Contributions Completed

The World Of The Willows has been the longest journey of all the productions I’ve worked on this year, in theory starting June 2014 when I agreed to the idea with Dan & Nathan, and even now after its completion there will still be festivals, Kickstarter pledges, etc.

Having contributed to the entire production process I feel I have managed to keep the project on track and ultimately fulfil my expectations of delivering it to time and on budget. Whilst I wasn’t on shoot I still found myself working on the project on a daily basis throughout production, treating it as a organic process as I developed the schedule and accommodated for budget on a daily budget. This attributed to creating a driving schedule, changing shot lists, finding locations, etc.

The crew themselves were fantastic and made the project enjoyable for me as a producer. Everyone was enthusiastic and reliable, at no point was I having to dramatically chase any down regarding their input, however as good practice I still ensured everyone was ‘in the loop’ on a personal basis. When on location there were little issues to report, especially after streamlining the crew for the entire shoot. I would report with Rashida and Harry regularly regarding the state of production, any on set issues never seemed to carry across to the entire state of production.

There is nothing I would change about the people involved with the production, everyone pulled through to make a fantastic production. I feel the only way to improve this would be more time and more money, allowing us to be even more ambitious. Nathan & Dan have mentioned their concerns between the film and the script, but ultimately considering the circumstances of production we made a fantastic piece of fiction.

This role has been hugely beneficial in developing my base skill set that I can carry across to any future professional role. Skills such as organisational, social, logistical and financial. Whilst I don’t have any interest in pursuing producing professional I will always appreciate the experience this production has offered and continue to be proud of the film.

Unfortunately colour grading was rushed, whilst it was an annoyance creatively I can respect logistically the importance on getting the VFX finished. The grain loaded onto the film provided most of the visual style we were after meaning my role was mostly colour matching and correcting, with the odd stylistic choice like bluer washes in the hospital. The back and forth process of grading with Dan happened quickly over two days, being completely in the mindset of grading with no other responsibilities definitely helped to speed up the process. I’m extremely happy with the end result.

The screening was a fantastic opportunity to get an audience response and thankfully it was only praises. In theory even if the film was terrible as along as everyone who contributed like it then that is a success in my books. It was a great atmosphere for a send off in preparation for university hand in and whatever else proceeds.

Looking ahead Dan & Nathan have been investigating film festivals for their work, I will help where possible and support these endeavours as best as I can. I really hope it makes it to screen elsewhere as I honestly think its a fantastic piece of filmmaking that everyone involved should be so proud of. With the remaining budget I will get the Kickstarter pledges fulfilled with Dan – posters, scripts, copies of film. Finally I will ensure everyone involved receives a copy of the film as it won’t be online until festival season has passed. I’ve got the entire contributor list for emailing purposes so any developments I will keep everyone in the loop.

Cast & Crew Screening

Tonights cast and crew screening went extremely well, it is safe to say everyone enjoyed themselves and only positives words were passed around. The following attended the event:

  • Dan & Nathan (Writer/Directors)
  • Jordan (Sound Mixer/Editor)
  • Jesse (Boom/Foley)
  • Helen (Practical Effects)
  • Harry (Unit Production Manager)
  • Julie Harvey +1 (UWE Glenside Health & Safety)
  • Lizi Carey + dad (Amber)
  • Olivia Coombs + family (Elly)
  • Thomas Collins (Kramer)
  • Michael Farrow +1 (Anthony)
  • Tyler Britton + 2 (Gang Member 2)

It would have been nice to have had an entire crew attend the event, but understandably people have other commitments. Those attending represented a good range of involvement and able to provide different perspectives when commenting on the film.

Adele Coombs spoke to me regarding the ITV Chaperoning situation apologising for what happened, she was happy with the arrangements and had no problems whatsoever, was the case of the workshop acting without their consideration. I never thought for one moment her or Olivia had any problems with the shoot as we established a great working relationship constantly checking in throughout the production process, nevertheless it is greatly appreciated and removed any awkward feeling relating to it.

Julie Harvey and her partner were extremely impressed about the level of organisation that went into the project when asking me about producing it. The fact I had to deal with actors from multiple cities, tight time frames and diverse locations they were surprised I managed to pull it off and congratulated me on my achievement.

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Following the screening there was a rupture of applauses, everyone was fully engaged throughout the film and only had positive things to say about it. The range of audience suggests a wider appeal when considering the future of the project.

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The Crofters Rights was a nice venue for the screening, it was a very personal experience and I’m glad it all went as expected. I took the opportunity to notify everyone of the immediate future – degree show, email copies – expressing thanks for any level of input once again.

