Wednesday, 30 January 2019

MAJOR PROJECT: Working out the Logistics

A producer should be able to own the logistics of a production while also being part of developing the creative approach

As producer it is my job to work through the practicality and logistics of the scenes that Alex has created. We have many action scenes and these come with ideas that may not be possible, such as the owl and dog scenes. During the pre-production unit, we tested and made sure the owl punch scene was practical and that it looked good. However, during our 1-2-1 tutorial, it was highlighted that we hadn't given the same attention to the dog hit scene. As a result of this, our preparation was unclear about how we were going to shoot the dog hit scene (scene 3). I was advised that the location I had chosen to capture the dog hit wasn't what was expected from the story. The original road was quite residential and from the script it sounded as if it should happen on more of a rural area. As a result of this, I needed to liaise again with Alex about finding a new location and what he wants exactly from the location. 

SCENE 3 - THE DOG HIT

We were advised as a group to find out how best to shoot the dog hit scene as there wasn't any evidence of this in our pre-production package, whereas, we went quite into depth with the owl punch, including carrying out test shoots and working out the logistics of it. As a group we had to work out how we were going to shoot the dog hit, whether we were filming from inside or outside the van, actually running over something or just breaking hard to establish the fact we've just hit something. If we decide to actually run over something, we need to practice using the prop. In the pre-production unit, I explained that we would use a piece of old carpet in a bin bag as a prop for when Luke brings the dog to Sheila's doorstep, however, I didn't establish what we would be running over if we are. This would mean adding in an additional prop to production. Thinking deeper into the logistics of the dog hit has made me realise that whatever we decide to do in order to carry out the dog hit may change my plans for production, for example adding in that extra prop. It may also help me build the risk assessment for this particular shot. The more in depth I can be with the dog hit means I will be able to highlight each risk in more detail and explain how we will control it.

In order to test the dog hit, Katie, Alex and I took the van out with Katie's DSLR. As this was only a test shoot to see if the idea of hitting a dog will work or not, rather than testing the camera itself, Katie didn't feel the need to take out the Panasonic from the studio's equipment store. As a result of her decision, I didn't need to write a risk assessment to get signed. However, in order to keep us three safe I created my own based on our University risk assessments. I first liaised with Katie and Alex to see if they had any ideas on where we could test the dog hit. I initially suggested bringing the Vet Van to Margate but as I hadn't found a more suitable location just yet, we felt it didn't matter where we practised it as the location could change over the next few days anyway. I suggested going to a car park as this would be a safe area with slow moving vehicles, if any were around. It also allowed Alex to drive around in circles without having to pull over and turn around on any main roads. I decided that the best car park to film in during the day would be the car park at New Ash Green shopping centre. This area isn't a large shopping centre like Bluewater or Lakeside. It is small and is home to a few buildings, such as the local Village Hall and takeaway food shops, so it isn't usually busy during the day when people are at work.


My risk assessment for car park filming

After discussing the risks and control methods I have decided that practising the dog hit scene is a low risk and I believe that it can go ahead.

Alex drove round the car park a couple of times until we set a good place to practice the dog hit. We first established what Tim and Luke should do in the van to make it look like they have hit something. If we go down the route of performing an emergency stop, then they could just follow the van and pull forwards and then hit carefully back in their seats. However, if we use the bin bag and carpet, the van will have to deal with more of a bump in the road and the van may rise up slightly over the bump. We tried both of these out to see what was more appropriate for the scene and how to shoot it. Eventually, we decided to just perform the emergency stop on the shoot day. As it all happens so quickly, the jolting forward and back made the most impact and was easiest to do while sitting. It was a struggle to bump up and down the carpet. By creating the dog hit with the emergency stop, we will also be able to approach the hit quicker. Tim would have to be careful when driving towards the carpet, but with nothing in the way, there will be no hesitation on driving faster before stopping. With a runner on board on the shoot day, we will be able to watch the road while this manoeuvre is getting carried out in order to keep cast, crew and members of the public safe.

While we were moving Katie was filming outside the van, we also tried the view from inside but we were stationary at this point as there are no back seats in the van for her to sit. As we could only film the van from inside stationary, we decided this would not look realistic enough to use as driving as the surroundings were also still. We decided that filming the van hitting the dog (performing the emergency stop) from outside was best.

SCENE 4 - THE RIGHT LOCATION

Part of the feedback from my pre-production unit was that I didn't provide any explanation or reason as to why I picked the road opposite Sheila's house to capture the dog hit. I agreed with this and I now understand I need to work out the logistics of the location to see whether it is actually the best place to carry out the scene. At the time, I picked it because we really liked the house I chose for Sheila's and the dog hit takes place just outside it. The script draft at the time explained that Sheila points over at her house when she meets Tim and Luke, so in order to pan from Sheila to her house (which was the plan at the time) the collision would have had to take place opposite the house. I realise that this wasn't enough reason and there may be a more appropriate place to film this particular scene. Alex has changed the script accordingly so Sheila points and says that she lives at number 4. Thinking of it in terms of post-production, by just capturing Sheila pointing and not panning to where she's pointing too means that we should be able to film the dog hit scene anywhere and then cut to Sheila's house in Margate.


As a result of really liking the house chosen for Sheila, I knew I wanted to keep this for our film and as this is only a short scene, it would make sense to keep the previous and following scene in the same area to get it filmed in one day. This will benefit the budget and will be easier as well, however, it's not essential. As the quality of our film is more important than ease, I can schedule an additional shoot day if I found a place away from Margate, but I first wanted to see if there was a better location in the same area as Sheila's house, before I thought about arranging another shoot day.

To start the search for a new location, I first liaised with Alex again to find out exactly what he wants from the location and what he wants it to look like. He explained that he wanted something that is a mix of residential and rural. So not a road with houses lined on both sides or a country road, but something with a mix of both. With this in mind, I started looking around Thanet to find something that fits the description Alex gave me. If I find nothing in this area, I will start looking further afield.

