The Work Of Shaun Jacques

Short Film

Short film

Short Film is any film not considered to be feature length, No definite time boundary is set but the Academy of Motion picture arts and sciences defines a short as 40 minutes or less. The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) draws the limit at 45 minutes long.

The earliest records of short film date back all the way to 1894 with Thomas Edisions ‘Kinetoscope’ A device created for personal viewing. These aswell as the early projected films of the time were usually just one shot of footage or interest films detailing major events such as A royal event.

1895 may have presented the world with the very first horror short. take a look at this footage and judge for yourself.

unimpressive? well consider the audience of the time, those seeing this piece for the first time unaware of the concept of video appearntly fled in terror fearing that the train would drive off the screen and run over the audience. It’s quite an interesting thought and must have certianly been an eye opener to the sort of emotion that film could bring out of people. [Source]

As film was beginning to stand on it’s own legs it began to imitate over forms of entertainment such as magic shows and variety acts 20 minute shorts showing off these types of shows would be broadcast at music halls and fairgrounds.

The early 1900’s had however seen a major revolution in filming and editing techniques and these breakthroughs brought to the world classic shorts such as Georges Méliès’s A Trip to the Moon (1902) The first feature length films are recognised to have came around at the start of the next decade. as Feature-length film grew in prestige and marketability, shorts continued to be traditionally shown alongside news items of occasionally live acts

This included up to and including the second world war where short films formed updates and reasons for the war currently going on across the planet.

Dr Richard Famer sees the second world war as “something of a high-water mark for the short film in Britain”, though not everybody liked them. “While the government was extraordinarily keen to place its messages in British cinemas, cinema managers and patrons were much more ambivalent,” he says.

“Some short films, especially those that showed British servicemen actively fighting the war, proved to be very popular, but there were also concerns that the cinema would gain a reputation as an ‘interfering marm’ if it dedicated too much time to short government films and not enough to the [predominantly American] feature films upon which the magic of the pictures rested.”

The clear differences between the fantasist feature length American films and the informative government shorts played a major role in short films decline in popularity during the 50’s and 60’s The popularity of motion movie trailers also added to the shorts consistent disappearance from mainstream cinema chains. however they were still popular with visual artists. Some consider short film to be the ‘Les Enfant Terrible’ of the art world some artists have used this medium as an opportunity to experiment. Short film makers recieved a major mainstream outlet for their art in the 1980’s however with the creation of Mtv.

The main problem with this though was that the narrative of the video had to follow the flow of the music, music video director Tim Pope says that ideas from music video production and editing were later fed back into feature and short length films that are now commonplace, such as faster edit cuts.

The ninties  brought with it digital editing which brought in both affordable and digital recording equipment which was lightweight and easier to use. this lead to a wider range of independent film-making especially shorts. many feature length directors begun their careers in short.

all of these innovations were bringing shorts into the mainstream but one major innovation would bring it to unimaginable heights. The internet.

Fabien Riggall, founder and creative director of short film company Future Shorts says that they get over 1,000,000 hits a month on their future shorts webpage and many believe that shorts suit the landscape of the internet user and the generation using it due to it’s short nature. sites like Youtube and Vimeo have made it easier than ever before to upload and distrubute short films. sites such as the BBC film network are also giving a level of prestige and intrigue into short films, Of course the downside of this is that many more poor quality films have been uploaded and the ratio of good/bad films is probably heavily favoring the bad.

Short film has come a long way since the locomotive train, but where will it go in the future? some put the future of advertising in the hands of short filmakers with pieces like this adding artistic flair to adverts

Others see the playing field between shorts and feature films leveling out and possibly seeing a lot more cinema showings of said short films.

whatever the viewpoint it seems likely that short film has an interesting road ahead, it will be intresting to see where the art form goes in the near future.

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Reflection – Short Film Analysis.

‘A long time ago……well about ten weeks ago, In a place not so far away, a group of 5 like-minded panthers joined forces, they vowed to create the best short film  they possibly could in less than three minutes, did they succeed in their task?’

