Prop List

Prior to starting filming, I decided to make a list of props I would need according to my script, so that I can be prepared and organized. Also, apart from the props, I need to figure out the costumes and get the sets (the bedroom and the living room) ready.

Here is my prop list –

  • ALARM CLOCK
  • BUSINESS CARD FOR MRS. CHOPRA
  • LOOSE PAPERS
  • A BOX OF CRAYONS OR MARKERS
  • 2 MUGS
  • A POT OF COFFEE
  • NOTEBOOK/NOTEPAD
  • A PEN
  • A CHILDISH DRAWING ON A PIECE OF PAPER
  • A CHAIR
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Storyboard

I have completed my digital storyboard for my short film, “Split”. After taking all the photographs using my Canon 5D camera and a 24-105 mm lens, I used the app “Picsart” to transform the photographs into black and white sketches. I felt like this would enhance the artistic quality of my storyboard and give it an authentic look as storyboards typically are sketches/drawings. Once the photographs were all edited, I then used Keynote to layout the photos and add the comments describing the different shots, angles and transitions.

For all the shots of Anamika (the protagonist) and her alternate identities, I used the same person so as to keep the focus on the shots and angles, rather than the face. Using just one person also simplified the process and created an interesting visual when all four personalities are seen together in the final shot. I edited that last picture using Adobe Photoshop CS6. For the roles of the mother and Mrs. Chopra (the therapist), however, different people were cast so as to avoid confusion.

Getting to work with my camera in the storyboard stage itself helped me to really get a feel for what filming would be like. I got the opportunity to experiment with different shots and angles and get a clear idea of how I can expect my final product to look. Creating the digital storyboard proved to be an invaluable step in the process of making my short film.

Here is the storyboard –

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Target Audience

Short films, which are typically released through film festivals and digital media platforms, tend to have a niche audience. They do not have the kind mainstream fanfare that follows feature length films and blockbusters. These films mostly appeal to people who have a vested interest in the world of film and the art of filmmaking itself. This kind of audience usually means that the people watching the film are doing so with a keen, observant, trained eye. The class, gender and ethnicity descriptions are largely meaningless when it comes to determining the target audience for a short film as pretty much anyone could have an interest. Older teenagers and middle-aged adults are most likely to seek out and watch short films; they are not usually intended for a young children or the elderly.

Drama films in general tend to have the largest target audience as they are based around believable characters and relatable situations. Drama is a very vast genre, and so the target audience would very much depend on the storyline and rating, with the protagonist usually being a representative of the targeted audience itself. This is covered in Stuart Hall’s theory, as audiences who feel like they could be in the same situation as the main character tend to relate to him/her more and thus enjoy the film better.

Keeping all this in mind, the target audience for my dramatic short film, “Split”, would largely be a niche audience of older teenagers and young adults. I say predominantly ‘young adults’ because my protagonist is a teenage girl, and young women (and some men too) may relate to her and her situation best. They are most likely to sympathize. Also, the fact that there is an element of mystery/suspense would actively help to engage a younger audience of people, between the ages of 18 – 25.

In addition to this, since my film is based on a serious psychological condition – dissociative identity disorder – a certain level of educated understanding and knowledge of the disorder is required to view and understand the film. If people are entirely unaware of the existence of this disorder, they will not be able to follow my short film. Therefore, an informed, well-read audience would be primarily targeted.

 

 

Storyboard – Plan & Process

I have decided to create a digital storyboard using photographs because drawing is not my strong suit and I am much more comfortable with a camera. Also, I feel like a digital storyboard gives me room to be more creative as I can choose to stylize it however I please with my access to editing apps and softwares. Plus, the process of actually using the camera for different shots and angles, and the final photographs themselves, will give me a more practical idea of how shooting my film would work and what the final product would look like.

So, using one of my friends as the model, I’ve started taking photographs, using my Canon 5D, of the different shots, angles and frames specified in my script . I have chosen to have this one girl play all the different identities in the bedroom as this would simplify the process and also shift the attention away from the actor’s face to the actual shot itself. In places where two or more identities are seen on screen together I will use Photoshop to create an interesting, surreal effect. So, over the next few days, I plan to finish taking the pictures and then edit them to make them look like sketches and add hand written notes for frame details, timing, and transitions.

 

Script

After a lot of brainstorming, ideating and planning, I finished writing the script for my short film entitled “Split”, centered around the theme of dissociative identity disorder. As I had already laid out the order of the scenes as well as the core action prior to starting my writing, writing the actual script felt like a smooth and seamless next step of just weaving together all my ideas into a coherent sequence. I typed out the script using the app Celtx

I aimed to make the script as tight and interesting as possible, and to keep the audience guessing by creating a lot of questions. Also, the ending will hopefully leave audiences with something to think about. The script turned out to be about 6 pages long and I anticipate that I might have to edit some parts out in post-production, but for now, I’ve decided to leave everything in and use the best footage once I’ve shot the film in its entirety.

Here is the script –

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Close-Ups & Angles

Today in class, I shot some close-up footage of a classmate’s hands as an exercise in filming and editing. I practiced shooting different kinds of shots from various angles – low angle, high angle, overhead, over-the-shoulder, and ground-level. I also worked on adeptly transitioning the focus from one point to another and getting a smooth rack-shift focus as well. I decided to choose “hands” as my subject because hands can be quite interesting and can be shot in many different ways as they are fluid and elegant. Therefore, I had my classmate do various things with her hands and I shot it using a Canon 5D camera and a 24 – 105 mm lens.

