All about my University work


Death’s Portal – Reflexion

We originally had three different scripts but decided to go with my script called Death’s Portal. The script was about a man who finds a mysterious portal and stumbles across the Grim Reaper and he becomes petrified of  what may happen.

The idea of the film was to leave more questions than answers as I wanted to do something different. I wanted to go away from what would be expected of the premise of option A which was: There is a hammering on a door, it opens to reveal a dishevelled breathless person, why? How did they get this way… Like I said before the script never defines from which aspect the script should be on and the script shows the aspect of the Grim Reaper, even though its not apparent from the start. I felt the film as a whole was edited in such away that it got exactly what was intended and left the viewers almost as puzzled as the man in the film. However as it leaves so many questions it takes away some of the enjoyment of the film. A nice simple film which doesn’t leave any answers may be better as it could relate more and give the audience a better feeling.

Whilst editing there were quite a few problems with the over and underexposure because of the constant change of eye line. The change was the directors choice and worked well to an extent. In the edit there was constant fuss over trying to get the exposure similar throughout. It then came apparent that there would be too many issues regarding exposure so contrast was used a lot. However after initial tweaking I found that it worked quite well to put in the entirety of the showdown with Death. There was a standard tweak to the brightness and the contrast and when the lighting became a problem tweaks were made to try and correct it and keep the levels appearing similar. The underexposure also works well as it shows that it is a figuratively dark place and shows visually which gave the film added meaning and context.

Overall I don’t think it was the best work that I’ve done but I certainly wouldn’t put it as the worse. I wanted to do something that I’ve not done before. I wanted a dark and mysterious short film which I think I did well. If i’m being critical the script could of perhaps of been longer and give a different ending. One where another person stumbles across the portal and gets drawn in. The showdown itself was long enough but it perhaps lacked depth and involvement in one of the characters. By using Death in the film it almost instantaneously gave the audience an idea of what was happening as people have an idea of how Death will act especially if the viewers thought it would be Death in the traditional sense. The music also added to peoples assumption of how Death would be and I felt that that worked rather well.

I really enjoyed the whole project and would be something that I will continue in the future and not just at university. Editing especially is something that has really grown on me and perhaps wasn’t my first idea of what I wanted to do in the media world. But defiantly over the last two years it has almost become my favourite part of visual media. I don’t think there’s a better feeling than putting together a nice tight edit that you feel is perfect and viewers can enjoy. I sadly don’t think I reached that on here but I am defiantly on my way to getting there and plan on editing alot more in order to get the perfect outcome.


Death’s Portal Analysis

The film shoot for Death’s portal went rather well and I think we all had fun filming it. Perhaps mainly because of the Grim Reaper robe.

After everything was shot I uploaded the footage of which there was over 20 minutes of footage. The film itself was estimated at about 2mins 30. So the vast majority would have to be scrapped in order to make the final piece.

The film wasn’t shot in chronological order as it wouldn’t have been as easy to shoot. We decided to do the third scene first, where it was set in a ruined cathedral. It just so happened that Coventry had a ruined cathedral and thats where we shot. The second place we shot was on a cobbled street and shot both the first scene and the final scene there as they were both set in the same place. The final filming was the second scene set in a graveyard. We couldn’t find a graveyard so we used a park instead which worked reasonably well.

When this came to upload the footage I cut up each scene into another file which would make the edit a lot simpler to sort out. Each shot was then logged so picking a shot would then become simpler still. After going through all this I found that there was just over 12 minutes of footage that could be used. As the rest were either really bad shots either because of lighting or the camera not in the right position or the actors not getting it right.

From those 12minutes I then assembled around 6 minutes onto the timeline. I picked the shots that I felt worked best as well ones that would be more fluent in the edit. There was purposely this amount of footage that could be used as there would be two other edits of the film and would therefore give a broader range of edits. I then started to cut each shot down further and take a few out to make it a nice tight edit where everything ran smoothly and give the impression that it could be real.

The final edit I think is to a decent standard. There was a shot which I purposely directed. Where there was a change in eye line of the man in one scene and a very similar shot in another. This was because the script said ‘Cut to,’ and I felt that would be a nice way to cut between the scenes.

The first thing you notice about the film is the music. It begins with a black fade in but the music is there. The music sets the tone for the rest of the film. straight away you associate the music with dark and scary things. Maybe things you would expect at hallowe’en, so death and morbidity hits you and you also expect something to happen which really adds to the suspense and makes it more surreal. The music doesn’t really change throughout the whole film which somehow works and the last scene where he is confused, scared and hasn’t a clue in what just happens helps the audience engage with him because of the music.

Having a portal is never easy to do but with this edit. When filming there was no portal so when acting it was done as mime work. You can see that the street is different and that there is something there. A few effects were clearly used but perhaps it still could have been done a little better. It was all done on how the actor acted so everything had to be added around him and editing that did become a bit of a hassle.

Contrast is clearly used in the second and third scenes. This shows that he is in a completely different place and helps broaden the dark and eerie tone that was wanted to be given out. It works in some places better than others. Due to the eye line being quite low throughout its clear that there was a lot of over and under exposure. The brightness and contrast try to even things out but it also helps with the darkness of the situation: A dark place where there’s not much light and where seeing little things becomes hard. There’s a couple of shots in the old church where you can see the mans breathe. I thought that it was imperative to put them in as it helps the viewers see the heaviness of the breathing and how intense he is feeling at that point. The edit works rather well and gives a clear tone to how the guy is feeling. It also shoes death as a powerful being and can do anything within his will.