Our group Pantherology Productions have had a lot to deal with on this module, over the course of this blog post I aim to go through all the issues that have hindered us and benefited us along the way to creating the film we will be presenting (at time of writing) in 11 hours time. What will be the public’s response to the now officially titled ‘The Only Reason?’

We should start where most good stories start, at the beginning, When we first started the short film group we had a number of different troubles with getting a story idea that we could all agree with. I had my ideas and a couple I seemed to really like, but other members of the group had their ideas that they also cling onto, I think we all wanted to be creatively involved in the piece, which was encouraging from one point of view that we were all fully committed to the group (A fact I can honestly said never diminished for everybody involved) but problematic from another as we couldn’t seem to find one idea to stick behind.

Eventually we had to present an idea for the rest of our peers to hear, we had presented our little ideas to a smaller group of peers before but it had proven in general not very helpful for getting a final idea. We presented Jambo’s Hair inspired idea of a couple on different sides of a protest. We were all not confident with the idea but decided to show it to see if we could get something from it. I honestly didn’t like it as I thought a protest scene would be too difficult to portray effectively with our budget and experience. We had a group meeting with Steve that day and together as a group we realised we really needed to start at Square one Me and sam pitched another idea which can be seen on a previous post of mine but again it was not liked by our audience. We then had a random as idea of filming in a shop, from a suggestion of using costcutters by Sam we eventually decided we wanted to film in ikea. We had a ‘test’ (in the loosest sense) shoot in ikea that afternoon before trying to see if we could film there.

‘warning!!!!!!! about as unprofessional and offensive as 40 second filming can get technically.

We knew even from our inital glee of possibly filming in ikea that two things needed to be done. 1# we would need to pester ikea a hell of a lot over the next week to get a filming time and if failing that store another one in a realistic area. 2# we would need to develop a backup idea just incase we couldn’t get the ikea shoot. This lead me to developing two characters for the sake of it and then trying to base a story around them. I eventually got help from Jambo and together we had created….Simon and Jasmin after a meeting later on we decided to edit the characters slightly and Jasmin became Elina. we started developing an idea around shooting in Costcutters and ended up with a first draft of a script.

We then had to sort out our actors, we had online ads and physical ads around coventry university however our idea to have a table for people to see what was going on proved to be our best decision, despite inital worries we would not be able to do so because of an open day at the uni. In fact our two main characters would not have had their audition if we did not have this. I was not persoanlly in the audition room as I was taking care of admin for the group and greeting potential actors, I felt this was best as offically my role of lighting/camera op was not directly involved with the audition process and felt it would make more sense for our producer and director to be there as a guarntee and for whoever else wanted involved. I was happy to take that role but obviosuly I was leaving it up to my team to sort out who were the best people for the role.

(by the way I am showing the WORST videos we have at the moment, but don’t want to embarass anybody apart from the panthers and brian)

Once we had our two main characters we had to find a Marek, this proved difficult and was only sorted properly a few days before shooting, but thankfully we found our man. Sam and G also we did aspects of the script that were lacking in mine and jambo’s draft aswell as a storyboard and shot list. We all went into our roles and were not solely alone for sorting out their end of the group deal, (i.e my camera and lighting bulbs were turned on) Giving that i was not very confident with lighting I did quite a bit of research, some of which can be seen on a previous post. We shot first on the tuesday at Jambo’s house, these shots eventually did not make it into the final piece as we decided it didn’t fit the overall mode but was still a helpful experience to have before the main shoot.

The main shoot analysis from my POV can be read here.

After all this i could rest a bit easier, I was not involved in the editing team so me and jambo went on to the marketing side of things, with jambo focusing on film fest research and I on creating the poster,etc… I did feel bad for not being there for the editing but understood that having all of us there would be nothing but problematic and would not help make a good film or keep our friendships intact.

We then had the rough draft showing. This was the point when our coursemates would see the film for the first time and offer their advice and opinions, nervous? you bet I was. I knew that there was sound issues that needed sorting out aswell as afew other little bits but we were all worried about how well the narrative would go down with everyone looking at this with fresh eyes. The feedback was mostly positive, people credited the quality of shots and lighting (YES!) aswell as aspects of the story but felt that some scenes were a bit off, for example Elina leaving at the end was interpreted as just taking a call rather than leaving Simon as we wanted people to think. but overall we felt good that not too much would need to be done…we needed to shoot one little bit again but beyond that not too much

but then……….ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!!!!!!!!!!!

