Part A – Take Part In An Arts Activity

In my spare time I participate with a drama arts group.  I was given the opportunity to work independently to write a play. I needed to develop my scriptwriting skills so took a workshop where I learned the layout of a script and how to structure them. I was briefly told how to produce a play, but was more or less left to do it with my group and learn from experience.

A while back, I co-wrote, co-directed and co-starred in a production at a theatre club that I go to every week.

The theatre club has a few different groups based on children’s ages and puts on several shows; this particular show featured adaptions of some of Shakespeare’s plays. The younger groups were given a specific play but our group could choose a play to adapt and direct ourselves.

Although the writing of the play was a joint effort, the bulk of the script came from my co-writer and myself, with additional material from the rest of the group. The co-writers also co-directed the production. We collaborated on ideas, chose the best ones, directed the actors, took notes, thought about what we want the lights to do, and so on.

Each performance was only about five minutes, as a fair few performances had to be accommodated. The adaption I was involved in was of Romeo and Juliet, in which I played Romeo.

After the second performance of the day, there was a small award ceremony in which some people are given awards such as “Best Performance” of their age group. I won the “Most Improved Performer” award, meaning that over the course of the year, I’d improved most as an actor. I was also presented with the award for “Best Performance of the Night”, meaning that of all the actors of all the age groups, I gave the best performance; I was told that this was partially based on my ‘comedic timing’.

All in all it went well. I enjoyed the creative freedom I had as an actor, writer and director. We had to stick to the basic plot of Romeo & Juliet but could do the story and characters how we wanted. The skills I think I learned were: how to adapt a story, develop a character, manage a cast and lighting as a director.

I believe the experience helped me improve as an actor as it was the biggest show I’d been in so I tried hard to raise my game and develop my character. It also helped me to improve my organisation skills because, as the director, I had to communicate and tell people what to do and what was going on, and they all seemed to get the message. I also improved as a writer as I had to adapt a script. I’d written scripts before but this was the first time I’d adapted someone else’s work into something slightly different.

What I didn’t like about the experience was retrospect. Looking back, there are always things you wish you’d added, taken out or changed.

The main things I learnt are the three aforementioned aspects: script adaption, acting ability and organisation. But it did help me as a director, as it taught me organisational aspects as well as giving me directing experience.

I gave a good performance and according to many actors from other groups, teachers and audience members, my segment was very good and one of the best ones that day, implying that my directing, acting and/or writing was impressive.

Below are several photos of myself and cast performing the play.

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Part D – Passing on an Art Skill Part Two

As part of the Arts Award, I had to pass on a skill I had learnt while at college, we could choose almost anything, such as Directing, Camera work, Animation, Acting, etc.

I decided on stop-motion animation. I worked as part of a pair, teaching a group of three first year media students. We were teaching them the time-lapse technique with a birds-eye view shot which we had also done just over a year ago. We already had a lesson plan to follow that we’d come up with a few days prior to taking the class. We started with the introductions; we introduced both ourselves, and a small bit about animation (Such as how many frames in a second.) before showing them examples of what they’ll be doing, including our work from last year.

We informed the class that they would be making an animation based around one of the four seasons and told them to think about what they want to do. One of us then took them to get some props and/or outfits while the other stayed behind and set up the tripod, camera and mac.IMG_0025 IMG_0021 IMG_0012

I gave them a brief explanation on how to use Pro Animate but answered any questions they had along the way. We gave them tips on how to improve it, for example, they’d shot a couple of frames and went back to check it and realised that it was moving much too quickly, so I told them that they’re making too big-a movements and to make smaller movements and take a picture, as oppose to what they were trying, which was to take rapid photos of actual movement. They took what I’d said on board, executed it and it worked.

Our little group chose summer and their animation features one of them on a body-board, swimming out to deeper waters, only to fall off and have to swim to the surface. We were a little unfortunate as we had trouble getting the camera to connect to the Mac, but once we did it, it was fairly smooth saving. The animation ended being about nine seconds long and worked well.

Once the animation had been shot, exported and saved, we gave out some questionnaires, asking how we did, and feedback was positive.

 

 

Part D – Passing on an Art Skill

As part of the Arts Award, I had to pass on a skill I had learnt while at college, we could choose almost anything, such as Directing, Camera work, Animation, Acting, etc.

I will be teaching Stop-Motion animation as part of a group. We, as a group will be helping some first year students with something called “Time-lapse”, which we all did in our first year at college, it involves one person lying on the floor as a camera on a tripod is held above them as they partake in the animation as the “star”.

