This is the production journal of "Ratfink", a 10 min short graduation film shot on super 16 at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth BA (Hons) Film Production.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Alternative Ending.....


At the end of last week our tutors asked us to show them the film again as it had been locked down. We did and they liked it, however they made the MASSIVE suggestion of cutting out Brenda in the final scene.

The reason for this is because in the shots of Brenda it is glaringly obvious that Ratfink is a stuffed puppet, as well as this it is generally felt that the relationship between Brenda and Tom is not explored enough in the narrative to warrant this twist in the tale. So I cut Brenda out and made it look like Ratfink runs into the house. This does work and both myself and Dave(however much we don't want to) agree with the tutors. This is an unfortunate time for this to happen as Tom has been mixing the track at De Lane Lea, he now can't do the final bounce there and will have to do it in college.

We are still grading the picture at De Lane Lea on Tuesday, I will make a Beta copy of the cut from the graded rushes on wednesday. For the hand in we are going to give in both versions of the film, and have the new ending as an alternative cut. However for festivals, I feel we will probably go for the alternative ending because it just makes a lot more sense.

I just wish I had thought of this before I made final picture lock down. But for some reason I didn't even consider cutting Brenda out at the end. I think I really need to keep my mind wide open throughout a cut and keep considering the extreme possibilities.

Hand in is on friday. So good luck with journals if you are on the course. (eeek)

Take Care


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Preview Screening


THANK YOU to all those that attended the preview screening of Ratfink today.There were over 20 of you, which was fantastic!

We invited people to come and see Ratfink without its final audio, grading or titles. This was so we could find out whether the cut is succesful in telling the audience what we want them to hear. On the whole it did. We had good feedback.

There were some issues raised. For example there was alot of confusion as to what is in the bloodied bag that Ratfink points out to Tom. However I think this will be helped by some sound effect ideas that we have.

So we will now definately have a picture lock down at the end of Monday, prob by lunchtime as this is when Oli is also giving us the title sequence. We also have Camie compositing the flame out for us. I think I will find it hard to let go of it. There will be a point where I will have to say no. leave it. it's fine. it works. step away. and go to the pub.

Take care people and thanks again!


Sunday, May 07, 2006

May 2nd - Fri 5th MORE POST


Tom had made a temp track over the weekend so I was able to lay this on the film first thing. The track already adds so much to the film. The suspense is much greater and the atmosphere compliments Tom and Ratfink’s mood changes very well. I have learnt that in Final Cut Pro, when you are exporting the film for sound you must have the colour bars and tone on the timeline itself. Because when you come to sync the temp track with the timeline the tone is not there. This is a basic mistake, but at least I have learnt.

I began to work on the dream scene, as this is where I have noticed most problems. It has been suggested by Hugh Jones not to use the rat shadow at all. However I tried to make the shadow work. First of all I tried using flash forewords of Ratfink approaching Tom in the end scene, and then making the image look dreamy with strange colours and bendy images. However this just looked very tacky. But I applied the same colours to the shadow and this did make it look much more menacing, however the change between Rat Shadow and Brenda’s shadow still didn’t feel right. So I had the idea of Tom waking up still in his dream and seeing the rat shadow, then suddenly waking up for real seeing a shadow and it be Brenda. This did work but it still wasn’t right.

Dave popped in to hear the temp track and suggested I didn’t spend so much time on the dream. So I left it how it was and moved on.

I cut the scene where Tom is gaining courage to ask for the knife back from Ratfink this meant that the dream scene cut straight to Tom entering the garage and asking for the knife. This was a suggestion from Hugh and it works very well. I then worked on the end sequence. The reason why this scene didn’t work was because when you watched Tom on the floor closing his eyes, you think why isn’t he getting up? He’s got enough time to escape. So I made the shots on Tom much quicker so the audience wouldn’t have time to think and cut to Ratfink quicker as if he was moving fast. I also shortened the length of time between Ratfink and Tom’s dialogue. I took out extra shots of Tom and Ratfink that were supposed to build suspense, but kept the shot of Ratfink lowering his knife and sped it up. The whole scene ran much quicker and was full of energy and action.

I tidied the finale with Brenda by cutting down the shot that reveals her. Originally the shot tilted from Ratfink up Brenda’s body ending on her face. The shot is now just a tilt up of Brenda’s body. I also shortened the time between Tom and Brenda’s dialogue exchanges, as they felt staged and unnatural. As well as this I decided to hold on Brenda much longer from over the shoulder of Tom and cut into her cleavage shot as she deals with keys. I then cut much earlier to the final wide shot as Brenda kisses Ratfink and then back to Ratfink as he gives one last look, then cut back to Tom for his reaction and then to the wide. This made everything much tighter and smoother.

