Wednesday 2 October 2013

EYES - A Web Series Concept Proposal Package

EYES is an experimental, dramatic, surrealistic, cognitive web series concept proposal package that is a reflexive expression of contemporary networking attitudes and their implications on our ways of being. The project was orchestrated as my final year creative enterprise project/practical dissertation. With this project I have endeavoured to create a highly progressive concept for a web series story-world; in addition to providing an example of the storytelling potentials offered by the emerging web series medium and of a larger transmedia entity.

When I officially submitted the project for examination on the 20th May, 2013 it was unfinished. However, as my guiding tutor, Kate Pullinger, commented: "These materials are comprehensive and strong, showing a close attention to detail throughout... verging on the overwhelming, from an assessor's point of view." EYES went on to be awarded the highest mark of the 2012-13 Creative Enterprise Project module!

The Project Components

  • A Series Bible document that provides an overview for the EYES web series concept proposal. It details the story-world rules, storylines, characters, target audience, format, thematic focus and artistic/film formulaic style. 

  • A Pilot Episode (Episode One: "Search Me") that is a seven minute introductory episode that establishes the form, tone, story and main characters of the EYES web series story-world. Ultimately, the pilot is an expression of the dramatic, surrealistic and cognitive ideas detailed in the Series Bible.

  • A Planning Portfolio document that is an 11,000 word detailed overview of the research, planning and administration I conducted for the project. 

  • EYES of a Storyteller is the blog/portfolio that I have been using to chronicle and reflect on the development of the entirety of the EYES project; as well as hosting the plethora of materials generated for the project.

Originally there were two additional components of the project - a Mock-Up Trailer and an original Video-Centric Website - but these were abandoned due to a lack of time. For more on the project's development, see the vlog posts and my final reflection

People like me have something inside... something to do with film.

My full range of roles included: Creator, Showrunner, Researcher, Writer, Director, Director of Photography, Editor and Co-Producer. In terms of the workload I would rather not have fulfilled all of these roles, but I did so as EYES provided an opportunity for me to demonstrate that I was capable of executing all of these skills. However, I was not the sole practitioner of this project, see project members.

While I do not intend to continue the EYES project as an ongoing web series in itself, I have presented the entirety of the project on this blog/portfolio as a record of the experimentation and research I conducted while orchestrating the project and how that experimentation and research has allowed me to grow as a storyteller, a researcher and a filmmaker. Ultimately, in addition to Ways of Being: The Spectator and the Spectacle, this blog/portfolio exists as a testament to the knowledge and experience I have acquired as a result of undertaking my undergraduate degree, BA (Hons) Creative Writing with Film and Screen Studies, and my proactive abilities as a creative progressive thinker; as my final year tutor, Mike Johnston, commented: “I can't help but feel your careful consideration and reflection has developed formidable power. I wish that all my students had a fraction of your application and drive to dig deeper."

Additionally, if you would like to contact me to query me on anything that is one this blog/portfolio or would like to discuss potential future opportunities and/or collaborations, then please do so via the contact page and I will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible.

EYES is a mystery wrapped in an enigma contained within a Rubik cube.

I hope you enjoy exploring the project and making sense of EYES, it has certainly been a pleasure to orchestrate!

Peter O'Brien,
Bath, UK.

SEARCH ME: A Final Reflection on EYES

"The you of today is a survivor, a very close survivor, of the you of yesterday. It is a survivor, though a slightly more distant survivor, of the you of last week, and a much more distant survivor of the you of last year. In a single body is not one person one self or person, but a succession of selves, a river of selves, each one a survivor of the one that went before. To the extent we can talk of the self, we are talking of something that has the character of a river, a process, not a thing."

- The River of Selves from The Philosopher at the End of the Universe.

"Memories - you're talking about memories."

- Rick Deckard, Blade Runner

Anxiety and Boredom: June 2012 – September 2012

This project started life in the spring of 2012 as a short film and was something that I did a great of deal of preparation for during my summer break. The short film idea that I toyed with throughout the summer was called A&B (which stands for ‘Anxiety and Boredom’) and it was hugely influenced by the experimental art house film Radio On

However, while A&B was a very strong visual idea that would have intensely explored the themes of anxiety and boredom, it lacked a clear narrative to express those themes. I certainly was all for creating a very strong visual presentation in acknowledgement of all the films that had nurtured me and which I had come to fully appreciate through my academic ventures in Film Studies, but as my degree was also concerned with creative writing, I felt that it was only fair that I honour both sides of my degree by delivering a final product that was visually very strong and complimented by an equally strong narrative. As such, I abandoned A&B and started again.

Look familiar?
Coinciding with the initiation of my final year in September 2012 I hit on a new idea – an idea that concerned itself with a character called Boris who liked to collect photographs of peoples’ eyes and this became the EYES short film idea. This Idea I certainly appreciated much more so than the A&B idea as it provided a better starting point from which to develop a narrative. I even toyed with the potential of doing it as a mockumentary! Very early on I could see that the basic premise of the idea was building on my Busybody script; a script that I had submitted for my short filmmaking module in the previous year and which also concerned itself with the process of looking as it had been a script about voyeurism. The starting idea for Busybody was of a landlord who installs hidden cameras into all of his properties; from that basic premise I was able to develop a narrative that dealt with two characters who liked to engage in voyeurism. Clearly I had a subconscious agenda to look at the gaze, as this same theme came up in my other two final year projects Ways of Being and Fencing

However, as I now had a clear starting idea that offered both visual and narrative potential, I was confident that I could produce a strong short film out of it – a calling card for myself.

