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Lost Heart narrative ideas

Current ProjectsPosted by Benedict Mart Wed, September 30, 2015 11:29:05

Here's some background research on M.R. James Lost Hearts including a documentary on the man, the book reading of the story and a old TV adaptation of the story. I'll then move onto some my ideas for this production narrative.

Mark Gatiss steps into the mind of MR James, the enigmatic English master of the supernatural story.

Unabridged Lost Hearts narrated by Michael Hordern.

!973 BBC TV Short extracted clip. IMDB details.

The adaptation I'm working on is set during the 1940's with Steven being a child evacuee escaping the London bombings, as so many did during the war. Max and his team have beautifully re created the 1940's look within the film from costume to props to dialogue but my major concern is the adaptation for screen of the narrative structure of Lost Hearts. This isn't an attack on M.R. James, I am a big fan of his stories and it is widely known that the hugely popular H.P. Lovecraft was inspired by James to the point were he wrote several essays on M.R.James stories. James is the father of ghost stories as Tolkien is the father of the fantasy genre.

Below are some key points have I have flagged regarding the story and it's implications on the the adaptation...

*Everything happening to Steven from being told that 2 children have gone missing while at the manor, the dreams, the rips in night gown & marks on the door, Mr Abney's warnings... Personally I think the boy would be scared shitless by the time Mr Abney invites him to the 'late night conversation'.

*No one working at the manor Mr Parks or Mrs Bunch never connects the missing kids with the ghosts even when Steven says about the bath tub.

*Mr Abney being the most knowledgeable ' the Land...' on the ancients/occults but advising Steven to close the window so not to let anything in - wouldn't he know more on the ghosts(that Mr Abney murdered) and if they can enter the house or not, wouldn't Mr Abney takes measures to stop them rather then write them off on the '...feeble effects of these beings to rig vengeance on him...' with all his knowledge?

*Why didn't the ghosts get their revenge earlier...maybe a twisted joke - that Mr Abney was so close to becoming immortal and fails at the last hurdle? Are the two children ghosts capable of this twisted thought? But as written they tried to warn Steven and ended killing Mr Abney to save Steven.

*The major plot exposition at the end - doesn't work for me on screen as it's documented dairy that is a long monologue of Mr Abney. It seems quite dated for the 21st century story telling.

So for this adaptation we will make more use of the dream narratives and that the ghosts need to be let into the manor house via these dreamscapes. The dreams will be broken into 5...

1- Introduce the gypsy girl ghost by the river

2- The ghost outside the manor, Steven looks though the window (this will then be told to Mr Abney who advises to keep the window shut.)

3- Steven opening the to the ghosts (allowing them inside the house)

4- The bath tub scene

5- In a bedroom with the ghosts - just before they get vengeance.

Having these extra dream sequences will heighten the tension and scares, allowing the audience to imagine what the ghosts are now going to do inside the house. Along side this it tightens up the narrative structure with each dream building upon the last.

To help strengthen our narrative we will expand and include motifs that will run though out the story. These ideas include…

*Dreams of claustrophobia submission within the confined space, fostering the emotions of fear and confusion…

1-Outside by the river (Free) turns to unease seeing the girls scared face(Confusion)

2-Inside the house, looking out of the window (Trapped)

3-Corridor (Trapped) Opening the door just as Steven awakens(Submissive negligence)

4-Corrdidor (Trapped) Being lead into the bathroom(Forced)

5-Opening a new door(New beginnings) then the ghosts disappear for vengeance (Freedom)

*The leitmotif of the hurdy-gurdy is the signature sound of the ghosts(it's the instrument that belonged to the Italian boy) will be in every dream sequence and the final scene with the Mr Abney. This also reinforces the scene when Steven is handed the hurdy-grudy connecting the real world to the dream world.

*The grandfather clock is the count down (impending doom) to the final act of Mr Abney. These themes of time and dates run through out the story for example Mr Abney asking when Stevens birthday is and the time of the solstice.

*The dead are watching though unblinking eyes... of the stuffed animals around the manor house. This motif will start as Steven enters the manor house for the first time being watched by the said dead animals and will reoccur as he explores the manor house. This metaphor is the real world's connection between the dead and the living.

Upon watching the previous edit we also needed to add a more personal touches to the story from the reaction shots of characters to the character exchanges that have nothing to do with the story but give it life.

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Notes on a Cinematographer - Robert Bresson

Off the shelf - Filmic PDF'sPosted by Benedict Mart Tue, September 29, 2015 13:53:28
Bought this book about 15years ago and it's never left my side, Robert Bresson is a master film maker and his thoughts of this medium are truly enlightening. From his comments on Actors(models) to the picture and the whole medium itself, please do your self a favour and read it;-)
It's out of print now but if it ever gets into print again I highly recommend buying it as it deserves to be on the book shelf of any film maker.

