Journals – Promo Video

Journal Entry 1 – Introduction to Promotional Video

One of the pieces of work that Attila introduced us to this week is a “Promotional Video” which is part of Unit 11. He said that we can propose any idea that we would like to film that fits with Unit 11 to the tutors for our promotional video and they will give us feedback on the idea. But he also said to consider that Nick has a suggestion prepared for us too, which Nick will explain to us. Attila explained that an important part of a promo video is that you really mustn’t let it get boring, since you are wanting to keep the audience’s attention to persuade them to buy what you are selling or do what the promo is suggesting.

That made sense to me. I’ve seen some promo videos for tourism. They are not selling a particular product. Instead, they are trying to persuade you to visit their area for a holiday which will benefit many businesses in their area. They want to tempt you to go their area by showing you lots of places and persuade you that you want to go there. If they make a boring promo video, then you will turn off and not watch all the images, so you will not know how nice it is and not be persuaded to go there. I can see that this principle is the same as for fiction films/TV shows, which are what I would eventually like to direct. Except that I can also see that in a promo video the audience gives you less time to get your message across before switching to watch something else than they would do for a fiction film/TV show. So, literally, every second counts. We will need to be aware of the effect of every second of the promo video, to draw the viewer in and make them want to watch the whole video.

I think a good way to do this is with humour. You tend to hear people sharing humorous adverts/promo videos that they have watched, but not so much serious ones. They will often keep watching a bit longer too, to see what the “punchline” is. So, I think that humour will be a good starting point.

Attila also talked to us about how some people in the Film Industry look down on commercials, but that actually they are a great way to learn the skills you need for other forms of production including for the fiction Film Industry. You still have to tell a story, think about all the framing, locations, in fact about all the same things as for a fiction Feature Film. And often the budgets are very large too.

I remember being surprised previously when I found out that Director Ridley Scott (e.g. Alien (1979) and Gladiator (2000)) has directed many commercials, including the famous Hovis “Boy on a bike” advert. He said in an interview on YouTube that commercial advertising was his film school, because it “teaches you about everything”.

Journal Entry 2 – Promo Video Brief – "Make 'Em Laugh!"

The quote “Make ‘Em Laugh” is the name of a song, sung by Donald O’Connor, in the movie Singing in the Rain (1952) whilst he is performing an amazing slapstick dance routine. It is a favourite of mine and comes to mind when I think of humour and comedy. We may not be aiming with our promo video to make people laugh as much as I do when I watch Donald O’Connor in that clip, but we do want to make them smile.

In our lesson with our tutor Nick, he gave us the opportunity to either create our own idea from scratch for our promo video, or to react to a brief that he had created called “Don’t Come to Amersham”. I was immediately intrigued by this title. I realised that, obviously, no-one is actually going to want a promo video to persuade people NOT to go somewhere, so there must be a twist. And as I have mentioned many times, I like twists.

Nick explained that the idea of this brief is that a client wants a promo video made to persuade people who live in London that moving out to Amersham is a good idea. The idea is that because of Covid-19, living in London isn’t as popular as it was, and many Londoners are wanting to move out to somewhere more pleasant. Amersham Town Council wants to promote Amersham as a desirable place for these Londoners to move to. The Project Deliverable is 30 second video for use on a range of platforms including TV and Social Media Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Regarding the Target Audience, the Primary Audience is London residents, in particular the half of London residents who are looking to move home out of London. There is also a Secondary Audience of existing Amersham residents, with an aim of promoting a “sense of pride and ownership in their community”. Another key message that was required was to have a take-away message that people in Amersham are funny, warm, ironic, entrepreneurial and community minded.

So far, so good, but I hadn’t heard the twist that I was hoping for. But then Nick explained the Tone of Voice that was required by the client – “Humour and wit are essential elements”. And also that “Your video will have failed if people don’t smile”. That was more like it!

