“How much work goes into every single second of footage on every single movie hits me. It’s why filmmakers get so profoundly pissed at movie critics when they dismiss their movies with a few strokes on their keyboard, even if those movies are genuine pieces of shit” Oliver Lunn, Vice
Words and editorial design by Júlia Martins All rights reserved.
Storytelling comes in various formats, each of them reaching the target audience in a different manner. Print and film are very distinct mediums and they offer very different experiences – ‘medium is the message’. All forms of communication have their own language to communicate meaning, and film and print are somehow separated. The objective of this publication is to make the tactile format of print a resource and a complemen for film – ‘Read the Film’. Enhacing the storytelling and the experience, offering what a film on its own can’t offer. Going below the surface of the final product and showing that there is much more to it: you look, then you feel. Exploring film production as a whole and process will taking centre stage. To help illustrate that, the film ‘Baby Driver’ will serve as case study.
Nothing like the joy of films enhanced by the pleasure created by ink and paper
Baby Driver Film Production Pre-Production Storyboarding Script Crew Production Mise en scene Cinematography Post-Production Editing Sound Sound&Picture Distribution and Exhibition Screen Ratios Gallery
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Baby Driver All you need is one killer track
Baby, a music-loving orphan also happens to be the prodigiously talented go-to getaway driver for heist mastermind Doc. With the perfect soundtrack picked out for each and every job, Baby ensures Doc’s violent, bank-robbing cronies including Buddy, Bats and Darling - get in and out of Dodge before it’s too late. He’s not in it for the long haul though, hoping to nail one last job before riding off into the sunset with beautiful diner waitress Debora. Easier said than done.
Film production Film is regarded as the most complete story-telling medium; watching an enjoyable film is still one of the most satisfying, absorbing and appealing forms of entertainment. The basic task of film is to tell a story with a camera, there is also an awareness of the nature of cinema as a medium, art form and social and economical institution. Cinema is a language and within it are the specific vocabularies and sublanguages of the lens, composition, visual design, lighting, sound, image control, colour, continuity, movement and point of view. Whether it is the big Hollywood-type or independent, the first rule in filmmaking is to ‘know the rules before you break them’. Reshooting a film is extremely expensive and sometimes impossible, so it is essential that preproduction is a solid plan, leading to a smooth shooting – the production – and finally to post production. If it is a multimillion-dollar budget film, you usually specialise in doing one thing, whereas creating an independent film with no
money, you get to do a little bit of everything. The process will still be roughly the same, regardless. Cinematography involves mixing and coordinating many different elements, some of them artistic, some of them technical and business-like. Physical tools include the camera, dolly, the lights, cranes and camera mounts, etc. Conceptual tools of visual storytelling include the frame, light and colour, the lens, movement, texture, establishing and POV (point of view).
“Enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal which takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite, intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice” Arnold Toynbee
The first stage of filmmaking is the pre production, the planning for the production. The aim at this stage is to get the film as developed as much as possible you start shooting. Substantial changes during shooting are expensive as disrupt continuity or can even result in a discordant messy film. Good planning means that when you get to start shooting you go through a smoother process. You will encounter surprises and have to make changes here and there, but planning means you will encounter more of the right sort of surprises and know how to solve the other ones. The process starts as an idea in the imagination. Planning is when the ideas are committed to paper, when the loose ends are noticed and a rough structure for the film is created. Film is a blend of creativity and commercialism. Finance is, therefore, essential to every stage in the life of commercial film and those who provide the money – investors, financers, distributors and exhibitors – have a great influence over the film itself. To secure financing, it all starts with the pitch.
The producer assembles a package that includes an outline script (detailed storylines, possible stars, locations), proposed budget, a storyboard of several scenes and the director. The package is done in such a way to attract investment and reassure investors that a return on their investment is possible. If the pitching is successful, a deal is struck between the producer and the investors. Budgeting is divided further into above-the-line and below-the-line costs. Above-the-line costs include the salaries of the directors, actors and crew, whereas below-the-line costs refer to any other expenditure such as film stock, equipment hire, hotel costs, food, scenery and costumes. Once the funding has been secured, the planning for production can begin. Blueprints, storyboards, scripts, a shot list and animatic are created; assembling a crew, a recce of the location, casting, organising insurance, equipment and the props – inanimate objects places within the setting are overseen with the art department.
