Monday, 21 July 2014

The Final Cut: One Door Opened


let’s muddle everything up, let’s play around with continuity, let’s put some jump cuts in, let’s overlap things, let’s distort the image, let’s make the noise of the cars outside so loud that it deafens the audience and makes the front door look truly indomitable, let’s just give the film a disjointed feel like it is confused and scared – let’s make the film become Amelia and her anxiety.

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.

Here I present my final thoughts on the final cut of One Door Opened and, crucially some suggestions on how we could have vastly improved this "final" cut. Truthfully, I do not consider this the final cut of the film, it is not good enough to be a final cut, this is merely the module submission cut...



I think we definitely picked the right actress for Amelia; Helena does a remarkable job in conveying Amelia’s anxiety.



Richard, equally, does the job at playing the concerned and reasoning delivery man.



I think some of the shots we have are effective at representing Amelia’s smallness in comparison to house’s overbearing presence and, at times, even make her look trapped.



However, now that I have finally stepped away from editing and had a break, I still think the film is too long! As I said with sound, not enough effect is made of it and, therefore, the film plays much slower than it could and should do. I think something taking too long to happen in film and not being very interesting can cause the spectator to lose interest, as was the case with my group’s version of The Eager Student. This risks happening at certain points in One Door Opened, such as in the shot where Amelia retreats back from the door and takes her coat off – it seems to go on forever!


As I said in the editing section of this post, the last 6 minutes of the Workprint contained the main struggle of the film and were preserved accordingly. However, since writing this blog post and analysing Busybody in comparison to my own script, my thinking is now - to hell with that! As I said with sound, I feel we need to intensify Amelia’s anxiety in the structure of the film itself. 

Therefore, let’s muddle everything up, let’s play around with continuity, let’s put some jump cuts in, let’s overlap things, let’s distort the image, let’s make the noise of the cars outside so loud that it deafens the audience and makes the front door look truly indomitable, let’s just give the film a disjointed feel like it is confused and scared – let’s make the film become Amelia and her anxiety.

Aside from editing, though, I think we should have put more thought into the visual design of the film before production. One of the problems is the camera is always still. If we had used more camera movement; moving the camera in what is otherwise a still environment could have done wonders to visually represent Amelia’s unease. 

In Martin Scorsese’s 1995 gangster film Casino there is a wonderful shot where Ace (Robert De Nero) is waiting to get on the phone to talk with Nicky (Joe Pesci) to decide on a place to meet.


In the voiceover, Ace explains that Federal Agents are listening in but if it’s a domestic call, e.g. Ace’s wife talking to Nicky’s wife, then the Feds have to stop listening after the first couple of minutes. As soon as Ace hears the Feds click off he grabs the phone and as he does this the camera zooms in and slants to the side.


What started off as a very calm, static shot has suddenly taken on a whole new frantic energy as Ace and Nicky have to quickly decide on a meeting point before the Feds start listening again. Now, I’m not saying we should have used this shot in one of the phone conversations in One Door Opened, but I am trying to illustrate the change of mood that can made by simply moving the camera. 

Also, the phone conversation with Richard (1:00 - 1:47) and the second phone conversation with the mother (2:48 - 3:25) visually look exactly the same and, personally, I think we should have either altered the camera positions or changed the location of one the phone conversations. 

From having edited it for two months, I know the film inside out, but I still have a hard time remembering that there are two different phone conversations that happen in the living room. The reason why this happened is because my mind blends the two very similar visuals together.


I think, If you’ve got an 8 minute film of which about 5 minutes takes place in the same corridor the need to visually mix up the rest of the film becomes obvious!

Overall, for something that tells the story of someone who is afraid to leave her house and then manages to, the film does basically achieve that. However, for something that conveys just how scared the main protagonist feels going through that scenario, the film leaves a lot to answer for!

With the adaptation of Busybody I said that more suspense and jeopardy needed to be injected but what’s great about Busybody is it still works without that. On the other hand, One Door Opened is a film that absolutely needs to exploit suspense and jeopardy to be truly believable in the story it is trying to tell. 

If we really presented just how hard it is for Amelia to leave the house it would be all the more powerful when she does actually manage to do that. The film would then have a truly satisfying conclusion.


However, once again, I’ve probably been slightly negative [critical - it's a good thing] here (If my group is reading this, I did warn you). I think what we have produced is still worthy of recognition in its demonstration of the theoretical and technical skills that we have acquired and refined from the beginning of the academic year. 

While I feel there is more that can be done with our edit, I am still pleased with the time and effort that has been put into it. While I do feel the effect could be intensified, I still think that our adaptation of One Door Opened tells the story we set out to tell.

Next: Retelling a Story: The Eager Student Redux - this is where I wrap the module up and bring my experience within it to a conclusion. 

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