Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Failure is my Friend

In the seminar we had today, Mimi told us we were all going to fail. However, we should not fear this, but embrace it. It is fortune that I know my project will largely be a failure as I only really care about producing a piece of filmmaking However, I will endeavour to fail as gracefully and intelligently as I possibly can. 

This is one of those cases where it is okay to fail, as long as I demonstrate how what I have learnt from that failure.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Ways of Seeing

Mike Johnston encouraged us to look at this for Short Docs and Suman Ghosh has also encouraged me to take a look at it for my dissertation. I'm so glad I followed both of their advice because this is amazing! It has really opened my eyes to just how brilliant and complex human sight can be. This is definitely going to rub off onto EYES!

This Sounds Familiar

An Interview With the Creators of the web series Glitch.

Much of this sounds familiar, apart the published part.

Choosing Your Own Adventure

The writer's guide was developed through the Australia Council's Story of the Future project to explore the craft and business of writing in the digital era. It includes case studies from Australia's rising generation of poets, novelists, screenwriters, games writers and producers who are embracing new media and contains audio and video content from seminars and workshops, as well as extensive references to resources in Australia and beyond. 

Mike J. gave me this. It is definitely worth a look!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

My 366 Project: Day 301

My 366 Project: Day 301 by theNonIrishJazzman
27/10/2012. Doing some touching up on the banner for my Creative Enterprise Project blog.

This was originally posted on my blog: 366 FRAMES 2012.

Friday, 26 October 2012


Tom, Dave, Dan and Ben are four twenty-something geeks living in Manchester. Together, they exist in a world of comics, coffee, sci-fi and miniature golf. Realising the days between university and becoming a 'real person' are flying by, they ask themselves the question: "Did the Rebel Alliance send a medical frigate to the battle against the second Death Star as a propaganda stunt?"

No money. No responsibility. No problem.

Tish posted the Ramblers Facebook page link in my Facebook group. She knows the people who made it, which may come in handy in future! For the time being, though, I'm just going to watch it and start taking notes on the web series form.

Friday, 19 October 2012

My POV: A Montage

A montage demonstrating my point of view. This was made for a final year documentary assignment. The mood and style of this is what I was going for in the A&B short film idea, it's funny how the brain recycles things. This is also relevant to the EYES idea because the montage is about looking/seeing/point of view and I was very consciously aware of the EYES idea while putting this together.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

My 366 Project: Day 292

My 366 Project: Day 292 by theNonIrishJazzman
18/10/2012. Creating a self-portrait for my POV video that I have to make for documentary making.

This was originally posted on my blog: 366 FRAMES 2012.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

My 366 Project: Day 291

My 366 Project: Day 291 by theNonIrishJazzman
17/10/2012. Doing some research for my dissertation and inadvertently for documentary making as well (this is one of the docs recommended to watch).

This was originally posted on my blog: 366 FRAMES 2012.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

My 366 Project: Day 290

My 366 Project: Day 291 by theNonIrishJazzman
16/10/2012. It's all been about eyes today.

This was originally posted on my blog: 366 FRAMES 2012.

People and Pitches

Here I discuss dealing with other people, elevator pitches and three project proposals. 
The focus of today’s seminar was 'dealing with people' and how, whether we like it or not, we would have to deal with them at some point during our CE projects. It’s was all pretty obvious and I have no problem working with other people (as long as their not lazy). However, the profiling we did of ourselves (I was green) was very useful in allowing us to see how different mentalities can actually complement each other! We also touched upon CVs and, while there were some good pointers on layout, it was mostly stuff I’ve already covered.

The main point I was hoping/dreading we would touch upon was creating loglines (elevator pitches) for our projects. I’m fully aware that I am useless at explaining anything constructive to a stranger, if I have not prepared it in advance. Certainly, this exercise was designed to allow us to compile a succinct synopsis of our projects, which we could then present to other people.