Broadstairs - First Avenue

One of the locations I looked at was First Avenue in Broadstairs. It is a quiet lane and quite sheltered from the wind. It also looks slightly less residential than the original road in Margate but it is surrounded by houses so we may be able to see the houses over the bushes and trees. However, when I drove down the road while I was location hunting, I realised how uneven and bumpy the road actually was. If we were to use this road in the film then it would be hard to see the difference of the collision with the dog to just driving down the lane. It also created a lot of noise going over the bumps, and I can imagine in a van with equipment in the back would create a lot more noise. The bumps may also put our characters off concentrating on their dialogue. Additionally, the bumpy road would make filming generally difficult, as we are filming handheld, the footage would be even more shaky than it would be with this particular filming technique. In case Alex happened to like this location and new how we could work around the bumps, I re-visited the area a couple of times over the next few days in order to see how busy it gets. Roads are generally busier in the evening after people get home from work, and I felt that by documenting the amount of cars in the evening for each location would show how many cars could be on the road during the day. If the road was packed in the evening then it would be risky to film there during the day in case everyone turned out to be at home on this day. This road wasn't busy at all as there are drives and places to park at the end of the road. As a result of this, we knew we wouldn't be disturbed much during the day. 

When I showed Alex this location, he agreed on the fact that it was very bumpy and maybe not suitable to mimic the idea of running over a dog. However, he liked how wide the road was in order to allow cars to get passed us.

Nevertheless, I contacted the Kent Film Office in case we wanted to use this road as a back up, but I found that this road is a private road rather than a public road, therefore they were unable to give us permission to film there. As a result of the reasons I have stated above, I have decided that First Avenue is not suitable for our film.


First Avenue, Broadstairs

Margate - St Mary's Avenue (1st option)

I originally thought of St Mary's Avenue because of the road in the photo below (1st option) as it is a quiet side road, just off of a main road. Thinking of the original feedback of feeling as if the scene would work better in a rural area, I felt that this location next to a large field was quiet suitable. One of the disadvantages of this road is that it is very open on the right side where the field is, this may cause a lot of noise and wind during filming. However, this may be prevented by the house on the left, but this would require a test shoot in order to get a clearer idea of how the wind may sound on the microphone. A test shoot would be easy to schedule due to only needing basic filming equipment, and I wouldn't need to arrange the cast to attend, just a couple of crew members. 

I showed the first photo below to Alex and described St Mary's Avenue. He agreed with me that the road is very open and could attract more wind and noise than what we want. The road also isn't very long and there are poles half way up to prevent cars from driving any further, and as we will need Tim to actually drive the van before stopping quickly once hitting the dog, I realised this road wasn't very practical for that part of the scene. In addition to this, turning round at the end to repeat the driving may be difficult. After thinking of these aspects of the scene, I have realised that end of the road doesn't allow us to capture everything we need for the scene and therefore isn't suitable. 

Nevertheless, this road is split in half by a main road and the other end of the road holds a completely different look (shown in the second photo below - St Mary's Avenue (2nd option)).

St Mary's Avenue (1st option)

Margate - St Mary's Avenue (2nd option)

There are houses along the left side of the road and a church surrounded by trees and nature on the right side. The road is very wide and would be big enough for cars to drive around the Vet Van once it's pulled over. This location can be seen as having a suburban look due to the mix of houses and grassy area. This road is also a cul de sac and therefore, there is room for us to continuously turn the van around to repeat shots. 

The trees on the right side of the road could be seen as a blessing or a curse as they may shield the wind and prevent additional unwanted noise on our audio, or the wind may make the sound of the trees and leaves louder than normal. This is something I would need to check before agreeing this location. As a result of this, I returned to the road over the next few days to see how loud the wind was against the trees. Luckily, the wind did not make the trees and leaves louder than normal and I believe that it shielded the wind instead, making it a good contender for the right location for our film. I will also keep track of the wind level from the weather on the lead up to our shoot so I can compare the levels from when I visited to the actual shoot day. By doing this I should be able to predict the amount of wind that may be around on the shoot day. While I re-visted the road over the following few days, I also took a note of the amount of cars that were on the road as we would like the road to be as clear as possible. Each time I visited or passed the road it was very clear with a maximum of around 4-5 cars parked on the left side of the road. Luckily, the road was still relatively clear in the evenings. All the houses along the road have drives which may be the reason as to why the road was quite clear. 

The other thing I had to think about if we chose this road to shoot on was the church on the right side of the road, behind the trees. Although the date can be changed if needed, it would be easier to keep the date for Margate as the 18th February as I have already informed the cast and crew of this date and they are all available. This is why it is important to look at the church's activities throughout the week to see whether this road is ideal on the Monday or will need to be changed if it's scheduled to be quite busy. 

As there are no double yellow lines on the right side of the road means that anyone can park there and as there is a main road on the other side of the church, I can imagine that St Mary's Avenue is more favourable to park down to visit the church. The shoot day isn't scheduled for this day but filming on a Sunday would be out of the question as a lot of people visit churches on Sunday's. In order to estimate how busy the road may become on the shoot day I decided to look into the church and look at the days and times of their activities, as this will be when the church and road is busiest. I had a look at their website to see what they put on during the week and I found that they hold a number of activities such as dancing, eating, relaxing, playing and learning on top of being a fully working church and holding worshipping and praying times. 

The activities from their website include:
- COGS Club on Wednesday and Thursday, 10am to 3pm.
- A wide range of arts and crafts, drama, singing and exercise activities are offered during these weekly three hour sessions either 9.30am to 12.30noon, or 1.30pm to 4.30pm, Monday, Tuesday and Friday.
- Peer support group - every fortnight Monday 1.30pm to 3.30pm (doesn't fall on our current shoot week)
- Line dancing - Monday 1.30pm
- Games morning - Fridays from 10.30am
- Boccia - Tuesdays 1.45pm
- Seaside singers - Thursdays 1.45pm
- Silver song - Wednesday 2pm – 3.30pm (1st and 3rd Wednesday)
- Friendship tea - Tuesdays 1.30pm
- Trinity toddlers - Every Wednesday from 10am to 11.30am, during term time.

In order to see these in a clearer format, I put them into a table and shaded in the times in which the church would be busy. I particularly needed to focus on Monday's as this is the day in which I have scheduled the shoot day at the moment, however this can be changed. The light grey rectangles are when there is an activity on at the church, and the black rectangles are when there are more than one activity on at one time. 

