Next Project

May 9, 2014 § Leave a comment

I had posted this previously as Rob Or Robot was an alternative option to Burn for my F.M.P. It is still at its early draft stages (linked below) but this is a project I want to work on next, mixing my passion for animation and showing variety after Burn.

The story itself resonates even more with myself now, where I’m at the point of my life that I don’t want to be stuck in an office, I want to be active in creating new and exciting tales.

 

Professional Feedback and Conclusion

May 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

I asked one of my contacts, Mr Miller, if he could give me some feedback regarding my portfolio, how I performed professionally whilst working on Burn and if he had any advice for me with regarding my future. I was hoping for a positive reply but I was overwhelmed with what I received. Below is the email that Mr Miller sent me.

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To get such positive feedback from someone as well established as Mr Miller is excellent, but this feedback alone won’t get me a job. It has however, shown me the importance of a website, as he says that is his go too when looking to work with another person. I’m pleased he liked my website as a lot of hard work went into it and I take his suggestions on board about making my personality come across.

Admittedly, the compliments towards Burn are also nice to hear, especially those regarding aspects of the script, such as dialogue and the narrative. Confidence is such an important part in making me work well and this has certainly given me another boost.

When starting this module, I was dreading it. I know I had very minimal contacts and I just didn’t want a portfolio of sub par work that I produced in my second year. I am delighted with how much I have improved and I think that is show in my storytelling, on my career path I can certainly see it heading in the correct direction. This year, I’ve been far more hands on too in other areas, going from nervous to confident using DSLR’s, booking equipment out to experiment and really trying to explore my work with essays’ and strong theory.

I understand and acknowledge that the hard work really starts from here, I need contacts that are in line with scriptwriting. I feel I have put some of these elements in places, with the opportunity to meet lots of new industry people coming up through the production companies and Albany. I’m also eager to keep busy, whether this is writing some of the projects I have or through some commercial videos to earn some income. I don’t think I’m yet ready to step out and into a dream job but I’m no loner stuck at a crossroads, I’m heading on the correct path. Creating my JoeParkerWrote brand excites me, and so does the ways in which I can make my work visible. From BBC Writers Room to Shooting People and even Reddit, I have so many networks to show off my work which I’m very confident in.

I feel I have grown as a professional, that my passion for the industry has only grown and that I’m ready for the hard work ahead. With my immediate focus on getting Burn through festivals, I honestly don’t know what I’ll be working on in a years time, but that mentality no longer daunts me, but excites me. 9 Years is a long time to study in one subject area and they say after 10 years you become an expert. I’m driven to fulfil my potential, to achieve the personal goals I’ve set and move on with the next chapter of my life.

I would just like to thank all the lecturers for all their help in my development, and to wish my peers all the best of luck in whatever they pursue.

Final Cut and Reflection

May 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Before I talk about and reflect upon Burn, the final film and production, I first need to go back further. There is a weird feeling that, this is it, after 4 years at Coventry University, amongst all the ups and downs, that these words will be my last to get marked. It hasn’t quite sunk in that this is it and I don’t say this in a negative way, but I couldn’t be more delighted. I first studied Media back at GCSE, 9 years ago, and now, more so than ever, do I feel ready to move away from the educational parameters and take my own path. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all, from teachers to lectures, that have helped me along the way.

Here is my final edit of Burn. The password is: givemeagoodgradeplease

The Production

There is an awful lot to reflect upon but to do so thoroughly, I think it is important to look at some of the targets I set this year for Burn. The first was from when I first began, that all my work would be an influence to my final media production. This has been discussed before so I’ll be brief. My Power video helped me understand the theme of age, positives and negatives; Spectacle helped me think about meaning, developing my storytelling, Memory highlighted how much the past can reflect on our present while my essay, looked to analyse Burn to a point where my understanding of these themes could be applied to the final film.

I was committed to Burn from the very beginning, making sure I had every opportunity for it to become a success. I never ignored the challenges, that Burn would be a risk; it was a script that would be difficult to write but I felt this was the time to prove myself. If Burn was the last film I made, I’d look back upon it and proudly so.