Storyboarding A storyboard is the visual blueprint of the film. It is used to explain the detail of the visual side of the film to a crew and allow those people working on a film to plan props, camera lenses and work schedules effectively. The storyboard contains frames with corresponding dialogue, notes or sound written next to it, as well as camera instructions. This document is the most detailed visual and written description of the whole film. 10
“I had the storyboards running on a lower video layer, because it’s very important to realize in things like this, you can’t do a shot that slightly runs over.” Paul Machliss, Editor
The script is the written text of a film, a series of instructions carried out in a specific order. It describes everything seen and heard on the screen. It always uses the present tense, happening in the visual ‘now’. Camera shots or editing notes are never included in the script, although line scripts – lines with numbers on the top of the pages to mark off individual camera shots – are used. The importance of each stage of planning is relative to the sort of film. Abstract, theme-based films will demand more consideration of visual aspects, while character studies with intense
dialogue will need more attention paid to the script. All films, however, need to go through the learning curve of planning and emerge fully formed before shooting. “This was undoubtedly the most complicated and challenging movie I’d ever worked on” Julian Slater - sound designer in Baby Driver, says. “The sound is almost like a character in the script. For every sound that you, as an audience member, perceive, there are another 10 things happening that are much more subtle”. (see image above)
Director’s note on second draft script of Baby Driver.
Shot # Location
A shot list serves a number of functions. It helps the Director of photography and the assistant director to better plan the day, to choose what film stock should be used, what additional equipment should be prepped and how much time is reasonably allowable to light and set the shot within the constraints of what needs to be done that day. In addition, it is very helpful as a reminder so that no shot or special coverage are missed.
Camera Mov. Shot Descript.
Baby in car
walk to bank
walk to bank Shot list Baby Driver scene 1
Throughout the film industry a certain number of clearly defined roles have evolved within a film production. To a certain extent these have developed in line with the demands of the medium to emulate business, with a hierarchy of roles. A basic crew, by skill not job description, consists of: • Someone who understands cameras and lighting • Someone who understands sound • Someone who edits • Someone who makes sure everyone is pulling in the same direction • Someone who others trust to make the final artistic decisions.
person is also responsible for securing finance for the film and to supervise expenditure. The producer is involved in every stage of a film’s development and is engaged in the film longer than any other person.
By job description, the most important roles in a Hollywood method, consists of:
Director One of the most important individuals on the set. Responsible for translating the script into a film. Acts as artistic controller, holding the project together realising a single vision of the style and tone of the film. S/he usually takes the artistic decisions regarding camera angles, type of shot, shot length, lighting, how the actors should interpret their role and editing.
Producer Runs the production as business manager. This
Production manager Responsible for the organisation of the production under the producer.
Cinematographer/Director of photography (DOP) Responsible for how the film will look and in charge of camera technique. Translates the director’s vision onto the screen.
Physically operates the camera under the guidance of the DOP.
Assistant camera operator will help with camera movement, setting up the camera and operating controls such as ‘pulling the focus’.
Art director or production designers Responsible for set design – mise en scène – and graphics. Responsible for the overall visual look of the production.
Sound technician Responsible for the complex process of recording sounds. When recording ‘live’ sound during filming, recording levels have to be set low enough so as not to introduce distortion and high enough so that the dialogue can be heard.
Continuity Person responsible for the perfect matching of all elements in a scene, so that when edited the different takes work seamlessly together. 17
Boom handler Operating the boom microphone, which is directional, meaning that it only picks up sound from the area the operator is pointing towards.
Costume designer Conceptualises and supervises the characters’ outfits and works closely with the art director.
Crew in Baby Driver
Finds suitable locations for filming and negotiates fees.
In charge of all other stagehands, known as grips.
Responsible for the lighting under the direction of the DOP. The term gaffer originally related to the moving of overhead equipment to control lighting levels using a gaff.
â€œThe success of a production depends on the attention to detailâ€? David O. Selznick
Production is the actual process of shooting the film. It is usually the most expensive stage, as it involves a large number of staff. Hence the long credits at the end of a film! If pre-production has been carefully done, then production should run smoothly and according to the schedule. There are conceptual tools to filming, as well as technical. Certain basic principles pertain to all types of visual design; these principles work interactively in various combinations to add depth, movement and visual force to the elements of the frame. We can mention unity, balance, visual tension, rhythm, proportion, contrast, texture and directionality. A visual style of a film is a combination of lighting style, colour control in lighting, use of lenses, choice of locations, choice of camera angles, set design and colour scheme, set dressing, wardrobe, makeup, casting, etc. Film is a language of its own, so here is a little bit about it.
