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By Laurence Jones

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What Is A Short Film? A short film is typically a film not long

enough to be considered a feature film. There are no official guidelines to specific

how long or short a short film can be. Short films are often made by independent

filmmakers for non profit, either with a low budget or no budget at all.

Short films can be professional or amateur productions.

Laurel and Hardy

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Conventions Of A Short Film Most short films consist typically of

around just 2 or 3 main characters. Most short films usually always have

a twist; twists can be cheap, yet effective ways of creating something interesting in a short amount of time.

Short films are called “short films” for a reason. They are usually 3-10 minutes in length but can be anywhere up to 35 minutes long. Any longer and the film would be considered a feature length film.

Short films almost always have low budgets.

Tom Ridgewell, a successful short film filmmaker

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History Of Short Film The very first films were presented to the

public in 1894 through Thomas Edison’s Kinetoscope.

During the 1920s, short comedies were especially popular, and typically came in a serial or series.

Comedians such as Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton all 'graduated' from shorts to features.

By the mid-1950s, with the rise of television, live-action short was virtually dead.

The Three Stooges

Charlie Chaplin

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Landmark Short Films The Birth of a Nation (1915): American

silent drama film directed by D. W. Griffith and based on the novel and play The Clansman, both by Thomas Dixon. The film chronicles the relationship of two families in Civil War and Reconstruction-era America.

Our Gang (1922): is a series of American comedy short films about a group of poor neighborhood children and their adventures.

Joe McDoakes (1942-1956): is the protagonist of a series of 63 black and white live action comedy one reel short subjects.

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Cinematography (from Greek: κίνημα, kinema "movements" and γράφειν, graphein "to record")

Cinematography is the art of motion picture photography.

The cinematographer could also be referred to as the film director's main visual collaborator.

In the infancy of motion pictures, the cinematographer was usually also the director and the person physically handling the camera.

Cinematography was key during the silent movie era. With no sound apart from background music and no dialogue, the films depended heavily on the visual arts.

Cinematographers are tasked with using appropriate shots to put together and craft scenes. They are essentially the director’s eyes.

A camera crew from the First Motion Picture Unit

A scene from Citizen Kane, 1941

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Shooting with a DSLR digital single-lens reflex camera The ability to exchange lenses, to select the best lens for the current

photographic need, and to allow the attachment of specialized lenses, is one of the key factors in the popularity of DSLR cameras.

Early DSLRs lacked the ability to show the optical viewfinder's image on the LCD display – a feature known as live preview. Live preview is useful in situations where the camera's eye-level viewfinder cannot be used, such as underwater photography.

In 1969 Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith invented the first successful imaging technology using a digital sensor, a CCD (Charge-Coupled Device). CCD would allow the rapid development of digital photography. For their contribution to digital photography Boyle and Smith were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2009.

Liveview mode

Cutaway of an Olympus E-30 DSLR (RIGHT)Diagram of how a standard DSLR functions (LEFT)

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An example of dramatic lighting in the film noir work The Asphalt Jungle

In cinematography, the use of light can influence the meaning of a shot. For example, film makers often portray villains that are heavily shadowed or veiled, using silhouette.

Techniques involving light include backlight(silhouette), and under-lighting(light across a character form).

Rembrandt lighting is a lighting technique that is used in studio portrait photography. It can be achieved using one light and a reflector, or two lights, and is popular because it is capable of producing images which appear both natural and compelling with a minimum of equipment.

Low-key lighting is a style of lighting for photography, film or television. It is a necessary element in creating a chiaroscuro effect.

Picture of a cat, example of Low-key lighting

A typical Rembrandt lighting setup

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Gravity notes Film centres around a council estate, a generally poor area; characters reflect this

through clothes and accents etc… The main protagonists of film are the main three boys who have gun The main dilemma is the gun and what to do with it Cause and effect Made in 2004 Colin Hutton, director Subtext, during 2004 operation trident (gun crime control in london council

estates) was at it’s peak,this film may be a comment on how general youth treat gun crime in poorer areas compared to other areas (mainly unfazed and tolerant)

Subtext could also say something about how a joke for one person can be very serious to others, cause and effect etc

Synopsis: set in and around an urban council estate, a group of young teenage boys come across a firearm and fight over what to do with it.

Genre: short film, drama, crime?, psychological, documenting life but not a documentary IMDB description: Three boys power play with a gun. Gravity is a short film that deals

with the detached nature of gun violence, and how actions and responsibility are often very disconnected

The sky is shot throughout and is a reoccurring theme?

