Sunday, 30 September 2012

Project log 3: Getting a better idea of character

Research Table

Research  Source
Key research findings
How is this presented on your blog?
Where will you/ How can you use this info in your film? Be as detailed as you can in your answer

Researching Post Traumatic Stress disorder/
Various websites

 Learned about the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder
Text doc
 Saw it’s something that could be affecting our character, seeing as a symptom is flashbacks.
Also saw that the affects are more hasrh when children are involved which solidifies our story.

Repressed memories/
Article in Harvard Magazine

Looked into the history of this problem, and learned it isn’t actually accepted as a disorder, even though it frequently appears in media.
Text doc

Decided to just continue with the idea that her memories of her son are repressed and get triggered when she feels particularly down.

Losing loved ones/ Interviews with other family &  friends as well as self.

Learned first hand how people react to talking about lost loved ones.
Text documents & Video summary

Got a better understanding of what the character might be feelings and gave me an indication to how the character may act towards the end of the sequence.

Losing a child/ Interview with family member who was separated from child

Again, learned from first hand experience about how the character may react.
Text document

Gave the idea of looking at pictures and memories beforehand.

Hoarding/ Various websites

Learned hoarding is often used to comfort the person, and is more common with people who suffer from depression

 Influenced the film a lot as it could be really helpful to the visual style. Decided to put this right into the film and making it clear that she has trouble with letting go. Furthermore, this makes the idea of collecting the balloons much more plausible.

Coping Mechanisms/ youtube video

Learned that people can cope by going into a fantasy world.
Text & Video
 Goes into the idea that her personality changes quite drastically and she goes into the “Fantasy” her child is still alive.

Depression interview/ Talked to an aunt who’s a psychologist/

Learned how people are supposed to treat those who are under depression.
Slide show

Linked to the idea we had about her going off into a “fantasy”- her husband at first tells her to stay back and relax, but this just makes her feel worse which makes her go off into her fantasy- as well as linking to the idea that she is quite depressed and starts hoarding thinsg for comfort.

Interview about Depression

My auntie is a clinical psychologist, so I took the opportunity to talk to her about depression, and how family members should care for those who have depression.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Character Introduction

There are many facets to the woman who is Mary Higgins. At first, she seems like a demure 50's housewife type, with light coloured hair in a soft, feminine cut around her face. She's not the most talkative  and often dresses in smart yet modest clothing preferring warm materials and hues. However after a time it becomes evident that Mary is too quiet, too passive. And that is when one discovers the second facet of Mary's personality. Underneath the spick and span exterior of a homemaker, Mary casts a melancholy aura onto her surroundings. A forlorn gaze, dark shadows under her light eyes and the creases between her brows belie the anguish she holds within her heart.

Mary has a sense of longing, a sense of sadness and even depression about her if you look long enough. She seems calm, but is really bordering on catatonic on some days. She surrounds herself with  useless objects, heirlooms and souvenirs, hoping to fill a long empty hole in her soul. She tries to grasp at memories, a flicks through albums or anything that could make her feel like the ones she;s lost aren't gone, but she fails every time.

And then, the last part of Mary';s personality arises. The part that forgets, the part that tries to run from her harsh reality. This part, which is so blinded by it's own optimism that it willingly removes the memories that hurt her the most. Her clouded vision guides her to collect and hoard further, and she feels safe and secure, wrapped up in the delusional state she puts herself into. But then it fades and Mary is, once again, alone in her disheartening existence.

Treatment 3/Final draft

The film opens with a hand flicking through a photo album. There are many family photos, one of a young girl and her parents, then one of the same girl and two other children, then the same children with an elderly couple and finally a woman and a little boy. At this, the hand stops, and we see this same woman's face. She's older, about middle ages, and looks down with a sort of empty look on her face. She is sitting on a sofa as she is looking at the photo album, and around her are many other photo albums and books, as well as a multitude of other objects such as ornaments and children's clothes. Her surroundings are cluttered and full as she looks forlornly at the picture. The sound of footsteps are heard, and then a man around the same age as her comes onto the screen. He says good morning to the woman at this point, and she doesn't respond. He looks a little dissapointed at her lack of reaction, but seemingly brushes this off and says he'd off to work now. However, she suddenly picks up, realizing she should say good bye to him or make an effort, and starts to get up but he tells her it's alright and says she should just relax and have a good day.

He walks out the door, leaving her on the sofa, dejected. She looks back at the picture and begins strokes it but then a change comes over her face. She suddenly puts down the album and gets up, looking much more lively then before. Grabbing a bag that's lying near the door, she gets up and goes to the door, but not before she turns around and calls out that she's going to the shops. She walks down her street, and then we cut to the husband. He's at his desk, and is fidgeting with his pen and papers on his desk. With an anxious expression he looks up at his desk, and on his computer is a picture of the woman. for a second he looks conflicted and then he gets up and walks out his office door. 

