NOTE TO EXAMINERS

This is the blog address for 360MC Coursework 2.

The first FOUR blog posts (‘Origins‘, ‘Highgate Cemetery‘, ‘Updates 1 + 2‘) in this blog were handed in as part of 360MC Coursework 1 (Research and Development) before Christmas. These four blog posts refer only to the early stages of development of my FMP idea, though do not wholly contribute to the development of the final proposal.

It is unlikely they were marked as part of the first coursework hand in, but if they are not be marked due to this error on my part, please ignore them, as they are here only to compliment the progression of my FMP idea. It was not made clear to me that two different blog categories were needed for the same module (you will see the first four blog posts tagged in two different categories at the bottom of the posts).

Apologies for any inconvenience caused

FMP Presentation – Turning The Form Into An A/V Artefact

The post previous is the form that I worked with to create the final presentation. As you can see, a lot of the written parts were incorporated verbally into the artefact (as it’s easier to recite if I read the words in sequence).

The Voice Over

I used a Marantz and a reports mic for the audio – this is a tried and tested formula utilized in my riot documentaries, my poetry videos, and other projects. I wrote up parts of the presentation that would feature vocals, and then recited them, pasting and editing them into the timeline so I had my verbal speech. I tried to narrow down some of the more less-obvious parts (e.g. how much the food for everyone would cost on the day of the shoot), as the presentation seemed more about the direct costs of the FMP, rather than the variable costs to be calculated on the side. Thus, you can see some evidence of editing in the ‘action plan’ and ‘budget’ areas of the presentation.

The Music

Me talking alone, however, made for a rather dull-sounding presentation, so I added various musical scores in the background as well. All musical scores were from bands I know and love (and gothic-themed), though I had to edit down parts of the song featuring choirs, as this clashed with my own speech too much. This is the track list in order of appearance:

Emilie Autumn – Syringe

Nightwish – Scaretale

Opeth – The Drapery Falls

Opeth – Silhouette

Epica – Prologue

Indica – Eerie Eden

Nightwish – Last Of The Wilds

The Creative Artefact

This now left the visuals. The first an foremost obvious addition was the creative artefact – keeping in sequence with the form I was using, I incorporated my creative piece just before the conclusion, effectively demonstrating my script and the location I had found. This piece was then graded to make it look better – I was going to start it black and white, and then saturate it as the script continued, but I figured it better to show off the possible locations in colour before being ‘tricksy’. Ultimately, I demonstrated my grading abilities on a photograph instead, positioned earlier in the video.

The filming of the locations as done one weekend – I experimented for the first time using a Canon 5D Mark 2 with a 50mm lens rather than a 105mm lens. The difference? 50mm lenses don’t have a zoom (i.e. a no-go for the final shoot). As I changed my FMP idea drastically at Christmas, this recce had to be done quickly, and there was only really time for one location scout before the CW2 hand-in. It still looked cinematic enough for me to be happy with though, truly demonstrating the ability of the Canon cameras.

The Titles

I’ve always been useless at titles – I have always considered them an ‘area’ of media for graphic design students. I have no interest in them, and it’s evident here – with the exception of the final slide, every title shot is plain, simple, easy to read text. The purpose of these texts was to stop me from waffling too much – it ultimately allowed me to fit more into a shorter presentation (i.e. it was practical!). I have absolutely no enthusiasm for this area of media production, and this will be a trait I’ll take with me into the outside world after graduation. I will simply use the ‘sample text’ font, and justify the minimalist approach by calling it ‘avant-gard’.

Overall, though, for a presentation which is all about explaining and demonstrating, I think the titles worked well. I am particularly proud of the shot with ‘Distribution’ in it, as I made a little more effort with this shot, trying to make the text move in time with the ‘Ken Burns’ effect applied to the cinema screen in the background (this is something I’ve not done in any projects before). I also applied a drop-shadow effect on the ‘Costume Budget’ shot, which luckily for me worked well, as the photo – although wonderfully representing what I want my fallen angel to look like – was a mixture of black and whites all over, which makes adding  black or white titles tricky.

The add-on humour came last, as I put a few subtle jokes in the subtext once I saw that my presentation was finally starting to take shape. This made what could have potentially been a dark and heavy presentation, a little lighter and more amusing for the viewer. Of course, this film is not aimed at fallen angels, and we are not walking to the forest from Coventry city centre.

