Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Blog Layout

To appear more professional we decided to change our Blog backgrounds to be relevant to our film and all of us in the group would share the same layout to show we are in the same group. We used the picture of the casino table we use in our poster and tiled it on our blog. We then had to edit the text colour of our blog title to be clearly visible. 

Poster - Ancillary Task

Using Microsoft Publisher we created a teaser poster for our film - 'Face Down' embracing creative darkness inspired by the film 'Buried'. We narrowed our choices down to three a portrait poster with a poker-lamp at the top of the picture and a landscape or portrait  poster without the lamp. After discussing the options between us we decided that the lamp looked out of place and therefore ruled out that poster whilst the landscape poster is unpractical for use in magazines thus we chose the portrait poster without the lamp (poster 2). We also decided to ask for feedback from a focus group, another media student in our group Phoebe Ward commented "It's really good, it shows you what it is about in the poster as the poker table is the central focus however it doesn't give much away". We also found that most of the people we asked liked the film name - 'Face Down'. Sophie Sinclair said 'I think it's good, but it doesn't give much away and the gambling genre wouldn't appeal to us' however teenage girls aren't the demographic for our film. We asked another media student, Ollie Kent, to give us some feedback he said 'It's brilliant I definately want to see it when it comes out, however maybe the poker table should be higher'.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Ancillary Tasks

To reveal the process of creating and developing our ancillary tasks - poster and magazine review, we overlayed a narration of all 3 members in the group and imported pictures to match our narration.  We filmed ourselves speaking then imported the video to Adobe Premier Pro where we unlinked the audio and video, deleted the video line and embedded the imported pictures into the sequence.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Storyboard Animatic

After we created a shooting script we decided to create a storyboard (despite our artistic failings) to visually represent the shots we hope to achieve in our film. We then took photos of the individual storyboard pictures and uploaded them to the computer. Then using 'Adobe Premier Pro' we put all the photos into an animatic then downloaded non-copyright music from ''. We decided to use harmonica and electric guitar style blues music as it is typical of the gambling genre and something we may wish to use in our actual film.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Film Name - 'Face Down'

After much deliberation we have decided upon our poker film's title as 'Face Down'. This has dual meaning as it combines the meta language of Texas Hold-em Poker with the cards being deal 'face down'. Additionally, the term 'face down' can connote being miserable and your luck running out which echoes the themes we wish to express in our film. Also when your face is down you are avoiding conflict and around the poker table Sean (main character) will be inexperienced and most likely reflect the title in his facial expressions.

Friday, 22 October 2010


The Poker Film

Written By

Daniel Norris
Samuel Tyler
Ian Fry

Blank black screen, Man narrates

(Voice Over)
“I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly lucky guy”

Flash of light as the blank screen changes to that of a room, with a dingy overhead lamp shining onto a large poker table. The shot shows a man sat at the table, cards in hand and a stack of chips in the centre of the table. The man’s name is Sean.

(Voice Over)
“Poker’s a game where luck can come in pretty handy. Take a look (shows his hand of two Aces). But believe it or not this isn’t the type of place I tend to visit often or at all for that matter. First of all, take a look at my fine co-players”

Pan 360 degrees around the table revealing the five players at the table. The man running the game, called Eddie is sat at the end of the table nearest the corner of the room, and a ‘waiter’ is passing him an alcoholic drink from a tray. To his left is the woman dealing the cards, dressed informally. Next to her is sat a thuggish looking man with a shaven head, and in the seat along from him is a businessman in a suit.

“Call” (distractedly)

The dealer lays the flop, showing the Queen of Hearts, 7 of Clubs and the King of Spades

(Voice Over whilst play unfolds)
“In fact, I’ve never met any of these people in my life before, thankfully. They’re not your average upstanding citizen.


(Voice Over whilst play unfolds)
“You see, I come from a pretty normal background, at school I wasn’t exactly a genius, but I wasn’t thick either. I wasn’t the coolest kid around but I wasn’t a loser either. I was normal. But there was one thing in life that I loved. The army, it was my life. I was a rifleman in Afghanistan, and served 2 tours of duty. And I was good… (Trails off)
But…I was wounded in the shoulder during operations in the Helmand province; perhaps you’d like to see it”

Flashback scene: (POV) Running facing the ground, heavy breathing, then explosion launching the character backwards.

(Voice Over)
But I guess all good things come to an end. After that the army gave me a leaving present of a disability payment and an inability to work,

(Puts chips in)
“Play your hand or get out”

(Glares angrily, signals to call)

The river is revealed, audience don't know Eddie's hand so suspense is built. Eddie confidently throws hand on table

"Read it and weep"
(Sean reveals his hand to be the winner)
(Glaring across at Sean furiosly)
“Just take your shit and go”

Sean picks up the briefcase containing the winnings and exits the room

“Hey boss…” (Shows Eddie the ace left in the deck, revealing Sean has cheated”

“What the? That son of a bitch was cheating!”