Death’s Portal – About the Script

I chose to do a script like this as it was a genre in which I have not done before. I also knew when writing the script that editing would be vital. With a very basic story with not alot going on it would be up to the editor to make it have good continuity. Therefore I made this script purely for the editing. The script itself has no dialog so could be edited in any which way you wanted. It could be doe as either a linear story or non-linear or even change the story and make it different.

The script is a very short script, only just about a page. People would say that it would only be about a minute long, however I felt it could easily fill two minutes is not three. The script is purely about what’s on the screen and whats happening. As it’s a rather eerie genre, I felt it would be best to drag out each scene as it helps build up suspense as many horrors do, that’s why I think just a page of script was more than enough for this short film.

I wanted to pick a cobbled street as cobbled streets are generally associated with the past such as medieval times. This would also help set the tone of the film. Medieval times were often dark and horrific and so would be the basis of where the script was set. I wanted to keep it medieval and gothic through out and the script shows that quite well.

Death’s Portal – Editing Techniques

I always felt quite astute when editing. So when given an editing task I thought that here would be something I would like doing.

Editing is the process of selecting and preparing language, images, sound, video, or film through correction, condensation, organisation, and other modifications. (

The Planning of editing starts in pre-production. Everything has to be kept logged to help aid the editing process. In most cases a list of every shot has to be kept as well as the time code and description with an indication of the shots usability. A simple edit log is used to keep everything and put it in the right order when it comes to capturing the film and will know exactly where to find them.

The first stage of editing is known as the first cut. This is when all the footage is put in together but rather loosely.  There are linear and non-linear programmes on editing. Final cut pro is the non-linear programme that is generally used by us and everything is put into a timeline where more editing can happen.

Bins are used to help keep everything logged and in sync making it easier to edit certain scenes by labelling so it makes sense. A lot of editing is normally used in the first cut to make it closer to the final running time i.e. if you are to have a 10 minute film it’s not uncommon to have 20 minutes of footage in which half has to be edited.

Once the first cut has been done then the fine cut is done after. This is where excess seconds are shaved off to help tighten the edit. Once all this has been done then the soundtrack is generally added along with the credits, visuals and sound effects such as a wild track (a background track that is used).

The uses of transitions are added and can be used well if discrete i.e. cross dissolves or fades. Every piece of sound has to be scrutinised in order to keep the levels at a fluid rate that can take a lot of time and effort.

Edwin S. porter is thought to have been the first filmmaker to put editing into use with his work on The Great Train Robbery. His work on entering the train was pioneering and has the technique is in wide use today.

When doing a one-camera interview there was a lot of editing to be done. Repeated footage was required for the questions and “noddies” were filmed after the interview and edited in. We had to be careful to “not cross the line” and have it in a way that made each person appear to be on the same side. Cutaways can be added to help the viewer’s aid of visualisation and keep them focused on what’s being said and make it more aesthetically pleasing. With transition in an interview no fades or cross dissolves should be use as it looks edited and amateurish which was not our plan. By not having transitions between cuts I feel that this makes it look more professional and fluent. There are a few occasions where it works well but if in doubt I don’t use a transition.

Death’s Portal – How an idea came to be.

I wanted to make a short film that had a very gothic tone to it. I didn’t want it to have any answers and want the audience to think about what happened and try and decipher it for themselves.

Having been told that the story must involve a door, I  didn’t want to use a door as such as I’m sure everyone else who did this project would. I then decided to use the thesaurus on the word door and saw the word ‘portal.’ This then lead to a wider range of stories that could be used. When thinking of a portal you think of something perhaps supernatural or magical.

With the gothic theme all that can be thought of with a standard door is like church door, but with a portal you can be anywhere and can go anywhere. With gothic you also think of death and destruction along with gothic architecture.

I also love Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991) and how death works as a great character. The Grim Reaper can be used on so many levels but the one I want is to make him as scary as possible as just being face to face to Death would be horrifying enough.

The Idea:

A man walks down the street by himself and stumbles upon an almost invisible wall.. He checks it out by trying to figure it out and hammers on it  but remains confused and starts to become scared and starts breathing heavily. Whilst checking it out it engulfs him. He is then sent to a realm and has a face-off with death himself The Grim Reaper. He then comes increasingly scared and fears for his life.

The script to be based on one of the two premises below:

A: There is a hammering on a door, it opens to reveal a dishevelled breathless person, why? How did they get this way…

B: There is a hammering on a door, why? Dare the door be opened? If so what is revealed….

I decided to go with option A. You may think that my idea has nothing to do with premise A. But the script never defines from which aspect the script should be on. My idea shows the aspect of the Grim Reaper.

If you have a look at premise A again you can see how it fits.

A: There is a hammering on a door, it opens to reveal a dishevelled breathless person, why? How did they get this way…

There is someone banging on his portal. After wondering what it is he lets that person in. That person is dishevelled and breathless as he has just come face to face with death. How they got that way? Simply because he’s scared for his life.