C – The New E

Documentary, New Zealand, 2008. 3’18 mins.
Team: Kathryn Gilbertson, Janelle Hazeldine, Gala Hesson and Phil Worner

Summary

After a night out at a typical Dunedin party, three flatmates relive the moments from the night before. Memories of the night slowly come in flashbacks, and they come to realise that their fourth flatmate ‘Moira’, was not exactly her usual self. They put it down to the fact she has been doing so much work recently and had not been drinking a lot.

After catching her trying to entice a cat into a bag, Moira disappears – they decide to find her, they check her room…

They enter her room, discovering curious research on her desk. Her research is about the importance of feline references in ancient Egyptian mythology. Her flatmates open a book on her desk to discover drug paraphernalia! and a tinny full of Cat hair. Slowly it all makes sense, her strange character the night before, the drinking of milk, trying to capture the cat … she has been smoking cat hair. The question becomes, will her friends follow suit?

Team

From Left: Janelle, Phil, Kathryn and Gala

Janelle Hazeldine

Plays the part of a flatmate. Janelle played a vital role in props, and the retrieval of hair from strangers heads. Move over the Bone Collector, move in the Hair Collector.

Phil Worner

Phil took on the main cameraman role, he enjoyed the discovery of ‘C’ as a drug and til this day can be seen lurking in alleyways.

Kathryn Gilbertson

Plays the lead role of Moira. This seemed to involve improvised unusual acting at a party. She said it came natural. Her dedication deserves an Oscar.

Gala Hesson

Somehow, during editing, Gala became the second lead. “I feel that this course has taught me, as a designer, the role we play in creating effective propaganda, and how to fool the user by using myths. This is handy knowledge for when I sell my soul in an advertising career. Thanks Desi 322!”

Behind the Scenes

The idea which brought our group together was that of a support group for people with strange names. After discussing the idea with Ralf and Alex it was evident we needed a different idea. We came up with a variety of separate ideas and decided to make a movie about someone who smoked cat hair with the effect that she would exhibit ‘cat like’ behavior.

We would make a documentary on this person and the new drug craze going around known as ‘C’.  After putting this together with the storyboards and audio we decided that it was far too boring and needed to be changed. Our final storyline is far different from our original reporter/interview approach.

Animatic of film

So, starting from ‘scratch’ we decided the hand held approach would be more effective, and realistic in portraying a believable story. We threw away a tight script in favour of improvisation. This combined with a simple beginning middle and end schema allowed an easier to follow and film diegesis. We used natural lighting, employing this realist film tecnique to suit the style of the film.

Filming and Production

Filming took place at 3 different locations: Gala’s flat (hungover scenes and Moira’s room), Phils flat (the party location) and one other flat (cat in the bag shots). Our first filming location was the party. We opted to film at an actual party rather than organising our party-going actors to behave in a certain way. Basically most people (other than our C team) were being their natural selves and had limited knowledge on what the film was actually about. We felt this would be the best way to film our scenes with natural results. And natural results  is exactly what we got – there were plenty of suprised reactions about “Moria’s” antics during the night.

To prepare for filming at Gala’s flat, we had a few things to collect for the shrine in Moira’s room. We found images of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, gods and hairless cats to create a realistic research mess for Moira. We also collected all the empty milk bottles we could find to reinforce the idea Moira was a bit of a milk fanatic. We also placed within the scene a can of tuna. Obtaining cat hair was a bit of an issue. We decided human hair would make a close enough substitute, and made two separate trips to the hairdressers to get it. There were plenty of strange looks from the hairdressers.

Technical

For the opening sequence of the film we created used stop motion, using real human hair. We tried many ways of doing this. It was decided that the most effective way was to glue hair in the shape of a ‘C’ onto some white newsprint. We then piled a whole lot more loose hair on top of the C to make it less obvious until the big reveal. Using about three Design Department fans we then filmed the loose hair being blown away, to leave a large ‘C’ on the newsprint.

One problem we had was unfortunately filming most of the scenes in HD, but a few in SD. This is a mistake we will never make again, because exporting the film to the correct aspect ratio has been a nightmare!

From Left: With 'C' Symptoms - Janelle, Phil, Kathryn and Gala

Last Words

We have found that making a film thought impossible to achieve in terms of believability, can be achieved to a certain extent. What we have learnt from this is to work with the things that we are given, improvise with it, and try to come back with something highly original and interesting. Often in real life design situations this is the case, where clients give you less than ideal material to work with yet expect amazing, unique results.

Collectively, we were a great team. We had team members with great character, to both get along, negotiate with each others ideas, and come together when we had to.

Scene from the film

Scene from the film

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