Sunday, 30 September 2018

PRE-PRODUCTION: Book Publishing Companies

Within our group, we have decided to display our Pre-Production package in a book. This is a professional way to finish our project, it is also something physical we can keep and show people. As the producer of this film, I am in charge of the budget and marketing, this means finding the best looking / most professional book for the best price. I also need to look at how long it'll take for the book to be completed once it's sent off, and then therefore, what date we need to finish the book to send off. I can then put this date in the Pre-Production schedule so I can keep track on our progress to ensure we finish the project by the deadline. 

So far we decided we want a hard back book at a rough size of A4, this may change towards the end of the project but by keeping the features the same during my research, I'll be able to compare prices fairly.


Standard portrait
20 x 25cm
Premium lustre paper - 148 gsm
4 copies

100 pages:
Starts at £24.99 for 20 pages
25p for additional pages

80 pages x 0.25 = £20.00 + £24.99

£44.99 per book
£59.10 per person (3 people)

4-5 business days

Shipping to Thanet:
Priority mail (£30.33) - 8 days (6 business days)
Standard (£10.06) - 8 days (6 business days)


Professional hardcover
US Trade (15.24 x 22.86cm)
Full colour
104 gsm paper quality 
Gloss cover finish
4 copies

100 pages: 

£27.55 per book
£36.73 per person (3 people)

3-5 business days

Priority mail - 1-3 business days
Standard traceable - 1-2 business days
Express - 1 business day

Recommended - a 14 day wait period

Colour Digital Print

Perfect bound booklet
A4 (21 x 29.7cm)
5 copies
100 pages
120 gsm inner pages
300 gsm cover pages
Uncoated matt papers
Perfect bound binding
Gloss UV coated finish

WAS £144.58 
NOW £72.29 for 5 books

£14.46 per book
£24.10 per person (3 people)

Delivery - £9.95
Tax - £1.99
Roughly 2 weeks wait period

£36.04 per person 

From my research, I've decided that Colour Digital Print is the cheapest website to use. I have also spoken to people who have used it before and they are very reliable and the turn around time is as it says on the website. The last thing we want is to have the delivery delayed on the book near the deadline. After having spoken to people who have used them previously, I am happy to go ahead and use Colour Digital Print for our book, and I believe that we will receive a professional looking book to give in.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

PRE-PRODUCTION: Research into 'Operation Good Guys'

Operation Good Guys is a mockumentary focused on behind the scenes of an elite police force. It aired on BBC and BBC Two, from 1997 to 2000, and it is filmed in a documentary style with a comedy aspect to it. The cameras follow the supposedly professional police force around while they continue to make mistakes during there shifts. 

Operation Good Guys Series 1, 2 & 3

A mockumentary is a documentary style comedy about something in real life / a real life issue. Operation Good Guys works well as a mockumentary because it can be said to documents the truth of a workplace, but then has the comedic side to it. Similarly to what I talked about during my research into The Office. This is interesting to see a show which portrays a career as serious as a police force in a humorous light. Throughout the three series, we see the professional and the personal breakdown of the police unit, from being conned by their accountant, getting sacked by the police, getting retrained, being banned from the BBC to insulting the Royal Family.

- Ray Burdis
- Dominic Anciano
- Hugo Blick

Casting is a big part of the producers job role. Particularly in a mockumentary, the comedy comes from the cast and how good they are as actors. As we are creating a comedy, it is my job to make sure the cast we choose can translate the script well for the audience. This will come from inviting potential cast members to auditions with Alex, Katie and myself, then we can make a decision as to who would work best in our film.  

Main characters in Operation Good Guys
(British Comedy Guide, n/d)

DI Jim Beach has spent more than twenty years in the police force and has progressed through the ranks to become the Detective Inspector. In 1997 he was assigned to head up Operation Good Guys with orders to bring down the empire of major villain Hugo "Smiler" McCarthy. The Commissioner would in time come to regret this decision as Beach managed, with the help of an inept group of officers, to make a complete hash of the entire Operation.

DS Raymond Ash has been DI Beach's right hand man for many years, and the two have become good friends as a result. The relationship between Ray and Beach is almost like dog and master, Beach is constantly brushing Ray aside and calling him a idiot, but Ray remains very fond of his boss and will always be there to back him up when needed.

During his time with the Good Guys, Ray has managed to run a woman over, arrest an England footballer, have a panic attack in the boot of a car during an observation exercise, get attacked by one of Smiler McCarthy's dogs, and have a close encounter with a randy pig, to name but a few.

Sgt Dominic de Sade joined the police fresh from the Royal Marines, making him the perfect man for the Armed Response Unit of the force. De Sade is a reasonably competent officer although he has a somewhat laid back attitude, which Beach finds very irritating. When the BBC arrives to cover Operation Good Guys, de Sade is very secretive about his home life as it later transpires that he and his missus rather enjoy kinky sex games with leather and whips and all the rest of it. Although he is a policeman, this doesn't stop de Sade from stripping the commissioner's house of anything he can flog such as copper piping, radiators and even the front door.

