Office Location

The office scene was filmed in J Block in university; where the graphic and illustration spaces are located. We filmed on the weekend and booked the space to film in, because otherwise on a weekday the area is very busy with staff and students as it’s part of the walkway.

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Above: J Block graphic and illustration area

Adella was responsible for dressing the location. We wanted to make it look as realistic as possible. The theme for the first day of the office scene was Valentine’s Day. The reason for this had two intentions: Firstly to make the red colours stand out, and secondly to be ironic (because this office place is not one you would associate with love).

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 10.21.48 AM.pngAbove: Valentine’s Day theme in the office

The second day in the office had much paler blues. It’s visually less busy as well; as there are less workers in the office, and there are less objects. Also, Andie is wearing a pale blue shirt, so we wanted to make this the focal point. As I have mentioned previously, colours are an integral part of the film. Throughout the film, the colours that Andie and Alison represent the power balance. So at the beginning when Alison is wearing bright red, it signals that she’s the more dominant and overwhelming character. As the film goes on, Alison’s control over Andie weakens, signalled by her colours standing out less. In turn, Andie’s colours become lighter, to show that she herself is becoming lighter and freer.

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Above: Day 2 of the office

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Bipolar Frustrations

One of the most frustrating parts of being manic depressed is having to question our health, when we’re feeling great. Because it might not be authentic happiness. It might not be real. It can help to remind myself of what depression is like, to help calm myself and motivate myself into self-care. There’s a difference between stable happiness, and manic happiness. I have to monitor myself even when I’m happy, not just when I’m down. 

Going Round In Circles

This post isn’t about my progress with the film project- it’s a personal post; a reflection with how I’m feeling; but it still links, I guess, because it’s the main inspiration for the film.

The film is based on my on-going battle with Depression and Anxiety. The film’s antagonist; Alison is a metaphor for the manipulative way that the mind can trap you, and prevent you from going forwards.

So anyway- going back to my reflection:

I’m not okay. I’ve been up and down. Mostly down, but occasionally up. And the rare instances that I’ve felt happy have been hijacked by the negative thoughts which warn me not to get too happy, or I’ll crash and burn. (Like I’ve done many times).

Lately, I’ve been quite progressive: I’ve been doing all of the self-care things I’m supposed to like meeting up with my mentor on a weekly basis, going to the gym, and eating healthily. I’ve been proactive- I interned for a month, and I’ve been in and out of the edit suite, trying to piece together the film.

I quickly scribbled a poster in large font titled ‘How to Manage the Highs and Lows’: I made this when I felt stable, as a reminder that I’m going to feel low again, really low like I do right now- and the purpose of it is to give me some basic, easy things to do when I feel at breaking point. But I’m looking at it right now- it says things like “Don’t overthink, but when I do- I can CHOOSE how I react; I choose to focus on something else”. It’s so much easier said than done. When I look at the poster now, the words are meaningless, they are empty.

When I feel like this, the warning signs are there: unwashed dishes piling up, basic hygiene practices are thrown out the window, and I’m physically and mentally exhausted, but my brain won’t switch off and I know I’ll have trouble falling asleep.

Everything right now seems pointless. University. The graduation film. My career goals. My personal goals. Something tells me that I’ll make it through, but right now I can’t be positive, even if I tried with all my might.

This is the reality of this horrible, chronic illness. Yes, it’s an illness. There’s a taboo around calling it that- but that is what it is. If I could help it, I would not be this way. You know, sometimes I am stable, and I try and hold onto that as much as possible. But sometimes there are triggers- this overwhelming sadness and numbness feels random, but I know it’s triggered by reminders of the past. And there was a trigger this morning, where I knew that it would hit me really hard, and well…now it’s hit me. I am drained, tired, and feel really, really numb and low.

That’s all I can say. It will get better. Well I hope so.

Rough Cut Finalised

The rough cut of the film that we are sending to Ahmed to work on for the audio is the version which begins with the pier and commute scene as the establishing shots.