(speaking to the camera)
“You see, I make my own Luck”
(Reveals an ace hidden up his sleeve)

In the background of the shot, the bouncer from inside is seen approaching him, and grabs his shoulder.


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

How the Hand of Poker will Unfold

Initial Hands -

Sean Carter - Ace of Spades, Ace of Diamonds
Main Rival - Jack of Spades, Jack of Clubs
Character 3 - 10 of Hearts, 2 of Spades (FOLD)
Character 4 - Jack of Diamonds, 10 of Spades
Character 5 - 6 of Hearts, 6 of Spades


Queen of Hearts, 10 of Clubs, King of Spades

Sean has - Pair of Aces,
Rival - Pair of Jacks
C.4 - Two pair - Queen and King
C.5 - Pair of 6's (FOLD)


Jack of Hearts

Sean has - Pair of Aces
Rival - 3 of a kind - Jacks
C.4 - Two pair - Jack and 10 (FOLD)


Ace of Hearts

Sean has - 3 of a kind - Aces (Wins)
Rival has 3 of a kind- Jacks

Character Background

Sean Carter - Afghanistan veteran who was wounded in the shoulder during conflict, lives a poor lifestyle with his wife as they attempt to have a baby. However his wife is infertile and the only option to conceive a child is through the expensive £4,000-8,000 IVF treatment. This desperation for money leads him to the backstreets, playing a high-stake private Texas hold-em poker game.

Wife's name - Grace Carter - Care Worker in a retirement home
We want to create a situation and characters within it that will evoke the audience's sympathy, which will add to the depth and believability of our film.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Shooting Script

Camera in the middle of the table. Slight low angle, shows the poker chips and main character is holding cards, possible switch of focus.
We then see close up of cards – Aces
360 degrees panning shot of characters around the table starts and stops on main character
Betting starts, series of shots of players putting chips in (possible other the shoulder, mid shot), folding, looking at hands and showing extreme close ups of the eyes revealing emotion. Try to use this shot to make it clear that our Main character is inexperienced, other characters relaxed – smoking – close up.
Flop revealed – burn card face down with 3 cards face up. Close up of the flop.
Remind the audience of the initial hand and what combination he has now – close up of the eyes and reaction (possible smirk in some characters) Narrator (main character) reveals through audio the combination and new hand – This all establishes the setting neatly with the poker game and characters.
Flashback – using after effects (explosion and time-stop) Main character in army uniform running towards camera which then switches to a 1st person camera shot of the character running – facing the ground then sent flying back by explosion.  Dip to white/black.
Start of next round of betting following flop – and turn revealed (incorporate meta-language check, raise etc.) Betting raised some people fold – increases tension as only 3 of initial 5 remain.
Turn revealed after the burn card – again show reactions – narration over the top throughout – flipping the chips between hand.
Attempt a stop-time effect ‘let’s see what everyone has’ just as he starts to turn over the cards switches back to reality – ‘if only it was that easy’.
Next round of betting following the ‘turn’ – ALL IN – calls other guy only 2/5 left now increase tension. Use other the shoulder shot – become tighter on characters faces to indicate increased intensity.
Flashback – Extreme close up of negative pregnancy test, wife of the main character holding it in one hand shown in mid shot – crying. Main character hugs her picks up IVF treatment bill – close up of the documentation – two shot of husband and wife hugging – main character comforting her – use other the shoulder shot for any dialogue.
Changes between shots becomes quicker to show tension – of eyes – and card as it is revealed shown to leave main character winner. Close up of smile. Piling money into rucksack/suitcase close up of the money – wide angle shot of packing money in. Reluctant loser – he leaves in wide angle shot though door – we then see other gamblers realising he has cheated seeing 5 aces for example.
 The following shot is outside with a fixed wide angle, the main character walks towards the camera, a close up of his sleeve as he takes out with narration over the top and then he is unexpectedly dragged back into the building indicating he has been caught.

We are then back into the interior - we see a birds eye view, close up of the cards, pans out to reveal main character lying on the floor dead.

