My art form and why I chose it: Film making
I have been making films at school for the last two years as part of my silver arts award and for fun. I made this movie trailer last year for Silver Arts Award.I really enjoy making horror films and I am interested in performing Arts and want to study it in the future when I leave school.
The password is SMAAsilver.
My new art form and why I chose it: Acting
I want to try acting so I can express my emotions. I find acting really fun. I have never acted before but I wished that I had acted in my Silver Arts Award film. I love American Horror story and I love Sarah Paulson, she’s really dramatic and versatile. Jessica Lange is also amazing, she’s a really good actor and you can really see the emotion, it’s almost like it’s almost like its real. I also love Anya Taylor Joy in Queens Gambit, Split, and The Witch. She has emotion and presence and is also very versatile. She played a witch and she played a drug addict in the Queens Gambit. I look up to these actors and want to convey emotion in the same way.
- Coming up with ideas and stories
- Being scary
- Special Effects in iMovie
- Too many ideas and not good at picking which ones to use
- I was too nervous to act in my silver arts award movie movie
- Direction of emotions in others – I didn’t tell people how to act, I let them do what they wanted.
My project plan
To collect research I will:
- Watch other horror films and TV shows and look for ideas
- Practice acting and think about a character I could play
- Look into music and sound effects
- Research story structure
- Scout for locations.
To plan, practise, and prepare for my project I will:
- Complete an acting project with a practitioner.
- Write a script for my movie
- Cast characters
- Create a shooting plan
To create my project I will:
- Film the scenes I need using an SLR film camera
- Edit scenes together using iMovie
- Add special effects
- Add music
To evaluate the success of my project I will:
- Screen the movie at our end of term exhibition
- Get feedback from the practitioners I worked with
- Evaluate my success based on my strengths and weaknesses
- Write an evaluation
Evidence of Progress
Details of the practitioner I worked with: Kate Whiteside
Kate is a screenwriter. I really wanted to get better at acting and I wanted to work with a screenwriter and director who would help me. I asked Kate if she would be interested in writing a monologue for me through my teacher, Melanie.
Details of the project completed with the practitioner: Monologue
Kate sent several monologues to me from her archives that she could adapt, and I read them over and chose the one I liked. I chose the script called Troll.
I chose this script because it was realism and I wanted to try something a bit different that would allow me to have a good emotional range. The script is about a young woman who becomes obsessed with a Youtuber and I could relate to that kind of character. There was some details in the original script that I needed to change. In the original, Jade is 30 and has a kid, but we aged her down to 25 as I am only 18.
Once I had chosen the script, Kate gave me some pointers for the performance:
Skills I wanted to develop with this mini project: Acting Skills
In this project I wanted to express the emotions of a character and do something that would allow me to really show my range. I also wanted to be able to use the monologue as an audition tape in future. Because I was focussing on acting, I asked Melanie to film and edit this mini project. Here is the final monologue I made.
After the video was finished, I asked Kate for some feedback and this is what she said:
Hey! I just watched it! You did a great job, I’m so impressed with what you pulled together in the time you had. You are a brilliant actor. I particularly like the way you delivered the line about the lipstick. The “for me” line. You should be really proud of this and should definitely try to carry on and try some acting in some form. In this video, you seem like a young person doing great acting and I hope all your teachers get to see this! It was so great when you got more animated when you talked about Sal’s first reply. You also do a good job of physically portraying what you are saying, like when you are rubbing your hands together as you say you are restless. I really hope you get some good support to act when you go to college! I’m really glad you had such a good experience with it. It was such a pleasure for me to see you performing it. Thank you for finally bringing this script to life.Feedback from Kate Whiteside, the writer of the monologue.
I was really pleased with Kate’s feedback. Now the challenge for me is to take the acting skills I developed while working with Melanie and Kate and put them into a film that uses my main skill of film making and editing.
Preparing for the New Work
I have lots of ideas for my movie but I wan’t to make sure they are exciting and full of tension so I did some research into story structure:
Research: Todorov’s Narrative Structure
Research: The Blaker Snyder Beat Sheet – Blake Snyder is a screenwriter who has written a book called Save the Cat which is all about writing films.
After looking at these narrative theories I planned my movie using a three act structure:
Close ups of my planning board:
I scripted some of the scenes but some of the scenes were improvised because most of my actors were teachers who didn;t have much time to learn lines, and students who have a bit of trouble reading and remembering. I gave them starter lines to get the scenes going though and told them what I wanted.