Mark Kemp's first assignment was Operation Good Guys, he proved to be something of a liability to the team. He messed up two drugs exchanges almost as soon as he arrived, and he was also unable to get any information from an informant, as he didn't know how to speak cryptically.

His biggest blunder however was when he and Bones incinerated his uncle's dog, Sherlock. This turned out to be the last straw for the commissioner and he cancelled the operation. Mark was soon back at Hendon barely a year after he'd left the first time. Being the commissioner's nephew worked in his favour though as he was made the instructor's assistant, a position he soon lost when he broke curfew. Mark was then sent with the Good Guys to Spain for Operation Zorro, however there was trouble before he'd even left England. He was supposed to take his uncle's golf clubs to his villa but he left them unattended at the airport and they were blown up. More trouble came when he told Bones it was okay to go nude in Spain and the two of them got arrested for indecent exposure.

Bones's nickname "Bones" seems ironic because Bones is actually a short, fat man with a very fiery temper on him. Bones sees himself as the Robert DeNero of policing, a method policeman, rather than a method actor. Unfortunately, Bones had a disturbed childhood and he suffered trauma at an early age when he lost a testicle, which he still carries round preserved in a jar.

Bones claimed to have many years experience in setting up drugs exchanges but he never really had the chance to show this as the three drugs exchanges he set up were ruined, one by Ray and the other two by Mark Kemp. Bones was ultimately responsible, along with Mark, for Operation Good Guys losing their funding when they ended up killing the Commissioner's dog (who they were training). Bones, along with the others, was sent back to Hendon for re-training, he was then sent to Spain for Operation Zorro but he almost didn't get to participate as he and Mark were arrested the day before for indecent exposure on the beach. Following their time in Spain, Bones carried on working under DI Beach despite the number of times the governor had "let them down", in his opinion. When not working, Bones enjoys making homemade butter (which once gave him a severe attack of the runs) and vigilante crime fighting (which he was doing at the time of the butter attack and unfortunately there was no toilet).

Strings and Bones have always clashed and have nearly come to blows on more than one occasion. Although Strings thinks he's a musical genius, not everyone appreciates his art. Bones has been known to take exception to Strings playing his guitar on duty and his neighbours once got him charged for disturbing the peace. Then, Strings was sent back to Hendon and demoted to uniform in Series 3 which meant he had to cut his long hair... but he is still rock and roll through and through, despite the new image.

My thoughts:
- These characters have all made mistakes throughout the show. Their mistakes as police officers is what makes the show funny. The actors would have played a big part in helping the comedy come across from the script to the audience. To start the casting process to get these exact characters, the director would have created the character profiles. These would then have been set out with the advert about the show in order to get actors attention. Once actors have applied for the show, they would have had to go through auditions to narrow down the candidates for the specific roles. 

- During the audition, the producer and director would have needed to look for the different personalities for the specific characters and decided who was able to portray them the best. In order to make a realistic film, the cast members need to be suited to their specific roles. Each character listed above has a different personality, and in order to make Operation Good Guys a success the casting team would allocate each character to the best cast members at the audition.

- In the Transitions unit, we didn't look around for actors. We used people we knew, this was mainly down to the lack of time we gave to this unit while we had others to complete. However, in this unit we have 4 months purely for the pre-production of our film, with this duration we have plenty of time to put out adverts, look around for cast, and set up auditions. Therefore, we should be able to get good actors who are used to working on a comedy. 

- Each character in Operation Good Guys is important to the story, otherwise they wouldn't be a character. I will remember this when we are casting. Even if we are casting for a role with minimal dialogue, they are still a valuable character to the story and I will give the candidate the same amount of time to portray the role as I will for the candidates who have applied for the main characters. 

- You would think that with the show being about a police force that the cast would be good at playing policemen, but as the show is about the opposite it's interesting to see how little they know about the police instead. This is in the importance of advertising the role correctly and getting the idea of the story across at the beginning of the casting process. If someone read it thinking it was about a serious police force and applied for the role and then found out it was a comedy about the police, then they would have wasted time auditioning someone who wouldn't have been good for the part to start with. As a result of this, when I am creating the casting advert I will be sure to explain that our film is a sitcom and experience in comedy will be required in order to get the most appropriate people to apply for VET-MAN. 

- British Comedy Guide. (n/d). Operation Good Guys. Available: Last accessed 18th Sept 2018.

Sanctis, G. (n/d). Operation Good Guys – A Gem of A British Comedy.Available: Last accessed 27th Sept 2018.


PRE-PRODUCTION: Pre-production Schedule 1

As producer for this film, I need to be organised with different paperwork ready throughout the production process. While we are in the planning stage, I need to create a pre-production schedule. Usually on a high-budget film the producer wouldn't do this, it would be the production manager, however as there is only three of us in our group, this is my job. I wanted to do this as early as possible so we have a schedule to follow throughout the majority of this project. If I was to create a schedule half way through the unit, then I would run out of time for the deadlines to be set. The quicker we have deadlines set for script drafts, test shoots and casting adverts etc, then the quicker we can meet them. It is also my opportunity to write down all the parts which need to be complete to create a good package. 

