Day 42

1. Writing Suspense

We will be producing a short suspense film where we have an idea of what is happening but are dreading it coming but still don’t know precisely how it might play out. Content should be PG and school appropriate. You don’t have to, but if you want to make things easier, try to use the school setting to your advantage and think of things that you have experienced that are suspenseful (i.e. running out of time on a test, being late for the bus, talking to a cute boy/girl) that don’t necessarily have your character(s) in mortal danger. Each group will have two shooting days and will likely need two split their film to be set in two or more locations. Lets look at some of your (not so terrible) ideas from last week.

Easier To Produce

Hard To Produce

A young man is stalked by a guy in a hoodie who has rented the room next to him, where, at night, a strange sound emanates…  After a couple gets married, the wife finds out that her husband always has some strange behaviors and he is hiding a big secret.
A boy has a crush on his lab partner. Unfortunately for him, she is an alien. A father puts bomb in his estranged wife’s car after a very violent custody battle. What he didn’t plan was for his kid to also be in the car.
A group of people go to camping. Each day there is one person missing. There are horrible events continue happen in this town. A person is being eaten at midnight every night. The girl finds out that the killer is her boyfriend.
A women found a diary and it is about her daily life. She discovered someone is watching her every day. Who could it be? A girl who cannot tell the difference between dreams and reality.
Set at school, not violent, doesn’t require too many actors, props, or locations, easy setup, scope is appropriate for a story told in 90-180 seconds, doesn’t require too many special effects. Requires challenging settings, violence, requires many adult and/or child actors, too many props or locations, scope is too large for 90-180 seconds, complex setup process, excessive number of special effects.

2. Suspense Project Overview

Over the next several weeks, we will be producing a 90-180 second film that builds suspense well through the use of cinematography, lighting, writing, performances, sound, and music. We will be working in pairs to produce this film that follows the plot chart we used previously including…

  1. exposition (establishing location and characters)
  2. inciting incident (or conflict that deviates from normal events)
  3. rising action (as the stakes increase or the conflict intensifies)
  4. climax (where the solution is found), falling action (where intensity declines)
  5. resolution (that ties up the story nicely and helps clarify the themes, morals, or lessons learned)

The four primary areas of focus for this project are:

  • storytelling (follows plot structure, captures audience interest)
  • suspense (well paced, uses genre conventions well)
  • audio (capturing good, clean audio with the boom and/or Zoom recorder)
  • special effects (at least one appropriate use of digital compositing)

The three secondary areas of focus for this project are:

  • acting (timing, delivery, authenticity)
  • cinematography (camera placement, movement, building tension)
  • music (source audio that matches the tone and helps build suspense)

Production Timeline Overview

Days 1-3: Brainstorm concepts. Begin writing first draft.

Day 4: Finish first draft. Pitch to partner, debate merits, and choose a script you want to produce. Develop that script and complete the final draft.

Day 5: Draw your storyboard. Complete a shot list. Meet with and prepare actors. Practice using audio equipment.

Day 6+8: Group 1 shoots, group 2 acts.

Day 7+9: Group 2 shoots, group 1 acts.

Day 10-13: Editing a post-production work.

Day 41

1. Peer Critique

Sit back and relax! We will be watching the Conflict Through Dialogues at the start of class.

2. Crummy Mistakes

Together, we will come up with some general guidelines for ourselves afterwards on how we can improve afterwards as a class. We have to be able to learn from our own experiences as well as those of our peers. Once it is on this list, they are no longer acceptable mistakes to make.

Day 40

Mystery Thriller (Suspense!) Horror
We don’t know what is happening. Who did it? Where are they? What happened? We have an idea what is happening but are dreading it coming. We still don’t know precisely how it might play out. We are surprised and shocked by things that we may not have expected.

Today we will be watching some suspenseful old TV shows and talk about what techniques they use effectively. We will be starting with “The Eye of the Beholder(Wiki) from the original Twilight Zone, a mysterious story about a disfigured woman stuck in her hospital bed.

Day 39

Suspense. It is state, a tone, and a genre in itself. We are going to be making a short film in the genre of your choosing. In the process, we will learn about various aspects of pre-production such as screenwriting, storyboarding, art design, and production planning.

“Good artists copy; great artists steal.”

We are going to steal from some of the best. Today we will begin our focused studies by viewing and analyzing clips from a handful of great films from a variety of genres. We will be emulating and employing some of the techniques in our own projects to help build suspense.

We are going to play a game! Your challenge for the day is to come up with five pitches for potential thriller/suspense films and submit them here by the end of the day. Take a look at some from last years class. You aren’t committed to using any of these, it is just a technical exercise marked for completion. If you are struggling, you can look at this list of great thriller films on IMDB.

Bonus: article about Alfred Hitchcock and suspense.

Your homework for the next few days? Watch a “scary” movie! I have created a suggested viewing list here of great Thriller (suspense!) films, but you can choose any film you would like, as long as it contains some element of suspense. Try to pay special attention to the techniques that are used to build suspense. Please be prepared to potentially give a brief written or spoken statement to the class or within small groups about the successful techniques used on Monday.

Day 37-38

1. Feedback Sandwich

Just like a real sandwich, this can be done well or incredibly poorly.

bad sandwich has…

  1. insignificant top bread that is discounted by a ‘but’
  2. meat that is negatively phrased, personal, and not constructive
  3. bottom bread that struggles to compensate

Example: Dinner was great, but you made it too salty. Thanks though.

good sandwich has…

  1. meaningful top bread that highlights successes
  2. criticism that is positive and constructive
  3. bottom bread that is encouraging and acknowledging the effort

Suggested Successful Comment Format:

I like the use of __________, it makes the ____________.

Suggested Improvement Comment Format:

I found that _____________, it could be _________ if it __________.

Suggested Acknowledgement Comment Format:

[Say anything positive that affirms their effort!]

Example: Dinner was great, I really liked what you did with the rosemary and lemon on the roast. I think it could have been even better if there was salt on the side as it was a bit salty for my taste. Let me know when you cook it next, I’d love to see how you did it!

2. Peer Critique

Sit back and relax! We will be watching films for the remainder of class and will come up with some general guidelines for ourselves afterwards on how we can improve as a class.