Using twenty words, we had to write out what our project was and make it sound as exciting as possible. Using project proposal 1 (My blog that investigates the work of industry established filmmakers) I found it increasingly hard to put down its purpose in twenty, exciting words (which may be an indication to drop the project). Therefore, I tried my hand with project proposal 3 (Transmedia web series) and this is what I came up with:

“Through planning out an overall web series and producing the pilot episode, my project is an exploration of transmedia storytelling.”

I don’t think it sounds terribly exciting, but it is only twenty words! Although, when I presented it to the class, the response I got was very positive. They said it did sound exciting, but I think that is mainly because they didn’t know what ‘transmedia’ meant (I didn’t). I was quite struck by just how positive people were towards proposal 3. In addition to this, when I discussed all three of my proposals with the table I was sat at there responses were much more positive towards proposal 3, opposed to proposals 1 and 2 (Making a short film to investigate what is required of a director, packaged together as a means of application for postgraduate study).

Out of the three, I would be lying if I said 3 wasn’t the most promising proposal and, following on from the positive reactions I’ve had to it, I’m thinking this could very well be the project I end up doing. I don’t want to entirely rule out the other two, because there may still be life in them. However, In terms of pushing myself academically towards a career and delivering a project that meets the criteria of the module I couldn’t go wrong with proposal 3.

For next week I have to create a ‘background context report’ and I’m going to have to do it for all three proposals (I’ve shot myself in the foot here). However, by establishing what the contexts my projects can work in I’ll be closer to deciding which one I want to do. I also suspect proposal 3 will operate in the most contexts and, therefore, be the best project to pursue. I won’t give up on the other two quite yet, though (Although, subconsciously, I think I already have).

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Short Film is Dead!

The Short Film is Dead: Time for the Emerging Filmmaker to Get a New Calling Card - NoFilmSchool

Filmmaking is full of traditions. These traditions are the “way things are done,” they are what is “expected,” they are “industry standard,” they are “default” and “accepted.” This is all fine and dandy until we recognise the innate implication of such Traditions is to imply Right and Wrong – that there is a correct way to do things and deviations are “incorrect,” not “acceptable” or, worse still, not “professional.”

This is a very interesting and eye opening article which follows on from what I was saying about Transmedia and my meeting with Mike Johnston

Friday, 12 October 2012

Transmedia and Web Series

Here I discuss the storytelling possibilities of Transmedia and my meeting with Mike Johnston 12/10/2012.
I wanted to discuss my Creative Enterprise Project proposals with Mike Johnston because, being the tutor who assessed me for Planning and Making a Film, I knew he would provide some good advice. Boy, did he! I sat there talking with him for an hour (he did most of the talking).

I started off telling him what I had said to Mimi, in regards, to what I wanted to do after Uni – that I just want to tell stories through filmmaking and that I want to make a short film for my CE project. I also told him about my concern over being marked for making a short film again and how this could clash with Planning and Making a Film, but he said not to worry too much.

The key point he made - he has no doubt that I am capable of making an engaging short film (which was immensely reassuring to me). However, if I wanted to tell stories there are other ways in which I could do it and in areas that would allow me to branch out and explore the industry, which is what the CEP module criteria encourages.

He introduced me to a phrase I had never heard before: Transmedia Storytelling, which, if you want an example, is what the modern series of Doctor Who is doing. Doctor Who is transmedia storytelling because it tells its stories not just through the television episodes, but through novels, webisodes, comics, etc. You also have vast amounts of content detailing the behind the scenes information, toys, merchandise, conventions, fan fiction, podcasts, blogs, websites and the Doctor Who Experience. Transmedia storytelling is your basic exploitation of a franchise by its overseers and by its fans to tell stories across multiple platforms. I mean, I’m doing it now! If I do make a short film it would link to what I’m writing now, because I’m writing the story of how it came about, right now. Blimey, that makes my head hurt!

The reason why Mike flagged it up to me is because this is still a new, emerging area that is crying out for people to produce content. If I could somehow plug my CE project into this area it would bring in the marks and act as a good springboard for employment.

However, he voiced the same anxiety I have strolling around the back of my head – is making a short film going to push my skills enough to get a good mark for the module, get me the employment I want after Uni or act as a good application for postgraduate study?