Church timetable according to their website

Looking at the timetable I created it is clear that the church is being used regularly on a daily basis. As I am passionate about using this location, I still think it is possible to film here on a Monday as there shouldn't be any problem when the activities are going on, it's just when the public are entering and leaving as they will be walking and taking and starting up their vehicles. Thinking of it from this perspective means that I would want to avoid a day which has a couple of short activities as this would mean different times throughout the day in which the public would be arriving at and leaving the church. This narrows the choices down to Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday as Wednesday has one extra activity timetabled for that day. Although it can be changed, as I have already scheduled the shoot day for Monday it would be beneficial to keep it on that day as it is all arranged with our cast and crew. I believe that we could keep the shoot day as a Monday as the second activity of that day starts at half 1 which is when we would be having lunch (1pm-2pm), according to my production schedule. Also the first activity on a Monday starts at 9:30am and we aren't scheduled to film until 10:00am, and the final activity ends at 4:30pm when we are scheduled to wrap at 4:00pm so these times won't be a problem for us. The only time we would have to concern ourselves with is 12:00pm as this is when the first activity finishes, and I am happy to take a break from filming during this short period when the public are leaving the church.

After working out how busy St Mary's Avenue could be on the 18th February, I am happy to keep this as an option to give to Alex as the activity times work quite well for us. There is also a cafe in the church but this is at the top of the road nearest the main road, so if we film further down the road this shouldn't be a problem. The church also offer room hire, where someone can hire a room if they need. As this would be arranged directly between the person wanting the room and the church administrators I am unable to find the timetable for this, so we will be prepared to encounter a few more members of public for the room hire. 

I showed the photo below (2nd option) and described the location to Alex and he was surprised that they were the same road but with such different looks. I explained that I re-visited the location after taking this photo in order to find out how loud the trees are in the wind and he believed when I said that the wind creates no additional unwanted noise. As this location fits Alex's description of a suburban area, he liked the location and agreed with me that it was a good choice. He also agreed that it would be best to keep the shoot day for the Monday 18th February after listening to my explanation of the church timetable. The road is wide like I said previously and there is a good amount of space on the pavement and grass on both sides for our cast and crew to use. I said I would explain the other locations and we can decide after.

St Mary's Avenue (2nd option)

Kingsgate - George Hill Road

This is a long road which connects Kingsgate to St Peters in Broadstairs. It is covered by trees and would fit the idea of a rural area. Also, as the road is more substantial it would be safer than a country road. There are road markings splitting the two-way road, which means there is enough space to fit two cars down without the worry of pulling over, whereas, on a country road or rural area there may only be enough room for one car which would make it impossible for us to film somewhere like that.

However, as I found out by driving through it, there is no where to stop. This is why I had to video the area from my dash cam rather than stopping to take a photo. This road fits the rural idea that I was advised at the beginning, but would be far too dangerous to film on due to the lack of pavements. This road is also on a bus route, causing the risk hazards to be a lot higher. As a result of this, I didn't look further into the location as I knew it wouldn't be worth it with the large risks involved with filming there.




Kingsgate - Botany Bay

Due to the idea of a dog getting hit, I thought about a couple of places which may be more suitable for the idea of Sheila taking a dog out for a walk - even though we find out she was looking for her cat. As a result of this, I considered the idea of the top of Botany Bay. This area is very grassy and can be described as a rural area. It is very open and as a result of this it may be too windy to film. Especially with being next to the sea, this may mean the risk of wind and additional background noise may be increased.

The most beneficial thing of filming near a beach at this time of year (February - March) is that it wouldn't be as busy as it would be in the summer. It would be colder but it would be worth it due to the lack of people surrounding the location. There may only be dog walkers out and about at this location (which fits the idea of Sheila losing her dog in the area). There is also a lack of houses which would limit the amount of people and vehicles, the only houses are from behind this photo. This location doesn't particularly fit the country look that I thought of when I gained the original feedback, therefore, I first felt that it would not be suitable for our film, but as it has houses behind and the grassy area in front of the photo it suits Alex's needs. However, being right beside the sea means that the risk of high winds and unwanted noise is too big and because of this, Alex didn't like the idea of using this location for our film. 

Botany Bay Beach 'The Ridings'

Throughout my location hunt I kept Alex's requirements in mind - somewhere that isn't over populated and not too quiet - he described the area he wanted as a suburban area, which is like a mix of a residential area and a rural area. After weighing up with pro's and con's of each location I suggested, together Alex and I have decided that St Mary's Avenue (2nd option) is the most suitable location for the dog hit scene. We believe that we shouldn't be interrupted too much by the public and that the area isn't too windy due to the trees. The road is also wide and caters for vehicles who want to drive around us while we are parked. The road is half residential with the houses on the left side, and half rural with the grassy area on the right side so I feel that it suits Alex's requirements of a mix of residential and rural and would be very appropriate for our film. I have contacted the Kent Film Office and we have permission to film on the road. Due to the nature of the film, I will write up a letter to put through the houses on the road to inform them of our filming and to get their permission. 

Reflection
- It was beneficial to work through the dog hit to see how we wanted to carry it out and film it. Deciding now that we will perform an emergency stop means that we shouldn't be wasting time on the shoot day deciding on how to perform the manoeuvre. 

- It was very beneficial to look at other locations and finding the advantages and disadvantages of filming there before agreeing a new shooting location. It was helpful to get Alex's opinions of each location as I may have set a location and Alex not know anything about it and then he may not have liked it as much as I did on the shoot day.

- Finding the church's timetable online was helpful, as I was able to make a decision about the location there and then, rather than having to visit the church to ask about their activities which I may not have been able to do so due to our busy University timetable.

- Finding a location in Margate was helpful as I didn't have to look further afield. Keeping the location in Thanet means we will save slightly on the budget, rather than picking a location in a completely different area as we might have had to get the cast and crew back for an additional filming day. 

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

MAJOR PROJECT: Preparation & Script Read Through

IMPORTANCE OF SCRIPT READ THROUGH

To ensure we weren't wasting time or the budget during the production stage of VET-MAN, I conducted some research into script read throughs and how important they really are. By researching into this I could also gain ideas on what to do while we have all the cast together as I wouldn't want this to be a wasted opportunity. 