I researched how to create a professional schedule and found many ways I could set it out:

This table includes each stage of production, from development to broadcast and distribution. It has included each stage but it's not split them up into more detail which is what I expect mine would have to look like to include everything. This table is mainly highlighting what part of each stage should be done each week. There is a couple of notes underneath the table but for me it's not obvious to which note belongs to which stage. I think it would be clearer if the notes were written in the table, either in the coloured boxes if they were bigger or at the end on the same line as the stage it relates to. However, I do like the idea of using different colours, as this does stand out and it's easy to see what should be happening in each week, by finding the correct week and tracing down to the colour.

This schedule is slightly more detailed as it highlights meetings with other members of the production crew, and different shots that are needed for the film. It also splits up the editing into two types - editing solely and then editing with the animations and graphics designer. By looking at this table you can see how many more jobs there are that need to be done rather than just looking at the stage called 'post-production' - no one knows what's actually going on during the post-production stage. This table also has no colour to it, maybe it's meant to have colour added to it when it's been filled in, but looking at the size of the boxes in the table, it may only need to be ticked when completed. Again, this isn't in enough detail as I'd like mine to be. However, I like how both of the tables are structuring the stages by weeks, I could do this and then go into detail, such as what's happening on specific dates in the notes column.

This last example is better than the other two. It uses both colours and notes and is easy to read. However, it's done by days of the week rather than weekly. This is more detailed and I like the idea of it, but we've got four months for this unit, the schedule will be too long and not as easy to read. Especially if some weeks we'll only we doing a few things, e.g. a location recce one week and the test shoot on the next week. I don't think we need every single day scheduled - on the days we're not doing anything practical towards the planning of VET-MAN we'll be researching into the project anyway. 

All the examples include the post production stage, however mine won't include this as this pre-production unit is just the planning period. I like the idea of using the colours (in the first photo) as it stands out and is easy to read, however it's not a detailed as it could be and doesn't look as professional as the other examples.

I think I will use both notes and colours, so it's easy to have a quick glance at but is also detailed with notes explaining what's happening on each day. I understand that this schedule will change throughout the pre-production process as our ideas change. 

Schedule 1:

This is my first attempt of a schedule. The first thing I did was set the major deadlines, such as the green light pitch so we know when we need the powerpoint completed, when the book needs to be completed in order to have it printed and delivered in time, and the final deadline on the last week of term. As I was then able to easily see each deadline, I set out the different jobs and when they should be done by. I started by putting in a prep / research column as the majority of the beginning of this project will be researching into the show by looking into the locations and genre etc. 

I remembered that Simon recommended creating a schedule for when I wanted each script draft finished by so I made scripting the next row. I worked with Alex to decide when he would be able to get the drafts finished as I didn't want to set an unrealistic goal for him. He explained that the first draft will take the longest as he'll be writing that one from scratch, but each draft after this will be easier and quicker as it'll be just tweaking the previous draft. We agreed that he would have the first draft completed by Week 6, and then 1-2 drafts each week, resulting to around 6 drafts by Week 9, which will then be inserted into the book. 

The next row was casting, this was for mine and Alex's benefit so Alex knows when the character profiles need to be completed, as once these are done I can create the casting adverts to go online. If I hadn't scheduled this, I may have put the adverts out too late or I might have received the character profiles too late. If these were late then it would impact on our auditions as we could have run out of time to hold them. I also scheduled the auditions along the same row as casting, this way we know when we need to get the cast in. We will be holding the auditions in The Maidstone Studios so we need to know the audition dates to book out a lecture room in advance.

Locations were next. Again, this job was for my benefit. I scheduled when I had to contact the locations and visit them for a recce, and when we were going to be there for the test shoot. This way I will be able to have the dates on hand in case we needed to remind ourselves. 

The next row was for the D o P roles, this was so Katie could stay on track with the schedule. As a group we decided when it would be suitable for all of us to attend the test shoots. Once we decided these, we were able to contact the Kent Owl Academy, through Alex's sister and ask if these dates suited them. I also scheduled a date for the storyboard and shot list to be completed. This way Katie had something to work towards as we need these in the package at the end of the project. I scheduled the storyboard and shot list to be completed before test shoot 2 as at this point we should be practicing some shots we want in the actual film and the only way to remember these will be with an up-to-date shot list. Obviously she can't create the storyboard and shot list without a script so therefore, I scheduled it after a couple of drafts of the script, because by this time there should be no major tweaks to the script, only minor ones. 

The last thing I could think of to include in Schedule 1 was the budgeting. We will need to have a deadline for when we want the GoFundMe to go online on our social media accounts. I made a deadline for this because it's a smaller part of the production, as most of then budget will come from Katie, Alex and myself, and if I hadn't scheduled it I might have forgotten and then we wouldn't have an any other funding to add to our budget. I will also be busier trying to source the props rather than thinking about raising the money. The idea around the 'major project pre-production' choice is so it's able to go into production the day after we hand it in (14th Dec), therefore, we will need all the props brought by the deadline. This is why it's essential that the GoFundMe goes online relatively early to give time for donations. 

I added in a note column so I could go into more detail for each task, e.g. the specific dates for test shoots. I understand that once the schedule starts to change, I need to update it and create Schedule 2. 

