Friday, 28 February 2014

Project Three: Fantastic Voyage

The last project of the first year is a commission project based on the theme of reproduction. We were given four reproductive processes for the project and will construct our narrative and animation around the core process we chose; while also remembering what we are telling our audience.

The four reproductive processes are:

x Plasmodial Slime Mold (

x Cellular Slime Mold (

x Moss/Bryophyta (

x Fern/Pteridophyta (

My particular favourites are the Bryophyta and Cellular Slime Mold, I had an almost instantaneous reaction to them, with sci-fi narratives springing forth. This is a good sign for my work as formulating a story as quickly as possible; as well as having a strong visual direction upon which to thumbnail and storyboard, will be essential in getting this project off the ground as quickly as possible. My only fear would be losing my focus upon the process itself and confusing my audience and client, however I will pay closer attention to this to ensure it doesn't happen.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Blair Witch Project (1999) Film Review

Fig 1: 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999) Poster
'The Blair Witch Project' (1999) is a found footage genre film that tells the story of three students and the events leading up to their disappearance. The film was captured using a handheld camera and a 16mm black and white camera and while use of handheld equipment is almost a must for this films genre, the black and white film camera gave a sense of realism as it worked with the plot but also invoked its own form of horror by depriving scenes of colour and increasing contrast between light and dark, a feature which makes it almost invaluable in the final scene's house and basement. The script and dialogue is massively improvised with the actors given only an outline of how the story would unfold, their performances under such conditions bring a sense of complete realism and evokes a primal fear with the viewer as the characters only get more and more lost and convinced of their situation as hopeless.

"The Blair Witch Project" is the scariest movie I've ever seen. Not the goriest, the grossest, the weirdest, the eeriest, the sickest, the creepiest or the slimiest... Just flat out the scariest." (Rose 1999)

The way in which 'The Blair Witch Project' presents its horror element is simplistic in nature with what you don't see being the scariest thing of all, this is because it use intense audience participation, making use of their imagination and personal fears to fill in the blanks of the footage. The films found footage style goes along way in bringing absolute fear to the audience with the seemingly realistic actions and emotional portrayal of its cast; its camera work exercises two radically different angles of approach with black and white documentary like shots presenting the information clearly while the handheld colour camera symbolically gives us a view from the character's perspective, with us being unable to see very much at all and completely overwhelmed at times by the events around us.
Fig 2: Graveyard documentary scene in 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)
"The directors took their cue from producer Hale's Army training and shot the film like a military exercise." (Travers 1999) 

The way in which the films was recorded and produced was unique and made incredibly tough for the actors. As Travers highlights above, the film was 'directed' loosely with the actors receiving their directions to the next location via milk crate dead drops. This gave emotional realism as the actors blindly followed these directions, improvising their dialogue as they went, and become both physically and emotionally drained. The night time scenes are frightening and mind boggling for not just the audience, as the actor's and their characters are harassed continuously to varying degrees in the dark woods, only to be unsettled and unhinged ever so slowly through out the day with stick puppets, stone piles and the surplus of unexplained noises echoing around them. The film gains from this unique style by capturing realist emotions of the cast as their harrowing journey slowly comes to a close; Heather Donahue, the female lead, can be noted for really pulling on the audience's heart strings as she becomes more and more unhinged and completely desperate to escape the situation, something that can be said for all three of the students however she evokes their sympathy the most through her heart wrenching video as she claims responsiblity for the events and begins to carry the heavy guilt associated with this. Her words "I'm scared to close my eyes and I'm scared to open them" becomes a singularly memorable line as it encapsulates the entire experience's emotional conclusion as it leaves each member of the audience in a similar state of terror, dread and paranoia.

Fig 3: Donahue's crying confession in 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)
The overarching plot of this psychological horror montage is incredibly insubstantial and merely acts as a guided tour of its constructed lore.

