Living a Dream….

I am a movie junkie and love all different types of films, but I have never done any type of film editing or have taken a class on film. This is new to me, and it was really fun! The movie I decided to mash up was Requiem for a Dream. This movie is under the genre of drama. Although it was released in 2000, I did first watch it until around 2005 or so randomly at a friend’s house. From then on, it has been my top 10 favorite films, and I have also seen other movies that Jared Leto have starred in like American Psycho, Panic Room, and most recently Mr. Nobody. All of which, especially Mr. Nobody, I highly recommend. Here is the original trailer of the movie, which let me warm you, is very different from my mash up!

Movie poster for 2000 released film Requiem for a Dream

Starting off, I had to choose what I wanted this “new” trailer I was going to mash up to portray. Originally, a filmed categorized under drama, I decided to wanted to turn it into a romantic tearjerker. According to Thomas Sobchack’s article Genre Film: A Classical Experience, familiar plot formulas, stereotypical characters, and iconographies define a film’s genre.  Sobchack also mentioned that subject matter of a genre film is a story. My goal was within the 90 seconds I was given I had to portray a totally different story with the same characters, but also if a person who is watching this new trailer hasn’t need the original he or she would assume this is truly a romantic tearjerker. For me, Requiem For a Dream was not very difficult to edit and snip parts from since only around five minutes total of the film are there “happy” or where the lighting is bright. It is a very dark film, filled with drugs and sex. I had to pick out the happy scenes, which are the times where the main character Harry Goldfarb meets or is with his girlfriend Marion Silver. Sobchack also explained the iconography that the visuals and dialogue allows the audience not to ponder what the message of the film is. Essentially the film itself creates itself.  My overall message in the 90 seconds is Harry falls into a coma. In his comatose or his dream, he meets Marion falls in love. The significant scene is on the boardwalk where he finds and also “loses” her.

While creating the trailer, the scenes I picked I had to order them into a mini story. There were a variation of shots, such as closes of the Harry and Marion together. I had scenes of affection to portray their love for each other in scenes of hugging and when they were laying together. I wanted to focus on the emotion of the characters since I lost my audio in the process of putting together the trailer. I also showed a transition of emotions from Harry smiling and laughing to him crying in pain. These close up shots showed emotion. This is described in Bernard Dick’s Film, Space, and Image. He explains close up shots are useful display emotions where as long shots do not. I cuts were longer than others. My beginning shot I used as signifier which also foreshadows the rest of the trailer.  It was a cut just of the Harry’s shoes walking back and falling into black space. This black space is the coma or the dream.   My scene transitions are also signifiers. I wanted to focus on two scenes. The transition of the scene where Harry and Marion are in bed, I used the “split” video transition technique to emphasize the distance between the two: the distance of reality and fantasy. The last scene where Harry opens his eyes, I transition I used to transition into that scene I wanted to signify eyes opening like of Harry’s.

According to Danesi’s “Messages, Signs, and Meanings: A Basic Textbook in Semiotics and Communication,” defines a sign as anything that can stand for something other can itself. In my transitions and close ups, I tried to resemble a deeper meaning or foreshadowed a message in which dialogue or words were not needed. I personally did not put captions throughout in my trailer but I wanted to have the scenes speak for themselves.  I specifically chose to begin and end my trailer with scenes of the boardwalk strengthens the unity. It closes the trailer. Repetition is one of the four basic principles of Robin Williams Non-designer’s Design except. With the absence of dialogue and captions, I let the audience’s imagination tell the story. There are parts where the Harry and or Marion’s lips are moving, thus the imagination of the audience can decide what is being said.

My last signifier, which I didn’t even realize considered a signifier, is the background music I chose. The song I chose is by Explosions in the Sky titled,  “ First Breath after Coma.” It is instrumental, so going on along with the no dialogue theme. The song is very calm in the beginning building up what is imagined to be, “ the first breath.” This climatic part where the drums, guitar, and bells are loudest,  I synced to where Harry wakes up from his dream/coma. From the beginning of the trailer until that point of the breath, the music is very soothing and calm. It gradually builds up to his final opening up the eyes.

Working on this project was very exciting for me! From the first day of class ,  I looked forward to this project.  Audio Premiere for me was easy to use. Once I messed around with it, it was really fun. Like any program, there are some minor problems. My first problem was losing my audio in my clips. Good thing for me I wasn’t planning on using the audio. It would have been a plus but at the end, my theme of no dialogue and captions, made it better I think to take out the audio. So when I did lose my audio, it did not slow me down. I didn’t run in many other problems. The other problems I do not even consider problem since they were questions with “how to do this” or “where is this button,” nothing as a dramatic and time consuming comparing to what others dealt with! What I might want to improve in Premiere is to preview the transitions before using them. I constantly had to plug the transition in, test it out, and if I didn’t like it, take it out and try another. Was it tedious? Yes, but at the time it was interesting messing around with the program itself. For future students, my advice is have a plot in mind, I remember talking to classmates having a movie but not knowing what they want to do with it. They had plenty of clips, but I am sure that in their final trailer half of them were not used. Granted I had an easier film to cut, but I think that would save lots of time.

About jhuynh0912

Junior at Trinity University
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