Every time I had an Arts Award session, me and Melanie made lots of notes on what I needed to do. they are kind of scruffy but I think this is probably quite realistic for an independent film.
I learnt how to make storyboards in my Silver Arts Award and it was a useful skill to return to in this project to get an idea of how the movie would come together:
Casting was really important. I needed people who were comfortable acting and being filmed but also people who could act well and take it seriously. These are the choices I made:
Crystal (main character who becomes a witch) – Kristin (student) I chose Kristin because she was keen to act in the movie and she has an innocent girly look. She also has acted and made movies of her own before in her GCSE Media Studies so I knew she would be a good actress.
Jennifer (bully, antagonist of Crystal) – Me, I wanted to play the bully to stretch my acting skills. I could use some of the skills I learnt with Kate here, like getting agitated and restless, and using physicality to get the meaning across.
Head teacher of Raven Academy – Melanie (my art teacher) – I thought Melanie would make a good head teacher because even though she is not strict, she can sound strict if she wants to. She used to work at Peckham Academy where she had to be strict. Also, she dresses in goth clothes sometimes so I knew she would have the right outfits!
Crystal’s mum – Fiona (my life skills and English teacher) – Fiona is a great actress and was good at emotional scenes. She takes my work seriously and really wanted to help me do the best job possible. Fiona has two children so she is experienced in being a mum who is cross!
Crystal’s dad – Barney (My DT teacher)-Barney is also a good actor and he looks like he could be Kristin’s dad because of his curly hair. Barney was good at seeming exasperated.
Extras – Cael (student), Alexey (teacher) – Alexey and Cael were happy to help with the movie and they were available when I was filming. Cael ended up with one line in the movie “who’s this weirdo?” which he delivered really well.
Extra camera operator – Prince, Prince is in my art class. He is a good actor but he was nervous and to be in the movie. I encouraged him to take part which was good for me because in Silver I was too nervous to ask people to be involved and Melanie had to help me. When Prince didn’t want to act, I asked him to film the scenes that I appeared in and he was really happy to do that.
Me and Melanie went for a walk round the neighbourhood and decided on the following locations:
- The Asylum Chapel – The Witch Academy – It looks impressive and there are lots of alms houses around it which could be where the students sleep.
- The kitchen at Treasure House – Crystal’s House – I needed to film inside Crystal’s House but this was hard because a school doesn’t look much like a house. Fortunately, we do have a couple of rooms that could work and the kitchen is one of them. Because we are a very small school, it is just like a normal kitchen.
- Treasure House Garden – The witch academy garden – We have tall plants and some really beautiful gothic arches in the garden. Our garden used to be condemned. It has been made safe now, but it still has a good look for a witchy garden. There are also red roses growing and we often get crows and ravens landing. One of the downsides of our garden is that we have chickens so I had to make sure they weren’t out while I was filming dramatic scenes.
- The streets around Peckham – The streets around Crystal’s House and the Academy
- Asylum Chapel – The inside of the church (we didn’t use this in the end)
- The estate behind the school – Crystal’s street and house
- Convenience Store opposite the Asylum Chapel – The convenience store – I had to ask the store owner for permission. At first he said no because one, he didn’t allow more than 2 school children in at a time, and two, it was Covid-19. My teacher talked to him though and eventually he agreed if we weren’t in for long and everyone except Kristin wore a mask.
For some of these locations, like the convenience store, and the asylum chapel, I had to ask permission before I could use them.
During filming we had lots of happy accidents. Happy Accidents are when something goes wrong in your art but it actually makes it better. Here are some of them:
- A baby raven was trapped in the school garden and teachers were helping him but his caws got recorded in my movie during a fight scene between the witches making it sound creepy and tying into the Raven Academy name.
- Blossom was falling during shooting and I could use it to make a magic reversal spell for Crystal by filming the blossom falling while she waved her arms and then reversing the film. I used reversal a lot as a special effect for magic.
- A black cat appeared during shooting and seemed to love Kristin which was great for the movie and helped us to get a really cute scene.
Creating The New Work
This is a making of video that we made half way through the project. I was working with Melanie all the time so she gave me feedback at every step of the way but this selection of clips shows some of the work I did early on and then afterwards you can see some of the feedback I was getting.
It’s good that you have done lots of takes of each scene so that there are lots of options.Feedback from Melanie.
Reflection from me: I’m glad we have a lot of takes so I can pick the best from each.