"While it has its scary moments, and while its central conceit is refreshingly imaginative, there's ultimately not much there there." (Brunette)

The films plot is extremely elusive throughout the entire feature, with screen time dominated by the character's improvised dialogue and the tormenting actions of the directors, the goal of the three students soon becomes bogged down under all of its excess weight. The antagonist in the film is not entirely clear, it is hinted to be the witches through the strange dolls, rock piles and then the final scene in the old basement, but it is never clearly defined. This mystery of course lends itself to making the feature all the more frightening as the invisible and unknown aggressor is the scariest of all, but the reason for the torturous events that hound the three students is forgotten, tossed aside or blatantly never explained properly. It is assumed by the plot that the aggressor doesn't require a reason and merely functions on bestial instinct, although this can be made the case and work incredibly well. There are key points throughout the film, however, that have been carefully thought out, with the tormented nights engineered to such a degree that it feels like a sinister game orchestrated around the students. The invisible aggressor however soon only serves as a generic evil which must be unconditionally feared, leaving the audience to see it as twisted two dimensional entertainment instead of the carefully plotted psychological experiment it is.

List of Illustrations

Fig 1: 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999) poster [Poster] At:

Fig 2: Graveyard documentary scene in 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999) Directed by Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick [Film Still] America: Haxan Films. At:

Fig 3: Donahue's crying confession in 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999) Directed by Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick [Film Still] America: Haxan Films. At:


Brunette, Peter. At: [Online Review] (Accessed 18/02/2014)

Lloyd, Rose (1999) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 18/02/2014)

Travers Peter (1999) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 18/02/2014)

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Final Storyboard Segments - Grave Mistakes

This details the opening zoom and the trigger of Grayam's torment.

This section displays two of his flashbacks that essentially make him remember his past vividly and his rest period afterwards.

This last segment shows the his loss of happiness as he is completely confronted by his past sins and a glimpse of what he is sees through dead eyes.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Reservoir Dogs (1992) Review

Fig 1: 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992) poster
The film 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992) is directed by Quentin Tarantino and features his unique style of narrative and content. The plot is of how an armed robbery by an organised crime family goes completely wrong on the job and turns into a bloodbath, with several members fleeing from the scene and arriving at a warehouse designated 'the rendezvous' the hunt for a rat, while laying low from the police, begins. The gritty, bloody and uncouth display that follows demonstrates the unbelievable tension within the group over which has the bigger penis. The characters of the film are each given a codename with which to use during the job and are all portrayed and conveyed with unique personalities and characteristics, seen in the tiny details such as tipping waitresses shown in the very beginning and associations with the colour code-names has, allowing the audience to get a real understanding of each character's motivations and behaviour through the characters themselves and their actions throughout the film instead of drawn out exposition.

"Undeniably impressive pic grabs the viewer by the lapels and shakes hard, but it also is about nothing other than a bunch of macho guys and how big their guns are." ( McCarthy 1992)

The overwhelming presence of male tension that dominates the film's character interactions is both a defining theme as well as a key plot device. It is used and worked hard throughout, with tensions between Mr White and Mr Blonde, Mr Pink and Mr White and finally Eddie, Joe and Mr White all boiling to there highest point because each wishes to be or acts like the alpha male, attempting to over power and dominate the others through verbal or physical aggression. It can quite easily be seen that Mr White is the a major contestant for alpha male status, something that is portrayed by his appearance and conveyed quite strongly through his personality as a experienced criminal but a overprotective father figure as well. He constantly challenges the other members while stalwartly defending the injured Mr Orange, a character who is first seen as a defenceless youngster when judged by his actions and the others opinions but later revealed to be the undercover officer. This bond between Mr White and Mr Orange becomes, what looks to the audience, a father and son relationship with Mr Orange's masculinity removed, as he asks for White to hold him and comfort him, and Mr White's alpha male status dominating, as he stands against all opposition that favour the death of Orange. This relationship itself becomes singularly core to the plot as the film moves toward its final conclusion with Orange's life hanging in the balance, an event that determines the deaths of several characters and something that is hinted at happening regardless once White learns of Oranges betrayal, a heart rending scene that suggestively ends with several gunshots and White's disappearance off camera.

Fig 2: Final moments of White and Orange in 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992)
The unique narrative and way in which Tarantino presents the film's plot and characters is both intuitive and bold, acting as a great underlying strength.