Pre production on Burn involved an awful lot of work but I don’t believe I was naive, although I do think I undertook too much work. At times, being writer, director and producer seemed too much. I think a sign that Burn has gone well as a whole, would be the longer the project went on, the more excited and confident I got. This was noted by my tutor, who stated that this was normally the other way round. At the preproduction stage, I did a lot of things well, these being the bigger concerns. Casting, crew, locations and a composer were amongst priorities that I identified and then used my skill set to achieve. There were some other areas I didn’t always address; these involving leave the equipment list till too late, missing out on a glide cam. There was no fund-raising and the previously discussed production company was a non starter. I feel with the areas I was focused on, I was so driven to make them perfect, that I could have done with some help with the other areas.

Another area I think I could have improved, was the amount of research I did regarding other films. This was because I had the idea in my head for two years now, that I was quite stubborn with it. I originally touted Burn to be in the essence of Amour, which I don’t think now fits, notably because I went with a younger range of actors. It does follow more closely to The Wrestler, with elements of The Streets and a more british film feel. This is a mature story and perhaps at times I’m still too younger to fully appreciate all the themes involved but I think that is a risk you take with being an ambitious 23-year-old.

Filming and Directing

When we had reached that point to film, everything was as organised as I’d have hoped and I felt for the most part, I acted in a professional manner. This is an email from Wayne Swann, who played Oliver.

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Working with professionals was intimidating but I certainly grew as the production continued. I don’t think I am suited to being a director, as I am quite quiet and polite. At times on the first day, I didn’t feel fully in-control with all elements, such as the extras having to wait around, and this could affect my confidence. That first day was a task in which I would not like to repeat and there was fortune involved. But that day also reflected on all the hard work I had put in; getting that fantastic locations, writing that scene which I always knew would be the most challenging thing I filmed and having around 30 people in the theatre, there because of me and my story.

Small mistakes of that first day such as shouting cut too early were addressed and I was far more comfortable when at the house location. I had some big decisions to make and also controlled situations that did border on conflict (not physical). We were always ahead of the schedule and this was planned out very well, with thanks to Jack. The final day did prove to have more issues with the lack of sound and that is something the final piece does, unfortunately, reflect. I take responsibility for this for not finding a replacement nor having enough technical knowledge.

Regarding my directing, I have to admit, when working on other films, I did feel better about my performance. I was also in director mode, noticing errors and taking control of things that weren’t associated with my position. Burn has been such valuable experience and if I gave the same script to a different director, I’m not sure how much more they could have improved it.

The Final Film    

There are positives and negatives when I watch the final cut. The sound could certainly be clearer in some parts, especially the beginning. I also don’t like the blue tarpaulin in the first scene, which is another case of me being too polite. There are parts where I don’t like the dialogue and as a writer, this is something I hope to improve on. Being dialogue heavy, this was always a risk, but lines such as ‘I’ll be gone by tomorrow I swear it’ stand out as being unnatural for scene. From the early script development, I was worried that the audience might not sympathise with the character of Oliver. Due to this, now the roles have reversed, with Jean being harder to understand, so I didn’t get that balance quite right. We really worked hard on editing the final scene, as towards the end there was not much footage due to time, so that final embrace and ‘you haven’t sawn me in half for years’ is missed. Whether Jean does come across as his former assistant.

I am quite a critical person, especially with myself, so I am pleased to acknowledge elements I do like. Some of the shots look fantastic, especially those regarding the theatre. I think Wayne especially does a great job and he looks better than the character I wrote. The under current of themes do come through and the music was worth the extra efforts I went to securing. I think the scene with Oliver and Penny is poignant and there is a variety of emotions in the film; from wit to wrath. The effort put into Burn comes through and I do believe I escaped the ‘student film’ tag I so wanted to avoid, even if those sound issues will haunt me.

Does Burn Say Anything?

I believe it does and that is why I think Burn has ultimately been a success. There is a message of not matter how old you are, there are things in life that if you feel passionately about, they shouldn’t be ignored. At the very core, this is a love story; pushing Oliver and Jean’s relationship to such the limit but only resulting in their commitment to each other. There are reasons for each character motivations and they show depth, helping incorporate the themes I wanted. I really do think Burn would be suited to a longer version, with a little bit more time spent building up the final show and perhaps focus on Penny’s issues which I didn’t have time to explore. I’d hope when my target audience watch this, they will connect with some of the choices or difficulties that a relationship can bring, no matter how long you have been together.