With the woman again, she's walking along and with her is a balloon. She stops outside her house and she gets out a pen and paper , where she writes down a birthday message for her son, who she said goodbye to earlier on. Smiling at this, she walks into her house, but then begins to feel a bit uneasy. Dropping the other bags of shopping, she staggers towards the kitchen, still clutching her balloon. Once she enters the room, she finds herself surrounded by balloons, of every size and shape. Looking closer she realizes every balloon has a note attached to it and that they are all addressed to her son. Then she notices something in the corner and she releases the balloon she has with her as she goes to inspect it. It's a small picture frame with her son's picture again, and then suddenly her face falls as the reality dawns on her as she sees words on the picture "Rest in Peace, my beatiful son" under one of the picture. She remembers her son dying and all the memories of the people she lost and she collapses on the floor in tears. In the background we can hear someone entering, and her husband comes in. Initially, he still has tears in his eyes but sees that she's crying in a corner, and so he wipes his eyes and goes over to her. He coaxes her up and tells her he's make her some tea.

Three Act Structure

  • The woman is suffering from bereavement and other illnesses such as depression. She's started collecting up objects that remind her of her child that she lost as well as memories of the past. The wife feels the relationship between her and her husband is breaking. Her husband on the other hand is incredibly worried about her, and wants to give her the least amount of stress.
  • The disruption happens when the husband leaves and tells her he doesn't need anything from her. She misinterprets him that he doesn't need her, and then goes into a fantasy state where she thinks her son's alive. Meanwhile the husband feels bad and goes back to comfort her.
  • New equilibrium is that she realizes her son has passed away, and the husband comes in to comfort her.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Coping Mechanisms

I watched this YouTube video on coping mechanisms, to see if something like this related to my character. It's a short video defining what a coping mechanism is, and I wondered if this related to the idea of the main character hoarding balloons.

In this video, I noticed the woman speaking talked about "fantasy" as a coping mechanism. This is similar to how the woman in our story goes into a different state of mind- a fantasy of sorts- during the film, where she still believes her son to be alive.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


Interview: Losing a child

Although I was unable to find anyone who I could talk to who had a chld who'd passed away, I did have a family member who was separated from their child for an extended period. family member will remain anonymous for this interview.

Here are some transcription notes of what they told me about the experience.

>How do you feel about being a parent?

I love it, it's something I always wanted. I love being around children, and I used to look after a lot of younger kids when I was young.

>What was it like when your child wasn't there?

I always remembered the my child and constantly missed them.
I had to cope though, becuase obviously life was still going on around me, that I had to deal with what was in front of me. Knowing they were in a safe place helped,but not being able to freely talk to them was what was frustrating. It was hard- on the surface I had to be strong but underneath I was seething with emotions, anger, frustration.

Later on you get almost used to it but sudden things can trigger emotions about the child. And when these hit, I couldn't control it and would start crying. It got to the point where I couldn;t approach people or things that I directly related to my child.

at the end you put yourself at fault for them not being there.

Interview with my character

To get a better sense of my character, I did a character interview for them. I wrote it in the perspective  of the character.


  • What was you're dream as a kid?
I always wanted to be a mum, and have a lot of kids and a big family. I wanted to live out in the countryside, away form the city and in a big house.
  • What TV shows do you like watching?
I like watching singing shows like X factor and Britain's Got Talent. I also really liked Pop Idol while it was on and Strictly. I also like cooking programs and reality TV. I watch soap operas too.
  • What's your favourite genre of film?
A good Romantic Comedy.
  • What was your first job?
I worked as a cashier at Woolworths after I got my O Levels
  • What do you dislike about your own personality?
I dislike how I'm a real push over and I'm not very stubborn.
  • What do you look for in a partner?
I look for someone who's dependable.
  • What's your favourite thing about yourself physically?
I really like my hair. When I was little, my mum would put it in plaits and tie them with ribbons.
  • What's your favourite type of restaurant?
My favourite food is noodles, so maybe a Chinese one or Italian?
  • Ideal place for a holiday?
A countryside bed and breakfast, out in a quiet part of the country.
  • Have you traveled?
I've traveled around England. Once I went to Glasgow for my cousin's wedding, but thats as far as I've gone.
  • If your house burnt down, what would you take with you?
A family photo.
  • The best present you've ever received?
A silver necklace with an Onix pendant my husband gave me for my 7th wedding anniversary.
  • If you were spring cleaning what would you throw out first ad what would you throw out last?
I'd throw away the old newspapers first, and then the magazines and maybe some books if we;re lacking shelf space. The last things I'd consider would be the little knick knacks we've got over the years from friends and family, or on our own visits to places.
  • What's your most earliest memory?
I remmeber my first day at school, and walking hand in hand with my parents to my new class.
  • What was your relationship with your family?

I was very close to both my parents. I did't see my paternal grandparents very often but was close to my maternal grandmother and father. I have a younger brother and older sister, and I'm especially close to my brother.

Lost Family Members

I interviews people who have lost a family member.
Here is a summary video of my first hand research as well as some personal thoughts on the matter.

Interview with my Mother, over her brother who passed away.

What's it like to lose a family member?

  • "It's a shock. The first thing you feel is disbelief and that it can't be true."
  • You want to blame someone else, you start blaming anything you can think of. Bu after time you slowly get to grips with the situation.
  • The shock hits you randomly sometimes, even years after. Just being near people who resemble the lost person, or going near things that remind you of them hits you and sends you back into what you felt when you first found out.

Interview with my friend, who wrote her own answers to the questions.

>Who did you lose?
Two years ago I lost my nan to cancer.

