264MC – Week 4

We pitched both of our ideas in our production meeting, and the lecturers helped us decided which we should take forward from this point. There were also a few issues with the storyline, so we have also changed a few details. Below is the outline of the story, which we will now turn into a synopsis and script.

Homeless man watches house > breaks in, we see family are on holiday > goes in search of clothes > opens wrong room (sons room) > gets the clothes bag from main bedroom > sees a photo with eyes scratched out > goes back into sons rooms > leaves same photo, from his pocket (his copy of it) (audience realise he is the son in the photos father).

First Assistant Job Research:


The First Assistant Director (1st AD) is the Director’s right hand person, taking responsibility for a number of important practicalities so that the Director is free to concentrate on the creative process.  During pre-production, First ADs break down the script into a shot-by-shot storyboard, and work with the Director to determine the shoot order, and how long each scene will take to film.  They then draw up the overall shooting schedule (a timetable for the filming period).  Once the film is in production, Firsts are in charge of making sure that every aspect of the shoot keeps to this schedule.

First ADs’ main duties are assisting the Director, co-ordinating all production activity, and supervising the cast and crew.  Overall, they provide the key link between the Director, the cast and the crew, whilst also providing regular progress reports about the shoot.

When drawing up the shooting schedule, First ADs must also be aware of budgetary constraints, cast availability and script coverage.  Preparing the storyboard, overseeing the hiring of locations, props and equipment, and checking weather reports, are all key pre-production duties for Firsts.  During production, they must ensure that everyone is on standby and ready for the Director’s cue for action.

First ADs’ core responsibility is to keep filming on schedule by driving it forward, so they frequently make announcements and give directions to co-ordinate the cast and crew.  They also control discipline on the set, supervise the other Assistant Directors, and oversee the preparation of the daily ‘call sheet’ (a document detailing daily shooting logistics, which is distributed to all cast and crew).  Firsts are also responsible for health and safety on set or location, and must take action to eliminate or minimise hazards at all times.

First ADs must be authoritative team-leaders and motivators, whilst also being approachable team players.  They need exceptional organisational and time-management skills.  The ability to plan ahead, trouble-shoot and pay close attention to detail is vital in this role.  Being an excellent communicator, with tact and diplomacy skills, is also essential as they must routinely deal with problem or even crisis situations.  They must also constantly prioritise tasks, and may be frequently interrupted, the ability to multi-task is crucial.  Firsts work long and often unsocial hours on a freelance basis, so a strong commitment to the job is essential.  As they also usually work under highly pressurised and stressful conditions, a flexible and positive approach is highly valued.


264MC – Week 3

After pitching our idea and receiving some valuable feedback, we had a meeting with our lecturers, they suggested we think through our idea more as there are a few plot holes, so we went to the pub to brainstorm. We came up with 2 more ideas, these were:

Idea 1 (Jake):

A father and son are playing in a wood/playground/beach. They are playing, having fun and doing things that boys do. The little boy starts to ask odd questions like, where is mummy, when can we go home etc. At the end of the film, we hear a news piece about a missing child, who was taken by his father. We realise this is the child in the news piece and the child was taken without his mother saying so.

Idea 2 (The letter):

A homeless man breaks into a house, he hunts for food and valuables and in doing so, comes across a letter written by a child. The letter touches the homeless person, and he scribbles a response on the other side. He leaves the letter in the boys room, kisses him on the head and leaves. We realise he broke into his own house and the letter was written by his son to him when he was serving in Afghanistan.

We have decided to take both ideas forward, because one is a bit trickier then the other and we don’t want to have to go back to the drawing board if this idea falls through.

Once we had our brief outline of each idea, I looked into father and son short films.

https://vimeo.com/18482493 – Psalm from Jack Coleman (Dur 4:50).  This was about a young boy growing up. We see a lot of toddler footage of him and his dad, they are having a great time together. This then merges with what I assume is the present day, the boy is alone and visits a grave, we realise his dad must have died. His dad was wearing war uniform at the beginning so he must be in the army and died serving. I liked the raw footage of the toddler, giving it the home video feel. It was warming and no dialogue was used in the whole of the short, which I think is pretty impressive. The story came across clearly, so I will watch this again when we start looking into our script for ways to show our film instead of tell it.

https://vimeo.com/52403882 – Let Go from emirerbes (Dur 8:50). Beutifully shot. This is about the loss of a boys father and the special bond a father and son have. We see the teen take his first sip of beer and joke with his Dad at meal times. This was a heartwarming story and well put together. Again, there are no word, which is very impressive as we are told the whole story. It gradually leads into the death of his father nicely, and the transition from light to dark works well. I love the shot at the end with the two empty chairs at the beach, and how this links to the beginning so we have come full circle. 