Burn has really pushed and really taken a lot out of me, to a point where I need a break from it until I try to correct some of the issues. This is a positive as it not only shows the effort and care I have for Burn, but that a part of me really is in this film. And as I look back at where I was when I came to this University, I do have a wry smile at the though of a second year Joe Parker trying to make this film. I have developed enormously and I’m proud of that.

Joe Parker ‘fun’ fact:

I started the I like Joe Parker blog up 4 years ago for this course. The name comes from the fact my personal blog was I hate Joe Parker, with me poking fun at myself. In those 4 years, out of all the degrees and qualifications of those looking and marking this blog, no one has noticed that I spelt Media wrong in the top banner. Says it all really…

Press Kit

May 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’ve never created a Press Kit (or EPK) before, nor must I admit, did I truly understand what it was, knowing only the brief description given by the module. With Burn now complete, it is certainly exciting, finishing the final touches to the project.

Here is my final EPK in pdf format.

EPK Final 

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When looking at what a press kit involved, I searched for some examples to give me a good understanding of what was expected. Tribeca Film Festival is in Manhattan and their website features all of the Press Kits a film submits for the festival. I really enjoyed looking through some of these entries but I was surprised by the amount of detail they gave about the films. Some of them gave absolutely no screenshots of the film and after reading five or six, I became less engaged. Examples of this would be Art and Craft and In Guns We Trust. Ones where my attention was engaged certainly focused on a more visual style, such as 1971 and Circa 1948. I had to admit, I was still a little confused, due to the array of quality and different information presented.

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I did now have a better understand of what should be included, with the following recurring.

  • Title
  • Short Synopsis
  • Cast
  • Crew
  • Filmmaker’s Statement
  • Production stills
  • Poster

Still not being 100% convinced on what was expected, I asked two are my crew members, James Root and Chris Hammond, who have made EPK’s in the past, for some advice. Chris sent me and example of his and I was immediately drawn to its styling and layout. Here is a link to Fin, by Chris Hammond and Becca Jackson. KIN_EPK_final

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I thought the use of production shots really gave me a sense of the film’s identity and I spent far longer looking at each image and the content they provided. Although I understand that it helps the writing stand out, (which admittedly works excellently), I wanted to use clear photos to help engage even more. James was also a strong help, telling me his inspiration came from Drive, a film I’m a big fan of.

Drive EPK

Just like the film, I thought this was exceptionally beautiful and although I felt I couldn’t match this on a technical level, it did feature the points listed above. All the production shots fitted in well with the content and it did a fantastic job of being precise with the information it gave. It was vibrant with colour, like Drive, and had a running theme from each image to the next.

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Although now I knew what I wanted to do, I had a key problem when making my press kit. I’d normally use Fireworks but since creating my poster, I’ve encountered certain technical issues which makes it run unbearably slow. This is also a problem as converting the file to a .pdf wouldn’t compromise the quality of the piece. I had to fall back on my plan b, which was to make a very simple one on Powerpoint, and then convert it myself into a .pdf.

I decided to go with a heavy influence with the visuals, going through the film and picking some of my favourite shots. I would have liked to include more written information but this needed to be quite big, due to the quality of Powerpoint. So this had to be kept minimal more out of a technical limitation, rather than by design. The positive for this is that not only do the visuals look wonderful, but it now means I can print this out in various sizes and not have to worry about the quality. I believe it is a very clean approach, with the black and white not only references the traditional narrative, but it also helped the writing stand out against the images. I wanted to include the poster on the last page, which I feel promotes Burn really well. I did slice it, so that I could enlarge the casting credits, to make them more visible. Having this as the only page in colour also helps it stand out and you don’t lose any of the intentional meaning that colour brings to the poster.