>What was it like when you heard the news?
Before this I had never really experienced death and it had just been something that ive heard about or had seen other people affected by it but no one in my close family or friends. I always thought that if someone close to me died that I wouldn’t be completely upset even though that now seems strange to say I just assumed that I wouldn’t cry or be upset because I normally deal with other sad things pretty well and don’t often cry. Originally my cousin had been acting weird  and didn’t want to talk or go out and I just thought she was being over reactive because my nan was ill but surely she would get better. But the next day my parents told me that my nan was ill and that she was most likely gonna die. Up unitl then my nan had been ill but everyone has been ill before but they get better and everythings fine. Death just seemed like such a foreign concept to me at that time.

>What was your first reaction?
Everything hurt my chest literally like it was going to explode and I ran away and locked myself in my room and hid from the world. My parents eventually got me to come out and said that I shouldn’t be like that but I didn’t understand how we were supposed to go on and live or just even watch tv if I knew that my nan was going to die and there was nothing I could do about it.

>How did you cope with the loss at the time?
I hid I hoped that if I didn’t acknowledge the problem then it wouldn’t exist or come true. My view on the world and things like religion changed a lot in the weeks that my nan became worse. How are we supposed to believe and love a god we created this world and made things like cancer or let people die? The explanation of its their time or they will be in a better place are nonsense why would God kill my nan when she had done nothing wrong but other people who murder or sin everyday can walk around and live like nothing is wrong. Why can a thing so horrible and destructive exist in a world that god created if he is so wonderful and loving. At the time I couldn’t really cope with it especially with something like cancer where you have to watch a person deteriorate and forget who you are and become just a shell of a person. That person that you loved and had so many memories with are now gone they are forgotten and that person doesn’t even know who you are anymore. Saying goodbye to them isn’t even possible because they don’t know who you are just a nameless person surrounding them in the hospital bed.

>How do you cope with it now?
All the time I felt that I had to take care of my family and not let them be sad and take away their pain but that’s whats worse is that there was nothing I could do about it I couldn’t do anything I was useless. They say that time is supposed to help with death but I don’t think it does time does nothing it doesn’t make thinking about them any less painful or horrible. Time only makes you forget and although it’s the most excruciating pain I don’t want I to go away because that is all I have left of my nan and if I lose that pain then I feel that im losing her.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Repressed Memories

The woman in our story suffers from repressed memories of her son's death, and so I wanted to look into Repressed Memories and what they actually were as well as what causes them.

What I found out was that Repressed Memories, known by the diagnostic term "Dissociative Amnesia", is actually a hypothetical concept which actually has sparse evidence backing it as an actual neurological condition. The descriptions of Repressed Memories are memories that have been locked away, instead of forgotten or never registered, making it different from Amnesia. From what accounts have been found, they are often of traumatic experiences that have been locked away deep in the subconscious so the affected can process.

From and Article I read on Harvard Magazine's website, written by Ashley Pettus, I learned a few facts of studies done into Repressed Memories.

In the article, I read that there were some cases of repressed memories in the news during the 80s , when people were claiming to have memories of sexual assault as children and many court cases were started. However, these were dropped within a decade as the accusers had lost conviction in their cases after speaking about it to therapists.

Recently, a Harvard Professor named Harrison Pope conducted a study to explore how many cases of repressed memory occurred throughout history. To do this he looked at accounts of it in works of Fiction, however the earliest examples he could find were mostly from the 19th century; such as Dickens' Tale of Two Cities. This led him and his colleagues to believe that dissociative amnesia is not an actual neurological function, but instead a cultural condition that has been popularized by Hollywood and psychoanalysis. This theory is due to the lack of basis there is for the condition, and how there were no real evidence of it before the 1800s.

Pope also stated that cultural differences at those times could not account for the lack of evidence as although people did not understand, for example, hallucinations, there were still accounts of this. However, an irregular occurrence such as repressed memories has not been noted and therefore is unlikely to actually occur.

However, soon after publishing this paper, it was found that a work of fiction(namely the opera Nina) which predated the 1800s had an account of repressed memory, though Pope still doubted the legitimacy of the condition.

Nevertheless, the idea of repressed memories are still disputed in psychological circles.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Starting work on research, I began to look into things that cause abnormal behavior in people, particularly effects of trauma and stress.

>So first I looked into Post Traumatic Stress disorder. From what I read in a Wikipedia article, PTSD is an anxiety disorder and usually caused by the threat of violence against a person or someone close to them, if not an actual violent act. It's also much more prevalent and long lasting then other similar disorders.
>This would work well with our story and the effects of the trauma the woman suffers lasts for many years on wards.The symptoms of the disorder also include flashbacks and re-experiencing the trauma, which again goes with the ideas we had.

From other articles, I began researching into more depth about the disorder.

What Causes PTSD?

  • Caused by dangerous events either aimed at us or watching something harmful happening to someone close. 
  • In this sense, if the woman watched her son dying, it could have triggered this disorder.
  • Examples of events could have happened to the woman could be a serious accident such as a car crash, a violent assault or even her son being diagnosed with a disease and dying quite soon and suddenly from it. 