Ancillary Task Draft - Poster

As well as researching our film we also have to consider the necessary ancillary tasks and this is a first draft of our film poster. Inspired by the 2010 film 'Buried' poster which uses creative darkness to good effect. The darkness connotes mystery and leaves the audience wanting to know more. It is appropriate for our film as we wish to give little away in the poster and only reveal the activity is poker - with our poster showing a low hanging lamp lighting up a poker table. We would seek help of a photography student to get the lighting and shading looking professional. We would follow the normal conventions of having the movie website at the bottom but not revealing the film title to again enhance the curiosity of the audience.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Mood Board

This is our mood board we created to research the themes expressed in our film and give a visual representation of what our film represents. We used 'Empire' magazine and printed pictures to compile the mood board on an A3 piece of paper. There are several pictures of cards and chips which our links to one of our films main themes - gambling. The IVF treatment link is shown through one of our pictures and again represents one of the central themes in our film. The other pictures and quotes have more subtle implications for example the text 'In a lonely place' indicating our characters isolation not only at the poker table as an in-experienced gambler but also as someone who has the world against him - unable to conceive a child). The men in suits, alcohol and briefcase full of money indicates the typical things most audiences associate with poker/gambling films. Several war photographs are necessary to establish our characters past as a soldier in Afghanistan. I found this task very helpful to inspire new ideas, enrich my knowledge of the similar genres and also give a near visual representation of our film idea.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Revised film idea

As we are developing the characters and story we have made some amendments firstly we feel the dead man's hand although a neat idea wouldn't be a strong enough hand to win a tense game of poker. It would be more appropriate to have a pair of aces this would also fit as the main character is cheating and would want the best possible hand to win the money. The winning is likely to be £10,000 as the treatment is just under this amount and it's a rounded number. There will also have to be a point where our main character goes 'all in' and is inevitably called by an opposition for the most tense finish.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Breaking the fourth wall

In our film we intend to break the fourth wall and acknowledge the audience which breaks the normal conventions of films. The effect of breaking the fourth wall challenges the audience and makes them think critically about why the fourth wall has been broken. To do this we are thinking of creating a stop-time effect where the main protagonist speaks to the audience through his narration - "If only it was that easy".

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Film Research Notes - 13 Tzameti

Black and white effect creates tense atmosphere, film noir

European, subtitled and cultural differences in film

Sounds are heavily emphasised, there is little dialogue so footsteps, bike bells etc. are given increased volume.

Smoke more visible in the black and white

Blurred focus at times leaves viewer disoriented.

Evocative music - reinforces enigma, off beat.

Meaningless, awkward conversation as the meaning is in the  visual, in this case a slow start

Panning shot of loading guns and spinning cylinders

Series of close-ups - showing nervous men, 360 degree pan showing men with guns

Uses lightbulb as a reference to build tension (when it goes out they shoot) - shots between men and lightbulb increasingly shorter.

Ignores conventions of time - even though all shoot at the same time it shows reaction one after the other.

Close ups of eyes to show intensity and fear

Contrast between men gambling - professional, rich in suits and pawns putting lives on the line.

Tension builds as fewer people remain in competition, feature we will us in poker film. As competition goes on rivalries build and so does intensity builds. Stakes raise and chance of success raises.

In poker stakes will raise and chance of main characters success will be made to look unlikely but will prevail in the end.

Harsh, brash and impatient organisers shout - reinforces illegality.

Main characters left in are often recognisable - 13 has an obese character thus making the audience able to follow it more easily.

Duel like the last leg of poker - shows two shot initially then - other the shoulder shot of both - moves in closer with OTS - pans audience reaction. (Close up/extreme close up could be used to show intensity.

Second duel, mid shot of each then into close ups.

Attention paid to eyes and reaction - like our poker idea, main character in 13 is novice.  Scared, shivering compared to the composed experienced gambler (shooter) yet he still wins., despite disliking activity.

When packing money the character feels guilt but the packer is clinical, little emotion.

Sweat is a clear signal of nerves and fear, accompanied by a slouched walk, fixed eye and facial expression.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Ancillary Tasks

To accompany our short film we have to do 2 of the following 3 ancillary tasks; we have decided on doing a poster for the film and a film magazine review page. We decided this, as we believed these two tasks would be easier as the logistics of a radio trailer would hamper are ability to do it well. We will have to familiarize ourselves with publisher and other programs to perform the poster task competently. For the poster and magazine review we would need shots from the film, therefore we would have to think about the shots that would suit the poster and review, thus planning is necessary. Also we would have to be building the poster during filming so we have the shots from the actual film, or we could think about using a shot not in the film but shows the characters personality. For example our character could be holding a pack of cards as it is a gambling film.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Initial Film Idea

After discussion in our group we have come up with an initial short film idea to work on in the coming months. The concept embraces the old-school film noir, gambling film, with our main character involved in a Texas Hold-em poker game in a private.  We plan to avoid the gangster stereotype and modernise the film, with his reasons for money being innocent to evoke sympathy.