"Undoubtedly one of the best films of the 1990s, and probably one of the best directorial debuts of all time, Reservoir Dogs announced the arrival of one of contemporary cinema's hottest talents -- and he came out shooting." (Film4 2011)

This point can be seen ever present throughout the film, the slow start and portrayal of the characters personalities contrasts the rest of the narrative but works to set ground work for the audiences view of the characters by providing a neutral environment and everyday situation in which anyone could relate to. This makes the charcters appear as more realistic constructs as well as allowing the audience a feel of each individual before throwing them into the blood soaked situation that follows. The low budget assets of this following situation actually play well to this film's strengths, with the average warehouse becoming a grave for many of the cast and acting as the lynch pin around which most of the story and action revolves. Tarantino's signature use of a semi disjointed narrative style plays well for character development, with flash backs of meetings and interactions providing clarity and insight into a few character's back stories as the audience requires for understanding the plot's reveals. This can, however, break up the audiences attention somewhat and slightly reduces the impact of such revelations; the most prominent of these being Orange's back story after his undercover officer reveal, it side tracks the narrative to provide an in-depth look into his personal feelings and drives, although this can be justified as necessary as the audience doesn't really understand his character all that well with his injury and not his personality becoming a focus of his character. That does not simply mean that this late and long explanation fits well into the film's formula and certainly does not mean that it should be blindly accepted by the audience, it largely messes with the plots flow and de-constructs a specific character too much with useless exposition, a move that swiftly moves away from the beauty of how the other characters are portrayed and conveyed which is through strong characterisation, allowing only short sections in which connections and pasts are revealed for the audience's clarity.

Fig 3: Starting restaurant scene in 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992)
 The strong characterisation of the film is supported strongly by its soundtrack, using it to convey much more about the characters realistically than needless exposition would.

"The other, one of the more gruesome scenes, uses the catchy pop-rock of “Stuck in the Middle With You” to soften the moment of a man getting tortured and his ear cut off with an old-fashioned shaver." (Young 2010)

The soundtrack to 'Reservoir Dogs' is composed of an array of well known and unknown tracks, but are used in such intelligent ways that aid in character development and portrayal more than breaking up the dialogue heavy sections within the film. A particular scene, the torture of a kidnapped police officer, is one such scenes in which the audio track used, which is Stealers Wheel's 'Stuck in the middle with you', greatly supports the characterisation of Mr Blonde, a seemingly odd character, that the audience will view during the scene as a psychopath because of the juxtaposition of the light hearted musical track and his sick and twisted actions. The character's enjoyment is clearly portrayed and acts as comedic relief for his serious actions but reveals his sadistic nature fully. This strong example of musical characterisation shows Tarantino's intelligent use of cinematic elements to further portray his characters and their personalities. Another example of this would be after the starting restaurant scene as the criminal ensemble walking down the driveway as the song 'Little Green Bag' plays, this particular choice really portrays the characters with a slick masculine demeanour, essentially showing them off in this manner to draw the audiences attention to these characters but also further expression the film's themes,the character's disposition and associate them with the stereotypical mob impression.

List of Illustrations

Fig 1: 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992) poster [Poster] At:

Fig 2: Final moments of White and Orange in 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992) Directed by Quentin Tarantino [Film Still] America: Live Entertainment. At: (Accessed 11/02/2014)

Fig 3: Starting restaurant scene in 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992)  Directed by Quentin Tarantino [Film Still] America: Live Entertainment. At: (Accessed 11/02/2014)


Film4 (2011) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 11/02/2014)

McCarthy, Todd (1992) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 11/02/2014)

Young, Alex (2010) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 11/02/2014)

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Jaws (1975) Film Review

Fig 1: 'Jaws' (1975) Poster
The Film 'Jaws' (1975) is a classic thriller movie that features a large great white shark as it terrorises the inhabitants of Amity, a small island community and favoured holiday destination for many tourists. The plot is an adaptation of a novel written by Peter Benchley, it contains just the key elements of the novels plot and refines it into something very simple but incredibly effective; favouring action over complicated themes. This, however, leaves many scenes from 'Jaws' open for audience interpretation and analysis, giving this film an abundance themes and narratives stemming from the audience's imagination.

"What this movie is about, and where it succeeds best, is the primordial level of fear." (Siskel 1999)

This film succeeds in its attempts to create a thrilling and frightening experience in many different ways but all inevitably boil down to the same emotional response that drives both the narrative and cinematic experiences, fear. The instinctual fear of humanity is heavily played upon in 'Jaws', with the embodiment of the this emotion concentrated on the great white shark that runs rampant throughout the film. This focusing of fear allows Spielberg to let the over arching plot of 'Jaws' or lack of one fall by the wayside. The audience becomes entranced by this notion of the invisible killer in the water and allows the flimsy narrative to coat over the lynch pin of the film, doing nothing to aid the cinematic experience or capture the character's emotions. Each construct can be simply replaced by something else, exchanged and the difference would be hardly noticeable.

