Thursday, 27 January 2011

Developing Our Idea

This week we spent our time trying to come up with more ideas to add to our opening scene. The biggest debate was whether to use our previously discussed 'cellar scene' before or after a second scene. One idea was to have the cellar scene first, fading to the title, then having another scene in the form of a flashback. This would set up the whole film as a flashback, as if Elisabeth is recalling her whole story. The second idea was that we would see the other scene first, then the cellar scene.

We finally decided that it would be much more effective if we used the cellar scene first. As we began to discuss flashbacks that we could use, we had a much better idea; to incorporate the flashbacks into the cellar scene. This would happen in a form of the audience seeing into Elisabeth's head and her thoughts. The concept is that when Elisabeth sees the appeal on the news for her to come forward as Kerstin's mother, her thoughts are jogged and she is reminded of her life through a number of flashbacks. We got the ideas of flashbacks from key events in Elisabeth's life.

This is the sequence of events we came up with:

  • Black screen - production titles - noises of metal doors opening and shutting in distance - possibly music?
  • Fade in cellar scene - low key lighting - only light from small television - news report directed at Elisabeth
  • Camera zooms and spirals around Elizabeth - disorientating movement - signifies instability of mind - camera end up with extreme close up on her eye
  • We see a flash of a memory - through white - each flashback is slightly fuzzy - like a distant memory - colour is faded
  • Memory 1 A young girl is sitting on the floor - back against the wall - she cuddles a small comfort blanket - a large male shadow approaches - girl cringes back into wall
  • Memory 2 The same girl is sitting on the floor - her back is to the camera - a man approaches her, stops next to her and strokes her hair - we can only see up to his waist - the girl reaches for her blanket that is lying on the floor next to her
  • We flash back out of the first two memories - another shot of the eye - this shows that her memories are skipping forward to memories at a later time in her life - flash back into eye
  • Memory 3 A teenage girl - pretty - around 17 years old - holding the same blanket the younger girl had - except this blanket is older and tattier
  • Memory 4 The same teenage girl is at a sleepover party - additional teenage girls are wearing pyjamas - laughing - possibly looking at posters of male pop stars - meanwhile main teenage girl is withdrawn - legs drawn up under chin - camera catches a small view of the blanket - she is hiding it from the other girls
  • Again, the camera flashes through white - back to the eye - further time has passed - flash back into eye for the last time
  • Memory 5 Shot of a young woman's midriff - her stomach is swollen with a small baby bump - the blanket can be seen somewhere within shot
  • Memory 6 A baby - crying - wrapped in the woman's blanket - is snatched away from her - as she grapples for the baby a small scrap of the blanket is torn away - she holds it in her hand - cries
  • Last flash back to the young woman's eye - we hear another metal door opening and closing as earlier - but this time it is closer - this is what has brought her back to present day
  • The camera pans down from Elisabeth's eye to one of her hands - she is holding a piece of material - old - dirty - the scrap of blanket she pulled away from the baby's swaddling
  • Footsteps getting closer can be heard - Elisabeth stuffs the scrap of blanket into her pocket
  • We return to the initial shot of her silhouette - the television report has moved onto other news - a man's arm reaches out of the darkness - switches off the television
  • The screen goes black - title fades in from darkness
We are now going to start storyboarding our opening.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Further Research

This week we started to really develop our ideas for an opening scene. We started off by researching current media texts and how we can use the conventions of art house films to make our opening look correct.

One of the first things we had a look at were the many news reports which came out when the discovery of Elisabeth and her family were discovered. We thought we could somehow incorporate this into our opening, either by playing it on a television within the scene or by making our own news report and using it.

The concept of using the news report within the scene gave us a new idea. We thought we could begin the scene zoomed in on the television/news report and slowly zoom out. As the camera zooms out we see more of the room; it's dark and bare, the television has children's stickers stuck around the edges. As we further zoom out, a figure is revealed to the audience. A woman, dressed in shoddy, out-of-fashion clothes. We only see her back. The camera finally stops zooming out at a fairly low, medium shot; from the shoulder to the knee of the woman. Due to low key lighting it is difficult for the audience to gain too much information about the woman and her surroundings. The lighting from the television would also create a silhouette which would look really effective. After hearing some information from the news report, about the police looking for Elisabeth Fritzl, the mother of a very ill young woman in hospital, we hear diegetic sounds of a heavy metal door opening and closing, then heavy, shuffling footsteps which get louder. Eventually another figure appears, male, and an arm reaches across to turn the television off, plunging the room into total darkness.
From the black screen the title of the film, written in white, will fade in, whilst non-diegetic music plays of a child's song, which sounds eery, representing Elisabeth and her children's childhoods. 

