It is every little girls’ ambition to become a beautiful dancer…..
Short film Darrienia, Featuring Bethany Rose Harrison.
Click below to expand (contains spoilers)
Darrienia: “A name meaning “Dreamer”. In ancient Greek legend a goddess Darrienia was the person who created our dreams for us. Some times known as Aphrodite’s daughter.” (Urban Dictionary)
For Darrienia, I wanted to apply a simple story concept, whereby a book about dance would directly influence the dream of its reader. Once again I worked with talented Elliott Montello. We were priviledged to get beautiful, professional dancer Bethany Rose Harrison for a few hours to dance in the very grand Torquay Town Hall. She kindly travelled all the way from London especially to film with us, however, we only had a limited amount of time with her. Elliott and I worked as fast as we could to get all the shots, but unfortunately, we missed some of the ending scene.
Bethany was originally meant to play the part of the dreamer. However, this was now not possible. So, putting our heads together, we casted Caitlin Graham to play the little girl in the film. This, in my opinion, was our best decision. But, resulted in adding a few problems, due to the fact that the film had to be convincing, and having filmed all the dancing shots and the little girl shots on completely different dates, meant that a bit of compositing and clever editing would need to make the connection between both actresses solid. Any doubt and the film would lose its impact and meaning. Little Caitlin was extremely convincing considering that there was no dancer present. A little star!
Following up from Incendium, I wanted to use Twixtor on various shots of the film (See part 2 of Elliott’s twixtor tutorial: he uses open and closed masks in Twixtor Pro to help calculate where the pixels should move frame to frame). Bethany is an amazing dancer and this ‘Twixtorised’ slow motion would capture those unbelievable moments in time which might go unnoticed in real time.
The film proved to be quite a learning curve for me. I wanted to edit the project in something new, so I used Adobe Premiere and I also wanted to learn some of the basics of After Effects. I have also, before this film, never created a Black and White or 2.35:1 aspect ratio film. The black and white added a new dimension to the short. In a filmmakers’ toolbox I believe it is something that should be used sparingly and only if it adds a visual aspect to the film and relate to the story. In this case, the B&W lends itself to the time period.
Unfortunately, there are things you have to learn the hard way. Darrienia was intended to be streamed across the Internet and 8-bit colour compression is not enough for B&W, as you only have 255 shades of grey. This resulted in fairly bad ‘banding’ in certain areas of the film, where the gradients are very shallow. To attempt to counteract this, I was forced to add a fair amount of grain noise to the image using Andrew Kramers Fast Film Grain. It was fairly difficult to decide on a grain:banding ratio. This grain as it turned out complimented the black and white and gives the film more texture.
Before we even filmed, I knew precisely what soundtrack to use with the film. The FMA has proved to be a great resource for music and I can spend days on the site listening through its massive collection of Public Domain and Creative Commons tracks. I came across a track called Sumar (intro) by Icelandic based band Lockerbie. This track has a very dream-like sound and suited the film perfectly.
Many thanks to young filmmaker Ben Leggett who has created a Behind the Scenes video: