This module was a group project, for which I was working with Gareth Messenger and Jake Gable. Our chosen topic was “A Place Called England”-a folk song written by Maggie Holland. We were to film and produce a 5 minute video to go with the song.
Our first task was to listen to the song, and discuss what we thought it was about, and what message it was trying to get across, and think of how we can create that message through film. We decided that the song was mainly about how England is being destroyed and ruined by industrialization. This was the focus of our piece.
For our paper edit, each member of the group went through the song lyrics individually, and added in their ideas for locations and shots. We then sent the documents around to each other, and commented on each others ideas, pointing out any potential problems, or adding in other possible locations. By doing this, we came up with a basic plan of what we wanted to film, and how it would look that the whole group agreed on.
Before we started filming we wanted to organise the music. I contacted Maggie Holland, the original artist, but she now lives in Edinburgh, and also had a tour scheduled in Belgium. My next idea was to contact June Tabor, who is also well known for performing this song, but unfortunately she was in the middle of a tour, and her agents would not let me contact her directly. I also tried looking on Youtube for some footage of the song, and sent several emails requesting copyright permission, but unfortunately received no response. We decided to continue with the project and try to resolve our music issues another time.
The next stage of the project was to go and film individually. We separated up the song, and each took various sections. For example, I live in Weston-super-Mare, and know of a limestone gorge nearby, which is featured in the song. So I was responsible for filming that. I visited the locations I wanted to film in first, to try and see if there would be any potential lighting issues etc, and then went back to film when the weather was how we wanted it to be. For example, for the country shots, we wanted it to be a nice, clear day, whereas for the industry shots, we wanted it to be quite grey and miserable so that the message of the song came across not only through our filming, but because of the weather as well.
We review the footage together, and pointed out things we liked and shots that we didn't think worked as well. We discussed alternate shots and locations, and began planning the next stages of filming. Whilst going out and filming, we decided to try and film motion shots in the car. These worked really well with our train footage, which gives the impression of a train journey, looking out of the window at the countryside. This became a main theme for our project. Using this idea, we decided to film another train at night, to use at the end of the project. We were hoping this would make it look like someone who has been travelling all day, getting on the train when its bright and sunny, and getting off at night.
Once we had all our footage, we had to resolve our problem with the music. We were advised to use a piece of copyright free classical music, and read the song as a poem over the top. This seemed like our only feasible idea, and so we used Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis. The piece of music itself was 16 minutes long, and so we edited it into a 5 minute piece, with instruments that fit well with our footage. We chose the most emotive sections of the piece and cut them together with the soft beginning and faded end. This worked really well, especially with our footage of rivers and streams.
Once we had the music edited together, we focused on reading the song lyrics as a poem. We cut out certain lyrics and verses, and recorded Jake reading them, as he has a very soothing voice. We lined the poem up against the music, so that they flow nicely together, and repeated certain lines to make it seem really emotive.
Our last task was to fit the pictures with the poem and the music. We edited out any shots that did not work, or that were badly filmed and out of focus, to leave us with all our best quality shots, which we edited together with the swell and stings of the music, along with the words of the poem. We did not want it to be too literal, but we have tried to fit words and pictures together. We used transitions such as cross dissolve to layer pictures on top of each other. This works really well for the shots of the stream and the swan.
I think the piece could have been better if we had spent more time planning, and filmed a wider variety of shots. Some of the filming was of a very poor quality, for example it was filmed without a tripod. I think this is disappointing for such an important project. However, I think the group worked really well together, listening to each others ideas and commenting appropriately. We each did our share of filming and editing, and although there were disagreements and issues between us, we did not let it get in the way of the group project. I think overall it looks very good, because we have made it very emotive, and the words, pictures and music fit really well together.
It is disappointing that we could not get the original song due to copyright issues, but I think that by using the classical music with the lyrics read as a poem, it makes it slightly more emotional. I think our use of shots is varied and interesting, but maybe not so much that it would keep the audience interested for the full 5 minutes.
To conclude, the group worked really well together and have produced a very good piece, although it may be seen as somewhat lacking in certain aspects, such as variety. We experienced various issues such as corrupted tapes and copyright issues, but resolved them together and worked as a team to complete this project.