Project 4: Planning – first impressions

Having read through the project brief, I wanted to jot down my initial impressions and ideas for the film. I decided to make notes and ‘rough sketches’ of images that came to mind as I read through the script. It is a simply representation at this stage. Very basic and very conventional. The cuts are very straightforward and quite obvious in their arrangement.

I know I will not be using this initial storyboard as it as stands. These are simply my first jottings, which I shall redraft as I work my way in to the project. At this stage, I have no clear idea where it will lead.

Logbook 3, pages 163-164


Logbook 3, pages 165-166

I’m not happy with the way it looks at the moment. In particular, the opening section in the garden doesn’t work for me. I may change the opening scene in some way, though to what I’m not yet sure.

Reading: ‘Notes on the Cinematograph’, Robert Bresson

While browsing through the bookshelves of the Irish Film Institute bookshop this week, I discovered a copy of Notes on the Cinematograph by the French film director Robert Bresson. Although I have been aware of his name for many years, I am not familiar with any of his films.

Notes on the Cinematograph contains a series of brief notes and fragments that Bresson wrote to himself while making films over a period of several decades between 1950 and 1974. On the back of the book, John Semley says ‘Half-philosophy, half-poetry, Notes on the Cinematograph reads in places like The Art of War for filmmaker’, a point which became very apparent as I began reading. At less than ninety pages, this is a book that can be read in one sitting, but demands that the reader invests far more time and thought than this to fully appreciate what is being said.

A distillation of his theory and practice as a filmmaker, the Notes on the Cinematograph is full of cryptic aphorisms and practical, common sense advice on all aspects of filmmaking, from cinema, writing and working with actors, to photography, sound and lighting.

Below are just a few of the many ideas in the book that I found particularly inspiring.

‘My movie is born first in my head, dies on paper; is resuscitated by the living person and real objects I use, which are killed on film but, placed in a certain order and projected on to a screen, come to life again like flowers in water’ (Bresson, 1986:11).

‘Not to use two violins when one is enough’ (p.13).

‘The noises must become music’ (p.16).

‘The cinematographer is making a voyage of discovery on an unknown planet’ (Bresson, 1986:18).
I find Bresson’s idea that filmmaking is a process of self-discovery for the director/filmmaker, who’s role on set is ‘not to direct someone, but to direct oneself’ (p.5) a very interesting approach to making films.

‘Catch instants. Spontaneity, freshness’ p.19).

‘Don’t run after poetry. It penetrates unaided through the joins (ellipses)’ (p.21).

‘Let it be the feelings that bring about the events. Not the other way’ (p.21).

‘Forget you are making a film’ (p.24).

‘Unbalance so as to re-balance’ (p.25).

‘Hide the ideas, but so that people find them. The most important will be the most hidden’ (p.25).

‘Music takes up all the room and gives no increased value to which it is added’ (p.28).

‘The soundtrack invented silence’ (p.28).

‘Things made more visible not by more light, but by the fresh angle at which I regard them’ (p.29).

‘Bring together things that have never been brought together and did not seem predisposed to be so’ (p.29).

‘Dig into your sensation. Look at what there is within. Don’t analyse it with words. Translate it into sister images, into equivalent sounds. The clearer it is, the more your style affirms itself. (Style: all that is not technique)’ (p.35).

These are just a few of the ideas that woke me up to the essence of what it means to make a moving image.

This is a wonderful book to discover so early on in my own journey on this course. I now need to watch some of Bresson’s films in order to fully appreciate what are, to me, quite radical and eye-opening ideas.


Bresson, R. (1986) Notes on the Cinematograph, Introduced by J.M.G. Le Clezio. New York: New York Review of Books.

Into the Woods Installation Shots, Ellie Davies

I recently discovered the work of photographer Ellie Davies, whose work has opened up a whole new perspective for me on how the forest setting can be used to great effect within still images.

Her approach is very immersive and involves spending time getting to know and feel the forest before starting work on an image. Talking about her process, she says ‘each series will start with walking, sketching and note-making. Walking allows me to familiarise myself with different areas of the forest and select places that suit each image I am hoping to create. I carry a lightweight kit and I usually sit for a while to get used to the space before starting work, listening to the birds and seeing how it feels to be there. You start to hear the leaves falling and the trees creaking’ (Bradbury, 2016).

She then spends hours hand making or painting props and attaching them to the trees, before capturing the perfect image. The resulting shots challenge the viewer to ‘consider mankind’s relationship with nature and to explore our cultural perceptions of forests in popular culture, folklore, literature or film’ (Bradbury, 2016).

Fig. 1. ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ 2010


Fig. 2. ‘Stars’ 2014-2015


Fig. 3. ‘Come With Me’ 2011


Fig. 4. ‘Between the Trees’ 2014

The magic within her work is in ‘her knack of turning reality into a dream-like vision that verges on hyper-reality’ (Bradbury, 2016).

In some of her projects she introduces elements into the scene, such as clouds of smoke, painted trees, fern pathways, or even galaxies of stars, superimposed over forests. There are no people or animals in her photographs. The landscape itself is the character.

In her artist statement, she explains how her work ‘explores the ways in which identity is formed by the landscapes we live and grow up in’ (Davies, n/d) and that the landscape images she creates ‘are a reflection of my personal relationship with the forest, a meditation on universal themes relating to the psyche and call into question the concept of landscape as a social and cultural construct. Most importantly they draw the viewer into the forest space, asking them to consider how their own identity is shaped by the landscapes they live in’ (Davies, n/d).

Like Davies, I too am interested in identity and how it is formed by the environment in which we live and grow. I like the way in which she creates images that are reflections of her personal relationship with the landscape. I also like the way she describes her work as ‘a meditation’ on universal themes. In some way, I would like to create moving images that do the same: that reflect my interest in identity and place; that are reflections of my personal relationship with specific places; that are meditations on universal themes.

Looking back at my first assignment and follow up research on the cultural meaning of forests, I think this could add a new dimension to my approach when working on new projects. Particularly in terms of creating moving images that challenge our perception identity and place.



Bradbury, N. 2016 ‘Ellie Davies’ In: Sodium Burn [website] At:

Davies, E. ‘Statement’ At:

‘Stars’. In: Lens Culture [website] At:


List of illustrations

Figure 1. ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ 2010

Figure 2. ‘Stars’ 2014-2015

Figure 3. ‘Come With Me’ 2011

Figure 4. ‘Between the Trees’ 2014