A3: Tutor feedback and thoughts

A really helpful Skype feedback session with Matt. He commended me on how I had thought carefully about all aspects of the filmmaking process and negotiated the difficult task of doing everything. This was a new venture for me and Matt’s positive response to my work on this project was a great boost for my confidence. He was also happy with the technical side, which is a relief as there was so much to get to grips with in making this film.

He thought the conflict I portrayed was subtle and psychological, and that I have achieved an underlying tension through the script and lingering, thoughtful shots. I am glad he thought this, as I felt I was taking a bit of a risk in leaving a lot of things unsaid and relying heavily upon the subtext in carrying the narrative forward. These are things I admire in the work of other filmmakers and look forward to exploring further in my own moving image practice.

We talked about the mother’s underlying nastiness and how it would be good to exploit this by slowly revealing information to the viewer. Matt suggested the letter need not be seen until the mother presents it to her daughter with the meringue. Registering that she had found something in her daughter’s jeans pocket rather than simply showing her reading the letter would have a stronger effect. I liked this idea. Though editing this may prove problematic as I did not film a close-up reaction shot of the mother as she discovers the letter. I can see now that there is a lot to be said for being selective in what I show the viewer throughout a moving image. I need to look closely at how other filmmakers do this in their work.

Matt said he thought the script was ok and that he liked the way I have chosen to tell the story visually, which fits with the way I have shot the film. I’m particularly pleased about this as I set out right from the start to tell the story visually and wrote the screenplay with this in mind.

We also talked about some of the film’s weaknesses, particularly in terms of the lighting in the interior night scenes. Lighting interior night scenes was considerably harder than I had expected. Though, as Matt pointed out, one very simple solution would have been to throw a light up into the ceiling above the dining table to help illuminate the room and the actors more naturally. He also suggested I paid close attention to where the actual light sources are and use them as the base for my lighting setups. I realise now that not placing the LED close enough to the lamp standing in the corner of the dining area has resulted in an inconsistent and unnatural look to the dining table scene. Matt also suggested I look at the daughter’s bedroom scene again, as it looks too flat and could do with adding more contrast in post production, if the image can take it.

We also talked about the abrupt sound edits in the car interior scene and need to take care when recording audio on location. When filming this scene, I had placed the microphone between the two actors just above the gear stick and filmed two close up shots, one on the daughter through the driver’s window and the other on the mother through the passenger window, and assumed the sound would be consistent when cutting the shots together in post production. As Matt pointed out, this had not worked out in practice. The shot of the mother was filmed through the passenger window and was open to the sea, which resulted in a very different, more prominent ambient sound than the shot of the daughter through the driver window which has noticeable less ambient sound. Matt pointed out the need for an atmos track to lay over the dialogue to help smooth things out. He also suggested adding gentle fades to the front and back of each clip in the sequence. All of which is well within my technical capabilities.

A2: Tutor feedback and thoughts

It was very heartening to see that my tutor enjoyed the film and that it answered the assignment brief in terms of creating atmosphere.

This assignment seemed fairly straightforward, in that it asked me to choose an everyday scenario and an atmosphere or mood and to create a short film in which to represent it. I chose ‘walking the dog’ as my scenario and ‘solitude’ as the mood. In practice, however, making this film was much harder than expected, and I think my tutor’s feedback highlights the main problems with the film that need addressing through further investigation and reworking in order to make a film that demonstrates a better sense of my personal moving image voice.

Interestingly, my tutor suggests that ‘there are signs of a film that could develop into a more interesting short in its own right’. This was not something I had considered, as I was too focused on creating a film that fit the brief of an ‘everyday scenario’, such as walking the dog, with a running time of no more than 3 minutes. I see now that I had inadvertently placed restrictions on my creative vision before I had even started. Instead, I should, as my tutor goes on the say: ‘see if you can push the film further to contain evidence of your personal voice, some ideas that you may want to investigate through the medium or a stronger sense of narrative.’ I particularly like the notion of using the film medium as a way of investigating ideas. This is a challenge I am more than happy to accept as I move forward on the course.


Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

My tutor makes several specific points about both the strengths and weaknesses of the film in his feedback.

Section 1: 00.00.00 – 00.00.43


‘This section works really well. The cuts between the sound of the road and the desolate seascape is jarring and engaging. There is a sense of a journey without really knowing what the purpose of it is. It offers the potential to be read in different ways, a simple journey to the seaside? Something darker or more ominous, soul searching, suicide? This mystery adds to the sense of atmosphere that you have created.’

I’m pleased that my tutor liked the way in which I had edited the sound and picture in this section. That it can be read in different ways is great, as I was hoping this would be the effect here. I wanted to create a sense of mystery right from the start and it seems to have worked as intended. I suppose the question now is: how far do I want to push the film? Suicide was never a consideration. But soul searching is a good idea. It would be interesting to see how darker and more ominous I can push it, should I take it in that direction.

Section 2: 00.00.44 – 00.00.58


‘This shot where the main protagonist is gazing out to sea is a really important one. It tells us that this person is thinking about something, again heightening the sense of mystery but also means that we start to care about her and her motives. How deliberate is the pace of the hand lifting to shield the eyes? I like the fact that it feels deliberate and acted but if this is not your intention be careful.’

The pace of the hand lifting to shield the eyes in this section is very deliberate. I wanted to show the character thinking about something, not yet revealed. I directed Nessa to raise her hand after a few moments so as to shift the emphasis from her thinking within the landscape to her looking at the landscape; to indicate a ‘movement’ from inner self to outer self; the landscape within us to the landscape outside of us.

Section 3: 00.00.59 – 00.01.07


‘This moment is important to the flow of the film because it is the moment where the atmosphere changes from dark to light, the sense of foreboding that you have so far created is shifted to a simple dog walk. It is for this reason that you might want to think about about lingering on the car for a little longer. The dent in the back by the light adds another possible reading, has she just been in an accident? Has this something to do with what she is about to do? It is really important to be in control of these small details because the viewer, almost subconsciously, picks up on these things and it can add or distract from the way the work is read.’

It’s interesting that my tutor identifies this shot as the one in which the atmosphere changes from dark to light. Although I hadn’t been thinking in these terms while filming, I knew it would be a pivotal image in the overall sequence of the film as it shows the dog for the first time. Also, I hadn’t thought about the small details and the need to control them as my tutor suggests here. This is something I overlooked and I will need to take tighter control over this when planning the mise-en-scene in future films. Although the car is old and has suffered a few knocks over the years, I liked that it was blue and would add to the colour palette of the film. Since shooting this scene, our much loved blue car has died and been replaced with a newer car, so re-shooting this part of the film is no longer an option.

Section 4: 00.01.08 – end


‘For me, it is this section that needs more work. Once we have established that this is a dog walk, what would you like the viewer to think? If it is simply celebrating this activity then maybe the sound should return to something more like reality? I guess the main problem with this end section is that it is not clear what you are intending to achieve with it. The hand held shot of the character works well in terms of the feel that you create at the beginning of the film but is at odds once it switches to the more playful second section. The shot of the tennis is ball is visually nice but how does it add to what you are trying to tell the audience?’

My tutor has identified a major flaw in the final section of the film that needs fixing. Interestingly, this clarifies the gut feeling I had while editing the footage; that there was something missing, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I see now that the film just fizzles out. The sense of mystery and foreboding that runs through the start and middle has dissipated, leaving the ending ‘at odds’ with the rest of the film. Rather than trusting that gut feeling and going with the flow that something needed fixing, I settled on an ending that is far from perfect. The result is a film that does not really work as a whole. I need to rewrite the end section, perhaps by giving it a less ‘playful’ feel and focusing more on the mood established at the start of the film. I also need to re-think what I am intending to achieve with the film, carry out further investigations into the ideas such as ‘solitude’, ‘inner-self/outer-self’ and the correspondences between ‘human’ and ‘nature’, and the re-shoot the end sequence.