You do a good job of maintaining your facial expressions in the magical scenes, these will look so cool when edited.Feedback from Melanie
Reflection from me: It was hard to do this as I got the giggles!
Sometimes the background audio gets in the way (like the traffic when you sneak out of school) but you can remove the audio and add music in these scenes.Feedback from Melanie
Reflection from me: I learnt to do remove audio last year and it is quite easy
At the moment, everything looks very realistic, you can add filters and zooms in iMovie later to make it creepier.Feedback from Melanie
Reflection from me: I really like adding creepy filters, I guess the important part is to keep them consistent.
The voices are a bit quiet. We could try to reshoot some scenes. However, you also have a character that can read minds, so you could record the dialogue separately and edit it so it seems like they are in her head.Feedback from Melanie
Reflection from me: I wish we had a proper microphone at school but we don’t. I like this idea though.
The experimnent with magic works so well! You should definitely put this into the movieFeedback from Melanie
Reflection from me: I’m thinking of other effects to do as well
Your acting is brilliant and you are really displaying emotion well.Feedback from Melanie
Reflection from me: Thanks!
It’s annoying that you have background voices in the best take of Crystal arguing with her mum. Remember to ask people to be quiet before you start filming. Now that Kristin is not at school, you will need to use one of the other takes that wasn’t quite as good but you can work on this in post production.Feedback from Melanie
Reflection from me: I should of told them to be quiet or started again, but I didn’t realise at the time.
I really like the close ups of Fiona you have done, you can cut these in with the wider shots.Feedback from Melanie
Reflection from me: I might need help to do this cos I’m not sure how.
How I made the final movie
Once I had a lot of clips, I started editing. I went back and forth between filming and editing because I would start editing and then realise I needed more footage.
A list of all the things I did
- Planning and script writing
- Location Scouting
- Editing in iMovie
- Finding songs on youtube and asking school to download them
- More editing, adding special effects
- Voice recording for the telepathic special effects
- Reviewing the material with Melanie
- Reshoots and Reediting.
Before each shooting session I wrote a rough plan of what I needed that day:
I wrote notes like this for every scene. I planned what I wanted people to say for the recorded voice overs. Lots of scenes were improvised so I gave direction and then let people do what they thought was best.
As I was editing me and Melanie made notes about what needed to be done.
From Covid to poorly students to bad weather, there were lots of challenges in making this movie. Here are some we identified along the way:
There are only two Macs at my school with iMovie on. They are also the only two computers with Photoshop and Garage Band and all of the art and Media software. But there are a lot of students who need them. My film was on the same computer as Aidan’s Documentary, Cael’s Music video, and Prince’s graphic Manga designs. This is a problem because after the schools closed, we all wanted to work on them all the time. I overcame this problem in two ways. 1: I found a way to put the iMovie library on a memory stick so I could work on either Mac, I just had to remember to do this at the end of every session. 2: I worked on a schedule with the other students, so if Aidan was editing, I would do filming etc.
Half way through the project, my main actress, Kristin, stopped coming to school. She didn’t come back again until the end of term party on the very very last day. I didn’t know if she would be off for weeks or whether she would come back and I started to get worried as I kept postponing the shoots. First, I considered recasting the character of Crystal with my friend Jaz who is a good actress, this had some problems though, 1) Jaz was shy and not sure if she wanted to do it, she wanted to help but she was nervous, 2) I didn’t have time to reshoot the whole movie with Jaz as Crystal. Melanie suggested that as Crystal was a witch, maybe she could magically change her appearance, this is how I explain the fact that Jennifer’s hair changes in every scene, but I thought this would be awkward. In the end, we decided not to do this. Instead I solved the problem in two ways, I made the movie more about my character, Jennifer, adding an extra scene where she sneaks out of school to complain about Crystal, and I also added a “to be continued” text at the end of the movie, meaning it is more of a TV show with a continuing storyline than a full film. I think this worked okay but there were some scenes that I wanted to do to make it clearer that I ran out of time to shoot because I had been waiting for Kristin for so long. I know that this kind of thing can happen in real movies and I found out about the actress Judy Garland who often started a movie and then disappeared for months because of her mental health and had to be recast, so I know that this is something directors have to deal with. Also, sometimes actors die halfway through a project and it has to be re-edited. So I think this all made my project more realistic.
Sharing the Work
As part of my leadership project, I arranged an exhibition, magazine launch, private view party and prom for the end of term. I was the sole organiser of this event and you can see how I got in in my unit two. As part of the exhibition, I set up a screening of my movie, my monologue, and the movie I made for Silver Arts Award earlier in the year.
