Monday, 8 September 2014

Planning and Making a Film: The student filmmaking experience

VERY IMPORTANT POINT, DON'T DIE WITHOUT READING THIS FIRST! Regardless as to what an "expert" may tell you, choosing to do something because it interests you is the absolute best reason to undertake something. Trust me, when someone is lying on their death bed you never hear them complaining about how they should have earned more money or put more of an effort into being on time for work.


A bit of an explanation...

Planning and Making a Film was a filmmaking module that I undertook in the penultimate year of my BA (Hons) degree at Bath Spa University. The module's practice was undertaken between October 2011 to June 2012 and it provided me with a hugely enriching experience. It went on to earn me a very high first for the module, together with an assertion from the module tutor: "to do more filmmaking!" 

"the point of the module and learning to 'tell an engaging story'. In order for you to be able to reflect on the value of what you did and how you might do it again you needed to do it in the first place. In respect of this goal you have succeeded...  This is a fantastic piece of reflective writing. I am hugely impressed. Thank you and well done." 
- Mike Johnston, module tutor, marking feedback

What I have finally got round to presenting here is pretty much every piece of work and reflective analysis that I generated for the module. Some materials were already posted on this blog from when I was originally undertaking the module and many other pieces have now been added, with the current post acting as an overview that links to all the other posts.


The cast and crew of our submission film.


I have been wanting to put this up for a while now, because when I undertook the module I had no agenda in terms of doing well out of it's studies and I believe that what I have put down here can serve as encouragement for other like-minded film students to go on to achieve their potential.

A great many people become disillusioned with university after they graduate, but I had been disillusioned with it from day one; so much so that I had already restarted my first year and then at the beginning of my second year (actually my third year), I began to wonder if I should quit university altogether. Ultimately, I was just seeing less and less value in possessing a degree and in exploring filmmaking any further...

Checking the light levels on our submission film.

Before undertaking Planning and Making a Film, I had already dabbled with filmmaking, I had made one short film (once I have finished assembling the new soundtrack, I will put that first film up too), four documentaries (one of these might get posted up) and had cut together various other micro-videos of my friends clowning about (add me on Facebook). These previous projects had mostly been done when I was doing my A-Levels, a period when I had a definite agenda and appetite to do more with my filmmaking.

However, when I eventually did come to university, I had lost my focus and my filmmaking dwindled with it. From time to time, I would shoot the odd thing here or there and edit it together, with my friends always telling me to do more filmmaking, but I always brushed off their assertions because I did not feel there was any value in filmmaking. 


A directing masterclass we did as part of the module.



While I did go on to do very well out of the Planning and Making a Film module, unlike what many people have assumed, I did not have an agenda with the module; in fact, I did not expect to gain anything substantial from the module (mark-wise or content-wise), I did the module purely because it dealt with an area that interested me. 

Also - VERY IMPORTANT POINT, DON'T DIE WITHOUT READING THIS FIRST! Regardless as to what an "expert" may tell you, choosing to do something because it interests you is the absolute best reason to undertake something. Trust me, when someone is lying on their death bed you never hear them complaining about how they should have earned more money or put more of an effort into being on time for work.

Just do what interests you and, you never know, after a bit of blind hard work with that interest, you might just get something truly substantial from it...

"Wow Peter - you have written a dissertation length reflection which exceeds the length you were asked to do. However in terms of reflection and evaluation I really can't fault it... this is without a doubt the best reflection on the module I have read. Full stop."  
- Mike Johnston, module tutor, marking feedback

My final reflection was my summation of the module as a whole and what I had learned from it. When I wrote it, I just put down what had accumulated in my head while I had been undertaking the module. As it was a summation of all the stuff I had to say, the problem with the reflection is that it got to a point where it became very hard for me to edit it down, so I just submitted it anyway. 


Doing the edit for our submission film.

As the final reflection was vastly over the required word count, I thought I had fucked up the whole module... but nothing changes until something moves (Einstein said that), so it might as well have been the word count. Ultimately, my final reflection is not just the stuff I needed to say, it is also stuff that I needed to read - I did have potential!

Ultimately, after I had finished the module and received my monumental marks and feedback, I found myself with a new incentive to revitalise my filmmaking focus and to start taking my potential a little more seriously. 

Hopefully, you will do likewise.

You can read my full feedback here: Planning and Making a Film - Marking Feedback



A bit of an overview...

The module itself is primed towards installing each student with an understanding in regards to how to produce a visually engaging short film as part of a larger production team. The module achieves this by breaking down and reflecting upon the entire filmmaking process, through a number of practical exercises that culminate in the production of an assessed submission film. 

The contents of the materials I generated for the module focus on all the module elements that were covered in the academic year in which I undertook it, these include: 

Equipment training - has to be done

Film form and filmmaking practices - breaking down what had come before

The Eager Student - a practice scene exercise

Group working and collaboration - hugely invaluable skillset

Where will it all stop - a practice short film exercise and the process of doing it

Feedback - it's how you know whether or not something stinks

Script development - various different script ideas

Production management - it's how everything is co-ordinated

One Door Opened - the submission short film and the process of doing it

Busybody - my highly regarded submitted script and the adaptation that was produced

Reflection - what you are about to read as...



A bit of a contents page...

The dissertation length reflection that I produced for the module has now been broken down into a number of different posts, as indicated by the subheadings from the original submission, they are pretty self-explanatory.

I crammed as much as I could into this final reflection and it really is my treatise on the module as a whole, if you want the juice, then this is where you'll find it!
















A bit of a chronology...

While we were undertaking the module, we were encouraged to submit a number of practice reflection posts on a group blog and, in addition to this, I also produced a number for my own blog. I have now collected all of these posts and presented them here in chronological order in regards to when they were posted. Therefore, the following 28 posts, together with the 12 that make up my final reflection, all come together to form one narrative reflection on the module, from its beginning to its end.

You can either access the posts by following the links here or you can work you way chronologically through them by clicking on the following post link that I have now placed at the bottom of each post.























If you are not too strong on story-and-script development then the following posts might be worth a looking. If there is one thing that I would say is lacking from my final reflection on the module, then it is the in-depth analysis of script development that is covered in the following 6 posts.








A bit of a side note...

There were two other scripts that I developed while I was undertaking the module. These were never intended to be used in the module as they were developed for my housemate who was toying with the idea of doing a fictional short film as his final year creative project. Ultimately, he elected to do something else, but the script ideas I developed remain...



While they did not figure prominently in my focus on the Planning and Making a Film module, they still had some bearing on my script development in the module.

Additionally, you can also view some additional adaptations of my Busybody script that were produced as the follow year's practice films for the module...

Busybody: The other adaptations


A bit of a end-choice...

I'll let the past version of me take over from here...

Telling a story: The Eager Student - for the beginning of my dissertation length final reflection

Dissecting the short form: Pete's 5 short films - for the very beginning of the module



A bit of a sequel...

If you would like to learn about how I further developed my filmmaking, following on from the Planning and Making a Film module AND what I learned from those further explanations, have a look at the documentary project I co-created in the Short Form Documentary module the following year...


And/or have a look at the web series concept proposal package that I created for the Creative Enterprise Project module, a practical dissertation project that was awarded the highest mark of the module...

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