Mise en scene The term developed in relation theatre and it translates to ‘putting on the stage’. For film purposes, it refers to ‘placing within the shot’. As James Monaco writes ‘because we read the shot, we are actively involved with it. The codes of mise en scène are the tools with which the filmmaker alters and modifies our reading of the shot.’ The elements covered by mise en scène are: setting, props, costume, performance, lighting and colour. How all the elements are to be arranged – composition – is also central to mise en scène. 20
Props The inanimate objects within a setting. Props may serve to strengthen the effect of the setting by making the environment visually more convincing.
Setting The space in which all the other elements are situated. The setting, like props and costume, sets up expectations for the viewer and can instantly produce meanings. Setting can be provided by filming on location or by set design in studios.
Costume It helps create an actor’s character. They can place an actor within a particular historical period, indicate social class or lifestyle.
Lighting and Colour
What an actor does within a shot obviously contributes significantly to the meanings produced. Actors and their performances are often the centralized and largely concentrated element of mise-en-scĂ¨ne.
Lighting illuminates the above-mentioned elements in a shot while itself also becoming an element within the shot. The human eye is drawn towards movement and towards the brightest area in a shot. Lighting is usually thought in terms of high key (balanced) lighting and low key (chiaroscuro) lighting. Illumination exposes detail and provides visual information. When high key lighting is desired in a film, lighting from at least three sources is used: a key light as the main source, a full light to remove shadows and a background light to create a sense of depth between the background and the main subject. A fourth light, a back light, may also be used, placed behind and facing towards them. Colour is long thought to affect the mood. As well as having a psychological effect, colours can also symbolise emotions and values, thus producing meaning in a text. Few elements in storytelling are as effective and powerful as lighting and colour.
Composition The arrangement of elements within a shot. Symmetrical composition places elements of similar shape and size in similar positions on either side of the shot, being regarded as visually pleasing. Unbalanced composition may make us feel uneasy or uncomfortable, however, it can be a useful creative device. A safe rule about composition is the rule of thirds, keeping a wellcomposed shot.
â€œThatâ€™s sort of why I now see two movies: the one that takes place in front of the camera, and the one that takes place behind it. Sometimes the latter is the more interesting film, but not with Baby Driver.â€? Oliver Lunn, Vice
Image by Edgar Wright
“Edgar Wright is standing among his crew in a corner of a multi-storey car park in Atlanta. Jon Hamm in a sharp suit with slick-back hair, Ansel Elgort pacing back and forth on his phone. There’s a lot of fumbling behind the camera monitors, multiple conversations, heavy equipment being lugged around. Then a guy’s voice pierces through the hubbub. It’s not Wright’s, but it sounds incredibly authoritative: ‘IF YOU’RE NOT GONNA LISTEN TO ME THEN GET THE FUCK OUT, OKAY?’”
Cinematography If mise en scĂ¨ne refers to what is placed in front of the camera, then cinematography is concerned with recording the elements within the shot. Two main areas must be attended by the director of photography: control of lighting and operation of the camera. Everything is done to add layers of meaning to the content. Some technical camera operations are:
It refers to the edges of a shot, what is included and what is excluded. It starts with deciding where to place the camera in relation to the scene, then choices concerning the field of vision and movement.
Shot Size Determined by the framing; There are many possible choices of shot, but five basic ones are: extreme long shot (ELS), usually used to place things in context; long shot (LS); mid shot (MS); extreme close up (ECU), to make us inquisitive or simply an impressive shot; and close up (CU), concentrating our attention on an important detail.
Camera movement There are four main types of camera movement: pan shot, when the camera rotates horizontally around a fixed position (often used to follow movement); a tilt shot moves the camera vertically around a fixed position (usually to indicate height), a tracking shot involves horizontal movement of the camera in which it changes location, usually fitted to a dolly that runs on rails; a crane shot enables the camera to be lowered and raised and moved horizontally.
Camera angle provides another means of producing different meanings. Some angles are eye level/neutral shot, low angle, high angle and oblique.
Depth of field Depending on shutter speed, aperture and the amount of light available, a camera can focus on just a small part of what is the frame or the whole scene. Focusing on only part of a frame is known as shallow focus, whereas seeing everything in focus, from foreground to background, is known as deep field photography or deep focus.
Bill Pope (DOP) selected Panavision’s G Series anamorphics, along with AWZ2 and ATZ zooms for Baby Driver. With two cameras each on A and B units, enough full sets of G Series weren’t available at the time, so some newer T Series and C Series lenses filled in the gaps. “Edgar likes a second camera, because he is crazy about continuity, it offers the actors a certain amount of freedom.” notes Pope.