Nick explained that the video should work “counterintuitively” which means that, in order to create humour, the words deliberately oppose the images on the screen. An example that he gave is that if it says “there’s rubbish piled up in the streets” then you could accompany it with a shot of “one single crisp packet which someone immediately picks up”. He also explained that the “client” had provide a script, and that it was our job to work with that script to plan, shoot and edit a suitable promo video. He did say that we didn’t HAVE to take the script exactly as it was, we could change it if we wanted.

Our usual 90%Bloopers plus Charlie G had a chat, and we liked the humour element of this. We also liked that if we use the script as presented then we could focus our time on our cinematography skills, the sound, editing etc, hopefully creating a really professional promo advert. We listened to the recorded Voice Over and it’s really good, it sounds very professional, not surprising really since it was recorded by Nadira, who is an Industry Professional. We felt this would help us to create a really polished final product.

We decided that we wanted to go with this brief, for the following reasons. As a group, humour suits our strengths, so we were confident that we could deliver a good project. We also still wanted to challenge ourselves and learn new skills, and we felt that the elements that were already pre-done are areas that we as a group are generally good at, such as the script, and so this would allow us to focus on improving in new areas such as camera skills for example. We still had a few ideas for twists that we could add to the script, to put our own 90%Bloopers mark on it.

Particularly during lockdown, I feel that it is important to know your strengths and use them to get the best experience out of a project. We have already had so many unexpected things happen due to Covid-19 that I felt we had to “expect the unexpected”. This is reflective of what happens in the Film/TV Industry, and of what IS currently happening in the Film/TV Industry due to Covid-19. Everyone is having to find ways to work around Covid-19 to try to avoid cancelling projects, but many are ending up having to be cancelled. I didn’t want our project to be one of them.

Journal Entry 3 – Promo Video Proposal Planning

After this introduction to the project brief, we started planning in more depth. We worked on planning our storyboard, shot list, risk assessment and kit list. We planned our location scouting. We discussed where there might be bins. We discussed what time of day we would need to film so that there wouldn’t be too many people there, to be Covid-safe. Ellie numbered the shots that we were thinking of, according to locations, to be efficient when filming. 

 We discussed how long it would take us to walk between the various locations that we were thinking of and started to group potential shots by location. We discussed the idea of asking Harley to film a cat that visits his garden as “dangerous wildlife”. Nick explained that Nadira hadn’t really meant to laugh at the roaring bit, “raahhh” but I said I like the laughing because it fits.

Our twist idea is to have Jack as a consistent actor in many shots actually trying to sabotage the “niceness” of the counter images that we are portraying. For example, when the VO says “Terrible violent crime problems…” we plan to have Adam sitting happily on a bench in nice surroundings. Then we will see Jack rush up to him in a threatening, scary way, then see Adam turn to look at Jack then just turn back and ignore him. Jack will give up and walk away. So, to give it added depth and a “90%Bloopers twist”, Jack is trying to sabotage the counterintuitive message of the image but failing. This should emphasise the counterintuitive humour in the shots even more.

We discussed what equipment to film on. We considered the black magic but decided that our DSLRs would be more flexible for this project. Also, we need smooth, un-shaky shots to get the glossy, professional feel that we are after, which means we will be using tripods, whereas the black magic is great for handheld shots. Also I have 3 lenses for my DSLR which could be useful when we go into our shots in more detail.

We defined job roles, came up with ideas for shots that could go with the VO script, and started talking about the tone we were after. We felt, that unlike in an action sequence where you mirror fast paced action with lots of fast cuts, we wanted a relaxed and unhurried pace, with longer cuts to mirror the fact that life in Amersham is relaxed and Londoners will enjoy it.

Journal Entry 4 – Promo Video Proposal

We had a Proposal Meeting with Nick to present our ideas. We recorded this, and it is on my main Unit 11 Promotional Video section of my website.

