- What is the overall story—the beginning, middle, and end—of this event?
In filming a ride-along with an officer, anything could happen – the beginning will likely be us in the car, the middle I will follow the officer out of the car, the end will be the conclusion of whatever altercation happens. Removing specifics, the story will be:
- Officer called to the event
- Officer reacts to event
- Event is resolved.
I would love to be more specific but feel that the unpredictable nature of the things the officer would be responding to would make this less easily plotted out, beyond what I’ve done here.
- Why is this event dramatic? (Drama means the audience understands something about the characters and what is at stake in this event. Specifically, is there competition between the participants? Are there spectators? Is there physical risk?)
They ask you to sign a death/injury waiver to ride along with a police officer. Cops see people who are having the worst day of their lives, every single day. The officer must remain cool and collected in the face of likely panic. There is a huge amount of risk on both parties. There is conflict inherent in the process, resolving the conflict is the job of the officer.
- Make a bulleted list of beats in the order that you expect the action will unfold. (What beat happens first, then second, then third…)
- We are in the cop car
- We leave the car and walk out to the altercation
- Officer speaks to the caller
- Caller responds
- Conflict is stated
- Conflict is discussed
- Conflict is resolved
- Where is the action taking place (A stadium? A gymnasium? A livingroom?)? What, specifically, will you shoot to reveal this location to the audience? When will you choose to reveal this to the audience? If you wait, why will you wait?
We will be in and around Salt Lake City if this happens as planned. We will likely begin in the vehicle – shots of the police laptop and the metal screen between the front and back will establish this. Wherever we go from there, it should be apparent from the transition from vehicle to street wherever we are. I will focus on getting some footage of signs nearby to establish the more specific location. I will reveal where we are as soon as possible to let the audience focus in on the actions taking place rather than exposition.
- Who do you imagine will be the characters involved in this event?
The officer, and whoever calls and needs help.
What will you shoot to introduce these characters to the audience?
I will try and get the officer in the car, and then the person he interacts with as soon as we meet them. The context should be clear from him being in uniform.
Why is this event important to them? (This is usually where the drama originates.)
The officer wants to do his job, the caller usually has a good reason to have called the police, and whatever that reason, it should be apparent through their dialogue. I’ll try and think on the fly and capture it as possible.
What will you shoot to communicate this?
Trying to get their dialogue will be important, focusing on eyes and their facial expression will also be important. Not just the caller – the officer too.
- If the rules (or expectations) for this event are not commonly known, how—specifically—will you teach the rules to the audience?
They should be able to pick it up as we go, these archetypes are pretty established.
- What, again, is dramatic about this event? What—specifically—can you shoot to help the audience both understand and feel this?
There’s a lot of conflict in that line of work, that conflict is inherently dramatic. Having police show up is rarely an enjoyable thing, so there will be lots to work with in that regard. Plus, a lot of what they do is dangerous, and danger/risk is dramatic as well.
- What is the progression of emotions that you hope the audience will experience while watching this dramatic event unfold? Why? How, specifically, do you intend to do this?
From anticipation at the beginning, to excitement, to potential fear/hope. By starting in the car, we set up anticipation – something must be happening after this if we’re in a cop car. Following the action, whatever happens, hopefully will create an emotional response in the same way – as we’re following the police officer, we’ll relate to him and his experience in navigating the event.
- What is the theme of this film? (In other words, can this event represent something more universal than just a pinewood derby race?)
Order and chaos
- What do you imagine might be the first image of the story? What would be the final image of the story?
The windshield of the car from the passenger side seat. The final image would likely be the car again.
- What is a single image that captures the essence of this entire event? How and when will you capture this? (What would the movie poster of this event look like?)
The officer standing with the caller, on a wide angle view of the street.
- Why is this film personal to you? What previous specific personal experience(s) does it remind you of?
One of my favorite members on the mission was a police officer, and the stories he told us about being on the streets were awesome. It reminded me of missionary work in a small way – we are on the streets, we have our neighbourhoods, we work with the community. There’s an element of being out and about and working with others that I love.
- Which specific visual elements (line, shape, space, tone, color, rhythm, movement) could you employ to purposefully communicate the emotion of the event?
I will try to create a contrast between the black uniform of the officer and the lightness of everything else – city streets are a light grey, the uniform should stand out. This can make him seem out of place in his world, or perhaps give him a sense of control.
- In a bulleted list, think through your shoot and describe three potential obstacles you might face in creating a successful scene. How will you overcame these obstacles?
- Getting on a ride-along in the first place. Sandy, West Valley, and Provo won’t allow filming on a ride-along. I’ve contacted a detective at SLCPD in hopes that I could make this work. If not, time for plan B.
- If we shoot at night, I will need either a very fast lens or an on camera light, like the lens mounted ring lights. Getting one will be tricky.
- Sound will be interesting. I’ll need an on camera rode with a good wind sock.
Write an overall response to your film in 2-3 paragraphs: Were you successful at achieving what you set out to achieve? What are you proud of? What would you do differently if you could remake this piece? What did you learn?
This was the fourth plan that I’d had for this film, and I was blessed in that it turned out nicely regardless of being so low on my “ideal film” list. I managed to unwittingly create a film that had a large cast, and that had constant action on screen. If I had the chance the redo the assignment, I would organize things with the EMTs a few weeks in advance so that I could work with them. I learned the value of always having something happening on screen, especially in a one take without cuts — as in Cuaron’s background stories in Y Tu Mama Tambien.
Briefly discuss the following:
What, specifically, did you want to communicate? Were you successful? Why? Why not?
I wanted to communicate the frantic nature of a film set. I think it got across, though I can’t tell as I’ve been on sets before. It would depend on the viewer.
How, specifically, did you try to communicate this?
I wanted to use movement, specifically Z-Axis movement, which would both work well with the geography of the location as well as create a sense of subjectivity — of being in the first person, and of immersion/interaction. This would heighten everything else happening, thus making even mundane tasks more engaging for the viewer.
What did you learn about storytelling:
Extras are useful! And if it’s at all possible, give everyone a story. Again, back to Cuaron — that’s how God sees the world, and that’s something that is almost unique to film, though done rarely.
What did you learn about working with actors and getting performance:
I didn’t direct anyone, but I learned that people can behave differently in a documentary setting when there’s a camera around.
What did you learn about blocking the camera and actors?
I had to follow the lead of the “actors” in this regard, and found that it’s possible to create adequate compositions on the fly but that planning it out meticulously can sometimes be better — though sometimes not. It’s really dependent on the location, the actors, and just how everything is going. You can’t really mastermind it too much or it feels stiff, but you can’t wing it all the time or it’ll feel sloppy or boring. You just have to mastermind it so well that it feels natural.
What did you learn about visual elements such as lighting, composition, framing, etc.?
Moody lighting can feel really cinematic! Composition is such that it can make the most mundane task seem beautiful if framed well. What you see on screen — the images, are of supreme importance.
What did you learn about design and art direction?
It definitely helps a lot when trying to make something cinematic — though again, I had no control over it.
What did you learn about the Production Process such as pre-production, collaborating with crew, securing equipment, etc.?
When working with non film institutions, like EMTs, plan ahead. They won’t work quickly just because you have a deadline.
What was it like to watch your film with an audience? Did they understand it? Miss the point? Why did they respond the way they did?
I think they were quite charitable towards it. I was sick of it by the time we screened it, and had no interest in it at all. Unless I feel very strongly about a piece, this is usually my response towards it.