Film4: Pre-Production On receiving the brief, we had to research into the British media institution Film4. We did this first by learning about the type of films they made, the majority of these were British Social Realism films, so we did an exercise to see how the genre has changed over the years looking at what path it’s on currently to judge what direction it’s going in, so we could write a treatment best to that direction. We then watched a mass of Film4 productions, from “This Is England”, which gave us an insight in to low budget films, showing us how to work effectively with minimal equipment to get realistic gritty results and use real locations to achieve a realistic and hard hitting Mise-En-Scene, to “Attack The Block”, where we saw that even if the film was high concept (Alien invasion) it could still be kept a hybrid with British Social Realism by using British colloquialisms/regional accents/dialects in the dialogue, shooting on location and type casting actors that you’d expect to find in those locations. Through every film screening we all took notes on themes, editing, camera work, dialogue, sound and general ‘Britishness’. With this we saw that almost every BSR film Film4 produced had some controversial issue in: “This Is England” – Racism, “Trainspotting” – Drug addiction, “Football Factory” – Football hooliganism. Some just explored gritty, working class lifestyles, focusing on showing the lives of those under the upper hand. We chose that rave culture/party drugs was something that Film4 hadn’t explored recently (the last time being “24 Hour Party People” which showed the birth of the scene) so we decided that it would be a good theme to base our production on and show the new age rave scene as one of the necessary criteria for Film4 is originality. We decided to focus of explicit drug use and wasted youth, to show the positives of party drugs initially but to eventually show the inevitable down fall of all involved, following the common narrative of a Film4 production such as “The Football Factory” which initially glamorises football hooliganism but as the film goes on we’re shown the negative effects of the culture.
Film4: Pre-Production Budget and Casting
Due to the themes and controversial issues explored in our treatment we would be looking towards a smaller budget, roughly somewhere in between that of “This Is England” and “Trainspotting”. To show on screen, true realism in keeping with the conventions of the genre and Film4, a big budget wouldn’t be necessary as I explain on the next page. The child star of “This Is England” , Thomas Turgoose was scouted in a Youth Club in his local town, which was the first acting experience he’d ever had. Ewan McGregor’s big break was in Danny Boyle’s “Trainspotting”. Before this McGregor had starred in a few TV series and a film called “Shallow Grave” written by Danny Boyle. Boyle clearly saw talent in McGregor and so chose him, with little experience to star in his 1996 film which received worldwide critical acclaim.
The benefit of casting first time or limited experienced actors, is that they come cheap, fitting with the low budgets of Film4 productions.
Film4: Pre-Production Mise-En-Scene
“This Is England” Director Shane Meadows on 1970’s set design - “Really simple things like having woodchip wallpaper, but how I picked it off, because when I was bored I used to put my hand about the bed and pick at it and it had these patches missing. Those things don't cost anything.” This is a great example of simple, cheap methods of rendering the Mise-En-Scene realistic and gritty, real raw design based on real life experiences. We used this effect with the graffiti on the walls in our staircase shots.
The great thing about the graffiti here is that it’s been sprayed over by “rival” groups/gangs. This shows gang culture and the relationships between them
Film4: Production Due to the budget we would have minimal filming equipment. We had to rule out any idea of large expensive rigs or tracking systems and plan for all camera work to be done on HD camcorders, handheld or with tripod. This is conventional of Film4 and the BSR genre, simple, rough camera work. We were inspired by the house trashing scene in “This Is England” the rough and ready camera work submerses you in the mindless vandalism, making you feel as if you’re there. Location was a huge part of the filming. In the true Film4 BSR films like Dead Man’s Shoes, no sets were used the filming was done on location in gritty, hard hitting areas. The estate where the antagonists live was a particularly good location, these are the stairs from there. Estate stairwells are stereotypical spots where youths and gangs hang out, given this we used our knowledge of the local area and found a well lit stairwell with graffiti covered walls, took some recci shots and decided that it would be the best location to go with for the meeting scene: Starting at 1:00 on our production. ^^Click here^^
Casting and costume was another big part of the production, however taking some time to ring around our friends we acquired the cast who lead similar lifestyles to the characters in our production and fit the age range perfectly. Our cast is very varied too, no two people look the same, this is in keeping with Film4’s exploration of niche social groups and originality. The main thing about Film4’s impact on casting was that the whole cast were new actors, including myself playing Jamie, this is Film4’s promise to promote new British talent. The star of “Fish Tank” Katie Jarvis was scouted by director and writer Andrea Arnold at a train station during an argument with her, then, boyfriend. Katie Jarvis had no previous experience and this was the start of her career, sticking to Film4’s inexperienced and undiscovered talent. They brought their own costume to the shoots, this is fitting with Film4’s low budget and realism. The rave scene has a very particular apparel, taking influence from the hippy culture. These are signature fashion statements and anchored the representations of the cast. British Social Realist film “The Football Factory” stars Danny Dyer, his costume (shown on the right>) looks as if he’s brought it from his own wardrobe which is the same effect we wanted for our production.
Some examples of rave culture apparel ^
Distribution Like we said in our treatment “We would go with 'Dogwoof Indie' as the distributors of our film. They are a London based company who we believe would be interested in our film for the themes and ideologies explored. Whereas a bigger, more mainstream company would be solely focused on making a profit.” But the main distribution would be on Film4oD like Steve McQueen’s “Hunger” is. As it is cost effective and easy to access worldwide and favoured within our 16-24 year old age range.
Being a part of Channel4, our film would have it’s premiere on Channel4, with a potential 60,000,000 viewers. It would then be aired on Film4 later on. Like “Four Lions”. Which was also aired on sister channel E4