PRE-PRODUCTION: Research into 'The Office' & Producer Ash Atalla

Ash Atalla was born in Cairo but moved to London when he was four years old. He has polio and is in a wheelchair.

"I met Stephen Merchant while he was a BBC trainee fetching props and driving the talent around. He told me a mate of his at the London radio station XFM did an impression of a character called Seedy Boss and he wanted to film it as part of his 10-minute trainee project. I saw it and said I'd back it. That was the start of David Brent and The Office". (Interview with Michael Odell, 2007)

The Office (UK) is a mockumentary-style show, about an office that faces closure when the company decides to downsize its branches. A documentary crew follows staff and the manager David Brent as they continue their daily lives.

The Office (UK) & Producer Ash Atalla

Ash Atalla on what a comedy producer does:

"Comedy is a producer and a writer's medium. More so than a director's medium. In the world of film, a producer is a finance person...The producer's job in comedy is to sometimes come up with the show, then you employ the director, often at the last minute. So we are at the heart of the creative process. At my company now, Roughcut, we often come up with shows and then go and look for writers that might work. It's not a passive process. I'm always thinking about where I would like to see a comedy. What backdrop would be interesting to me?" (Bish, 2016)

Ash's quote above basically defines what a producer does during the making of a film. The producer is a finance person - I already know that the producer of a film works alongside the budget, especially on a small production like ours. I will be adding things onto the total amount and taking others away. Ash explains that the producer may employ the director and therefore they are at the heart of the creative process. This isn't quite the case for our project as Alex already knew he wanted to be the director for VET-MAN: On the Road. Nevertheless, I will still be at the heart of the creative process. I found that I will be in charge of sourcing the most appropriate props, costumes, crew and locations. Finding these to fit best with our project is my creative input into the film. Without this job we may not have the correct props or costumes to match the script. We may also have a bad crew which would put even more pressure on us during the filming period, and we may not source the perfect locations for our film to add to the believability of it. Luckily, now I know how important all these are, I am aiming to gain the most realistic locations, props and costumes in order to make the film look real for the audience. As Ash says, I will be constantly thinking about the film and what may work better than others. I may even get inspired by something when I am out. Location
The location was very important in The Office. How could Ash create a successful sitcom about employees at a workplace if the location wasn't believable enough. The audience wouldn't take the show seriously and if it wasn't a real location they also wouldn't be able to relate to it, which is what sitcoms are supposed to do. They make light-hearted jokes at an everyday situation so the people who come home from their stressful lives can relax and enjoy laughing at someone else's humorous misfortune.

The idea of creating The Office was to show people what working an office is really like. Most television shows and films portray a workplace as a shiny and upbeat place, however it may not be like that in real life. Office's usually have dull lighting and are made up of small rooms, a very unnatural place for people to spend the majority of their day. As a result of this, the setting for The Office had to be realistic and believable to be an office. If the location didn't have the simple props such as desks, chairs and filing cabinets, then the viewer wouldn't believe they were in a real office. The lighting played a key part in creating the world behind The Office. As I mentioned before, Offices tend to have dull lighting within grey walls. Even though this is a comedy show, by using the dark and dull colours can bring the element of sadness into the programme, the sadness of each of the employees lives while working here. The photos below show real offices and then screenshots of The Office to show that they have managed to create their surroundings and lighting very similar to real workplaces. 

Realistic depiction of the office workplace

Screenshots from IMDb of The Office (UK)

Similarly to locations, costumes need to look just as believable. If the audience were seeing people walk around in everyday clothes or inappropriate clothes for this type of workplace then the authenticity of it would be lowered. It was essential for Ash to ensure the cast were wearing the correct costumes to add to the realness of the show, again for people at home to relate to. 

The costume choices in The Office are pretty predictable, because the show was about employees working in an office they wore smart clothing. This adds to the believability of the show for the audience. These clothing choices meant that they would have been easily sourced because office wear doesn't go out of style. This also means that the show will probably never feel dated (apart from the quality of the footage) because it's involving a workplace that is always going to be around in people's careers. The only thing in relation to the clothing that may change is the way the clothes fit. The trousers and jackets worn in The Office were baggier than the suits that are in fashion now. The main change is that fashion now is fitted and more flattering than in the 2000's.

Clothing in The Office (2001-2003) v's fashion now (2015-2018)

My thoughts:
- Before researching into producers, I thought their primary job was to fill out paperwork and budgeting and to be the sole organiser of a production. I've learnt that the producer also has a creative overview of production. They're involved with the directors view and how they want the show to look. I will make sure to get involved with Alex's ideas and give out my own. I will also liaise with Alex to find what exactly he wants from this production. I will try my best at each aspect of production in order to gain the most realistic things in order to help build on the authenticity of VET-MAN. 

- It'll be my job to get locations on board which depict a realistic version of what we want to bring across in the story. For example, if our vet helps an animal at a wildlife park then we would actually need to film at a wildlife park rather than on a field or other grass area. 

- The location is what we lacked on slightly in the previous unit. We didn't use a real vets, although I think we did a good job with posters for the waiting room and consultation room, and the low-lit background for the surgery, however it would have looked more realistic with a real vets waiting and consultation room and surgery. This is my motivation in order to get the right locations on board for our final film. We knew the locations could have been better in the previous project, I don't want to feel like this after this project.

