Sarah – Reflective Analysis

Module: 162MC: Developing a Narrative
URL to Short Film: https://vimeo.com/94510612

Analysing and Reflecting the Impact of My Research on My Film Edit of ‘Sarah’

What is editing? Dancyger stated that editing is ‘“…to find a narrative continuity for the visuals and the sound of the film, and to distil those visuals and sound shots that will create the dramatic emphasis so that the film will be effective’ (Dancyger 2010). In this essay I will be depicting research on the British New Wave film style and delineating how they impacted on my film edit of ‘Sarah’ and reflecting the successfulness of this.

To commence, British New Wave emerged in Britain during the 50s and 60s. An important factor to look at is the socio-economic and political situation of Britain at the time. People were still in the mind-set of post-war and rationing. Class divisions were starting to resurface again. The only appearance of working class people in Cinema was for comedy relief (Brooke 2001).A very important movement at the time was the free cinema movement. This gave access to filming technology to ordinary people so for the first time people other than Hollywood filmmakers had the ability to make films (Thompson & Bordwell 2003).In terms of technology I could compare the conditions I filmed in similar to the free cinema movement. My film was shot on a DSLR and in the 21st century DSLR filming has been making a movement due to it’s high quality motion image capturing capability quality and its low entry costs; an entry level DSLR costing less than £300 (Reid 2010). Amateur filmmakers from lower class divisions such as myself are finding themselves having access to more and more filming technology just like new filmmakers did in the 50s to 60s Britain.

In addition, as well as the conditions British New Wave emerged in, it clearly had it’s own conventions in terms of narrative and editing. Looking at films such as Billy Liar (1962), Kind of Loving, A (1962) and This Sporting Life (1963), the leading character is usually a young angry male who’s political opinions would be seen as a radical or anarchic and would disregard the hegemonic norm at the time. In my film the lead character is contemplating self-euthanasia. Euthanasia is still a controversial topic in the 21st century where there is a very strong side against it and there are many laws forbidding its use. This style choice leads me to edit my film so that my leading male character was in most shots or if he were in shots with anyone else, he would be the main focus.

Moreover, another convention of the British New Wave film style was the simple, uncluttering edit style. Shots were static and handheld and sometimes ran a whole scene with just the one shot. In the beginning of my film where the lead character washes his face in the sink; originally there were 3 different angles; an over the shoulder shot, close up of the mirror and a long shot from behind. In my edit I chose to use the one over the shoulder shot for that entire scene and keep it simple and uncluttered just like the examples of British New Wave films I watched. Another style choice made by British New Wave films was the use of 16mm black and white film (Palmer 2006). Although there was the option of colour, black and white was still used. So adhering to this decision British New Wave films made back in the 50s and 60s, I made my film black and white in postproduction by taking away the saturation. Studies have shown that the use of ‘black and white films heightens the impact and highlights the duality of good and evil’ (Sparknotes 2014).

Also, most of the time in British New Wave films, a steady rhythm and pace is maintained. This is so that the actor’s performance and dialogue are heightened most because this style of film is more about the social realism and themes. This finding resulted in me cutting my film with a slow steady pace. Although it was filmed with many different angles such as close ups of facial expressions, I chose to primarily use just one or two shots for whole scenes. This made it so that the audience’s attention was primarily given to the actor’s performance and dialogue.

Reflecting on the successfulness of this research on my film piece, I can say I’ve adhered to the stylistic editing of British New Wave aesthetically in terms of black and white colour, the rhythm and pace and controlling the temporal space. But British New Wave wasn’t about aesthetics from what I have gathered. Capturing the social realism aspect was hindered since the script contained didactic dialogue from an unseen voice that could be interpreted as mysticism. Referring to Raymond Williams four rules of social realism (Caughie 2000), the first rule already being ‘firstly that the texts are secular released from mysticism and religion’. British New Wave films dealt particularly with themes such as unplanned pregnancies, drinking and adultery. Euthanasia was not an issue during post war Britain amongst working class civilians. If I were given the chance to write another contemporary script in the style of British New Wave, a social realistic issue I’d like to write about would be the tough economic times working class people face in this decade.

British New Wave was a brilliant style of film that didn’t adhere to the typical Hollywood conventions at the time and I applaud it for its courage. However British New Wave films may not have a place in 21st century Britain due to the radical changes of the socio-economic and political condition of Britain today compared to the 50s and 60s. That isn’t to say films concerning social realism and working class people cannot be made. Just that our social understanding is very different to Britain during the 50s when British New Wave originally emerged. This is shown through my film aesthetically adhering to the rules and stylistic conventions of a British New Wave film but not the social realism of 50s working class Britain due to it’s contemporary setting.

Bibliography

Brooke, S (2001) Gender and Working Class Identity in Britain During the 1950s. Journal of Social History. Oxford University Press.

Caughie, John (2000) Television Drama: Realism, Modernism, and British Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dancyger, K (2010) The Technique of Film & Video Editing, History, Theory & Practice. Focal Press, Oxford.

Kristin Thompson & David Bordwell (2003) Film History: An Introduction. McGraw, Hill.

Reid, Andrew (2010) The DSLR Video Revolution. [online] available from http://www.digitalrev.com/article/the-dslr-video-revolution/NTgyNA_A_A [07 May 2014]

R. Barton Palmer (2006) Traditions in World Cinema. Edinburgh University Press.

Sparknotes (2014) Schindler’s List, The Impact of Black and White Film [online] available from http://www.sparknotes.com/film/schindlerslist/section2.rhtml [07 May 2014]

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