The Affects of PTSD

  • Symptoms can start anywhere from a few weeks to six months after the event. 
  • Symptoms include Flashbacks to the event, Numbing the event out and becoming highly aware.
  • The subject in our film is much more the type who blocks out- in that she's living in a dream world where her son is still alive but then relives the trauma when she remembers. 
  • However the avoidance and numbing descriptions I've seen is quite different- the symptoms stated shows the subjects become enthralled in puzzles or jigsaws which distract them from thinking about it, or even become emotionally numb so that they don;t have to deal with it.
  • This is quite different to the woman who is carrying on with like as if the incident never happened.
  • There are other symptoms, such as substance abuse, depression, panic and fear, muscle aches and headaches that are associated with PTSD
  • According to the article, after a traumatic experiencem, most people do some kind of signs of PTSD, although they may not have it.
  • Some things that can make the disorder worse are:
    • are sudden and unexpected
    • go on for a long time
    • are when you are trapped and can’t get away
    • are man-made
    • cause many deaths
    • cause mutilation and loss of arms or legs
    • involve children.

Two of these things (involve children and are sudden and unexpected) are involved in the incident with the woman in our story, which would help add to the symptoms she has.

From the same article, these are ways to help PTSD

Do ………

  • keep life as normal as possible
  • get back to your usual routine
  • talk about what happened to someone you trust
  • try relaxation exercises
  • go back to work
  • eat and exercise regularly
  • go back to where the traumatic event happened
  • take time to be with family and friends
  • be careful when driving – your concentration may be poor
  • be more careful generally – accidents are more likely at this time
  • speak to a doctor
  • expect to get better .

Don’t ……..

  • beat yourself up about it - PTSD symptoms are not a sign of weakness. They are a normal reaction, of normal people, to terrifying experiences.
  • bottle up your feelings.  If you have developed PTSD symptoms, don’t keep it to yourself because treatment is usually very successful.  
  • avoid talking about it
  • expect the memories to go away immediately; they may be with you for quite some time
  • expect too much of yourself. Cut yourself a bit of slack while you adjust to what has happened.
  • stay away from other people
  • drink lots of alcohol or coffee or smoke more
  • get overtired
  • miss meals
  • take holidays on your own.  

[The bold are things the main character does do- she tries to bottle up her feelings and just go back to the normal routine, but effectively blocks out her memories and is in denial about what happened.]

And things that can interfere with getting better:

You may find that other people may:                
  • not let you talk about it
  • avoid you
  • be angry with you 
  • think of you as weak
  • blame you.

Balloon Story Moodboard

Project Log 2: Treatments & Working out Stories

Thinking of Set Ups, Finalizing ideas & Making Creative Narratives

After discussing the ideas we had, we then studied different types of narratives and looked at a lot of different short films to give us inspiration for our treatments. My pair looked at a lot of different narrative types and we tried to make stories based round these, and then using the ideas and influences of films we watched, as well as the sort of things we knew we wanted to include, we tried to enrich our various set ups.

After getting six set ups, we then went and got feedback on them, and then came together again to discuss which ones we thought were the best stories. Form the six we had, we judged the set ups on how much story they actually had, how easy if would be to film them and how original the stories were. From what we had, the stories about the video games and the one about the message in the bottle were too loose and didn't have enough of a plot or strong enough story to be good. We also said that the one about the nice person was far too quick and didn';t really have much substance, while the one about the debt may be too complicated to write and then film.

In the end, we decided to focus on the Balloon Story and the Voice story, as these both had clear enough plots, and also had a message in them, but could be done without too much trouble.

First Treatment & Feedback

We started to write up the first two treatments, however the Story about the Voice was not fully completed, as we could not think of a resolution or enough obstacles to overcome. However, we did have a clkear idea for the Balloon story, and we wrote up a full treatment for it. After this, we pitched it to the class, as well as what we had for the voice story.

Balloon Story Feedback (treatment found on blog)

  • Seems like it will take a bit of time to show the whole film-> her going to the shops, and seeing the family, her waking up.
  • Making it more obvious she lost her son, needs a tighter ending- example husband could come home.
  • However it is an original idea with an interesting narrative.
  • Can be more simplified- take out extra scenes.

Also, here is a short summary of the Voice Pitch.

A girl is in her room and is messaging her friend on her computer. Her mum comes in and wishes her good morning and says she's off to work. Instead of replying, the girl only smiles and nods, indicating she cannot speak.; The girl returns to messaging her friend, but she sees there is no new messages, which leave her dismayed. However her friend does eventually reply, in a very short message, which only further upsets the girl says bye to her friend and apologizes for annoying her, before getting up and leaving for school.
Outside, she crosses a man who ask her for directions, however, the girl who cannot talk panics. She attempts to give the man directions but it only confuses him more, and she panics and runs away.
(later in this story, we wanted her to meet someone who suggested she carried around a sketchbook so she could communicate easier.)

However, the feedback we got for this was that:

  • It's interesting because it would have to rely mostly on facial expressions, and could be quite a nice visual film.
  • However the story is quite cliche and has been overdone- it;s simply a person dealing with a disability story.
Because of this feedback we decided not to go through with the voice idea. Instead we focused in on the balloon story and tried to improve this. So, over the weekend, we both went off and wrote out a new treatment with ideas of what could happen to meet all the problems in this original story.

Second Treatment & Feedback

After writing up my second treatment on my blog, I then returned to school and conferred with Rebecca. Her ideas were that we should tackle the problems with the lack of there being a full closure to the piece- one of the key issues was the story was quite open ended and it was a bit difficult to find out exactly what had happened to the woman. We then looked at my treatment, and discussed how each new aspect fixed a previous problem.