He is an inexperienced gambler, holding Ace of spades and an eight of clubs, when the hand manifests itself the main character hits a pair of aces on the flop. Then the character states "I wasn't always this lucky" and we will use an effect to signal a flashback to a time of bad luck in his life, possibly depicting him being beaten. The parallel narrative in flashbacks will combine with the card game when he is shot at the end.

We are then toying with the idea of attempting a stop-time effect using "After-effects" this would show the main character walking around whilst the others are stationary, the character could then look at everyone elses hands and in an abrupt return to reality state, "if only it was that easy".

As we see the rest of the hand unfold it reaches a dramatic climax with the river (last card) revealing a an eight of spades, creating the infamous "dead man's hand" aces over eights (two-pair). His opponent most likely is winning until the last card to increase tension.

The  character stuffs a briefcase full of money and we see him exit with his winnings, as he moves towards the camera he reveals "you see I make my own luck" revealing two aces in his sleeve. Then an abrupt ending, the main character is shot from behind, cutting straight to black to conclude the short film. We still have to consider the aggressors motives but by the fact of having him reveal he was cheating the audience will believe that is the ending twist and his death will come as a surprise.

To find out how to make a card game riveting opposed to stilted we will research films that successfully use tense, exciting card games such as "Rounders", "21", "The Cincinnati Kid", "Dr.No" and in some cases how not to film a card game with "Casino Royale."

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Short Film Analysis

An Ode to Modern Democracy and The Hairdresser;

This short film combines humour and drama, showing the thoughts going through the hairdresser of the prime minister using a narrated monologue. The hairdresser is overwhelmed with power, not to assassinate him but give him a really bad haircut. Reviewing her “mediocre” life she realises that she will go down in history for giving the prime minister a bad hairdo. The narrated film contains little dialogue, but when it is used it addresses the difference between the working class hairdresser and the educated prime minister.

The Mise-en-scene is fairly basic but hairdressing equipment such as scissors and the razor create a good verisimilitude, the film embraces stereotypes depicting the hairdresser as a working class woman, wearing hoop earings, plasters over her blistered feet, leggings and a lot of make-up. This contrasts with the well-groomed prime minister wearing sparkling shoes and a spotless suit. The facial expressions of the hairdresser indicate boredom and her mode of address is brash connoting a working class background whereas the prime minister's mode of address is soft suggesting a possible unease in the situation.

The proxemics obviously resemble the standard hairdresser-client position however it can be inferred that with the hairdresser assuming the higher position it connotes a higher position of power, likewise the prime minister is in a position of vulnerability. Reinforced by high and low angle shots the high position of power the hairdresser discusses is reflected in the visual.

To accompany the narration many long panning shots are used empathizing the boredom of her life. Additionally, establishing shots are used to make the audience aware of the location being inside the prime ministers house and the hairdresser has come to him to set up her equipment. In the film many mid shots are used of the hairdresser as we focus more on the narration. It also cleverly changes focus on some panning shots to change the attention of the audience from the hairdresser to the prime minister. To reinforce her "mediocre" life a close up of the bookshelf is used, old and colourless books are shown and this shot is used several times in the short film. At the end a birds-eye-view panning shot is used to take us away from the action as the hairdresser finally snaps.

 The editor of the film also uses animation effectively to illustrate how well protected the prime minister is, animating police men and ten inch thick walls. The editor chooses to dictate the pace of the film as very slow and at times it hampers the enjoyment, the rarity of dialogue is the cause of this, but the narration gives the viewer an insight to the main characters thoughts. The editor uses a close up of the hairdresser just before she shaves his hair to indicate the increased intensity.

The twist at the end of the hairdresser actually ruining the prime minister’s hair opposed to just having thoughts about it, not only provides humour but gives the film a neat, clinical ending. When the hairdresser is imagining the prime minister having ridiculous hair styles we are given visual representations of the hairdressers thoughts with the prime minister in perms and mohicans.

A Change of Direction

Initially we were drawn to the idea of creating a music video about the World Cup however the logistics of re-creating iconic football moments were too complicated and we decided against it. Currently we are in deliberation over the final idea of our short film, after doing a film open last year we feel we can complete the task competently. The genre of our film in AS was war and we would like to stray away from this in A2 and explore a different genre. We believe that by changing to a short film from a music video we heighten the chances of producing good footage and also we feel it will captivate us more than a music video. Further more, our experience in AS allows us to use our evaluation to avoid errors whereas tackling a music video would put us in a novice position again.

A2 Media Studies

From this point onwards all my work will be A2 Media