Tutor Report

First of all a big thank you to my tutor for sending such a fast response. It's really good to read the feedback when still connected to the assignment.

The feedback itself wasn't too positive and I can see why. I'll post the remarks here and give my ideas and plans about it straight away.

Overall Comments

Your film about a turtle breaking free starts as a story but soon gets quite lost.  I wasn’t sure what some of these very long shots meant and what you were trying to communicate with them.  You’ll need to work on a few things I will outline in my feedback.  

One important note here is to send me a link that gets to the finished assignment, not just a long page/post where there are many other videos.  I have reviewed the 2nd video here.  For assessment, this would not be clear, so you need to put a section on your blog for each finished assignment. 

I see that the story should have been made more visual, or adapted so that it was not just dependent on the turtle's thoughts, which is a bit vague indeed and difficult to communicate anyway! Especially when there are no lines, it's very important to give the viewer enough clues to stay involved in the story.

I'll post the video in a final post as well. 

 

Story

This story of yours makes it difficult for you to work with an animal actor:

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.

How is a turtle going to communicate such things as ‘discovering a hole’ or ‘his realization’?

Despite this, your story begins to work well:

the long shot of the turtle in the fish bowl situates the turtle in its little world within a bigger ‘outside’ world.  

The subjective p.o.v. of the turtle is a bit too long – like a lot of these shots – and you can end the shot on the trees, which could be the turtles objective/goal.  

I find it quite difficult to know when a shot is too long or too short, it seems that when you've shot the sequence yourself, it's hard to look at the video unbiased. To be honest, my husband had already said it was too boring!

Then there’s the hole – this should have been caused, for example, by your son passing by and knocking the bowl and smashing a hole in it.  Bingo!  The turtle has a chance to escape.

Yes, because now there's not a lot of logic in the story and makes the viewer wonder. 

Then the turtle makes his journey.  Painfully slow!  But it’s a turtle.  You could experiment with speeding up the motion here.  

That's what I also thought. It might have been more interesting to show more footage, but at a faster pace.

This is where the film gets lost.  There is a p.o.v shot here, but it doesn’t signify anything.  Is the turtle lost?  Has he lost sight of his goal?  

This is the point in which I didn't really know what to do with the story anymore and focused on his inner thoughts, which obviously didn't come across very well!

The next shot lasts over 30 seconds and doesn’t really add anything to the story – the turtle sitting suddenly in water (where did that come from?) – looking about.  

The turtle was so slow that I put some water on him to wake him up a bit. 

After developing the journey, you could have then shown the turtle crossing the threshold of the house onto some grass and disappearing into the trees.  Perhaps the final shot could have been the boy discovering that the turtle had escaped!   

Yes, that would for sure have made the story more interesting. I have to train myself in telling stories and be aware of what makes a powerful narrative. It's often just a matter of sitting down and letting your thoughts flow, forcing yourself to go on.

 

Shots

You experiment with objective and subjective shots here.  They could work better if they were more illustrative of a narrative element.  In a narrative film, every shot serves the narrative, giving it a reason to be there.  It looks like you’ve just waved the camera around to express some vague idea of what a turtle may be seeing.  Either the turtle has a goal or he doesn’t.  

I need to be aware of the reason of a shot to be there. I did wave the camera around and it's true that especially in the last scenes nothing narratively happened. Or actually, nothing happened!

The shots are way too long in duration.  They need to be cut down considerably.  What you need in a shot is a telling action, moment, expression, gesture.  This could simply be three seconds of the turtle walking across the tiles or the turtle looking around to see the cracked bowl. 

A telling action, moment, expression, gesture, that's something to keep in mind!

You’ve used lighting well in the first shot to show the outline of the turtle against the window. Although compositionally it’s a bit messy.  

 

Framing

Your framings – apart from the subjective shots – are thoughtfully composed.  You manage to establish the story, the main character and the character’s goal, at least initially.  

I find that with filming to get the right framing is quite different than in photography, especially because the subjects are moving through the frame, which I need to consider.

Editing

The tempo of this film is very slow.  That’s something you can fix easily by re-editing.  

Yes, and probably by watching the movie after a week again to be less biased from the filmmaking.

In terms of the placement of the viewpoint in each shot and the way it cuts together, this film works well.  But you do use dissolves where you should use a cut.  For example, between the pov shot of the broken bowl and the turtle hanging in the glass!  The dissolve suggests a passage of time or a new scene so it interrupts the continuity of your story.

Ok, here's an other learning point. Cuts seem so cut off, but it's true that with the fading it seems that time has passed. I have to become more aware of that and maybe be more aware of the right moment to cut of the scene. I have read 'In the blink of an eye', maybe I should look up the chapters that speak about that especially.

 

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays Context 

Your blog is a good start.  You need to put a menu with categories into it so that it’s clearly structured and easier to navigate.  You’ll need sections for Course Work, Assignments and Research.

That's the problem with the layout, because it holds three blogs at the same time, the categories cross each other. I have to figure out something to fix that. 

Otherwise, your blog is a good start.  You’re thinking about the effects of the images and cuts.  And I think you’re honest about some of the films shortcomings.  

Yes, I feel that I should be honest about myself, otherwise I'll never get better. Now I know that I have to put more effort in it as well. Especially because I've been a bit distracted with the People and Places and other things, I have rushed this last assignment too much.

Try not to make subjective assumptions like this:

'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.'

Movies get quite boring if you know too much about what's going on in the character's mind. So it is also not a good idea that the viewer assumes things that are not visually preconceived.

If you were using a human actor you’d still have to find ways to express this idea that once he’s broken out of the fish bowl he’s then ‘locked’ inside a house.  It is quite inconsistent with what you’ve shown in the initial pov shot which shows trees.  

Yes, that's right. 

Suggested reading/viewing Context 

Stanley Kubrick and Alfred Hitchcock were both masters at framing, composition and sequencing shots.  Have a look at some of their films: for example 2001: A Space Oddessy and The Birds. 

I've got a vacation coming up and that's exactly what I'm planning to do. Together with 'Rear Window' and 'Dogville'

Pointers for the next assignment

Be more ambitious in your second assignment.  Find some people who want to act (there are thousands!) and a place that means a lot to you because of its atmosphere.  Try to create a scenario that has a clear structure, beginning with a problem, ending with a resolution. 

The turtle died, so no more animal actors! I do find it difficult to ask people to act in my videos and the kids don't seem too happy to help out. 

But I will be more ambitious and not just go for the easiest solutions anymore!

Good luck.

Thanks!