Transcript of 'Video 2 – Using film language to tell a story '


My name is Genevieve Clay-Smith and I'm a writer, director, and producer.

There's a famous quote in filmmaking that says, "Write what you know."

Generally, I've found that to be true. Write what you know. It's how you're going to create an authentic story that you can actually create within your means.

So if something that you are passionate about has to do with life as a teenager, then maybe write about that. Is it bullying? Is it stuff around social media? Start with things that you know about because you can easily write about those and ideate an idea for a film that's within your means, and that's actually really meaningful to you.

For me, I've always come to script writing with an idea around filmmaking and social justice going hand in hand.

So I generally write films that deal with issues that I'm really passionate about. That's to do with disability, discrimination, prejudice, human rights, lots of those issues that I find really important to talk about.

When I come to writing a script, I always want to look at how I can create it in the most simple form, how I can use what's within my means successfully so that I'm not spending heaps and heaps of money on trying to make a film.

So, always work within your means. When you are writing your film and trying to keep it short, a good rule of thumb is to remember that one page equals one minute.

So, if you have a 5 page script you have a 5 minute film, essentially. That doesn't take into consideration some things like if you decide to write in some dance sequences, for instance. Dance and movement that is written in the description, or also known as the big print of the script, can actually make your script a bit longer. But the general rule of thumb is a minute a page. So, if you have a 5 page script, you have a 5 minute film.

You can get a free script writing software called Celtx and that will help you to ensure that you are writing your script in the correct format. So, I'm going to give you a brief overview of what goes into making a short film from scripting through to some of the essential things you need to consider when making a short.

Short films have a different structure to feature films and television.

They are short. The most optimal length is 7 minutes and with the right structure, a lot of story can be achieved in a short amount of time.

Now, for you guys, you need to make your short film in under 5 minutes.

Generally, short films have 2 acts. A problem and a miracle. The audience is presented with a problem and they are hooked by a dramatic question. They are engaged by this question through the film until the problem is solved with a miracle, or a surprise, or a twist. Character transformation usually occurs, but not always.

In the film, The Wait, for instance, the film ends without any character transformation, but the twist or the surprise at the end makes the audience more aware about the impact of dementia and Alzheimer's disease on family members. In the film, The Interviewer, character transformation occurs as well as a surprise for the audience.

I'm going to chat to you a little bit aboutmise-en-scène. When I make a film, I always think about how I will use the elements ofmise-en-scène.Mise-en-scèneis a French word which basically translates to 'the place in the scene'.Mise-en-scèneis made of the following elements.

The space within the frame. Where are the characters, what's around them? What is happening in the production design of the film that tells us about who these characters are and what they're going through emotionally?

Think props, the colour of the walls or the sky.

How am I going to place items and colours in the space of the scene that will give audiences signals about who the characters are and what they might be feeling?

A very easy example of this is set a romance scene on the beach at sunset. The warm fiery colours of the sky speak of passion and love. The crashing waves speak of intense emotion. You get the idea.

As well as space, we also want to think about costume and makeup. How are you going to dress your characters? What does what they wear tell us about them? What does the makeup tell us about them? So much can be said through costume and makeup. Performance is another element ofmise-en-scène.

Think about how the performance of your actors is going to help tell the story. What can they say with their body language and expressions without having the actors state their feelings, their flaws and their strengths?

Always show, don't tell.

Filmmaking is a team effort. While the director steers the ship, they work closely with the heads of department to realise their creative vision. These heads of department are in charge of different elements of themise-en-scène. While the director oversees their decision making and signs off on their ideas, the production designer is responsible for the space around the actors, the props and the colour palette of the film.

The costume designer and key makeup artist work together to create the looks of the characters in consultation with the director and in harmony with the colour palette of the film. The costume designer helps bring the characters to life via their appearance, working closely with the hair and makeup team to achieve this. The director and the actors work very closely together.

The director works with the actors to achieve performances that are dynamic and engaging, and like I said earlier, that show what's happening rather than telling the audience directly what's going on.

The cinematographer, also known as a DOP, or Director of Photography, is responsible for shooting the film and lighting the film sets. They work closely with the director to work out the best look for the film and the best way to capture the images of the film and shoot it. They're in charge of all the camera gear and the entire electrical department.

[End of transcript]

Last updated: 18 November 2022