The Photos

I got a plethora of photographs for this presentation, and ended up not using most of them. I was unsure of how the quality of the videos would turn out, so photographs were the back-up plan. I used a lot at the start, as I thought this would work well as an introduction to the presentation (as opposed to using videos taken from Youtube straight from the off). It’s A Wonderful Life worked well as a movie poster, as did all the photos regarding the angel costume. I also liked the photos of the relevant transport links to the main location. Once I started using the videos though, it became apparent that a lot of photos were not going to get used, as they only demonstrated that there was a place for gothic themes in modern cinema – something that the videos did anyway!

Sucker Punch – Until this point in my academic career, a presentation of mine would have featured photos like this. As a third year student, I think it became time to show scenes of zombie samurai getting shot in the face, rather than having just constant movie posters throughout the entire artefact running time.

The Videos

I have never used Youtube videos in any project before this one – and with the exception of a couple of projects in Tenerife, my videos have always been completely my own work (I don’t even use copyright music). For the example presentations shown to be that got a first from last year however, I realised the gloves were off. Many people in previous artefact for 360MC had also used copyrighted media to aid in their own media creations. This presentation was based around selling my idea – demonstrating various gothic cinema examples both past and present as one thing I needed to include, and video was a great way to do it.

I used downloadfever.info to get videos off Yotube. I’d ever done this before, but I made straight for the HD videos. I ended up using all videos par one (The Nightmare Before Christmas). Originally, this classic gothic film was to appear at the end scene, but I switched it for ‘Underworld: Evolution’ to end the presentation of an optimistic theme of gothic romance – something more in tune with my own FMP (and the fact they kiss just as I say ‘passion’ was completely accidental!).

I chose scenes that were both interesting and relevant – The Phantom Of The Opera featured a quick switch from black and white to colour (strangely, the black and white was the present day), and Beetle Juice featured a quirky and comedic character. Sucker Punch was there for to compliment what I was saying about my aspiring visual style, whilst Sleepy Hollow was there to demonstrate Tim Burton’s work in the industry. Constantine featured Tilda Swinton as an angel, whilst Underworld showed gothic romance (as did Twilight). Blade 2 was in some ways there to compliment Twilight (though you may only understand the joke if you know your relevant meme). Blade 2 is the stylized work of Guillermo Del Toro also however – a gothic director whom I didn’t name, but who has equally influenced my work – and indeed this FMP – all the same. All in all, each video was relevant and interesting.

None of the video was graded except for the creative artefact – all the photos and videos are as they were pulled from the internet. As my film does not exist, I could not have made an involving and interesting presentation without them. I put the download site to good use, and I am pleased with the way the final cut turned out (one of my more involving presentations!):

Critical Evaluation

As a finished artefact, there are several pieces which I think could have been better. The first is at 00.48, in terms of music – just as Emilie Autumn’s violin screeches into life. The quiet beginning suited the opening nicely, but the sudden change in volume detracted from my voice over. I thought it would work better than it did. Overall though, I like the way the photo of Tim Burton broke the videos up in the subsequent shot.

It is noticeable that the various changes in aspect ratio between each video mean that the letterbox borders are all over the place at certain parts of the film – usually this is a major issue, but I hardly noticed it until I was looking at it scrutinizingly close. I didn’t consider it a major issue, so I left the videos (including the watermark on Sleepy Hollow) for fear of pixelating the imagery.

The de-saturated photo turning into colour is a part I really like – I’ve experimented with this method last year, but the reason it worked so well here was because most of the photo was black and white to start with (something I could maybe consider in more detail in later development stages).

The Blade 2 clip, for all my defense, can seem a little out of place. The more I watch the presentation back, the more I like it, but perhaps that’s just the child in me. I say The Nightmare Before Christmas had no direct relevance, yet the clip I would have used featured Jack Skellington walking through a graveyard depressed – likely more relevant than Blade 2 at that moment in the presentation. But what can I say – I’m a man, and only human. The clip was high quality and works well with the others clips, so again, this is a small fault.

