Down Under

Down Under, 2008. 2’15 mins.
Team: Hannah Patterson, Sarah Crowley


Down Under is a short film set in the basement of a student flat in Dunedin. The film reveals footage which was discovered, of a group of students hanging out and partying in the basement. This is interrupted by some mysterious happenings, as it is exposed in the footage that the students were not alone.


Hannah Patterson, 20, from Wanaka, finishing this year with a major in design and a minor in marketing.

Sarah Crowley, 20, from down South, currently working towards a degree in design and marketing.

Both team members played a part in the making of this film and also were apart of the syudent cast. Both worked together in the basic editing of the video and audio tracks for the creation of Down Under.


Down Under transformed from the initial proposal to the end of production. The film dramatically changed through production stages. The initial idea was to create a scary film in the basement of a student flat. This idea was carried out in the end but the way in which the storyline was filmed was altered. We started out with the idea that footage was found, the opening scene being a news reporter explaining ‘Dunedin students had discovered slightly more than they bargained for when shooting a home video of there weekend celebrations’. Whilst students were partying during the weekend a ‘spirit’ was awoken which led to the students setting up a video camera on night vision, discovering that there were a mixture of mysterious activities going on in the basement. Footage was then given to police, the flat was searched and the belongings of two missing students were discovered.

Once we had begun our film production and reviewed what we had shot, we discovered that our initial idea was not going to be easy to portray in a short film. With the help of our tutor Ralf we put together a few ideas, keeping the main one, being the footage capturing mysterious happenings in the basement. We decided to eliminate most of our original proposal and built on the idea of there being a ‘hooded man’ in the basement with the students, as we had already captured scary footage of this. We created a new storyline and begun another full night of filming. This was the most enjoyable part of the assignment. We used a standard video camera to portray the idea of a home video made by students. This was set on night vision for 90 percent of the time, which helped to enhance the scary mood we were illustrating. Filming was based around students hanging out and having a good time in the basement, this was interrupted by a loud bang and the lights going out. Darkness takes over the film with various noises being heard but little able to be seen. This leaves the viewer creating their own ideas on what they think is happening in the basement and at the same time puts a scary edge on the film.

Once our filming was complete we began the editing process. This took a lot more work than what we had first anticipated. It was a long and frustrating process. We carried this out in Final Cut Express; it was the small but tedious changes in this program that really made our film work. We were able to insert scary music, and also mix and match audio with video footage.

We used Flash to make our beginning and end credits, thus creating our biggest technical glitch, as we had a lot of trouble exporting them from this program. In fact they randomly exported once and we never worked out why they wouldn’t again, so we had to alter them in Final Cut Express. This wasn’t ideal but we worked around it.

Behind the Scenes

Our original script was extremely long and therefore it needed to be cut down significantly. In total we probably had about 40 minutes of filming, so had to go through and cut out the bits that worked well together. This was an easy task however, as our storyline enabled us to play on the suggestion of mysterious happenings in the basement. A lot of what we had filmed was able to be used in different ways to portray this idea. All of our footage was taken in and around the basement. We had originally planned to use different settings, but once we started filming we found this was unnecessary. The film worked better all focused around the same area, being the basement as we were able to change the mood of the scene with the different lighting.

Once we had put our film together it was 4 minutes in length, as we kept watching it we decided in order to keep the scariness in tact it was important to keep the different shots short to keep the viewers interest high and question what is happening. To enable this we had to remove a lot of the film making it reasonably short.

While producing Down Under we encountered various problems but generally think it went well. Although it is only 2 and a half minutes in length, the viewers attention is focused strongly on trying to work out what is happening the whole time, we believe this works as it adds to the proposed mood of the film.


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