Tuesday, 15 December 2009

The Story of THAT Video

The staff party went well! Literally everybody I talked to about it seems to have had a blast, and there's oh-so-many memories to take away from the night. The General Manager kissed me (not like that; it was an innocent kiss)! The costumes - all fab (literally in the case of one of them, Mister Jimmy B the Thunderbird)! And the food, t'was great!

One of the major things I was responsible for on the night was the film quiz - and for months I'd been trying to wrack my brains trying to come up with something suitable, because I wasn't interested in doing a straight film quiz. Had to be a twist to it. But what??

Rewind, about three years. The Doctor Who episode Blink airs. It features a scene where the Doctor speaks to the guest character through the TV. Excellent, I thought at the time, highly clever - maybe one day I'll steal such an idea and-

Ah. Yes. Of course!

So I stole it for the film quiz, thinking it would be interesting, to say the least! You see, I'm aware not everybody who works on site at the cinema is a massive film buff - so a film quiz has little interest for them. I had to think up a way of keeping them glued to their seats, or risk them growing restless. This was the perfect solution - it offered questions for the people that wanted them, and allowed a bit of comic relief for those that, well, didn't.

The problem became putting the idea together. I needed to write a script, but quickly found I just didn't have the time. Repeatedly I told myself I would sit down that night and get it done; again and again I put it off. In the end I wrote a very rough first draft that was simply AWFUL! I showed it to a friend of mine, Daniel O'Connor, who said kind things about it... but that script didn't deserve it. Glad we scrapped it!

In the end I wrote a very quick script, a day or so before the deadline, which was the day of filming. On that topic...



Wasn't too bad, not really. It meant I just had to go into uni dressed in my costume. To say it resembles something you might find a KKK member dressed in would be an understatement. Now, I attend a uni where there's a student population of around 65% black people... and I was walking around dressed in that costume. Not good. Not good at all!!

Was all in good fun, mind. I filmed most of the video by myself, in a drama studio on the media production floor. T'was the first time I'd ever shot on HD, which was an interesting learning curve. The end result looked brilliant because of it.

My main concern when filming was continuity - I had to maintain its order, so for example I couldn't be seen wearing badges in the video, and then not on the night not wear those badges, because it'd then become obvious it wasn't live. I had to look EXACTLY the same, and to do that I cut my hair a few weeks before (because long hair is pesky with ragards to continuity, and I just cba dealing with it) and I had to shave every other day to avoid stubble; but then I had to be careful not to get a rash... or develop a cold... or anything else that would have made it painfully clear that what you were seeing on the TV wasn't made that day.

(As it turns out, end of the night 2 people asked me if it was done live, because "you even had those badges on" - so it was worth the aggro!)

The editing process was peas. Well, once I'd gotten my head around using Final Cut Pro on the university's Mac computers. Beyond that, I just needed a bit of coaching on how to do specific things (like the "broken TV" effect I added) but it was a pretty smooth process.

It ended up going like this:

August 2009: Had my first couple of ideas about the party. Knew that it would involve a film quiz, as this meant somebodies name could go on the trophy.

October 2009: Stuck on the idea of having me appear on the TV set. Was just a question of finding the time to put it together...

November 2009: Wrote a first draft. Awful! Out it goes - in comes a new second draft, that's much better and, in parts (shock! horror!) actually funny!

Tuesday 8th December: Filmed the sequence.

Wednesday 9th December: Edited it into a sorta final cut, just minus any music.

Thursday 10th December: Came in especially to add the music, and begin compression (which can take up to 2 hours). But the piece is now complete! After worrying for so long that I might not be able to pull it off, I do it! This was the first time I saw the piece 'as intended'.

Friday 11th December: DVD copies burnt, and the film is added to Youtube. I discuss the project with Rob Dyson (who will be presenting the quiz in my 'absense') at work - which annoys one staff member, who has no idea what we're up to and thinks I'm suaving.

Sunday 13th December: Myself and Rob rehearse one more time. It goes well! Rob has really got a grasp on it, and bleeds the comedy for all its worth. Suddenly I start to think, "Hmm, this is funny and might actually work on the night!"

Monday 14th December: The big day arrives! I worry about technical issues before it's performed, and rightly so. The sound when played is awful - through not fault of mine, the TV set just had appalling sound. But aside from that, it all goes well! I have to go upstairs out of the way, of course, so as to not spoil the illusion. I can hear snippets of activity downstairs. The audience laughs! Then cheers! At me being muted. Bah! :P

Afterwards people thank and congratulate me on the video, which is fantastic, knowing that all the above work hasn't been in vein.

I'd like to thank Rob Dyson for being such a fantastic quizmaster and keeping the audience under his spell. He's the unspoken hero of the film quiz - so three cheers to him!!!

The videos are available on Youtube, and I'll try to embed them here as best I can.

Go watch them! They're good, honest! ;)

"Typical crazy Howard!"
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