My project is a mockumentary based on a 17 year old boy who still believes in Santa. It follows a few days in his life and the ways he tries to reach out to his father who he believes is Santa Claus.
Here is my film:
Here are our original notes and plans for the film:
We did change some minor things, but we stuck to the plan mostly throughout the production process.
Our production went quite smoothly considering the time we had was quite tight for the amount that we wanted to film. We filmed the bulk of our footage on Monday when we had 4 people and then we filmed some extra scenes on Tuesday and Friday. We had to film Friday, as I managed to get us a hall to film in, but we only had 2 hours and so we had to set up and film all our scenes there in a small amount of time. We used a new shoulder mount that George bought for a lot of the scenes and it worked extremely well. The shots we got were far smoother than if we had tried to do them free hand. As the style of our film was documentary we wanted the majority of the shots to be free hand to give it an authentic feeling, however we didn’t want the shots to come out really unsteady and difficult to watch, so using the shoulder mount gave us a good compromise of steadiness and authenticity.
We had originally hoped for a length around 5-8 minutes, but when we were planning we came up with so many ideas that we wanted to incorporate that wouldn’t fit into that time frame. The final product ended up lasting roughly 11:30 including intro and credits which is actually quite short and cut down a lot compared to the amount of footage we actually filmed.
My main goal for this film was to capture the type of camerawork and techniques that are used in similar productions like The Office and a lot of normal documentaries. Even though my production wasn’t a documentary it’s important to look at styles from the genre it’s parodying and not just what has already been parodied.
The target audience of our film was the ages of 16-25, as that incorporates the age of the main character and the kind of humor that we were going for. I think that the kind of style and genre that we went for when making this film was quite challenging compared to if we had done a more basic short film, as the style that we tried to use hadn’t really been taught to us and so we had to do our own research to find out the kind of shots and style that we needed to use. One of these was the zooming in on the face to see a characters reaction like we did in the breakfast scene and the final scene; it is used a lot in The Office and Parks and Recreation.
Here is an example at 0:28
I think that my film was different to others, as there aren’t a huge number of mockumentaries out there and I think that it is difficult to create the feeling of reality with the characters and so it’s done less than a typical sitcom.
I think that as a whole this project has taught me a lot of skills that have helped me a lot during the filming of my production in the past couple of weeks. The skills lessons that we’ve done have helped me a lot mainly in audio, as we did quite a bit of practice with recording speech which I felt before this project we hadn’t done much work on. I also thought that the follow up we did on lighting was very helpful, as before we’d had only demonstrations of lighting setups, however this time we were allowed to try them out ourselves. Doing this allowed us to realise how much work is put into lighting on a film set, as we were trying to recreate shots from movies and this is very hard.
A problem that we had when filming on one day was that we only had 3 people on set and we needed 2 people in the film and one on camera and one on audio. It meant in the end we had to place the mic in a position so it would still record the speech from the scene. This did work but the quality of the sound wasn’t ideal. I’ve learnt now to make sure that I always have enough crew members for the scenes that I need to film that day.
I was very happy with one of the shots that I got when filming one of the Interview scenes. Here it is:
As this was an Interview we could set the shot up using a tripod. I thought this shot was quite good, as there’s a lot of symmetry in the background and I think it’s nicely framed.
One visual based problem that we had whilst filming was on our final day when we were filming in the hall. The only time we could book it out was 3-5pm and at that time of year it meant the sun was setting just as we started filming. It meant that a lot of our shots were very bright and overexposed. To solve this we obviously changed the exposure settings on the camera to combat the light, but there were still a lot of lens flares in the shot when we filmed close to the windows. This eventually meant we had to scrap one of the shots we got and only use ones that we had shot further back in the main hall. I think our solution was quite effective, as the final product looks good and not particularly over exposed compared to some of the shots we originally got.
During the editing process we had quite a few problems. One being that the footage we shot totaled way over an hour, of course a lot of it was multiple takes and so we could delete some, but we still had to import about 45 minutes of 1080p footage into Avid. This took roughly 2 hours, which of course meant that we couldn’t edit for that time. Once in Avid we were able to cut the footage down massively. We could have solved this problem be encoding the files in a software like Handbrake which would reduce the file size but keep the quality to cut down the import time. Another problem that we had was we’d recorded over 100 audio recordings, a lot of them weren’t needed, but we still had to sift through them all, label them and then find the corresponding clip to it and sync it up. It took us an entire day of our editing week to just do this. One solution we had for this was for me and the person I made the film with was to split the audio clips up and sync half each to cut down the time.
One problem that i had when i was editing and with audio was that the recordings had a, quite loud in some places, humming noise in the background. I looked up some tutorials for audacity on how to remove this sound but i couldn’t do it without diminishing the quality of the audio quite severely. So i waited until I got home and used Adobe Audition to try and remove the sound.
I captured a noise point from the audio clip in which there was no speech but a loud humming noise. As seen here:
After this I used the noise reduction effect and set it to reduce 80% of the noise at 24db. This worked very well as it removed almost all of the humming noise without changing the quality of the audio. It did however make the interviewers voice sound quite muffled, but it was a price worth paying for the removal of the sound.
Even though this was a problem for my production it did give me a unique opportunity to learn some new skills on a piece of software that i am not particularly familiar with.
One skill I learnt whilst filming this project was the positioning of microphones when shooting a scene is very important and that having somebody who knows what they’re doing is also very important. The person who was our sound guy for the majority of the filming had never done it before and so he didn’t fully understand about how important the positioning was. For instance in one shot the camera panned down to the characters feet and the sound guy moved the mic closer to the mouth of the character, although on paper it may be a good idea to get the mic closer to the mouth for better sound quality; it also meant that the volume of his voice randomly goes up and down. I have now learned that it is very important to keep the same distance from the characters mouth.
A problem I had with interactive was not having a large amount of followers to promote my video to. Which means that my video was only being sent out to about 30 followers on my twitter. My YouTube channel however has over 1.5k subscribers so that gave me a decent boost in views compared to if I didn’t have any subscribers. I have learnt that maybe creating a trailer and posting more frequently on Twitter would have hyped up the release a little more and i could have gotten more viewership that way.
If I was to redo this project I’d spend a lot more time planning than I did. As we ended up only spending 3 or 4 hours actually sat down writing out roughly what we were going to do for each scene, and that’s all we ended up having; in the end it turned out quite well as it made the film feel more authentic by allowing George it to speak freely and more normally than if he was trying to remember an exact script. I know that Borat was largely unscripted, but they knew the general direction of where they were going and that is what happened in our production.