G’s Hard Drive containing all the footage went. when I say went the HDD didn’t want to work anymore, I think I went through all 5 stages of grievance upon hearing that news, As far as I was aware there was no backup. Could that be it for our short film? so close to deadline and when we were all so close to finishing the film?…fortunately all hope was not lost. we in fact DID have a backup of the rough draft as well as backup of the footage shot extra. If I was a religious man I’d believe it was divine intervention or something, Never felt so happy about seeing data files in my life. Anca continued to edit with G while I got the credits done and sorted out the music for the piece giving it an AM radio feel rather than a standard recording feeling.

At this stage I know wait to see what people will think of the final piece. wish me luck readers.


Shaun – Cinematography

As mentioned in my last post I was down as a camera operator and lighting specialist for the project ‘international affairs’ On the day of the final shoot I had booked out my share of the equipment for 5pm with the intention of dropping them off at james’ house and then relaxing and getting some food before meeting the actors at the Ellen Terry building and heading to our filming location in nuneaton. When we arrived at Costcutters in Nuneaton we instantly headed for the staff room area and prepared equipment as the shop was preparing to close. I had previously prepared shot log sheets which I handed to Gergana as well as keeping some for myself, once we would start filming the aim was to log every single shot we made. I also started to experiment a bit with lighting but decided to stick with the natural lighting of the shop.

Once we all got started we all acted professionally in our roles, Me, G and Sam were quite the team to begin with, getting all the shots we could aswell as logging it down professionally, however this was time consuming, we were spending way too long on some shots and we could all sense the danger that could leave us in, also disaster struck…….the lights went out!

Big thanks to vish for this (as well as for everything else including the location) after we couldn’t work out how to get the lights back on and threting about reshooting the previous scenes due to light issues, he was on the phone and managed to sort it out for us. I can’t imagine the post I’d be writing now without that phone call, but I imagine I would not be in the most positive of moods.

As the night went on we got a lot more scenes done in a lot less time, however because of this, we all forgot to continue with the log sheets, this could prove a major problem for our editors as they will now have to search through more footage than they probably should do, if we had more time to calmly look around I would defiantly have stopped for a few minutes to do this, unfortuantly the thought didn’t occur until the backlog was too big.

I felt that the lighting was good for the main shots, but the candlelit scene was a challenge. having turned off all the lights we could I set up a lighting system similar to my drawing in the last post. however the aisles were not as wide as I hoped making this setup difficult-to-impossible. I ended up doing an altered version which looked okay from ‘simon’s’ side, but not so good from Elina’s I’m hoping that the difference is not too noticeable.

I should really take this time to thank all those outside of our groups who made this shoot possible (of course the panthers deserve credit aswell) but we had so many minor details that couldn’t have happened without Vish for helping us with the location and keeping an eye whilst we were filming, Liz for being there as support and for helping us out of a potentially tricky situation. my mate Sasha for providing the wonderful sketches of our ‘Elina’ and of course our actors for putting up with us for all that time.

Beyond this I think that everything went Ok we seemed to get every shot we wanted and no-one left in tears so not too bad, only major annoyance was forgetting to bring back the lighting gels resulting in myself getting a ban from the media loan shop, stupid mistake we all put down to tiredness but aw’ well I can live with it. Tomorrow I shall start work on the poster for this film whilst Sam, Anca and G begin to edit, expect plenty of progress in the next few days.

Shaun


Lighting Research

For my Short Film production I was down for lighting and one of the camera operators. I felt confident as a camera op I feel comfortable using a JVC camera, however lighting is a territory where I am not particularity strong at. Of course I understand the importance of light in a film but I did not feel like I knew how to use it effectively in the shots I (as well as Gergana) would be shooting. When the group was doing the test shoot in CostCutters I was unfortunately unable to make it, this was a bit of a problem for me as I could not get first hand experience of what the shop looked like, how wide the aisles were and how noticeable the shop and natural lights were. The group were very helpful however in providing me with some pictures.