As mentioned, the ‘Distribution’ shot I like quite well, as I don’t usually pay attention to titles. The static shots of the festival logos separated them from the Ken Burns-effected images that had gone before, which I also liked. The drop-shadow worked well once we got onto the Budget part, where the text saved me having to verbalize a variety of costs. Also as mentioned, I tried to stick to grand totals of direct costs, rather than dwelling on the trivial. One part which I did not like however was at 3:35 – I change topic from costume to transport too quickly. I should have put some ambience in to create a pause between breaths, as it is now more evident that I edited my vocals heavily on this piece (but on the plus side, the presentation was one second quicker without the pause).

The music after the budget worked really well – the epic style emphasized the size of the task I was about to undertake (again accidental – remember, I did the music before I did the visuals!). The ‘Action Plan’ has a lot of information in a very short space of time – ultimately I decided there was no interesting way to show this without help from graphic design so – typically of me – I just used plain text and put the lot up on screen. Anyone who wanted a closer look could simply stop the video, though I think the plan is up long enough for people to get a decent enough idea without doing that.

The creative artefact was an interesting part of the presentation, as I think (despite the minimalist approach), it gave a very good idea of what I am aiming for in the film. My two different vocal types developed during my years in theatre also came through better than expected as well!

The final music tune was loud and brash in the background, signifying we were getting to the end, which worked well.  The 3 final points was a conclusion that I felt needed to be reinforced – much like the pitch at the start, I printed the words on the screen, and then vocalized the same point, making it clear what my stance on my FMP is. The ending shot (and text shot) are both optimistic, leaving an optimistic feel at the end of a presentation that could have been much more full of dread. Overall, I think the presentation shows that I am happy with what I am choosing to do for my FMP, that I am enthusiastic about getting it done, and that I genuinely believe that this is a possible and realistic project to accomplish. I couldn’t ask for more than that at this stage!

Back-Up Presentation:

In case the above link does not work, here is the same presentation on another site:

Peter Has An Angel – Final Project Proposal Form

FINAL PROPOSAL FORM

1. Title and Pitch 

Peter Has An Angel  (updated version of a short story I wrote in 2006)

– A depressed student takes a lonely walk in some woods, only to accidentally stumble upon an equally depressed fallen angel. The two decide to talk about their problems to see if they can help each other resolve their predicaments.

2. Pitch

This is a short film in the gothic drama genre, approximately fifteen minutes in length. It is aimed at a young adult audience, notably academics as academic pressure is a main theme explored within the script.

3. Rationale  

The film can be considered a gothic version of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, with the main theme being about appreciating what you have, rather than dwelling on what you have not (i.e. optimism). A sub-plot involves not dwelling on past events, and these arguments will be taken on a literal basis in the form of a conversation and discussion between two characters who have met by chance.

It may not sound like a barrel of laughs, but I’ve tried to incorporate dark humour into the script, as most films of the genre are darkly comedic. A style I intend to use is to start the film looking bleak and de-saturated, and then at different intervals, bring more colour into the film as the mood gradually lifts. I will use Canon 5D MK2s for the visuals, and capture the audio separately – a method I have used before on several previous projects.

4. Context

This short film a is quirky blend of genres (http://www.filmsite.org/subgenres2.html), which gives it a unique position in the short film market. This will allow it to be visually and contextually engaging with the audience. It is a quirky approach to the tried and tested formula of ‘appreciating what you have’ and being optimistic about your outlook on life. It answers questions about self-doubt, and how to respond to the societies we are part of. The gradual colour grading from black and white is also a stylized way of displaying the image on screen.

5. Distribution

As this is a short film, it will be showcased at various short film festivals to access the relevant contacts I’m trying to find within the industry. These include:

Bang! Film Festival

R.E.M / Roots To Shoots

BAFTA Degree Show

Stratford Fringe Film Festival

Online Platforms, Vimeo

6. Budget

There are places in Nottingham where I can purchase accessories, though I have also considered approaching the University theatre department for help with this area.

Actors – Student Equity – minimum £6 an hour (wages to be negotiated) – Mum, Dad, Rebecca (£18) Amy, Peter (10 hours for Peter, 9 for Amy = £114) = Total = £132 (plus variable transport fees)

Angel Costume – £300 – £350 which is only an approximation (If the angel looks bad, the film will not work) – Theatre department, Nottingham gothic quarter, Gore-Couture

Transport – Negotiable – shouldn’t be too much, as:

Primary Location – Wainbody Wood

As one lecturer put it, I have a ‘visual eye’. Cinematography and the on-screen image have always been the most attractive part of the media industry to me, and it has been this skill that I have been developing over the past three years throughout my academic career, both as a director and as a camera operator.