Nick liked our shot ideas so far. For example, we have found a way to include Harley who is shielding due to Covid-19. We are suggesting that he is the editor. I also explained another idea that we have to include him.  That is where the script mentions the savage wildlife and the VO goes “raaarrrr!”. Harley loves cats and our idea for that is to have Harley be “2nd Unit” and film the cat who comes into his garden including one of her meowing or yawning to dub the “raaarrr” over. Nick said that’s a really nice idea, both for including Harley, to keep our group doing good teamwork, and also for the “raarrr” dub. He thought the idea of a cat going meow fitted the counterintuitive idea very well.

As Director, I talked through the creative brief, what we are trying to achieve. To have contradicting images to the words, however also adding our own unique twist by having one constant actor showing up trying to actually do what the words are showing e.g. a field with a nice ambience, birds chirping, and then the camera pans to Jack who will let out a wonderful screech, the only sound except for the pleasant ambient sounds, and be off in the distance so that you don’t really hear it that much. Other contradictory acts will be like trying to throw some rubbish in the bin, missing, that rubbish being the only rubbish on the ground, then being a good citizen and actually picking it up and putting it in the bin. Nick liked all this and reiterated that the overall approach to this is entirely saying one thing and showing another, humorously and beautifully, that’s the point, and we are getting that point and showing it very well.

He asked if we’d thought of what type of music. I said calm, peaceful, nice gentle music, to add to the peace and tranquillity of Amersham, while the voiceover is playing. Are we going to stick with the script or alter it, do we want to add to it at all? I said I think we are going to stick with it, however if we find that something doesn’t quite line up with the shots then we may redo it ourselves later on, but our original idea is to use the voice over. Adam confirmed we really like Nadira’s voiceover. Nick said that something that he had just thought of is to maybe have a dialogue going on maybe with a character sort of whispering in Nadira’s ear i.e. saying one thing and saying another at the same time. So Nadira says “don’t move to Amersham it’s very noisy etc” and Jack whispers “no it’s not, it’s fine”, you could use captions to work round it too.

I’ve had a think about this. It’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure that it would work with the twist that we have thought of as Jack trying to sabotage the images so that they match the words instead of being opposite to them. If he were to try to “sabotage” the words too, then it could get confusing as to which message he is actually trying to give and which he is trying to sabotage.

Nick said that we have some really nice ideas here and we’ve understood the brief really quickly and gone with it with the humour and style, so we have successfully completed the first bit of this Unit and Assignment which is to “Understand the nature of a Commercial Brief”

Journal Entry 5 – Promo Video - our first "spanner in the works"

Today we found out that Adam has to self-isolate due to having been on the College bus when there was someone who later tested positive for Covid-19. I am confident that we will problem-solve and find a way round it, but it is still irritating to have an unexpected problem so early in the project.

I suppose you could actually call it the second “spanner in the works” if you include Harley already shielding, but we already knew about that and had built-in a solution to that by giving Harley the role of 2nd Unit to film some cats and also Editor. We will have to rethink our shooting schedule, but I’m sure we will find ways round this, we always do since problem solving is a strength of our team,

Journal Entry 6 – Promo Video planning in a freezing car

On the day of Nick’s lesson this week I had no electricity in my house, which meant no Wifi. It was planned by the Electricity Board and they did give us a couple of days’ notice that we would be without electricity for the day. Due to Covid-19 (again), I couldn’t just go round to a friend’s house to use their Wifi. So – my problem-solving swung into action again, since I didn’t want to miss the lessons and important planning sessions.

I agreed with my Uncle that I could use their Wifi, which is password protected. I suggested to my Mum that we park our car outside where my Uncle lives, on their drive, and do the days’ lessons from there. I hadn’t anticipated quite how cold it would be. I knew it would be cold, I had checked the weather forecast, and we took hot drinks. My Aunt very kindly brought out hot drinks for us when they ran out. But it was REALLY cold. My Mum and I had blankets in the car as always and had taken several layers, which we needed. But it worked though, and I didn’t miss any lessons or planning meetings, which is great.