Making a short film would be an incredibly inward way of approaching the module because, on it’s own, it doesn’t really allow me to explore outside the module in to the wider arena of the Creative Media Industry. Mike, quite rightly, said that no one has made a career out of just making short films. They’ll make one or two short films as their stylistic calling cards and then go on to other things, such as feature filmmaking, documentary making or television production, etc. These are not bad outcomes but the way in which stories are told is changing and the short film format on it’s own is becoming old fashioned. The way stories are told will change even more once television and the internet are the same thing (it’s going to happen), let’s not even move onto what’s going to happen to cinema (hopefully, IMAX will still be around once the multiplexes have vanished).

Mike argued, by doing a CE project that is concerned with transmedia storytelling, such as producing a pilot webisode for a short web series and promoting it on line, I would be demonstrating real forward-thinking and would be employing all the skills he has already seen me demonstrate. Mike has also supplied me with some links and resources, which I’m going to have a look at.

At the moment Eyes is still only a proto-idea, it is not a full-fledge plot for either a fiction short film or a mockumentary short film. Therefore, there is no reason why it can’t be developed for another format; even if it is across multiple formats.

The fact of the matter is, I’m betting everything I have on this final year and going all in! This year will probably break me but it also needs to make me and the CEP is my opportunity to really demonstrate what I can do. The question is do I do something that may not push me far enough, such as making a short film?

Mike even said it’s possible for me to use the Uni’s resources after (if) I graduate. I have already considered using the May/June period to make a short film, so that is also possibility. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make a short film, but actually the options I have available to me are vast and varied. All I know is I have to make something for this module – it’s inside me and it’s crying out to be made!

However, I am not saying that I have abandoned the short film; I may even be able to combine aspects of the transmedia option with it. As I said to Mike: “I need ideas to make new ideas”. Therefore, I’m going to keep developing the story of Eyes and keep acquiring new suggestions for other roads I could take my CE project down. The initial proposal isn’t due until just before Christmas and even then it can be altered. For the time being, I’m just going to keep feeding my brain new ideas and options and see what wonderful new combinations it can make from them.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Fiction vs. Mockumentary

Here I discuss my dilemma on whether to do a fiction film or a mockumentary short film.
I think the only way I’m going to decide which road to take is to go down both roads and then pick the one which provides the more interesting views.

I was part of a similar problem last year when my housemate asked me to write a short film script for his final year CMP project. In the end, he decided not to make a short film. However, from the process of working from his original idea – something based around video gaming – and trying to produce a script he liked, I wrote one short fiction script, Xbox Junkie, and one short mockumentary treatment, The Gaming Complex. Two different stories and approaches but both based around video gaming. I’m glad that I ended up trying the two different approaches back then because it demonstrates the advantages of doing it now with Eyes. I think I’ll also have another look at the gaming stories to see if there are any ideas that can be recycled.

Certainly, I think my subconscious has already started to pinch ideas from the gaming scripts! The theme of obsession, that was present in The Gaming Complex, is migrating into Eyes. I’m also suspecting that Boris uses his eye obsession as a means of procrastination; in Xbox Junkie video gaming was the main character’s means of procrastination.

From the thought I've already given to the two different approaches, I can see that the two roads go in two different directions.

If I go with the mockumentary - the direction will be backwards. The film would start with Boris and his eye obsession. Then the film would move backwards and explore the story of where Boris’ eye obsession comes from.

Whereas, if I go with the fiction film - the direction will be forwards. The film would start with Boris and his eye obsession. Then, through a conflict arising from his eye obsession which creates a complication, the story would go forward into a wider playing field, where the eye obsession would be only one element.

So in a sense the fiction film is sort of the sequel to the mockumentary. I realise, with the mocumentary you could tell a much wider story (like the fiction film counterpart), but my thinking is a short mocumentary needs to be like a short documentary - the focus has to be simple. If the focus is simple it enables the film to much more thoroughly and satisfactorily explore the essence of its focus in the limited running time it has.