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I’m happy with the final project in regards to the limitations I faced and although I believe it is nowhere near as good as Drive, I do think it competes fare more favourably against some of the entries to Tribeca which is important, as this is the level of competition I’d want Burn to be up against. The images are of a very high quality and are also iconic to the film, helping bring the feel and tone across. In all honesty, when Burn does hit film festivals, I will revisit this, with some slight changes that include more content to the press kit.

It’s clear to me now, that Burn is a project which I will be working on for a considerable amount of time.

Burn ‘fun’ fact: I have left room to experiment with the idea on both the EPK and Poster to burn the edges, to give them an extra touch to stand out.

Film bibliography

 

1971, 2014. Film. Directed by Johanna HAMILTON. Maximum Pictures & Fork Films.

Art and Craft, 2014. Film. Directed by Sam CULLMAN & Jennifer GRAUSMAN. Oscilloscope Laboratories.

Circa 1948, 2014. Film. Directed by Stan DOUGLAS. NFB Digital Studio Vancouver.

Drive, 2011. Film. Directed by Nicolas WINDING REFN. USA. Film District

In Guns We Trust, 2013. Film. Directed by Nicolas LEVESQUE. Travelling Distribution.

Kin, 2013. Film. Directed by Chris HAMMOND. UK. Shadow Lake Productions.

 

 

Website Goes Live

May 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

Today my website went live, http://www.joeparkerwrote.com, using Wix.com, which seems to be very popular amongst starting professionals. To help me stand out, I did pay for the premium option, giving me my own domain name and no reliance on the Wix brand in regards to advertising. I think having your own domain name is important, making the website easier to find, more professional and it builds upon your growing brand. Also, it is far easier to manage support to mobile devices, something which you have to consider with computers no longer the only traditional way to access the internet.

Back in my first year, my add+vantage was XHTML, a class at the time I really didn’t enjoy but I have to admit, 3 years later, some of those skill sets have helped in regards to this website. I am happy with the final product but I also acknowledge, which is becoming a common theme with this module, that there is still a lot of work to be done in the future, but I guess that’s the point.

HOME

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The concept for my website is to go for a very clean look, with minimal clutter which can hinder any navigation. This is predominately for two reasons; the page is user-friendly for the majority of people and secondly, media professionals have little time, so it is quick to navigate. The colour scheme is modern but again, not overwhelming nor does it distract from the content. The blue is consistent through all the pages with a green used for any clickable fonts (blue is not a good colour for this as links normally go blue after being clicked).

The layout in the header is clear with only one drop down menu to save space. At the bottom, I have lots of links to other areas of my JoeParkerWrote brand and just incase these are missed, there are extra app buttons at the bottom. Promoting Burn is very important at the moment, so putting the trailer on the opening page will help this. Originally, I had the trailer the auto-start to try to gain attention but this could get quite annoying if the home page was visited frequently. The book at the top is a nice touch to what I want to do and with time, I would like to create more themed buttons at the bottom instead of the triangles.

ABOUT

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I envisioned my About page as an author’s note, short but able to get across my passion for what I want to do, and certain qualities I have. There is a sense of progression, with references to how I have reached this point and where I would like to go. Trying to sell yourself is something I’ve never found easy but I’m pleased to say it is something I’m getter better at, with more confidence in my abilities. It is the content I put up on my website which will ultimately back up this statement.

PORTFOLIO AND LINKS

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Although I admit that I would want this page to have more content on it, I did make the choice to exclude work which wasn’t good enough, going for quality over quantity. The three examples showcase different elements; writing, directing and promotional work. With a lot of other scripts already written, I did find it difficult to make this look more engaging that just words on a page, so I have omitted these for now until I have some sort of visuals to complement these (concept art, storyboards etc).

Here is an example of one of the page links once clicked, this one being for Outdated.

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With a video link at the side, a short description and a screenshot too, I don’t think there is anymore needed, with a good balance of content without getting too cramp. As Burn has not yet been released, I’ve replaced the video link to one of the poster. This will change once Burn is ready to be put online.

The final page is a very simple contact section, which people can either send me a message directly through the website or link to my new email address, again incorporating the JoeParkerWrote theme.