I was particularly glad that I didn’t miss the day as we did some really good planning and had really good advice from Nick. For example, to really think about your audience. We are aiming it primarily at Londoners, so the challenge is to make is glossy and special. Think about your audience. Ellie made notes, Nick commented that she would make a great AD (Assistant Director). We finalised our allocated roles, for example Harley Editor as he can’t film in person with us, Charlie to find music. Next Wednesday we plan to do location scouting. We brainstormed the Risk Assessment and Kit List. We discussed Location Scouting days as various of us have days we can’t make. Weather doesn’t look great next Weds but we can have following Weds as back up. Harley will film the cat as “wild animals”.

We discussed with Nick how to handle any potential angry members of public. We should ensure that we all wear masks, and then politely explain, to anyone who asks, what we are doing. We should also take care to not get in anyone’s way and move out of the way immediately if we ARE getting in someone’s way rather than trying to finish the shot. We should have someone keeping an eye out at all times, to ensure we are not getting in the way of any members of the public.

When I was filming my GCSE project, we used Missenden Abbey Conference Centre as one of our locations. In that instance, we had someone allocated to explain to anyone who approached that we were filming for educational purposes. Usually, we asked anybody who approached if they would mind waiting a moment until we finished the shot if we were actually rolling. Most people were most happy to wait and were often interested in what we were doing. However, we weren’t outside in cold then, and we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic. We were aware that people might not want to wait in the cold, and also members of the public may be more “jumpy” because of Covid-19. This meant that we need to take it upon ourselves to be very aware of this and be careful and considerate. Again, this reflects life on a real Film set – you have to be aware of your location and also be aware when you are filming in Public that it is most helpful to your filming if you can keep members of the public on your side.

We set our Location Scouting Day as the following Wednesday, in our own time before the days’ lesson started. We would like Adam to be there, but he will still be self-isolating at that point. We considered delaying it, but we really want to get our real filming done the day after, and Adam will be out of self-isolation that day, assuming and hoping that he doesn’t actually go down with Covid-19. We are aware of it, and already thinking of ways round it, which is helped by having a team of 6. I would much rather that Adam is present, but we will find a solution to the problem if he can’t be.

The next day, Adam emailed our Risk Assessment to our tutors regarding our location scouting plans for the next week.

Journal Entry 7 – Promo Video Location Scouting

Ellie, Charlie, Jack and I did some Location Scouting today before College. We had already discussed that we thought there was a good grassy large square with nice houses round it, just off Amersham High Street. We also wanted to find a bin on the High Street to use. The location scouting went well, we are happy with the locations that we found and we also have some good behind-the-scenes photos that we can use in our write-ups.

On the way home from College today I asked my Mum if we could drive round to see if we could find any “Welcome to Amersham” signs. We had looked during our location scouting but, as we had expected, we didn’t find any since we were in the centre of Amersham and you’d expect the Welcome signs to be at the edge of the town, on the way in. My mum and I, in the car, found some which weren’t exactly “Welcome” signs but were close. They said “AMERSHAM TWINNED WITH BENSHEIM, GERMANY. KRYNICA, POLAND”. I will show them to the others tomorrow. I also took some photos of Amersham Old Town, which is more “Oldy-Worldy” and I’ll show them to the others tomorrow too.

When I got home, I googled to see if I could find the locations of any actual “Welcome to Amersham” signs rather than the “Amersham twinned with…” signs. I remembered that Samuel Sellers (The Distinction level example FMP that we were told about) did this to find where old red telephone boxes were for his Year 2 FMP. However, I couldn’t find any Welcome signs online. I found an article about how there was a petition to get Amersham signs, but they seemed to be the “twinned” signs. I also found some photos of awards won by Amersham, which are in the form of oval plaques on a post near the church. They look nice and could be useful.

