Seek’Em

Documentary, New Zealand, 2008. 4’41 mins.
Team: Emma Radka and Joel Bretherton

A game for boys who never grew up, or for wannabe territorials and survivalists whose hunger for pointless conflict is never sated. Imagine a game of boundless hide and seek, played within a vast matrix, where the means of attrition is boredom and temporary insanity. Where your backyard is the world, and your only friends are hiding from you. A gripping insight into an exhausting and obsessive hobby.

Summary

Blair Mathews a unique driven outgoing character, who developed the Childs game hide and go seek into an extreme adult’s sport. Devoting most of his life to this he has become and extremist, and believes “seek’em” has helped him keep apart of his childhood alive whilst staying fit. Not only has Blair Mathews won a medal in every event he has competed in, he plays a big part in all the organising of events, putting teams together, and deciding on the boundaries and hiding locations.
As we take a look into the life of Blair Mathews and see all the preparation, time, and effort he puts into his life long love for Seek’em, we soon come to realise that this is more of an obsession, and perhaps Blair Mathews would be happier in a sport that doesn’t involve others. Whilst following Blair around for one of the most important events of the year, his true determination and character shows many different challenges he has had to overcome to be the best. His intense drive to win will let nothing stand in his way, but can you be the best all the time?

Team

Garth a.k.a Target 2

Garth a.k.a Target 2

Emma a.k.a Clothesline line lady

Emma a.k.a Clothesline line lady

Joel a.k.a Target 1

Joel a.k.a Target 1

Jake a.k.a Blair Mathews

Jake a.k.a Blair Mathews

Concept

Our group wanted to go with a documentary style film with a storyline that was believable, but at the same time have a humorous side to it.
Our original group started off with a totally different concept and proposal which we soon found out was not going to work. Due to losing a member of our group it gave us a chance to start over and come up with something completely new and fresh. After a lot of ideas, brain storming and a very short time limit, we eventually came to the decision of an adult’s version of hide and go seek. Then we thought of a particular personality who would fit the main character perfectly and our storyline basically feel together for us. As we were already so far behind the other teams, we basically had to get straight into it, so not much detail of the concept was planned before filming. We went into our new film idea with three main ideas of how the story was to work out, fortunately our actor was excellent in capturing the true character we needed, and was completely comfortable behind the camera, allowing us to film many different scenes and gave us a lot of different ideas for the final storyline when we were editing. We probably had three or four different concept versions before the final.

Filming

Filming Seek’Em was done in two sections, the interview and the chase. The interview was quite straight forward we interviewed Jake amongst items that he would bring with him for the game to create an atmosphere, to lead into the chase section as well as hint at his personality. The interview was rather hard to film as we had no set dialogue, just key elements for Jake to say which would explain the game of seek’em and the rules, as well as provide suggestions and insight as to what kind of character he was. This proved to be difficult as it was hard to keep authenticity of his character without turning him into a Steve Irwin replica through the dialogue. We ended up with a lot of footage from all the takes.

The seeking section of the film was shot over the course of one day. As we really had no story boarding for the film, filming was very spontaneous. We had key shots that we would use, such as finding a target and the ending but the rest was all just footage to join these sections together. We wanted footage to show Jake in a variety of locations searching for the targets. We scouted Dunedin with Jake in full character for interesting looking locations to show him stalking out his Seek’Em targets. We wanted a suitable blend of urban areas such as alleyways and buildings, and bush areas like parks as well as shots that would show differing periods of the day. We needed the variation to create the reality of the situation, to show that Jake had searched over a wide area and time period and didn’t just found the targets straight away. We also had to show his desperation and decline of confidence as time progressed. Each part of this proved very experimental in our cinematography and camera work.

Blair scouts the New World car park

Blair scouts the New World car park

Editing

We came out of filming with a large amount of footage to go through and select the best takes, shots and dialogue (We realized here that we had also tapped over some of our best shots through rewinding the camera to far). We had a pretty clear idea of what needed to be included in a 5minute clip, so that the movie would be successful in showing the films plot and portray who the main character was as a person. We tried to allocate certain amounts of time to each section of the film to stay within the time frame. To portray the searching aspects of jakes’ attempt to find his targets, we initially adopted a split screen approach as well as a transition between shots with a screen clock, similar to the 24 TV program. We thought this could show a more delayed sense of time and the length of his search.

Our initial final outcome seemed to be dragged out and tedious as well as exceeding the designated time allocated. We realized we had a lot of sound issues as well. The interview section was extremely quiet compared to the chase footage. We were not very happy with it but felt that we could not cut any scenes, without creating a glitch in the driving of the plot so it seemed a hard task to re-edit. With help we found that actually a lot could be cut completely as well as creating more sections with voiceovers that encourage the plot and scenario. The more we watched the footage the more we realized that some of Jakes acting was over the top and comical, instead of the believability that we wanted, a lot of this was achieved through his physical appearance than anything else so we utilized voiceovers to remedy this, it also helped decrease the length of the film. We cut out a lot of the split screen elements and used the better footage within them for full screen shots, this was because they looked amateur and did not drive the plot like we had initially thought they would, they also under appreciated some of our favorite footage.

At the end of the editing process when we had a final version that we were happy with, then we put a sound track to it. Choosing suitable sounds to accompany the film was not easy. The music had to reflect the transition within the character from confident and cocky to desperate and futile. We greatly appreciate Ralph’s help in this because we think it was a vital element to the film, and our first attempt was not too successful.

Blair and his friends

Blair and his friends

Final Thought

Making this film was extremely challenging from the get go team wise and plot wise however, once we sorted out our team and our main focus with what we wanted to achieve, we rose above any sideline dramas and ended up with a film we are thoroughly proud of. This film has certainly tested our patience and also our thought process, but we have enjoyed the whole process and had some great laughs.

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