This will be the biggest project I have ever undertaken, and if I pull it off, it will become be the best film I have made to date. This will demonstrate my ability both to myself and to potential employers after graduation, and will hopefully provide the access I need to develop contacts within the industry.

7. Plan/ schedule of work

Casting Calls + Prop/Costume Plan – End of Jan

Test Shoot – Early Feb

Costume Updates – Early Feb

Crew Roles + Financing Finalised – Mid Feb

Actor Auditions + Selections + Financing – Mid-Late Feb

Finalise Date Of Shoot + Equipment + Crew – Late Feb

Day Of Shoot – March

Post Production Begins + Payments – March

Final Edit, Marketing – April

8. Supporting creative artefact

http://vimeo.com/35151511

9. CONCLUSION 

  • Nearby Location
  • Ready Equipment
  • Ready Funds
  • Passionate about the gothic genre
  • Ideal media artefact for self-expression in the industry post-graduation.

The Proposals – FMP Development Through 360MC

It’s uncertain at the moment which posts are going to be added as the coursework 2 hand-in, as a large portion of the TEOTA and Another Revolution research posts were handed in as part of the first 360MC hand-in (though these posts have had no direct bearing on my final proposal). Here is a simplified version of how I arrived at my final presentation pitch, from the origins of the three ideas at the start of 360MC:

Initial Proposals

1. Shooting The Sunrise – This idea was eventually used in 360MC as part of ‘Power, Spectacle and Memory’ (my memory artefact). It showed my own memories of my past expeditions up mount Teide. If everything else had failed, this was to be the back-up project which could be easily accomplished for my final year. However, once TEOTA looked to be going ahead, I made this film as part of another aspect of my course, and focused my attention on the other two proposals. The final cut (for the moment) of the film can be found here.

2. ‘The Riots Documentary‘ – Even before the course went left-wing, this was always an idea I was interested in taking forward this year. In preparation, I got in touch with old contacts from the infamous Millbank Riots of 2010, and joined the Socialist Workers Party to meet the people in Coventry who were holding the party up. I made another (more experimental) film for 360MC Coursework 1 regarding this film, and I got in touch with the chief documentary lecturer at the university. I then became part of a group to set up a Socialist Workers Student Society here at the university.

3. The Eyes Of The Angel – by far the most elaborate of the three initial ideas was the short film about two prison convicts escaping from prison, then turning on each other in a forest when they realised they’re trapped. One convict chances across a fallen angel, bound to a tree in the middle of the chaos with the aim to attempt to stop the murders from taking place. This was the idea my FMP ultimately became based around, although I knew from the off that this was a very complex project – at the moment, the riots documentary seemed more favorable.

Interim Proposals

At this point I had 2 ideas: the riots documentary, now named Another Revolution, and The Eyes Of The Angel, now abbreviated to the acronym ‘TEOTA‘. TEOTA was the idea I wanted to carry forward, but it was too complex, and until I could find a viable way to create it, Another Revolution was the focal point. Whilst my research into both continued extensively, I got to know members of the SWP both in and out of Coventry – people who could become potential characters for my film. However, it became increasingly apparent that I knew little about the war-zone I was entering – it would take considerable time for me to build up the trust required to conduct the personal interviews that I wanted to do.

At this point, Another Revolution got another direction – I was advised to make it more personal, and in doing so, chart my own journey into discovering the motivations behind protestors and their goals. Then one of the major problems with this project came – not so much a barrier, but rather an opportunity: the Marxism Festival in the summer. This would be when people from all over the world sharing the same anti-capitalist ideas would meet up, discuss politics, tell stories from around the world over the past year, and also be on my own doorstep for the interview. It would be a relaxed environment, and would also allow several months for me to get to know the members of the SWP (and share in some political ‘moments and meetings’ with them). This was the death card for this being my FMP idea though – it was statistically the logical choice, and an event that was guaranteed to happen, but the project would be filmed after the hand-in and the degree show.

