Initially, when I was signing up for LAMDA work placement I wanted to just help out. There were not enouth people on the team and I was just there thinking that every experience counts and I signed for it. After the first versions of the scripts were sent I really wanted to work on “Ghostlight” movie and one of the reasons was actually because it was supposed to be filmed in Northfolk – and I just really wanted to get away from London and the script was actually very funny. However, as LAMDA was not my major work placement and BFI clashed with the Ghostlight so I couldn’t doit anymore. However, Alekko, who was supposed to be an art director on “5-A-Side” and she was too busy to work on it really sho she asked me to replace her. And I did.
I sould be honest – I did not enjoy the pre-production stage of it. The script wasn’t ready untill the filming – I didn’t even get the final draft. The meetings with the director kept being cancelled last minute and the locations were not sorted… That was really tough and messed up.
However, I did have a great time while we were filming it – made some really good contacts with people, definitelly got some new experience and I love the acting!
Mustafa managed to find the main location – the pub and I really have no idea how! Michael, the pub owner, was so nice and he just closed the pub for us for whole sunday for free and this was amazing! We had to do some set dressing and set undressing. First saturday we were filming was the rugby championship (or something like that) day so we had to get rid of all the rugby stuff. And the biggest set dressing we had was setting up christmas decorations. It was not as much work as I thought it would be but I think it looked realistic on camera. We also had to do a lot of black outs for the film – most of the scenes were supposed to be hapening night time so we had to cover all the windows with black fabric.
I had to miss one shooting day though – monday as it the day we started BFI project and I had to be there but I came to check on props in the morning and came to see the filming of the football match scene and this was the funniest filming bit ever.
So that was the lat day for 5-A-Side and I went to work for BFI. But we did get a day off on thursday so I could help out with Rufus’ and Nia’s period film. They needed some help with set dressing and also some extras. For some reason I was one of the extras who was in shot all the time. And as it turned out dancing to jazz music without jazz music is super weird.
Another thing that I learned while working on LAMDA films was how to make fake alcohol drinks. Cola and water looks very much like wiskey, however for 5-A-Side we used apple juice which was ok, but I’d rather use tea for it. Unfortunately, one of the actors didn’t drink coffeine and we had to quickly improvise…
12th February 2016
by Evgenia Kalyabina 0 comments
On Monday 8th Namok and I went to meet our art director for the Goldsmiths project. She has been working with the director in our group already and she has a profecional experience doing the job therefore I was really looking farward to meeting her. We discussed quite a lot of things and she has an interesting idea about the general design for the placr and what is most important at this point – the lay out.
The problem that Louise and I kept having over the layout that the director wants is that it doesn’t work! Looking at everithing from the art department point of view, I mean. Marta (Art director) had the same issue as well. However she has introdued interesting idea about the “cross” theme within Beta’s Pod and Namok and I really liked the idea. So I promised that I’ll do a ScetchUp model of the space based on her sketch and I finally got my hands on it yesterday.
So that would be pretty much the space. Originally, the room would be less round but I was trying to base the panels on the standart size flats. The white crosses would be all covered with polestyrine and motherboards bits.
Last night I send all the designs to Aoife (the direcor) and she didn’t like the layout. Her argument is that it’s not based on the storyboard but I honestly believe that this works better. Marta’s (Art Director’s) idea of the layout is based on parallels and symmetry between the objects and so was my previous designs. Another aspect that I have to keep in mund is the size of the room – each panel is only 1.26 m wide so the room widest distance is 3 m – and Aoife keeps insisning on the uploading pod to be in the corner (Good thing is that this time I didn’t really have corners as wach panel is the same). Well, I guess I just have to do some more changes to the disign which is a pity because untill we agreed on the layout we can’t start building anything…
12th February 2016
by Evgenia Kalyabina 0 comments
This week was mostly dedicated to looking for buts and pieces that we could use for construction of the set. The thing is that we need to be really carefull with the budget because we only have 125 punds for the whole art department. Fortunately, one of the films for LCC collaboration project intculed some setw with motherboards so I asked Kate way before this week if I could possibly re-use some bits.
