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Team complexity and the process of experimental film

While the Strength group chose to do a documentary style, the Complexity group decided that an experimental style film would allow them to convey their message better. A day of filming for the Complexity group differs vastly from that of the Strength group. Where the Strength group practiced meticulous organization and placement of everything, the Complexity group’s filming process was more improved and changing constantly as shooting demanded it to. The result of these extreme differences, are two very different films, but they both ultimately play to the same effect. It is interesting to observe how people relay different messages.

The Experimental group’s film is designed in a way where they want the audience to decide what the story being told is, rather than having the film just flat out tell them. Because of this propensity to vagueness, there are very few elements actually in the shot of their film. Their film mostly consists of a girl in a mask clad all in white while images are projected on to her in a dark room. Seems simple, right? While the aesthetic of the film goes for simplicity, the actual filming in order to create that simplicity is quite intricate. First off, the team had to convey a lot of emotions without using any dialogue. Since the actress has a mask on, they also don’t have the option of using facial expression to convey emotion. As a result the team had to brainstorm what sort of body poses the actress could do to convey certain emotions, and how, as the types of poses change, the audience’s understanding of what’s happening changes.

Before the team starts shooting they have to take pictures of what the actress looks like in order to recreate it exactly when they shoot the scene again. This means all hair has to look the same, the dress has to fall the same, and the mask has to be repositioned just so, so that continuity is not a problem in post-production.

While the mask is an important part of the message of the film, it posed a lot of problems during filming because it hindered the actress’s vision. There is one scene in the film where the actress walks into the center of the projected image and then faces the camera. While this seems like a simple stage direction, it was really difficult to execute. The crew had to place a board down on the ground so that the actress could feel where her marker was, then they had a person crouching out of shot next to the board in order to stop the actress when she got to the center, and the actress had to subtly feel along the wall so that she could walk in a straight line. The crew repeated this process multiple times, and all just to get a few seconds of film.

The Experimental team’s process was one more reliant on post-production editing, thus (although less structured shooting) they needed a lot of footage to be able to correctly edit all the scenes together in the storyline they wanted. Other variables like music and effects are added in post-production and add more depth to the film as well. While the filming process was abstract, it was easy to see their story start to take shape as they started combining all the different variables of their film into one cohesive short.

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Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking

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