  • First, there was the problem of the ending, which seemed too loose. The suggestion was that we add in a husband who comes in at the end and comforts her after her revelation. I took this idea further by the Husband being in the story from the start, and for him to be there when she wakes up, and be there as she sets out plates. However I said he should look sad while she sets up normally, and that there should also be a split screen later on where he is at work, but leaves and then begins crying because of their situation. Lastly, he'd appear in the end of the final scene and comfort her.
  • There was also the problem that it might take too long to actually show the film- and it could go over the time limit. I fixed this by cutting down the dialogue to just the starting scenes and the ending scene, and then having a few parts cut out, such as her seeing a family on her way to the shop. The split screen also shows us two sides simultaneously which also saves time.
These were the main things wrong with the story at the first treatment, and so we then pitched the amended treatment to the class.
 From this pitch, we got this feedback:

  • The Father's reaction needs to be more precise. Initially we had him just being sad, but it was suggested he should be more puzzled or even concerned for his wife, asking if she's okay. This would be effective as it would mean that the audience would immediately see that there is something that's wrong but would not realize what it is straight away.
  • We also were told that when he leaves his office,m there could be a picture on the desk. There was also the suggestion that the picture could be a red herring. My thought's on this could be that it's a picture of the wife and the man on his desktop which makes him want to leave. This could be good as it was discussed that the man is not only suffering from grief but also anxiety about his wife who ihe is aware is unstable. Therefore while she's be affected by the photo of her son, he's be more affected by seeing a photo of her, who he feels he should look after and comfort.
  • There was a comment about how the expressions needed to be much more important and clear when actually filming and that the film isn't quite clear. We were told that the problem could arise when we either alienate the audience or give away too much. As it is I think the story could go either way, but with adjustments to scripts, it could go well.
Further Problems

After talking about the problems that were picked out, we then went off into our pairs and discussed what exactly needed to be amended with the actual filming. We came up with these problems through out own discussion and also the class discussion.

Technical Problems

  • There would be problems with finding actors of the right age and getting them in for the three days.
  • There would also be the case of actually filming the multiple scenes which could pose a problem.
  • There is also issues with the use of the balloons which could cause continuity errors with the amount of  balloons and placement in the room, and also cause problems with transoporting them between locations and things.

Story Problems

  • Story could be too loose in the beginning- the starting needs to be short and concise and immediately grab the audience and then put forward and idea about something not being right.
  • The end needs to be tighter too, with it being a definite close to the story.
  • The section in the middle with the man at his workplace may also need to be adjusted and fully thought out as the way we portray this needs to clearly show he's concerned for his wife.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Balloon Treatment - My edit

After getting feedback from class for our first Balloon Treatment, we were asked to separately think up our own ideas for how the story could go.

This is my version.


The film begins as a woman wakes up. She groggily gets out of bed and checks the date and time on her phone that's resting on her bedside table. Meanwhile, we can hear sounds of someone in the bathroom. She also hears this and says good morning to her husband while passing the bathroom door. He replies and says she's going to start breakfast, and while she goes downstairs, she passes a closed door of a bedroom that has a boy's name on it. As she gets downstairs, she opens the fridge to get out foodm and when she closes it it say;s that it is the boy's (her son's) birthday today. She puts some toast in the toaster, and as she does so her husband comes down and eagerly waits for some toast. She gets out three plates and calls down her son's name, but he doesn't reply. Absent minded, she comments on how lazy boys are, and her husband gives a weak smile, before grabbing the toast that pops out of the toaster and bidding her a good day before leaving the house. The woman then calls out to her son that the breakfast is hot, and grabbing some toast herself, she says she's going out to the shops.

At this point, the screen splits. On one side we follow the woman and she goes out to her local corner shop. On the other, we see the man walk over to work.

Some time passes, and the woman come out of the shop, while the man is now at work. On the woman's side, she cheerily leaves and finds a man selling balloons, she cheerily purchases one from the vendor. She then finds a bench and there she gets out a card and writes down a birthday message to her son, and then smiles before getting up to go home. Meanwhile, her husband is shown at work and is being given papers to sign or work with. He sees very depressed, and then goes to leave his workplace, saying goodbye to colleagues. After getting out the door her suddenly stops and breaks down crying against a wall.

The view then fully fixes onto the woman who enter her house. However, everything seems ajar and she stumbles about, quite disorientated. she drops her shopping bags, and seemingly in a trance, she goes over to her sitting room door, still clutching the balloon. She opens the door and there she finds many balloons, all floating about. She's initially shocked, and looks at the balloons and sees that they all have messages attached to them- what;s more, all the messages are addressed to her son and they all are to wish him a happy birthday or congratulate him for something. Then she sees a small table at the corner of the room, and she lets go of the balloon as she approaches the table. There she finds a picture of her son and herself and her husband, however he's only very young in the picture. She then grabs the picture and clutches it to her, and then bursts in to tears as she remembers her son passed away so many years ago.

In the background, we hear the noise of someone opening the door, and her husband comes into the room, seeing her crouched down on the floor crying. He doesn't seem shocked, and wipes away his tear, and then comes over to her. He coaxes her to get up and comments on how she's brought in another balloon, before they both leave the room.

Balloon Treatment 1

A woman wakes up; she's a middle aged stay at home mum. She gets dressed in casual clothes, and then goes down to her kitchen, along the way passing a closed door that has a boy's name on it. She goes into her kitchen to begin breakfast. Getting out two plates and setting them down on a table, she calls her son down to the table and as she does this she passes a calendar that shows it's her son's birthday. He doesn't reply so she says she's left the food hot and that she's going ou to the shops.