Plus Namok and I visited wimbledon startion car-boot sale on wednesday and bought some more broken tech. items and took them apart.
Plus, we went to scrapshop on tuesday and thursday and we were really lucky to find bits of polestyrine forms that we are planning to turn into a panels on the wall.
Oh and one of the most amazing this that we could find in scrapshop was this bunch of actylic (transparent plastic) rods and we have an idea about how we could use them. If we shine light (LED) on one end of the rod the light travels all the way through to the other and in a dark room it creates a very interesting effect.
And we also tried to do some painting tests and lay out tests with polestyrine forms and motherboards.
For the last week I was trying to fnish off the ScetchUp of Portiobello road I started doing earlier. I’ve made some more location survey a month ago and because of the LCC prioject and later Goldsmiths project I had no time to add the rest of the street to what I alredy have. Initial reason for the SketchUp model was so that I could use it to visualize my storyboard better. Halfway through I realised that I won’t be able to finish the model – so there is currently only half of the measurements and buildings that I alredy have, so I’m missing out some perspective but the place where the action takes place is of course still there.
Technically this is how the road actually look like. I did not have any measurement for the depths (shops windows, doors, etc) as I never actually change that – only dress the street. So, I started building typical New Orleans’ balconies and adding windows with shatters on top of the actual Portobello road.
When I first desided that this would be the road I’m filming the scene on, I particular liked the ‘Alice” building with the curved edge on the other side of the roas, however, while I was doing the location survey and taking pictures I grew really fond of the left side of the road and the perspective that it creates.
I also tried to improve the imagery by rendering the image. However, maybe because of my model being not fully finished and having almost no depth the rendering didn’t create the effect I wanted to see. I used LightUp and I din’t get how to create the light in there, well, I guess next time I’ll try something else.
So I finally started working on the storyboard and so far I’m half way through the scene, though, I have no idea how to do the fighting action scene. The main thing that I did was dressing the street with people and sometimes vehicles.
The first part is tecnically an introduction to the space and the atmosphere of the Mardi Gras celebration. There obviously should be some more details as decorations and fairy light on the street so the place looks more festive.
Next bit is intro to Capulet and Montague people – the thing starts with Capulet and the close ups like shoes, the clicking hand and a lauthing man are all about Capulet boys. I was trying to create an analogy between the music playing and the action foot/foot, hand/hand, head movement/lauthing switching between the band playing and the Capulet servants/friends of the family.
I couldn’t really do a proper zoom out – but ther should be a zoom out of the lauthing face to mid shot and further so the audience can actually see who are the main characters here. I coloured the Capulet buys red because of the extras just so it is clear who the camera follows around. Plus I should say that there were no narrative yet so technically the audience have no idea yet of what’s happening.
So Montague people appear in blue (it doean’t mean that they are wearing blue in reality, I was actually thinging of givving them more of a green/brown tint clotheswise – for man).
Today I spent the whole day working on the designs for the house of BETA 624 (robotic humanoid who becomes a part of a giant harddrive) with Louise and we are stuck… I missed the meeting with our filming crew and the director last friday due to the Costume show and today Louise filled me up on some ideas that the director had about how the things should be placed in the room. The biggest problem with it is that I think it just doesn’t work the way we want it to be and we were just trying to figure out how to make it work!
This weekend we actually went to do some research on the matter and we visited a Science Museum and there is a very interesting and, what’s most important, a relevant exhibition on a Soviet Cousmanauts and the beginning of spece travel. First sattelight, fisrt man in space, first space station. On our very first meeting with the director she mentioned that she wanted this kind of 20-th century science fiction look and this is tectically were all of the filmmakers of that time got their inspiration from.
What I was mostly looking at in the sceince museum was the textures rather then the construction. We found quite a few interesting examples that we could use for the design.
I was also trying to find some more relevant references in films and art.