I discovered an article discussing the reasons as to why table reads are just as important as auditions written by casting director, Marci Liroff. Marci has previously worked with directors such as Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Christopher Nolan and Brad Bird. While working at Fenton-Feinberg Casting she cast films such as A Christmas Story, Poltergeist, E.T - The Extra Terrestrial, and Blade Runner. Marci then established her own casting company, and in 1983 she cast Footloose, Freaky Friday, Mean Girls and Mr Popper's Penguins as well as more and in addition to this, she cast The Sublime and Beautiful, which she also produced. Due to Marci's previous experience, I felt that she was extremely adequate in which to take advice from.

Marci explains that writers and the creative team involved in the production of a film usually "need the screenplay read so that they can hear how it plays" (Liroff, 2014), this can be either in a room around a table or simply in a living room. As Alex has been writing the script and going over it in his head, and when I have been reading it and giving feedback, I have also been only reading it through in my head, we haven't actually heard the script read aloud yet. As Marci suggests, hearing the script from someone else can help us hear how it plays. As we are creating a sitcom, the comedy is essential. The story may have seemed funny when creating it and reading it back but hearing it out loud could change the tone of the story completely. The script read through may be the chance to realise the story isn't actually funny, or the chance to realise how well the actors portray the comedy. As the humour is such a big part of the story we ideally needed the real cast to sit with us and read it through, we chose our cast members due to their successful auditions, therefore, we know they can perform comedy well. In addition to this, it will also be beneficial if we could hear them perform together before we start shooting, to see how their relationship is. If it's good then it'll only get better throughout the shooting period, but if there are some clashes then the relationship may not work. As a result of this, I will arrange for the real cast to come in and read through the script, rather than getting anyone just so we can hear it aloud. Another benefit of having our real cast in, who know how to portray comedy, is if they don't find the story that funny, there is the possibility that their sarcastic / blunt tone could bring out the humour even more. On the other hand, we may realise that our cast members aren't quite right for the sitcom. Both Alex and I have met each one of the cast at the auditions and we believe that they are right for the film, however, I must remember that it is possible for them to not fit the part and the script read-though is the perfect opportunity to find out. I believe that this would be unlikely, but we would rather realise this now than during the shooting period.

Another point Marci explains is that the writer and creative team may "invite other writers so that they can discuss [the script] after and do a 'punch-up' for dialogue or for comedy" (Liroff, 2014). Initially, I wasn't sure what the term 'punch-up' meant and so I researched further and found that it meant re-writing the script to include one-liners, jokes, and cultural references in order to make it more appealing for a different audience to which it was first intended for. We are sure that our audience of 16-30 year olds are who we want to aim the sitcom towards, however, getting the cast in to read through the script could be a good opportunity to get their ideas on the most updated script. The majority of our cast are between this age group which also helps if they like this type of dark humour. They may have additional ideas to add to the comedy aspect of the story, where then Alex, as writer, and myself, as script editor, could go away and think about what to add to the script. The cast members who are coming to the script read through are the people performing the story of VET-MAN, therefore, we want their opinions and ideas included as well. 


In the article, Marci also describes a couple of experiences she has had while being a casting director. One in which explains how she spoke to one of the actors they had invited back and what the producer expected from them. I found this story beneficial in how to act around the cast members once everyone has arrived to the script read through. The producer had a word with each actor to ensure they "acted at a 'performance' level" (Liroff, 2014) throughout the read through. It's essential for the cast to read through the script as if they are portraying the character each time so we can get a real feel of the characters. However, one of the actors didn't listen to their advice and he wasn't asked to continue with the film. This taught me to ensure I treat each cast member as a professional, but as friendly as possible. I imagine that we'll become more sociable with them throughout the shoot days the more we get to know them, but although this is a student film I want to act as professional as I can. 

Reading Marci's experience has also highlighted the idea that if an actor isn't quite right for the film, then I will have to address this. At the moment, I believe that our cast members are all fit for the parts after seeing their auditions, but I must keep in mind that this can change. Nevertheless, I have high expectations for the script read through which I think will be met.

PREPARATION FOR SCRIPT READ-THROUGH

I was unable to schedule a call back with our cast before Christmas, due to running out of time and not being able to find a date which suited everyone. As a result of this, I scheduled a script read-through for January, before we film in February. After reading about Marci's experience of having to find a new cast member, I aimed to get the script read through for a few weeks before the first shoot day, incase we realise that maybe one of our cast members isn't quite right for the film. As I said previously, I believe that this is unlikely because I feel very positive about our cast, however I have to consider everything. Having the script read through in December would have been more practical due to having a larger amount of time if we had to find one or two alternative cast members. As this wasn't possible during the Pre-Production unit, our script read through had to be in January. After a bit of rearranging, we all agreed a date for the read through - Thursday 31st January.

I started to prepare for the script read through with an organisational mind. I started by printing artist contracts. These forms set out agreements and expectations of myself, as the producer, and the cast members separately. These contacts are important to clear up any confusions surrounding payments and reimbursements. The cast members know that we are creating a student film and that there is no wage for working with us, therefore, I used the form to highlight the reimbursement that they will be given (37p per mile or a full train fare reimbursement). I made sure I created these artist contracts and highlighted each agreement because if I hadn't, the cast members could argue the reimbursement fee even though this was agreed from the very first advert on Mandy. The form allows me to prevent any arguments from happen and aims to keep the production period simple and enjoyable.

Artist contracts


The screenshots above are of two artist contracts. I entered my name and the cast members names in the appropriate blanks. I typed this in order to make it look more professional. I read through the contracts and edited parts of it to match our production, such as the title of the film and the agreed travel expense - 37p per mile. I only wrote this in for the people who were driving, shown in the first contract above. For the cast members getting the train, I wrote - Agreed to reimburse rail travel - shown in the second contract above. 

Bank details

The script read through was also a good opportunity to get everyones bank details for the travel reimbursements. I have previously agreed with the cast members to transfer all the money back to them in one go at the end of the project. In order to keep this quick for them, I have scheduled to do this the day after we finish filming - Saturday 23rd February. As they have given their time to help us film VET-MAN for no real wage, I owe it to them to get their money back to them as soon as I can. Especially, as our two main characters have been with us for every single day - bar one day for Luke. Their reimbursement amount will be more, and I wouldn't want to keep them for long without the money. The cast members understand that there may be re-shoots but I will reimburse the main bulk of money first and then if we need to re-shoot I will reimburse that money after the re-shoots.