Previously, we had made an edit which began with Alison and Andie’s cooking scene, because we thought it would establish Alison’s character.

But now we are going against that because it reveals the whole character arc too quickly and spoils it. By having the cooking scene at the start, the viewer anticipates that throughout the film there is this pattern of Alison provoking Andie to breaking point, and then manipulating her by appearing comforting.

Jini’s feedback was that the Day 2 office scene is unnecessary, as we already establish Andie’s work life.

But I decided to keep it, as it is significant. It shows the colour change, plus it shows Andie ‘just getting on with it’, despite Alison trying to provoke her. Also, it communicates that Andie it real life can take charge of her own life, despite the thoughts she is struggling with. Illustrated by Andie tying her hair back, and concentrating on her work, even when Alison flicks her pony tail.

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Above: Andie pushes Alison away and gets on with her tasks.

To conclude, Dominika is going to send this version to Ahmed for him to fix the sounds and compose the soundtrack with stems from Liv’s song ‘Silence‘.

Happiness Industry

William Davies’ The Happiness Industry argues “that the psychological state of the individual now becomes a target for the accumulation of capital—to the extent that it is no longer clear whether pharmaceutical products are created to treat illnesses, or ‘disorders’ themselves are defined into existence to conjure a market for drugs.”

Davies explains mental illnesses don’t have to explained. “Psychiatric insight into the recesses and conflicts of the human self was replaced by a dispassionate, scientific guide for naming symptoms,” he writes.  “And in scrapping the possibility that a mental syndrome might be an understandable and proportionate response to a set of external circumstances, psychiatry lost the capacity to identify problems in the fabric of society or economy.”

References

Davies, W. (2015). The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-Being. 1st ed. Verso.

Today I met with Dominika in the edit suite and the two of us watched over the rough cut that she made for the film. After Jini’s feedback last week, we decided that the film should begin with the kitchen scene where Alison is trying to provoke Andie by tearing out pages from a book. This was intended to establish Alison’s character and motivation more quickly and organically than it was shown previously. Also, we cut out the Day 2 office scene which was originally intended to show the monotony of Andie’s routine, but Jini felt that the office atmosphere had already been established and so this was unnecessary, and thus buy us more time.

So today Dominika and I watched over the edit, and smoothed over some parts- such as where the obvious cables and wires still appear despite the letter-boxing, and we also resolved some continuity issues such as in the kitchen where Alison appears to be sitting down, but she is standing up in the next shot without that being made clear. We also shortened some scenes where it felt necessary so that we could bring our overall timing to be shorter.

Also Dominika made the toilet scene much snappier, by inserting quick cut to’s between Alison knocking loudly on the door, and Andie’s reaction. The intended effect was to make the scene more dramatic and intense.

Deciding On Which Rough Cut To Use

The first rough cut of the film stands at 17 minutes, which is too long. No matter what, it has to be 10 minutes.

Therefore, Dominika has edited two different rough cuts. The first one follows the original script. It’s very tight as it has been cropped by 7 minutes. It’s visually very quick and snappy and the cuts are very fast.

This second edit is based on Jini’s suggestion to get rid of Day 2 office scene, as we have already established where Andie works and how Alison bullies her there.

From the tutorial, Jini’s suggestion was that the most powerful scenes are the book tearing scene and painting scene. She mentioned to concentrate more on the journey of emotions rather than attempting to illustrate the monotony of Andie’s life.

Overall, this second edit follows a completely different structure, but Dominika believes it’s more powerful and makes more sense.

This one begins with Andie at home cooking, whilst Alison is tearing the books. Next, Andie goes to work, Alison is already there. Alison is giving Andie sly looks. Next, Andie is hiding in the toilet. Afterwards, Andie returns home, goes to the kitchen and she starts painting.

Course of action: review both edits, then decide which one to use. Then let Dominika know, so that she can have it ready for Ahmed to work on the sound.