In my mind, these are the ways I would want to do the two approaches. Therefore, it makes sense for me to start with the mockumentary: find out who Boris is and where his eye obsession comes from. Then move onto the fiction film and see how his eye obsession can put him at odds with other forces in the world.

Although, now that I've written this reflection, I’m about 70% certain I’m going to do a fiction film. I know a mockumentary still has a lot of potential and artistically a mockumentary would make for a nice middle ground between Matt’s fiction film and Tish’s documentary (which I hope to end up working on). However, in the end, I would probably be more satisfied with a fiction film. Therefore, In order to satisfy myself that the mockumentary is a no-goer, I will develop a treatment for it. That way it removes the “what if” from my mind.

In terms of developing the fiction counterpart, I believe it makes more sense for me to first figure out who Boris is and where the hell is eye obsession comes from, which I can do by creating a treatment for the mockumentary. Once I know him and his obsession I’ll know what types of people and situations Boris is likely to come in to conflict with. This is the information I need to make the fiction script have a really compelling story. If there’s no conflict – there’s no story!

CEP: The Module Criteria

Here I discuss marking criteria and my meeting with Mimi 09/10/2012.
One of the problems I have which is hampering the script’s development - I don’t quite know how to make a short film project work within the module’s criteria.

When I met with Mini on Tuesday, she suggested an alternative idea which would fulfill my wish to do a project concerned with filmmaking. As I don’t know what area of filmmaking I want to specialise in (I want to do all of them) she suggested my project could be an investigation to determine which area would suit me best. For this she suggested that I could shadow already established industry professionals in the areas of cinematography, editing, lighting, etc and then write up my experiences and my conclusions on a blog. While this is a tantalising idea and one which would build up my industry contacts – it’s not the idea I want to do. But I’m wondering if there isn’t some way I can combine aspects of it with my desire to make a short film. 
Me: doing the clapperboard on the set of One Door Opened.

Another potential idea comes from my desire to shadow Matt with a video camera so that I can document the making of Remember This. Matt has agreed to this but I don’t really have any definite plans to make a documentary from the footage, it's just something I've always wanted to try. I figured it would also make for an interesting experiment; as well as some good practice for documentary making. It’s also a back-up project if things go tits-up with my short film. However, even this idea I am now questioning whether I should do. Now that I have agreed to be Matt’s producer, I’m wondering how feasible is it for me to be both involved in the process of making the film and outside observing it? 

Tailing Matt while he films for SpaLife TV.
Another factor that has to be considered is to be very careful with how my project is marked. I've already been marked on my contribution to a short film in Planning and Making a Film so I have to be careful not to be marked on the same areas in CEP. Likewise, I’ll be making a documentary in Short Form Documentary Making so I can’t really be marked for making a documentary for CEP.

If I’m serious about doing a short film, my thinking is to concentrate on my role as the Director, as that is a role I didn’t do or get marked on in Planning and Making a Film. I could present my project as a means to focus on and develop my skills as a director by making a short film. 
Me: on the set of One Door Opened.
Then using the reflections I would have written on the process of directing (perhaps even doing some investigations of other directors) together with the short film that would have been produced I could package them together as a means of application for postgraduate study. Therefore, this directing/short film/postgraduate “super-package” could be my Creative Enterprise Project! 
I just hope I don’t actually have to apply for postgraduate study! Not that I’m adverse to it, I just don’t have the money. But I’m meeting with Mike J tomorrow so I’ll listen to what he has to say to my ideas.
Me: after I hit a brick wall in my Uni work.

I’m beginning to see that CEP is like wrapping presents. I hate wrapping presents and I don’t want to have to wrap my short film up in all the unneeded stress the module criteria demands! I just hope it gets me a good mark (without killing me). Matt, quite rightly, says I need to stop worrying. If I’m worrying my brain isn’t creating!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Eyes - The New Short Film Idea

Here I discuss my new short film idea.
Rather symbolically, I came up with my new idea, Eyes, on the same day as our first Creative Enterprise Project seminar. It is not a full-fledged plot yet, but rather just a starting idea that presents multiple possibilities of stories to be told around it. It’s an idea that very much builds on the themes of looking, watching and invasion of privacy that I explored in Busybody
The Characters spy on another character as we spy on them. From the first adaptation of Busybody.
The idea is of a character who likes to collect eyes and, when I say collect eyes, I don’t mean he physically pries them out of people’s heads. Rather, this character likes to go up to people and ask them if he can take a photo of their more interesting eye – he collects photos of people’s eyes.

