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

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset
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.

Peer Feedback

For the recent viewing of my fellow classmate’s digital story rough cut, here are few feedback on some of the projects by looking at their strengths, weaknesses and places that can be further improved:

Motivation to study in Melbourne
Overall, the content was quite informative and well-balanced with a diverse group of interviewee that includes both local and international students. However, it has a weak focus on its content, where there is no proper conclusion to the story, which can be confusing for audiences on the purpose of this digital story. Some areas that can be further improved are the sound editing and aesthetic of presented data. The former needs to be revised as it can gets extremely loud at certain parts, which can be a little discomforting for audiences to listen. For the latter, the presentation of the data could have been done better by either blurring out the background to enable audience focus on the data, or increase the quality to appeal more professional.

Crowd funding to support Syrian’s refugees
In my opinion, I personally like how the group approach crowd funding by speaking out in the videos and their respective roles in this digital story. However, the content/digital story requires a better arrangement or presentation as it was hard to gauge its purpose of presenting this video. Similar as before, there is a lack of concluding note as well. Perhaps, this is an aspect to be improved where the group can possibly suggest the ways they can provide support or contribute to the crowd funding. Some of the weaknesses that I’ve noticed are the mismatching voice and lip movements, the colour scheme needs to be revised, and the choices of background during speaking. I think this can be improved by few ways such as fixating the background or using basic colours as background in order to allow audiences focus on the speakers and appeal less all over the place.

Moving infographic on Facebook’s penetration in SEA
The aesthetic was stunning and attractive as the icons and symbols used are easily understandable within quick glances. It depicts an interesting content as well. However, I do noticed that the narrative mainly touched on Vietnam and roughly touched on Singapore at the start. I wish that there were more balanced coverage of South East Asia in their narrative to be relevant with their title. Otherwise, it can appeal as imbalanced or bias in their presentation. Besides that, another weakness is the lack of energy for the voiceover. As compared to the colourful and vibrant use of infographic, the voiceover was very dull and mundane, which does not really relay your narrative effectively. Over a long time, it feels very draining to concentrate on the speaker because of the slurry speeches. This will take away people’s focus on the content and I feel that it’s putting the great aesthetic of infographics into waste.