The basis of the narrative unit is storytelling. In our classes, we learned to tell stories through writing, recording, and film. We learned to develop characters and stories. We were also introduced to the rules of storytelling in both film and writing, from introducing the status quo to resolving the story arcs. In film, we learned how to pass time, build suspense, and properly execute high-intensity scenes. We furthered our skills in pitching and learned to storyboard, which is a new and important skill introduced in this unit. While the skills I learned in this unit were new, exciting, and helpful, the major emphasis I learned i collaboration. I learned to appreciate other student’s skills and to be comfortable asking them for help. In english, we all supported each other through critiques. We shared ideas and worked together to develop our stories. In film, my partner and I learned that we both have the film-related skills the other doesn't have. We learned we work together well and are able to support each other in each of our film-related shortcomings.
In English we were asked to write a short story demonstrating strong characterization, detailed description of the setting, effective plot structure, effective use of figurative language, and thorough editing for grammatical correctness. My story started with a character. I have always idolized Tim Burton. I drew a picture in my head of a Tim Burton-like character named Charlie. From there I asked questions like what does he do, how old is he, is he outgoing, does he have friends… Once I discovered Charlie’s motivations, then sparked a story. A month later, moving into digital media, Mr. Flo asked us to record our short story with our audio recorders. I had to go into a closet and read it several times until I got a take I was happy with. Then using Adobe Audition, I imported my narration and then used sound effects to further my story. I was told to make a scene using audio, to paint a picture in the listener's mind. Although I was not aware that my story would be recorded when I was writing it, I was very lucky in that I focused a lot of setting a scene in my writing which allows a lot of opportunity for sound effects.
He wakes at exactly 7:28 to the sound of the radio. He looks for clothes but insists someone must have taken them all. He rummages through his hamper sniffing for something with at least a somewhat bearable odor. He leaves his building and stops at a food truck before walking to work and sitting down for the next 8 hours until he is ready to go home again. He learned a long time ago not to obsess over the time. 24 hours later, 7:28, the same thing occurs, same with the day after that and the day after that. The ground fills with strings of red rubber and the blood of working men’s fingers slashed from the remnants of trees destroyed by mankind. The repetitive sound of machinery lingers in the room… printers, shredders, sharpeners- printing, shredding, and sharpening. The noise would likely be too much for a man to handle, had it not been for the continuous conditioning over a span of what is soon to be three years this March.
He, hypnotized by the sounds, breaks from his daze and remembers the heap of obligation on his desk. These papers being the 462 things standing in the way of him being home. His name is Charlie, although I’m not sure if his name holds any relevance, as we would get the same effect simply calling him “he”. But yes, his name is Charlie, and Charlie spends his days sitting next to another Charlie, and next to that Charlie is another Charlie, and fetching coffee is another Charlie for a Charlie with slightly more authority and a lengthier title.
A few hours later, he enters his apartment defeated. He sits on his bed and studies the cuts on his fingers, the scars of papers’ revenge. He is long and pale like an endless winter, but as prominent as a light breeze. He haunts, content in his own isolation. His bone structure is striking yet unnoticed. The curves of his face indent as if carved and shaded by Michelangelo himself. One eye as blue as broken glass, and the other a deep brown holding an unusual beauty. His shoulders curve slightly, in a way that could be of a lack of confidence, or just the result of a bad habit.
He lies awake that night, age and indents on his ceiling, stories from past residents. He hears footsteps from the room above. They’re intrusive and seemingly choreographed, as if someone is following a routine, like 3 fast steps, and one big plop, and drumming, then a final thump, and the parade is repeated. And outside his window the air is sharp with sirens, and from the kitchen, the refrigerator makes a growl, too stationary to explain with any sort of miraculous detail. From the other side of the door, he hears a similar parade as the floor above, only with a different choreography. Running, and laughing, and yelling back for someone to catch up. Charlie is able to identify the noises as an infiltration of children, perhaps these are the kids who live across the hall, but perhaps another set of kids, whose children they are and where they live don’t make much of a difference. Charlie wonders how the same actions that make couples and individuals worship these little people, may cause Charlie such irritation on this night as he attempts to persuade himself into slumber.
Several similar days later, Charlie opens his eyes to a new sound…. Silence. He checks his clock and it reads 8:34. He rushes to work, and as he enters the building he hears a voice shouting, “Hey! Hold that, won’t you?” Charlie holds the door open to a familiar face. The man’s name is Alvin. Alvin has an unshaven face and unkempt hair. He’s wearing black sunglasses, even as they enter the elevator. Alvin’s clothes had potential to be professional, if they were worn correctly. His pants are a size too big and his shirt untucked.
They both ride up the elevator for what felt like years, in total silence. They exit together and walk in the same direction, Charlie keeps adjusting his speed slightly to avoid any more awkward conversation, or lack thereof.
Finally Charlie makes it to his desk and sits down. He notices Alvin sitting a couple desks away. Alvin is looking at Charlie, studying him. Alvin enters the bosses office and doesn’t come out for many minutes later.
Charlie can hear Alvin and his boss yelling in the office. He looks around and notices no one else is paying the voices any attention.
Alvin stumbles out of the office.“Look at yourselves,” Alvin shouts, gaining the attention of the few who weren’t already looking.