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Drama The use of certain shots and sounds create a tension, which dramaticizes the film as a wholeThe narrative of this film

allows the audience to see what other characters are unaware of

After the gun is shot, the three boys run off screen and the camera pans over to the baby to find him dead

Teenagers interested in gun violence and interested in day to day life on poor estates

You can tell that the estate used for filming is quite a deprived area due to the lack of people caring when the gunshot is heard

For the filming, a run down council estate was used

To emphasise the “roughness” of the estate, the backstory of the gun was that the kid just found it on the street

The characters are depicted as young, bored and working class

You can see that the characters are bored because there’s nothing for them to do in such a rough place

Perhaps a reference to operation trident

Gun crime

The film represents poor neighbourhoods

It’s filmed on a rough looking, deprived estate

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Mise En ScèneThe cloudy and overcast sky foreshadows a troubled plot

The figure is silhouetted, this emphasises the gloom surrounding the character and his fate

Much like About A Girl, the opening shot is of a silhouette against an overcast sky

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Mise En Scène… continuedThere is contrast in the lighting as the top of the shot (the sky) is brighter than the foreground, this emphasises how “dark” it is on the ground

Despite the contrast in the light and dark there is also a shared uniform of grit between the foreground and background

There is a novelty about an urban landscape, the landscape is very urban and industrial in this film. Industry generally connotates machines and machines are lifeless, unthinking and are ultimately un-loving…

…Just like the people who inhabit said council estate

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About A Girl notes Film centres around a council estate, a generally poor area; characters

reflect this through clothes and accents etc… The main protagonists of film is a teenage girl The main dilemma is the strained relationship and general neglect of the girl Case and effect Made in 2001 Brian Percival, director Subtext commenting on child neglect Subtext could also say something about how children can make jokes of

very serious things, perhaps because of a child’s natural ability to be light hearted

Synopsis: set in and around an urban council estate and canal in Manchester, a girl talks about her life and reveals that she wants to move to London and become a singer when in reality she has a very poor and almost opposite existence to the one she describes

Genre: short film, drama, psychological, fictional documentary

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Drama The use of certain shots and sounds create a tension, which dramaticizes the film as a wholeThe narrative of this film

leaves the audience to read between the lines

At the end of the film the girl throws away an aborted baby but in the film it doesn’t state that it’s a baby in the bag

People interested in run down areas

The area of Manchester is really poor and her family is divorced and un-forgiving

For the filming, a run down council estate was used

To emphasise the “roughness” of the area, there are mainly tower blocks which can be linked to rough parts of town

The girl is depicted as young, bored and working class an neglected

You can see that the girl is neglected as she hides her pregnancy and is left out side the boozer while her dad gets drunk

The film represents poor neighbourhoods

It’s filmed on a rough looking, deprived estate

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Mise En Scène

The brick wall emphasizes the grit and harshness of the urban environment

She is looking down, this has a connotation that she is feeling sad or depressed

Her clothes show that she is quite young and “chavy” and/or poor

Her earrings suggest that she is perhaps trying to act/look older than she is in order to fit in with the rough world that she inhabits

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Mise En Scène… continuedUrban/ industrial landscape has connotations of poverty and neglect, which almost runs parallel of the girl’s life

Grey skies are a pathetic fallacy and comment on how dreary life is for the characters

Grass isn’t very green, “the grass is greener on the otherside”

The dad is in the middle of a football match, presumably when he's supposed to be spending time with his daughter, this shows that he is a careless father and probably doesn’t care too much for his daughter as he’d rather spend time playing football

The girl is on her phone, mostly uninterested in the match, this reflects how she aspires to get away from boring Manchester

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Mise En Scène… continuedUrban/ industrial landscape is in decay and is quite dilapidated, this has connotations of how the girl’s life may be in ruin

Litter in the canal expresses how toxic and lifeless the water is, the greyish brown of the water shows that the water is heavily polluted, this has connotations to how unhealthy and desperate life is in the area

The girl is looking at her own reflection, this connotates that she is perhaps reflecting upon her life and general surroundings

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The editor for About A Girl has chosen to use very dramatic shots, perhaps to emphasise the drama in the film. A good example of this is the penultimate shot, which is taken underwater and shows the baby in the plastic bag. This scene is very hard-hitting and unravels the innocence of the film, which is slowly chipped away at throughout the entirety of the film.