I think this was the most interesting reference that I found yesterday – it is a colmuter watr colling system. I’m nor teally syre why it is glowing but it looks amazing. The thing is that in teh script we have this flurescent liquid that the character pours in her hand and there is actually no reason for that. And I think that could be it – the colling liquid. If she is a part of the harddrive she has to proceed lots of information and that would help her function. The problem with this one is that te director already had an idea for the counter with this machine and it would have to be really different from that. However I would really like to try to to something like that.
So, this was something that I was working on yeaterday
And here how the design looks after today’s collaboration with Louise
What I don’t like about it is the corner bit with the tube – it is suppose to be mail delivery machine. The problem is that both of us are sort of stuck on the matter. I just don’t like it and so far I have no ideas about how I can change that.
Last saturday I’ve finally watched The Revenant! I was really looking farward to watch it for a while not only because it is a movie Leo DiCaprio will probably will finally win the oscar for but because it was also made by last year’s Academy Award winner director Alejandro Inarritu (who’s film Birdman (2014) I absolutelly loved)! Well, I guess I was sort of comparing The Revenant to Birdman while I was watching it. What I can say is that a lot of shots are quite similar – long takes and there were some scenes (like the bear fight which I think will become iconic) when camera is in motion all the time and there are no cut. Surely that type of takes are really hard to do, and I understand that now after being on actuall set. I just kept asking myself – where the people are (camera crew, sound people, director himself)? Still a mystery to me.
Constant camera movement I think makes the audience be involved a bit more. It’s not like just watching a play in the theatre with 3 walls and the stage lights. The camera motion (especially in this film) gives the audience 360 angle and you can toatlly see everything. The other interesting thing that I think has broken the 4th wall was those effects on camera when it was getting to close to people with breathing visible and water drops on screen in the action scene.
The cinematographer must have had very hard time shooting this movie… I guess the camera was really sensetive too, otherwise some of the scenes would be simply impossible to shoot. I’m still thinking if those guys have actually used any artificial lighting of if everything was made using natural light sorces. I guess the main mistery to me are the scenes with the torches in the woods and the fire lighting up caves and dome-like places. Ever since the animation project last year I know how hard it is to lit a cave and where did the people fit again?
Quite a lot of shots were about nature. I think it’s not just the story about the survival of one man but also abot humans talikng over nature. The world must have been really tough that time. Wild animals, weather – it is almost unbelievable that places like that are still somewhere in the world. I really liked the locations chosen. The interesting thing about the camera angles and the nature is that if feels like the nature swallows humans, like it the main thing, the other character in the story. Usually, when you have a very low positioned camera and shoot people from below it means that the character is in power, that he takes over the shot. Here – the trees and hills are much higher than humans.
I was actually comparing this sort of National Geographic imagery and it’s usage within the film with the same (ish) ideas in Macbeth (2015) that I saw earlier this year. I really liked the nature and it’s usage in that one as well and I had a very interesting discussion about that kind of footage in Macbeth with Alekko before. After watching The Revenant I think I can agree that I feel a better connection between the characters and the universe they are living in in this film rather then the same thing in Macbeth. However, there are 2 different stories. But I see the point now.
Another type of shot that I really liked was sort of tilted angle on the action. As the camera is almost always in motion it was not the still type of shot either and it was usually used within the series of actions when it is really intence and it goes for quite uncomfortable close-ups and the emotions look even more intence. That is quite an unusual thing I think to have such angles.
The main colours are of course naturalistic with a cold blue/grey tint because the action happens over the winter time. However there is such an interesting feature in the film as flashback (plus couple of halucinations of the main character) which are of different colour and of different light effect. They have a distinct broun colour palette.
