For our final major project we had to be creative and produce a final product, this could be a music video, a film trailer or any type of media products. For my FMP I chose to do poetic documentary because I have not done this type of projects before and I wanted to experiment and try to do something new. I definitely have completed and achieved the aims set for this final project as I have created and finished a complete poetic documentary besides all the work set with it pre-production, production, post-production paperwork.
During the process of making my FMP I can identify some weaknesses and strengths. I Think the camera work worked really well as I tried to shot the scenes by using different varieties of camera shots types. Alongside with this, I think the way I used lighting helped to make the film really interesting to watch.Some of the weaknesses of the final piece I made is the music/fx and some of the acting. I should’ve have learnt to avoid this from previous projects mistakes.
Over the half term I was thinking about some ideas on any types of projects but not something that I have done before like music video, film trailer, interview. While thinking about this my tutor told me that my camera work in the music video that I made was so good that if I develop it more I could make an amazing poetic documentary. This was the first time I hear about poetic documentary so from that day I started searching about it. Originally I came up with two ideas. The first one was about the effects of war on people, I planned to use Fx and make up to make a message that the characters I am going to use have been effected by war. I also planned to build a set that looks like an effected room/house from the war. Basically I wanted a poetic documentary telling the viewers the hard life people go through in a countries that are in war.
The second idea was a poetic documentary about life stages. This idea came to my head just because of a photo but I am lucky it did because it is such a strong and emotional subject to convey and hard to do at the same time. At the end I chose to do the Life Stages poetic documentary and the next step for me was to choose whether I want to do the development of a particular life stage or should I do the development of all of the stages of life. I then though that doing all of the stages is more creative as I can show the differences in age by using interesting props and many more way that can make the viewers wanting to see more.
Throughout the process of making my FMP I did three types of research and i think they all were effective in informing my idea.
Contextual research- Doing the contextual research helped me to understand the style, format, conventions, aesthetics, technical elements and audience of any poetic documentary. After doing this research I knew what was expected of my poetic documentary through the conventions, an example being: most poetic documentary don’t have a narrative to them they just use music to get the message across to the audience. The more the music get evocative and emotional the more the audience get involved to the poetic documentary. To help to get the message to get across to the audience I knew that filters can have an important effect to the documentary as it can set the mood and tune of the documentary.
Audience research- I think the audience research is the most important type of research in this project this is because if I didn’t know who my audience are then i am not going to produce a final piece that they will be interested in.
I started the audience research by doing the primary research and i did this by doing a survey monkey questionnaire. I conducted a survey and a focus group, from both of those research methods I made sure that I left with different answers that can help me with my idea either to improve it or to change something about it. From the survey i clearly saw that most of them commented and said that they do watch documentaries because they find it interesting, therefore had to make sure that i film scenes that can keep the audience interested. The focus group was more significant than the survey because i found having a chat with people face to face is more helpful than a comment in a survey. I really liked the idea of a focus group because this allowed me to see the true reactions and feelings of the audience members towards my idea. At the end of the focus group i left with positive opinions from the people i was with, most of them have heard about poetic documentary and they were excited to hear more about my idea as they found it unique and strong.
I then went to do the secondary research, the secondary research is important as i needed to know about my audience but i don’t want to waste time therefore i have used different resources to know my audience more. One website that was really helpful: YouGovProfiler, this website gives information about buying habits, viewing habits and many more. From this website I got a profile of people who watch a documentary channel. From this website i got the idea that the majority people who watch different documentaries on more than one channel are male aged 65+. Their general hobbies and interests varies. They enjoy reading, gardening and listening to music. This research helped me because now I can clarify my FMP idea where i set moments for older people and decided that i will film older people reading, knitting and gardening. Also from this website i knew that my audience like to listen to music, therefore made sure that i choose the right music type for my documentary so people who watch it can be interested in what they see and hear.
Technical research- For my FMP i wanted to use a numbers of techniques that can make my project looks interesting and help me to get the higher marks. Firstly i went and researched on the techniques that i didn’t know how to do. I watched some tutorials on YouTube of how to achieve time lapse on Final Cut Pro, the editing software I used to edit the poetic documentary. This became very useful information for me when it came to post-production as I learnt what I needed to do before going on final cut pro. I also looked in to some experts on time lapse e.g Tomasz Walczak, he is the owner of the TL video company and has a website called beyoundthetime.net. Obviously I wouldn’t be able to afford the equipment he use, but I thought just looking into them would be a helpful insight into time lapse. After looking at the youtube tutorials i went and start experimenting with time lapse on my phone. Most of the went really well but at then i didn’t develop in them further more as in my FMP i did the time lapse with my camera.
