Friday, 25 May 2012

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LAND Documentary Final Edit

BA (Hons) Journalism Year Three


The Land project for Year Three journalism students was originally discussed between students and lecturers as being more focused on telling a story as this was a skill which played to the majority of our selected year's strengths. Although, enthralling imagery has been a crucial asset in the completion of this year's pieces, the idea of processing and telling a story across the entire project.
Our task was to produce a five minute documentary based on Maggie Holland's folk song “A Place called England”. The song itself refers specifically to the English countryside of hills and nature while realising the impact industrial action is having on the traditional view of English natural eyesores. My group consisted of Jake Gable, Karen Purnell and I and immediately we broke down the lyrics to the song to see which shots we could film and which locations would be most efficient for our piece. In the process of this we constructed a detailed, thorough and specific paper edit linking the rushes we would capture to the lyrics in the song and annotating the previously discussed locations so we would have an organised timetable of when were available to film. However, Chris explained that the idea was to not be too literal so we set about focusing our shots in other parts of the song using the music to good effect.

We first contacted Maggie Holland who agreed to let us film her sing the song. Despite the rights of the song now not belonging to her, we were cleared to proceed but we hit a stumbling block when we were informed she lived in Edinburgh which proved to be inconvenient as financially it would be a problem. To overcome this and after conversation with Chris, I decided to contact a university in Edinburgh to see if anybody would be available to film Maggie Holland singing “A Place Called England” but unfortunately nobody was willing to help so we then decided as a group to move onto finding a composer or folk singer to produce a new version of the song especially for our piece.

Even though I believed the sunrise shot as our opener to be an impressive viewer, I felt it was too stereotypical of nature and we had to think outside of the original and go for the more obscure rather than sticking to a shot that was used far too much during last year's coastlines projects.

During the actual construction and producing of our piece, because of certain issues there were a lot of dates were all members were unavailable at one time. I have been particularly critical of our lack of initiative to go out and film individually rather than waiting until we were all available. It was a process which slowed the production of our piece and all members of the group have accepted responsbility. In spite of this, we acted swiftly and became more efficient in filming in groups and both individually. I worked a lot on Winchester and the surrounding areas as I have a vast knowledge of the area, and especially St Pilgrims Walk and St Catherines Hill. I focused mainly on rivers and the effect water could have on our piece integrating around the lyrics. Tight shots of the water flowing down the stream, as well as 'gushing' shoots of the water flowing from breaks in the river were all included in the final piece. We incurred an issue with the filming of some shots, in particular Karen whose filming was done on a 4:3 ratio which was contradictory of the 16:9 wide-screen shots filmed by Jake and I. However, this was quickly amended in the rough edit.

I am particularly pleased with all the shots I filmed. I went to every location in Winchester, Portsmouth and elsewhere with a solid idea of what I specifically wanted to film, and even though there are a small minority of my rushes which I know could been far better, the majority of the shots I filmed were lovely images, but I have always been certain in my own ability to film quality shots with the equipment available to us.

When it came to the final edit, we had no luck with a production of the original song, so after Karen and I had a thorough conversation with Chris, we decided to use Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis as our theme song, mixing an original version of 16 minutes long down to five incorporating a combinations of beds, mixes, swells and beats which came out as a fantastic polished piece of music. To incorporate the lyrics of the original song we used particular designated lyrics from “A Place Called England” and used Jake as a narrator in sort of a poem format. The decision to use Jake was discussed and decided by Karen and I, as we decided Jake had  a soothing voice and pronunciated his words correctly with a valuable tone. We used Jake's narration in the piece as a starter to introduce the piece and then build up the repetition and frequency of the lyrics as we neared the climax of the song which all worked in tandem with the bed and proved fruitful in our final delivery. The shots which were unveiled were fantastic and worked really well with the music, and were the best shots we had filmed. We had decided to create the song and use the pictures to the song and worked that way instead of placing the pictures on the timeline first to then introduce the song on the edit.

My criticism of the piece is we had no spade digging in the dirt which visually would have been fantastic and could have been excellent for some natural sound. Another criticism is the group's time keeping when deciding when to film was originally poor but was quickly rectified and the system we introduced of localising areas to certain people worked extremely effectively. We probably needed at least another 15 minutes of raw footage to give us that extra variation, but the shots we had filmed in the process were up to a high quality standard.

