Story-Time: Making a Short Film

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Hey guys! I recently found my film and editing portfolio from when I wanted to get into film. And I found a short film from when I did a Film Studies A-Level! Our short film was called The Reject Group, and it has already been ten years since we finalised the editing!


The Real Life Behind The Reject Group

Both the scenario and the short film started the same way – myself, Matt and Dale came together to form a group because we were the leftovers. And honestly, we couldn’t come up with a universally loved concept. So we were given the idea to put all of the ideas together, and make it so that we were doing a film about making the film, with diagetic fantasies of the ideas that our characters had.

It came to thinking of my idea. I was huge on One Tree Hill at the time, and the season six episode We Three (My Echo, My Shadow And Me) aired here in the UK, and it took the characters back into a 1940’s setting, which sparked inspiration from there. It was there that I looked into film noir, and started writing the script.

I pulled a lot of inspiration for dialogue and mannerisms from film noir films, and started incorporating them into the script.


Shooting

The first thing we did in terms of filming was the set-up. We created a presentation for our tutor, Brian, to read from. This would include frames and imagery for our chosen genres, for our characters to garner inspiration from. This part was going to be quite large, as it required the cooperation of all of the class and the tutor. Our other tutor, Rob, also sat in and ended up being in the film. That was quite fun to shoot, as we were able to just act like the class, and I was able to draw. I had a thing for quick doodles at the time (it comes up in other videos related to the film).

The scene where Matt strolls in late? Yeah, that happened because he was actually late to class (first period), so we ended up having to improvise that one in.

The second part of the shoot was the gathering. We’d originally filmed it in or around November 2009, but then production was halted for various reasons. So when this scene was scrapped and updated, I turned the footage into an alternate group scene trailer, and put it on the DVD of another project I was working on as an Easter egg:

Honestly, I’m proud with everything that we did for this part of the scene, and so I didn’t want to let that footage go to waste. We did improv most of our group lines anyway, which is why in the outtakes things will be slightly different.

We also had another scene that we deleted, where we’d be on our way to the class and have an argument. Sadly that didn’t exactly make it in…


Dead Memories: The Making Of

Dead Memories, the film noir-influenced piece, was the first that we shot. We acquired the use of the larger media room for the duration of our lunchtime, and we changed into costumes. I went for a simple dress with heels, and the guys did their own wardrobes and hair. My hair was slightly wavy, but my hair could never achieve the film noir style. The set was dressed up so we had a black back-drop with light boxes on one side, along with the windows blacked out. This was to give us the heavy shadows we needed in order to make the film noir aesthetic work for us. We had our media technician, Steve, help us out with getting the equipment set up, and then we were on our merry way! The whole thing went relatively smoothly, honestly, aside from my feet hurting from the heels.

There was a point where Matt pushed Dale to the point where Dale fell and knocked over some of the set.


Cocked and Locked: The Making Of

The sudden disappearance of Matt had myself and Dale worried about the future of the short film going forward, but after a two-month period without filming, Matt returned, and we were able to start on the shoot of Cocked and Locked, which was Dale’s portion of the film.

We took advantage of the nurse’s office, as it was conveniently empty, plus it would have made for one of those ‘Oh nurse’ porn scenes that Dale would have wanted to replicate.

And now I just realised the implications of the three of us acting as porn stars for the section, and I’m sure that implies a threesome…I was so fucking dense! But we also had a tricky hallway scene, where it was a busy time, therefore I had to have the help of our buddy Nathan in order to navigate me walking backwards, capturing Dale in full acting mode. That probably took a few takes, but the result was worth it.

Dale did film some of his own material at home, which included getting out of bed, getting dressed and dancing and flourishing. Not gonna lie, that’s always fun to watch back!

The line “Are you ready…and sexy?” makes me cringe every time, because sexy, Dale was not (oh well).


Undying Love: The Making Of

Every so often at the college, we would have time where classes were cancelled for assessment discussions. Neither of us had any of these, so we pressed ahead and shot the rest of the film in one afternoon. The first part was Matt’s, of which he didn’t have a script for his, just an outline. It was a simple outline, but we made it work. Dale and I were supposed to be lovers on the run from a zombiefied Matt. We didn’t have the make-up to do him over, so he made do with a darkened room and a hood. The shots that had him were obscured, and the light always coming in from behind, making him look more obscure in the face area.

To make sure I cried, I rubbed Vapor Rub on my eyes, because I literally cannot cry on cue! It made my tears smell nice, and it worked.

I had to hold the camera over Dale’s shoulder in a POV shot so that I could film Matt coming for Dale.


The Group Scene 2: Electric Boogaloo

We decided to re-shoot the group scene because it had been a hot second since we attempted the first time. So after shooting for Undying Love, we moved classrooms and shot the group scene, with a lot of outtakes and missteps, but we finally got there. It was a pretty simple set-up, mostly ad lib, but we made it work in the end, and we had enough good footage to form the film in editing.


Editing

While myself and Matt were on a Berlin trip at the time, Dale was the one in charge of editing. Of course, both myself and Dale were happy with the outcome, but Matt wasn’t too pleased with his. However, it was mostly because he didn’t really give Dale a solid idea as to how he wanted the editing to be like, it was a case of Dale had to improvise, which makes sense. I did feel bad for Dale on that end, because he had to stay behind while the rest of us went to Berlin, and he had to input his own direction. Honestly, with what we had for that scene, Dale made it work, and I applaud him for that.

I mean, I was happy with my scene, because it’s hard to truly mess up film noir, plus the aesthetic was just right, with the light balancing on the already exaggerated shadows that we shot the scene with.

There were some tweaks that needed to be made, such as sound balancing and cuts. But they were miniscule, and we had the time and capabilities to fix those up, as well as the critiques from our peers.

The soundtrack for the film was amazing, though:


The final product is here:


What Would I Change?

Honestly, I would re-do everything from scratch. In the current day, technology has vastly improved, so having everything in 4K would be pretty sweet. I also have a tendency to overact rather than just be normal when in front of the camera, so I would definitely tone down that a bunch. I mean, I am still embarassed by my fail screams for Cocked and Locked.

As for the Dead Memories segment, I would re-write it to make the dialogue more cohesive, plus I would add more movement. Perhaps I would opt to shoot on location too, if given the time.

I still would have added the en-route argument scene, and continue the argument upon entering the classroom. Basically just have fun with it.

Despite the conflicts between the three of us, I couldn’t have asked for a better team for this kind of project.


I’m probably going to do this for the music video that I had to do with another group…

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