In this essay I will be writing a critical analysis and reflection of the process of production and my own personal development along with analysis and reflection upon the finished film.
Before deciding our film and how we were going to film it, all of us were given allocated roles which we wanted and I was given the role of the Art Director. This meant that I had to design costumes and props and communicate with our director about the style in which he wanted it for our film.
During pre-production was when I was most busy as we were deciding characters and how their personalities would be, at this stage I was drawing up drafts and samples of how they would look and communicating with both of the producers as well as the director with what I had done. This included showing them the designs and also researching the types of clothes online and sending screenshots of what ideas had sprung to mind.
Whilst pre-production was going on, and everybody was confirming characters and the narrative, I kept designing more drafts of the same possible characters and showing them to the crew. The director wasn’t in the country at one point, so I communicated with the producers and kept them in the loop regarding costume choices and what props would be needed. When the director came back we worked really closely and spoke about which costume would suit which character best, as everyone finally decided what the best narrative would be and which characters are necessary to our film, The Can Man.
The producers then asked us all to make a budget for our own individual needs, however because we hadn’t casted yet I couldn’t take measurements from our actors and find out the size I needed for the clothes they had to wear. This really affected us because the time to go to Prague was getting closer and we needed time for the costumes to be delivered and checked to see if they were ok. When we finally had our protagonist I asked the producers for his measurements straight away so I could order the clothes, however as he was quite small and slim some of the clothes we’d decided his character would wear, didn’t have his size. This then lead to hours of searching for other clothes that would not only fit him, but suit the personality we gave his character. A week before we had to go to Prague we found everything that the protagonist, Nicolas, would have to wear and use as props, for example his briefcase, name tag, and of course the Can.
However because I was so focused on getting the costumes and props, I had completely forgotten about makeup and small things like blue tack for props such as the “No shoes, no shirt, no service” sign which really started to take its toll during production, in an unknown city where not many people spoke English. Thankfully one producer had brought her makeup with her and allowed me to use it on our actors, this then made me think as an art director to triple-check things again, because if it were to happen again, there may not be a producer to give me a bag full of makeup. During production I wasn’t needed so much for the exterior shots, so I would go back to the hotel and finish off the props for the next shooting, mainly the sign for the cafe. In this scene, we had no blue tack to stick the sign onto the outside wall, so we improvised and used tape, unfortunately the sign kept falling off and little bits started to break off so we took it off and only put it back on when it was needed in shot.
Also when I had free time, I created a poster for the musician that was going to be used during the Jazz club scene so we could advertise it throughout the film. This was almost a problem though because we only decided having it, the day before needing it, so in a day I created it, but because the print shop was closed it meant I had to go in the morning, when everyone else had to be on set. It then lead to another problem because I didn’t know where the rest of the crew were so I was wondering around trying to find the street that they were on, luckily I found them just before they needed the posters.
The Jazz club was the scene where I was able to be in control of the setting, the director spoke to me about how he wanted it to look so I asked some of the crew members, and a couple of extras who volunteered to help, to manoeuvre tables and chairs into looking a certain way so that it would appeal when being filmed. I positioned everybody telling them where to sit accordingly, whilst the director, DoP and camera operator were discussing the shots. As it was the last night of filming and we were the last group to finish filming everybody had a sense of electricity around them to finish and celebrate, so everyone was very accommodating.
When our first AD finally said “that’s a wrap”, we moved onto the post production stage. The footage was given to our editor and our actor went home, however although I had finished designing costumes and props, and had finished dressing up our characters, I decided to create a guerilla poster for our film and print it off on our last day in Prague. I spoke to the director and a producer, and they encouraged me to do it and stick them in the locations in which we filmed. After I showed them the design, they gave me their blessing and I went to promote our film across Prague.
Overall I would say that our film has gone smoothly, before, during and after production and although it was a lot of work for us all, it was worth it in terms of experience and the results. As the art director I couldn’t be happier since I managed to get the characters dressed in the style I had hoped and everybody got on really well.