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  • Writer's pictureDorsa Sajedi

Film Project: Seminar 2 & 3

Learning objectives and discussed films
  • Discussions on the contributions of all departments (and its effectiveness) in regards to world building and mise-en-scene.

  • How narrative is constructed within shorts.

  • Character POV and relations, how pre-conceived expectations and judgements can be manipulated to inform narrative direction and audience experience.

  • How character relationships can serve story structure and plot

Hail Mary Country
The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere
Skeleton Heart
Strange Men

Submarine (dir. Mounia Akl)

  • Demonstrations of how production design contributes to world building in a non-conventional way: subtle reminders that the protagonist is running out of time to choose whether to stay or leave through repetition of the word 'submarine' through a poster in her living room, the name of the bar when its neon sign is turned on, and the neon sign inside the bar of 'last call' pushing a sense of urgency and tension.

  • An example of the sound design, lighting, and production design working together successfully in the construction of mise-en-scene is in the scene of the window smashing and trash invading her personal home/space: sound of flies being an indication of uncleanliness and horrible stench, the sudden change in lighting acting as a snap back to reality, and the production design with the large inclusion of house plants which she waters with bottled water being a clear visual representation of refuge and denial.

  • Debatable inclusion of 'magical realism' in the raindrops segment towards the start, unsure if it is real or not, but it works in the way that it exposes fears hidden in her subconscious that the protagonist does not want to easily bring to surface. This is done again in the bar dancing scene, where we are unaware of its reality or not. These ambiguous moments, especially that of the bar scene, are enjoyable and do not feel confusing.

  • In regards to timing/length the film does not feel as though it drags, but if it were to be cut down then the importance of the love interest/romance could be considered. On the other hand, we learn more about our protagonist such as her stubborn personality through reflections on the twos relationship in their conversations at the bar.

  • From a production stand-point this film shows the importance of short films, as it allows filmmakers to create further works (such as features, which this director is doing so) that tackle similar/the same issues explored, proving their abilities as a filmmaker and what they can achieve if they are given the materials (and funding) to do so.

Listen (dir. Hamy Ramezan, Rungano Nyoni)

  • Uses an unconventional segmented editing to present audiences with a more directed focus on each individual and their perspectives/opinions -- and then proceeds to overlap (more conventionally, but the segmented beginning makes this more impactful) to express conflict of interests. The segmented start also allows more audience attention to be drawn towards the construction of mise-en-scene in each shot of each actor.

Hail Mary Country (dir. Tannaz Hazemi)

  • My least favourite one of the bunch as it drags on for way too long -- in regards to timing, it conveys so little in such a long time and so I feel so much more could be cut down. The woman on the couch shooting the robber, as well as the robber shooting the TV do not act as shocking/sudden as it could have been. It does not feel impactful, as the audience is positioned to believe and understand that both characters are going to do so very early on through cues and dialogue.

  • The subversion of gender stereotypes sets the narrative to be unexpected thus entertaining, but only on the surface as this is overruled by other issues mentioned in the point above and below.

  • The heavy production design is combined with heavy and in-your-face dialogue, despite being unnecessary.

The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere (dir. Mickey Duzyj)

  • A documentary that copes well with its lack of archival/actual footage of the horse its about through animation. The bright pink colours and animation work to keep audiences engaged.

  • Regardless of this, the film fails to address areas that it mentions which clearly spike interest (such as the disappearance of the horse)

Skeleton Heart (dir. Mounia Akl)

  • An example of an experimental short with unrelated shots and montage - regardless it flows between each other really well through visual movements.

  • Demonstrating a very beneficial relationship between editing, camera and production design.

Sevilla (dir. Mounia Akl)

  • Use of juxtaposition through colour grade and music/lack of music to guide narrative direction through visualisations of emotion (in more simpler terms: bright = happy, cold = sad). The impact of this is heightened through the editing due to the involvement of intercutting. Another aiding department is production/costume design, which additionally acts as an indication of a different time period/time skip (the woman's short hair).

  • Discussion regarding how a shot/frame can be a good starting point for making a film - the graffiti outlines of all three, with the two stood against it, staring against the blank frame of their passed loved one. A frame which speaks so many messages, and a good example of 'show, don't tell'.

  • Debatable death scene, almost funny, but also its shocking aspect represents the real sudden/unexpected nature of death.

Strange Men (dir. Andrew Fitzgerald)

  • An excellent collaboration between cinematography and sound design: the ECU shots during conversations make characters seem suspicious and portrays the protagonists lack of trust in men.

  • In regards to timing, it is far too long -- especially towards the end in the diner scene where the dialogue feels unnecessary, overboard, and unrealistic.

  • On discussions of the diner scene, the protagonist's acting is contradictory. She is constructed/portrayed as stubborn and snippy, but in the diner scene she quietly listens to her 'dad' babble and go on... and on... and on.

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