Dave had told me that he wasn’t too sure about the scene that begins with Tom and Ratfink talking about a holiday that Tom is going to take Brenda on. I felt this could be a scene where we could cut out Tom entering the garage as this happens too many times throughout the film. So I cut out the holiday conversation and begun with a shot of Ratfink looking at Tom. I slowed this down so it lasted about five seconds then cut to the wide of Tom doing work in the garage with Ratfink in the background and then back to Ratfink with a pause before he says “Tom….” with a devious voice. This worked very well and set the scene for Ratfink to become in charge of Tom with his evil ways.

After making these major changes I went back to the dream sequence and decided to take all of the footage of the rat shadow out and decided to have the nightmare build through sound. Jeremy suggested using sounds of Tom saying, “Where’s the knife” and then I added some flash forewords of Ratfink shouting “Shut up Tom!” This worked well but I will leave it all up to the sound king that is Tom French

On the Thursday I showed the new cut to Dave and Robert Carter. Again, it was valuable to have another outside perspective on it. He suggested it could be even tighter, but then I hadn’t done my final tweaking because I wanted to hear the music first. He also felt that the character of Brenda needed to be more involved in the narrative. But then cuts I had made of Brenda weren’t very revealing or prominent in conveying her plans to trap Tom. Dave therefore realised he should have involved her more at the script stage.

All three of us realised while watching the film noticed that the beginning was too long, as Robert pointed out that the audience understands what is going on between Tom and Rat and don’t need to be told twice. So I cut that down with Dave and it worked much better. Dave and myself then made some minor changes, trying to figure out how to make the conversations between Ratfink and Tom tighter. The whole film still felt a bit flat, there was too much of the garage. So I suggested we cut out a whole scene. We realised that in the “where’s the knife” nothing is said that isn’t said elsewhere in the film. It isn’t needed and made the cut to the penultimate scene messy and gangly. We watched the film through and realised it worked well without it. So we decided to think about it over the weekend, but I have a feeling it may stay out.

I was not able to attend college on Friday because I had a job interview, so I was unable to listen to show the refreshed cut to Hugh Jones. However I was in touch with Dave all day and he kept me updated, they showed the cut to Hugh without the “where’s the knife” scene and he said it was much better.

So we are on track for having a picture lock down by the end of this coming week – 12th May. We are definitely doing the final sound mix down at De Lane Lea in two weeks, which will be fantastic, a great experience for us all.

Hope everyone is well.

Take care


Saturday, April 29, 2006

April 24th - 28th POST

At the beginning of the week we finished working on the end scene.

We watched the whole film without stopping it or commenting on it. I wrote notes on cuts that I wanted to tweak. However we realised that most things I wanted to tweak would probably change when music was put on it. We therefore came to the conclusion to leave the cut and wait for sound and music to be put on it because from research and experience that music tends to shorten cuts.

At the end of the week we showed the cut to Nick Beaumont and then Hugh Jones.
Nick Beaumont was positive but suggested that we play on the psychological turmoil that Tom is experiencing as he talks to a talking rat. He felt this could be achieved by using the voice of Ratfink more than we use him visually. This would mean playing on Tom’s reactions more. I feel this would be achievable in some scenes but in other’s Tom’s reaction isn’t strong enough to hold on.

I would like to try out these suggestions, while I was watching it with Nick I realised how flat it is and how much better it could be. I really need to begin cutting it tight and livening the pace up. I am hesitant to do this before the music however as I know this can alter a cut. But then Nick pointed out the music should be made to fit inside the cuts not vice versa. It is good to get an outside opinion because we had not asked anyone outside the crew to watch it before then. It just made me realised that there is a lot more that could be done.

This was only emphasised when Hugh Jones (famous producer) saw it. Again, he liked it and enjoyed it and was very impressed with the creation of the character of the puppet. He understood the story, yet did feel it could do with changes. He went through specific scenes with us to re enforce his points. This was very helpful and I learnt a great deal.

In the dream scene, Hugh suggested cutting out the Rat Shadow as the viewer has already registered that he is having a nightmare about Ratfink because of the sounds appearing as he sleeps. He suggested just cutting to the shadow of Brenda as it is an ambiguous shadow and will still hold the suspense.

He also suggested cutting down some of the scenes, as there is too much of Tom entering the garage at the beginning of each scene. He suggested begin on the rat in some scenes and have Tom already there in the garage. After the bedroom scene he advised to cut out the shot between that and the next garage scene and just have him going straight in to saying “Where’s the knife?” and then not saying “I need it back now” because the audience has enough information from him saying “where’s the knife?”. Tom even says “I need it back” again further on in the scene. Hugh has made me realise that I can indeed just cut bits of dialogue out rather than the visuals to create the pace that the film needs. I was too hesitant to touch the dialogue, I was not viewing the film as a whole being that I could manipulate as I was restraining myself to the script.

Talking to Hugh was valuable; it gave Dave, Jeremy and myself the confidence to make changes with the knowledge that this film will be something very special indeed. It has given me the the confidence to make the final leap and do the final cut and I will keep no prisoners.