Before we went ahead with this, we had to come up with a plan on what we were going to do:

First, we introduce animation and ourselves so that the first years can get a bit of knowledge on animation before we start while also knowing who we are so they can put a name to a face.

Next, we will show an example of what they will be doing, this ensures they know what they will be doing will possibly giving them some ideas, examples of what we could show them include our ones from last year and the Amazon Kindle advert.

We will then teach some of the basics, such as how many frames make a second (24) and some of the terminology. This gives them the basic knowledge they need to get started and do it correctly.

We will then tell them what they’ll be doing, by which I mean getting into groups and making an animation with one of their members on the floor as the subject. This gives them a clear objective to aim for. Before we start we will answer any questions they might have.

We will then get them to set everything up. This includes the camera, tripod, background, props and costume. We do this because it will show them where everything is kept and teach them how to set everything up, it will also see if they can work together in an orderly fashion.

We will teach Pro Animate along the way as it is one of those things that needs to be shown or self-taught, rather than explained. Some people also find it easier to remember things if they work it out for themselves.

We will also answer any questions they might have along the way.

Arts Award – Arts Hero

Christopher Nolan was born in London, to a British father and an American mother. As a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and United States, he spent his childhood in London and Chicago. He began making films with his older brother Matthew, at the age of seven using his father’s Super 8 camera and his toy action figures. While living in Chicago, he made short films with future film director and producer Roko Belic. They collaborated on a surreal 8mm short, Tarantella, which was shown on Image Union, an independent film and video showcase on the Public Broadcasting Service. He was also briefly affiliated with Dan Eldon’s African charity projects, working as a cameraman, in the early 1990s.

Nolan attended Haileybury and Imperial Service College, Hertfordshire, and English literature at University College London (UCL), studying English Literature. He chose UCL specifically for its filmmaking facilities, which consisted of a Steenbeck editing suite and 16mm film cameras. During his stay at the university, Nolan served as the president of the Union’s Film Society; one of the oldest and most well established film societies in England. Nolan and his long-time film producer, Emma Thomas, would screen 35mm feature films during the school year and use the money earned from ticket sales to produce 16mm films during the summers. He was later named an Honorary Fellow of UCL, a title given out to individuals “who have attained distinction in the arts, literature, science, business, public life or have rendered exceptional service, which may include philanthropic support, to UCL.” During this period he earned a living by directing corporate videos and industrial films, before moving to Los Angeles and becoming as a freelance script reader.

While reading scripts, and working as a struggling independent filmmaker after graduating from UCL Nolan “was getting $40 per script and I couldn’t do more than a couple each day because I really felt responsibility to try and do it well. Before that I had spent a couple of years doing freelance video production in London, making absolutely no money. I had no personal entertainment budget for anything at all, and when I finally did get a salaried job in London, doing basically the same thing, my immediate response was: ‘Well actually, now I can take half of what I’m making every week and buy film with it.’ So as soon as I had regular money coming in- or what I felt like steady income – I decided to use it to make Following. In L.A. I didn’t give up my day job for a long time, even after Following started getting into festivals. You have to keep your day job a lot longer than you think, basically to pay the rent.”

Nolan began his filmmaking career with a series of short films. Larceny, a short he made in black-and-white with a restricted cast, crew and equipment in the space of a weekend, contained many traits later to be seen in his first feature. It was funded by Nolan himself, but shot using the society’s equipment. It played at the Cambridge Film Festival in and is considered to be one of the best shorts produced by UCL in recent generations. Doodlebug is a kafkaesque short about a man chasing an insect with a shoe around a flat, only to discover on killing it that it is a miniature of himself. Nolan wrote, directed, co-produced, photographed, and edited the film. Jeremy Theobald, who played the lead in both Larceny and Doodlebug, would later play the protagonist in Nolan’s first feature. The short has since been released on home video by Cinema16.

In 1998, Nolan directed his first feature film, Following. The film depicts an unemployed young writer who trails strangers through London, hoping that they will provide inspiration for his first novel, but ends up being drawn into a criminal underworld when he fails to keep his distance. The inspiration for the film came directly from his experience of living in London and having his flat broken into: “There is an interesting connection between a stranger going through your possessions and the concept of following people at random through a crowd – both take you beyond the boundaries of ordinary social relations”. He made the film on a budget of only £3,000, and shot it on weekends, over the course of a year. He was primarily working with friends he had met through the film society, such as musician and film composer David Julyan. To conserve expensive film stock, every scene in the film was rehearsed extensively to ensure that the first or second take could be used in the final edit. Nolan directed the film from his own script, and also photographed and edited it himself. It began to receive notice after a screening at the 1998 San Francisco International Film Festival, where the film caught the attention of Adrian Curry, who picked up the US distribution rights for his company Zeitgeist Films. While working the festival circuit, Nolan met cinematographer and future collaborator Wally Pfister, who had shot The Hi-Line, which was in competition at Sundance, while Nolan was at the neighbouring Slamdance Film Festival. The film won several awards during its festival run, including the prestigious Tiger Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. On December 11, 2012, the film was released on DVD and Blu-ray as part of the Criterion Collection.