On her way to the shop she sees a family walking on the opposite side of the road and smiles at them before going into the shop. She comes out of the shop after some time has passed, carrying some groceries and she spots a man selling balloons. she goes up to the man and asks to buy a balloon, mentioning that it's for her son's birthday. The man asks how old her son will be, and she says that her son will be ten today. The vendor asks if he's a bit too old for balloons and she says it's a tradition between the two of them. She then takes out a card from her bag and leaning against a wall, she writes a birthday message for her son.

She sets off home, but as she enters her house, she feels very disorientated and staggers about. Laying down the bags of groceries, but still holding onto the balloon and it's immediately apparent that something is very wrong as when  she looks about the room it;s completely filled with balloons of every colour. They are all floating about and she notices each of them has a message attached. Looking closer at then, she sees they are all messages to her son; some of them are birthday wishes while others are for other key events in his life such as getting good grades or winning awards. Still very confused, she woman then spots spmething at the corner of the sitting room, which she goes over to look at. There she finds a picture of her son on a small table, with a lit candle and a flower in a vase. At this point, the woman remembers that her son died when he was much younger and that she has been buying him balloons since then as a coping mechanism for her loss. She then bursts into tears in realization.


  • Seems like it will take a bit of time to show the whole film-> her going to the shops, and seeing the family, her waking up.
  • Making it more obvious she lost her son, needs a tighter ending- example husband could come home.
  • However it is an original idea with an interesting narrative.
  • Can be more simplified- take out extra scenes.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Watching short films

This was a task to see what kind of short films we liked and to explore what I personally found interesting about films.

The first film I'd kike to talk about is this film called "Table 7".

To start off, I enjoy how this this film starts off seeming like a typical romance genre short film, where a couple has a problem. The film begins to start being interesting though when we find that someone is actually spying on this couple's conversation, which starts adding a sense of mystery to the film, intriguing me and making me wonder what kind of secret plot is afoot. From the setting and lighting in the basement, the eavesdroppers look shifty and suspicious. However the direction of the film changes as soon as the couple begin to heatedly argue at which point the man hurriedly types out something and orders for it to be delivered.

At this point we also zoom out a bit from the couple and the decor remind us that we're in a Chinese restaurant of some sort, and the cut away to the fortune cookies finally reveals to us what the man in the basement was up to. I think this is really effective as the whole setting and the cuts all work together to make a clear narrative- the men in the basement are trying to give the people at their restaurant helpful advice to help them. Not only is this really clear in the film, I also think this idea and message is very sweet and heartwarming.

My personal favorite scene is at the end when we see the man who was listening in hear the end of the couple's conversation and we see him smile. Not only is it really nice becuase he's just helped their relationship, but it's also touching becuase we can see how good the man feels himself for being able to help and that he actually genuinely cared about them. At that moment, it's as if he's saying "And this is why I love my job", and then he moves on to the next table to keep on helping people. I think this is a very touching and effective film becuase of the tight plot and the well thought out setting and editing.

The second film I'll talk about is "Memories"

This film is a student film but it's still quite visually interesting, using the film as representations of memories of this man. I really like how there isn't any speech in this story, and instead we;re introduced to this elderly man through his memories of past events and how he fondly remembers them while "Picking up" the film. However, as he goes home, he shuts the door and accidentally snaps the films in half and then begins forgetting memories as he looks through an album, with the pictures fading to show how they are being erased. I think that this is a very simple and often used technique, but it's still commendable as here it's used quite effectively and does tell a coherent story.

I also like how this story can be interpreted in a variety of ways. In one way, it can be the man is suffering from memory loss- he takes a walk and begins to remember himself by visiting places that remind him of key events in his life. However, after he's gathered up all his past memories, going home actually triggers him into forgetting them again and thus the films are cut short and eventually his memories fade out completely as he forgets everything for good. I also think it can be interpreted that the old man is dying and as he lives out his final moments in life, he remembers all the positives. However he doesn't really "Go Home"- rather the going home and looking through the album is a metaphor for him taking a final look at his loved ones before he finally passes into the void.

Both of these interpretations I think are shown and I think the fact that the raw emotion in the film is so apparent is it's strong point, and how it uses visual metaphors of the film is really effective.

Initial Ideas and Feedback

In lesson, we started discussing the ideas we had, but more thoroughly, thinking about ideas for plots and full stories. We started work with looking at the news stories we had already been given, and then combining those ideas with a list of 10 story types, as suggested by Phil Parker. After forming these ideas in groups, we then got feedback from members of other groups.

Video Game Story
Initial thoughts

  • The gist of the plot was about a young person who had been playing video games and their obsession with it caused them to go to hospital.
  • In our discussions the previous lesson, we;d also thought about how the video game could actually cause the main character hallucinations of some sort in  which they actually began to believe their lives were becoming like a video game.
  • Generalizing this story, it would be a film about some kind of recreational activity taking over someone's life to the point of it being harmful, and therefore could tackle a lot of social issues as well as being an interesting narrative to depict. In a sense, it would be a "fatal flaw" story line in which the character makes their situation worse by continuously making the same mistake.
  • Furthermore, if we continued with the video game line, it could be commentary of our growing dependence of technology.
  • As this idea was not fully fleshed out, the feedback was that it needs a stronger plot throughout.
  • There was also positive feedback that the idea of something that;s supposed to be fun having a negative effect on someones life is an interesting story to tell.
  • Lastly, it was said that this story could potentially go in two very different ways- in one way, it could be a comedy or satirical piece that poked fun at this issue, or it could be a much more daker, serious piece which portrayed it in a realistic light.