Journal Entry 8 – Covid-19 strikes again - Promo Video shooting day re-arrangement

We had planned on doing our Promo Filming today during Nick’s lesson times because it is Adam’s first day back after he had to self-isolate for 10 days. However yesterday evening we received an email from Nick explaining that he had been double checking the rules for filming offsite during College time. It turns out that since we are in a new National Lockdown the College Risk Assessment says that we now cannot film offsite during College time.

Nick was extremely apologetic about the late notice. We were disappointed, but we understood the difficulties at the moment in working out what is and isn’t allowed. We will need to have a think about what to do. I am aware that in the Film Industry there are challenges with locations. The location challenges have historically been more related to the weather when filming outside, for example heavy rain when the day is supposed to be sunny. Covid-19 is a new challenge for the Film Industry, and many productions have had to be rescheduled, delayed or cancelled.

Some productions have simply had to cancel certain episodes, for example His Dark Materials (the TV adaptation of Philip Pullman’s books of the same name), from BBC/HBO had one episode of their second series left to film. It was a planned, standalone episode about one character, Lord Asriel, played by James McAcvoy. It was lucky that most of the rest of the series had been largely finished before the initial UK lockdown in March 2020, but the Lord Asriel episode had not. Executive Producer Jane Tranter said “Essentially, our adaptation of The Subtle Knife (book two) had been completed so we were really lucky from that point of view”. But they had to make the decision to leave the Lord Asriel episode for the moment, which is a shame, but I can understand why. They have said that it may be revisited, and I hope so, since I was really looking forward to it, but I am just glad that they were able to complete the rest of season two.

I watched all of season one and loved it. I have just started watching season two, and I am lucky enough this evening to be taking part in a live webinar on Zoom about this TV adaptation of His Dark Materials, with a panel of Joel Collins (the executive Producer and Production Designer) and Ben Irving (The Commissioning Editor for BBC Drama). I am really excited about this and am really looking forward to it. I will be writing it up for my website.

And our group will need to have a discussion to see how to solve this problem of not being able to film today. I’m sure we will come up with a solution as we are all good at problem solving.

Journal Entry 9 – Promo Video - triangles

Ellie asked me about ISO, Shutter speed and Aperture, so I made a PowerPoint to explain more to Ellie about “Understanding ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture Better” and we had an online call via Discord in which I talked her through it. We had recently learned about these things in class and we wanted to go into them in more depth. We both (me as Director and Ellie as Cinematographer) wanted to make use of what we had learned for this project, we wanted to be more adventurous with our camera work and hopefully end up with more professional looking shots.

I was pleased with my PowerPoint, especially the “triangle” diagrams that I had found online. I had used tringle diagrams when I was studying IGCSE Geography and I found them a useful way to understand the inter-relationship between 3 things. I wondered if they existed for ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture, since they are also 3 interlinked settings. I looked online and found them. In the PowerPoint, I first put some general triangle diagrams so that I could more easily explain how triangle diagrams work, then on the next slide I put in several versions of triangle diagrams for ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture.

Explaining something to someone else is always a good way of confirming your own understanding of it. I found that putting together the PowerPoint and explaining it to Ellie helped me to clarify my own understanding too, so this was a useful exercise for both of us. This helped us a lot when we were filming, because we were also developing an understanding that helped us to collaborate to get shot types that we were after.

In the Film Industry, Directors and Cinematographers often collaborate closely, and many Directors have Cinematographers who they frequently work with, for example Steven Spielberg and Janusz Kaminski. They have a very long history of collaboration, since 1993, and have produced many films together, 19 including Schindler’s List (1993), Saving Private Ryan (1998) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997). I can see that a long-time collaboration is beneficial to both parties, since they develop an understanding of the creative vision of the other one. However in an interview Janusz Kaminski said that working with Steven Spielberg “Never became routine” because he said that he still keeps discovering that Spielberg has so much new, untapped creativity that with every movie that they do, Spielberg amazes him with his new point of view. This must be a wonderful way to work. My career aspirations are to eventually become a fiction Film/TV Director, via a cinematography route, so both sides of their relationship are interesting to me.