Another example of a dramatic shot used in the film is the opening shot which shows a silhouette dancing against a clouded sky. The fact that the figure is shadowy creates a gloomy presence about them, also the cloudy sky has connotations and foreshadows of a clouded and troubled plot in general.

The editor for Gravity has also chosen some very dramatic shots, these include the opening shot which a silhouette against an overcast sky backdrop. This is extremely similar to About A Girl. Another example includes the transition scene from when they shoot the gun to where the kid is on the swing, this scene works very well.


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The reoccurring sound that is used over and over in Gravity is the sound of the rusty swing swaying. This is the first thing we hear and it is also the last thing we hear, this helps build a relationship between beginning and end.

The sounds mostly consist of dialogue in About A Girl, the girl talks about her life through soliloquy. She can also be heard singing. The fact that the director focuses on her singing in some of the scenes reinforces that the character desires fame.


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Comparisons between the two filmsThe two films are very similar, both centre around the death of

an infant. Both are fundamentally built around the concepts and themes of poverty, child negligence and what children do to entertain themselves. About A Girl is driven by it’s documentary-esque narrative and how the main protagonist bounces a monologue to herself. Gravity follows a different style of narrative, progressing just like a normal drama.

Both films are shot and edited in similar ways. Gravity has very dramatically shot scenes; heavily focusing on the firearm and the characters' reactions towards it, whilst also capturing the scenery and backdrop of the deprived area that the story is set in. About A Girl is extremely similar in that respects, that it too emphasises on the poverty. About A Girl also employs a documentary-style-spin, this helps create a backstory and understanding into the character's life.

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My Short Film – The Big Shave / Viet ‘67 (1967) The Big Shave / Viet ‘67 alternate title. Six-minutes in length. Written and directed by Martin Scorsese. Scorsese has been noted for his depiction of violence and liberal use of

profanity in many of his films, he has also been noted for his collaborations with actors Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Many film critics have interpreted the young man's process of self-mutilation as a metaphor for the self-destructive involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War, prompted by the film's alternative title.

The music accompanying the film is Bunny Berigan's "I Can't Get Started", recorded in 1937.

This was one of Martin Scorsese’s first films he did in college. His career is long and very successful, some of his best films include :

Taxi Driver (1976) The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) Goodfellas (1990) Gangs of New York (2002)The Departed (2006)Shutter Island (2010)The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

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Analysis of The Big ShaveThis short film is extremely bloody and graphic, and overall quite hard hitting. Firstly we

are familiarized with the environment; the bathroom is unusually up kept and pristine but becomes increasingly messier and bloodier, this could have connotations to how America is a strong country at the beginning of the Vietnam war and how the country is a mess by the end of the conflict. Then we are introduced to a young man who enters the room and proceeds with shaving. As the film progresses the shave becomes increasingly more violent and the man starts bleeding profusely, until finally he slits his throat.

The accompanying music is very upbeat and is an oxymoron of what message the film conveys. The overall message of the film is a hint towards the Vietnam War, and how the war is similar to America metaphorically “slitting their own throat”. Bunny Berigan's "I Can't Get Started“ dynamically has a crescendo and the song grows louder and more aggressive as the music progresses, this complements the mood of the film as the film also grows increasingly aggressive and violent.

The film is edited to accommodate shorter clips of film. There are mainly close ups of certain objects such as the sink basin, the plughole, the man’s hands etc… this establishes a level of detail within the film.

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Reverse storyboard stills

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Mise En Scène

The main character is young, physically strong, white and American, which may mean that he is the physical representation of America at that time during the mid 60s

He is looking into the mirror; that may have connotations that this film is about self-reflection

The main character is also quite well groomed and physically maintained, this could be a reference towards how militarily formidable and democratic America is

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Mise En Scène… continued

The basin goes from being shiny and pristine to being bloodied and messy

The contrast in the white of the basin and the dark of the blood could suggest connotations of segregation and the fight for civil rights within America during the 60s

The blood is a deep red, the colour red has connotations of communism. The blood could also represent the spread of communism and the US’s attempt at stopping the domino effect in south-east asia

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Mise En Scène… continued

The repetition of shots where the character takes his shirt off enforces the connotations of America being stripped of innocence in an ever-changing era of social revolutions…

…Or perhaps the repetition of shots could suggest that the character is struggling to take his shirt off, his shirt being a metaphor for the upheaval of the worsening situation in Vietnam and amongst youth and the peace movement

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bibliography http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Scorses

e http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Shave http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_film http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_stooges http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_chaplin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mise_en_scene http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinematography http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dslr