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Freestyle feature: “dialogue driven narratives”


Freestyle Academy students were assigned to make dialogue driven narratives as one of their projects. I sat down with the makers of some of the films recommended by their teacher, Matt Taylor.


“Tick,” by Rohit Padmakumar and Felix Nordmark

What’s the storyline of this video?

RP: [It’s about] this guy who finds his relative’s watch and clicks it, and teleports to some place for 2 minutes. The only way he gets back is when the timer runs out and he sees the girl. But when his mother resets the watch, it adds time to the watch, so he doesn’t teleport back. That’s when the “angel” brings him back.

FN: At the end he is back at his house and sees her again. She’s the indicator that he is going back where he belongs. I guess the meaning is up for interpretation.

What do you want viewers to be thinking about after seeing your film?

FN: That was weird.

RP: We tried to make it look cool, like a Calvin Harris video. We went more on the artsy spectrum of the narrative idea.

What led you to this story?

FN: Our idea with it was to make something in the short film style with a not so concrete plot. Something more fluid.

What was your favorite scene of your film?

RP: I do like the last scene the best; because the timing is so spot on, the music works really well there.

FN: I like the scene where they are on top of the garage a lot- except it is too quiet and we haven’t gone back to fix that.

What was the most difficult part of the entire film process for you?

RP: Doing the scene on the roof, it was freezing, we didn’t have lights, there were no outlets, and we had to manage adult actors.

FN: There was also the shot of the girl from the top of the garage. We tried three different ways. It was originally supposed to be a drone shot, but then it crashed. So then, we threw a GoPro off the building which didn’t work because it was too dark, so we ended up just filming over the edge.


“He’s coming,” by Manon Laurent and Angel Austin

**Only Manon Laurent was available to be interviewed**

What were you asked to create for this project?

It was a narrative so we had to come up with a story, so it was kind of difficult because it was supposed to be an original story and I’m not really good at that stuff.

Why did you choose a burglary as the theme for your film?

I really wanted to do something creepy, I’m just that kind of person. I was just looking for something dark.

What was the emotion you were trying to get viewers to feel?

Fear. I always see these creepy scenes and get scared and I like to give that feeling to somebody else. I know the behind the scenes so I’m not scared, but I like to have other people feel that.

What was your favorite scene of your film?

Definitely the one with the drapes. When he goes into the room it’s kind of high tension and I really wanted to create at least one scene within the film that created some tension.

What was the most difficult part of the entire film process for you?

There were a lot of difficult parts about it. A lot of managing time with the actors is really difficult. At the end we had to do the audio and that was probably the most challenging part. I’m very specific about that stuff; I want it to be very smooth, so I spent a lot of hours after school with my film teacher trying to get all the different sound effects to be very smooth… Editing it together [also] took so long… There’s so much time you put into it just looking for the right things and mixing it together.

Are there any changes you would have made at any stage of the film, now looking back?

In the production area, yeah, I wish we had more time. The time management, also we had to film the two actors on two different days. And then we filmed the bad guy on the very last day that we could and he was getting impatient. There were a lot of shots I wish I had, but he was not listening to me and I was just really frustrat[ed]and I wish I could just have had more days with him.

Have you gotten any feedback on the film that made you reconsider anything?

Definitely, we get a lot of feedback in Freestyle from our peers and stuff. They said there were more like little things. I wish I had more time to adjust lighting and make the film more aesthetically pleasing.

Was there a specific thing that made you choose the music that you did?

It was difficult; I spent hours looking through folders, and looking online on all these different places to find the right soundtrack. At one point I put this [ventilator type] thing when he goes into the room…  It was kind of a weird noise… It doesn’t necessarily have to be a scary soundtrack, it can be random, so I thought that fit perfectly.

What do you want viewers to be thinking about after seeing your film?

“Wow that was really cool.”


“Sliced,” by Peter Coish and Cole Fenger

What were you asked to create for this project?

PC: The pizza project- that was part of the second senior project of the year- which is really to make a dialogue driven narrative.

Why Pizza?

PC: The pizza idea was not our original screenplay. Originally we scripted a story about two moose on a honeymoon and we got that approved, but we decided we didn’t want to go with that idea because it would be too difficult. We scripted another idea that was rejected by the class and the teacher, so we scripted another one about some teenagers trying to save an old abandoned greenhouse which was approved. Then over winter break when we were supposed to film the majority of the movie, all our actors bailed on us. Cole and I got together in a very panicked state and said ok what do we need to do to get this project done. We scripted this simple comedy with only one character, so we didn’t need to rely on that many actors.

There is a lot of attention to detail in the film, with the pictures of pizza in the background. How much planning and work went into getting that right?

CF: We kinda had our idea for the film and wrote a first draft of the film. It was detailed, but it was missing a lot of those little things. As we went on we thought of those little things. We used a couple other films as inspiration too.

What was your favorite scene of your film?

