Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Yr2 Week 8 (Wed 4 Dec - Producing & Directing seminar & Film and Innovation)

No classes on Tuesday due to strike action.

For the morning seminar with David Heinemann, we looked at how a novel can be adapted into a screenplay. We began with an exercise where we read an exceprt from an opening scene (between two men on a train in Texas) of a then unnamed novel, and figure out all the important details. Some of the observations made included the following:
  • Older man is getting divorced but his wife is pregnant.
  • He is headed to Metcalf.
  • Meets a drunken younger man, Bruno, who is enroute to Santa Fe.
  • Older man does not think highly of the somewhat odd Bruno, who keeps trying to get into conversation with him.
Then, to look at what the visual imagery/directorial cues were/could be:
  • Train travelling across prairie, possible symbolism for the way life goes on and the possbility for a chnage/alteration in direction, much like the tracks.
  • The initials on his tie and his general clothing tells us the drunken Bruno could be of a wealthy background.
  • We may use narration or rework the conversation to disclose the men's problems and background.
  • Their differing behavior tell the audience about their class/social standing/view of each other.
After, David revealed the scene in question came from the 1950 book Strangers on a Train, which legendary film maker Alfred Hitchcock later turned into a film in 1951 (and recently, is being restaged as a play in London). We then looked at the same scene in Hitchcock's film, and made note of how he did it:
  • Opens with taxis pulling into a station, and the first sign of class difference is illustrated with tracking cameras on the men's shoes.
  • Furthermore, their faces are not show, creating a sort of suspense and intrigue about who they are.
  • They meet at the same time, with Bruno being awake and sober, but he still initiates the conversation.
  • They have lunch together, where Bruno proposes the plan for the double murder.
  • The other man is not an architect like in the novel, but rather a major tennis star who is marrying a senator's daughter.
Once done with that, we took a look at how British critic Robin Wood dissected this scene during a retrospective book on the works of Hitchcock. Wood has a very detailed writing style, and pretty much goes over the entire sequence scene by scene, pointing a lot of minor details that do indeed come together to form up/reinforce the film's themes and ideas. He also does comparisons and reference to other films to note how well/differently this film goes about its business.

Moving on to Helen's presentation, me and Hanna presented it, having posted it up the previous night and gone over the details. Our idea was for an apocalyptic government simulator, where you make gigantic decisions about the survival of a ruined world, and your choices could affect the lives of millions across the globe, making decisions about health, food, business, politics etc. You would be presented with a selection of options on the screen, and then  from there, your choices dictated what would happen next, popularity, civil unrest, warfare etc.

The feedback was that. though the idea was liked, further explorations about the morality, and the consequence heavy style of gameplay could be taken further, but also questions about how visceral and grim it should, and how it was aimed at. However, we pointed out the incredibly troubled development of this project, and all the things that had been going wrong in our group, so as to clarify certain unclear/underthought aspects. But we stool the criticism onboard, and felt much the same ourselves upon reflection, though alas, Lady Luck was not on our side this time (and its not much better on Guy's project either, in all frankness). Even the best laid plans can still go awry...

Speaking of which, my group for that, including Hana, had a quick meet after, and decided to fast track everything, posting up research by Friday on the FB group to help stimulate idea generation/refreshment.

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