One of the aisle photos from the groups rekkie.

I thought that the photos looked good under the natural light  but didn’t know if it would translate as well into video, I decided to research into how the professionals had used similar locations in the past and my research ended up focusing primarily on the ‘deli scene’ of the Oscar nominated film ‘The Wrestler’

I noticed the natural lighting setup but wondered if they had made it appear natural of if they just went with how the lighting was, I caught a couple of interviews with cinematographer of the film ‘Maryse Alberti’ who confirmed that the film for the most part used natural lighting particularly in the supermarket/deli scenes. This made me feel alot better about using a more natural approach to the lighting of the supermarket as I didn’t want the scenes to appear fake or not of this world.

'Maryse Alberti' with Director 'Darren Aronofsky' on set of 'The Wrestler'

So that was all well and good for two/thirds of the scenes in the supermarket but how would I do for the bedroom scenes and the ‘picnic’ scenes of our shoots? this one was a bit more tricky and I knew full well they would be. I continually rewatched and took notes on the lighting techniques shown in these very well made and informative videos.

These two videos (as well as further reading and advice from my fellow students) helped me to come up with methods of how to light those two scenes, I still did not feel fully confident on the candlelit picnic scene having not been able to get first hand test footage, but I felt a lot better than i did prior to the research. Below is a quick sketch on how I felt the scene could be written (note: this changed when I seen the size of the aisles first hand)

The first film also helped me to come up with methods for lighting the introduction scene, when we came into practice this did not work out as well as I hoped and is one reason why I will attempt to get a test shoot for ANY location in the future. but at the point of writing I am unsure if the footage will even be used in the final piece.

In conclusion I felt that this research prepared me for the shoot well, I was nowhere near an expert, but I felt a lot more confident and able to light up the set we had to a resonable standard, My next post will detail how it worked in practice.


Character Analysis

eyup just done a character development for how i feel the character in the proposed rom-com could play out. if you’d like to have a go at any other characters there is a link here, to the table i made to present this 🙂 My charcter is insipired by a number of different ‘going nowhere’ characters from recent hollywood films and TV series focusing on 18-25 young adults with no real sense of direction, including:

Tim Baisley – Spaced

Snork – Cementery Junction

Scott Pilgrim – Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Arthur Dent – HitchHikers Guide To The Galaxy (2005)