The character is called Boris; he's a male photographer this time, because I had a female photographer in ‘Busybody’. He’s also named after Boris Karloff not Boris Johnson (although, he’s equally as legendary).
Boris Karloff, The Mummy (1932).
Boris Johnson, no explanation required.
I’m very keen to stick to this starting point idea! Like the hidden camera idea that I started from with Busybody, this idea is presenting just as many story possibilities that interest me. It deals with something I know: taking photographs on a persistent basis, as I’ve been doing with my 366 Project; it’s about looking, and I’ve always been more of a watcher than a talker. Also I think in general people don’t look enough; they rely too much on listening to all the crap that pours from the mouths of others. Rarely do people say what they’re actually thinking or feeling, but the eyes can always discern the truth – you just have to look! Obviously, it’s a very visual idea I can see it working very well in a story that is told with a visual medium – my mouth is watering with all the possibilities. 
A high definition image of a Human eye.
A key conflict that is stopping me from nailing down a plot is the fact that I don’t know whether the film should be a solid fiction film or a mocukumentary. Both avenues are presenting equal amounts of tantalising possibilities! It might be worth developing an idea for both avenues and then pick the one that is better?

I may not have a plot but I’m getting a feel for the tone of the story. The idea of someone who likes to collect eyes can come across as a very sinister idea but my instinct is telling me that Boris (like Geoff) is not a sinister person. I think Boris is a very admirable person who somehow encounters a complication due to his eye obsession. My subconscious is mercilessly recycling Busybody here! Maybe I should just make Boris an overtly evil character?
David Lynch on how narrow adult imagination is.
Matt has even suggested that it could be a love story where Boris meets someone who has an obsession with lips. Certainly, it makes sense that Boris would be attracted to someone who had their own obsession. It also presents potential for conflict through resentment. However, I have to be careful with the love story angle. It’s not that I’m adverse to it being a love story but there are countless examples where the ‘strange’ love story has already been done to death. 
Human lips.
I will keep working on it, though. I’ve made myself a deal - If I haven’t got a full-fledged plot within the next couple of weeks I will drop the project!

A&B - The First Short Film Idea

Here I discuss the first idea I had for my CE project.
During the Summer I was developing a short film script idea called A&B (Anxiety & Boredom). I like how boredom and anxiety are both negative forces but each contradicts each other. You have anxiety where your blood pressure is very high, you become over-sensitive and you’re jumping about all over the place trying to get things done but not really getting anything done. Then you have boredom which is just numbness, but is equally as counter-productive. As all drama is built on conflict, I figured anxiety and boredom could come together to create a very dramatic story. This said, the resulting ideas were all pretty terrible, cliché-ridden and flat. They didn't really solidify into any further on from the basic themes of anxiety and boredom, hence the title.

The first scene would have been someone answering their front door to be confronted by one of those really irritating, two-faced charity promoters. I tried to develop the script from this starting point with someone who was over-emphatically trying to sell their cause to someone who just didn’t care but doesn’t have the willpower to say no. On it’s own it would have made a nice scene but it just didn’t ignite a story I wanted to tell.

However, In terms of style and the feasibility of making another student short film, I invested much thought and consideration.