- The costume choices are just as important as the locations, we cannot have our vet in a proper animal sanctuary but in shorts and a t-shirt as if he's about to go to the beach. He'll need to wear scrubs, trousers, shirts similarly to how vet's and doctors dress. This is the same with props, he'll need a real stethoscope and other vet tools to create a believable film.

- Interview with Michael Odell. (2007). This Much I Know. Available: Last accessed 30th September.

- Bish, J. (2016). An Interview with Ash Atalla, British Comedy's Master Puppeteer. Available: Last accessed 30th September 2018.


Wednesday, 26 September 2018

PRE-PRODUCTION: Individual 1-2-1's

VET-MAN: On the Road - gets licensed revoked and has to redeem himself 

Risk assessments

Cast - improv experience

Schedule for Alex, scripts etc, how many drafts of script do I want?

Think of practicality 

Budget - GoFundMe

Detail needs to be in there

Understand the work of a producer

Not just an organiser - I have a creative overview

Overall creative decision - find what that overarching project is 

Researching producers / what they do - what I'm going to be taking out of it

Working out all the elements that I'm going to be bringing to the pre-production package

Next steps

Following this feedback, I will start to make a schedule as I hadn't realised I had to make one before today. It makes sense though as I can make a list of what needs to be done by a certain date and share it with Katie and Alex. This way we can keep to the schedule and be on target for deadlines. As I am just the producer I will have the time to make this schedule very detailed and include everything. 

This tutorial has also made me realise that I need to think of everything in a practical way. Any ideas Katie and Alex have I will think of the pros and cons and how we can do it practically, e.g. Alex wants to film at the Kent Owl Academy and get our vet to handle the owls, but they want to do it by filming different angles so it looks like the vet is handling it but it's the professional instead, otherwise our actor would also need to be a professional and that would be harder to cast. 

I also noted that I have a creative overview as well as an organisational role, I didn't realise this, so I will have a say in the creative planning process, and during the shooting days. 

I need to continue my research into producers and specific shows, look at their cast and locations and see how they benefit the show. 

Thursday, 20 September 2018

PRE-PRODUCTION: Research into Short Films

As VET-MAN: On the Road is a short film (max. 20 minutes), I decided to research into short comedy films to see how they create the humour in such a small space of time. By looking into this I can find out what it takes to create a successful, comedic short film and the problems that come with it. 

Ghost Family

Executive producers (& created by): Andrew Michaan & Zed Cutsinger
Directed by: Daniel Gray Longino & Andrew Michann & Zed Cutsinger
Duration: 23 minutes

"Ghost Family is an absurdist take on a coming-of-age sitcom, about a high school kid whose family dies and continues raising him as ghosts until their unfinished business is finished"

Screenshot from

The short sitcom is about a young boy, called Alex, who has found out that his parents and sister have been in a car accident and unfortunately died. Alex is left confused and unsure on what to do next, until his family return to his side as ghosts. They explain that they need to stay and haunt the house until they have completed their unfinished business - helping Alex become a man. Alex then goes onto making a speech to other pupils about voting for him for class president, which is made easier when his ghost parents turn up to watch him. Alex asks his fellow students to vote for him so girls would want to sleep with him, and then his family can go back to heaven as he would have become a man. The other contestant stands down and Alex wins the vote. 

In the next scene, we see the ghost family giving Alex advice on how to talk to girls, telling him to act cool and don't seem too eager. The next day one of the girls, Jasmine, asks to go out with him, he tries to act cool but turns the girl away instead. Luckily, another girl Rebecca, approaches Alex and asks to come over that night. Meanwhile, the ghost parents realise that their wedding vows state "till death do us part", and because they don't want to leave each other they decide to renew their vows and promise "till nothing do us part". 

Rebecca ends up leaving before they get the chance to sleep together, but on the news there is a report about Jasmine, who Alex pushed away, and another boy who died while sleeping together. Alex realises that being cool, and acting like he didn't care actually saved his life. The ghost parents realise that he is growing up before their eyes. Alex says that he's learnt the lesson his parents came back to help with - love is meant to be complicated. His parents unfinished business is now finished and they can return to heaven. 

The show has an interesting tone between genuinely adopting the heart-warming aspects of family sitcoms, and vulgarity, similar to classic spoofs like Wet Hot American Summer and Strangers With Candy. 

My thoughts

- The first thing I noticed in Ghost Family was that there is a lot of sound effects, they emphasised normal everyday sounds, such as a cup hitting table, Alex spitting his coffee out, and the swoosh noise when a message sends on a phone. 

- Each scene is very quick and to the point. The first scene is finished by 1:23, and by then we have met each of the characters in the family. We have a sense of their personalities, Alex is a shy, socially awkward teenager, and his sister is an emo and often talks about death, they both have an abnormally intimate relationship with their parents. Within the first minute, there are jokes about breast milk and the dad mentions sending an inappropriate photo of himself to Alex.

