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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Making of THE MAP OF FIVE

Looks like a video game, does it not?
THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS.

The Map of Five is the sequel to my first ever film, Five. Immediately after the positive reception of the original film (which was uploaded to my Facebook account in January 2010), I planned a sequel and literally came up with the title on the spot. There was no idea behind it, I just thought it sounded pretty cool. When it then came to developing the actual story, I decided to involve the characters finding a map that leads them somewhere - to their eventual doom.

Unlike the first film, the sequel went for a different approach with dialogue and a script. The script was written by me and my friend Nathan, who stars in the film as Nathan Foster. Another friend of mine, George Bligdon, stars as George Johnson and I once again play the role of Andrew Samson, though it is not a starring role this time. The script did not take long to type up (hence it's tacky outcome) and when it was done filming commenced on February 27, 2010.

What's with the huge gap on the left? Bad composition ahoy!
The film was shot with my Panasonic SDR-S26 Video Camcorder, which I had recently bought at the time to make future movies. Though I also had a tripod, I did not use it for this film or it's sequel 'The Reign of Five', something I deeply regret when looking at how just how shaky some of the shots are. The opening scene was filmed in Southampton Common (common land I live near) in a discrete woodland area to avoid public disturbances. The map George removes from the bush was made from tea stained paper, which was scrunched up and cut into the bizarre shape and then painted with random symbols. To create the English version of the map later seen in the film, I simply traced the outline of the finished 'symbol map' and, after tea staining and scrunching it, painted on English text. Though I was initially impressed with the editing in this scene, there are many things I am now displeased with; for example, the tacky and poor quality rustling sound effect from the bush and the pointless sequence of shots of Nathan and George leaving the common. It's as if they're going on some romantic afternoon stroll.

A week later, on March 6, 2010, filming finished up with the final half. Yes, it was all shot in one day, and took friggin ages. The opening shot of the following day shows Nathan on his computer trying to research the map; we simply brought up an English translation of archaic symbols from Google Images to imply this. When George knocks the door and Nathan jumps, the shot of the map hitting the floor is crucial for a later part where he lifts it back up to reveal it's sudden change in language - to do this we simply placed the English map in the same position between filming each clip. Though probably unnoticed by many viewers, George's "Yo, Nath! Let me in, the door is locked!" line is ravaged with errors; not only is he knocking on a back gate, not a door, but it is not accessible from the outside without a key; George's line implies he could open it if it wasn't locked, when in fact he would need a key no matter what. A bit pedantic, but it amuses me how horrible that line was.

George was shocked to discover just how much porn Nathan stores on his computer.
When this scene was completed me, Nathan and George walked to my house to finish the film; the scenes of the two characters walking were shot en route to the house. When we arrived we spent a little bit of time outdoors shooting the conversation before Nathan and George enter; a number of errors can be seen with the background here, as cars will sometimes appear or disappear randomly due to the cutting of the clip to the next. The interior scenes were much easier to shoot - my mother was indoors at the time, but in the lounge (the door to George's right when he calls for Andrew) to let us film.

When Nathan enters Andrew's room to find his MacBook turned on and finds the document Andrew wrote about Five, it fades to a flashback of Andrew typing up the report. This scene was shot the same evening and filtered with a black and white effect for obvious reasons. This was an attempt to provide some backstory on Andrew; it is shown that he himself found a dead friend who had been killed by Five, and Five had now turned it's claws to him. The document Nathan opens is a retarded rap I wrote about my history teacher back in Year 10. No, I am not joking.

Teletubbies are far more dangerous than you might initially think.
For the following scene where Andrew is found dead in the other closed bedroom, there is an error not many people will have noticed. Andrew's legs appear to be laying toward to the room entrance, within the range of the door; if the door was pushed open by Nathan smoothly, how was Andrew lying there? But anyway, in order to show his corpse I simply laid still near a patch of water we poured onto the carpet (to make it look like it is stained with blood) and the knife by my stomach (dangerous I know, but I didn't die so it's all good). George filmed this scene so that me and Nathan could both be portrayed in it. The following segment where George hears Five down the phone is an obvious reference to the first film, which also used this concept when Andrew attempted to call the police.

The final scene where Nathan and George encounter Five for real was done by combining many reaction shots (including awful quality eye closeups) from Nathan and George along with their dialogue against Five's recorded speech, was done by myself once again. The final clip was simply me thrusting the camera at Nathan and George (it took many tries to get them to scream properly) and we simply took a photo of my house from the outside to add some dramatic effect with the echoing cries.

"I'm telling you now George, that is the last time we go out clubbing."
In this last shot of Nathan and George laying there, the initial intention was that George was dead and Nathan was alive; this was eventually turned into both being alive, but simply injured. The significance of Nathan's fist clenching was to imply he is the living one of the two, but now implies he is possessed by Five which is discovered in The Reign of Five. As to why such a change was made to their outcomes from the attack, I will explain in my Making of The Reign of Five article.

So there you have it; that's how The Map of Five came to be. I admit it was a lot more ambitious than it's predecessor and tons of fun to make, but with a tacky script, daft acting and a weak story, it falls short now that time has progressed since it's completion. I do like several things about it though; particularly the vibe it gives off, and the way the tension increases as George and Nathan explore Andrew's abandoned house. The claustrophobic nature of my house also made this scene a lot more enjoyable to watch, at least for me. But as a whole, this film could have been so much better.