Name Simon
Nickname N/A
Reasons for name (If any) N/A
Age 20-24
Sex M
Nationallity English
Disabilities N/A
Glasses? Yes
Height 5’8 – 6’1
Build Average
Weight Between 10 and 12
Complexion White, Clear smooth
Hair Colour ?
Hair Quality Fair
Usual Hairstyle Short to mid-range male length hair no longer than the ears. Quite smartly styled.
Eye Colour Blue?
Facial Features N/A
Distinguishing Features Nothing out of the ordinary
Scars (if any) N/A
General Health Healthy, but not likely to be running any marathons or spend hours at the gym.
Style Of Dress Hipster/geek/topshop style clothing.
Grooming Shaves fairly regualry but not completely clean shaven.
Birthplace Leeds
Father’s attitude/occupation/parenting style Fairly Strict/ protective/ Carpenter/ working class
Mother’s attitude/occupation/parenting style Fairly Strict/ protective/ Shop worker / working class
If no, parents why? N/A
Siblings if any? N/A
Relationship with family members. Strained, because of going off to university without their approval (refused due to fear of debt)
Family Fueds (if any?) See above.
Financial Situation Not rich but not coping too poorly, has enough money to live on.
Happiest Memory His one and only summer vacation with the family.
Childhood Trauma’s? Bullied as a teenager
Childhood event that still affects him/her ^^^
Education All of his education in leeds until uni when he moved to Coventry…
Occupation History Tried a part-time job in manufacturing but decided it was not for him and now studies business management.
Achievements Decent GCSE’s and A – Levels, he would consider his greatest achievement as wining the trophy for the most improved footballer of the year in his under 8’s football squad
Failures Underachieved for most of his life, constant mediocrity rather than any huge failures
Obstacles in life (disability, family commitments, etc) Family pressures have been an obstacle in his life, leading partly to his less than confident demine.
Special Skills (if any) N/A
Gifts/Talents Fairly decent musician, can play guitar to fairly high standard, but is currently not in a band.
Geographical History English all his life, went on holiday once with family to south of france.
Past Key Relationships A couple of short-term relationships that led nowhere in recent years.
Marriages/divorces? N/A
Sexual Orientation Straight
Why did relationships end? (if any) Incompatible with both girls and realised in a matter of months.
Any recurrant themes? ^
Past Convictions (if any) N/A
Hobbies Playing guitar, social networking, video gaming, played cricket before leaving for uni but has since given up.
Favourite Food/Drink Chinese
Usual Haunts Easily annoyed, overthinks.
Philosophy in life (cautious, carefree, etc,) why? Cautious, rarely makes a major decision without thinking of how it could go right/wrong (overthinking)
Religion (if any?) Protestant
Martial Status Single
Quality of marriage/partnership N/A
Issues in marriage/partnership N/A
Children/dependants N/A
Names of children, ages, sex N/A
Relationship with children N/A
Occupation Business Management Student
Is S/he happy with said occupation? If not why? Fairly happy, but does not get on with course mates well.
What would s/he rather be doing? He’s not sure, but he knows he doesn’t want to go back to ‘leeds’
Relationship with work colleagues Poor, not on anyone’s bad side, but never sees any of them outside of lectures.
Issues at work (if any) ^^^
Financial situation Fair.
Quality of home life Fair. Gets on Ok with housemates, but a fairly quiet household.
Typical Daily Routine Go out, go university, go library for a good few hours (but do little but check out facebook and other social mediums)
Type of car/s driven (if any) N/A
Phobias
Worst thing that could happen to him/her? To go back ‘home’ and return to the life he left behind.
Best thing that could happen to him/her? Get a job, get a girlfriend and move abroad.
Addictive Behaviour (alcohol, gambling etc.) Enjoys alcohol but rarely allows himself to get drunk.
Personal detail most ashamed of. Wishes he put more effort into the gym, (shyness puts him off going most often)
What s/he would change about themselves why? ^^^
What s/he wants most from life. Get a job, get a girlfriend and move abroad.
Personal Goals To study hard and make something of his life
Personal Strengths Passionaite, nice character, not nasty
Personal Weaknesses An overthinker always making situations worse than they really are.
Sexual Transgressions (if any)
Compulsions (if any)
Obsessions (if any)

Short Film Madness.

What a day.

Seriously I have yet to go through all of the emotions like today in a long time. I think all of my short film group did throughout the day, I suppose I better start from the beginning to explain it.

We decided to go with Jambo’s idea of the war couple, we presented this in the morning (apologies for being late guys) and let the rest of the module members give us feedback, Someone came up with a suggestion I had previously that it could be the police rather than the army that the husband was a part of, and another suggested the character wearing a mask, There were a lot of logistical, narrtive and (most damaging of all) motivational issues using this idea however, We left the lecture feeling disheartened, I was in the honest position of “We’ve not got anything else we can agree on, let’s just go with this and see what we can make of it” However as the day went on I could see that this was not the right attitude to take, I have to admit to getting angry and frustrated as although I agreed with the notion that we needed another idea, I felt it was a bit late into the course to start from scratch especially with casting and locations needing sorted as soon as possible. We disscused following an idea similar to ‘Inside’ .

I really like this film, but…..I worried about how we could make something inspired by it that simply didn’t rip the film off, I had an idea of switching around the location and the reasoning’s. I was a little concerned with us as a group as we just seemed to have ‘ideas’ but no way of seemingly being able to work them into stories or stories that would be realistic to film (I remember there being ideas of medevil and 1945 era films) Here is a brief of my idea using ‘Inside’ as an inspiration, It is by no means perfect and was fairly rushed.

A woman suspects her husband of cheating and confronts the man at their usual evening dinner together, the man is thoroughly convinced that he has done nothing wrong and is shocked by his wife’s accusations, the wife then uses comments from people who’ve seen him playing around, He again denies the allegations, however at this point we see another man in the room behind the husband, he begins to shout abuse at his wife (mimed with the husband a’la inside) and leave the house, He then picks up the phone to call up his mistress.

