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.

EYES Pilot - Evolution of the Script

This is a script that evolved a great deal through its seven iterations and as a result of rehearsing it with the performers. Of all the scripts I have written, this is the one that has received the most input, re-thinking and revising. I feel that it is a very thorough script as a result and served as a strong foundation on which to build and develop the Pilot episode further.

Embedded below is the 7th draft/shooting script. 

The other drafts and variations of the Pilot script can be viewed in this Google Drive folder

Busybody and P.S. are two earlier scripts that I wrote that have had clear influences on the EYES Pilot script.

EYES Pilot - Evolution of the Edit

Presented below is 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. You can either view each edit as a playlist or as an individual videos.

EYES Pilot - Reflective Commentary

Here I have produced a reflective commentary for Pilot as means for me to more directly discuss my intentions for my approach with the Pilot and the EYES Project as a whole. These reflective commentaries actually serve as a sneaky short cut into understanding the project as a whole.

The first reflective commentary is just a traditional commentary track running playing over the Pilot.

The second reflective commentary is more of a video essay in which I spend a bit more time discussing various attributes of the Pilot and their place in the overall project. 

EYES Pilot - The Final Cut

Ladies and Gentlemen, the final cut!

Ways of Being: The Spectator and the Spectacle

A seven month research project that operated alongside the orchestration of EYES and which culminated in my undergraduate theoretical dissertation: Ways of Being: The Spectator and the Spectacle.

The paper was praised for its originality, progressive thinking and received the highest mark that has ever been awarded to a Film and Screen Studies dissertation at Bath Spa University; as well as being awarded the Media Futures Research Award!

As my guiding tutor and primary marker, Dr Suman Ghosh, commented: "The mark of 85 is an exceptional mark, rarely awarded, and only to work of exceptional quality. I am pleased to say that both examiners agreed that this was the case with your work."Additionally, the Head of the Film and Media Department, Dr Terence Rodgers, commented that: "This is certainly one of the best FL dissertations I have read for many a year".

The paper is a consideration of the epistemological, ontological and metaphysical downfalls of film theory’s understandings of the spectator and the spectacle; with particular emphasis directed towards the neurobiological implications of the spectator’s body.

The thesis argues that these shortcomings are representative of wider ranging issues of complacency engulfing the film industry and film exhibition as a whole. Furthermore, the fundamental disruptions of the digital upgrade of cinema, and the expanding means through which film content can be experienced, are explored in relation to the pressing need for film theory to reassess itself.

Drawing on a plethora of empirical and non-empirical research, the dissertation is a highly progressive expression of how film experience has always been about transcendence and, as a result of its digital re-birth and diversifications, it is now becoming even more so. 

Other materials pertaining to the project can be viewed in this Google Drive folder.

On top of EYES and my other final year projects, getting Ways of Being up to the standard I wanted was a tall and exhausting order!
As a result of my enthusiasm for the project, I unearthed so much data that the first draft I wrote warranted a request for a larger word count submission. As such, the primary content I eventually submitted totalled just fewer than 15,000 words, with the Appendix and other supplementary material bringing the overall word count to 30,000 words! Furthermore, I still had additional ideas and data that would have allowed me to write more!

This research project had a huge influence on EYES and vice versa; in fact, I refer to EYES as being the practical expression of what I explored in Ways of Being. I believe the high marks both projects were awarded are testament to their mutually beneficial relationship to one another.

As of June 2013, the research started in this project is ongoing and I am building a website to host it: I have been very fortunate to stumble into an area that is not receiving much research interest and I am very keen to build up a network of interested parties to change this. Therefore, please contact me if this is an area of interest.

Friday, 13 September 2013

EYES Pilot - Rough Cut 14

This was very nearly the final cut. However, I still need to increase the overall audio level and fix the door slam at the end of the Jazz Cafe sequence, as it goes on for too long at the moment.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Complete Vlogs

These vlogs chronicle the year-long evolution and process of creating the EYES project. You can either view the vlogs as a playlist or as separate videos. 

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

EYES Pilot - Submission Cut

As EYES served as my final year practical dissertation I was required to submit it even if it was not finished. However, the fact that it was awarded the highest mark of the module as an unfinished project is testament to the potential it showed! Here I have presented the submission cut post of the Pilot as it existed when I submitted it back in May 2013.