I made a quick mock-up of the idea using photoshop:

We are looking to adding another scene after the title, possibly a flashback, but have not decided what it will involve as of yet. 

Obviously these are initial ideas, that may well change. We will be looking to create a mood board next, to discover the kind of feel we want to go for and for more inspiration, but so far so good!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Deciding on a Brief as a Group

We have now been put into groups! Our group is made up of Alex Griffin, Georgie Barker and myself! We are all really excited about starting the project and began to discuss which film brief we would most like to focus on. 

As a group we finally decided to focus on brief 4, as it seemed both interesting and challenging. Seeing as we needed to base our film opening on an event that has happened around or within the last two years, each of us began researching events. A really good way of doing this was looking at a timeline, which included many notable events over the past few years. There were many that were very important, but that we wouldn't be able to make a film about with the equipment we have. So we were limited to either smaller events or very loosely basing our film on them. Here are a few we all agreed were potential ideas:

  • 2009 Swine Flu pandemic
  • Haiti disaster
  • Local murder/suicide case in Fordingbridge
  • Northumbria Raoul Moat case
  • Austrian Fritzl case
After a lot of discussion, we all wanted to look more into the Fritzl case. In April 2008, in a small town called Amstetten in Austria, it was discovered that a man had been keeping his daughter, Elisabeth, captive in a basement for 24 years, impregnating her 9 times and bringing up 3 of their 6 living children with his unsuspecting wife as their own.

At the time of discovery the world was completely shocked to learn of Elisabeth and her children's story, which is why we thought it would be a good event to base our film on. We wanted to make sure we knew as much as we could about the event, so began searching it in-depth. I found a documentary that we were all able to watch about Elisabeth's whole life, and how the events unfolded. Although it's such a horrible case to look at, we all found it really interesting and are enthusiastic about how we can use it as our film opening. As a starting point and for inspiration, we thought of a few very rough ideas for a name of our film opening:
  • Beneath (shows the fact that Elisabeth was kept right under her family home, without being discovered for 24 years)
  • The Unknown (No one knew about Elisabeth and her children, not even her own mother)
  • Secure (signifies the large number of doors that Fritzl had to go through before entering Elisabeth's quarters)
  • Hostage (obvious, but is already the name of a film)
  • Lock and Key (signifies the family's captivity)
  • 7 (Elisabeth had seven children fathered by Fritzl)
  • Father (has two meanings, Fritzl was both Elizabeth's father and her childrens' father)
  • Amstetten (The name of the town the family lived in)
Then we began to come up with ideas for openings and credits. We watched a few art house film openings to give us an idea of the kinds of shots used. Here are our very first initial ideas of shots and concepts:

  1. Architect's drawings of the house Elisabeth was held captive in. The idea is that Josef Fritzl had to apply for planning permission for his cellar to be expanded. We thought about seeing a hand drawing a large plan of the cellar design whilst credits appear in various points on the paper.
  2. A young girl playing in a garden alone, possibly with a toy such as a doll or teddy, with the intention that it would be a re-occuring object throughout the film. This opening could signify Elisabeth's lost childhood.
  3. Lullaby song tune/spooky could be played during the credits at the beginning. This, again would signify childhood, but would also add a more sinister aspect the the beggining of the film, so the audience are aware from the start that the storyline is not a happy one.
  4. Time lapse of some sort of scene, we haven't come up with an idea of what yet! We got this general idea from the opening scene of Elephant though, as we thought it was really effective.
  5. Opening a safe as if it's a door, signifying the 5 reinforced concrete doors Elisabeth and her children were kept behind.
  6. A man luring a young woman into a room by asking her help, this is supposedly how Fritzl was able to capture his daughter in the cellar.
All of our ideas need a lot more development and discussion before we can decide on one to storyboard. We will be working on this next lesson.