This idea was by no means perfect but I had a rough idea of how it could play out, We entered a workshop with Pete, Steve and Clifton at 3 O’Clock at the limits of my stress level, I honestly didn’t know what to think at this stage, I really didn’t want to get into an argument with anybody, but I was really dissatisfied with the situation, We all realised we couldn’t afford to be in this situation with filming deadlines less than 5 weeks away, but we didn’t have any ideas to get out of it, I honestly don’t think I have ever felt worse as a M-Pro student. Thank Goodness for this meeting then.

We went in and asked for their honest opinions on our original idea. Steve stated that he honestly did not like the idea, stating the characters did not seem realistic and it could end up looking a bit weird (or words to that effect) We stated our problems and our other ideas, including mine, but they were looked at as too complicated. again I didn’t know what to think, I honestly don’t know how we got to this point though but Sam mentioned something about being able to use a Costcutters, and then the ideas stemmed to using Ikea as a location, Clifton mentioned about making it a Rom-Com and I loved that idea, We also mentioned about making it a Gypsy-caravan esque society where there are loads of family living there. We were adding ideas throughout the short meeting and Honestly I and I assume We felt a hell of a lot better for this meeting, We had an idea we had something BUT, we need to get permission, We decided to take a camera out and see what we could do with ikea, I loved the shots we managed to get just messing around in iKea I really think the Rom-Com idea could work if we could get filming permission but so could a number of different ideas. Below is my rough idea for the story, We will be (as a group) deciding on our final story and a proposal to send to iKea in order to use their building, There is still a lot that can go wrong with this idea, but if this works this could be a really good piece.

Couple idea: 18-22 man and woman having a conversation in what appears to be a cut off split screen, the characters are talking to each initally via facebook and then decide to call each other (Facebook shots could be over the shoulder or redone in the editing stage) they then proceed to chat on the phone about meeting up later for dinner, they both agree and then walk ‘off set’ and the audience realises this is a furniture shop they then walk to the dinner table in another part of ikea,they then sit down ready for a meal as a couple

Feedback would be GREATLY appreciated.


264MC: So Far

Our group formed after the second lecture in 264MC, I decided to work in a group with Jambo Dann and Anca after working with the two of them before in several films and also the bridge building project the week prior as well as working with Gergana and Sam Davies, I feel that we have a good group that brings with it a mix of skills and ideas, Since our groups formation we have setup a group on Facebook where will share ideas, problems and feedback, We have also setup a blog on wordpress which we will also use to post ideas and group meetings.

Group Logo

For our class activities we have built bridges (literally) together and we have also worked on creating narratives from news stories, I felt that the news story angle was a good way to look at creating a story when I have a lack of creative ideas. I also felt it was a good laugh and a great chance to build up ideas from something around you, another alternative which was suggested was creating a story based on a random person in the street, similar to a scene from ‘Shaun Of The Dead’

(0:22 Onwards)

  • the process of ideas development and discussion of your ten initial ideas and how you narrowed them down to three.

We decided as a group to come up with a number of ideas and leave them up for feedback on the facebook group, I did my own elimination of ideas before putting them up on there, I put a couple of ideas I was happy with on the page, One of which can be seen in the post before this. I narrowed down my initial ideas by considering, whether it had been done before in short film or feature film in the same way and whether it would be any good. I watched a few short films for inspiration including  ‘Teeth’ Directed by John Kennedy & Ruairà O’Brien

this gave me the inspiration to focus on characters rather than focus on an event or a specific location, I was impressed by how much this film portrayed in 2 minutes with it’s lack of actors, dialogue and location, very simple but extremely effective. My idea of  ‘The Box’ is my aim of trying to capture a range of emotions on par with this film, however In our feedback session earlier this week, I was warned off my original ending as the audience would probably not be happy with the pay-off, I have considered alternative endings including the character not ever revealing what’s inside and leaving the audience to decide, but I feel it may be difficult/impossible to create the suspense/care from the audience to make this as relevant as I would like in the time we have been given.