated by the living persons and real objects I use, which are killed on film but, placed in a certain order and projected onto a screen, come to life again like flowers in water.”

Sometimes the first way you tell a story isn’t always the best way; sometimes you have to go back and retell it a different way. This understanding of how the filmmaking process evolves a story is something which builds greatly on the knowledge I have already gained from the other parts of my degree, Creative Writing with Film and Screen Studies; as well as my previous filmmaking experiences. Therefore, I believe that the module has contributed greatly to my skills as a storyteller, both in script form and in visual form. 

Skills that I plan to put to good use!

And I did, want to find out how?

Fencing: an examination of the sport and an exploration of the documentary medium

Or head back to Planning and Making a Film: The student filmmaking experience and have a look through some of the other material I generated from my experiences in this module.
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