 

Reflection

I’m delighted to have a website with full control over, able to add and expand it as my work continues to develop. I feel this is an important process in presenting my work, making myself more viable for future employment. I really enjoyed making this website and I feel it does do what I set out to achieve, with an effective design. It is still very important I continue to add to this and I update any other networks that are linked to the page. This does serve as good motivation to continue with my works in progress as I want the website to be as good as possible (and because it has cost me money!). Making it has been enjoyable and I would like to experiment with other features to see what they could add. I wish I had made this earlier and I do want a stronger emphasis on my screenwriting abilities, as it might not be quite clear this is the area I want to pursue in regards of my portfolio.

I’m excited about my future and continuing my work which I love.

Contacts – Albany Theatre

May 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

With the Albany Theatre used as the final location in Burn, I spent a lot of time there, going over exactly what I would need, what facilities they had and also legal forms that would be filled out on the production. Spending this time amongst the volunteers was fantastic, with enthusiasm for the project coming across in abundance, shown by just how accommodating they were.

Whilst first getting into contact with Albany, I spoke to Alexandra Johnson, a fellow writer. Writing was always a good conversation piece for us and it helped break the ice. Unfortunately, it was only this initial meeting I got to spend time with Alex, what projects she was involved in and I felt slightly embarrassed when discussing mine. When I first came up with the idea of Burn, I could see it being adapted to the theatre. This would work well, especially with the final scene being performed to an actual audience. I believe this is the next step for Burn, something I will work on in due course.

After it was clear that Burn would be taking place at the Theatre, I spent the rest of my time with the Chair, David Meredith. He told me that Burn would be the first film to be shot at the Theatre, something I couldn’t quite understand due to the options open for a film maker. Since filming, as a thank you for all their assistance, I have offered to help publicise these.

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This is currently being discussed amongst the powers that be and I hope to hear back from them again.

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But how does this help me? Well, I’ve already been added to their volunteer list, giving me access to opportunities such as events and meetings. Although I wouldn’t want to commit to Albany for the long-term, I am hoping that I can use this experience to meet more people and get more feedback on the possibility of Burn being adapted. A creative role may be minimal, but it is good to see why they make the decisions they do, and what they look for in projects. I do genuinely admire their commitments to the theatre itself and if I can help with that, I will see it as a notable accomplishment.

Post Production – Editing Process

April 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

Editing Burn began on the 12th of April and has represented some of the high and low points of the production. I would be working with Chris Hammond, my editor, and this would be done each weekend until we finished (Chris has a full-time job). Before meeting with Chris, I had to arrange all the footage, matching up the audio with the correct scene. Chris had asked me a specific way in doing this which worked well, and fortunately, we had used a clapperboard on set.

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After everything was organised, Chris and I could set about getting to work. Similarly to James, I hadn’t spoken to Chris in a while and it was brilliant to see him again. We worked creatively together on Outdated and we have always had a similar style, able to bounce ideas off with each other. Where Chris differs from myself, is his outstanding proficiency at editing, where he used Premium Pro rather than Final Cut.

With the way Burn was filmed due to its planning, there was never going to be a large amount of footage that would go to waste, with what was essentially the first edit done at the pre production stage, regarding the storyboards. The first day of editing was getting a rough cut together, excluding all the scenes which didn’t take correctly and being left with a very basic narrative. Chris purposely hadn’t read the script until the last moment, as he wanted to see the project with fresh eyes. I was originally sceptical about this but I didn’t want to argue with how he feels he works best. I was pleased to see how enthusiastic Chris was when going through the footage, with compliments about a certain shot or scene in general. Chris has quite high standards, a much more experienced film director than myself, and has produced far more work. I was rather enthusiastic too, seeing the pace Chris would edit at was very impressive, he was also enjoying himself, getting carried away slightly with scenes as he didn’t want to stop at it being a rough cut.

Not everything was positive about this day however, with a minor crisis happening when I was matching the files. When we filmed Burn, only the first and final day’s footage was put onto my computer. The second and third were put on another, so that it could be organised with the sound. When matching up the footage, I had this horrible feeling, like something wasn’t there. This is when I realised two extremely important scenes from day two were nowhere to be found. After calling and contacting all my crew, it seemed like it was lost.