After collecting and analyzing my primary and secondary research I assumed that the majority of poetic documentary watchers are girls between the age 13-18 who enjoy watching documentaries if it talks about a subject they are interesting in. By finding out all this information I knew what to take into consideration when creating my poetic documentary, I learnt what the audience liked and expected and then what they didn’t want to see.
How did you develop your idea into a film?
As i am a photographer in my free time and its one of the hobbies that i enjoy then it means i see a numbers of photographs frequently. One day i come across a photo that got to do with life stages and i was thinking to myself that this is a really good idea that i can do for my FMP and this photo was really like an inspiration to me. At the beginning i thought that i want my FMP to involve photography in it as i am a photographer however i didn’t at the end because i didn’t want my poetic documentary to look like a slide show. From a photo i have added bits to make up a film out of it e.g. the photo shows objects about the development of a baby, but in my FMP i did the development of all the life stages.
Because my final piece is about life stages, i started to research more into the life stages development with the baby,boy,men and women working,older people and death. I started to have a think about the normal routine of each stage. For the baby moments i went to my mum’s friend i asked her wha is the daily routine for you and the baby and she told the stuff that involves in the baby’s life e.g walking, talking,going to the nursery and many more. This was helpful because after this research i knew what is expected of me to film a poetic documentary about life stages.
How did you plan your film?
I planned my film by firstly doing a mind map on life stages poetic documentary, i sat down and started thinking abut how i want my documentary to look like at the end. I looked at storyline, props,locations, characters and more relevant subheading that helped me to produce my final film. Thinking about the locations and characters from the beginning is really helpful as this means i have time to go and find characters for my FMP and relevant locations that i can go to and film my scenes in. I made sure that i did this before everything else because i wanted to avoid the mistakes that occurs to me with the other previous projects where i didn’t have any actor to film and i had to get my sister to do it in the last minute. I also did a mind map on the six moments i filmed, baby moments, graduation moment,s working moments, couples moments, older people moments and the death moments. For each moment i wrote down all the possible scenes that i could film. After this i went and start thinking about the link between each life stages e.g the link between the baby’s moment and the graduation moment is the baby putting his bottle down on the table and then the graduated boy picks up a fizzy drink from the same table. Without doing the link i thought that my documentary won’t flow well together and the audience will be confused in what they are watching. Other thing i did is a mood board, i thought that having pictures of the possible scenes that i am going to film is helpful as i can picture it in my mind. Also in the pre production process we had to fill out documents before the production begins and creating a poetic documentary has meant I had to complete the following pre-production paperwork: story boards- one of the most important paper work as I referred back to them during filming in the production process to know what scene to film and roughly how long the clips should be as well as in post-production i needed the story boards to know roughly where in the time line does each scene have to be, risk assessments, consent forms,location forms, proposal and a schedule- the schedules also helped because using them i knew exactly what days I wanted to film and where.
I did face some milestone while in the making if my FMP. One major milestone was the fact that i had maths classes and exams along side media where i had to take some time of media to revise for my maths exam, however i have come over this milestone by planning to give equal time to maths and media but surely use my time wisely for media. Other milestone i came across is the weather, there is number of scenes that need to be filmed outside and the weather in Exeter when it was production time was all cold and rainy, so i had to plan clearly when is the right calm not rainy day so i can film.
During the process of making my FMP i did deviate couple if times originally i was going to have women working to wait for the train inside the train station but then i though that was going to be hard for me to film as i might no be able to film inside the train station as i need a location form and this might be hard. Therefore i changed it and made the working women wait by a bus stop, this was easy for me to film as it was just down my road and i didn’t need a location form for it. In the older people moments i was going to make the old women to go to the garden and do some gardening but because i didn’t have the gardening equipments and i didn’t want to buy some and just left them aside as we’re not using them i thought about changing it and film the old moment while using the knitting machine. This was easy for me as i just contacted one of my mum’s friend and asked her if we can go to her house and use the knitting machine. For the last moment the death moment i planned that i will film a plant (cress) growing and do time laps with it to convey the message of growth and that life goes on. However because of my semi bad time management i bought the plant a bit late and for it to grow and for me to film it will take me a lot of time and by that i need to submit my work. Therefore i thought about changing this idea and film the small rocks as time lapse while making a circle to suggest circle of life, and at the end this went successfully. The reason for the deviations was to make the filming process easier for me.