The final edit itself is an interesting journey through the traditional England. The idea to use a train starting the piece makes us feel like we are on a journey and immediately engulfs the audience into seeing more. The end shot was a lovely gentle end to a traditionally classical song, and the night shot of the train is a superb contrast from England at the beginning of the day, to England at the end of a day. It was England. 

LAND Original Paper Edit


Film 1 – DUR: 18-20 minutes

Note that timings are only rough estimates at this moment, as are the locations because all can be discussed together. They are merely suggestions and options as to places that can be used to film. 
We can play around with the footage on location, different angles, shots, zoom, pull-focus to make it jazzed up.
Main focus is the song. Interviews are not necessary for our piece, otherwise it will conflict with the song. 
For the song, we must continue contact with Maggie Holland. If we cannot film her, see if she will willingly send us down a studio recorded version of the song to us. OR, film Edinburgh Napier university to see if Media students will film her on our behalf. 

Verse One

“I rode out one bright May morning, like a hero in a song,

Looking for a place called England, trying to find where I belong.

Couldn’t find the old flood meadow, nor the house that I once knew,

No sign of the little river, nor the garden where I grew.”

• Sunrise (sped up) on the horizon beyond hillside, obvious countryside 

OR This idea works well, long shot from top of St. Catherine’s Hill, seeing the sun rise. Film same shot that evening, seeing it go down. Speed it up in the edit.

Shot of Maggie Holland singing? Pictures? (Dependent on whether we meet) 
DUR: 6-10 secs

• Shot of St George Flag flying in the wind. (Perhaps we can find a way to combine the two...sunrise coming up with a St George flag in view.

• Fade sunrise shot into the next shot, little river.....trickling stream. Actuality of stream trickling – Obtain a feel for the river/stream. DUR: 6-10 secs. Possibly the River Itchen? Location: The John Donne walk? Have to be careful with fades, need to use them as sparingly as possible to maintain classy look. Perhaps a gradual fade in/out or cross dissolve from one scene to the next?

• A quaint house in the country next to a river, pan from the house to the stream/river.

Verse Two

“I saw town and I saw country, motorway and sink estate,

Landlord in his rolling acres, poor man still outside the gate.

Retail park and burger kingdom, prairie field and factory farm,

Run by men who think that England’s only a place to park their car.”

• Shot overlooking a town centre amongst some countryside, possibly St Catherine’s Hill, overlooking Winchester with hills and countryside in side. Zoom VISUAL. DUR: 10 secs 

• For ‘motorway’ lyric, film whilst in the car driving along a motorway stretch, speed it up, also there are several bridges overlooking the motorway that we can film from. May look good doing this at night with all the streetlights?

• Focus on people’s feet whilst they are walking through the high street.

• “Landlord in his rolling acres, poor man still outside the gate” – THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. Need a farmer, or some kind of land owner. TRACTOR/COMBINE HARVESTER/PROPERTY DEVELOPER. DUR: 6secs 

• Fade, from landlord in his acres, to a retail park.....with a burger king. Then cross dissolve into prairie field, possibly film Sussex Prairies 
DUR: 10-12 secs. 

• A good shot would be of fuel emitting cars clogging up the countryside.

• Focusing on the stark difference between the quiet prairie fields and the smoggy factories.

Verse Three 

“But as the train pulled from the station, through the wastelands of despair,

From the corner of my eye, a brightness filled the smoky air.

Someone’s sown a patch of sunflowers, though the earth is sooty black,

Marigolds and a few tomatoes, right beside the railway track.”

• Steam railway-actuality of “CHOO CHOO”. Possibly Dymchurch Steam Railway in Kent. VISUAL – Train coming away from the station, into a field. Pulling out. DUR: 10secs 

• Following a train as it travels through the country. Maybe one person filming through the window of the train (permission needed) or find a location and film the train going past (similar to in the Railway Children when they sit and watch the trains go by)

• Think industrial places here. Coming into Reading from Winchester on the train or coming into Clapham Junction, all you see is terraced houses. Rows of them with smoking chimneys. Film this out of window on whilst on train to these destinations. Mid-shots. Perhaps out of focus, then pulling into focus slowly with the focusing ring on the lens, like a blurred picture becoming clear. Train slows down coming into these stations so this would be easy to film.