“Every day you’re in here, the only thing that you show any response to is the humiliation of others, well I’m standing here, telling you to be something more than a goddamn fly on the wall!” Alvin continues in a drunken preach. “Half of you don’t have anything other than this place, and of the half of you that are married only half would admit to being happy, and you would be lying. And now you’re listening to me and I’m just gonna be that crazy guy who you gossip about at the dinner table and forget about after a night’s sleep, but I’m done. You’re all zombies, no your worse than zombies, because you’re alive but you accomplish nothing, you aren’t worth anything, you offer nothing, and this guy right here – he knows this and he’s feeding off of it!” Alvin points at his boss, before being escorted out of the building.
Charlie is sure he is crazy, or at least drunk, yet still Alvin’s words haunted his head. He thinks about it the rest of the day, for which Charlie is honestly quite grateful,as something to dwell on makes the time go by way faster. “Am I too a zombie?” Charlie wonders.
He sits on a bench with defeat and contemplation in his eyes. He wonders if he made the right choice, spending his life dwelling on work. He looks up and notices a girl sitting on the bench next to him. She, like him, is a tad peculiar. She has pale skin and dark eyes. She is peculiar yet at the same time average, just like Charlie. Each detail could go unnoticed by the wrong people. Her presence drew Charlie in. He catches himself staring, and for the first time he knows this is no time for observing. He hears Alvin’s words in his head. “You’re alive, but you accomplish nothing.” He nods, talking himself into a state of courage. “Am I too a zombie.” He turns to the girl,
“Hi, I’m Charlie.”
In digital media, we were asked to create the border headers you see as you scroll through my page. We used Adobe Illustrator and the many skills we have learned this past unit, to make unique images relating to our short stories. Mine are more simple than story. My short story is about simplicity and the routine of life. But in that routine, there is beauty. That is why I kept warming and happy colors, as warmth is something to focus on in contrast to the negativity often depicted in adulthood.
Our work with illustrator began early in the unit as we watched instructional videos to learn the basics of the program. We played around with it and made some of the images you will see below.
We then used our developed skills to make a personal illustration. This was a difficult project for me because I have learned significantly less in regards to adobe illustrator than the design students, but I challenged myself to make an Illustration that I am proud of. David Bowie was an amazing artist, writer, and performer that stood for so much. He as a person represented an expansive idea, my goal for this piece was to represent such an idea with few details. For those who know who he is, he can easily be recognized by the lightning bolt painted on his face. He was an enigma who sang to the people in the back of the room. I also included his eyes as they are just one of the many other features that made him amazingly unique.
In film we were challenged to produce a narrative short film. As with learning illustrator in digital media, the unit began with a series of mini-lessons. The first was Griffith's pattern. D.W. Griffith was an important film maker in the early 1900’s. He played a hand in writing what we call film language. This involves opening with an establishing shot, a medium shot, and closer and closer to build a scene.
The next mini-lesson was creating a suspense scene. This emphasized stretching a scene to create a feeling of suspense in the audience. A major point of this was cluing the audience in so we know something the characters did not.
The final mini lesson before we began brainstorming was a chase scene. We learned rules such as the 180-degree rule and eye-lines to create a believable chase scene.
From there we were given a week to brainstorm an idea for a narrative short film. I eventually came up with a home invasion. After presenting my idea to the class, it quickly became a supernatural horror movie. I was then asked to brainstorm characters, motivations, and story arcs. We furthered our knowledge in film language like the layout, the same but different ending, and returning to problems introduced in the beginning. Hugo became my partner and we got right into storyboarding We got actors and a location, and then we began filming. A month and a half later we finished filming and jumped right into editing. From our rough cut the class revised it to change the protagonist which required an additional 2 hours of filming. It was a lot of work but I m overall very proud of the outcome. I couldn't have done this film with out Sydney Johnsen and her families cooperation in filming.
Bridget is babysitting her little sister Sam. The film begins with them watching a horror movie together, Sam is obviously afraid and Bridget finds this amusing. Sam is left alone while her older sister goes to the kitchen to bring the popcorn bowl in. The movie they are watching grows in intensity and Sam is left to watch it alone. In this time Bridget jumps out and scares her. The film then jumps to Sam’s room and shows Bridget tucking her in. She checks the closet and leaves the door open a crack, as if part of some sort of routine. Bridget leaves the room. Sitting in her bed, now in her pj’s, Bridget hears Sam scream from the next room, she rolls her eyes and walks to her room. Sam points to the closet, Bridget is standing in front of it and we are able to see a figure behind her in the dark closet. Bridget marches to the closet and moves her hand around looking for the light switch, no idea she is close to touching the figure. The lights turn on and nothing is there, she leaves to return back to her room but is stopped while leaving Sam’s room by a noise. We watch Bridget’s feet reenter in the perspective of another character from under the bed. Bridget looks to Sam who is terrified and points under the bed. Bridget squats and looks under the bed, she stands back up. Sam looks at her, or slightly behind her, and panics. The figure is standing directly behind Bridget. Bridget looks a little worried, and she feels a breath on her shoulder. She holds her breath, and begins to turn around, the light shuts off and they both run downstairs. Bridget is sitting on the floor, in shock. Sam is shaking her, trying to get a response. Now in the perspective of Bridget, we look up and see Sam crying. Bridget stands up, and her attention goes to the movie case empty on the table. She recalls how the people in that movie defeated the bad guy. She grabs the salt and surrounds themselves in it. Bridget gains her confidence and defeats the villainous being by leading it to a puddle of gas and setting it on fire, but not before the being pushes her around a little first. Sam runs out and helps Bridget up, it ends with the girls sitting on the couch together, scrolling through the channels, and the same movie from before comes on, Bridget looks at Sam with a mischievous smile and changes the channel.