What I also noticed that there was no narration in the film. It is not like there was no voice-over though – there was some native american speaking (voice of Hue Glass’s dead wife) but all other emotions of the character were only exposed by the silent acting. I think that was beautiful. Again, only other comparisson (no comparisson at all to be honest) I can think about is Hunger Games series where there was no narrative either but I think the main acting has failed to expose all the ideas and emotions of the character…
And, some more beautifull stop-frames from the movie
This week I’ve started on working on some designs for the collaboration on the short film that we are doing with Goldsmiths MA student next month. I was really interested in the story I’m now working on. We had the Goldsmiths studens over at Wimbledon more then a week ago and so far we didn’t have a chance to meet them after that to talk about the concepts. I am as usuall being very ambitious and the first thing that came to my ming when I started thinking on the futuristic outa space station for human-like robots was the dome. I shared this idea with people and we just decided that it is too compicated to make in a day. And there would be some issues for the lighing as well… So we just decided to go in the other direction. However I can’t really get this of my mind and what I’ve been doing so far was trying to find the ways to cheat the perspective and the shape of the room.
So the presentation and the pitch of that particular script and idea were really good. I was looking at the script and the reference images the day before the Goldsmiths people came over and I was really hooked by that one. Reference pictures are so important. Visual representation is always better then just talking and that presentation had sime amazingly strong images. So, here some other ones that I found after, then I started to look for inspiration.
The thing is that even for the pictures that those guys put in their presentation there is always a ceileing. And, I think if you look at the Sci-Fi movies and the space stations and things like that there is always the ceiling, the shape of the room is more circular rather then rectangular so I guess that was why I was initially thinking that it could be nice to make a dome! The other thing actually is that the dericor wants a glass bubble on top of the room and the character climbing up there so it becomes like a private space. Well, I can totally imagine the shot for that and it would look beautiful but there is a bit of the challange here. Glass, buble, space… I think projection of the still image on the person and add the glass in post.
So, the references for this short production actually are: The Matrix, Wall-E, 2001 space odyssey. And, in general, the direcor wanted the whole thing to have a look of Sci-Fi made in 20’s, something like in a Blade Runner.So…
For this project we have 4 people in the art department. We didn’t really divided the roles and so far I think Louise and I were ‘the brains of the operation”. The other people in our team are Namok and Emily Louise. Emily wanted to help out with props (I think we should try to find as much free scrap material as possible so there is actually quite a lot of work on the matter) and Namok wanted to do some character design the part that I’m actually very happy to hand on to someone. So far I’m the only person who is free to work on this project pretty much full time starting now because I’m already finished with LCC collaboration. So we met up with Louise on monday (25.01) and discussed some ideas, referenced and she did this quick sketch on the matter.
And this is what I’ve been working from while doing quite quick SketchUp model
Today I’ve started to add some textures and working on colours. I don’t have any rendering programmes on my computer which is a shame because I truly belive that this type of set can only come alive with lighting. I actually tried to do that quick concept for the light on photoshop but still it’s not the best that I can do.
Anyway, none of the designs were yet discussed with the director and the producers so nothing’s carved in stone. I have no idea how they would react seeing those designs but I’m leaving it like that for now. We are meeting at Goldsmiths university on thursday morning though so the designs should be finalised by the and of this week I think.
It’s finally time to watch some oscar-nominated movies! As usuall, most of the films nominated for Academy Awards has just came out and it’s only a month left to watch everything!
Bridge of Spies wasn’t the movie I particulary wanted to watch to be honest. I don’t tend to like films about cold war and I have some reasonable prejudice towards films involving Russian Spies, but this film was amazing!
The thing I like the most I guess was cinematography and especially street lighting. There some references to film noir movies with really strong shadows and contrasts when you see the figue being completely balck and of course it is an iconic image of the man in the long coat with a hat (and umbrella in this case).
The other thing I couldn’t really figure out while watching the film was if the int scenes were shot on location or not. The windows and the light which was comming in from outside didn’t dive me a clue. Such a beautiful trick – the glass on the windows is not transparent in any scene and the general glow is magical – very stylized white blur.
I was subconsiously comparing the shots in this film to the Greedy pig ones (LCC collaboration I was working on recently) and the camera angles and the composition of the shots is absolutelly brilliant! I love the symmetry and balance.