The final part of the overall production process is postproduction. Once approved, the rushes (film shot that day) will be sent to the editor, who will begin to put together a rough cut of the film. Once filming is complete, the shots are selected and out together to form the completed film. All recorded material is logged; shot and take numbers are indicated with times, descriptions of each shot and appropriate comments on the quality of each take. The completion of the log sheet is followed by an edit decision list. This identifies the takes that have been selected for the final edited film.
Editing is the process of joining together the chosen takes in the appropriate order with the inclusion of any extra audio-visual material. The role of the editor is possibly the most important in imposing a narrative structure on the film. The editor will work closely with the director to ensure that their vision is fulfilled. The editing process includes the selection, shaping and arrangement of shots, scenes, sequences and special effects. The editor will assemble a rough cut from the daily rushes during production and this will then be refined in postproduction to achieve the finished edit or fine cut.
“This was the keyboard after we had taken it out on location after 15 weeks. Once we wrapped on this , I took it home and framed it. It’s on the wall, retired. It’s the keyboard that did Baby Driver and nothing else.” Paul Michliss
“Other than the modern-day rarity of shooting on 35mm film, a significant difference about this production was that the editor, Paul Machliss, actually worked on the set. Not only did he edit on set, he was instrumental in making sure the various complex components of the scenes worked together as planned.” Since this film’s protagonist is a getaway driver, that meant Machliss would have to take his editing bay on the road: “Roadside editing, you know, this is anywhere, anytime basically. This was for a climactic chase sequence, and you could literally wheel it out of the main truck and be ready for Edgar in minutes.” 33
Sound â€˜Baby driverâ€™ is constantly set to the music, and much of the action unfolds to musical cues
“Twenty-two years ago I was listening to the album Orange (Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) a lot, before I was even really a director. I was like, 21, living in a flat in North London, completely broke. I had made my first nobudget movie (A Fistful of Fingers), but I didn’t know how it was gonna do and I didn’t really know what was next, but I always had a strong reaction to music. I don’t have synaesthesia or anything, but definitely when I’m listening to music I start kind of visualizing images. And listening to ‘Bell Bottoms’ I just start to see this car chase. And I didn’t even know that it was a film or what the story was or what it was about, but it basically is pretty much the opening of the movie that you see.” Edgar Wright
ound is of vital importance at moth filming and editing stages. Film is both a visual and aural medium. “The better the sound, the better the image”. Sound originating from the world within the film is known as ‘diegetic’. Typically, it consists of dialogue and sounds emanating from action within a shot, including background or ambient noise. Non-diegetic sound has a source outside the film’s narrative, such as music and voice-overs. The dubbing mixer, much like the editor, assembles a single soundtrack from the multiple soundtracks recorded during production such as dialogue, music and sound effects. During film production sound is recorded separately from the film, and the two must then fit together so that sounds match the images in the screen. The soundtracks must also be mixed together at appropriate volumes. This may involve additional alterations to the tone of dialogue and frequently actors are recalled (sometimes months after production has finished) to re-record their lines. Sound effects are the responsibility of the foley team, who create appropriate noises for the images. The sound is then optically or digitally added to the film stock.
Sound and picture: a perfect sync in Baby Driver By Glen Trew, Sound&Picture
“Not much.” That was production sound mixer Mary Ellis’ answer to the question, “Compared to the many other films you have worked on, what is similar about this film?” Shot in Atlanta, Georgia, this film is not only unique in the methods used to make it, but also in the amount of collaboration used — required, actually — between the sound and picture departments. Since Sound & Picture emphasizes collaboration between departments, what better film to feature in this issue than Baby Driver. So we got the production sound department and editor together to tell us how it was done. Usually a music track is added to a film, and it is dictated by the action and dialogue. With Baby Driver, it was just the opposite. The music was carefully chosen by the director, Edgar Wright, and was recorded and edited before production. It set the timing of everything else; not just singing along with a track (of which there was very little), as in a traditional musical, but everything else. Every nuance, every motion, every door, every pencil move, every footstep, every tire screech, every gunshot, every lighting strike… every detail is in step with the music. Some you notice consciously, others subconsciously, but at some point, you realize that the sound and picture are — intentionally — in