Then, I put together some of the footage to create a short, 45 second video set to some instrumental piano music. I edited the video using Final Cut Pro X. Repeatedly working on such exercises and practicing is certainly paying off, as I feel quicker and more confident with each project.

Here is the video –

Short Film – Title: Split

After a lot of thinking and brainstorming, I have decided that the title of my short film is going to be “Split”.  I decided on the name because it has a nice, catchy ring to it and it’s short, so it will stick in people’s minds. It captures the essence of dissociative identity disorder without giving away too much and perfectly encapsulates the theme of my film. The ‘split’ refers to the split personality of Anamika and the many “split” parts of her mind that make up her being. It could also be said to refer to the split narrative in my short film – the parallel storylines that converge only at the end. Thus, all in all, I think “Split” is a most apt and fitting title for my short film.

Planning – Script

Before writing the actual script I decided to first plan out the different events and scenes. On the whole, my film is going is to be divided into two parallel running narratives that come together in the end, so I decided to divide my script into two parts and follow a two-fold writing process.

First, I wrote down all the events happening in Anamika’s room and all the action between her and the three alternate identities. I wrote down this sequence in order up until the moment when Anamika’s mother opens the door to the room. Then, I switched to the living room scene where the conversation between Anamika’s mother and the therapist takes place and wrote out that line of the story. Having done this, I broke up each storyline into smaller chunks and wove them together so that the film would cut back forth between the two locations and scenes. I decided what order the scenes should be in and numbered them accordingly, making it much easier for me to  write my final script.

In the very end, I brought the two scenes together and concluded the film.

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Character Sketches

Protagonist – Anamika 

She is a 16 year old, Indian girl suffering from multiple personality disorder. The disorder stems from an instance of sexual assault in her childhood, with her father being the abuser. Recently, her condition has worsened and Anamika struggles to live a normal life. Compared to the other identities living in her head, she has a repressed and recessive personality herself. She is subdued and quiet most of the time in her core character.

Identity #1 – Ashvita 

Ashvita is the alternate identity who is a young girl about 10/11 years old, and exhibits extremely child-like qualities. She not fully mentally developed, even personality wise, and could be viewed as Anamika, herself, at the age she was assaulted. It could be said that this personality represents the point in Anamika’s life where she got stuck and the age she was mentally unable to move on from. This personality can often be seen singing nursery rhymes or colouring and is largely very innocent.

Identity #2 – Ashwin

Ashwin is the alternate identity who is a slightly older boy, between the ages of 19-22. He is characterized by a lot of physical aggression and violence. He embodies Anamika’s anger. This personality is very dominant and has a lot of control over Anamika’s thoughts and actions, causing her to pose a serious threat to her own safety as well as the safety of  others.

Identity #3 – Arya 

Arya is the alternate identity who is a teenage girl the same age as Anamika herself. Arya is quite twisted. She has no concern for safety or consequences and has a skewed perception of reality. This personality is also a threat to Anamika’s personal safety because she is very persuasive and strong and has the power to coax Anamika into doing almost anything.

Anamika’s Mother

She is a loving, well-meaning woman who is very worried about her daughter and only wants the best for her. She now lives alone with Anamika and is under a lot of stress in trying to keep everything together by herself. She comes off as strong, independent and nurturing.

Therapist – Mrs. Aarti Chopra

She is a therapist and behavioral psychologist who has just come on board to help Anamika beat the disorder. She is patient, gentle and kind – just the kind of person perfectly suited for this line of work.

Story Outline – Final

After a lot of thinking and brainstorming, I have decided upon the plot for my short film. The main idea is to offer a glimpse into what it really feels like to live with dissociative identity disorder. I want to give audiences some insight into the mind and emotions of a person struggling with this condition.

To do this, the film is going to showcase an average day in the life of 16 year-old Anamika, who has been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder. Her story will be set entirely in her bedroom, and will start with her waking up in the morning. Slowly, we will see the three alternate identities co-existing in the room with her, each of them having distinct personality traits and performing individual activities. The three identities will be a young girl, a slightly older boy, and teenage girl about the same age as Anamika. We would see, for example, the young girl scribbling haphazardly on a torn up paper, the boy kicking a chair, the teenage girl hitting her head against the wall, etc.

As the minutes pass, the noise in Anamika’s head will manifest itself as utter chaos and confusion in the room. Tensions will slowly rise as she loses control of herself. A hazy sense of confusion and mystery will be created throughout.

This whole time the audience will not fully understand what’s going on. Questions like ‘who are these people?’, ‘why are they in that room together?’ and ‘what’s going on?’ are expected to run through their minds. The fact that these “people” are just Anamika’s alternate identities will not be revealed till the end. However, people will understand that something strange or surreal is going on.

The whole time this is happening in the room, Anamika’s mother will be talking to a therapist in the living room, who has come to help Anamika. Glimpses and fragments of the conversation will be woven in with the central narrative of Anamika in her room with the alter identities. Here again, the audience will have a lot of questions. The small bits of the conversation will drop a few hints that will make sense in the end.

These two parallel storylines will run throughout the short film and be tied together only in the end, when everything will fall into place and the viewers will understand.

The chaos in Anamika’s room will result in a loud crash (the teenage girl jumped off a closet and fell), which the mother and the therapist will hear from downstairs. They run up the stairs to check on Anamika and fling the door open to find an empty room and Anamika lying on the ground, where the girl was previously lying. She sits up. We will cut back to the two women, and the mother will ask Anamika if she’s okay. Then, we cut back to Anamika and this time she is not alone. The other identities are standing behind her, and in unison they all reply – “Yes. I’m fine.”