Week 5: Camera tests and a new script draft

This week I took some time to conduct tests with the Arri Alexa camera. My intention was to collect footage which represented a range of shooting situations and exposure approaches. This can later be compared with 16mm film (though it looks increasingly unlikely that we will use this) or other camera systems and will inform my approach to exposure. The tests also allowed me to explore other technical aspects such as pushing 1600EI to create a grain effect, shooting in slow-motion, and the feasibility of shooting handheld with the Alexa if this is required. I also took the opportunity to practice my lighting skills, building on my discussions with Andrew last semester (see Week 11: Building My Confidence). I tried some basic setups with both natural and tungsten sources as well as some rough recreations of scenes from Possum, The Witch, American Honey and Captain Fantastic.

I’m very glad I did these tests and I feel they gave me a good opportunity to refamiliarise myself with the Alexa and with the process of lighting a scene. They will also be useful as we move forward with the project, allowing me to demonstrate to Emma the unique qualities of different cameras and formats. Later on in the process, I can refer back to these tests as they will be a useful guide when planning how to expose my scenes for our final shoot.

On 16th February we had a whole-year seminar. Our group requested later shoot date to allow for script development. I went on another walk with Emma and discussed her ideas for a new draft of the script.

On the 17th, Emma send over her new draft which is a fairly major reworking of the story. The new script is more pared back with a focus on key moments and location transitions. Emma has removed a lot of the halloween imagery (which I’m honestly quite relieved about!) but has kept many of the pagan horror elements – though there seems to a continued shift away from the horror genre to something more surreal/magical realist. I’m finding it a bit hard to latch onto anything at this point, particularly with the script and ideas still changing quite a lot. For the next few weeks, I think the best use of my time will be to support Emma to solidify the script as much as possible while developing my technical skills. I will continue thinking about my creative approach but I am wary that any in-depth planning such as storyboarding may need significant reworking as the script changes.

On the 19th, I had a camera tutorial with Andrew. We discussed my basic approach to the creative side of this project and ways to consolidate the wide range of ideas from last semester into something more coherent. This could involve taking a step back and focusing on just a few key references as well as having a more in-depth discussion with Emma about how she visualises the film. We also talked through my camera tests – Andrew suggested a false colour plugin for DaVinci Resolve which could be useful for comparing exposure levels and recreating reference scenes.

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