Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Location and Casting


The location of your film is vitally important to the tone of genre of your film. Professional location managers work very hard to make sure that a filming location is perfect for filming well in advance of filming taking place.

Things you need to consider:

Are you legally allowed to film where you want to film?
Are there any other access restrictions? (Dates, times, permissions etc.)
Is it safe to film here?
Is it physically possible to achieve what you want to achieve at this location?
Does it suit the genre of the film?
Is it interesting enough?
Will lighting be an issue?
Is it a public thoroughfare?
Is there a lot of road traffic nearby?
Will noise be an issue?

There are a lot of things that could potentially hamper your shoot. Poor location research is likely to be one of them. Make sure you can answer all of these questions in your post and can provide photographic back up where possible/necessary.

Casting is a stressful process for productions companies and for the actors. You will need to consider the following:

Availability - you are totally dependent on your cast. If they don't show up you can't film. Make sure that you have contact details and pre-arranged times and locations booked in. Do not leave anything here to chance.

Screen Testing - In the past AS students have included video screen tests of their actors reading a few lines of the script. This is generally a good idea and will give you more to post to your blog about.

Any actor will have a portfolio of "head shots" for your casting director to peruse. The attached web site explains some of the expected conventions.


You might like to add your own head shots to your blog and then describe why you have made each of your casting decisions. Be prepared to justify your choices in terms of the following:


Audience Research

Target audience research can tend to be a little limited, but it is a vital area that many of you can improve by trying to go beyond the basics of simply stating your target audience to trying to add much further depth.

Some tips:

Audience research companies main manner of breaking down audiences is as follows:
Older males (&gt;25) Older females (&gt;25) Younger males (<25 data-blogger-escaped-females="females" data-blogger-escaped-younger="younger">
Some of the giant blockbusters (James Bond, Harry Potter, some Pixar films) attempt to be 4 quadrant films- films that appeal to all 4 of these different groups. Most other films will attempt to specifically target 1 or 2 of these quadrants.

Your starting point should be to identify which of the quadrants would appeal to and why, exploring things such as your genre and theme.

Other things you may wish to consider is whether your film would appeal to a large, mainstream audience or more of a specialised, niche audience.

2. Who is the target audience for the films you looked at when looking at Influences?

While this overlaps slightly with your Influences, you can point out the appeal of certain similar existing films that have appealed to the same sort of audience you are going for. One way to try to 'prove' this is to use the IMDB to look at audience votes and the differences between age group and gender. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1392170/ratings is an example from 'The Hunger Games'. If you are planning for your film to be similar to this, you could make your point more convincingly about who the film is for and equally, who the film is not for. PLEASE NOTE: You should pay more attention and spend more time analysing the average score rather than the number of votes, as clearly males are just slightly nerdier and spend more time voting for films.

3. Are there any other audience groups that your film may appeal to?

While it is good to identify your main target audience in terms of age and gender, your film may also have a more specific appeal. For example, Tyler Perry's Madea film franchise is not particularly well known here, but in America the films make tens of millions of dollars, drawing out a huge crowd of African-American audience members but very few white Americans.

4. What other 'niche' factors could be considered about how you might appeal to an audience?

It is worth consulting the http://industry.bfi.org.uk/exitpolls and looking at some of the Excel documents (so this may not work on the MAC computers) for reasons. For example, 25% of people who were asked about the appeal of stated that it had to do with the use of London (and New York) locations (see below). This will help you in terms of looking for more obscure and interesting reasons why your film may appeal.

5. What different 'tribes' of youth may be especially interested in your film?

The website uktribes.com provides a fantastic service in exploring the different types of youth audiences. This can especially useful in terms of judging the kind of 'attitude' that your audience may have.

6. Would your film be limited to a UK audience or might it have a global appeal?

Even though it was Oscar nominated and starred Brad Pitt, 'Moneyball' was only released in select cinemas in the UK. The reason was fairly simple: it revolved around baseball.

The reverse is also true: while having some success in the UK, Anuvahood went straight to DVD in America. It was felt that an urban story quite specific to the UK that parodied other British 'urban themed' dramas that were released straight to DVD in America was never going to have a big appeal.

You need to think about your own production and realistically assess whether the story would be 'universal' or something specific to British audiences?

