Zenith

I was excited to start the Zenith project as it was all anyone talks about at Freestyle. It was a little scary, because project had to relate to film and it was my first year in film. So I decided I should team up with someone who had been in Film for 2 years and could help me out.

It took us a while to come up with our idea but we eventually came up with the idea of making another narrative film, inspired by the Twilight Zone. We studied lots of episodes from the Twilight Zone and tried to create a really good story with the perfect Twist ending.

In this project I combined what I was taught with sound design in my first year of Freestyle with my new knowledge of filmmaking, to bring you, The Cement House.

I hope you enjoy, but first, a little behind the scenes.

Process

Our synopsis. Green = first act, Yellow = second act, Red = third act. This was our first version and not all detail represent our final product.

An early to-do list for set-design. Later this is flushed out to a far greater extent and we acquire the things on our list.

Images of storyboard. The drawings are very much makeshift, but the detail of the shot design is in depth. Every single camera motion is annotated and it displays the attention to detail in our film. Not all details are represented in final product due to this being our first rendition.

First day of scouting and checking out potential sets. This is a friends back house and although it a little too nice for the film, we think we can potentially use a bit of movie magic to make it appear less affluent.

More photos of the house, here we see some closeups that maybe can show it in a different light, especially if we zoom in on certain aspects such as the wooden wall.

On the left are two photos of the thrift store and we could potentially use this to show the chaos and also to explain why he would be shopping here in the first place, because it maybe isn’t for the wealthy. On the right there are more shots of the house and especially of the difficulties. We would have to remove all of this.

More furniture that would have to be removed, a kitchen that would have to be mostly avoided, and a potential shot for the pretty environment.

Shots of the actual scenery after we had visited it. It is beautiful and will absolutely do the trick. We took some videos as well that can be used in our film, but also were a great job of practicing some of the different shots we will need.

More of what is outlined above. A bunch more shots of behind the scenes scouting. Without a doubt scouting is the most surprising factor in this film at this point in pre-production.

After, we then found a different house, and shot everything in only three days of filming. We were editing down to the last minute. Literally, we were exporting our film seconds before class started. But, we did it and below is our film!

The movie and presentation before an audience

The film later titled, The Cement House

Reflection

I chose the idea for this project after watching some old twilight zone episodes. I really liked how the story seemed like it took place in a normal world and then the twist comes and flips what you thought was real, upside down. I also had an idea of a thriller film with a music box being the main mechanic. After brainstorming lots of ideas with my partner, Ben, we decided to morph my original idea into what it is now. Another idea we used to form our final one was our character being messed with by an outside force.

I ended up not relating my zenith project to my research paper because Ben and I came up with a good idea. Also when I was writing my research paper, I found myself not being passionate about it and didn’t want that for my zenith project.

For this project, I worked directly with a partner. It was very hard at first, especially when trying to come up with an idea for the film. We both had different ideas and they always conflicted. It took us a lot of time to figure out our eventual idea and it cost us a lot of time in our zenith project. It also led into the production on the film too. Since we still weren’t 100% on the same page, we had different ideas for how we wanted to shoot the scenes. While that was annoying it was overall better to have a partner. We were able to keep each other accountable, we could shoot down bad ideas and we could pick up and help out with each others weaknesses. I do believe that making a narrative film requires a partner as it would be too much work without.

If I could do this project over, I would make sure that Ben and I are on the same page and we have all of our shots planned out and practiced. Because we couldn’t decide on how we wanted our story to go, our final story is a little confusing. It takes bits of every idea we had and kind of morphs them together. We definitely needed to practice the shots before hand because when we got on set, we realized that the some shots were either too hard or we didn’t have the right equipment for them. FOr the shots we had to replace, we had to improvise on the spot and it took up a lot of time as well as not coming out the way we wanted it.

Definitely to make sure my partner and I are on the same page and we manage our time better. If I work on another film, I believe that I will be a way better director. On my first film, I knew the story but I did not have the experience to make it turn out the way I wanted it. In my second film, I had the experience and techniques but I struggled with the story. I will be able to combine the two projects and know how to properly direct.

I definitely ignited my passion in this project of coming up with a cool idea (base idea, not fully flushed out) and had lots of fun editing my film. I found my favorite part of making a film is the sound design. Because both of my films were without dialogue, so sound design was a big part of both of them. It definitely elevated my skills of having to learn how to manipulate sound inside of Premiere Pro, an application not built specifically for sound. I don’t know if I would say it is my most successful freestyle project as I spent much more time on my narrative film but I am definitely very proud of how my zenith turned out.

My Zenith presentation went very well. Everyone liked it and thought that it was so good that it should be chosen to be one of 3 films shown in front of all of AM freestyle.

It was definitely bittersweet finishing my Zenith project as I realized that it was my last big freestyle project that i’d make. I owe a lot to freestyle and I am so grateful for it for making these last two years so great. I am so, so glad that I decided to ask my english teacher for more information about freestyle academy after Mr. Greco came to my class sophomore year.