In my film i think i have elements that made my film successful. I can say that i my time management made me have enough time to edit my documentary to the best as i can. I dint search on youtube on how to edit, i just opened final cut and experimented with everything. The filters the slow motion and the reverse filming all of them i learned it from myself and i think they all went really well. Another thing that went really well was my filming for the links between each life stage. Without them the documentary won’t flow well together and it would be all over the place. The links were important as it shows the difference in each life stages and i am happy that i did that to my best. Lighting was also successful in my documentary as i have bought a professional LED lights that costs me £88 and it really helped me to make a better scenes. In my previous projects i have not used lights like this and everyone can clearly see when i used lights and when i didn’t therefore lighting was really important to have because my message of life stages is positive and i wanted my documentary to be well bright so i can convey this message across to the viewers.
Changes and improvement
I think there was some elements of the film that needed further development e.g. the sound/music. In some area of my documentary its clear that the sound does not flow well with the time line and the some of the sound effects i added weren’t in the right place.
I don’t think i want to change anything about my documentary as i was quite happy with how it looks. But if i would to change one thing then it would be the fact that i should make my documentary more obvious that it is talking about stages of life as there were some people commented about it and thought its a documentary about the growing of a boy which is not what i made at the end. Overall i am really proud of myself and of what i made. People from the beginning of the projects liked my idea they thought its strong and unique and they all were excited to see the final piece. From the parent of the baby that i filmed to the teacher in the nursery i filmed, they were all excited for me to finish it so i will make sure that those people have a copy of my FMP. i am happy that its all over done with but in a good way like i have produced a final piece that everyone liked and enjoyed, at the beginning i was nervous and worried because i thought that i will not finished at the right time but i the end i have done my best.
I showed my final piece to my class so i can get their opinion on he strengths and weaknesses of my documentary and this is a summary of what they have said. For the message and idea section i am happy that the majority of them understood my idea and the message behind it and why i chose to show a different religion in my final piece. In the documentary i made sure that i film the scenes in a way that the audience can understand my idea this is by doing the links between each life stages and by using male and female characters. This is because if i didn’t use the links and i just chose one gender than most likely the audience are going to think its a life develops of a man of a woman. Therefore i had to choose male for the graduation moment and female character for the working moment and link the different moment together by a relevant object. i chose to use a different religion because there is no muslim student in my class therefore having something about a different religion will make the audience interested. In the technical ability section most of them commented about my camera work and the different shot types that i used. In my documentaries i tried to use more than one type of shots so i can make the audience interested e.g. most of the baby moments are in close ups this is so the audience can see the emotions and the tear the baby had on his face and have that sad feeling in them. Number of them commented that the sound quality mainly was good however some of the added audio files stops abruptly which i agree with them. I made a mistake not to go back and check the sound before i submit my work therefore i will have to make sure i do this for any upcoming projects. Lastly most of them commented about hoe the scenes flows well together. I made sure that while editing the scenes i cut them to the point where the actions starts so then the scenes would flows well together. In the aesthetic section nearly all of them commented that they liked the variety of locations used and the accurate use of props. In my documentary i made sure hat i use different location that relate to each stage of life e.g. the baby moments i filmed it in a house in a baby’s room while the the working women is outside in the street waiting for a but as she is going to work. I also made sure that i use the accurate props for each life stage this is because i am not showing the faces of the character therefore i wanted to use props that shows he audience that i am talking about this particular stage of life. In the overall opinion box someone commented about the time lapse and how its relevant with the video. i am happy that someone commented about this as i have not just chose to do time lapse out of no where, i chose to do it because to me it show how life is going by so fast and everything changes. I also used time lapse between each life stage this is to show that the time between each stage is gone by fast. Someone also commented hat they like my documentary as it is different from what they usually watch. Back in my primary research when i did the survey and i asked why do they like to watch documentaries, number of them said that they to watch documentaries if it talks about a particular subject they like. Therefore for my FMP i confirmed my idea on life stage more because i wanted to make people that watch documentaries because they like the title to watch every documentary now. In my opinion i feel i have completed a Final Piece up to a good standard as how it looks now is how i wanted it to be at the beginning.
New skills and what i would do differently
Through completing my final product i have learnt some skills. In the pre production process i learnt the time management skills, in some of my previous projects i was all over the place because i didn’t plan everything but luckily i planned everything in this project and everything went really well. In the filming process i learned how to be a good director and how to be in control, if i wasn’t in control then i wouldn’t like my final piece. In the post production process i have learnt some technical skills e.g. i have used the blade tool a lot in my final piece especially in the small rocks scenes. I also believe I have become more created and begun to think outside the box more. I actually learnt a lot about poetic documentaries during research. If i repeated this project some time in the future i differently would like to explore more into the documentary world and maybe i could insert interview or poems clips alongside with the music as it would make it more powerful.