Please click here for the black and white PDF

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Selection of Youtube VR Videos

Adventures In Virtual RealityPosted by Benedict Mart Mon, September 28, 2015 16:48:32
From the art house to the commercial to the outright wacky VR videos on Youtube...

As always Porn is straight on the case with VR - if that's your thing I'm sure you'll find it on the web. But I concerned with the narrative and the dramatic possibilities of VR and how we can tell engaging stories with this new medium.

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Neuromancer is Here...

Adventures In Virtual RealityPosted by Benedict Mart Mon, September 28, 2015 15:23:34

Over the past few years there is a big push in the Virtual Reality - Facebook acquiring Oculus VR and Google cardbox with Youtube making it easy to creating 360 content. Next year will be the year of the VR, with a range of cameras ready to be released from from Google teaming up with GoPro for Jump 16 camera kit, Nokia's OZO and Samsung's Beyond. For more of a cheaper line of cameras please click here.

We're on a new dawn of film making with these camera's - an amalgamation of film theater and video games techniques ready to be created for the VR market. For VR narrative stories to succeed - quality content needs to be created.

Here's a list of links and videos to some of the cameras and headsets. I'll be going into more detail on the production side later on...

A few headsets out already and going soon....

You can buy decent headsets based on the cardboard design(who wants to put a £600 phone in cardboard and start waving it around on your head?) on Ebay for around £10.

Sony Morpheus VR

So with a decent phone inside a headset connected to the internet VR is open.

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Lost Hearts Production -Editor

Current ProjectsPosted by Benedict Mart Mon, September 28, 2015 14:37:11
Commissioned to Re-Edit Severn Films adaptation of M.R. James -the godfather of ghost stories - 'Lost Hearts'. Directed by the talented Max Van De Banks and starring Nicholas Amer & Louis Newton. Here's afew stills from the production...

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Computer Game Group Trailer...

Random Side ProjectsPosted by Benedict Mart Mon, September 28, 2015 13:22:17

I've been keen on video games since my first computer the Oric-1, playing the text based Hobbit game, how games have advanced into the 21st century. My kids wouldn't even spend a second trying to play the old hobbit game now compared to their generation of games.

Recently I've started to create trailers based on computer games and how to manipulate the image to create a dynamic narrative. I joined a steam group called Gentleman of Mordheim that follow Rogue Factors Mordheim:City of the Damned that is currently in EA. And GOM asked me if I would create trailers for they upcoming tournaments - so killing two birds with one stone I accepted.

The video below is my 2nd attempt at game trailer using captured footage from the games and creating a workflow for the project, which due to no budget and non profit I had to first start with the music(CC's) and build up from there - so it's more like doing a music video. Work flow for the creation of the trailer...

The Brief

This tournament which is a grab and hack scenario with a plot line centering on the warband mercenaries. Since the story was complicated ie multi warbands- we streamed lined the narrative to just the Mercs vs Skaven and added a twist at the end(so not to ruin either the trailer or the written story endings)

The Sound Track

With the basic narrative in place I built up a sound track from 2 music scores using Adobe Audition to mix the tracks into a 1:33 second score these were...

'Private Reflections' & 'Voltatile Reaction' scored by the very talented Kevin Macleod.From there we recorded the dialogue and did a test premix so we could get an idea of the footage needed to capture.

The Footage

Working from the soundtrack and a rough storyboard, I sourced the external images that we were going to included - Rob Hawkings Wyrd Stone Factory photo. From there I screened captured the heads of the characters speaking and cut them out in Photoshop ready the CTA2.

To capture the game play footage, Andrew and me used 2 computers - each playing the warbands. We decided on the action and where the characters are placed then recorded the combat, to get better camera angles we used only 1 character(effectively turning him into a mobile camera) and recorded his POV shots of the action. This took awhile as we had to replay the games several times.

The Edit & FX

I edited the shots together keeping to the marker ques set out in Audition. Once all the shots were in place and tweaked the dialogue placement. I used CTA2 to animate the heads that had been cut out earlier and to make them talk. From there I imported the Premiere project into Aftereffects and added the talking heads...this was quite difficult as each character on the master shot moves (breathing) I tried tracking the movement but since its 3d didn't look right when I layered the head onto the master shot. So I duplicated the master shot, with the copy layer -I freeze framed the character, masked out the background and added a slight feather. Then enlarged the body to hide the breathing body in the master shot layer below and added the talking head shot, this can be seen at time 01:01:00. I then added the blood effects (which now Rogue Factor have incorporated into the game). Finally I tweaked the wryd stone factory picture by adding stone from the game into the buckets, adding bubbles and smoke to the pot then did a slight colour grade. We finally came to a decision on the text we wanted to use and were ready for picture lock.

The Sound Mix

Once we had picture lock I added several tracks of atmos (wind blowing in the tower etc), sound FX (explosions, spellcasting & weapons) and the Skaven noises. I wanted to use the Skaven sounds to help build the tension and the danger. Exported these tracks to Audition cleaned them up and imported the mix to Premiere for the final export.

And here it is...Enjoy

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