Some of Nolan’s personal inspirations include:
Steven Spielberg,
Stanley Kubrick,
Terrence Malick,
Nagisa Ôshima
Fritz Lang,
David Lean,
Sidney Lumet,
Ridley Scott,
And Nicolas Roeg

So far, Nolan has directed 8 feature films:
The Dark Knight Rises,
Inception,
The Dark Knight,
The Prestige,
Batman Begins,
Insomnia,
Memento,
Following.

He’s also attached to direct the upcoming Interstellar as well as being a co-writer and Co-producer of the upcoming Superman film, Man of Steel.

Arts Award – Part B: Be the Audience

Recently I visited the WarnerBros Hollywood studio in California. The tour took us through the WarnerBros Hollywood studio and through an array of different sets and sound stages which, over the years, have been used to film many different films and TV shows such as The Hangover, Inception, Friends, Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory.

The tour starts with a shot film showing snippets of things WB has down the years before you’re through in groups to a cart to start the tour. Once in the cart, you’re taken across the road to the sets, each tour varies slightly in what is on the tour and in what order. Our tour, however, started with a short drive to a large New York-Style building that we were shown the inside of, inside it was all scaffolding and wooden support beams, showing that, as realistic as the outside may look, they don’t do the same for the inside, because they don’t need to, because we, as the audience, don’t see it. We were then taken through that building to an ally at the back, which we were told, had been used in a number of different projects, such as Friends and Spiderman.

We were then driven through several more sets, such as the town centre for the big musical number in The Muppets and the set for the town of Bluebell, Alabama from the show Hart of Dixie. Nearly anything in the lot can be used to film something, for example, a small patch of grass that wasn’t built for films was used in an episode or Friends. Or a specific building that was built as merely an office building has been used multiple times as a hospital, and another building that houses the writers is frequently used as a school.

We were then taken past Stage 16, one of the tallest sound stages in the world with a 2,000,000-gallon water tank that was used to film things such as Inception.

In the car park, which has a view of the famous WarnerBros water tower, we were told that several things were filmed in the car park, such as a mudslide in Two and a Half Men as well as being used as the helipad on the roof of the hospital in E.R. We were then shown the set of the show The Mentalist. We were taken into the Lobby of the HQ where Patrick Jane works. Being a set, the Lift obviously isn’t real, the doors merely close, the set rearranged, plants and decorations are moved and presto, you have a lobby on another floor. Then, we were show the office sets, which was a full set as appose to a half set, because the show has no live audience they need to house. What was also interesting is that the floors, though made to look like wood, were not made of wood because wood makes too much noise and would be difficult to shoot with.

Then, we were taken through the woodwork section of the studio, where sets are taken down, stripped down and, using old materials, made into something completely different, this was quickly followed by us being taken to the old set of Central Perk from the show Friends.

We had to be quiet ass we passed a few studios and miss out a couple of them as, while we were on the tour, movies and TV shows were still filming as tours continued, which is why the tour took part in a cart, because they make no noise.

Overall, the experience was fun, interesting and very helpful and educational for me as well.

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Warner Brothers Studio tour in Hollywood.

Arts Award – Bronze

Doing a Bronze Arts Award means:

Taking part in an arts activity, anything from dance to creative writing to beat boxing.

Going to an arts event

Find your arts hero or heroine, research their story, and discover they got to where they are today.

Sharing skills by helping to run a workshop or by giving a demonstration to others.

You also build a portfolio of your ideas and activities in your own personal style and format. You might make a folder or sketchbook, a video diary or website – it’s up to you. The Bronze Award usually takes about 40 hours to complete.

Arts Award

The Arts Award has three categories – Bronze, Silver and Gold. I will be attempting the Bronze.

The Arts Award is “an opportunity to develop creativity and leadership”. It’s for people aged 7 – 25 and has no entry requirements, time limit or set rules.

gold filmI am thinking of doing it in either Film Making or Photography.

Both subjects cover several aspects.

For example, a key aspect to Film Making is organisation. “Film Making” also covers quite a few skills and responsibilities such as music, storyboarding, sound, lighting, producing, editing, lighting, screenwriting and even acting. The film could also be a specific genre or genres. It would also include cinematography, which you could count as being related to photography.