Meanwhile, TEOTA went into development in the script. The script was finished and revised, but was too complex for a simple narrative. Over Christmas, I fought every which way over how to make a film about prison-breaking convicts and fallen angels work. The final nail in the coffin was in the knowing that filming at night in forests was a stretch even by Hollywood standards. It was time to put the idea to rest, and start all over again with this idea. Thus, TEOTA became Peter Has An Angel.

Last year’s Marxism Festival – Although PHAA took over as my FMP, this documentary is still an ongoing project. The festival provides a relaxed and approachable environment, where I can easily find a variety of people with a variety of views and stories. Members of the SWP who I have sided with to explore these political worlds will most likely be going as well, and this would provide an interesting and unique approach to a film about left-wing politics (plus, I have the cut-aways of actual infamous riots and protests already!)

The Final Proposal

Peter Has An Angel (PHAA) took crown as the victor of the initial three ideas. Reverting back to the original idea, a film about convicts now became a film about a depressed student walking on his own in a forest, thus halting the night time problem, and also allowing me to write a script that was more from the heart (and thus more effective). There were subtle changes to the way the environment was used and the way the angel character was, but using the Final Proposal Form, I was able to solidify a good idea, that I now aim to start constructing and make into a reality.

Dogma – Reflection

Just in the nick of time for this module, I’ve managed to finally get round to seeing one of the quintessential fallen angel films of more recent times. In Dogma, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon play two fallen angels trying to get back into heaven (and as a by-product, causing hell on Earth if they succeed).

Unlike my film, this film is heavily religious. It is probably the most blasphemous film I’ve ever seen – I laughed for two hours straight, from the hammed-up performances of Alan Rickman and Chris Rock, to the satirical and dry witted script that pokes fun at the Christian establishment at every moment of conversation. This is not to mention all the subtle jokes in the background (sometimes even funnier than what’s going in the foreground). It takes the style of Airplane! – it’s one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a while.

I thought Jay and Silent Bob were a little out of place in the narrative, as they didn’t contribute much to the script, the story, or the characters. However, I was more interested in the way the script had been constructed, as this is obviously a funny film, and it would be great if I could incorporate the pessimistic humour of the fallen angels into my script.

‘Buddy Christ’ – A scene that became an online meme in it’s own right. George Carlin’s character (of all people) claims the image of Jesus dying on the cross is too pessimistic, and stopping people from being religious. Thus, he campaigns to make Buddy Christ the new symbol of Christianity. (Note – the rest of the film is in similar vein!) 

I think the ‘trick’ was that all the heavenly beings (although being humorously bored with the responsibilities they had after many centuries of service) were cynics and very blase about the events of the film – the impending armageddon of mankind. At one point, all of creation is referred to as ‘an experiment’, and the characters seem to reinforce this notion. Ironically, nothing seems sacred to them – they all have their own agendas, and they’re all seeking freedom from the rules of Heaven and the Holy Land (a similar theme of which I’m exploring within my own script).

Again, my film will be a lot less slapstick than this one (which may have been made purely to provoke), and the religion theme is toned down within my own script, as you can literally argue all the hypocritical points and conflict with science until the cows come home. Overall though, Dogma was a very well made film. If I can make something even half as good as it with my finished piece, I will deem it a major success!

This is opening clip:

(now replay the ‘skywalk’ scene again, and this time pay more attention to what’s going on in the background – I imagine there’s loads of these kind of moments throughout the film on the second viewing!)

PHAA – Examples Of ‘Gothic’

Though many people at my university may argue to the contrary, the fact of the matter is that I am very passionate about alternative culture. The presentation due for this part of 360MC will call upon sources of inspiration for my idea, and why I think my idea will work in the media markets of today. Yet, you need not look far to find examples of popular ‘Gothic’ themes in mainstream culture today.

Film Style

The master of the ‘gothic’ is no doubt Tim Burton – he has crafted so many strange, dark and twisted narratives that have become cult classics that he has a definitive reputation. His films are usually based around the central character being different from others (take any of his films – The Nightmare Before Christmas, where Jack Skellington doesn’t want to be in Halloweentown any more; or Edward Scissorhands, where the main character is part machine). There is a similar theme in my own film, although it is much more subtle.