To create the form for the bank details, I kept it short and sweet and simply made blanks for their name, sort code and account number. As I have done with everything else, I inserted a blank for their signature so they have signed to give me their bank details. Throughout the pre-production and production stages I have asked the cast members to sign paperwork, so it can be seen that they have accepted whatever is on the paperwork. In addition to this, as bank details are very important I want the cast members to realise that I will act in a professional manner in relation to the money reimbursements, which is why I typed and printed the bank details form. If I had written it myself or simply got them to write their details on a scrap piece of paper this may not have shown the seriousness and professional approach I want to give off as a producer.


Form for bank details


Food & drink

I arranged the call back for the afternoon of the 31st between 1.30pm - 5pm. As this timing is after lunch and before dinner, I felt that we should put on a couple of refreshments for the cast. Using our budget, I brought a few packets of biscuits, disposable cups, and a lemon and lime squash. I can use a large dish and napkins to help present the snacks in an inviting way. I also have a big glass jug in which I can fill with water and then they have the option of plain water or a lemon and lime juice flavouring. I will also bring in tea bags, coffee and hot chocolate so the cast members have the choice of a hot drink as well. I imagine this will be more favourable due to arranging the script read during the cold month of January. 

We are conducting the script read through in The Maidstone Studios, although my researched showed that I could have simply arranged the read through to be in someones living room. I felt that arranging the meeting to be in the Studios is more professional. Also, due to the ease of booking out a room, it simply made more sense. We can use the kitchen in the base room as our source of water. Due to the read through being organised for after lunch and before dinner, I feel that tea and biscuits is an appropriate choice of snack for this time of day.

Itinerary of afternoon

One of the aims of the afternoon is for the cast to meet each other before filming. Ideally, this will help each cast member to feel more comfortable around each other. The main two characters in VET-MAN - Tim and Luke - have a close relationship in the story, and in order to portray this well, we wanted them to have met beforehand. The read through is a good opportunity to do this. In the story, Tess is Tim's sister, so in reality these characters would also have a close relationship. It doesn't have to be a good relationship, but as they would have grown up together, they would be more forward with each other. As a result of this, I wanted Tim and Tess to have met beforehand as well. In VET-MAN, Tim and Tess don't have the best relationship as Tess is usually fed up with Tim and his crazy ideas. They don't really possess a close knit sibling relationship, therefore, it is mainly Tim and Luke's relationship which is the most important.

The main aim of the 31st is to read through the script as many times as we can. As this is the only read through I will be organising due to filming at the beginning of February, it is essential that we actually complete the read through as this is what we brought everyone in to do. I think that it is necessary to read through the script as many times as we can and in different ways. The cast members may have ideas for their characters which we are happy to consider.

To further extend my research into the importance of a script read through, I discovered a 1 week online class called Scene Description Spotlight: Express Your Voice. This is taught by Scott Myers, a film producer, writer and director known for K-9 and Trojan War, and he includes lectures and writing tips in order to help people improve their scriptwriting skills. One of his lectures is about reading the script aloud. My previous research from Marci consisted of discovering the benefits of reading the script aloud, however, this lecture is more in detail and focuses on what specifically to look out for, on top of methods to try with a full cast present in order to get the most out of the read through.

Due to the idea of being involved with the creative process of the film throughout production, I felt that it was important to research into working with the cast members during the script read through. Initially, this would be Alex's job as the director, however as I am also taking on a creative role, this information is important for me to know too. After reading into the related online class by Scott, I took a few notes. He advises to first "read all of the dialogue, with no scene descriptions for each scene, from the start of the script to the end" (Myers, 2015). Scott believes that this will allow us to then focus on the back-and-fourth interplay between characters. I understand how this will work due to not interrupting the characters by speaking the scene descriptions, and as the read through it primarily about the dialogue and relationship between the characters it makes sense to take on the read through with this method. 

Scott's next piece of advice was to "read aloud one character's sides in their entirety. From start to finish" (Myers, 2015). By doing this, he explains that we will be able to focus on the "flow and feel" (Myers, 2015) of the individual characters. I continued to learn that here I will be looking to see if there are any verbal habits unique to that character, for example, do they tend to end their sentences with a question or use a lot of slang? Are they prone to interrupt other characters or themselves, stop-starting topics? And so on. By using this method on each cast member it is a good way to look for their distinctive verbal traits. This piece of advice is very eye opening for me as I hadn't thought the different methods in which to pin point the exact characteristics you want from your characters. It has taught me that there are different ways in which to conduct a script read through than just reciting the script a few times. As I am hoping to give off a professional approach to our actors, I will ensure I carry out these methods of script reading during the read through. Using these methods can also change up the afternoon a bit more, it would be uninteresting if they were to keep reading the script over and over in the same way, especially as we won't be in the interesting locations, instead we will just be sat in a room together. Due to the risk of losing cast members, I want to keep them as entertained and as interested in our project as I can. I will also inform Alex of my research and we can plan the order in which we want to conduct the read through in the most interesting way possible.

Another benefit of organising a script read through is to look at the timings of the script. This may be Alex's job as director, but it wouldn't hurt if I was to time the length of the script when they go through it all together. So far, I have only read the most recent script (draft 7) to myself and at 17 pages, it feels true to time at roughly 17 minutes. However, once we have the real cast in and performing the script, scenes may go faster or slower than we expect from the script length.

After meeting the cast in the auditions, I feel that this will be very successful due to the effort they all put into their characters and the versatility of each person. I believe that they will take on our improvements and will portray their characters well. I am also looking forward to hearing their own thoughts on the script. Alex and I asked this in the audition, but now I have confirmed them as the final cast, I believe that they be more likely to express their opinions of the script. In addition to the itinerary of the afternoon, the script read through is a good opportunity to get promo photos or the photo for the required poster. We will see what time we have at the end of the read through, due to the main aim of getting through the script as many times as possible. We have spoken about promo photos and the poster and we would like to include lights and a clean backdrop which we can do at Katie's as she has the equipment. As a result of this, it isn't the worse case scenario if we don't get the photos done during the read through. I can schedule this for the end of one of the shoot days when we are filming near Katie's house.