As this is a rough cut, the current state of the picture and sound are indicative in terms of layout and style, they are by no means representative of the final presentation quality. 

Below I have embedded rough cut 2, the most up to date edit of the Pilot and rough cut 1 that features some of the intended sound design for the final cut. The final video is my reflective commentary on the Rough Cut 2 of the Pilot and the overall EYES web series concept, this video provides many explanations. 

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

EYES Pilot - Rough Cut 13

As I was rushed today, I decided to make this the pre-final cut rendition, so that I could go away, make a note of anything that I was not happy with and implement some final changes tomorrow. I am so glad that I did as I have noticed a few minor things that I would like to address tomorrow before I export the final cut.

This rough cut now includes the sound design and, as such, plays very differently - it is superb! I am extremely happy with Daniel's work, he has perfectly managed to exemplify the feeling I wanted the sound design to embody.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

EYES Pilot - The Finished Sound Design

I now have the finished sound design in my possession. Extra special thanks to my Sound Designer, Daniel Tapper, for all the hard work he put into this! 

I will put these to good use next week, the final cut of the Pilot is not far away!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

EYES Facebook Page

Quite early on in the development of EYES, I made of point of getting the project's social presence established; my thinking was to use the social platforms to work for the project. However, I underestimated how much time and forethought a successful ongoing social media marketing campaign would require. Therefore, the twitter account and more so the facebook page have fallen by the wayside.

If you're reading this then you should like the Facebook page!

However, now that the project is coming to a close I am actively changing that; my thinking now is that the social media platforms can work for the projects after it is completed, if I put a little bit of work into them every now and then. Over the past two years I have learnt a great deal about the Internet through my participation in it with my blogs and my overall online identity. Now, I feel that I am in a better position to effectively exploit the reach of the EYES social media profiles. My reasoning for making the entirety of the EYES project available online via this blog/portfolio is so that I can share it with other people and expand its audience.

Encounters 2013 - Launch

This year I am volunteering at the Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival in Bristol. I did this for four reasons:
  1. I love film. 
  2. I wanted an opportunity to network and build up my contacts for future projects.
  3. I wanted an opportunity to do some hands-on research.
  4. I am moving to Bristol and I figured it would be a good way to get to know some other like-minded individuals. 

Encounters 2013 Launch Event @ Creative Common

The main festival itself does not happen until the latter half of September (17th - 22nd) and at the moment the festival is having some fringe events. 

The full festival guide can be seen here.

Aside from volunteering for the whole of the main festival events, do not ask me how many of the fringe events I have volunteered for because I can not remember, but I will endeavour to go to as many as I can! 

Creative Common is a part of the re-development that is happening next to Bristol Temple Meads.

There was not much for the other volunteers and myself to do at the Launch event and we were told that this was really just a chance to get everyone together. However, I used it as an opportunity for research (see Ways of Being and Ways 2 Interface) and observed the audience habits as they experienced the films.

It was a surprisingly good turn out.

The screenings were held in the Creative Common circus tent.

The Encounters milk float.

Encounters 2013 looks set to be a very promising experience and I look forward to doing more work as part of it!

EYES Pilot - Rough Cut 12

Here is the new rough cut I completed on 20/08/2013.

In terms of the content, this is one is the same as the last one. What I have done here is brighten the image to compensate for the darkening that occurres when the YouTube servers process the videos, but it has worked. Now, I need to go back in and accordingly adjust the contrast - tedious, but it's worth it.

Also, I am just waiting on Daniel to send me the completed sound and the Pilot will be done.
The Blog/Portfolio is also in good shape as the remainder of its posts are ready to be published, I'm just waiting on the Pilot.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Useful Resources

While I was orchestrating the EYES project, the following resources were invulable in helping me achieve the project's success. I would highly recommend each of them!

Remember This

Remember This is a fellow creative enterprise project/practical dissertation orchestrated by my peer Matt Coot. Matt's creative project was concerned with producing a short film - Remember This - and then submitting it into various film festivals. However, as was the case with EYES, Matt's project was not completed at the time of the final module submission; that said, it did not prevent the potential of the project from being awarded a First! 

And here (a year-and-a-half later) is the final cut...

While does tell a good story, I do still have a few issues with the final cut (mostly technical), but, meh, it's Matt's film at the end of the day, he can do what he likes.