I tried to be as positive as possible during the rough cut, but absence of these certain scenes were pretty hard to take. At this point, I was thinking about an emergency reshoot but this wasn’t an option as I only had one actor available. Below is the first rough cut that was made. The password is covparkz14.

https://vimeo.com/91955348

Admittedly, I was slightly despondent at this point. The narrative worked at a push but I knew it was nowhere near as good as it could have been. That was really hard to take, after so much hard work that such a simple mistake could be so costly. I was trying to be as positive as possible and I was working on another students project at the time, which was good for me to take my mind off Burn. Whilst on set, I got the best news I’ve possibly had, that the footage was found.

I told Chris about this and by the next weekend, we were able to add in these scenes. I can’t  quite do justice describing the levels of relief I had, and it spurred me on with the project. The second cut saw some narrative changes from the first one. These included the first shot, which would now be of Oliver, instead of the children. With Oliver being the focus of the film, I agreed with some helpful feedback, that he should engage the audience from the very beginning. Another change was regarding the dinner table scene. We had a fantastic wide shot to show the character’s distance and this had been used as an establishing shot. After some experimenting, it was more effective to end on this, giving the scene a more dramatic conclusion. With all the scenes in place, we pay more attention to detail and help build up the pace. Certain bits were harder to edit, such as Jean finding the book. The focus pull wasn’t always very clean so we had to cheat it slightly, raising the image slightly to cut Jeans head off, the area which the focus wasn’t quite right.

I cut some dialogue of Jules and Oliver on the sofa as at this point, it was standing out as being very written compared to others (it is used in the trailer). Ironically, this was a line that Jules had the most difficulty delivering, which again, can be argued that it simply isn’t that great.

‘You can be so silly. No matter how many tricks you perform, the magic to me is our love. Surely that is all we truly need? We aren’t getting any younger. It can scare me Oliver, how obsessed you get.’

Some of the scenes were looking fantastic and the project was starting to encapsulate what I had envisioned. I loved the way the title was introduced, the scene with Penny and how the Theatre looked. There were still problems though, I was worried about the sound the sound quality in the opening. Chris and I helped create some sound effects, such as clapping and coughing in the Theatre scene, trying to add to the atmosphere. Some of the cut-aways weren’t working and the shot of the breakfast tray was over exposed. I decided in the next week, to do a quick reshoot, redoing this shot and getting some establishing shots of the outside of the house, one in the day and one at night. Chris sent me an email of what the shot needed to resemble. cutaway shot (1)

We also needed to have the music put in which was being originally created by my composer, Mr Miller. I had shown him the first draft as the missing scenes didn’t affect the music too much and he was able to start coming up with ideas. Mr Miller was quite short on time due to other commitments that he had but this worked quite well for me, as time was starting to get a little short. I gave him some direction but also gave him room to add his own creative input, the man does have over 25 years of experience. Here are some of our interactions through email.

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Once the music had been finished and I was more than happy with the quality, I could sent it to Chris to insert it into the final edit. I also got the reshoot done by myself which was problem free, the location owner was very accommodating and understanding. Getting the shot of the tray was a little trickier as I didn’t have much light to work with, so it is a little darker than original. This shot was so important in showing the couple had made up that I felt the shot had to be included.

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Chris graded the footage and we did the final tweaks with some colour grading and letter boxing. The music worked wonderfully well with the footage and this felt like the final piece of the jigsaw. There were some elements which we did run out of time to address which does frustrate me in regards of the deadline, I will be amending this shortly to enhance any festival prospects. These two elements are still some of the sound quality and the lack of a photo over the credits. More detail over this can be found in my conclusion.

Chris and Mr Miller bought something absolutely crucial to the project at this point, helping to elevate it to a very high standard. There was a lot of attention spent on the pace of the film, as well as the use of jump cuts. The performances come across as very strong and so did the compositions. After what felt like a disaster with ‘losing’ the footage, there isn’t just a sense of relief, but of pride and excitement in what happens with Burn next.

Burn ‘fun’ fact: The missing footage had accidentally been put in a Year 2 folder on a Prezi project. I was too relieved to be mad at anyone.