• Go into sunflowers VISUAL –Up close nice shots, Bees on sunflowers, real tight colour filled images – make it vibrant, extravagant. Street End Farm in Bishops Waltham grows sunflowers – BIG ones) DUR: 8-12 secs

• Same again with Marigolds and tomatoes – ALLOTMENTS 

• Get an allotment owner to dig up some tomatoes or plant some. Shots of them looking into distance with shovel on a hot spring/summer’s day. DUR: 5-8 secs 

• Railway track with Marigolds will be hard to find. Maybe just the marigolds shot fade with another shot of steam railway over top of one another so both are on screen but entwined with each other. DUR: 5-8 secs

Verse Four

“Down behind the terraced houses, in between the concrete towers,

There’s compost heaps and scarlet runners, secret gardens full of flowers.

Mehta grows her scented roses right beneath the big jet’s path

Bid a fortune for her garden, Eileen turns away and laughs.”

• Terraced houses and concrete towers. London towns.– Overview of terracing with building landmarks in Busy areas. The contrast between City and Countryside. LONDON. DUR: 4-6 secs 

• Compost heaps and Garden estates – Secret Garden – a relatively unknown place, such as Mottisfont Abbey Garden and Estate. DUR: 5 secs

• ROSES - Also, at Mottisfont Garden DUR: 4-6 secs

• “Big Jet” – fade a plane flying over St Catherines Hill over with the shots of roses? Eastleigh Airport-find the best location to get shots of planes taking off and landing. DUR: 4-5 secs

Verse Five

So rise up George and wake up Arthur, time to rouse you from your sleep.

Deck the horse with sea green ribbons, drag the old sword from the deep.

Hold the line for Dave and Daniel, as they tunnel through the clay,

Whilst the oak in all its glory, soaks up sun for one more day.

• Shot of old couple waking and leaving bed? Opens curtains, sun is shining in. For next verse, mid shots of farm yard area. Horses, stables etc. Try moreton-in marsh, Gloucestershire, or Millets Farm. 

“The Oak in all it’s glory” – shots inside a woods. Camera on floor, focusing up on oak trees, slow zoom or focus into close up shots seeing sun shine through the tops of the trees, peaking in through gaps in the light. – New Forest, Boxhill woods, or Corpse Wood up by Sarum Road? Another idea is to find a grand oak tree standing alone, looking regal in a field?

• Rise up George and Rise up Arthur....statues of them, similar to the statue of King Alfred in Winchester. If we do a worms eye shot looking up at them...make them look tall and regal.

• Clearly need to focus on the oak tree. Big, strong and mighty, with the sun shining behind it. 

Verse Six

Come all ye who grow in freedom, whatever the land that gave you birth,

There’s room for you, both root and branch, as long as you love the English earth.

Room for vole and room for orchid, room for all to grow and thrive,

Just less room for the fat land owner, on his ass in his four wheel drive.

• Opening line of this verse, baby being born/cradled in mother’s arms faded over image of the countryside. “English earth” – close up and actuality of soil, things being dug up with spade. Justaposition of farmers working hard and sweating compared to ‘city boys’ preferably shot of middle aged balding portly men stood talking in suits, laughing?

• This gives a very poignant message of how old, traditional country uprises against town, industries and factory. This is a very important part of the story and is going to need considerable planning to get the right emotions across.

Verse Seven

For England is not flag nor empire, it’s not money and it’s not blood.

It’s limestone gorge and granite fell, it’s Wealden clay and Severn mud.

It’s blackbird singing from the may tree, lark ascending through the scales,

Robin watching from your spade, and English earth beneath your nails.

• “England is not flag nor empire”-a regal castle, or perhaps Buckingham Palace, with flags flying. 

• Limestone gorge-Burrington (near Weston-super-Mare) beautiful cliffs with mountain goats.

• Severn mud-perhaps children squelching in welly boots in the mud (need permission)

• Blackbird singing in the may tree-ac tuality of birdsong

• English earth beneath your nails- people digging in their allotments, pulling vegetables out of the garden (another idea is vegetables being pulled out of the garden, then washed, cooked, and served for a family dinner? Maybe somewhere else in the song)

Verse Eight

So here’s two cheers for a place called England, sore abused but not yet dead,

A Mr. Harding sort of England, hanging in there by a thread.

Here’s two cheers for the crazy diggers, now their hour has come at last.

We shall sow the seeds they saved in common wealth and common land.

• This is the conclusion of the song. Really need to bring everything together for this ending.

• Idea of the diggers taking back their land from the industrialisation of the country.