Skip to 0 minutes and 1 second Before we start, let’s introduce you to our five hosts. The film which had the greatest influence on me– I was very young, probably 18– and made me realise the power of cinema, it’s a short film directed by a Frenchman. And it’s called the Occurrence at Owl Creek. You can check it out on YouTube. The elements of the film that were unique, and remain unique, are its use of sound, and its use of time and space of how a film, more than a piece of theatre or anything, can demonstrate the elasticity of time. The whole film, you realise at the end, has taken place within a very short space of time. But the film has expanded time.
Skip to 0 minutes and 46 seconds I hope this whets your appetite and you check it out. I was watching Jurassic Park the other day. It came on, I think it was, ITV or something. And there was a scene– my little brother’s 22. He’s not little anymore. But he’s always going to be my little brother. And we were watching Jurassic Park together. And I actually paused the film. I was like, watch why this scene works. It was the scene with Jeff Goldblum. And it’s when Richard Attenborough is talking about why Jurassic Park will work. And you’re looking at Jeff Goldblum’s character just going, it won’t work because of dah, dah, dah, dah.
Skip to 1 minute and 23 seconds And the way that he’s lit, compared to everybody else, and the way that he’s talking about it, it’s just brilliant. It’s just a brilliant scene. In that moment, everybody’s character is set up in that moment. You know who they are in that scene. So for the rest of the film, you almost know how they’re going to react. Nothing seems false. Because in that one scene, you see who they are. And that takes a skilled, a skilled director to do something like that. I first realised, properly, what editing was when I watched a documentary called When We Were Kings. And this affected me in a very similar way.
Skip to 2 minutes and 0 seconds It’s the fantastic story of Muhammad Ali fighting Joe Frazier, in Zaire, in 1974. Its the way that the film’s cut. You get all these layers created by the way that shots are put together against other shots, and layers of meaning. And the commentators bring layers of meaning into what we’re seeing as well. And it really affected me. And it still affects the way that I cut things today. A film that impressed me when I was younger, in relation to the sound, was Once Upon a Time in the West, particularly the opening sequence. Throughout the whole scene, there is a squeaky windmill that comes and goes but is essentially there, ever present throughout the whole scene.
Skip to 2 minutes and 47 seconds And various heightened sound effects such as a drip on a hat, water dripping on a hat, the sound of a fly, the sound of a ticker tape machine. These are all heightened and punctuate certain moments in the scene. That’ll be $7.00. [CHUCKLES] [PAPER FLAPPING] [WIND WHIPPING] [WIND HOWLING] And $0.50. [WIND HOWLING] [BIRD SINGING] The film which most inspired me to want to make films myself is the greatest film in the world, Evil Dead 2, film that was so inventive and so exciting. And it had so many different techniques, and special effects, and makeup, and monsters, and gore, and puppetry, and even animation. It mixed comedy and horror. It was funny and scary.
Skip to 3 minutes and 49 seconds It had some very cool scenes with a man who puts a chainsaw on his own arm after cutting his own hand off. I think, probably, the films that I was, as a child, not allowed to go and see. I remember not being allowed to go and see Bambi, if you can believe that, the Walt Disney picture as being too frightening for me at my particular tender age of whatever old I was then. I remember not being able to go and see Bridge Over the River Kwai, which is one of the great war films of all time with a phenomenal performance by Alec Guinness, with phenomenal and brilliant, but very steady and simple direction from the great David Lean.
Skip to 4 minutes and 32 seconds They made it absolutely an experience, which I remember to this day.
Introducing your weekly hosts
Nik Powell is director of the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, UK. Nik co-founded Virgin with Richard Branson, went on to found Palace Pictures with Stephen Woolley and later set up Scala Productions. He has produced over 40 films, including Company of Wolves (1984), Mona Lisa (1986) and The Crying Game (1992).
Here is a little more about each of our hosts. They won’t be present to answer your questions and comments during the course, but there will be support from the course facilitators.
Week 1 - Introduction
This week’s material is designed to take you well under three hours, so there’s plenty of time for you to familiarise yourself with FutureLearn, get stuck into the discussions and explore our recommended links.
Week 2 - Destiny Ekaragha - Having Vision, Telling Stories
Destiny Ekaragha’s first short film, Tight Jeans (2008), was selected for the London Film Festival that year. Her first feature, Gone Too Far (2014), was selected for the 2013 festival and given a cinema release in October 2014.
Week 3 - Mike Figgis - An Accumulation of Decisions
Mike Figgis writes, directs and scores his own films. His best known work includes Internal Affairs (1990), Leaving Las Vegas (1995) and Timecode (2000). Mike’s website contains a wide range of examples of his photography, music and films. His book, Digital Filmmaking, is a very useful addition to any film-maker’s library, and his invention, the ‘Fig-Rig’, a useful piece of kit for the cinematographer.
Week 4 - Corin Hardy - Breaking Down A Scene
Corin Hardy has directed music music videos for artists including Keane, Rizzle Kicks, Devlin, John Newman, The Prodigy, Biffy Clyro, Olly Murs and Paolo Nutini. His short animated film, Butterfly, which features on the course, was a labour of love which took him five years to make. Corin recently directed his first feature film, The Hallow (2015), which was shown at Sundance and will go on release in cinemas this year. He is currently in pre-production, directing a remake of The Crow.
Week 5 - Justine Wright - Transitions in Time and Space
Justine Wright began editing commercials, before moving on to work on documentary and feature films. Much of her work has been with director Kevin MacDonald, including One Day in September (1999), Touching the Void (2003), The Last King of Scotland (2006) and The Eagle (2011). She won the 2014 European Editor of the Year award for Locke (2013).
Week 6 - Danny Hambrook - Music and Sound in Films
Danny Hambrook has worked as sound recordist and mixer, sound designer and supervising sound editor on a wide range of films and TV programmes, including Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), Atonement (2007), The Iron Lady (2011), Rush (2013) and Paddington (2014).