Here is the viewing station
I tried to set up a projector to show the movies but it kept breaking, so instead, I made a folder on the desktop called “PICK WHICH ONE TO WATCH!!!” and I put my movies and the other student movies like Aidan’s documentary and Cael’s music video in the file.
Lots of people used the viewing station during the event. Here is Barney (my DT teacher who played Mr. Diamond) watching the movie. Most of the students and teachers watched the movies during the party.
It was the last day of term that we had the party. So I asked my teacher, Melanie, to see if she could get feedback after the event by posting in the teacher’s Whatsapp group. These are the replies she got:
Here is my Final Movie!!!
Password is: SMAAsilver
My Evaluation of this project
I think I have evaluated this project a lot along the way on this page already. If you read the whole page, you can see my reflections on feedback and how I overcame challenges. Here are my thoughts, now that the project is over:
For Gold Arts Award, I made a film inspired by my favourite TV show, American Horror Story Coven. When I made films before, it was with an iPad but this time I wanted to be more professional so I filmed it using a Nikon DLSR (digital single lens reflex) camera and used iMovie to edit it together. I also wrote scripts, storyboards and an act structure. I was the director of the movie and I acted in it. My main skill is film making, and the new skill I wanted to learn was acting, to do this I worked with Melanie who is qualified as a drama teacher and Kate Whiteside who is a screenwriter friend of Melanie’s
Working with Melanie was helpful has helped me by doing by improvising with me and giving me opportunities to have a go at lots of different things. She is really good with technology and has lots of cool kit so I got the chance to sue professional level equipment and software. Melanie gave me feedback all the way through. She has been my arts award teacher since Bronze so she knows my strengths and weaknesses well. When I went to her in January and said I wanted to act even though she had never seen me act before, she supported me by finding lots of ways to practice acting. Working with Kate on the monologue helped me become better at acting, it was realism so I couldn’t rely on special effects. Kate gave me great advice and feedback that helped me with my performance. I was pushed for time with this project due to Covid, but I learnt that I can work well under pressures as I learned the lines and did all the acting for the monologue in just over an hour.
Watching other horror movies and TV shows helped me with this project because they helped me get an idea of what I was doing. I also had a bit of inspiration from those shows, especially American Horror Story.
The main challenges I ran into were that my main character was a absent for the second half of my time. I have written a lot about how I overcame this challenge above. I also had a bit of an issue with the computer which I explained above. I had a really specific idea of the music I wanted in the film, but I couldn’t get all the songs downloaded that I wanted. Melanie helped me find some and she also suggested some alternatives. Lockdown and Covid obviously played a huge part of it as well and was my major challenge. Last year, I had to finish of Silver Arts Award from home, this year I was able to get back to school but the problem was that I had hardly any time to finish the project once we were back and I am really pleased with what I achieved in the time.
If I could make this movie again, I would stick with one idea (bullying or witchcraft origin story). I would chose better locations and hopefully have more time to get permission from cool locations. I would have more characters and make the movie longer and complete. I would also like to use more advanced equipment, for example, a boom microphone that would pick up all the voices, and a way of making the special effects look more realistic.
The best part of this project for me was the acting and thanks to this project, I decided to do acting and performing arts when I leave Treasure House and will be starting a performing arts course in September. iIt was very cool to act and express my emotions. The editing was also fun and I liked choosing the colour scheme.
How I used my strengths
- Coming up with ideas and stories – This helped my to map out the movie on my three act board and come up with all of the ideas.
- Being scary – I think that there are lots of scary moments in my movie
- Aesthetics – My skills with aesthetics mean that the movie has a good universal look
- Special Effects in iMovie – There are lots of special effects, like reversal, low motion, transitions, and filters that add to the effect of the movie
How I improved on my weaknesses
- Too many ideas and not good at picking which ones to use – I managed to narrow my ideas down to just a main story and a B story, although I still think I probably wanted to fit more into the movie than I could actually do in the time.
- I was too nervous to act in my silver arts award movie movie – I totally changed on this, I had so many opportunities to act and I was much more confident with my acting. I even did a monologue where it was just me and the camera
- Direction of emotions in others – I was much better at directing people, I had a vision for the film and Melanie helped me at first but after a while she told me I had to explain the vision to the actors myself.
- Independence – I was in a bigger class this year and I had to spend a lot of time editing independently which was really good for me.