Journal Entry 10 – Promo Video Main Filming Day

Today was our main Promo filming day around the high street in Amersham. We had managed to reschedule to during our own time, before College Lessons. We were more limited in time since we all had to get back to our own homes in order to log on for our Zoom lesson, but it was the best that we could come up with due to Covid-19 restrictions. There was Jack, Charlie, Adam, Ellie and me. As Director, I was working closely with Ellie who was the cinematographer. We found that the time we spent discussing ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture was really useful as we were able to experiment with the camera settings to get better photos than we usually do.

As Director, I was responsible for setting the shots up, and for explaining to Ellie what we were after. Since it is a group project, I didn’t ignore suggestions from the others, since, having had experience of working with them I know that all of us have good ideas. We did already have a pretty clear idea of what we were after from our storyboard, shot list and location scouting, so that was helpful. I made sure to get the shots that I knew we needed, but also tried some experimental shots too. Adam was a great spotter for the camera too, keeping us safe. Jack and Charlie were great actors, and Charlie was a great Runner too since he was in shot less than Jack. I feel we worked well together in a professional manner.

One shot that we atempted was very interesting was a shot where Jack was lying on the ground looking up at the sky. Ellie stood in front of the bench just by him and I stood on the bench. I wanted to do a “pull back” shot, where Ellie started the shot then, in a smooth movement she passed the camera up to me whilst filming and I panned up even further. We really liked the shot, but due to not having a Steadicam or Camera Gimbal we decided it wasn’t quite as smooth as we wanted to go with the glossy feel that we were after. We tried it several times with the same result. It looked what it was – hand-held. It was a shame, but one thing that I, and indeed all of us, have been learning is that if a shot doesn’t work then you have to let it go, no matter how much you are attached to it or want it to have worked. This was one of those shots.

I still love the idea of it, and since I am hoping in the future to buy a Steadicam or Camera Gimbal then I will try it again if am appropriate project comes up.

I’m pleased with the days’ filming. I believe we got the shoots we want. Our previous location scouting really paid off in terms of being able to set up the shots that we wanted quickly and efficiently.

Journal Entry 11 – Promo Video weather challenges

(Saturday) I had planned get a couple of particular shots in Amersham today (Saturday), the “Amersham twinned with…” sign, another particular sign that I had found, and to do some “Stock Shots” of Old Amersham. But, unfortunately, it was too misty and kept raining on and off. I had gone out with my parents to get our Christmas tree from near Chesham, so we drove to and from Chesham via Old Amersham and it just wasn’t good enough for filming.

I was able though to work out an appropriate order to film the shots that I wanted and find good places to park for when I can film, so that was helpful.

I would like to try tomorrow morning (Sunday), but I’ve checked the “BBC Weather” app and also the Dark Sky weather app and to be honest the weather isn’t looking much better tomorrow. I’ll have to see tomorrow. It could go either way since the apps didn’t predict the mist today.

(Sunday) It went the wrong way, even worse weather than expected. I’ll try again another day.

Journal Entry 12 – Promo Video - Amersham Old Town

I asked my Mum if we could go early to College and go first to Old Amersham to see if I could get the shots that I wanted before College. Unfortunately, it was still too misty at this time of morning. I confirmed that where I was hoping for my mum to park would still work, and Ellie and I will try after College to get these shots. It is important not to ignore practicalities like parking. On a real film production, all the practicalities are a big part of the planning, especially if you have a large cast. Getting cast and crew from place to place can be a large logistical exercise. I’m fortunate in that I’m not filming with a cast, and the only crew that I will have for filming after lessons today is Ellie. But I still need to plan where my Mum can park and also where she can wait (since it doesn’t make sense for her to drive all the way home then come back again) and also it needs to be somewhere safe to get out of the car. I have found one parking place near the “Amersham twinned with…” sign, and another close to the Old Amersham high street.