Dark humour is also a common theme of his movies, and notably Beetlejuice managed to create a unique blend of slapstick comedy whilst still delivering genuine scares (something also demonstrated in Wes Craven’s film Scream). I am avoiding slapstick comedy in my FMP as it’s expensive, and if it isn’t done correctly (and I’m no comedian!) the resulting film can look awkwardly unfunny and cheesy.

Here is my personal favourite film of Tim Burton’s – Johnny Depp’s protagonist is a city man in a rural town trying to solve a murder mystery involving witches and ghosts. Coincidentally, it uses a forest to create the feeling of isolation!

Costumes and Props

The only notable costume and prop design is going to come from Amy Carter’s fallen angel – she needs wings, a dark dress, various other gothic garments depending on what suits her figure (to be decided at a later date, but Blue Banana stores stock plenty of gear for affordable prices). I have investigated a couple of other alternative fashion companies, such as Gore-Couture; however they seem a little out of my price range budgeting (for the full dress costume, I am really looking at an approximation of the £200 mark). I am aware that there is a theatre department in Ellen Terry which may be able to help me with Amy Carter’s costume, but until the role has been cast and I know sizes, getting this sorted at this stage will be very difficult.

Emilie Autumn (above) and a dress from her clothing line (below). Emilie Autumn is a strange character, but you wont have to travel far into alternative culture before you run into her one way or another. Her expensive overseas productions are impractical for my film, but certainly give me an idea of what I’m looking for.

In terms of props, there are also very little. This could be an issue, as props can make conversations more interesting (allowing Amy Carter to magic cigarettes and smoke them is one idea I toy with a lot nowadays). The most important prop is the white feather found at the end – it needs to be white (and I mean seriously clean). This prop cannot be easily mistaken as belonging to a bird, otherwise the audience will leave the film feeling totally confused! Contact lenses on the angel’s eyes is another thing I need to discuss with the senior members of the production crew once they are involved.

Music Style

In terms of my own musical influences, there have been many (including aforementioned Emilie Autumn). For this film, however, I was originally going with a more mysterious and mellow sound, which I think would still work for the opening part of the film. Music for the flashbacks can be louder, faster and quirkier, though these will be only for the flashbacks, and drifting music in and out of a conversation will be odd unless the characters break the film up using props, exaggerated movements or otherwise. I was most concerned about the ending, but I rather feel that after the events of the film, a gothic soundtrack at the end would detract, so something more acoustic and ‘indie’ would work best for the happy ending (namely, all gothic elements from the film – including the bleak grading – have all disappeared. This idea works in a way that gothic is unusual and interesting, but not desirable in the wider / longer scheme of things)

Nightwish are my favourite band in this genre of music, and the song below is a good example of how music can be mixed up and messed up to create that totally ‘barmy’ sound style (particular 4:00 to 5:30!)

There are several local artists in Coventry that – provided they are willing – can allow me to use their music at the end. Kristy Gallacher is one such artist I’ve considered approaching – she has a beautiful acoustic sound that is almost perfect in terms of what I am after at the end of this film. In terms of the other gothic soundscapes, I have contacted a university student in music design who will help me with this endeavor. If there are any problems, there are gothic soundscapes available on sites such as freeplaymusic.com (which I can get permission to use), but again it would be better to showcase other people’s talents in my film, as every time it enters a festival or at the degree show, it will not just be my own work that will be on display.

Gothic In The Media Industry

I directly referenced Tim Burton above, and although he’s been making films for over twenty five years, his films are still met with critical acclaim. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory met with mixed reviews, as did Alice In Wonderland, yet they still grossed highly as the box office. Burton’s previous works have gained cult status, though I do turn towards his two Batman films with regards my next point.

Gothic has always been about the darker side of human nature (in a comedic fashion or otherwise). It has always been an answer for those who feel like don’t fit in with society, to join the alternative society with a different ‘mainstream’ – different clothes to wear, different music to listen to, different films to watch at the cinema etc. Yet, I find it funny how the media industry seems to favour the darker versions of events nowadays. Take Batman as a franchise – always a dark gloomy film, yet surely it cannot be argued that Heath Ledger’s ‘Joker’ in The Dark Knight was a lot more (pardon the accidental joke) serious than Jack Nicholson’s portrayal was. A more interesting one is the the Coen Brother’s ‘re-imagining’ of True Grit – largely the same film as the original, and yet completely different (seriously, you need to see both to believe how much they are different and the same, at the same time!) Internet sensation The Nostalgia Critic compared the old and new version of both Batman and True Grit, in which he shows how intelligent a movie buff he really is!

