Day 5

Firstly, we had a talk on the BFI Residentials from Peter Fraser who told us information about the kinds of residentials we could possible go on to further our knowledge on film; whether that be writing script or cinematography.

Career talk

Then, we were introduced to Zosia Wand, a local writer, who gave us a session on creating fictional characters.We started off by looking at cards with secrets written on them from http://postsecretarchive.com/ and we had to imagine what the character would be like who held this secret.

She told us that characters need to have flaws as this gives the audience chance to sympathize and therefore the ability to relate to the character.

I learned that a good way to to find a fictional character or a story is to read the family sections in newspapers where people often voice their memories of a particular event or person. This encourages us to begin to ask questions- who? what? why? how? and this helps us to begin creating the fictional character which we can utilize in our story.

Zosia also read to us one of her poems to help us visualize a special event in her life. She said that reading poems is also a good way to find ideas for a story because a poem is like a picture made with words.

She told us that sometimes, it’s the things that aren’t said that makes the story. The character needs to be someone that you, as a writer, care deeply about- you should want to share their story to the world.

Later, we were split into four groups where we had to create a character and answer questions on them. An example: “What is their most treasured possession?”, as this gives us insight about the personality and the background of the character- it needs to be believable and the audience has to be able to relate.

Teen character mind map

We also briefly discussed possible locations for our film. These included: The beach, Furness Abbey, a council estate, the park, a greenhouse and a warehouse.

Location ideas Locations 2

For me, this was my favorite session so far because I got to channel my creativity and really focus on character building. I definitely learned that there is much more to creating a story than you think- it takes a lot of planning, you can’t just pick up a pen and write whatever comes to mind!

Me at Zosia


Narrative and Story structure

Day 3

The basis of today was to learn about Story, plot, narrative and narration with a talk from Roy Stafford, a film studies expert.

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We learned that the definition of ‘Story’ is “a chain of events in cause-effect relationship, occurring in time and space”, said by Bordwell and Thompson (1997). We also learned that narration refers to the way in which the story is told, and about Todrov’s theory :-

1. Narrative of a story begins with disruption- an ‘inciting incident’ that upsets the ‘equilibrium’ in a specific community

2.  development up to a climax

3. movement towards a ‘resolution’–> 4. leading to a new ‘equilibrium’ that is different from the start

We then talked about  the genre of film noir: dark themes, extreme light and shadow techniques which was particular popular in the 1950s with directors such as Orson Welles and Billy Wilder.

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Using our knowledge of narratives, we then watched ‘A La Folie Pas Du Tout’ (He loves me, he loves me not), starring Audrey Tautou. We found that is was based around 3 narratives; the female lead, the male lead, and the reality. The film also highlighted a ‘mis en sen’ theme- opposites portrayal such as colour opposites- reds v blues.  The music throughout the film also played a key role in setting the theme up and the repetition of the song,’L.O.V.E’- Frank Sinatra, highlights the drama, mystery and creepy feel that the film has overall. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUTlrKSTovM

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Story Structure

I found this website online which highlights the key structure of a story in 5 stages: The Setup, The New Situation, Progress, Complications and Higher Stakes, The Final Push.

  • The Setup– this sets the scene for the film. It needs to engage the audience and summarize the characters- who they are, job, location etc
  • The new situation– something new happens, such as a new job which changes the order of things in the character’s life. The opportunity often takes the character to a new location.
  • Progress- the character’s plan seems to be working as they take action to achieve a goal.
  • Complications and higher stakes– achieving the goal seems more difficult, as your characters has much more to lose if they fail. The conflict builds until they suffer a major set back.
  • The final push- your character must now risk everything to give the last push to achieve the final goal, using every ounce of strength and courage. Everything seems to work against the character until they reach the climax, where the height of the story is.
  • The Aftermath- no movie ends precisely with the resolution of the character’s objective, you need to reveal the new life your character is living now the journey is over.

The website talks about how this story structure applies to the film ‘Erin Brockovich’, and ‘Gladiator’, but the structure applies to most Hollywood films.


Day 2

We did four hour-long workshops; Directing, Production design, sound, and cinematography. In the Directing workshop with Matt , we talked about the roles that a director does on set. We said that it was really important that the script has an element of emotion and conflict to be successful in engaging the audience and being realistic. He gave us advice on the most important things a director has to do- pick a good location, select good actors for the characters, select good camera angles, and decide on atmospheric lighting.


– do the scene in a wide shot first to work out timings and where the actors are going to stand/ move to


– think the actors are like furniture

– story board to heavily; don’t make the edits in your head

Next, we did a production design workshop with May where we had a look at some dynamic and atmospheric pictures. We then got to make our own, taking into consideration lighting, space and theme, all whilst creating a story. Our group’s photo was of a small colourful children’s tea set and crayons etc in the foreground of a dull and dusty background and surroundings.

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After lunch, we did a sound workshop with Rob. In this we learned about Radio mic’s & receivers and how to record sound using a boom mic. We watched a clip from ‘Elephant’ where we studied the sound used and how it effected us watching the film. We were shown how to hold the boom mic and how to use it/which way to point it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzfup-OOPWQ  (22:20-25:16) We then moved onto cinematography where we looked at different clips from films e.g. Wrestler, and looked at how the camera operator and director used light to create the art. At the end of the day, we all had a talk from Sally Campbell- a costume designer. She has worked on Scott & Bailey, World War Z and other big productions, which were the main experiences she talked about. She stressed to us how important continuity was on set and let us do a ‘continuity sheet’ about what we were wearing! I really enjoyed hearing from someone in the industry and about her experiences which was really engaging and interesting!

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