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The making of Writer's Block

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At BIAFF 2015 Bob Lorrimer won  a Diamond award and Best Comedy award for Writer's Block .

Still from 'Writers Block'.

In the late summer of 2014 a field of SUNFLOWERS came to bloom some 100 yards distant from my small cottage in West Yorkshire.......the sunflower's 'display' coincided with the arrival of my new Panasonic GH4 a micro four thirds still camera. The GH4 however has some very sophisticated settings which are advantageous to the movie maker. (Ultra High Definition is but one of it's numerous available settings.)


Sheer guilt at the expense of the camera and it's battery of new lenses forced me to make an effort to film something, or indeed anything, out of the local farmer's 'field of gold'........so I ventured out with the GH4 and 'exposed' some footage of the sunflowers and their attendant foliage with no real idea as to how I might be able to work the resulting clips into a storyline.

The matt green of the oversized leaves photographed very well and, on a high resolution screen, the fleshy nature of the foliage looked both formidable and textural.

Still from 'Writers Block'.

I had half an idea that I could play the part of 'Van Gogh' .... perhaps - 'painting a landscape' which was before him, while ignoring the profusion of 'angry buds' which were assembled behind him. It seemed plausible to me that this unfeeling demonstration of temperament might well lead to the artist having his ear chewed from off the side of his head by the enraged flowers.

By chance I had 'posted' some shots from the Gh4 to an American VIMEO friend of mine who then expressed astonishment at our local heritage architecture.....he wanted to see some more 'buildings' - the construction of which are unusual to American eyes. (The Bronte-connected OAKWELL HALL features in the opening shots.)

I suddenly realised I could be a modern day WILLIAM WORDSWORTH wandering my 'locale' while composing his well known poem......."Daffs!" A time warping conceit if ever there was one!

I was still not bursting with enthusiasm for the project until, quite suddenly, and having refreshed my memory of the words of the poem Daffodils 'online'...I made a leap of faith. I could edit the pictures to the words of the verse, not slavishly, but enough to create very unusual rhythms within the film. After that flash of understanding the three minutes came together quickly and I was soon outside strutting passed buildings and landmarks that fall within a close proximity to my village. The village lies between Bradford and Leeds. It is a semi urban location and just about retains a rural status because of two farmers in the neighbourhood who have proved resistant to the developer's cheque.

I am not consciously a 'sole' shooter.....but I sensed I could make quick progress with this shooting style because the subject matter is relatively static: I walk here, I walk there, I walk up, I walk down.....I sigh a few times...all pretty simple. My new camera's operating system did induce some foul language at times because it is almost too complex when set in video mode for my small mind to grasp......and I came close to throwing it over a wall on several occasions. The GH4 is of course blameless...finding focus and correct framing is tricky when you are not actually behind the camera to alter it!

Still from 'Writers Block'.

I, also, had some serious doubts about thrashing myself with a pair of large sunflower stalks! However, the look on the faces of two passing ramblers convinced me that I was on to something unusual.......I expect I am now immortalised on YOUTUBE somewhere as "angry man beats himself to death with sunflowers!' (2 million views.)

I had a very loose script and ended up overshooting but no matter.......for suddenly, at he week's end, the sunflowers were ploughed over and they vanished.

When I came to the edit... I wrote the narration first as there are short sequences or passages within the film where the pace of the 'cut' is dictated by the 'speed' of the words, as poor old 'Bill' struggles with his concept. It is an unusual, although not original, method of editing and it can result in a stimulating sequence as the images fly by.......PACE is the key in fiction and it is constantly overlooked by amateurs and amateur documentary makers....who have a tendency to be self indulgent when there is no producer leaning over their shoulder shouting "CUT for Pete's sake!".

I tried to give the film a colour grade, using Magic Bullet 'looks', which leaned toward 'sepia'. I now feel I could have probably been a little more bold. I like the aspect ratio 2.35 : 1 which feels cinematic, however I also have 16.9 versions of the film as well for my club.

Colour grading progression:

Still from 'Writers Block'.
Still from 'Writers Block'.
Stage 2
Still from 'Writers Block'.
Final result

The film was shot in UHD 3840x2160 (Ultra High Definition) and then downscaled to suit my Final Cut Pro 6.6 editing software to 1920x1080. It is said that this produces more detail....well maybe and maybe not..however it is clear from my close examination of the frames during the editing process that the Panasonic GH4 is a small wonder......with a very powerful future potential when coupled to high quality prime lenses.

Does Writer's Block 'work' with it's lack of adherence to any particular period or genre?....Well, we will have to wait and see!

"A GOOD film," I have heard it said, "is the film which makes the viewer forget not only where he is...... but also, how long he has been there!"


Bob . My email for those wishing to know more about GH4: bob.lorrimer@gmail.com

March 2015

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Click here: WRITER'S BLOCK

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