Matt Coot - the orchestrator of Remember This.

As a means of support to double each of our effectiveness, Remember This was produced in co-operation with my EYES web series project, from October 2012 to May 2013. As such, I served as the co-producer on Remember This, in return for having Matt (writer, director, co-producer and co-editor) serve as the co-producer on EYES. 

In addition to producing (nagging) and providing technical support, I also took many photos of the production.

I was heavily involved with the organising and co-ordination of Remember This during the pre-production phase before Christmas (Oct - Dec), but in the New Year I devoted more of my time my own projects. However, throughout the whole process of making Remember This, my producing role has consistently been concerned with motivating the members of the project and keeping everything on schedule. I also offered additional technical support during the production phase. The documentation I produced for Remember This can be viewed here.

For more information on my role in the making of Remember This, please see the feedback videos below. I made these videos as feedback for Matt's portfolio, but they also act as my reflections on my producing role for Remember This.


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

It's Made of Wood: Cardiff, The TARDIS and all of Time and Space

On Sunday 18th August, I was very fortunate to be able to go to Cardiff and have a set tour of the actual TARDIS set that is used in the television show Doctor Who. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a huge Doctor Who fan, so this opportunity was like meeting royalty!

Behind those doors are all of time and space. Do you want to come with me?

In addition to the tour of the TARDIS set, we also received a location tour of the Cardiff Bay area and were shown various locations used in the show and its spin-off Torchwood, locations ranging from New York in the 1930s to the Boeshane Paninsula of the 51st Century. While in the Bay area we were also fortunate enough to see the BBC filming some of episode 3 of the third series of Sherlock - two for the price of one!

Lestrade walks into an off licence - spoiler alert!

We were also admitted into the Doctor Who Experience exhibition, but this was less of a surprise for me as I had already been to the Experience when it was first established in London in 2010. 

The Doctor and the Master. I tried dying my hair blond... it didn't work.
Three years ago, such a long time ago.

That said, they have added a few new items to the exhibition since then and it was pretty cool to be able to see these up close; of particular note was the Doctor's crib from A Good Man Goes to War!

When I was little I dreamt of the stars.

An Ice Warrior a.k.a. a Martian.

Even Timelords need to shave.

The Doctor and the monsters: you can not have one without the other.

The biggest revelation for me was discovering that the current TARDIS set and console are made from wood! This came as a huge surprise because the show is filmed in full High Definition and I had always assumed that in order to maintain the illusion that it was constructed from metal the set was in fact made from fibreglass. 

Looks can be deceiving... but this is the genuine article!
A replica of the first (wooden) TARDIS set.

However, the revelation that it was made of wood was by now means a let down; rather, it only strengthened my perceptions of the shows legacy. Like the TARDIS sets of the 20th century, even the 21st century ones can be made from wood; inside the show it also has a nice connection to the exterior police box as that is made from wood and much is made of that fact! 

The exterior of the TARDIS set. Clearly, the chameleon circuit was having a bit of a glitch.

 It actually feels and looks a lot smaller on the inside.

While in the TARDIS the tour guide was telling us how much power the set used... I wasn't really listening.

John and Amie (far right), two friends who invited me to see the TARDIS with them.

Everywhere and anywhere at just the touch of a button.

Under those panels are more of the TARDIS!

It turns out the TARDIS also has its own BBC sound stage!

I did not want to say goodbye and the time I had with the old girl was very brief, but it was fantastic, absolutely fantastic! One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back...

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

EYES Documentation

As EYES was a final year creative enterprise project, there is a great deal of extra material that was generated during the course of orchestrating the project. When I submitted the project back in May, together with the primary elements (Series Bible, Pilot, Pilot Script and this blog), I also submitted a hard copy appendix.

I submitted the project on the 20th of May.

As this blog is also the projects portfolio, I was very keen to include all of the project materials on it; as such via a Google Drive folder and I have digitised other documents where necessary. To access the folder, follow the link below:

I have arranged the documents into relevant folders.

The documents included are: Series Bible, all drafts of the Planning Portfolio, all drafts and variations of the Pilot script, my marks and feedback, reference guides (free e-books), risk assessments, shot lists, filming permits, Survey Monkey feedback results, Time Investment Log Sheets, weekly project sync documents and other (general) materials.

I want to put the entirety of this project on this blog/portfolio so all the world can see it.