And I finally found a film where the research on the Soviet Union was done properly. The interrogation room and the prison cell where the USA spy Powers was held are so very well made. The costumes on the matter and the portraits in the Russian Ambossy in Berlin – I believe in those. Usually, I don’t. But here – I totally see the amount of research! So happy about it. And the camera angles and light again – brilliant. Totally got the best of the spaces.
And the other thing about the film – there are some actual Russian actors! I’m really happy about that.
From my recent experience on Greedy Pig I can also say that I started to appreciate the props and the set dressing much more. As well as continuity. It is indeed much harder to keep an eye on that it seems. There was a lot of set dressing involved in most of the scenes in the film. And the items are so beautifully detailed.
Due to lectures on Unit 7 we were able to come to LCC only in the evening and we had quite a few things to work out still. Our production designer was really worried about the seems between the flats being really visible and we decided to use gum tape to cover those and then we would have to re-paint the seems and we run out of paint! So we couldn’t do it that evening and the next day the set was to be filmed – ther was a lot of pressure and we just had to be very quick next morning.
Ok, the other thing we did that day was putting the carpet to cover all the floor – I’m not really sure how that carpet was looking on camera in the end, it wasn’t perfect in my opinion, but still better then using the actual studio floor though.
The other thing we had to deal with the last minute was the lettering which Adele (the director) insisted on. I personally think that the lettering stating that the room in the Greedy Pig Show reception room had to be there from the very beginning of the design because it would make sence! Well, for some reason Rufus thought that this woudn’t work and was refusing to think about making the sign untill that last day. Fortunatelly we had one more flat we already recovered from plaster which was much smaller than the actuall wall flats so we painted it black, adding black laser cut letters (I’m still wondering why it had to be black on black)and drilled some holes we could fit fairy lights in (behind the letters) so they would be visible.
I was actually very surprised of how the whole set looked by the end of the day as it finaly started to come together after 4 days of work.
Friday 22.01 Finishing the reception room set and dressing Adele’s flat
The very first thing that I had to do in the morining was painting over the seems once again. Making gradiend once again wasn’t really that hard to be honest. The problem this time was actually that the colour of the new pod of paint we bought was more like dark grey rather then black and we had to paint over some bits of the wall so it wasn’t that obvious.
We put the lamshades that I previously made on the walls and Rufus and Virginia (our production designer from LCC) placed the furniture.
The lights actually made the place come alive. I don’t really know how the whole place worked on camera because I was not present for the filmimg that day because Alekko, Sara, Virginia and I went to Adele’s flat where the next fiming was to take place next day.
So, noone from our Art Department team liked Adele’s flat. That place is very depressing and small. It was not easy to work there. I was really lost when we were doing that. The thing is that I don’t think that everytning was organized properly when it came to bringing things to the flat. We just had to deal whith what was there and noone actually thought that that is the best location for the scene (however, from the very start Adele kept insisting on Rupert’s flat in the script being based on her flat). Well, I have mixed feelings about set dressing now. Either this is not the job for me or it was just that particular set I din’t know what to do about.
So pretty much that was it…
And this is what we tried to do with it…
Saturday 23.01. Back to LCC. Building TV studio, props.
What we were doing that day was pretty much improvising. The TV studio set was supposed to have 2 chairs (presentor’s and Rupert’s) with 3 TV screens behind it. The props that we needed for the actual show were the trolley with the blow torch machine, maggot lasagna, tray and the gasoline tank to actually burn the dog in the end. So, the screens were made of green screen fabrick stretched on stands we painted black. We also had to finish making the machine and borrowed some wires and bought some tape (seems to be solution to everything!) and we just played around with the construction.
Sunday 24.01 On set
On staurday we were kicked out of the studio at 5 so we could not finish the set and we had to do it really quickly on sunday morning. The green screen fabric we cut for the screens was really creased and I was the persom who did the ironing that morning. Then we rolled out the carpet again to cover the studio floor that we had not time to clean before. Some more problem solving – the green fabric didn’t stretch properly so we had to come up with ideas of how to flatten it quickly.
We did some finishing touches on the torture trolley figuring out the lay out for the instrument on the trolley and adding some more wires to it.
