Set Design: Anamika’s Bedroom

For Anamika’s bedroom I am using my own bedroom at home. However, I had to spend a lot of time changing it to look the room belongs to a girl with dissociative identity disorder.

Here is the transformation:

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I inferred that the chaos in Anamika’s head would translate to her having a very messy personality. Her room should reflect this by looking untidy and cluttered. Therefore, I went around to all the shelves and messed them up by toppling over DVDs and books and piling them in a very disorganised manner. I scattered ribbons and scrunchies atop the dresser and spilled open her pencil box on top of the desk. I had markers strewn across the floor table and crumpled the white comforter on the bed. I littered the room with her things and left no surface looking too polished or neat. I tried to make the room look as naturally messy as possible.

I also removed anything from the room that I felt would not fit Anamika’s personality and character. I removed all my comedy DVDs such as SNL, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, etc. because they felt too specific and random. I also removed certain books and decorative items that I believed would not suit the person Anamika is.

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Instead, I brought in a lot more childish things like stuffed toys, dolls and board games and messily filled the shelves with those items. I had toys on the floor, next to her bed and on her desk. This is because some part of Anamika is mentally stuck at the age when she was sexually assaulted and her emotional growth is stunted. Since the assault was the trigger of her disorder, she is still holding on to that stage of her life, unable to let go. Therefore, Anamika’s room is filled with the toys and books she was never able to part with and they serve as a source of comfort to her.

However, this is balanced by her having more grown up DVDs and books too. There is a large juxtaposition in her tastes and interests and this is reflective of her dissociative identity disorder. Different parts of her like different things.

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Also, as a result of her disorder, I understand that nothing potentially dangerous could be kept in her room. To this effect, I removed all the electronics such as phones, chargers, laptops and the desktop computer. She would not be using any of these things in her day to day life. Also, I removed all the breakable things such as the glass make-up stand, ceramic mugs and porcelain figurines.

To add a sense of a authenticity to the room, I filled the picture frame in her room with photos of the actress playing Anamika at different stages in her life. This is a small detail that may not even be noticed in the film, but I didn’t want anything to be overlooked.

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Some of the walls are painted turquoise and all the furniture is pearly white, which fits perfectly with the cool colour scheme of this room. Also, the white tube-lights make the room look bright and cheery. All this contributes to Anamika’s room looking pleasant and happy at first glance. The lighting and colour scheme are very positive and up lifting.

Set Design: Living Room

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For the living room in my short film, I am using the actual living room in my house. This is where Mrs. Chopra and and Anamika’s mother meet and have a conversation regarding Anamika’s past and her disorder. The scenes taking place here are going to be dominated by warm colours and yellow lighting. The yellow sofas with red and green designs, as well as the yellow tube-lights and table lamp fit in perfectly with this colour scheme. They contribute to the cozy, comfortable atmosphere, and give off a very inviting vibe. I tidied up the the place to look neat and charming so that the household looks perfectly normal and happy at first glance. I didn’t have to change too much in this room because it already had the kind of look and feel that I wanted.

This where Mrs. Chopra and Anamika’s mother will be positioned in the room after Mrs. Chopra enters through the front door. Anamika’s mother will sit on the left end of the long sofa and Mrs. Chopra will be seated in the armchair.

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Shooting Schedule

I have decided to shoot my short film this upcoming weekend, on Saturday and Sunday. As six actors are involved, scheduling was not simple. I need everyone here at the same time, so finding dates that worked for all involved took some time. Therefore, I have to structure my time well and get all the footage I need over a span of two full days. I plan to divide my film into two halves as I have to parallel storylines running, and shoot one half each day.

Saturday, January 21st:

On this day, I plan to film all the shots involving Anamika and her alter identities in her bedroom.

Sunday, January 22nd:

On this day, I plan to film all the shots in the living room between the mother and the therapist.

Casting

I have cast my short film by gathering friends and family who I felt would be up for the task and fit the role. In certain cases, I used the actor’s real names as the character names because I had them in mind when writing the role and their names appealed to me. Here is the cast:

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Smruti Tarana as Anamika (the protagonist)

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Ashwin Arvind as Ashwin (alternate identity)

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Mrinmai Arun as Arya (alternate identity)

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Ashvita Girish as Ashvita (alternate identity)

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Chandrika Arvind as Mrs. Chopra (the therpist)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meera Maran as the mother

Make-Up and Costumes

ANAMIKA

  • She must look like she has just woken up, so she will be dressed in casual clothing
  • No make-up
  • Shorts and a loose t-shirt
  • Dishevelled, messy hair

ASHWIN

  • A casual t-shirt and trousers/long shorts
  • No makeup
  • Look of a normal, average guy

ARYA

  • Ripped tights; floppy t-shirt (also ripped)
  • Crazy, big hair
  • Dark, deep eye makeup; deep red lips with the lipstick smeared
  • Overall, must look like a lunatic

ASHVITA

  • A simple, colorful dress that looks childish in nature. Perhaps a floral print or polka dots.
  • Hair in two ponytails
  • Light makeup – soft pink lipstick; faded rouge. The makeup is just to liven up her face; it should not actually look like she’s wearing it
  • A very pleasant, cute look to contrast the dark character

ANAMIKA’S MOTHER

  • Jeans and a shirt
  • Slightly messy hair (indicating she’s having a busy day)
  • No makeup
  • Earthy look

MRS. CHOPRA

  • A formal saree + an elegant, black handbag
  • A neat, tight bun
  • Classy, proper make-up – eyeliner; eyeshadow; mild pink lipstick; rouge
  • On the whole, very prim and put-together

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

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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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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