https://vimeo.com/19705053 – Soft (Short Film) from Simon Ellis (Dur 14:10). International Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at Sundance (2008). This is about a father and son who get terrorised and how the boy grows up throughout the film. Well written and intriguing all the way through, didn’t get bored whilst watching, with I did with previous shorts. Very good acting and realistic punches and beatings. I liked the teenage relationship with the father and son, with him having his music too loud and his bag being in the way, made it more realistic.

https://vimeo.com/2521215 – What is that? From MovieTeller (Dur 5:30). A grown up son and his father, who is now elderly. Interesting story about the difference between a young child and how their father treats them and an old man and how his son treats him. This story is the one that has been stuck in my head the most, because of its simplicity and how easy it was to follow and react to. Good acting and this also included a letter or journal from the father when the son was 3, so was interesting to see how this was written and read.

https://vimeo.com/9407693 – Recoil (Staff Pick) from Amulet Studios (Dur 13:14). This was very well put together, with brilliant acting. There was a good conflict between the main character, we see him as a killer then as a father. I wonder if they did it this way round on purpose? Didn’t feel like it was 13 minutes long because it flowed so well and was paced perfectly.

Now we have our 2 ideas, we will think through the narrative more thoroughly, come up with provisional scripts and treatments and think about how we want our main character to look. We also need to think of locations.

Jake Treatment

Jake provisional script

The Letter Treatment

The Letter provisional script

264MC – Week 2

From these, the ideas we liked best were numbers:

1). set slightly in the past to allow time for the veteran to be alive, he still believes in his mind that the War is still on. He ventures out one day with his walking stick in a 20 minutes journey across the park. In his mind theres a battle, a trauma. In the end he dies.

3). The Last Post is the name of a pub. A few young men are talking and making racist comments, saying how they want to sign up to shoot “pakis.” An old man sits alone in the corner looking very upset, he has a WW1 medal on his coat. (We could either leave this open to interpretation or do flashbacks of his time in the war)

and  8). come across a missing letter that was never sent over (a letter is found possibly in a bottle from a soldier during the war trying to get the message out that the war is bad or possibly to a loved one).

We pitched these ideas to a lecturer and a few fellow students, they felt the letter idea was the strongest and could be worked on more to create a stronger story. We will take all feedback into consideration when deciding on our final idea to pitch for next week.

We looked over our ideas, trying to narrow them down to 3, this was our process:

1) The abandoned house:

This idea was based around an object being found, originally it was set in a woodland area, with two children exploring. They then come across something unfamiliar or unusual, this could be a set of photos, a key, a football with blood on etc. The children begin to fight about whether they should tell an adult about this object or whether they should explore further. After many discussions, the idea began to change and develop, we had a look at our second  idea and felt we could combine the two to create a better narrative.

2) The Letter:

A letter is delivered at somebodies house, either by a person or in the mail. The letter includes and address and a meeting time. It also has a date, which was from the first world war. The girl who received this letter decides to investigate, so goes to the address and starts to uncover what this letter was about.

3) Hybrid Idea:

After we had looked at both ideas, we came up with a third idea: A letter is found by a homeless person in a suburban area. It is written by a child, going to war. She writes in an innocent way, as if she is unsure of the situation and doesn’t know what will happen. Potential locations would be an abandoned house or a woodland area.

4) The Journey:

We looked at idea 3 but felt this story wasn’t clear enough and was a bit unrealistic, so we decided on the following:

A homeless man wanders the streets, extremely edgy as his post-traumatic stress is causing him distress. He hears sounds from his time in the war, car doors become gun shots, babies screaming become dying allies. In an attempt to escape, he breaks into a nearby house and starts to rummage around the house. He is looking for food and valuables but comes across a letter on the fridge, written by a child to his Father fighting in the war. Attached to the letter is a home-made war badge, with it saying “hero”. The homeless man then starts to overcome his problem thanks to the letter and returns home to his family.

After we had picked our final idea, we began to do logistical and contextual research:

Homelessness and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Character profile

Research on children letters

Festival Research




264MC – Week 1

About a girl


About a Girl was directed by Brian Percival, who has since directed 6 different episodes of Downton Abbey and just released his feature film The Book Theif (2013). It was written by Julie Rutterford. She is most famous for her work on Shameless (2004). The DoP was Goeff Boyle, http://www.gboyle.co.uk/aag%20qt.HTM The idea came about when

It was made in 2001 and released on 25 August.  It won the BAFTA Award for Best Short Film. Then the Edinburgh International Film Festival for Best British Short, it won the London Fillm Festivals’ TCM Classic Shorts Award , and the Raindance Film Festival Jury Prize.

The main actors in About a Girl were Ashley Thewlis, Sue Jaynes and Laren Creek. Ashely Thewlis went on to become a singer-songwriter and joined the pop band Soda Club. Sue Jaynes played the girls mother.



World War One/The Great War

WW1 started in 1914 and ended in 1918. More than 9 million combatants were killed and it was the fifth deadliest conflict in world history.

The immediate trigger for the war was 28th June 1914. This is when the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assisnated. He was the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. This set off a diplomatic crisis when Austria-Hungary delivered an ultimatum to the kingdom of Serbia.

John McCormick was a singer in the first world war, he performed the song “It’s a Long Way to Tripperary” which was written by Jack Judge in 1915. Other songs John McCormick performed were “Keep the Home Fires Burning” “There’s a long long trail” and “Roses of Picardy.” Other famous songs in the first world war period were “Pack All Your Troubles (In Your Old Kit Bag) which was written in 1915 by George Powell.


Films released just after the war were The Service Star directed by Charles Miller, Shoulder Arms directed by Charlie Chaplin, Hearts of the World directed by D.W Griffith, The Heart of Humanity Directed by Allen Holubar, J’accuse directed by Abel Gance and The Lost Battalion directed by Burton L. King.


Anthem For Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Wilfred Owen

Dulce et Decorum Est

1 Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
2 Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
3 Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs,
4 And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
5 Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
6 But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
7 Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
8 Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

9 Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!–An ecstasy of fumbling
10 Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
11 But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
12 And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.–
13 Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
14 As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

15 In all my dreams before my helpless sight
16 He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

17 If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
18 Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
19 And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
20 His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin,
21 If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
22 Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
23 Bitter as the cud
24 Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
25 My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
26 To children ardent for some desperate glory,
27 The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
28 Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen
Line 27 and 28 is Latin and translated means – “It is sweet and fitting to die for your country”

The Wipers Times

It was the brainchild of Captain Fred Roberts and Lieutenant Jack Pearson of 12th Battalion. Amidst the ruins of the heavily shelled city of Ypres (called ‘Wipers’ by the soldiers) they found a damaged but serviceable printing press. One of the pages was an advert to cure optimism.



The Football Game

An interesting event that is famous about WW1 was the football match on Christmas day between Germany and England. They had called a temporary truce, so they could collect their dead when a football was kicked from the british lines into No Man’s Land. They also shook hands and shared cigarettes. The football was played as a way to get past the language barrier and was meant as a light relief from the horrors of war. It showed how both sides felt at the time. Unfortunately this truce didn’t last and the war continued for a further 4 years.


“Raggie” The War Horse

Ragtime was a first world war pony. The story goes from his life as a pony in india to the battlefields of the first world war.

“I have seen much of the world. I have told you of war and of peace: of polo and sport. There does not seem to be much more to relate.”

Excerpt from ‘”Raggie” the War Horse: An Autobiography’ by Guy, Lord Middleton (1931)

It was written by Ragtimes owner, Lord Middleton who was reunited with his horse when there was a lull in the war.

Noel Evans

Noel Evans was a soldier who died just as the Armistice was about to be signed on the 11th November 1918.

“It has been the hardest week to bear of my life … It is such hard lines that he should have been taken at the very end of the war.”

Letter from Noel’s father, 15 November 1918

In June 1918 he was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery (RFA). He arrived in France at the end of September and was posted to a battery in the 27th Brigade RFA, the unit in which his brother Morgan also served. Despite the hardships and privations of trench warfare his letters convey a spirit of optimism.

Noel and his comrades were frequently exposed to grave dangers. During his short time at the front Noel survived several near misses before his luck finally ran out. On 4 November 1918, a week before hostilities ended, a shell burst a few yards away from the dugout where he was on duty.

He appeared to be slightly wounded in the left thigh and right heel, and a tiny splinter was pulled out of the back of his head; his thigh seemed to worry him most, but the hit on the head had caused him to go temporarily blind …

Letter to Noel’s parents from his Commanding Officer,
6 December 1918

On hearing of his injuries, Noel’s parents went out to France to visit him in hospital. However, they arrived only to be informed that their son’s wounds had proved fatal and that his funeral was about to take place.

Noel was buried in a cemetery near Rouen along with 30 of his comrades. Against the backdrop of celebrations, his heart-broken family headed back to Britain to mourn.

To think that we shall never see his dear smile again. It’s all been so cruelly hard … all the horrible noise and crowds and rejoicing everywhere day and night, it has been a continuous nightmare and the journey back I thought never would come to an end.