I guess the funniest thing that day was to keep an eye on our special stars of the show – maggots. The day before Alekko and I bought them form the fishing shop and it turned out that they have to be kept refrigerated so 2 containers of maggits spent a day in our fridge.
There was a lot of work to be done for that scene. The person who played a homeless guy in the scene was really convincing spitting lasagna (of course a good one, cold, but real) which we (art department) had to clean up before next take. Well, actually, I think that the most weird thing that I had to do in my life happened that day – when I had to tie Andrew (the actor) down with leather straps and chains. Generally, turned out that the Art Department on set acts more like slaves in a funny way as it was always – “Art dept, clean it”, “Art dept, fix it”, “Art dept, make that happen”. It was interesing.
And at the end of the day I replaiced Janka trying to keep an eye on continuity but I think I failed. The thing was that the actors changed the script the last minute and were mostly improvising in the scene with the dog. I was absolutely lost and I don’t really think that that script change was working. The stand-by job turned out to be much harder than I expected. Janka was really good at it though and I’d love to work with her on set in the future as I think I can learn so much from her on the matter.
So we spent last 3 days building the reception room at LCC Black box studio which included (or should I say must have included) painting the flats and putting them all up. However, instead of having standart size clean flat we were given really horrible ones (completel different sized flats with weirdly cut holes right in the middle) which were covered in plastic brick sheets that were stapled down with million (and I am not even kidding, million) staples. Most of the flats were incredibly heavy and wet (as they were kept outside) so it wasn’t easy to recover those.
What we had to do with the flats was:
rip off the brick sheet/rip off the wall paper
take out all the staples (if possible) one by one/wet the paper left overs, rip those off
sand down standing out bits
recover the wholes in the flats
smooth down the seems with pollifiller
sand the recovered seems down
paint the gradient (black – red)
put the walls up
repaint the gradient
However those 3 days were not only about the flats. I finised the lapshades for the reception room that I was working on since last week on sunday. The edges, however, are not perfect and I think I might touch them up a little bit with some paint on the side while they are on the wall so I know f we even be able to see the flaws.
The other thing Alekko and I were working on since the weekend were the laps that are to stand on the reception desk at the back with quite unusual and unstable triangular structure. The thing is that Rufus initially planned to use red fabric for the lampshades but he bought the cheepest type (and I don’t really think that he thought that much about how that particular type of fabrich, not strechy one would work for the purpose) and we spent a lot of time on weekend trying to work it out with what we got. However, the shade just looked like a giant sock and was really unstable and it didn’t strech so we decided to get our own material as thin paper (sort of that is used for chineese lanterns) and do something with it. So, this is what we got in the end and, we only made 2 sides as we figured that you wouldn’t even see the third side and it would actually block the easy access to the bulb, the switch, the wire and it would be hard to carry and it worked perfectly in the end!
So this how the lamp shades look like when we tried to use the fabric.
This is what they look like finished.
The other thing that we had to practise during last 3 days was problem solving. Because of the horible flats we are a bit behind the schedule for the other props for the other scenes like the torture chair for the homeless guy when he is force fed while being stiped down (chained as we actually thought it would look much more cool like that), or mechanical blowtourch device for swastica being burned on the main protagonist’s chest… So… We actually got a medieval -looking chair on monday and we bought 3 metres of chain on tuesday for the torture chair. We still need to figure how to attach that to the chair itself and we still need some small bits for the feet to be tight down as well and I think we are finishing that bit tomorrow.
For the blow tourch machine we are still in progress (meaning we still have no clue of how to make it, we’ll be figuring it out tomorrow morning) but we created a trolley with the torture devices that would add some history of violence and horror to the show. Some of the bits on that trolley will be the tool we are actually using and some of them will be especially made torture devices that are actually fun to work at…
And the other thing that I was working on during monday and tuesday was varnishing the marble desk. I know it’s not good for cinematography to have shiny reflective objects on camera but it is marble and this is how it looks like! I strongly believe that it should look quite realistic when it’s properly lit…