PC: My favorite scene has to be when he arrives at the Blue Moose Pizza Place towards the end that happens to be closed. That’s my favorite scene because when we went to go shoot that, we were showing the actor what we wanted him to do, but as I grabbed the handle it came off and we were like let’s roll with it, so in the film the doorknob falling off made the final cut.

Are there any changes you would have made at any stage of the film, now looking back?

PC: From the final cut we haven’t gone back gone back and changed anything. I think I would have changed some little audio things, [but] we were just really pressed for time. There was one time where we all stayed here in the film room and just edited until midnight and Mr. Taylor just stayed and waited with us.

What was the most difficult part of the entire film process for you?

CF: It’s hard to point out a specific section. For instance near the end of the midnight editing session, I recall when I was just laying on the ground and Peter was trying to get the software to work. In terms of the shooting, I think it was a pretty straightforward thing.

PC: I think the hardest part was getting the actor to cooperate. Felix is a sub par actor… he doesn’t really like acting, but he agreed to do it. It’s kinda hard for him to keep a straight face sometimes.

You have a lot of very creative film cuts; did you plan those out shot by shot?

PC: [This year] we didn’t storyboard this film… As far as the script goes, when we started writing the screenplay that’s all just vocal stuff. Then you create a shot list- which is kind of how you envision the story playing out.

CF: It’s a checklist of shots basically. The way you come up what’s in the shot list, is you follow the general rules for each scene [and each scene] should have a certain amount of shots.

What went into making the music?

PC: I did the music for the film. As far as choosing the right music, it’s all royalty free. The main soundtrack in the beginning and end is just a matter of finding the right thing… There’s the main music, there was the sad music, and there was the happy music.

What do you want viewers to be thinking about after seeing your film?

CF: I’d hope that they laughed a few times… As I mentioned earlier we planned it with the greenhouse. The thing is we never really told our teacher that we changed ideas. When we showed him the rough cut he said he didn’t remember seeing the script. He wasn’t so pleased with us, so we had him be one of the people who answers the phone and he asks if we are still filming that stupid pizza idea, but that was really just meant for the people in film.

Is there any specific part or thing you did that you think really made the movie?

CF: I would say the sound editing. If you look at the project honestly the video section is very simple, but the sound is incredibly complex.

PC: We had 194 sound files.

CF: Peter put a lot of work into the audio and that is what really sells the whole thing is having the dial tones and everything else mixed together.

PC: We didn’t originally plan for it, but we noticed about halfway through that Felix’s house happened to have a lot of orange in his house, so when we did our first batch of rough cuts we decided to stick with it. In almost every shot there is orange in the picture.

Anything else you’d like to say to your Oracle readers?

PC: It was fun, as it always is in film.

CF: Filmmaking for me is quite interesting. A week ago we were at a shoot and we basically went from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. the next day. I mean that was a big shoot and it was difficult and there are times when you are tired and just want to lay down, but I just love filmmaking and I’m much happier doing that than anything else.


“The Sinking Land” by Ann Suzuki

What was the emotion of the book you made this video for?

I wanted it to be kind of sad and heartbreaking, but at the same time I wanted it to be heartwarming too. For the trailer I wanted it to be kind of surprising and shocking. I wanted it to be very dramatic.

What was your favorite part?

My favorite part was the beginning when I go over the city. I really like that transition.

What was the story of the book?

We wrote this narrative in english class, basically using dialogue, so I decided to write my story based on this ordinary town that is struck by a tsunami. It is about these two strangers who are stuck in this hotel. They meet in the worst of situations and have to work together to overcome this tsunami and get to know each other and help each other out.

Who are the two people we see in the trailer?

They were the two main characters. They are just two strangers going through their lives until the disaster.

When you cut back and forth between the clock and the doorman what was the meaning behind that?
I really want to show how this was this ordinary city with people going through their everyday lives. I was trying to showcase how this elevator operator was just going through his day when he is struck by this disaster, like most of us, he just goes through his day without thinking what could happen any minute.

Why does it cut back to the doorman?

This is the part where I didn’t think I executed the animation well. You know how usually in movie trailers, after the coming soon there is an ending scene? I wanted to do that, but I put the two transitions too long. A lot of people thought it ended before it actually did.

What was the most difficult part?

Using After Effects to make the the animation. I have never used After Effects until this year. After Effects is this really big program with endless possibilities, so learning it all in just few months is really hard. I didn’t know how to use half of it.

Did you make any changes because of feedback?

After I finished the trailer and it’s on Youtube, my friends says [sic] the physics of it don’t work, which is actually very true. There’s this one scene where the elevator door… it’s not realistic, because elevator doors usually slow down right before closing.

Anything else you’d like your Oracle readers to know?

I think going back, I really liked using after effects because it was really stressful. It took almost a month and a half to make a 30 second trailer, but I really ended up liking animation. I didn’t think I could do it; I didn’t think it would look good. I also then came to appreciate how difficult the animations in movies really are.


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