perfect sync. But it’s more than technique for the sake of technique. This nearly impossible to achieve sync has a definite purpose, adding intensity to the story and emphasis to match the director’s vision. “There are 32 songs in this film, but it’s not a musical, at least not in the traditional sense,” Mary Ellis explains. “The premise is that the lead character, Baby [Ansel Elgort], has intolerable tinnitus [ringing in the ears], which he deals with by constantly listening to music, mostly through ear buds. This music becomes the rhythm of his life and everything in it. The actors don’t sing or dance, but all of their actions and lines are choreographed — exactly — to the music.” Baby Driver was full of new methods and challenges for editor Paul Machliss as well, noting that this was the first time his work was done on set during production, every day, for every scene. “Every action — every little thing — has been thought out and planned to be in sync with the music, and with rhythmic purpose,” Machliss says. “For this reason, the film can be watched multiple times, and new details will be appreciated each time. The first time is just to enjoy the movie, when it’s eventually noticed that even the finest detail is driven by the music, in both rhythm and substance. Each watching of the film after that,
something new is noticed, which makes the film more appreciated each time. As the editor, this creates a special challenge of keeping the action, dialogue, and music synchronized, which requires thinking about all three at the same time.” As an example of the complexity and challenges of this film, Ellis recalls the first day of production: “On day one we had a Steadicam one-er [a single uninterrupted take, no cuts, lasting three minutes and 55 seconds. The lead actor is taken out of a building, walks down a city block, then around a corner, down another block, then a ‘360’ in a coffee shop, then back to the original building. At the same time, there were 60 background actors, all with specific actions such as hailing a taxi, a messenger on a bicycle, a near miss with a car, a street preacher, skaters, people arguing on the street, etc. All of these actions not only had to be in rhythm with the music track, they had to happen on specific beats in the music. All of the actors had to hear and be heard. Cars on the street were choreographed, and the camera operators, grips, crane operators, and other crew did their moves on specific music cues, so they had to hear the track, too. And on this scene it went on for nearly four minutes without stopping. Then we reset and did it again — 21 times.” Boom operator James Peterson adds “booming
with the Steadicam doing 360s in the street with moving traffic almost got me hit by two cars. So I worked it out with the assistant director to be hidden in plain sight within the crowd during certain music cues. Since the action was almost exactly the same each time because it was in sync to the music, I knew where I could be at any point during the take.” According to editor Machliss, “Of the 21 takes we shot of that scene, when it came to choosing the hero, take nine was the one used in the film.” Keeping scenes like this in rhythm requires the actors and crew to hear the music, but in a way that doesn’t interfere with the dialogue and other sounds. That responsibility goes to the sound department — specifically to the Pro Tools playback engineer, Alex Lowe. As Mary Ellis explains: “We had six Phonak earwigs (tiny wireless audio receivers that hide inside the ear) working all the time for the actors, and eight Comteks (wireless receivers with headphones) for the camera ops, focus pullers, crane operators, etc., to time their actions with the music.” From a production perspective, what stands out most about this film is the unprecedented amount of collaboration between the departments. Actors, sound, camera, editorial, special effects, music — all kept together by the director.
Once the director has approved the final cut, a preview screening is arranged for the distribution company. The distribution company aims to exploit the film in order to profit from it or at the very last to recover the initial development and production costs. Effective distribution is fundamental to the film’s success. In order to make a profit, a film must make roughly two and a half times its production costs at the box office. A distributor can acquire the distribution rights to a film by investing in it, by buying the rights after it has been made or by being part of a larger company responsible for moth production and distribution, such as a major Hollywood studio.
This is where the real money is made. Exhibition is the key stage since it is the first outlet for the film product and is where the distributor earns revenue from the public. A film must be ‘sold’ to the exhibitor, who works very closely with the distributor to promote the film to an audience. Once the exhibitor has viewed the film, a release pattern and financial deal will be arranged to rent the film from the distributor. Mainstream films are usually booked between three and six months prior to release, but sometimes they can be booked up to a year in advance. Once the audience member has paid for the ticket, the cinema typically subtracts about 60 per cent to cover running costs (the ‘house nut’) and its profit margin. The rest is paid back to the distributor. In order to ensure a profit, the exhibitor also sells concessions (ice creams, hot dogs, sweets, drinks, etc.); this is a particularly important source of revenue if the film is a failure.
In its first seven days in theaters, Baby Driver made $39 million, more than any Wright film had grossed in its entirety in the U.S. Now, Baby Driver’s $100 million take is bigger than all of his other movies combined.
Television Ratio 1.33
DV Normal Ratio 1.5
DV Wide Ratio 1.78 16X9
16mm Ratio 1.33
Super 16 Ratio 1.69
Scope Ratio 2.35
Standard/matted 35mm Ratio 1.85
â€œThe reason why it looks so good is because Edgar is not leaving a lot of things to chanceâ€? Paul Machliss, sound designer
Lily James rehearsing with music on set
. t o o h s babydriver-movie.com/production 2018 - Shoot 3 Coates Pl, Edinburgh EH3 7AA
A film production in print format, highlighting the process. The joy of films enhanced by the pleasure of print. Baby Driver.