Suggested Reading/Viewing

My tutor suggested I look at the films of Joanna Hogg, and at Archipelago in particular, as it relates to the atmosphere, pace and feel of this assignment film.

See post of 15 August 2017: ‘Archipelago (2010), dir. Joanna Hogg’  http://petersalisbury.com/movingimage/settingthescene/archipelago-2010-joanna-hogg/


On Reflection

On reflection, I don’t think I was was clear in what I was intending to achieve with the film, and particularly in the final section. In light of my tutor’s comments, I am now asking myself what was I ‘trying to tell the audience’ in this film?

This raises an important question as to how I move forward as a moving image practitioner and use the medium of film in creating an art work. I think the answer lies in the point made above about how I need to spend more time thoroughly investigating ideas through the medium of moving images and developing a stronger sense of narrative in the work I produce.

To what extent does mise-en-scene affect the sequence in my clothes film?

Reflection on the extent to which mise-en-scene affects the sequence in Assignment 1 Clothes film

How does the scene feel?

  • there is a sense of mystery; slightly poetic feel
  • feels open ended – we are left wondering who the figure is, where he is, why he is there and where he is going
  • the scene feels empty

The sequence opens with a low angle, rotating shot looking up through the tree canopy. This opening shot of the trees, bare and lifeless, in silhouette against the sky, sets a dark, slightly oppressive, wintry mood within the sequence. Bringing us down to ground level within the forest, the second shot frames a figure walking through the trees into the distance. Subsequence shots show the forest floor, the figure’s boots in the mud and hand moving along the trunk of a fallen tree, and a flare of sunlight. We see a figure, out of focus, in the distance, stepping over a fallen tree and again in close up, standing beneath an old redwood tree. There is a sense of mystery, as we are left wondering who the figure in the forest is. But these questions are left unanswered, as the figure disappears back into the forest.

How has this been achieved?

  • choice of location
  • use of specific colours
  • the presence of a single, solitary figure

How has mise-en-scene played a part in this?

  • setting plays an important role in the sequence
  • the forest is central to the sequence

Is there any meaning conveyed through the mise-en-scene?

  • this may be a little vague
  • there is an unknown figure walking through a somewhat benign forest
  • a figure with a sense of purpose

On looking back at the mise-en-scène and its effect upon the sequence within the clothes film, I now realise how important it is to consider everything within the frame before I start filming. I think my use of mise-en-scène within the clothes film (i.e. setting, costume, lighting, staging) contributes to the atmosphere and meaning of the sequence in several ways. The forest setting is clearly a place that is empty and dormant, yet the trees, bare and lifeless in their winter state, are still quite majestic. The costume worn by the figure (walking boots, hat and fleece jacket) is appropriate to the wintery setting. The blue jacket contrasts with the subdued colours of the forest, helping to emphasise the human figure and picking it out against the background. Apart from the opening shot of the trees, there is a bright natural light within the landscape that helps give a benign feeling to the forest. This is in contrast to the opening shot that hints at something darker and more claustrophobic. The figure in blue moves through the forest with a sense of purpose. Though what that purpose is remains unknown.

However, having looked at the part played by mise-en-scène in the sequence and the atmosphere and meaning conveyed within it, I still feel there is much lacking both visually and in terms of meaning within my film.


Future improvements

This has been a very useful exercise for me. It has opened my eyes to the importance and cinematic power of mine-en-scene, and provided me with a vocabulary and grammar for the analysis of mine-en-scene in my own work.

This task has also revealed a number of flaws in my approach to mise-en-scène that need addressing as I move forward in my moving image practice.

Looking at other films and analysing the ways in which other filmmakers use mine-en-scene to convey meaning within a scene will prove an important step forward in my own moving image practice.

Building my own resource of research material will provide me with examples I can draw upon when planning my own moving images.