Experimental cinema or avant-garde cinema is an art form like no other. It is a great liberty to explore film form and various techniques that are not explicitly used in mainstream cinema. While this freedom of expression is exciting, it can also be somewhat overwhelming in the creation process. In the production of our experimental film, Consumed, there were definitely some challenges that we, both individually and as a group, had to overcome. I had two roles in this production, they were production design and editing. In terms of production design, the hardest part was finding the right balance between having too much in the frame and not enough. I think this is just something that takes practice and experience to finesse. However, for experimental, there really no “right” or “wrong”. For the editing process, the most difficult part of this project was pulling myself out of the mindset of traditional, mainstream film making. As the editor, I had to try to let go of my restraint and refinement. Rather than cutting specifically to the beat, editing to drive a story or avoiding the use (or over use) of digital effects and transitions. Our film went through a number of passes, each time becoming more intricate and less linear. I put a lot of thought into the addition of stock footage and used it sparingly in the beginning, though I was much more confident and open-minded in my use toward the end. I also struggled a lot with adding visual effects as I have had very little practice with this aspect of editing.
With these insights that I gained throughout this project, I will definitely try to implement them in my approach to filmmaking in the future. I will do this by being more experimental in my use of props, costuming and set design and will think outside the box a little bit more. I feel that some of the choices that I, and the team, made for the design of this film were things that I would not normally consider. In my projects to come, I will be more confident with this and not be afraid to try ideas that may seem different or out of the ordinary. With regards to how I can use my editing difficulties and insights in my style of filmmaking, I will no longer shy away from using visual effects or stock footage. These can be great assets to any film when executed well. Again, I think it just takes practice. One of the biggest things I have taken away from this whole experience though, is that being on set doesn’t have to be stressful. You can have fun and enjoy yourself while still following a schedule and achieving the goals that have been set for the production. I believe that having a good working environment and positive energy on set really does carry through to the screen and final presentation of the film.
We began pre-production for this project with a team brainstorming session whereby we all researched and shared examples of experimental films that we like. Furthermore, we discussed concepts that appealed to us to help direct or research. We settled on youth and the culture of social media. The best experimental that I shared with the group was a political commentary piece which incorporated a lot of social and digital elements which I believe helped to shape our ideas and goals for this project. We decided to use our film to make a comment on the vicious façade of social media and the detrimental effect it can have on one’s mental wellbeing. We wanted to show a bright and shiny world in contrast to a darker world in turmoil. This notion formed the base of our search for visual references for which I created a group Pinterest board that we were all able to add our inspirations to. This helped us create our storyboard along with influences from the series Black Mirror and the work of previous Studio 3 students. In particular, the Pink Lady Productions experimental film.
In order to make it clear to the audience the collision of the two worlds, without explicitly telling them, we used glitter for the perceived “glamorous” life of our character and black paint for the inner turmoil, or, the ‘real’ world. I loved the idea of having the two worlds collide, not only with the use of inter cutting but the whole concept of physically covering the glitter with darkness. I feel that this shot epitomises our purpose of this film. To support this imagery, I wanted to use stock footage that was relative to our theme and supportive of the cause. With this in mind, I chose a rollercoaster to signify the emotional highs and lows of social acceptance. The reason I wanted the footage of caged chickens and fish swimming around and around in a bowl is to infer that we are trapped and caught in a never-ending cycle of what we believe is social acceptance verse what is real.
I feel like we all learned a lot about each other in the making of Consumed, and who we are as a group (Dark Horse Productions). Being the first project we had ever worked on together as a team, it surprised me how well we meshed and how we were able to use each other’s skills and creativity to produce something that we were proud to present. In terms of improving this project, I’m not really sure what more we could have done as there was nothing that really hindered our production or final product. I feel that we worked really well together, we had some great cinematography, the lighting looked good on camera and the set looked as we had intended. If anything, I think the only thing I would say would be to get extra B-roll of the ‘dark’ world and some just of props as there was concerns that our film was starting to look too much like a music video. However, as mentioned earlier, this was overcome in post production.
Overall, a fantastic experience and opportunity to create a great show reel piece to kick off the trimester!