- The music is so important in Ghost Family, they have music suited for each emotion and when we see this emotion there is a short piece of music played which just cuts off as soon as the emotion has gone. For example, fast upbeat music on quick parts e.g. the teacher pushing Alex into the middle of the stage, when we see the ghost family we hear eerie music and when Rebecca comes to Alex's house in a red dress we hear romantic music.

- There are times when the sad music will cut on a joke, taking the tone from sadness to humour.

- There are opening titles displayed at 7:54, about a third of the way through the film.

- Even though the Alex's family have just died, we don’t dwell on this, the sad parts are quick and are combined with sad music but this emotion doesn't last long.

- This sitcom is full of dark humour - Alex's is informed that his family have been in a car crash by a teacher at school, just before he's about to make a speech. The teacher approaches him and whispers "a car crash, your family is in critical condition, you need to get to hospital as soon as you can" - the teacher receives a message - "oh actually take your time, they're dead". Once Alex runs out of the hall, the teacher informs the pupils that he's just had some bad information, and to give him time to grieve, but he'll be back to finish his speech tomorrow.

- The props add to the humour, when Alex decides he's not going to read from his paper, he screws it up and throws it into a bin nearby with 'discarded speeches' written on the side. This is a continuing joke throughout the film because Alex makes two speeches and throws both papers in this bin, then while the ghost parents were giving their vows the dad throws his vows in the bin, but this time written on the side is 'discarded vows'. 

- When we hear about Jasmine and the boy dying, the news report states their ages, Jasmine was 17 and the boy was 15. As the other students and Alex are probably around the same age, the producer or production manager of Ghost Family would have had to get permission for the teenagers to be in the film as they are under the age of 18. We will not be having any young people in our film, during casting I will ensure that everyone is over the age of 18, therefore, I won't have to look into getting permission for them. 

- The storyline was very interesting and I didn't expect it. In a weird way it does make sense and follow as a story in general, it also flows with the tone of dark humour


- Watching Ghost Family has made me realise how punchy and to the point our film needs to be. We learn about the main characters 1 minute and 23 seconds into the film. Then within the next couple of minutes we learn that Alex's family have died in the car accident. The film needs to be quick to bring the comedy out, if it's too slow it'll drag on and the comedy won't be as sharp. Therefore, the length of each scene and how much we learn within the different scenes are something I'll be looking at during the script drafts.

- All the actors are really good and believable. The cast would have been an important part in this film because they would have needed to have experience in comedy. It's not just the jokes which make the film funny, it's the reactions and how the cast act, it's almost deadpan comedy. I already know that it's essential that our cast are experienced with comedy from our previous project, it's the cast and the script combined which helps make a sitcom successful. 

- The location is clear with the first shot being an establishing shot of the family house. The majority of the story is filmed here and the rest is filmed at Alex's high school. Two simple locations which are easy to create a story from. In order to film at a school, the producer would have needed permission and possibly would have had to pay a fee to film there. They would have probably needed to film while the school was closed because it would have been hard to get a school hall and corridor controlled with no unauthorised students walking through. Whereas, the house would have been a lot easier to film in as it could have been one of the crew's house with no cost attached to it. 

- The use of props to add to the comedy aspect of the film was something I hadn't thought of, obviously we'll need props for the characters to hold in accordingly with the script, but maybe we can do something with the props or have something funny and related to the film written on them.

Ticky Tacky

Producer: Dan Berk, Brian Petsos & Ryan Farhoudi
Written & directed by: Brian Petsos
Duration: 15 minutes

"When a powerful man is betrayed by the closest to him, he devises his revenge under the guidance of his trusted confidant in this dark comedy starring Oscar Isaac"

Screenshot from

Screenshot from

Ticky Tacky is a dark comedy about a wealthy man who finds out about his girlfriend cheating on him with his cousin. He gets given some photos of the two of them together when she was meant to be in Paris. That night he sends the little boy, Gabriel to get a selection of guns. The next day the girlfriend returns from 'Paris' and then the cousin turns up as well. They're both sitting in front of the wealthy man in his office, when he shows them the photos and exposes the affair. He talks to them for a little bit, before shooting the cousin in the chest. 

The girlfriend leaves and the cousin wakes up, Gabriel takes his pen knife out of his pocket and starts stabbing the cousin multiple times to finish him off. Once Gabriel has left, the wealthy man calls his assistant for a drink and a can of petrol. He has the drink and then starts pouring petrol around the room. This is shown by him dancing around the room to a type of ballet music, in and out of slow motion. After this we see him light a cigarette, the film ends here but we can imagine what he is going to do next.

Below is the trailer to the film to help explain the petrol scene:

My thoughts

- It is slower paced than Ghost Family but we still find out a lot quiet early on. We learn about the girlfriend and the cousins affair at 1:34.  

- It follows the tone of a dark comedy. It's not laugh-out-loud funny but subtle instead. The cousin wakes up after being shot and we witness the young boy stabbing him multiple times while the wealthy man just watches. The dark tone continues when we see him filling the room with petrol by dancing around to music.