7. What limitations are there on your production?

Too often with AS blogs, candidates imagine that an audience would magically come to see their film. It would be interesting to consider aspects like the fact that your film is British (traditionally means a struggle at the box office- see http://www.bfi.org.uk/filmtvinfo/stats/BFI-Statistical-Yearbook-2011.pdf)that your film will have no stars (traditionally seen as being important for box office) and to explore how these kinds of factors are going to effect the difficulties in getting people to see it and how you are looking to 'combat' against this. (e.g. Genre or Critical Acclaim).

It is worth noting that the mark scheme explicitly addresses the need to have a clear target audience- these questions are to provide some guidance as to how you might achieve a Level 4 rather than be prescriptive.

Monday, 11 February 2013

25 Word Pitch

You are required to write a pitching sentence in 25 words. 


Here is an example for Wonka.

"Everyone wants the secrets of the reclusive Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but only one courageous boy will get them during a wild and hilarious adventure."

Now its your turn!



For your film opening we will need a treatment for the story, which sells the story and explains the context of the opening sequence.

What Is a Treatment?

A treatment is a two to five page document that tells the whole story focusing on the highlights. 

How To Write a Treatment

This two to five page document should read like a short story and be written in the present tense. It should present the entire story including the ending, and use some key scenes and dialogue from the screenplay it is based on.

What Should Be in the Treatment?

  1. A Working title
  2. The writer's name and contact information
  3. A short logline
  4. Introduction to key characters
  5. Who, what, when, why and where.
  6. Act 1 in one to three paragraphs. Set the scene, dramatize the main conflicts.
  7. Act 2 in two to six paragraphs. Should dramatize how the conflicts introduced in Act 1 lead to a crisis.
  8. Act 3 in one to three paragraphs. Dramatize the final conflict and resolution.

The Three Act Structure

Act 1, called the Set-up, The situation and characters and conflict are introduced. This classically is 30 minutes long. 

Act 2, called The Conflict, often an hour long, is where the conflict begins and expands until it reaches a crisis. 

Act 3, called The Resolution, the conflict rises to one more crisis and then is resolved.

Logline example

And Then Came Love is a character-driven romantic comedy about a high-powered Manhattan single mom who opens Pandora's box when she seeks out the anonymous sperm donor father of her young son.

Production Context

You will need to think about what production company your film is 'made' by...

Do you create your own logo and make it a back to basics 'Indie' film?

Do you go with an existing independent studio? 

Do you try to make a blockbuster hollywood style opening? Like Warner? 

For all these questions you will need to research and find what fits your idea best. You will need to say how the choice of production company will effect the style and feel of your opening sequence.


What is an Opening Sequence?

Using your research to date, define what an opening sequence of a film is and looks like. 

You should look at...

Presentation of titles 
Order and importance of titles
Narrative structure
Genre codes
Conventions (& also unconventional)

The ultimate question here is...

What does a typical opening sequence look like?


Friday, 1 February 2013


Having looked at various opening sequences of your choice, it is crucial that you find additional sources of influences that are more interesting/ personalised for you. At this stage, you are looking to focus on:

(1) influences in terms of genre

(2) influences in terms of opening structure (i.e. title sequence, enigmatic sequence)

(3) influences in terms of style/'look' (e.g. camera shots, titles)

Again, these should be shown on your blog with visual elements included (stills from the opening of the film or at least posters). Discuss why the images, videos, songs, influence you and how you might incorporate the ideas in to your own projects. Again, find interesting ways of presenting this post.


For your opening sequence, the precise storyline is not assessed. However, a poor storyline often will make it a struggle for you to obtain the higher marks in your production.

While we will focus on more specific aspects of storyline next week, one way to assist the process of coming up with a suitable story is to do a mood board.

A mood board is a poster that consists of images, bits of text, objects or anything else that may convey ideas of design for a project. It is used by many people within different creative occupations in order to begin to get ideas of the tone and look that they wish to bring into their projects.

You will need to design some kind of mood board in order to ensure that your story ideas are not just guided by a one-sentence story but also informed by a visual style you want to incorporate. Each group member should do this separately to allow for an exchange of ideas. Below are two examples of the kind of thing we are xpecting to see. You can experiment with ways of presenting your storyboard. Interactive storyboards using prezi or even video will show that you are thinking more creatively.