The first video production we have to make is on the theme of time. Specifically our movie has to be a one shot (no editing) continuous movie demonstrating aspects or interpretation of time.
The subject is vast. From sic fi time travel, to significant moments in time, to ageing, the subject offers a bewildering number of possibilities to chose from. In attempting to narrow down the choice to a film that is achievable with next to no budget I have started to examine several genres.
My initial response was to watch George Pal’s classic 1960 movie starring Rod Taylor called The Time Machine followed by the 2002 remake with Guy Pierce taking the lead role. Both films are based on the classic novel first published in 1895 by HG Wells, and tell of a scientist in the Victorian era who builds a machine to take him 800,000 years into the far future.
Having seen both films before, the sequence I was most interested in was the ‘travel’ scenes where the traveller passes through time and the world changes and evolves around him. George Pal did a fantastic job in the 1960 movie, but the 2002 version of the journey by being computer generated was much slicker.
My next move was to read Steven Hawkins book “A Brief History of Time” (Steven Hawking – Bantam Press, ISBN 0-593-01518-5), to hopefully give me a science based idea that was achievable in a 3 minute video. Most interesting was the idea that time can be represented like an hour glass. The sand yet to pass through the gap being the future, the gap represents the present and the sand that has passed through being the past. The model accurately shows the vastness of the past, the infinite number of possibilities yet to happen and the single moment of the present.
My first idea is to portray how time affects two contrasting lives which ordinarily are side by side. Put simply the life of the tortoise and hare in the famous fable. One life at high speed the other much more sedate. The challenge would be to display both at the same time inviting the viewer to decide which of the two lives they find an affinity for while they watch.
The second idea is to display three minutes of a persons life where they reflect on time, looking back at their lives and the highs and lows they experienced. This could be further symbolised by a ticking clock in the background noise and photographs brought close to the camera as they explain the event. An emotionally charged story would add drama to the film.
My third idea is to record in real time an event from the perspective of the individual, offering the viewer a glimpse into the private life of another person.
The idea of representing history in some way also appealed, as well as the idea of making the piece a short drama.
To try to get some ideas along a history theme I looked at a number of history books in particular Tony Robinsons – The Worst Jobs in History (Boxtree, ISBN 0-7522-1533-7) and Terry Jones – Medieval Lives (BBC Publications, ISBN 0-563-48793-3) and Michael Wood – Domesday, A Search for the Roots of England (BBC Publications, ISBN 0-563-200500-8)
The next decision was to framework the film. I had to decide if the films aim was to entertain, to educate, to amuse or all three? Also was the film to be scripted or non scripted. If scripted then the tasks of producing a script, recruiting actors and staging rehearsals also have to be undertaken, also the availability of costumes, not easy if the film was to represent historical fact.
Many ideas came to mind but the underlying problem to over come was that it had to be shot in one take. Any time travel gimmick would involve editing and thus would not be a one take.
My potential solution came whilst watching TV. The programme was about the Amazon Jungle and I found myself wishing I could be there, literally stepping through the Tv and into the jungle. So I reasoned, what if I played a film on the TV (pre made by me) and filmed a person watching it. Using some trick to remove him my pre recorded film could include my lounge based character and have him looking back from the Tv into his own living room. If the place into which he found himself when he stepped through the TV was full of medieval people with swords etc who then chase him I would have content for my film. The idea of a silent “keystone cops” type chase between our hero and the starving raggedy medieval residents would add a comedic element culminating in our hero being magically brought back to his lounge with the medieval residents all looking back through the Tv at him.
How original this idea actually is I’m sure is debatable as no doubt some comedian somewhere has done something similar, but this will be my version of this.
Does it meet the one stop film criteria. Yes as the three minute film is shot in one take in my lounge in front of my TV. The fact that a pre created and edited film is playing on the TV and forms the bulk of the three minutes I don’t believe breaks the rules.
The transition between the living room and the film displayed on the TV could be done with a simple blackout whilst the camera continues to roll. The black out could be scripted into the film as it plays on the TV.