- The whole film is set in one room and it works really well. The location is a large office area and from this room alone we can tell that the man is very wealthy. We can guess that outside the room is probably a very big house. Even though it is shot in one location, I didn't get bored of watching, I didn't even think about needing to see another area of the house. The film is 15 minutes long but it doesn't feel it, I got into the storyline so before I knew it, the film was finished. 

- The actors would have played a vital part of keeping the single location interesting for the 15 minutes. If the cast weren't very good, then it would have become boring. 

- There is not a lot of music, no where near as much as Ghost Family. The longest part of music is the ballet type music during the petrol scene. In general, it's got very little sound, but this can keep the focus on the characters and what they're saying and doing. 

- The location is low lit, there is no natural lighting. The artificial lighting is made from lamps around the room as part of the set, and probably some lights behind the cameras to give the whole room lift in light. This low lit atmosphere and the lack of music adds to the dark comedy. 


- Sitcoms use a very little amount of locations, similarly to the one location in Ticky Tacky. We will be using more than one location, but we won't be using many (4 at the maximum). It will be my job to liaise with Alex to find out what locations he is thinking of for the story. I will then go away and get in contact with different locations to find the best price and availability. 

- The cast are essential to this film to prevent the one location getting boring, similarly to VET-MAN: On the Road, we need to make sure the cast are experienced in comedy work as if the cast aren't good then it will bring the quality of the film down. Auditions will be essential to pick out who we believe will be best for the film. 

- The pace is very slow compared with Ghost Family. We will want ours to be fast paced and punchy to add to the humour of the film. Ticky Tacky works well as a slow paced film because it's shorter than the 23 minutes of Ghost Family. If Ghost Family was slower paced then it may have dragged on and become boring for the audience. 

- Music is essential in a film as it can change the your emotions or tone of the film. We are pitching VET-MAN: On the Road as a dark sitcom, but before I watched Ticky Tacky I didn't think about the type / amount of music for a dark comedy specifically. I can imagine a lot of music in a normal sitcom, but if we're making a dark sitcom then the music needs to reflect this. In Ticky Tacky the low lit atmosphere and lack of music combined worked well, however, our film will be based on location the majority of the time and we will be working with natural light, therefore it may make sense to use more music.

- Ghost Family,

- Ticky Tacky,

- Ticky Tacky trailer,

PRE-PRODUCTION: Research into Producers - Adam Tandy

Adam Tandy is a television producer and director, known for the work of Inside No. 9 (2014) and Detectorists (2014), but is probably best known for the critically acclaimed and BAFTA winning comedy show, The Thick Of It (2005). 

The Thick Of It is a dark political comedy about the workings of modern British government. Set in the ministry offices, the show highlights the struggles and conflicts between politicians, party spin doctors, advisers, civil servants and the media. It was first broadcasted in 2005 on BBC Four for two series, until it moved to BBC Two in 2009 for the third series. 

The Thick Of It & Producer Adam Tandy

I watched a video from Adam Tandy where he gives his top 5 pieces of advice when producing a comedy show. 

Be helpful
Always offer to lend a hand on location with odd jobs that need doing. 
This could be anything from sewing on a button to being an extra body on set. Adam has a history of acting the role of “shouting journalist” in some episodes of The Thick Of It. 

As I will not be needed for directing or camera work, I will be available on shoot days to do the odd jobs around the location, as well as overlooking the filming. I can get our actors tea and coffee in order to keep them warm as we will be filming at the beginning of the year. I could also act as an extra in the pub scene towards the end of the film, being a public place we will need it to look like there are other people around. 

Don’t be frightened of the editorial guidelines
Editorial guidelines are there to help you produce the best programme you can, not hinder you. They allow you to push against the limits of what is possible. In the case of The Thick of It, this means justifying the lavish amounts of swearing used by the characters and making sure that the audience are warned in advance about what to expect. In the video, Adam shared his record breaking compliance form from one episode, which featured 141 instances of the F word.

We will be including swearing in VET-MAN: On The Road but we will not have half as much swearing as The Thick Of It does, therefore we will not have to worry about the amount of swearing included as there isn't much. As we are aiming VET-MAN: On the Road to go onto Channel 4, I had a look at their editorial guidelines. I found that the comedy on the channel should "be original, bold and distinctive with a real sense of authorship" (Channel 4, n/d). I feel that our film will follow this because even though we are getting inspiration from The Thick Of It, Man Down and Peep Show it will still be an original comedy show. 

To follow this, I looked into the Ofcom guidelines for Channel 4 to make sure our film fits within these. This is important because our film shows gore and killing which isn't appropriate for all age ranges. Section 1: Protecting the under 18s is the main guideline that our film will need to follow from Ofcom.

This section is about protecting children and young people and making sure that anything offensive or unsuitable for their viewing is not shown until after the watershed. Children include anyone who is under the age of 15 years. They should be subject to appropriate scheduling. Appropriate scheduling should be judged according to the nature of the content, the likely number and age range of children in the audience (taking into account school times, weekends and holidays). The start time and finish time of the programme, the nature of the channel or station and the particular programme and the likely expectations of the audience for a particular channel or station at a particular time on a particular day.

If after looking at each of these and the show is deemed as not appropriate for regular scheduling, then it will need to be shown after the watershed. The watershed only applies to television. This time period is after 9pm and before 5.30am. Material unsuitable for children should not be shown between these times. 

