Lecture 8 was based around recreating a two-minute sequence from a film of our choosing, showing off the same camera angles and lighting used by the professionals. As an example of this, we talked about Hitchcock’s Psycho, which was an absolute masterpiece, as well as its recreation by Gus Can Sant in 1998.
As a class we watched a scene from each film, where hotel manager Norman Bates is entertaining Lila Crane in his backroom, and we discussed the imitation of one film by another, and how slight differences make huge impacts to the film. One of the major things that stuck out to me was that it was shot in colour, as opposed to black and white. I believe that Hitchcock shot in black and white for a specific effect, and I also feel that this works, although the cost of black and white was cheaper than full colour, it was possible to do so in 1960. Its remake seemed far too colourful for my liking, as the room was too bright and garish, as opposed to gloomy and threatening in the original. Another issue I felt that did not work was casting Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates, as Vaughn seems to have difficulty playing a serious and dark role, as opposed to Anthony Perkins, who managed to only to be sinister but also very intimidating, especially considering his size. Vaughn also tended to speak too fast for the role, hurrying out his lines instead of taking the time to leave gaps during his speech, creating the tension that worked so well for Hitchcock.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
To gain more experience with film production and to test the principles of scene recreation that we had discussed in the lecture, I got a camera out and got to work deciding upon a film to recreate. Initially I thought about recreating a scene from Fight Club, where Tyler Durden meets The Narrator for the first time on a plane, however my fight club obsession was in full swing and I decided that I could not do it justice, and I didn’t have a plane which didn’t help, so I quickly settled on Alice Creed.
Written and directed by J Blakeson, The Disappearance of Alice Creed was released April 30th, 2010. With an intriguing opening scene, disturbingly gritty plot and a three-man cast of victim (Gemma Arterton), villain (Martin Compston) and a terrifying heavy (Eddie Marson), Alice Creed was in my opinion one of the most underrated British films of 2010. Using only a three-man cast and 3 sets, all based on the Isle of Man, the director manages to keep the script completely blank until about 15 minutes in, showing only two of the characters building a prison for the third.
For the scene I decided to recreate from Alice Creed, I needed a grotty kitchen, and another male actor, as well as someone to either operate the camera or act. I jumped on my bike and disappeared to Aberystwyth, where I had some student friends willing to partake in my filming madness, and they just happened to have a kitchen I could use as well.
Setting up the lighting and camera was difficult to say the least, trying to recreate the exact parameters would have been impossible so we just did the best we could. I ended up acting in the film as I was short of willing volunteers, and so with 2 amateur actors, an untested camera operator and a lighting setup that bordered on a health and safety nightmare, we got to work.
I couldn’t carry proper spot lights on my motorbike as well as the camera and tripod, so I picked up a few clasp mounted lamps so that I could dot them around the room in an attempt to get the right lighting, as well as some roof mounted spot lights that where already in the kitchen.
After setting up the lighting, the camera was easy! We turned on the lights, put the camera in place, broken tripod and all, and got filming.
Our recreation left a lot to be desired when compared to the original, although acting, filming and editing this piece was a huge amount of fun, even if the sound quality is awful. Perhaps if I did this piece again I would use at least some non diegetic sound, if not do all vocals like it, as there are some very noticeable shots in this footage where the boiler kicks in which was unnoticeable while filming. Also the actors are both awful, and so I would invest in some paid and trained actors. Having said that, the result is one I am fairly proud of, especially the editing, which was an absolute nightmare with the footage we managed to get. Having shot all the action in one sitting we where beginning to really tire by the 7th hour and made some pretty noticeable mistakes, some so large as to be unavoidable in the editing process, lines confused and some pretty bad cutting simply because the camera work was not really rehearsed.
This is the final result, one of which I am proud, even if I have been told my acting is slightly terrifying.