The main inspiration for this production is from Charlie Chaplin and his silent comedy sketches that often had him in a strange situation, specifically looking at The Lion’s Cage scene (1928). The way he presents himself in these videos reflect want we want to do with our one, focusing on the exaggerated acting and emotions.
When silent films were made (1994-early 1920s), editing was limited to what they were able to do to the physical film. They cut off portions that were not needed and starting around 1903, many inserted drawn or printed frames of text throughout the reel to act as title and speech cards. Film makers had to be careful with the amount that they filmed as film was/is very expensive so had to plan out each shot, making sure very little takes were done and the amount of film cut off was reduced.
Another silent film we looked into was The Great Train Robbery (1903) by Edwin S. Porter. In the first scene we see a train pass in the background which was done using a projector showing that there were already ways of adding effects, only before post production, which was done again a few minutes later when we are inside the train to make it look like it’s moving. Learning the challenges that film makers in this era had to face is very interesting to think of how it has changed and that it can keep changing. For example again in this 1903 film, cameras were extremely heavy and difficult to move around so a lot of the shots are long shots. In order to change the type of shot, usually the actors would move forward or backwards instead of the camera which is why at the end of The Great Train Robbery the last shot had the actor close to the camera holding up his gun, creating a medium close-up; this technique of having one different shot at the end was very popular as it would give a little variety in their film.
As sound could not be recorded during shooting, music along with Foley sounds were put on top in post production helping to set the mood or even exaggerate the movements of the actors. For my film I want to portray a bit of a comedic atmosphere with the music by making it reflect one of the characters’ skittish traits, working together with the amplified acting.
The Lion’s Cage scene (1928) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0a998z_G4g&ab_channel=CharlieChaplin
The Great Train Robbery (1903) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11PBAUkrg54&ab_channel=npatou
Before producing a larger 6-person film, the class was split into groups of 3-4 to film a quick silent video and edit it. We were not able to put a lot of planning into it but it taught us to apply the basic techniques, like static shots. The post production I felt was the most helpful for preparation as I had not created a simple black and white film that reflected what those from the early 1900s look like. I changed the aspect ratio to 4:3 to mimic the look of most of them, changed the footage into greyscale and created title and speech cards. Doing this made me think more about the timings of having the text appear on screen as well as the durations. Overall, although it wasn’t a fantastic production or outcome, it did allow me to practice these aspects to apply for this specific genre.
After changing classes, we were able to re-do this film in a group of 6.