We have agreed that our target audience is 16-30 years old, this is appropriate because under 15's are affected by the watershed so 16 years old is a good age to advertise our film for. In order to protect under 15's, we will aim the film to be on Channel 4 after 9pm to follow the rules of the watershed.

No two programmes are the same
The production processes and difficulties you face will be different from programme to programme. The Thick of It had to turn the money for a low cost BBC Four pilot into three episodes of fast moving improvised comedy. In the video, Adam said that no-one was sure it was going to work until the director, Armando Iannucci, shouted cut at the end of the first scene.

Your production manager is your best friend
Your production manager or line producer is your best friend. In Adam’s experience the best ones don’t say no, but work with you to ensure that every penny hits the screen. 

As we are only a group of three, I am the production manager and line producer all in one. I will liaise with Alex in order to help get everything he wants for the film. An example of when this will happen is with the props. While Alex is writing the script, he will come to me with ideas of props that he wants in order to help bring his idea to the screen. Every idea he gives me I will ensure that I find a way to do it rather than turning it down if it's not practical. Everything is practical but it might be a case of finding another way to do it. At the moment, I know he is thinking of doing a scene with an owl punch. Obviously we can't actually punch an owl, but there will be ways around it, whether I need to get a fake owl or we are clever with the camera. Whatever idea comes up, we will test it out in order to get the best result.

Locations for The Thick Of It

Production designer - Simon Rogers
Location Manager - Tom Howard

While I was researching into The Thick Of It and Adam Tandy, I found an article written by Simon Rogers, explaining how he and Tom Howard secured the location for the show and the problems he faced while trying to do so. This will be beneficial to me as I need to find locations for VET-MAN: On The Road and I'll need to be prepared for any issues that I may come across. Reading about how they dealt with their issues on finding the location for The Thick Of It may help me with my own.

Tom found the first location at the old Guinness brewery in Park Royal, West London. They were able to use different areas of one building to dress the variety of sets that they required. In different parts of this one building they were able to create The Department of Social Affairs' entrance foyer, corridors and Hugh Abbot's office, the open plan area and interview rooms, Malcolm Tucker's office and corridors in 10 Downing Street, The Evening Standard's news rooms, and The Times' offices in Wapping. They managed this by carefully doubling-up on folders, post-its, pin boards, stationary, pens and pen holders. 

The Old Guinness Brewery, West London

At the time they only had a small budget, but because they were able to use the one building for a variety of different locations for the show it didn't cost as much as having to find 8+ different locations. The idea of doubling up on office supplies also saved them money, if they are the same office area then they are always going to have the same supplies in each office, therefore it would be silly to go out and buy the exact same supplies just to be placed in a different room on set. 

However, the brewery was soon going to be demolished, and Simon and Tom knew this, therefore they needed to find a new location that would service their requirements as well as the brewery did. They struggled to find another location in London, so producer, Adam, suggested trying to find one closer to home. In the end they arranged to film at the BBC Media Centre. They used over half a floor for the ministry offices, and they filmed there for a week surrounded by BBC employees. Due to this, they had to leave some of scenes including bad language until the end of the day. This meant that most people had gone home and there would be less people around while they film the explicit episodes. In the end, The Media Centre provided them with a lot more scale and production value than the brewery did. 

They filmed two further specials at a building in Harefield, which similarly to the Brewery, offered them a range of styles and was perfect for re-creating 10 Downing Street, The Daily Mail, Richmond Terrace and Portcullis House. 

However, once the new series went into pre-production, Simon and Tom had to start from the beginning. In the end they returned to the Media Centre, but they were unable to film the amount of scenes they needed there. After struggling to find another location, they decided to build their own version. After a lot of searching, Tom found an empty office block in a business part near Watford. Simon designed the set to match the location where they would shoot the arrives and departures scenes in the Media Centres atrium, staircase and lift lobby. They were told that the match between the location and the set worked so well, that even the editors didn't realise they were at two completely different places.

My thoughts:
- I will take onboard the advice from Adam about never saying no, because I want to be able to get everything that Alex wants in order to bring his idea onto the screen. I will ensure I am clever with my thinking and find ways around practicality issues, so we can create the best film that we can.

- I never knew how much work went into finding the perfect location. I assumed that bigger productions such as The Thick Of It would find it easier to get locations on board. 

- I've learnt to always find a couple of locations instead of settling with the first one who accepts you. Simon and Tom thought they had their location set for the whole series, but then one had to be demolished, and the other wouldn't allow them to film the amount of scenes that they needed. The only good thing about us creating a 20 minute short film, rather than a whole series is that we'll only need our locations for a short amount of time (a couple of days at the most), whereas filming a series would mean using that location for weeks or months at a time. Locations will be more likely to get onboard if they know we only need the space for a few days rather than a longer period of time.

Thair, D. (2009). Locating The Thick of It. Available: Last accessed 20th Sept 2018.

- Adam Tandy video advice -


MAJOR PROJECT: Project Evaluation

Production My aim for this major project unit was to further develop the aspects of production which I had written about in the p...