Fig 2: Roy Scheider in 'Jaws' (1975)
'Jaws' is rife with sexual connotations and interpretations of its main antagonist, the shark.

" his first megahit he summed up what was best in the old -- the humor, the perversity..." (Denby 2005)

The way in which 'Jaws' deals with its sexually alluring scenes, in particular its starting sequence with a teenage girl skinny dipping, is both obtuse and bland, choosing to ignore any association with sexuality as an overt theme in favour of bloody violence and action. This, however, does not hold true for the incredible amount of sexual undertones with these bloody and violent action sequences, one such example of this would be the starting scene, in which a teenage girl strips nude and dives into the ocean. The scene doesn't focus on the sexual tone of the teenager's action and instead glosses over this in favour of the shark's attack on her. This scene can be viewed as an imitation of rape on the young girl as she screams in terror while a beast shaped similarly to a penis ravages her lower body, this can also be interpreted as a loss of innocence as she begins to bleed from the attack, the beast deflowers her and strips all childlike purity away to leave nothing but flesh and blood. These tones are not only secluded within this scene as another death scene, the boat captain Quint's, spurs audience thoughts of sexual association; as he is eaten by the shark his lower half is completely devoured as mother nature, symbolised by the shark, castrates him and devours his genitalia. The shark then drags the other half of the now dead Quint underwater and out of reach of any aid, this can be viewed as mother nature forcing him, a character noted for his overt masculine behaviour and overtones, into submission and portraying his relinquishing of life and control as a stereotypical and idealist feminine action.    
Fig 3: Quint's Death in 'Jaws' (1975)
The film encourages audiences to enjoy the gore filled spectacles it provide, with focus upon the fear and twisted pleasure of such moments.

"making the audience pay for its illicit pleasures." (Hoberman 2011)

The blood lathered scenes of innocent deaths at the hands of the shark both frighten and excite audiences, grasping their attention and forcing these vivid images to be watched from start to finish. One particularly disturbing scene is the starting sequence which, as mentioned previously, contains sexual connotations and undertones while being slightly overtly alluring, only for her to be wrench around like a chew toy by an invisible attacker under the water for at least a minute. The scene echoes of underlying themes and ideas but is visually alluring and horrific while the latter is supported by her high pitched screams of agony. This capturing and overall elevation of gore into the spotlight and forcing the audience to enjoy such scenes is part of the perverse charm of this film but also its scariest features, as the audience catch themselves enjoying the blood and gore of the death scenes and find themselves confused between feeling frightened or delighted by the shark and its actions; this moral dilemma can then be considered why the film works less as a narrative and story driven piece and so well as a cinematic and visual experience.

List of Illustrations

Fig 1: 'Jaws' (1975) Poster [Poster] At:

Fig 2: Roy Scheinder in 'Jaws' (1975) Directed by Steven Spielberg [Film Still] America: Universal Pictures. At: (Accessed 04/02/2014)

Fig 3: Quint's Death in 'Jaws' (1975) Directed by Steven Spielberg [Film Still] America: Universal Pictures.
(Accessed 04/02/2014)


Denby, David (2005) At: [Film Review] (Accessed 04/02/2014)

Hoberman, Jim (2011) At: [Film Review] (Accessed 04/02/2014)

Siskel, Gene (1999) At: [Film Review] (Accessed 04/02/2014)

The Birds (1963) Film Review

Fig 1: 'The Birds' (1963) poster
The film 'The Birds' (1963) is a disaster movie focused upon man versus environment, with the native birds of america becoming carnivorous and hungry for human flesh. The story begins with a independent and headstrong female protagonist, Melanie Daniels, who pursues a male lawyer from San Francisco to a small rural town after he plays a trick on her. Determined to get her own back she decides to purchase a present for his little sister, which was mentioned in passing, and surprise him, approaching and delivering the gift unseen with use of a boat. This all goes according to plan until a seagull ambushes her as she docks and acts as a clear prelude to the horrific scenes to follow.