Balloon Story
Initial thoughts

  • This story was adapted from it;s original form into the idea of a woman who on her child;s birthday goes out to the shop to buy them a balloon and card. However, after returning home, it becomes evident something is wrong and as she enters her sitting room, we find it's filled with balloons she's been buying to console herself after her sons death. 
  • This is a story which deals with loss of a family member and in a sense heartbreak, being a "Gift Taken away" type of story, with the child being the gift that is taken. The balloon is a symbol for that taken person, and her filling her rooms up with balloons represents how she hasn't come to terms with the loss of her child, as well as how she's trying to compensate for the emptiness in her life.
  • There was also the idea that the cinematography would change drastically between when the woman is going about her daily activities and when she comes home with the balloon. This is to emphasize how things are beginning to go wrong and make the final scene in the room with the balloons even more jarring.
  • The feedback for this was that the story was very well thought out and worked very well. The ending in which we find the child had died previously was a surprise and it fit well with the story as well as being made more effective with the use of the balloon props.
  • The whole idea of the change in cinematography was also said to be a good idea, as the contrast showed how the person's whole world was crumbling.
  • However, the feedback said that there may be problems with actually filming this- the idea was that the balloons would be found in a pure white room, however this would be difficult to find a location exactly like this.

Message in a bottle Story
Initial thoughts

  • Another idea which was quite rough. This story was centered around the idea of a person who has a fight with someone else close to them and then runs off to let off steam at a nearby park. There, they find a message in a bottle washed up by a river bank and open it to find a confession by someone who had a problem similar to their own. The person who wrote the letter was unable to make amends and confesses how they wish they could go back, and by reading this the main character realizes their mistake and decides to go back and make amends them-self.
  • This story is mainly about reconciliation and in a sense is a Rite of Passage story or Coming of age story, as it;s about a character learning from a mistake and making a mature decision to resolve the central conflict.
  • Again, the feedback was this story needs to be fully developed.
  • However, there was positive feedback that it could be a very successful plot and the whole message in the bottle idea was retro and unique.
  • There was advice given that there could be a flashback while the main character reads the letter, and this could be shot slightly different so that we can differentiate the flashback and the present time.
  • Furthermore, it's important to decide exactly what the conflict could be as it could be problematic to film if the conflict took too long to explain, or couldn't be related in the form of a flashback well enough.

Debt Devil Story
Initial thoughts

  • This story was based around the whole "Debt that must be Repaid" story type, as well as some ideas my group had had about making a film about a singular character. Prior to discussing this plot style, we talked about what kind of characters we liked and what kind of stories we found interesting. We both said "Fatal Flaw" and "Repaid Debt" were interesting, with my partner also liking "Spider and Fly" and "Gift Taken" while I liked "The Wanderer" And "Rite of Passage". I also preferred characters that weren't very nice or initially lacked positive traits and then learned a lesson through the story or had their comeuppance while my partner said they preffered characters you find out more about as the story progressed.
  •  After this, we came up with the idea of a story about a very jelous young girl who is at first jelous of her best friend who steals her "boyfriend" (when in reality she wasn't actually seeing the boy in question). She then summons a devil who makes her a deal- she will give the demon a precious material posession for the boy to become her boyfriend. This seems like a good deal, so she agrees, but after gaining her boyfriend, she becomes greedy. After the devil reappears to ask for the debt, she refuses and strikes up another bargain, this time for something more costly, and therefore her price to pay becomes more costly too. Eventually the girl becomes more and more greedy and continuosly asks for more, and begins bargaining away the things she intially asked for, such as the boyfriend. At the end, the girl asks for something incredibly big but finds she actually has nothing to give becuase she has traded away everything that was important to her and as punishment is left with nothing.
  • At first we had thought the girl dies or loses her soul but then we thought that would be too easy for her; so we first changed it to she's left totally embarrassed but this wasn't drastic enough and we changed it to the current ending. This ending we preferred becuase it portrayed the message of this story- that one shouldn't be greedy and be grateful for what you already have.
  • This story would be written as a dark comedy, with us wanting to laugh at the girl, and the devil who appears randomly and often comically, but the story would have rather dark undertones.
  • The feedback on this story was that it's very good progression of the plot, and the fact that we see her give away things before the end is really effective as we can then slightly see where the story may end. The idea that she herself doesn't learn until the very end is also quite effective.
  • The downfall of this plot however is how to effectively make the person look like a demon, and deciding on what to have the girl bargain away as it can;t be anything to drastic as it will cause problems with filming.

