The world of non-commercial film and A-V
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I cannot remember exactly from where the idea for the script of Final Report came. I think it was partly personal and partly from an incident on Celebrity Big Brother when Vanessa Phelps lost it after facing eviction from the Big Brother House.
Having worked in the "news business" for the last twenty years, my main character was an amalgam of several people who I had worked with during that period. When a television programme ratings drop, one of the first remedial actions is to change the presenters. Get rid of the old wood and replace it with some new material. This was my basic precept.
In my drama, Corrine Kennedy was a reporter on a weekly news show. She and cameraman, Brendan, travelled the world reporting on various stories. There were just the two of them. As she says "We were a team." We never establish what the exact relationship was between them. It was pretty strong but she strongly refutes that it was love. The programme's ratings had dropped so the producers had decided to replace her by a younger face. The fact that the newcomer knew little about journalism was of little consequence - she would have a team of supporters. With the lack of a contract and without her companion, Brendan, she reminisces.
The drama is basically a monologue with several inserts. When I had completed the first draft I showed it to an actress friend, Tania Mathias who liked the script. A few days later we decided to make it. As there was only one character, I knew it would quite a taxing role for any actress. Having seen Tania in a 90-minute stage production called The Last Flapper, I was convinced she would be right for the role. After reading through the script we decided to make several changes and hence the birth of the re-write.
Apart from one 6 second scene, the crew was immense ... just me.
It was my intention to make the majority of the scenes black and white. This was one of the first difficulties as I had a colour viewfinder. I had to imagine what a scene would look like after I had taken away the colour. Certain scenes looked terrible in the viewfinder but after the colour was removed looked the way I wanted them.
The entire drama was shot on a Cannon XL1 on DV. Sound was via either a Sony ECM 55 clip-on or a Micron radio mike. All the lighting was natural. Apart form one short scene it was all hand-held. In other words it was a true "Dogme" production. Editing was on my Matrox RT2000.
The production finishes with a telephone call from Brendan. I asked another actor friend if he would do the voice for me. We agreed to meet but he suggested that as I would have to distort the sound to make it sound like a telephone call, why not record it over the phone. This we did.
Working with such a small crew has advantages and disadvantages. One of the main problems was continuity. As we shot every scene a minimum of three times in close up and wide shot, we largely overcame this by swapping takes.
Left: A Romanian orphan in the news.
Right: Corrine starts to hit the bottle.
Overall we are happy how the drama turned out. We are both aware that there are many weaknesses and at one time we thought that we would re-shoot several scenes. However we decided against this and are now working on our next production called Five Episodes.
- Alan Colegrave (email: email@example.com)
Final Report, Alan's third drama, was awarded a Gold Seal at Movie 2002 and is part of the UK entry for UNICA 2002. Alan Colegrave works in the television business. Visit his websites www.ac-productions.co.uk and firstname.lastname@example.org
For more about the Dogme movement for naturalistic filming see the Official Dogme 95 website.