Saturday 25 February 2012

The Making of FIVE

You'll never look at maths the same way again.

Five holds the honour of being the very first film produced by CarrCom Films; back then the name or channel did not exist, so it was marked a simple independent production made by myself. The decision to make my own film had been lingering in my head for a while but it wasn't until I had watched James Rolfe's Cinnemassacre 200 video for the 350th time that I finally put the idea into practice. And so, with no script, basic structure or any other slight idea as to what I was doing, I immediately set to work making my first film.

The title Five is derived from the Shane Acker film 9, released in 2009. There's no similarities between the two films (they're a completely different genre!) but the title just zoomed into my head when trying to fashion a somewhat creepy title for this film. I figured having one word that made little sense to the audience upon their first viewing of the film would add a creepier effect to the concept. It was not until the film's sequel, The Map of Five, that I delved into the history behind the name.

Five has yet to grasp the concept of internet slang.
The opening scene was filmed the same night I decided to make the film, and was done during a break from school due to heavy snow. I literally had no basic idea of what I was doing, and so scribbled up some generic spooky occurrences to combine together; this includes the mysterious MSN conversation, the flickering lights and the figure walking towards Andrew as he collapses from fear. I had a tripod ready, and began to film the opening scene after sending some poorly written lines to a friend of mine over MSN and requesting him to change his username to '5' for the scene. I informed him of the timing for each line and commenced filming; the film was shot with a very old (and very big) Canon UC8000 8mm Video Camcorder, which placed footage onto a tape. The footage was transferred to my computer via my Dazzle DVC100 video capture card and edited in Final Cut Express.

The opening MSN scene was shot in a series of parts, with the close up of the MSN activity being a "background clip", if you will. Essentially this part was filmed in one long shot, and then the reactions from Andrew as he replies to Five's messages were filmed and intercut to form the entire MSN sequence. I searched a while for suitable music and finally chose 'Midnight' from the fourth series of Doctor Who. At the time I was extremely impressed with the outcome of this scene, and even now I am still happy with how it was edited. 

"Mum! Don't come in! I'm-I'm...doing homework!"
Following this scene I consulted my brother for camerawork and decided to add in a jump scare. This was simply a loud smashing noise, poorly recorded with a microphone from Soundsnap, followed by a spooky scream from The Woman in Black (1989); the scene where the woman flies into the bedroom of Arthur. I was impressed with the effect of the lights flickering on and off, which was simply done by filming two stationary shots of the stairs (one with lights on, one with lights off) and cross fading them together. I then asked my mother to simply walk towards the camera as I did a POV shot of Andrew passing out (to give the idea that a ghost or something was approaching) and filtered the clip with a blur to express Andrew's impaired vision as he faints. It came out okay, but was still a bit tacky.

Following this, a friend of mine came to my house about a week later and helped me out to shoot the rest of the film. It was done throughout the day and just relied on some more "spooky" ideas I scribbled up, such as the open window, the '5' note and the message on the computer. For the scene where Five talks to Andrew down the phone when he attempts to call the police, I simply used the BandPass filter on Final Cut Express to make the audio sound low quality as if coming from a phone speaker, which worked to great effect. The voice of Five was my own voice slowed down with a lowered pitch in Audacity.

Good lord, a post-it note!
As the film reached closer to seven minutes I decided it was time to finish things up. The final scene where the ghost appears one more time as Andrew examines the numerous '5' post it notes scattered across the walls was done in my little brothers room (the Teletubbies wallpaper kills the scariness, I know) and did have, I admit, some creepy-ish ideas. I used my friend's shadow to imply the ghost was approaching when the next 'fail jump scare' occurs on the stairs and thought the concept of knocking the door was pretty freaky. The next series of knocks is actually coming from the window in the room, which is positioned to the left of Andrew from his view. This means he would be seeing the ghost from the very corner of his eye, but this was hard to suggest without showing it; the sound editing was also not very ideal to create this moment.

After literally taking a knife from the kitchen and scribbling '5' on it with a ballpoint pen, I decided to end the film with the main character's death. The next jump scare follows with loud footsteps from the stairs, which was simply my friend stamping violently at the bottom. This obviously implies the ghost is emerging from the ground floor, and added a somewhat spooky effect. The idea when Andrew kills himself was hard to determine from even me; I was constantly changing my decision that it was either him committing suicide to be free of the terrors of Five or Five possessing him and causing him to kill himself against his will. After introducing the idea of Five's possession powers in The Reign of Five, I went with the latter decision permanently. In the final shot, another slight blur is made to the clip to show Andrew is dying; a hand can also be seen clutching the door frame here, which is meant to be the ghost and is simply my friend in a chunky winter glove. 

Knife in hand, Andrew decides to fuck up Five's shit.
So there you have a behind the scenes look at my first film, Five. I will always be glad I made it as it was tons of fun to make it and its sequels and also spearheaded my dream to become a filmmaker. I look back and loathe it as it has not aged well at all (at least from my perspective), but it's still fun to watch all the same.