And then I listened to my doubts.

Storytelling and Experimentation: October 2012 – November 2012

The redeeming feature of the Creative Enterprise Project module is that it provides each student with a blank canvass on which they can paint whatever project they like; it is also a module designed to get the students out into the industry they want to work in, so that when they graduate they can get employment in that industry. To this end, I wondered if there was something better I could do than a short film. The reason why I wanted to do a short film is because I felt that the short films I had helped produce in Planning and Making a Film, my filmmaking module from the previous year, were only marginally representative of my potential and, now that I had access to the necessary resources, I saw the Creative Enterprise Project module as a chance to rectify previous errors and produce a short film that absolutely expressed my potential, opposed to being a botch-up. However, at the end of it all, I was really just making a short film for myself, because it had always been something I had wanted to do to a high level. The industry initiative was secondary. Therefore, I felt that I owed it to myself to do something that would be highly beneficial to my career aspirations and would directly assist me in securing a job once I had graduated. 

It was always about looking for a new approach.

To this end, I sought advice from the person who had tutored me in Planning and Making a Film: Mike Johnston. Mike was the person who suggested that I could do a web series project that would entail the construction of a series bible document and a pilot episode. He suggested this as a better option because it would more fully exploited the full range of skills that I had nurtured over the course of my degree. Furthermore, the ability to tell an ongoing story, opposed to the self-contained narrative of a short film is much more appealing to the industry. Today in the industry, there is much more emphasis on television and movie franchises and stories that are told in multiple parts.

The marvel cinematic universe is a key example of this shift towards mulit-part stories.

Mike made a compelling case for undertaking a web series project and he even suggested that I take it down the transmedia route, but I was hesitant to do this as it would have created more work. However, I was pretty sold on the web series idea because it would still allow me to conduct filmmaking in the form of the Pilot; as well as allowing me to express my creative writing and contemporary industry awareness. It was also a challenge as I knew virtually nothing about the relatively new web series medium, but challenges generate a great deal of creativity. 

I seem to be obsessed with looking.

The next step was taking the story idea for the EYES short film and moulding it into something that could be an ongoing story. Fortunately, as the EYES short film idea had only recently been formed it was still a proto-idea and, therefore, was very ripe to be shaped into any form or medium. During the process of creating the web series story idea it became obvious that what I needed was an overarching concept that would carry the web series identity and allow each episode to develop its own stories based around that common concept. Another problem arose that I was running out of time and by this point I was already going into November and I knew that if I was going to pull this project off I would need to get the pre-production phase largely done before Christmas! Therefore, I took to recycling previous Ideas that I had used in past projects. P.S. was the first short film script that I had written for submission in the Planning and Making a Film module, but had decided against submitting it as it was very complicated – it was complicated because it dealt with telepathy.

Imagine a world where all human consciousness was connected together like wifi.

I had written P.S. about telepathy because telepathy is something that has always interested me and I have always wondered what the world would be like if it actually existed. Therefore, as it was an abandoned script I felt that it made sense to give that concept a second chance and I realised that the complicated nature of something like telepathy meant that there were innumerable stories that could be told about it – therefore, it would serve as an exceedingly good overarching concept for an ongoing story. Also, the idea of putting thinking and looking together immediately seemed like a very natural idea. Telepathy is also a very unconventional subject that does not get covered much and I saw it as offering the potential for experimentation in the way that a story could be told around it. I was sold.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

EYES Pilot - Episode One: SEARCH ME

Cousins make the worst combinations and this is especially true of Boris and his long-lost cousin Lianne. Lianne has tracked Boris down looking for answers about their family which has long since vanished. Claiming to be someone else, Boris wants nothing to do with his cousin. However, as their streams become entwined, a reflexive connection is formed and a whole other world comes to the surface. EYES is a mystery wrapped in an enigma contained within a Rubik cube...

Presented below is a reflective commentary for the Pilot in which I commentate on the Pilot episode (Part 1) and then go into a bit more depth about various attributes of the Pilot and their place in the overall project (Part 2).  

Embedded below is the shooting script for the Pilot. Earlier drafts of the script can be seen here and reading them will reveal how the Pilot's story and overall concept evolved during the scriptwriting phase. There is a significant shift between the 3rd and 4th drafts!

The playlist below provides a record of the evolution the EYES Pilot experienced during its five month editing process. These videos are testament to my wish to keep developing the Pilot's narrative and the overall EYES concept during the editing process, watching the videos will reveal how the Pilot evolved from the script. 

For more on the development of the Pilot, see the Vlogs and the final reflection.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

EYES Series Bible

This is a document that provides an overview for the EYES web series concept proposal. It details the story-world rules, story lines, characters, the target audience, the format, thematic focus and artistic/film formulaic style.

EYES Planning Portfolio

As part of the Creative Enterprise Project module, I was required to produce a document that would detail your vision, research and planning for your project. This is my planning portfolio document which is a synthesis of a the Planning Portfolio document I produced before Christmas and the updated one I completed just before the final submission in May. In addition to the Appendix Materials, this document is an expression of the administrative elements of the project.

The previous three drafts of the planning portfolio can be viewed in this Google Drive folder.