There wasn’t a lot to rework for Assignment 3. Both Matt and I were happy with the way in which the conflict is portrayed within the narrative. I trimmed the start of the kitchen scene in which the mother sorts through the laundry by a few seconds, to help tighten up the pace of the scene. I also tried making the editing a little snappier in other places. Though some cuts had to be reinstated again as tightening up the edits reduced the effect of the long, lingering scenes. I also cut out the second shot of the meringue seen from over the mother’s shoulder, as it was superfluous to the scene.
Matt suggested that the letter should be withheld until the pavlova is served, which would help in gradually revealing the mother’s nastiness. So I cut out the over-the-shoulder shot of the letter. I also tried to reduce as much of the letter in shot as possible, to suggest she had found something in her daughter’s jeans pocket without giving too much away. However, as I did not have a close-up reaction shot of the mother, I was unable to cut out as much as I would have liked. Unfortunately, we still see her opening and reading the letter, which reduces the element of surprise later in the film.
The next thing to do was to fix the inconsistent sound in the car interior scene. In order to fix the abrupt audio edits and help create a more natural background sound, I created a new atmos track using the ambience match feature in Izotope RX5, one of the Media Composer audio plugins, to help smooth things out across the entire dialogue scene. I have never tried this before. The result is better but not perfect. I also added fades to the front and back of each clip within the dialogue scene, which also helped smooth things out.
I then attempted to fix the lack of contrast in the daughter’s bedroom. This was quite tricky, as brightening it too much would reduce the overall mood of the scene. I made a few slight adjustments by raising the gain (highlights) and reducing the setup (shadows) slightly. Raising the gain introduced quite a lot of noise into the picture, so I added some noise reduction using the NeatVideo plugin, which has helped clean up the image.
I wanted to make a moving image that utilised the main characteristics of the short film. So, there are the usual elements: characters, plot, one main idea, title, end credits, etc. I also wanted to make a short narrative film that bore the imprint of a personal style – which I feel is evident in the long, lingering shots that allow room for the viewer to reflect on the characters and their predicament. If I was to continue with this approach, which I think I am quite likely to do, I would need to refine my technique further, particularly in terms of camera movement, lighting and recording consistent atmos tracks.
On the surface, making a short narrative film appears quite easy to execute. But in reality it is a very challenging format to get right. Where feature films take the viewer on a journey and are designed to show transformation in the protagonist, the short film does not have the luxury of time, story arcs and character development. The challenge is to write something that is extremely simple and focuses on one main idea, explored over a few pages that are rich with subtext and strong in imagery.
I know there are still issues with this project, but I have reached a point where it communicates my idea in a professional way. Overall, I am happy with the result. I would like to return to the short narrative form of moving image making. Working with actors was particularly rewarding.