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The making of Ransom Note

To BIAFF 2015 results| To Full Making Of Index

At BIAFF 2015 Henryk Jachimczyk for Colchester Film Makers Club won
an IAC Diamond, the Best Editing Award and the Best Entry by an Affiliated Club with Ransom Note


Still from 'Ransom Note'.

Film making is about controlling the audience.  Show what you want them to see in order to tell the story and use sound appropriately.

Decision

There were three scripts on the table, two comedies and a drama.  The Colchester Film Makers Club had produced a comedy last year and the year before that so maybe it was time for something new?

It’s not what you film; it’s how you film it. We’re talking style not hardware. 

  • Once the audience recognizes an actor on screen the suspension of disbelief is broken.  “That’s Bill up on screen. He always plays the baddie!
  • So the decision was to remove the identities of all the characters.   There would be no emotions normally expressed with facial expressions or voice acting.  It was to be similar to a TV news report – just the facts.
  • No taking sides and judging who was in the right and who was in the wrong.  Remove the emotions, just show the facts.
  • It was a bold idea but the film team were happy to run with it, especially as they didn’t have to learn lines!
  • Film making is about controlling the audience.  Show what you want them to see in order to tell the story and use sound appropriately.  By removing facial identities it meant anyone could play the parts.

The director (Henryk Jachimczyk) played the husband, while Paul Desmond, one of the cameramen, put on the trench coat and became the detective.  The lighting assistant put on a dress and was arrested! (Joke!)

Still from 'Ransom Note'.
Still from 'Ransom Note'.
Still from 'Ransom Note'.

Still from 'Ransom Note'. Crew

Organizing the crew to meet at the same time and place is always difficult, so the team was split in two and convened at different locations on suitable days.  There were three individual females that played the wife and three crew members played the detective at three different locations.

There was only one dog, however, who was played by the dog.

Edit

The decision to split the screen up with different views was to imitate TV news programs.  Each channel covers a particular story but would have different camera angles of the same subject.

Our film introduced each shot in a particular order meaning the viewer was more active and hopefully wouldn’t be bored.

However the scene in the sitting room, where husband and wife are seated in the same shot, was visually split to suggest a particular relationship.

Still from 'Ransom Note'.Composition had to be considered.  With three, maybe four shots on screen at the same time this dictated images had to be simple and easy to read, especially as they would be in smaller frames.

The scene where the husband is preoccupied with a crossword puzzle was originally much longer.  The idea was to stretch out the tension as the viewers knew the envelope contained a ransom note.  But after a test screening at the Colchester Film Makers Club, members’ comments suggested shortening the sequence.

Sound

There was purposely no music because that would cue emotions.  Instead, sounds from the scenes were used in a rhythmic way.  The title introduction starts with a paper tear followed by the repeated snipping of paper followed by the sound of an envelope being sealed.

In the detective’s office the background beat was the repetitive sound of paper being torn from the pad he was writing on.

As the husband and wife waited for the detective to return the ticking of a clock beat out the seconds.

Most of the film had to be dubbed.  We had parked the car next to a noisy children’s nursery.

Filming

The whole film was story-boarded to assist the director and cameramen but there were some blank areas for creativity.

During the course of the production opportunities arose.  The two birds in the tree came about by the director opening the front door one morning and spotting the shot across the road.

The close-up shot of the magpie pecking was supplied by keen bird watcher Brian Pearce.

Colour

Natural light was used outside.  We were lucky the sun shone brightly on the day.  And small spotlights helped indoors.

There was some help in post-production with brightening up the dark shots and increasing the contrast but no atmospheric colouring.  This would suggest mood and therefore emotions.

The only true colour consideration was for the character of the wife.  She was introduced in a white dressing gown, then wore a pink sweater and finally wore bright red at the end. Subconsciously suggesting she was innocent at first and became a scarlet woman.  Did anyone notice?

Oops!

Still from 'Ransom Note'.There were no production mishaps but we were told to move our car by the Children’s Nursery Teacher.

To the amusement of the crew the message on the ransom note read: “Do not show this side to the camera.

We found the park rubbish bin was too small and the briefcase had to perch on top at a peculiar angle.  However, creating the case of money was a problem.  The printer refused to scan in real bank notes.  A photograph was downloaded instead and printed several times to top the bundles.

Did anyone think that was a lot of money for a crossbreed dog?

- by Henryk Jachimczyk (who wrote, directed and edited the award winning entry by Colchester Film Makers Club)

Watch the film online

Click here: RANSOM NOTE






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Page updated on 25 April 2015
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