SCRIPT READ-THOUGH - 31st Jan


We welcomed a full cast into the Studios at 1:30pm and we started the script read-through immediately in order to make the most of our time. 

We started with the cast sitting down in a circle. Although this is quite impractical in terms of body movement and language in their performance, I felt it was best to start slow and have the cast first meet each other and perform the script sitting down. We offered snacks and drinks to get everyone comfortable before getting onto the script. 

Alex explained the premise of the story again to refresh the cast's minds. Although we met everyone at auditions and they already seem to know the latest script rather well, it felt best to start with a refresher. They read the script through first sat down, the first few times Alex read out the scene descriptions and the next few times he didn't. Reflecting back on Scott's advice not to read the descriptions, we did this so we could get the conversation going between the characters without interrupting them with the scene descriptions. Obviously, once we get onto location, we won't be reading the scene descriptions so it made sense to practice this now. We also tried it with the descriptions because admittedly it is difficult to put yourself into the story when you're not on location or in costume, as a result of this, it made sense for Alex to read it though with the descriptions first to get everyone settled into the story. The conversation between the characters with no scene descriptions was really good. I haven't experienced well-performing cast before as I haven't recruited cast for my previous films. As a result of this, I was pleased with the bond they made with each other straight away, and they were able to respond to each other as the script describes, as if they had known each other for ages. This went really well and everyone portrayed their characters well. Alex took over the majority of the afternoon, directing and blocking through the scenes. I added in a few comments when I felt it was needed. By liaising with Alex after I had researched into the importance of the read through but prior to the actual day, proved beneficial as we were able to agree on how we would run the day. Obviously, Alex has conducted his own research so we had to come to an agreement of how we wanted to do the day. 

We didn't follow Scott's next piece of advice fully because he suggested to read through the script from one person's point of view to see how they talk, whether they use a lot of slag or are prone to interrupt other characters' dialogue. However, we were able to see if they had any verbal traits just by hearing them speak. They all followed the script so well that they didn't use any slang or any of their own words, unless they suggested a different way of saying something but even then they asked first before just doing it. Personally, for me this showed that they were serious about the script and they were eager to pull off the story as it was without trying to change it around. None of them interrupted the other unless they needed to from in the script, which was beneficial to know, and none of them had any odd slang or anything verbal that I needed to concern myself with. Once they finished the sit down run-through I suggested creating a bigger space and allowing the cast members to stand up and act through the scenes as well as just speaking the lines. I thought this would be beneficial to see how they act with each other when moving around. I know they are all capable of using the space because they all performed so well in the auditions, however this time they are all together in a group which was interesting to see. Similarly to the first sit down read through, they all worked well together and they weren't shy when in their characters. 

I also timed a couple of run throughs to see how we were doing in terms of performance compared to the estimated time of the script. We could either be really over the estimated 17 minutes, or really under or just on time. This was beneficial to know for future script amendments. The run throughs that I timed all came under the 17 minutes however, parts of the story that were mainly down to visuals were not true to time as this would be impossible while not in the correct location. As we were under time, I can imagine we will be on time or slightly over when we actually get into the location and put the script into real performances. Nevertheless, I will be aiming to make the edit choppier to add to the comedy which will ultimately bring down the timing. As the estimate time is 17 minutes, we have 3 minutes spare to go over which is quite a lot of time. As a result of this, I have no problems on our timing and whether we'll end up going over the time limit of 20 minutes as I am confident that we won't. 

Prior to the script read through, I sent over the most recent script (draft 7) which included a change to the first scene making it more comedic and quick paced. Having script draft 7 meant that Alex had continued improving the script after the Christmas break as we submitted our pre-production unit with the last script being draft 6. During my initial tutorial with Simon after the Christmas break, he suggested that I need to take control of the scripts more. He said that he expected another two script drafts at least before the shooting period began, and suggested that I took control and told Alex that another two script drafts were essential. Alex delivered this as we have the next script (draft 7) ready for the read through, and he is currently producing an eighth draft ready for the shooting period. Due to the way in which our shoot dates are set out, we are filming the two days at the owl academy earlier on the 6th and 7th February, and the rest of it during the week commencing the 18th February. The script drafts have fitted in well here, as the owl academy scenes did not need changing as such, it was mainly the first and last scenes, and as these are being shot during the shoot week (commencing 18th Feb), Alex has time to produce another version of the script immediately after the owl academy shoot days. Due to the minimal amount of changes that are needed, I explained this to the cast during the read through and they were completely fine with it.


Set-up for script read through

Throughout the read through I thought with both an organisational and creative mind and took notes on what I discovered during the day and what I wanted to address at the end of the read through. My notes included aspects of production such as our new idea of the photos of Tess for Tim to look at when he breaks into her living room. Alex put this idea into the most recent script and I liked the idea of getting photos of Skevy for our film. As well as adding to the story of Tess being the older and more successful sibling over Tim, I believe that it may also add to the believability of the film as we will be using real photos of when Skevy was younger rather than getting photos of a young girl and trying to pass them off as Skevy. While Skevy was explaining the type of photos that she has she said that some have other people in them, this led me to realise that I would need to get their permission to use a photo with them in it for the film. 

The script read through was also a good opportunity to talk about costume with each cast member. Aspects of production like the props are down to me alone and I can gather them myself, however, costume differs depending on what the cast members already have clothes-wise. I first explained and noted down the costumes for each character and then I asked the cast members individually what part of the costume they have or don't have. The cast members already had the information of the costume in a previous email and information pack that I sent around in the pre-production unit. However, it is easier to discus in person, I just wanted to inform them early on what sort of clothes we were expecting them to wear. As our film is set in the present day, the costume choices are quite simple everyday clothes, e.g. hoodies, cardigans, jeans and trainers, so I knew this type of clothing was going to be simple to ask our cast for, however, I still wanted to give them an idea of the clothing they would be wearing.

By discussing the type of clothes that the cast members already have means that I should be able to save money on the budget, because I might end up buying something they already have and are willing to wear for the film. As I said in the previous paragraph, our costume choices are very normal and everyday type of clothes, so it is very possible that we may be able to use some of their clothes. I started with Tess's character and explained that she needs a smart costume as she is an estate agent. Smart clothing is quite common as many people attend interviews or may have jobs which require smart clothes. Ideally, we expected a blouse, skirt and tights or trousers and possibly a blazer on Tess, and luckily Skevy said she had all these apart from a blazer. Thinking through the story, I discovered that the blazer isn't essential as her first scene is set inside a house where she wouldn't usually wear a blazer and her next scene is outside where she would be wearing a coat due to the cold weather. As a result of being in these locations, with one extreme to the other (not needing any cover up to needing a coat) means that there is no need for the middle scenario with a blazer. Skevy explained that she was happy to just wear a blouse in the house (as she is at home, she would be comfortable which means she probably wouldn't be wearing a jacket) and a coat for the pub scene. The smart costume will also help with the successful, older sister idea we wish to establish along with the photos of Skevy graduating or doing something successful.

Our next character Mollie is the owner of The Kent Owl Academy, and as I explained in the pre-production package Mollie needs to be dressed similarly to the people who work at the academy. This would include boots or old shoes and old black jeans or leggings which look as if they are ready to get muddy. Becky explained that she has both boots and old jeans which she uses for dog walking which would be ideal. I still like the idea of getting her jeans muddy so she looks as if she had been working hard before we meet her, so as a result of this, I said that I would pick up a cheaper pair of jeans so if we decide to get them muddy on the shoot day we can get these dirty, but if her dog walking jeans look worn enough then we could use them. Becky also asked about her hair, which I had considered in the pre-production package but I completely forgot about until she brought it up at the read through. She suggested putting her hair up because she's essentially at work in the film. I agreed with this, and was very grateful for her bringing up her hair as I didn't even think of that.

Sheila's costume is pretty straight forward as we didn't mind what she wore. Sue is an elderly lady playing an elderly lady so we trusted that she would have appropriate clothing for this character. However, I explained that as we were planning on getting her shoulder bloody, I will buy her a new cardigan so we don't run the risk of staining her own clothes. The read through was a good opportunity for me to get her clothes sizes so I can get the correct cardigan. As I explained in the pre-production package, I could see Sheila in a light shade of pink as I personally associate elderly people with pastel and pretty colours. As I have to provide a cardigan to get stained with blood, I will be able to buy a pink one to reflect the reasons stated in the pre-production package. 

Both Tim and Luke's characters have pretty simple costumes as well. They both needed jeans, trainers, tops and hoodies, however, I established in the pre-production package that we wanted Tim to have a darker hoodie and Luke to have a light coloured hoodie, due to the idea of Luke being younger. I believe we can establish the innocence of his character by wearing lighter coloured clothing. Similarly to Sheila's character, Luke and Tim both also get bloody so I will need to provide them with hoodies so we don't get their own clothes dirty. Due to the innocence idea in terms of the colour of their clothes, I will buy a light coloured hoodie for Luke and a black hoodie for Tim. Again, I received their clothes sizes so I can now go and buy the correct hoodies. As the story of VET-MAN continues over 2 days, and because Tim and Luke are our main characters, we need them to change costume at some point. As a result of this, I explained that they would need to bring 2 pairs of jeans and their own tops and hoodies, on top of the hoodies I will provide them with to get dirty. We are only planning on getting one costume dirty during the scene outside Sheila's house, so the day after this (after the night scene, when they turn up again at the owl academy) the script explains that they changed clothes because of the blood. As we are not planning on getting these dirty, they can bring their own clothes. However, again I explained about the dark and light clothing and Dan described his light blue jeans and a red hoodie which seemed perfect for the innocent look we want from Luke. In addition to this, Tim explained that he had dark jeans and trousers which he was happy to wear and he has a dark grey hoodie which would fit the character of Tim perfectly. 

There was also a point in which Alex said we might not need the cast in for 09:00, but I stepped in to say we will keep the cast call time as 09:00, otherwise we would be messing with the schedule, and the cast already know the time as 09:00 so I wouldn't want to change it and confuse them. Final notes I made were that I was requested to re-send the cast list and character profiles so the cast could remind themselves of the characters they are playing.

Notes during script read through

The script read-through was also a good opportunity for me to give out forms and get information from each cast member. Examples include being able to complete the artist contract forms and taking a note of each bank account ready for the reimbursement at the end of the project. I was able to talk to each cast member about costume, and tell them what items of clothing we will be buying as these items will be getting dirty, either with mud (Mollie's jeans) or fake blood (Tim and Luke's hoodies and Sheila's cardigan). Along with this, I was able to ask for their clothing sizes and any preferences they have with the clothes we are buying.

As I said previously, I was able to clarify the call time of 09:00, which everyone had already received and agreed when I send the schedules and call sheets to them during the Pre-Production unit.

I was able to make notes while Alex was leading the call back, such as additional questions that I wanted to ask at the end. An example of this was asking Skevy if she had any graduation photos, or any successful moments in her life to use during the first scene when Tim first breaks into Tess's house. Questions like this led me to noting down extra items that we needed for the film, such as frames to put these photos in they will be send digitally and we need to print them.

Reflection
- Taking on Marci and Scott's advice and experiences was beneficial for the creative side to my producing. As I am not only organising everything, I also need to act creatively throughout the whole project therefore I need to be as involved in the read through and with the cast as Alex is. I know the script just as well as him due to giving feedback and being the script editor, therefore I am in a good place to offer advice towards the cast in relation to the script. Scott's advice especially, was helpful in explaining different ways to conduct a script read through and the reasons behind it. I found out the benefits for reading the script through without scene descriptions and as a character on their own which I didn't know beforehand. Also this advice worked and I was able to see how the character interacted with each other without any disruptions of scene descriptions. I was also able to see if they had any odd verbal habits that I would need to address, fortunately they didn't and I am looking forward to working with such professional and experienced cast members. 

- I believe that arranging a script read-through was really beneficial towards our project. The cast members were able to meet each other, meaning that the final shoot days won't be the first time they meet. Ideally, this will help towards their relationships. I understand the one day isn't a lot of time to get to know someone, however, each cast member is very outgoing and friendly, and as they are all professional actors they are used to the idea of working with someone they don't know. Getting them to meet beforehand was simply a bonus as I believe they would have performed relatively well if they hadn't had time to meet.

- I was able to give our forms and gain signatures for important parts of production such as reimbursements. These are things I wouldn't have been able to do over email, so I feel that I really did make the most of the read through and having a full cast present.

- Taking notes throughout the read through was beneficial because some points led onto other points. For example, when Skevy and I were talking about the photos and she explained that some of the photos she's got include other people, this reminded me that I would have to get their permission to use the photos. Another example of points leading onto other points was when Becky mentioned what she should do with her hair. I imagine that she thought of this when we were talking about the idea of her being at work at the academy and getting muddy. I discussed hair in the pre-production package, however, I completely forgot about it until she suggested it. Becky might not have thought about it until we discussed the idea of being at work. This may also not have been clear over email, and we might have only just realised it when shooting the scene when no one was prepared with a hair tie. 

- Following on from the previous reflection point, I have realised that I need to refer back to the pre-production package more. As before, I forgot about different hair styles and it may not have been mentioned until the shoot day when we realised that Becky's character would look better and more realistic with her hair up as she is a work. As a result of this, I have learnt to look back at what I had decided and resolved in the previous unit as that was the planning and preparation of the major project which need to be carried forward into the production stage of VET-MAN. 

- Extremely beneficial talking to the cast about costume as I was able to negotiate clothing choices easier in person rather than over email. For example, when I asked if Skevy had a blazer to go with the smart costume, before realising that it wasn't actually needed. Skevy and I talked through her locations and noticed that she would either need no jacket or a thicker coat due to the weather. As a result of talking in person, it was so easy to tell her to ignore the idea of a blazer due to the fact that she probably won't actually need it. In addition to this, having a conversation about the photos she has that we could use. I explained that in an ideal world, we'd like a photo of her on top of a mountain for example as this would show obvious success that she was actually able to climb a mountain, and this is when I found out that she does actually have a photo of herself on top of a mountain abroad. Initially, having a photo of this extremity was just an idea and an example to give her, but after suggesting the idea and finding out that she actually has one like this I realised how important it was to talk to someone in person. I probably wouldn't have been able to suggest an idea like this over email, without her possibly being shocked that we want such an extreme photo, but it surprisingly worked when I suggested it. 


References:
Liroff, M. (2014). Why Table Reads Are Just as Important as Auditions.Available: https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/table-reads-just-important-auditions-12588/. Last accessed 29th Jan 2019.

Myers, S. (2015). The benefits of reading your script aloud. Available: https://gointothestory.blcklst.com/the-benefits-of-reading-your-script-aloud-5b1244eed79e. Last accessed 29th Jan 2019.

MAJOR PROJECT: Individual Tutorial

Talk about the WHY in creative terms - producing

Dog hit scene - is it possible, tests etc, make sure it follows the style of the film

Cast together - photographs, posters etc

Look at platform again, maybe not channel 4

Promotional work - contact marketing and graphic designers, stills photographer, marketing campaigner

Overall creative control all the way to the end - evidence this

Reflective commentary - why something didn't work will lead to more research

Editing research

Get the script into gear - first and last scene - responsibility of the script - can only produce as well as the script

How am I going to get everything we need by the end of the day - think of it in terms of editing / reshoots - make sure everything is shot - build it into my producing - is it working

On it with the scripts - think it's sounding good or bad etc.


Detailed making of critical reflection - in blog - branch off into research

Will learn stuff while doing the filming - go into research - this happened, seen one example in this film - research


I have taken each of these points on board. I will get Alex to create another two scripts at least in advance of the shooting period so I can send them onto the cast members with plenty of time to familiarise themselves with the changes. My main aim for this unit is to talk about WHY in terms of my producing as I will be able to evaluate my work better. I also need to evidence my creative control throughout the project. This is something that I didn't do very well in the pre-production unit, so I will aim to improve on this during this unit.

I need to find an easy method in which I can keep track of the shoot days to ensure we get everything shot and complete by the end of the shoot days. This will minimise re-shoots and it will offer an easier post-production period if I have all the shots needed to create the best rough cut I can. Although, we have now completed the pre-production stage which usually consists of the most prep and planning, I must remember to continue with research throughout this unit in order to understand each aspect of our film. It is likely that I will learn something new during production, or I might have forgotten to do something in the pre-production stage which will require additional research. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

MAJOR PROJECT: Group Tutorial

Positives:
- Unique project
- Fresh
- Achievable
- Strong middle part of script
- Practicalities have been worked out

Negatives:
- Poor opening and ending to the script
- Logistic of dog hit - work it out, plan it out - is that the right location?

Got cast coming in already - 31st

One more crew member - art department - at least if not two more people - art / lighting

Just do the jobs were meant to do - not other jobs as well

Scene 1
- Got to be funny
- Tim’s constantly on the run
- Tim goes to Tess’ house for the reason to use the printer, possibly think he's a burglar at the beginning
- We see photographs of Tess on the wall being successful - graduated, climbed mount everest etc - then we see one small photo of Tim

Don’t see luke character profile come out in the script - feels like he's Tim's friend

Night scene isn't entirely clear - storyline

Credits - no animals are harmed in the making…

Pub scene
- Is very flat
- Built the audience up throughout … then it goes down at the pub scene
- Not as sharp as the middle part of script

Another draft before script read-through - then make another draft after read-through

Interior of the van needs to look right / believable

Make sure we are clear on how were going to shoot the dog scene, handheld / through windows


Overall, Simon was happy with our progress throughout the pre-production unit and believes that we can pull off a realistic sitcom if we stick to our plans outlined in the previous unit. I took on board every piece of advice from Simon as it was good to get a fresh mind reflecting on our work. I also noted down each piece of script advice which was aimed at Alex because as the script editor of the project, I felt that I should also be a part of this feedback. I agreed with all his ideas, and especially liked the idea about thinking of Tim as a burglar at the very beginning of the sitcom, until Tess turns the light on and the audience see Tim trying to use her printer. 

As producer, I took on the fact that the dog scene needs to be worked through logistically. At the moment, it's hard to see how it's going to work. We can revisit the location and work through how it's going to look and how we are going to make the scene as realistic as possible. Simon suggested that the location we've chosen may not be the right one for what is going on within the scene so it may be a case of changing the location slightly. 

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...