After College, filming in Amersham Old Town – It was a bit darker than I would have liked, but as we were needing to film in our own time, we just had to make the best of it, and see what we got.

First Ellie and I went to get shots of the “Amersham twinned with…” sign, since I felt that this was the most important part, so we should make the most of the light that we had. After this, Ellie and I met up with Matthew, a friend, and we got a nice pan of him standing in a quaint archway in Old Amersham. When we had been discussing our plans for this Promo Video as a whole with Nick, he had mentioned that having people in shots helps the audience to imagine themselves there, and this shot with Matthew in fulfils that well. However, by 4pm it was getting dark, which was making filming tricky, so we had to stop, although there were still a few shots that we hadn’t got.

Journal Entry 13 – Promo Video - More Old Amersham shots

Again, I headed to College early to try to get the couple of shots that Ellie and I hadn’t got because it had got too dark on Weds. These were the oval award signs, the church, and the nice pub sign for the Swan Pub. I had seen the weather forecast first thing and it was forecasting rain, but due to us running out of time I had decided it was worth a shot to see if the forecast was wrong. A weather forecast is for quite a wide, general area, and on occasion a small area can have different weather to that forecast.

Unfortunately, that was not the case this day. It was misty and rainy as forecast.

Immediately after College I stopped off in Old Amersham on the way home from College with my mum as crew. I was careful to stick to the Risk Assessment, including telling my mum at which place we should cross the road etc. and asking her to keep an eye out for public wanting to pass when I was blocking the pavement with my tripod. It worked well. I got the shots listed above, I also took a bit of footage of the Elephant and Castle Pub when my mum mentioned that there is an Elephant and Castle area of London. I’m not sure if that can be incorporated, but at least I have the footage if it can. Pros – it would give a subtle nod to moving out of London but still some things being familiar. Cons – it could tie the promo to London whereas we didn’t include the statistics about moving out of London at the start so as to not be negative about London and also it makes the promo multi-purpose by keeping London out of it explicitly.

Journal Entry 14 – Promo Video first draft

Harley has done a first draft of Promo and sent it to the rest of us for feedback. It’s a very smooth edit, but it isn’t quite it the spirit of counterintuitive. When I showed it to my parents, my Mum was confused and said “I thought you said the words were going to be opposing the images. Did you change that?” and she is right.

Harley and I had a Director/Editor meeting about this on Discord, and that’s when I found out that some-how we had had a miscommunication issue over the counterintuitive aspect. Harley hadn’t fully realised about the counterintuitive aspect, and that every shot had to be opposing the words. I had thought that I had explained this fully, but, when I think back, I can’t actually remember the conversation. I think, upon reflection, that we (the rest of the group) had discussed the creative approach so much in the first week, which was an “In-College” week, so Harley wasn’t there, that by the time we were back to Zoom lessons the following week we had moved on to planning the practicalities of filming and the risk assessment, the kit list, the shot-list etc. So the reason I couldn’t place the specific time when I explained the counterintuitive part is that I never specifically did! I apologised, and we went through and reviewed each shot with the counterintuitive aspect in mind.

I liked the panning down idea at the start, and so did Harley which is why he put it in. We decided to replace the opening shot with the Amersham sign, and I said I will go and re-film the Amersham sign as a pan down like the one in this initial edit. I will also film the quiet country road with just one car in. That sorted the opening.

A few other shots needed to be re-edited to specifically get in the Counterintuitive tone. Once Harley and I had that concept straight, Harley could pretty much see what he needed to change, so going through confirming it was pretty straightforward. For example, the shot of Charlie sitting on his own on a bench needs to be extended to include Jack coming and sitting with him. This changes the entire tone from Charlie siting being lonely to Amersham being a friendly place where you won’t be on your own. We also changed the clip of Jack rushing up to Adam (for the violent crime part) to include Jack starting to walk away and Adam looking (unscared) at Jack then turning back forwards, to show that it is NOT an example of violent crime.