But even without remakes, one can look at Black Swan, one of the highest grossing films of last year, and notice how the twisted gothic undertones helped to forward the narrative of a woman who starts out as insipid before turning into the monster she becomes in the end. The visual style was met with critical acclaim.

BBC’s own re-telling of Great Expectations last Christmas had a dainty Miss Havisham on all the pre-release marketing – one of the most iconic gothic figures of all time, arguably! Ghost Rider 2 is also coming out soon at cinemas – a superhero franchise that is perhaps aimed at alternative culture more than Batman is!

It’s A Wonderful Life – Reflection

Every since the initial idea came about in 2006, comparisons with my idea and a film I’ve never seen called ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ have been made time and time again. I figured that it would be good for me to finally get round to watching the film, as it is available for free on Youtube in it’s entirety.

The film was not at all what I expected – rather than focusing on the paranormal or supernatural, the film was mostly a biopic of a fictitious man. For those who don’t know the story, a man is about to kill himself on Christmas Eve, when an angel appears and convinces him to live. The topic is almost identical to my own story, although I’ve decided to omit the ‘suicide’ theme from the script as I feel it is a bit ‘heavy’ for a short piece.

For ninety minutes, the film just tells us of the life of George Bailey. In the last half an hour, the angel appears and shows him what his life means to others, by taking him to an alternate reality where in he’d never existed. It’s arguable that it may have been better to show what happens twenty minutes after his ‘suicide’ (which pretty much sums up what people think of him) – it would certainly have been simpler! However, I suspended disbelief to enjoy this classic of cinema.

The angel representation differs greatly between this film and mine. In this film, it is more stereotypical – a man, for a start. A kind old man who is innocent and not over bearing. He represents the pure and the righteous, and although the term ‘fallen angel’ is referred in the film, it is simply his own goofiness that makes him a bit of a liability in heaven. Joseph and God are both heavily featured, making this a firm film of Christian beliefs. This however made me find it difficult to believe the ‘Second Class Angel’ job he was preaching towards the end. Needless to say, my angel is a much darker character who has been cast down from heaven for being more than just clumsy. This will aim to add a level of realism, making my fallen angel less of an ethereal character, and more of a human being.

There was a lot of repetition towards the end of the film in terms of what was going on – hopefully since my angel has wings and supernatural speed, it can be deduced rather quickly that both characters know where they stand, instead of spending half the running time trying to convince each other that they’re real. I found the ending of the film implausible and a little nonsensical, but then as most Christmas movies go, the general vibe is ‘Who cares? It’s Christmas!’ (endings that I’ve never liked in films over two hours long!)

Overall, I liked the film – truth be told, the biopic part of the film for me was more interesting than the angel part. However, it is important to note that in a film over two hours long, biopics can be greatly details and include all manner of set pieces. For a short film, which focuses on only one part of a narrative, the angel scene is no doubt the most interesting and unique. On IMDB, the site references the film as being about angels and parallel worlds. In truth, it’s not – the angel just seemed like nothing more than a way to end the film on a ‘quirky’ note. There was plenty of humour in it as well though, which is something that will be needed in mine also. No doubt my script will be darker than the script in this film, but that is just simply the natural advance of movie making and the society we live in.

Same Idea, Different Approach – Clarence the angel, from It’s A Wonderful Life (above), and an image of what will become Amy Carter for Peter Has An Angel (below). Although it is hard to notice the gradual change in social and cultural arts over time, when comparing two similar ideas over such a vast time period, one can see how people’s minds have changed in terms of what they perhaps expect a fallen angel to look like. 

One thing I haven’t mentioned is the acting – regardless of my issues with the plot, the acting in It’s A Wonderful life was top-notch throughout, as was the script. Mine will need to match as best it can – it is imperative for my film to succeed. Another film that also keeps cropping up is ‘Dogma’, which I plan to watch soon.

The film: