The Visual Narrative Project that started around late October was one I had been excited about since the very first day of coming to Freestyle. I personally knew that I was in need of developing my story telling abilities as well as my technical skills in film and other software techniques and I had clear ideas for what I wanted to do. I just wanted to jump right in and execute all of them before anybody could tell me what to do.
But of course, that is extremely far from the actual time I had to take to listen to others’ feedback and develop these new skills in collaboration and creativity before I could even begin the major projects I wanted to do. Thank God I did, because if I hadn’t gone through this grueling process, I know my stories would be far worse than what they are now.
For this assignment, we were tasked with creating a visual narrative film where the only requirement was that there could be no dialogue.
First we had to create a synopsis for our film which had to summarize the film’s overall story arc. Here’s what I wrote: “The setting is a plain old office. This office has rows and rows of cubicles and one break room. Our protagonist is one of the workers. He works and works and works at his computer. He stops and takes a break and sees people socializing in another row. He looks upset. He looks to one side of his row to see that everyone is too busy working. He looks to the other side to see a woman staring right at him. She quickly averts her eyes once he looks at her. He keeps working but this keeps happening for a couple hours where he will look at the girl but she averts her eyes every time. Eventually he gets fed up and leaves to the break room. She follows him into the break room and does weird stuff like eating the same snacks, coughing when he coughs, etc. She continues to stare but looks away every time he notices. He gets anxious and tense so he escapes to the bathroom and stays there until calms down. He feels ready to go back out, and when he does he finds she’s not there, and decides to go to an early lunch. After he gets his lunch he starts heading back to the office, staying alert and paranoid. Once he thinks he’s safe, he sees she’s right in front of him and he drops his lunch and bolts the other way. She chases him and he tries to shake her off. She’s carrying a purse and when she reaches into it as they are running he gets scared that it’s a weapon. He eventually loses her and gets back to his desk and he’s really tired and scared. He turns to see she is right there again. He gets really angry this time and he stands up and slams his hands down on his desk. All the workers around them turn and look to see what’s going on. The woman is startled by this sudden outburst and starts crying. She runs away. Our protagonist gets antagonizing looks from all the workers, who shake their heads and sit back down. He feels bad that he misinterpreted what her motivations were, then she comes back and reveals that in her purse was the lunch he dropped. They smile at each other and shake hands. End.”
While looking back at this synopsis, the funniest thing is that there were a few changes to this story that made it 1000 times better. It just goes to show that it wouldn’t have been better if it weren’t for my classmates and my teacher for giving me good feedback and criticism.
We also had to create storyboards which were drawings of every single shot in our film so that people could visually see our film and notice errors that needed to be fixed. Her is what some of them looked like:
(((((The best cards were drawn by Katherine Sun)))))
Even before the project began, I had an idea for a narrative film that I was extremely passionate about and I was willing to pursue it even if I had to work alone. I had initially assumed I would work alone for my project, but then Mr. Taylor told us that it was a very bad idea to work alone because not only would we appear conceited (which I totally was), but our film was also very likely to suffer from it. I realized that I had to recruit someone in my class for my film, and I had a week to do it. On the last day, someone from my class finally decided to partner up with me, and together we worked on the synopsis and storyboarding for my idea. Through completing the pre-production process, I learned just how crucial it is to obtain other’s viewpoints and opinions to positively change an existing idea. My partner, Katherine, along with my teacher and other classmates, provided criticism to what I had thought was a perfect idea, and it was something the film desperately needed.
We had finished the pre-production and had moved on to the production of our film. The very first shoot we had was disastrous. We didn’t end up using any of the footage we gathered and we made a lot of mistakes. We also didn’t even use shots from our second shoot. Or even our third shoot!! The production process was grueling in that we ran into problems every single week that we had to counter constantly. Sometimes our extras couldn’t show up, sometimes it rained, sometimes we were missing important props for the film, and so on. But as we kept shooting and getting people’s feedback, we felt ourselves slowly improving and becoming much more in tune with the production process. Luckily, we had committed actors who were able to make it to the end, and once we finished we were very relieved. We were also extremely excited for the biggest bulk of our time…
The post-production process. Hours upon hours were spent cutting the footage together, adding sound effects and music, and color correcting for our film, all the while Adobe Premiere Pro often lagged, crashed, and lost files. Even when we thought we had finished our film, when we showed it to our class we found that some major changes needed to be made. But thankfully, we had the time to make those changes and dramatically improve our film.
Here is the trailer for me and Katherine Sun’s film, Take a Hint:
And here is the full film. It is six minutes and thirty seconds of one of the best collaborative projects I’ve ever participated in.
There are so many people to thank for helping me make this film. Aiden Stein, our main actor, always met every single deadline we had and was super flexible with the dates on filming. Not to mention the fact that this is the first time he’s ever acted in anything, which is surprising considering how GOOD HE IS AT IT. He’s one of my best friends and I can’t thank him enough for participating in the film. Shannon Mills, the main actress, played an outstanding role in this film. So many people who saw different parts of our film all agreed that she was CREEPY AS HECK. She was the perfect fit for this role and I’m so grateful to her for taking it up. I’d also like to thank my mom and dad for driving me and participating in the film and all the extras who took time out of their day to help us out.
Most importantly, I’d like to thank my partner, Katherine Sun. She is one of the best people I’ve ever worked with on a collaborative project. She had the best ideas that contributed to the film and was quick to check for errors constantly. She was also able to drive me and our actors around if we couldn’t get rides. I know that this is a film that will show that both of us had an equal say in every single aspect. This film would not have been possible if she hadn’t signed on.
“Take A Hint”
Here is the Adobe Audition Project File for this assignment:
As part of being in English Honors, I had to make an additional short story that was an imitation of a specific book that we chose. I chose the book Gorilla, My Love by Toni Cade Bambara that was a series of short stories about the black experience in America. I did not have a title for this story.
Next we learned about one of the most famous filmmakers in the industry, Alfred Hitchcock. Through different video clips of his movies and interviews, we learned how Hitchcock was a master at manipulating the suspense of a scene. As a result, we attempted to make a video capturing some of his techniques.
Lastly, we were tasked with making a chase scene. Chase scene are scenes in movies that have particular rules and techniques to them that are difficult to master. We were given this assignment for the sole purpose of learning to be heavily criticized for our work and how to accept that criticism.