Letter from Noel’s mother, possibly written on 16 November 1918


Going ‘over the top’

I always said a prayer before going over the top. Six times – on six occasions on some bigger attacks and smaller attacks for some reason or other. I always used to stand when we’re all lined up with us rifles and bayonet all fixed for going over with, over with the lads. Our heart would be cursing and there would be all sorts of stuff going up in fright.

But I always used to just stand still for a minute and just say this little prayer. I’ll never forget it. ‘Dear God, I am going into grave danger. Please help me to act like a man and come back safe.’ And that’s what I did. And I went over without fear. That little prayer seemed to save my life because I had no fear left, although there were shells and bullets and all the rest flying when we went over and I were never frightened of being hit. It’s real funny that that prayer put me where I am now. In this chair. And that’s true. And six times I went up and six times I said that little prayer and each time I went up and come back safe. And I thank God for it every time.

Deadly legacy

After war had finished, we were collecting old rifles and all war stuff. We were set off going across fields, picking up rifles and bombs and anything else to do with war. And two of our lads come across some shells that had had been primed but never fired. And they got all these shells and picked them up. They were coming to the dump, when one of them shells slipped off his arm and hit the striking pin, and the shell exploded. They were both killed. It were terrible, after the war had finished. It were disastrous for they were just doing a duty of cleaning the countryside for the French folk.


The unknown soldier



1. An old women finds an air loom her father gave to her before heading off to war. We see his story, which would be the story of Arthur Barraclough (The Last Tommy)

2. A forgotten photo album, has a picture missing we learn about the person in the missing picture. Bits of the picture are revealed as we learn more. Would be like a Forest Gump story, not necessarily associated with the war.

3. Narrated by a young man, he reads a poem or song from the war. The visuals could be of a modern day situation, so the audience don’t realise the true meaning of the film at first.

4. Opposite to idea above, we see men being mowed down as they cross No Man’s Land, while a young man reads the Wipers Times optimism advert/Singing or speaking the recruitment song. (Your King and Country Need You)

5. The Unknown Soldier, turned into a short film

6. Lice… Animation from the view point of the lice on the home front

7. Bringing a poem to life. Tell it through the visuals, dissect each word (Anthem for Doomed Youth)

8. The Christmas match, a what if story, if the troops refused to carry on fighting. What would happen?

9. A zombie film, the dead start coming back to life…

10. A few young men are sat in a pub called The Last Post. They are making racist comments and talking about how they would love to sign up so they could kill some “Paki’s.”There is an old gentleman in the corner, looking very upset and traumatised, he has a WW1 medal on his coat. (Could then either go into flashbacks from his life in the army or leave it open to interpretation)

11. A film from the viewpoint of Hitler in WW1, the audience don’t realise this until the end. (Hopefully)

After we had all come up with 10 ideas each, we got together to pick our best 10:

1). set slightly in the past to allow time for the veteran to be alive, he still believes in his mind that the War is still on. He ventures out one day with his walking stick in a 20 minutes journey across the park. In his mind theres a battle, a trauma. In the end he dies.

2). A grandson goes up into the loft to clear out his recently deceased grandfather’s processions. He comes across a box fill with letters that have been sent to and for between the grandfather and the grandmother. Archive sounds and visuals appear of the ww1 recordings. The grandson is then left bewildered and lost about what to do with the processions and decides to leave them up in the loft until another day.

3). The Last Post is the name of a pub. A few young men are talking and making racist comments, saying how they want to sign up to shoot “pakis.” An old man sits alone in the corner looking very upset, he has a WW1 medal on his coat. (We could either leave this open to interpretation or do flashbacks of his time in the war)

4). Narrated by a young man, he reads a poem or song from the war. The visuals could be of a modern day situation, so the audience don’t realise the true meaning of the film at first.

5). Young soldier who is suffering the effects of returning from the war in iraq, where he had to kill a man to prevent himself being killed. The reason he went to war was in honour of his granddad.

6). A Mothers agony, as she waves her son off to war, as she relieves the memory of waving her Father off to war, with him never returning.

7). old man is still hearing the sounds of the war today which effects his life (a man returns from the front line but is haunted by the war and still hears all the sounds from the war in everyday life which effects how he goes about his life

8). come across a missing letter that was never sent over (a letter is found possibly in a bottle from a soldier during the war trying to get the message out that the war is bad or possibly to a loved one)

9). man and women madly in love happy with their lives everything is perfect then the man has to go away to war each week he would write to his beloved about the war and how much he misses her then the letters stop… the guy died – TITLE – DEAR DARLING (am listenning to 0lly murs dear darling song.)

10).  an underage man signs up for the war, his brother as he thinks it could be fun but is found out whilst in battle)