Dead Road, 2016.

Upon completion and presentation of Dead Road, our short film for digital story, here are some of the reflections and thought process involved in the pre-production, production, and post-production stages:

The final content for our digital story has went through several changes in our thought process. At the initial stage of brainstorming, we were able to pinpoint a certain storyline but was only cleared that we will be carrying out a thriller/mystery genre short film, where protagonist assassinate the antagonist. As such, it was rather different from our final content, as the storyline of getting chased by her murderer/boyfriend served as the prologue to a bigger story to come. Taking into consideration of a logical progression for the storyline and the helpful advise of our lecturer, our producer and scriptwriter had carefully inserted the main reason behind the murder–drug report and abusive boyfriend, which provides a background to our audience. As this is a student project, we decided to keep things simple and small-scale, which explains our decision to have the story unfold in a linear progress instead of flashbacks or interactive.

One of the main struggles in producing this short film is the tedious consideration of its aesthetics. Due to the lack of acting experience, we decided to omit as much dialogue and recording of facial expression that potentially affect the mystery ambience we are seeking for in our short film. Initially, the camera direction aimed to use an over-the-shoulder shot but the complication in coordinating movements between actors and camera director resulted us to opt for another option. Therefore, the storyline was narrated and viewed through the character’s point of view (POV), which worked more fluently for the storyline. In view of this, every shots were critically reviewed by all members to ensure that they reflect the desired mood of a thriller short film, from the shaking camera movements during running, gasping for air when being chased and the sound design of phone conversation at the beginning. The background music used during the chase was also a strategic choice to increase suspense for the unexpected movements happening at the character’s blind spot.

Before production, we also planned thoughtfully on the settings for our short film where one of our group members–who owned a car–went for location scouting and therefore ended up with the woods of Dandenong that was best option. It was helpful for our short film that the woods were full of empty branches and the weather on our shooting day were gloomy and foggy as they accentuates the dark, mystery mood we were searching for. We took advantage of this natural settings and were more than fortunate to finish filming the short film in two days.

After several research–including appropriate hashtags, desired platforms, and targeted audiences, we have come to a decision of centralising information about our short film and its upcoming storyline on an official Facebook page. In effort to extend our reach to targeted audiences of short filmmakers and of those who are interested in thriller/mystery short film, we will be uploading our short film on Vimeo (more community based) and YouTube (more general audiences based).

A marketing blurb and marketing image

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A young woman found dead in the woods of Dandenong leads two police officers into a brutal investigation of drug conspiracy that makes them question about their moral beliefs.

Processes and Collaboration
Overall, there were no huge obstacles in the collaborative process for the whole group has worked very efficiently together, understanding each other’s roles very clearly. From the beginning during the formation of group, we recruited group members based on their individual strengths and weaknesses. Having said that, the group members are always lending a helping hand for each other when faced with difficulties or uncertainties on their given roles. As an example, I was inexperienced with editing work and have never experienced any required additional camera direction to smooth up the editing process. Here, Sury who is in-charge of editing and Neal, who has previous filming experience were helpful and kind to personally demonstrate the camera works in helping me understanding the necessary process.

Note: This project was shown in final tutorial of CMWP on 17 May 2016.
If you’re interested, follow us on Facebook to view the short film!

Credits to fellow group members–Peter Norgaard, Sury Sulaiman, Neal Han Shitong–who co-produce Dead Road.