Assignment 1: Planning and Results

Idea for the story:

Turtle is in his bowl looking at a dvd cover that says 'Meet your Planet'. Then he discovers a hole in bowl and climbs out. He walks outside only to find himself on a balcony where he can't get off. He realises that he can't get back in the bowl.

To find out which shots will work best, I looked at the rooms in which I was going to shoot and which lenses would be best to use. Since the main focus should be on the message the story conveys, I want to be able to show the small space in the bowl contrasting the white and big balcony. Both should feel locked up and a bit claustrophobic. 

As an opening shot, I'm showing the main scene, which is a room with the bowl on the floor, next to shelves. 

The shot is taken from a low angle, to already show the scene from the same height as the turtle sees it. The bowl should not take too much space in the frame, to emphasise the small size of it and more of the environment the bowl is in. With the low angle, there are no human traces visible, it is hard to discern whether this is a living room, or whether the turtle is just out there and all forgotten. The scene needs to show that the turtle is alone, so that he is able to escape without being noticed. The feel should be still, boring, lonely and estranged.

 Sorry for the hair on the image!

Sorry for the hair on the image!

I didn't draw this shot the way I wanted it to look, because I found that too hard. As written down below the image, the idea of the scene is to show the view from the turtle from inside the bowl in which he see the dvd, looks at the title and from there turns to the hole in the bowl. It's going to be a shot going from close up of the dvd, to a bit wider shot of the scenery outside of the bowl, back to close up of the crack of the bowl. The scene needs to show that the turtle is inside and locked in and drawn to an other world out there, by means of the title of the dvd and the hole in the bowl. By focusing in on the trees, the scene shows the link with the image on the dvd, giving the turtle an extra incentive to escape. I want the viewer to feel as locked inside as the turtle, experiencing that it's hard to see what's out there and the sense of relief when seeing the hole. 

Again, this is a very bad drawing, but the idea is to film the turtle from a low angle, medium close up and show how the turtle is looking outside of the bowl. This scene needs to be contrasting with the former in the sense that it is shot from a more open and wider angle, giving it a spacious feel and a sense of freedom. Because it's done from a low angle, this shot makes the turtle look bigger and gives him more visual power. This scene needs to show some kind of expression from the turtle and needs to give a hint of the escape to follow, since I can't train the turtle how to escape and film that. 

Going from a medium close up in which it's possible to see the turtles face, we go on to this shot, taken from a high wide angle, to show how the turtle walking outside. Because of the high objective angle, it is clear that the turtle has escaped and is exploring. The angle also shows the white tiles where he's walking on, which needs to show the difference between the world the turtle might have had in mind when escaping. The scene needs to give a sense of bewilderment and surprise. Since it's not clear where the turtle is coming from an how he escaped, but neither is it clear where it is right now.

The last shot is taken from a subjective point of view in which the turtle looks around from eye level to the walls and walks back to his bowl. By using a subjective point of view I hope it is possible to 'read' the turtle's mind about wanting to go back to the bowl and the fact that he is now locked in in between white walls.

When filming, I soon found out that turtles are not the most active actors to have on screen! It took a long time to get the creature moving and I shot at least 10 times as much footage only to cut out a small part in which the turtle was moving to keep the movie going!

Since the turtle has a really cute face, I decided to add an extra final scene. A low angle, medium close up shot, in which the turtle is visible and looking around and walking away. I also felt that without the turtle visibly moving towards the bowl or, as it turned out, away from the screen, there would not be a good closure to the story.

While taking the shoots, I noticed a few things. First of all, animals are not the easiest subjects to shoot. In this case not because they move too much, more that it moved too little! But on the other hand it was nice to be able to focus on the technicalities while shooting without having to be afraid that the beast would run of.

I edited the movie in Imovie, since I haven't looked into Premiere Pro yet. It's quite a nice program to do the things that I need to do right now and helps me to smoothly be informed about editing.

I'm reading 'In the Blink of an Eye' and kept on thinking about the principle of changing your scenes enough and keeping a proper pace in the sequence of the shots. On the other hand, I did feel that I wanted the viewer to have the same sense of anticipation and patience about the turtle that I had when I was filming.

As it turned out, the turtle would not walk outside, so I took the high angle shot inside, and lightened it up so that it almost looked as it was shot on the balcony. Thank goodness the tiles are the same and I was able to position the turtle in the last scene in the same angle as where he stopped in the fourth scene.

The second scene turned out to be quite a challenge. In the first version I shot this with a car camera, that I held in the bowl and from there moved around. I found that since the camera only gives a wide angle view and can't really focus on the hole in the bowl, it wasn't very obvious that this was the view from the turtle. I also found these scenes too slow and unnatural for somebody's view. Finally what the turtle was seeing didn't fit with the following scenes. So I shot scene number 3 and number 5 again. Here's the first take:

And the second:

I put some vignetting on the subjective view shots and now I'm wondering if it's a bit overdone. On the other hand, it does give a clearer hint that this is the turtle's view of the scene.