A&B I was very keen to be presented in black and white and that came from a film I had watched called Radio On, a British road move made in the 1970s. When talking about it, the director said the reason he shot it in black and white was not because he was trying to create a pretentiously artistic film but rather because he didn’t like the colour of Britain in the 1970s. By shooting the film in black and white he was able to avoid the brown blandness of the countries recession induced colour palette. 
Radio On Trailer
With A&B, as it most probably wouldn’t have been shot until after Christmas, my thinking was much the same. I wanted to avoid the very cold, lowlight look of winter. Also, using black and white allows much more freedom with the use of artificial lighting, because you don’t have to maintain the realistic integrity of the full colour spectrum (and I’ve always been a fan of film noir and German Expressionism). 
Film noir. Alan Ladd, This Gun For Hire (1942).
German Expressionism. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).
I was keen to use more outdoor locations! I don’t have access to many indoor ones and my thinking is it is easier to get your hands on outdoor ones (although, I’m sure the logic of that thinking would’ve been tested). Bath is full of varied of architectural designs and shapes and I was keen for the visuals of the film to convey the film’s mood and under lying themes as much as possible. Also, with Where will it all stop and One Door Opened the majority of filming had been done inside. I wanted to try something different this time. I wanted to let my film breath and give the visuals some depth of field!

I tried to keep the cast list to a minimum, at one point there were only three characters. I was keen to incorporate more improvisation into the performances to develop the story beyond the script. The smaller the cast list the better, because it would’ve given me more time with each actor.

I thought about how I could use the camera. At one point I considered setting a rule where I would only be allowed to use extreme close-ups and long shots to tell the story! I also wanted to use more movement with the camera. I was not keen on the very obviously handheld style (Paul Greengrass) but I still wanted to incorporate movement, while still trying to maintain the smoothness of a well-mounted static shot. Then I began to think about how I could use the camera to tell the story and be apart of the story more so than the main character, I liked the idea of a free roaming eye.

However, I’ve decided not to pursue A&B anything further as it wasn’t going anywhere and I’ve since come up with a better idea. But the technical and feasibility considerations done for A&B will most definitely filter through into the new idea.

EYES of a Stoyteller: NOW OPEN!

This is where I'll introduce you to my new blog!
My name is Peter O'Brien and I'm currently in my final year of my undergraduate degree, Creative Writing with Film and Screen Studies, at Bath Spa University. The modules I'm taking this year are Film Dissertation, Short Form Documentary Making and Creative Enterprise Project. For my interests check out my Pinterest boards
Me: looking smug (Ignore the name badge).

I've created this blog, EYES of a Storyteller, specifically to chronicle the development of my Creative Enterprise Project. The CEP module is pretty much what it says on the tin: you have to produce a Creative Enterprise Project for the module. As this blog will form a part of my final grade, I fully intend to put a lot of work into it. 

I've already written a number of posts for the Facebook group I created for my CE project. These posts will be re-posted on this blog in their original chronological order and on the dates I originally posted them in the Facebook group. 

I originally put them in the Facebook group because I wanted to spend a bit of time putting this blog together and I felt it was important to record my ideas and opinions down somewhere, opposed to just letting them float away. Putting them in the Facebook group also enabled me to share my ideas with anyone who was interested in getting involved with my CE project. 

The Introduction posts for the Facebook group

I won't spend any time detailing the ideas I have for my project in this post, as this is clearly laid out in the posts I have already written. I will put together a "About the Project" page which I will add to the navigation bar under the blog banner and which will provide a brief overview of my project (an overview which will probably change).

This blog should be thought of as a notebook (the blog design itself is still a work in progress). Therefore, as much as there will be well-written and thought-out posts, there will be an equal amount of not so well-written and thought-out posts (I seem to be leaning more towards abstract thinking and stream-of-consciousness writing these days). Although, I will make it as interesting and entertaining as possible. 

Me: writing this post and freezing to death - the joys of being a student!

I will post links, articles, videos, photos, etc - anything that I come across that has an influence on my CE project will be posted on this blog. This blog is the hub-notebook-chronicler for my CE project, do not expect it to be War and Peace!

If anyone happens to stumble on this blog and is interested with its content, then they are more than welcome to interact with the content and myself with opinions and suggestions (just comment on a post). I am also very interested in hooking up with other people and blogs that are running their own creative enterprise projects.

For anyone who is interested, I also have two other blogs.

(this one is updated daily, more or less).

(this one is updated not so daily). 

Check the side bar for my other online profiles, I like networking. 

Thanks for reading and keep those eyes open.