We also decided that the train section needed adjusting. The sound of the train didn’t oppose the word “noisy”, so we needed to alter that. But we wanted to show good transport links since that is important to Londoners. However, we couldn’t just leave out the train sound. This is because, psychologically, an audience is happy to hear a sound that they can’t see an image for, for example they are happy to hear sirens off screen and assume that a police car is off screen somewhere. However, seeing an image on screen without the corresponding sound has a different effect, especially if it is a very obvious sound that they would expect to hear.

Directors and Sound Designers can often use this expectation to “play” with the audience psychologically, to evoke a certain response. Not hearing something on screen that you would expect to hear, for example a dog barking on screen, can jar the audience and maybe imply that the main character, whose point of view the director is focusing on, is maybe super distracted by a piece of bad news, or may be feeling ill and be about to keel over. Obviously both these examples are of bad things either just happened or about to happen. There is nothing to stop a director from using it to show that the protagonist is distracted by being really happy about something, but from what I have seen in films it is usually connected with something bad. Which is exactly opposite to effect that we want to have, we want our images to be pleasant. Although the images and the words are opposing each other, it is in a humorous way that should be making the audience smile, not worry that something bad is going to happen.

We decided to keep the train sound in and to change what might seem like a problem into an advantage. We decided to add in positive words about the train station with an onscreen title with a positive quote about the train station. I feel that the quote that “The staff are really nice and friendly. If you lose or forget anything, you will get it back” is a very appropriate one and works well. Thus, a problem was solved and even turned into a positive.

The end shot that we had filmed didn’t really seem strong enough a positive image to end on. The last image of Amersham needed to make it really look like an idyllic place to live. Changing it to the shot through the quaint Archway in Amersham Old Town will leave a much better image in the audience’s mind.

These changes should really improve our promotional video, making the message clear rather than confusing, and making the whole thing more glossy, as requested.

Journal Entry 15 – Promo Video - Amersham twinned sign

On Saturday afternoon I went with my Mum as crew to refilm the Amersham sign footage as Harley and I had agreed, to get it panning down in order to replace the original opening Amersham High street pan down. I also shot the “empty country road with just one car” to replace the high street footage where the line “terrible traffic problems” is said. It was a beautiful sunny day. I was thinking maybe I should have been filming some Old Amersham footage and maybe I should have arranged to meet Ellie here today but when we drove through the high street it was really busy with lots of stalls in places that Ellie I had originally filmed, so it would not have worked due to too many people and it would have been very difficult to keep to the risk assessment, which we have been careful to do at all other times. I believe it was the right decision under the circumstances of Covid-19.

I’m very pleased with the pan down that I got. I had to re-do it several times when multiple cars suddenly appeared where there had been none at the start of the shot. The final shot that Harley put in was 5 seconds, which was long enough that sometimes a car would come round the corner from behind me and get into the shot, which I didn’t want for that shot. I experimented with the speed of the pan down to try to match the pacing of the rest of the video. I think Harley chose the right clip and the pacing works.

Journal Entry 16 – Promo Video – Final edit

Harley completed the final edit, and I think he has done an excellent job. I feel it completely meets the brief, and he has got the pacing spot on. I am very pleased.

I should say that the last few days were not without frustrations. We were not in College this week so in order to get all the footage that I had shot to Harley, I again had to rely on my rather bad Wifi/Internet connections. It took ages and uploading fell over several times before it finally worked. My Dad would very much like to change our provider, but we are very limited in choice where we live. Basically, it is BT or BT, there are no accessible cable options, and unlikely to be for the foreseeable future, which is a pain. Thankfully I managed it eventually.

And as I say, Harley has done an excellent job editing our final Promo Video. I think we worked well as a team, overcame many problems and have produced a polished video that meets the brief. And we had fun doing it.