A further collection of images from my latest short film – The Lighthouse Keeper. One of the most difficult shots to film was the boat scene, I went through a few different iterations of cutouts with varying levels of successes and failures. I originally tried to use the same cutout of the man from the previous scenes but I wanted this scene to be fairly wide angled to show a lot of the landscape as the man moves towards the lighthouse. I had to make a new cutout of our hero about one thirds the size of the original and get it just right as the weight from the LED light and lantern on the right meant that it was heavier and in previous attempts warped the paper and flopped the boat downwards – making it difficult to move across the screen. A nice surprise that happened with this scene is when the cutout was slightly further away from the stage, the blue LED lights lit below bled onto the boats undercarriage and helped allude to water. Another scene that was difficult was the pinnacle moment when the Hero lights the lighthouse with his lantern… the amount of times I filmed this because the characters arm was ripped off because of the weight of the LED is something I don’t want to mention – it actually was disemboweled a few frames after what is shown, but you would never know that.
The first group of stills from my latest short film – The Lighthouse Keeper. Originally the colour of this film was going to be all warming sepia tones coupled with inky blacks, I found this lovely textured brown packing paper thrown amongst the pile of amazon boxes and discarded clothes in the store room of our house, after sticking the packing paper onto the picture frame that would become the stage and lighting it from behind – I soon realised that the paper was too thick and the resulting black silhouettes were not as prominent as I liked, I needed the paper to be thin enough and the light to be strong enough that you could see some elements within the distance of the protagonist, to show more depth but also show that he is moving from a variety of different landscapes. I ended up using white grease paper and as for the colour changes I bought a strip of LED lights for previous long exposure experiments that ended up working well with the grease paper so a lot of the colours chosen for pinnacle parts in the film are meant to bring the viewer deeper into the psyche of the protagonist using colour theory.
Truth be told when I decided I wanted to make a short film for this kick about regarding the strange landscape of Dungeness and Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage and garden I was feeling rather blue when the idea came to me. I don’t know why I sometimes torture myself when I feel sad, but the melancholy song that brings tears to my eyes entitled Twice by one Swedish group I admire called Little Dragon was playing in my head on a loop. A lot of the scenes from The Lighthouse Keeper are inspired by the gorgeous music video which can be seen here. The original story for The Lighthouse Keeper was a lot more melancholy, coinciding with how shit I felt, but I couldn’t accomplish it with just two hands and would have needed an assistant to help me with puppeteering the characters. While sitting on the idea for a while I decided to change the story to a more uplifting one so that I could accomplish it, and I think it turned out a better one.
I then abandoned this project for some time. The stage has been looming behind me for far too long as focusing in on perfectionism of the sets, lights, and movements of the characters felt relentless, trying to delve into a different medium one that is hands on and one that I can’t delete away mistakes was at times really testing. I really wanted the film to be as analogue as possible and for everything to be shot in camera, but realising it was an impossible approach and that I would have to rely on trickery done right to look like it was all in camera was the right methodology and ended up as a far more enjoyable experience. I leaned on newer technology as well as predeceasing technology that old films did so well.
A lot of behind the scenes footage has been filmed of what went into the making of this short film but I think I would rather let it be and not ruin the magic by showing how it is done… or showing the many instances where the stage toppled off the table, or when the characters arm flew off, or when my fan for the weather scene took everything along with it. Dismantling the stage, folding the grease paper, popping the many tools and props into jars and putting the little characters to rest in neat folders feels nice but in an odd way as there is something so unique and cherishing about finishing a film that you made with your hands, my bedroom certainly feels a lot roomier now that the stage is no longer.
When I seen the prompt for Kick About #40 over on reds Kingdom I wanted to see if it was possible to make an animation using the same analogue technique of scraping patterns into black painted glass and using the magic of long exposure to produce a time-lapse of images to see the growth of each burst of light. It was possible – however my original efforts were undesirable and left things a bit muddled. Instead I tried to opt for something simpler by taking photos of each glass setup in pin prick focus and another in a diluted blur to then sandwich both the images next to each other so that a burst of light pops with a simple hard cut in the edit.
I wanted to mimic the life force of a firework display and have the festivities start off slow to gradually bubble to a climax before the the lights fade and the sound of people are no longer completely drowned out. Truth be told I made things harder for myself by shooting each image in 4K and was left scratching my head as to why it was originally painfully slow to edit this short film, by changing the resolution of each image to something my laptop could handle and reimporting, it was a complete joy to edit further. It was the kick in the arse I needed to get on with things and to remember the joy of seeing a short film through its end, lets make it on time for the next one.
Some great news today – Pools created in response to the Kick about on Reds Kingdom has been nominated in the Human-Environment category with The International Human Environment Care Film Festival in the Heart Of Pickering, Canada. The International Human Environment Care Film Festival has a special interest and preference in submissions that speak about the conservation of our planet as it reads “it is our belief nature is the mother of life, and its importance is undeniable. We wish to watch more films commemorating the value of the environment and nature. Films that speak on behalf of nature. Today environmental protection is the biggest challenge of humankind and we hope films can contribute to this challenge.”
Pools was discovered deep with the caverns of the forestry in Ireland where it was filmed and I may not be done with the footage and photography just yet, a recent wave of inspiration ignites the feeling of diving back in..
Some good news today – Pools created in response to the Kick about on Reds Kingdom has been nominated in the experimental category and will be screened with 7th Siding Festival of Film. The 7th Siding Festival of Film has a special interest and preference in submissions that are ‘Rural’ and or remotely produced locations outside of urban centre’s. Films are exhibited in 4 venues in Creston, including the single screen art deco style Tivoli Theatre first opened in November 1938!
I have decided to give the short film Pools that was created deep within the forest a bit of a revamp. Since I had been mucking about with the photography taken where Pools was filmed and really liking how rich the colours ended up I wanted the film to reflect this more so I dialled the photoshop modus operandi to translate over to premiere and balance alongside the edits of the photos. Colour Grading is an untouched realm for me, I have never really delved into the colour editing user interface within Premiere pro or Davinchi Resolve but after jumping in with this edit I can see myself oohing and ahhing at the capabilities of different tones and moods that any different grade can accomplish. Although proving difficult to choose only one I went through a lot of different colour varied iterations and landed on this one which I think is a nice mix of the cooling blues and fiery reds that flourished from the photos.
This weeks kick about prompt over at Reds Kingdom being the art, life and times of the Austrian painter, Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez, and with it inspired an experience I had when I returned to the forest this past winter. I happened to come upon a small trench like lagoon deep within the caverns of the forest where the snow above was melting and gently plopping into the lagoon. The lagoon was shallow meaning I could see the dirt, grasses and flowers filtering about in the water with the slightest movement. The glare of the crispy winter sun projecting shadows of the spruces and firs, lighting certain areas of the undergrowth in a vibrant red, the trees and shrubbery being reflected upon the water causing a mandala of colours to be refracted and ripple as snow drops fell from above.
Experiencing this was one of most pleasurable tranquil experiences I have ever had. I sat and watched this private show for a long time and felt as though time had frozen along with my hands. I pressed record on my camera and although I didn’t have a tripod which meant for some shakiness It was an absolute pleasure to edit this film and with it I have attempted to capture that feeling of complete tranquility. The song by Kris Keogh entitled “We Were Gone Further Than Forever” transported me back to that tranquil meditative state again, with sections feeling like time moving, flowing and reversing, correlating full circle to an eco system of nature where everything becomes one with the earth again.