Now that this short film has done its rounds, including the Raindance festival- screening in a cinema end of last year; I am ready to share some of the making of the making off.
This one started with an ambition, a metaphor and a sense of human experience – most abstract, but yet understood between me and the director – with little of a script to start of with: the engines of filmmaking started turning all the same.
Location secured with one of the bigger ‘black out’ challenges: this was going to be a thrilling horror and had to happen in the dark- moodboard set ,the set up and planning started with a thrill for our crew – and in lofty hights.
10 days before shooting day: Writer in the midst of translating vision and idea into a script. Casting the actors, discussing costume ( some items of my wardrobe and from previous productions made it into the cut).
Clear on story arch and feel ( still no completed script) I briefed the costume designer on the crucial character and metaphor ( have to have a monster to thrill). The understanding of such, in a short sharp chat: translated by Amelia Giovanelli into concept art and a costume in a heartbeat- amazed me.
Finding the key items and props that signify the story world for me:
My desire to go with practical effects over digital VFX appreciated and realised.
The joy for the art department, is the joy of metaphorical and visual story telling – an aspect I ‘d like to stretch every time: especially in the world of independent shortfilms.
Less time to tell a lot – and with this more abstract approach to psychological and paranormal aspects to the story, the detail and little hints of signifying props sprinkle- became important:
The ‘monster’ got dressed with keepsakes from previous victims; enhancing a suggestion of ‘passing of time’. (Some shots had to be dropped to tell this aspect of the story – due to time restriction in production – storyworld time; always hard to capture)
It helped that objects can tell a background story too, helping a sense of ‘passing of time’, shaping the character of the storyworld: Photos of the main character with blacked out boyfriends, dried flowers from previous dates: just left, uncared for and disregarded – another vintage oldy-wordly lampshade here and there, placing a moon poster and getting one of my vintage rocking chairs out of storage, another velvety curtain and pelmet hung ( who wants to see white walls in a horror? ). Another sprinkling of costume and items to add texture and colour, in keeping with the over all look and feel: I felt the storyworld came to its own.
Story world set up and inspected, I was ready for the camera and lighting team to add their magic and we got off to a good start.
And with a great understanding between director and myself and a translation by the writer into a script – I was thrilled to see the use of the metaphorical use of props: the kintsugi bowl … something to get my art department teeth into.
Taking the ‘smashing it’ – to a literal level on this one… :for this item to take on more significant meaning, and reappear a few times – [“fixed and therefor stronger …”} this was an art department delight for me.
And with true make believe challenges, we had quite a few of these bowls: as the making and breaking and fixing, didn’t happen in chronological order on set – and at times between broke and fixed not much more than a clap of the board.
For shards of a broken bowl only to reappear a day later !?!? LOL … well we ‘smashed it’ and all was ready as intended when the camera was rolling.
We went for the yellow soup and not the predictable tomato soup for horror – to tie in with the rest of the colour palette.
Talking of colour … not to sure if it was too designed – but reviewing the end product and amazing edit: it makes for some pleasant reading in between some thrilling moments … delivering intrigue and engagement to the story telling …
Amazed to see the story arch visualised and nicely arranged through edit and music design… starting with not much more than an abstract thought … successfully translated and communicated to DOP , Costume making and special effects make up and writer … Directed but yet another twist that materialised in the editing room …
Moving forward in my development in the art department and niche. What a team:
Get in touch if you wish to see the end product, the short “Janus”.