Although completing this assignment has been a very long and challenging process, it has been a very satisfying experience. The film has taken far longer to complete than anticipated and has certainly tested my ingenuity and stamina as a moving image maker.
There were times when I thought I would not be able to complete the assignment due to illness, work commitments and a host of other unanticipated practical difficulties in getting the project off the ground. But I was determined not to give in. In spite of the many set backs over the past twelve months, I have finally managed to complete the assignment to the high standard I set myself. My first short film. Of which I am very proud.
One of the things I set out to do in ‘Mother and Daughter’ was to make a film that captures a single moment in time in the lives of a single mother and her teenage daughter. I also set out to write a narrative that would capture what Patrick Nash describes as the short film’s ability to deliver a ‘short, intense burst of emotion’ (Nash 2012, p.110). In both cases, I think I have achieved this quite well. It is also a story in which things are left unsaid and the characters are shown alone with their thoughts. For me, in films, the silences between people can be just as interesting as the conversations, if not more so.
I like the idea of ‘uncertainty’ in Ernestine Ulmer’s quote “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first”, so set out to include that within the film in some way. Not only did I want to portray the characters in a state of uncertainty, but I also wanted the viewer to feel a sense of uncertainty while watching the film. With this in mind, I used dialogue sparingly and intentionally left the story open-ended, in that we don’t know what will become of the mother and daughter, though we are aware things may never be the same again.
I think the film successfully achieves my aim of portraying the conflict between the two characters and showing them, if not attempting to overcome or solve the problem, then certainly responding to it. It’s a simple, straightforward story. But it is also one that is filled with subtext. A subtext that became strikingly apparent to me when I began working with the actors and listened to their character’s backstories and their very detailed analysis of the dynamics behind the mother and daughter relationship portrayed in the script.
One thing I have realised as a result of making this film is that if the script is the blueprint, then the storyboard is the visual road map, a practical working document that can be taken on set and used or adapted when shooting each scene. Thoroughly storyboarding the film prior to shooting was a vital stage in making ‘Mother and Daughter’ in that it helped me to work out and pre-visualise how all the shots would fit together before I began filming.
Nash, P. 2012 Short Films: Writing the Screenplay Harpenden, UK: Camera Books