The entire film was engaging constantly keeping the audience on the edge of their seats as they kept up with the ever developing narrative. There was mutual admiration of the technical and creative crafts (e.g. comments on grade and sound design). Its 23 minute duration seemed to go extremely fast proving the level of immersion it causes. A thoroughly enjoyable evening, a great catch up, and ultimately a final film that everyone can be proud of attributing to.

Grading Log 17/05

Having delivered the grade yesterday Jordan and I arranged to watch it through checking over the footage for continuity, in particular I was concerned with how graded shots cut in with the footage. I noticed a lot of errors with the grade, then I realised Dan had linked the wrong media so it was still the original footage. Stopping the viewing I went back to DaVinci Resolve to get the right clips across.

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The grade is now fully completed. Dan and I have checked over the entire film, no errors so it is now exporting ready for the screening tonight.

Grading Log 16/05

This wasn’t necessarily the most creative process possible, but I have still been able to have some input aside from correction at times. For examples adding a blue wash to all the hospital footage for added coldness of rejecting Philip and playing to clinical representation.

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Scene cut detection

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Colour matching with scopes

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ColourTrace between timelines

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Custom curves

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Higher contrast

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Red dot graded, blue dot VFX error

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Lines to export ProRes

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Dan has got all of the footage and will assemble it for final delivery tomorrow. I will look through the film before approving the export.

Grade Delivery

I have finally received the files for grading the film, at such a late stage I have already accepted that it will be case of colour correction and balancing shots with no time for anything stylistic or creative. The VFX for the film have held up the post-production, whilst I respect this is an important element I’m not happy the fact my creative input has been completely removed due to members of the team running over on their processes.

Whilst the colourist in me is annoyed as a producer I accept the priority of VFX over stylistic grading. Without VFX the film wouldn’t make sense, having a plainer grade isn’t much of a loss. One of the major delays in getting the footage was Dan loading film grain over the entire film. In my mind this would be a random generator that doesn’t add too much, however he has invested in expensive stocks for After Effects and previewing the footage it makes a dramatic difference.

The grain samples the content in the frame to keep the grain consistent throughout, with the option to choose to replicate particular models of camera and stock. With the grain applied it makes a huge difference and has completed the majority of the grading process. Having previewed some footage I feel like my input for grading is dramatically less than expected, treating it as a colour correction job not only accommodates for what little time I have been given but also the fact there shouldn’t be much to grade.

Taking all of this into consideration I will approach the footage with an extremely open mind. It’s not necessarily good practice but I will try and avoid grading unless its for colour correction or a relatively simple style choice (e.g. subtle colour washes). The grain has had a huge impact on the grade, one of the reasons for reducing my schedule to a couple of days, and almost nailing the visual style and colour Dan, Nathan and I intended on getting.

Full Credits List

Whilst assembling the production folder today Nathan and I realised we needed to outline the final credit list so that we could feature it in our folder and pass it on ready for the scrolling credits at the end of the film. Using my contributor list and notes from the last time I updated the credits we were able to quickly pull titles and names together. Nathan found a hollywood industry template as to how you list names so we ordered the credits as appropriate.

Full Credit List

I have personally spoken to each member of the crew to ensure how everyone wants to be listed (e.g. Elizabeth Penny or Liz Penny); confirming they were happy with their role in the credits and changing as appropriate. In addition I checked for any “Special Thanks” credits from any other crew members. Below this section in the credits I have then listed our Kickstarter Backers (fulfilling our pledge) in order of amount pledged – 3x £50+, Left £49 – £21, Right £20 – £1. Our executive producer Charles will feature at the beginning of the credits proceeding Dan, Nathan and I.

Using a template provided by Dan I have transferred the credits across ready for the film using a PSD file. Dan can make any amendments from here, this way we can be certain every title and spelling is correct.

End-credits

Starting My Journey

This entire process of researching and refining my career options has been extremely useful. I came into the year considering lighting in relation to camera, also dabbling in grading; and now I go ahead purely focused on lighting for live event and theatre rather than film. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to experiment with my role and experience in the industry, all of these driving me into a career path for lighting design. Whilst its a little side tracked from the filmmaking course I can appreciate how experimenting in this art form has enabled me creative freedom eventually finding myself building a professional career on my employment history (North Somerset Council and Timber Lake Camp).

I am certain in what I want from a career and I now feel I have the necessary skills and representation to propel myself forwards. This journey has already begun with my freelance contract with the Alma Theatre. Furthermore I am in the process of completing the last few checks and anticipate starting my employment with the Regrave Theatre as a Theatre Technician. I’m eager to get my career started, who knows where it’ll take me!