Voice Story
Initial thoughts

  • This story was again based off our ideas of what kind of character w';d like to use and also the idea of a "Gift Taken" story type. We started brainstorming basic human things that could be taken away, and eventually came to having a person's voice being taken away.
  • We talked about what lacking a voice could mean for someone- not only does it make it harder for someone to interact but it can be lonely, and even feel like their freedom has been taken as they can't speak for themselves. We also discussed how the person could have lost their voice- if it had been an accident, then it would deal with coming to terms with a new conflict, while if they had been born without a voice it could be about dealing and finally overcoming a life long problem. Either way, this piece would also be a sort of Rite of Passage story.
  • This story is again loose in terms of plot, but we had ideas about how it could deal with the person's feelings of alienation and not being able to speak their minds or feeling like they can't contribute becuase of their lack of voice.
  • The feedback for this was that it needed a full plot again and a proper story structure. 
  • However it was said that it could be quite and interesting visual film as it would depend heavily of the actor or actress being very emotive and being able to capture their emotions with the camera. 
  • Furthermore compared to the other ideas this film could be practically much easier to create.
Nice Person Story
Initial thoughts

  • This story was based again on the Fatal Flaw type. However, we had the idea that maybe the flaw couldn't be an actual flaw- instead it could be a positive that's taken to the literal extreme. 
  • In this sense we came up with a protagonist who was literally the nicest person on the planet and was kind and giving to everyone, constantly holding open the door for people and lending them things.
  • The plot could be of an average, happy student who is very helpful and we see them be very kind to everyone, even being taken advantage of by others but still persevering through sheer optimism. However after getting to class after so many people have taken advantage of them, they lend a pen to someone who ends up breaking it. This is the final straw for the student who goes into a fit of rage and goes around giving payback to everyone who took advantage of their kindness that day.
  • This film was also said to be quite easy to film. It was a comical film idea, which was good and it's a nice shock to see a character who was so pleasant lose their cool.
  • However there was the concern it could be too many extras and the story could really hinge on how many extras were available for filming.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Getting started with ideas

[also includes brief project log]
Initial Ideas

Coming back from summer, I began working with Rebecca to start thinking up ideas for out short film. After looking over each other's blogs, we found some key things about our interests.

Both Rebecca and I preferred stories that took place in urban settings and everyday environments. She spoke about wanting to have scenes indoors, which I also agreed upon. We also both liked interesting looking images, and came to the conclusion that we wanted our film to be very visual. The stories were also mostly based around only one or two people. Lastly, the kinds of stories we looked at were quirky and had something a bit out of the ordinary thrown in there - such as Rebecca's story about the man who faked his death to propose and mine about police putting balloons in peoples houses. Since this was present in both of our stories and would likely mean the story is a bit more interesting, we wanted to keep this present in our eventual story.

However there were also a lot of differences in our tastes and interests. I found that my stories often were based much more about people's personal problems and conflicts that came from their decisions. My stories were also very driven by emotional experiences and tended to be a lot more serious and depressing. However, Rebecca's on the other hand were a lot more comedy based, and she turned very tragic or serious stories into a more dark humor genre story. Her stories also were a lot more quirky.

After discussing this, we decided that we wanted to keep all the things that were similar about our stories, and also decided to keep the story being very visual. We decided that the plot should be very unexpected, as a few of our stories had to do with twist endings, and so this should be included. Finally, we wanted the conflict to still come from personal decisions of the characters.

Project log
>Discussed different stories and interests
>Decided on few characters, urban setting, noticeable visual style
>Decided story would be quirky, unexpectedly resolved and have conflict originating from personal decisions

Friday, 7 September 2012

Filming from an Animal's point of view idea

This post is about filming the "Cat Photographer story".

In the news article, the cat was given a simple camera, but for a film, they could be given a film camera.

The short film could be entirely from the cat's perspective and could tell a quirky story, perhaps passing by many human characters who all see the cat and react in different ways.

The film could be shot without a tripod and via just moving and turning the camera along and could be an interesting character piece.

Here are some shots from the original photographer cat, which could lead to visually stunning shots that could be included into the film.

Cat Photographer story

A cat's-eye view of life: Feline snapper takes photography world by storm

Ever wonder what the cat gets up to when you let it out? Well, now you know, thanks to the amazing Cooper - the feline photographer.
This moggy multimedia expert's exploits have been shedding light on the world of cats.
Fitted with a timer-operated camera on his collar Cooper takes a picture every two minutes capturing everything from a cat's eye view.
On his exploits he catches other cats, his favourite hiding places, his human owners and even abstract sky shots all on his lens.
The feline photographer: Pictures taken by the timer-operated camera worn by Cooper the cat have sold for hundreds of pounds
The feline photographer: Pictures taken by the timer-operated camera worn by Cooper the cat have sold for hundreds of pounds
In one hilarious snap the moment he mocks a dog trapped behind the glass of someone's front porch is taken with almost human-like humour.
And now five-year-old Cooper is the cat who's got the cream as feline enthusiasts around the world have been lapping up his framed photos for as much as £200 a time.
Cooper's owner Michael Cross and his wife Deirdre, from Seattle, USA, decided to try out the cat camera last year.
Since then they have had two exhibitions and starting selling Cooper's work around the world
The pictures even solved a problem for Cooper after his owners saw pictures of him constantly looking at the back door - they realised he needed a cat flap.

Read more:

This is a news story I found about a couple who attaches a camera to their cats collar to try and find out what the cat goes to all day. In this article, it's shown how the cat ends up finding snapshots that would otherwise be overlooked.

This could be quite an interesting story to do, by taking the film from the cat's point of view.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Surrealist film

This is a video by  Jan Svankmajer, a Czech filmmaker and artist. 
The film has no cgi and is a combination of stop motion and real people acting, which creates a very interesting film His use of props throughout is also very effective, as the animal skulls and creepy looking toys give a scary, strange feel to the surrealist film.