"Though it lacks the psychological depth of Hitchcock's greatest works, it's characterised by a nightmarish simplicity." (Glasby 2013)

The films plot is in itself relatively simple, playing host to the core idea of something mundane or unrecognised taking revenge against the human populace, killing men, women and children indiscriminately. The comment above from Glasby points out this simplicity but does not punish the film for it, instead celebrating this "nightmarish simplicity" and in some form applauding Hitchcock's use of horrific elements as an overall base for the film, features that would have been ghastly to a 1960s audience with scenes of corpses, death and terror quite prominent, as well as the town's complete transformation into a hell hole, marked by the exploding cars and descent of masses of winged flesh eaters, among the most memorable.

Fig 2: Bird's eye view of Bodega Bay in 'Birds' (1963).
Hitchcock playfully experiments with new and established cinematic techniques throughout 'The Birds'.

"Genuinely disturbing thriller classic from the master of suspense." ( Newman 2007)

The camera techniques throughout this terrifying ordeal make use of and even create the frightening energy placed around the flying flesh eaters, using classic Hitchcock suspense techniques and then current film techniques, such as the bird's eye view of the town above, to establish these emotions of fear. One of the films most prominent shots features crows gathering slowly onto a climbing frame behind the main protagonist, Hitchcock heightens his audiences emotions by simply teasing the climbing frame but three times with long intervals of watching Melanie elongating the moment. The emotional reaction from these shots creates a feeling of anguish with the audience, wanting the protagonist to see the silent but very real terror massing before our eyes but unable to warn her of it. The sequence is of a traditional Hitchcock cinematic shot lineage but the simple experimentation with timing and teasing the frame creates a new and incredibly successful cinematic technique that pulls the audience to the very edges of their seats. Other shots within the film mirror this experimental nature, all stemming from original and established techniques but played with in order to create an altogether improved nail biting experience.

Fig 3: Crow climbing frame in 'The Birds'

The film is a very opaque and grisly visual representation of Hitchcock's cinematic style. 

"vicious unpredictability and moral and emotional disorder on the one hand, and rigorous stylistic control and formal organization, on the other." (Goldsmith 2012)

This signature cinematic style, unique to Hitchcock's films, is very much explained simply by Goldsmith above. His "vicious unpredictability" is represented in 'The Birds' by his character's sometimes melodramatic and overly grandiose actions and emotions, vicious in their own right by leaving the audience confused but attached to the story. This can be seen very quickly with the first scene, contained within the pet shop. The actions of Melanie and Mitch are so very loud and opaquely highlights these two as protagonist's for the tale, with the trick Mitch plays on Melanie both very quick and uncalled for in the eyes of the audience; sentiments echoed in hers as well, with Melanie pursuing Mitch to his home town to give a pair of birds as presents to his sister. These exaggerated actions may be over the top and completely strange, but they do not distract you from the story and instead strengthen it and the audiences expectation of a budding relationship between the two. His style's "rigorous stylistic control" is then illustrated through the films prelude to the bird threat. Mitch's mother, Lydia, discovers a man dead in his own bedroom when making a house call and Hitchcock's visually narrative style plays perfectly throughout the exploration of the quiet house, providing tension and foreboding with each shot; emotions which peak during a long one point perspective hallway shot and bursting upon the body's revelation. These, and many other scenes within the film allow the audience to see Hitchcock's experience and mastery of cinematic expression at play and almost perfect harmony with the simplistic storyline and equally simple character's.

List of Illustrations

Fig 1: 'The Birds' (1963) poster [Poster] At:

Fig 2: Bird's eye view of Bodega Bay in 'The Birds' (1963). Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. [Film Still] America: Universal Pictures. At: (Accessed 04/02/2014)

Fig 3: Crow climbing frame in 'The Birds' (1963). Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. [Film Still] America: Universal Pictures. At:
(Accessed 04/02/2014)


Glasby, Matt (2013) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 04/02/2014)

Goldsmith, Leo (2012) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 04/02/2014)

Newman, Kim (2007) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 04/02/2014)

Monday, 3 February 2014

Character Designs 2 - The face of Grayam

These are a few ideas of what Grayam, the grandfather of my story, might look like.
Any ideas or suggestions are appreciated!