Blog Stats

This entire blogging process has been an example of my marketing strategy and online presence. Rather than create a private portfolio I am a great believer of embracing new media technology so I can share my experience with the world. With the importance of online and social media the task of blogging actively places me in discussion with media practitioners.

As I am nearing the end of my university degree I wanted to break down the statistics regarding this blog (www.joshuawakley.wordpress.com) to demonstrate its importance and role its played in considering my role in the ‘bigger picture’. I’ve understood the amount of views posts have been generating, this has fuelled me further in my blogging, but its the overall picture for my final year that is of biggest interest.

2014 – 1,238 views, 741 visitors (1.67 views per visitor), 252 posts

2015 – 1,147 views, 655 visitors (1.75 views per visitor), 282 posts

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July 2014
12 views, 3 visitors (4.0), 23 posts. All views from the United Kingdom, often referred by LinkedIn.

August 2014
10 views, 6 visitors (1.67), 16 posts. United Kingdom 6 views, United States 4 views. Referred by LinkedIn and direct address.

September 2014
13 views, 12 visitors (1.08), 5 posts. United States 11 views, United Kingdom 2 views. Referred as direct address.

October 2014
211 views, 113 visitors (1.59) 64 posts. United States 120 views, United Kingdom 81 views. Referred by search engines, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

After this point I started to see increased activity around my blog, with the UK and US providing the majority of views. Using WordPress’s Stats function I can get precise breakdowns of all the views, search terms, popular tags, popular posts, etc. It’s an interesting read to see what is most popular in my blogging style.

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Taking all of this evidence into account it is difficult to tell what elements of my blog stand out most without purchasing premium WordPress features for even more depth to the online stats. I’m attracting the majority of views through search engine terms (these aren’t explicitly stated) and minus heavy traffic through my home page everything seems to be taking my audiences interests.

All this information can become faceless and just seem like a load of figures, but the fact it generates this much traffic demonstrates an active approach and engagement with the industry. I’m freely sharing my experiences and from this I get the odd comment or referral, for example ‘Iggy’ from ‘Howtofilmschool’ in response to my post about assembling a gaffer tool kit:

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Another example is my blog being referred to in the article ’30 Tips for being an Outstanding Camera Assistant’ (https://filmcameracourse.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/30-tips-for-being-and-outstanding-camera-assistant/):

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It’s these more personal encounters that makes me feel my approach to this final year has been a worthwhile cause. I had to compile all of this work and by sharing it even if I only inspire one individual I have at least changed on persons perspective on media production and hopefully inspired hundreds more who visit my blog on a regular basis.

Delivering Project

There have been concerns regarding hand in for this project, the reason being that there is no project leader so nobody is currently responsible for assembling all the production documents and the final delivery. Alistair called a meeting for everyone involved in the project today, only Claudia, Gavin and I showed up for this surprisingly.

Following the meeting Claudia has kindly agreed to assemble the production folder for the project, I will send her all of my parts concerning lighting and set design. I have agreed to assemble the final delivery for the project, this will consist of the following elements:

Final Broadcast – The final version of the broadcast to be submitted. I need to trim the blank edges from the feed and add the UWE clock, following the export requirements for hand in.

Trailer – This was the only other video element that wasn’t included in the broadcast. I believe Chris Prowse has this so I will chase him up about it.

5minute Extract – This is required for the purpose of the screening dates on Thursday and Friday. Alistair has requested a 5minute cut so I will go through the entire broadcast to create a “best bits” reel, cutting and delivering through Adobe Premier.

All of these exports need to be delivered on a memory stick for hand in. It’s unfortunate that the project has broken down so much that there is no clear leader to pull it together for hand in, thankfully Claudia and I have volunteered. It will nice to see this project through to its completion as its been a huge learning curve and development phase in my final year of university.

Contributions Completed

Whilst this grading experience wasn’t what I originally expected I can still value its impact on me as a media practitioner and colourist. It kept me on my toes with its ever-changing narrative, making me embrace the stylings of the documentary genre. This forced me into constantly thinking about the grade and the impact it would have on the final narrative.

Whilst this isn’t the film and approach I planned in my treatment I feel I have been able to keep the inspiration behind the grade whilst adapting to the change in workload. This change in narrative removed the concern of having the project delivered late for grading.

Always keeping me reflecting on my work and looking deeper into DaVinci Resolve it has continued to build on my craft as a colourist, whether I choose to pursue this beyond university I can still appreciate it as an element towards lighting and colour crafts.