In this blog post I will be completing some ‘Production Research’. To be able to discuss and consider Production Research, we must first consider what production research actually is. The definition of production research is simple, it means every single element of a production. It is often said that the most important part of the making of a film or TV show is research and planning and, in short, this is completely accurate. It is so important to do enough valid and effective research, otherwise your project will end up being inaccurate and full of holes. Without research, there would be: no Actors, no props and no location to film. Moreover you cannot possible make a good Film or TV show without research.
To understand the definition of Production Research, I must first understand what it means by ‘every element’ of the production. The production of a TV show doesn’t just involve Actors and a Crew, it also involves so many other people and elements. Here are a list of some of the different elements involved in making just a small scene of a film or TV show:
- technical equipment
- health and safety
- subject research
- date specific
- title (graphics)
My scene of choice
I have decided to use the ‘Carnival Scene’ from the movie ‘Grease’ (1978 Randal Kleiser. ) Grease is arguably one of the most famous Musicals of all time. Starring John Travolta and Olivia Netwon-John, the movie tells a story of young love and all of the troubles that come with it. The movie is set in California, specifically at a school named ‘Rydell High.’
Tshirtfuxx (2016) ‘FUNNY T SHIRT rydell high school’
In my opinion, Grease is a classic movie containing a huge amount of iconic and memorable scenes. Although this scene may not be one of the most famous scenes from the movie, it contains a huge amount of different elements that would involve research. I have decided to focus on the ‘carnival scene’ from the Film. In this scene, the Seniors who have just finished their final year at Rydell High run out of the building, throwing their papers into the air. They are seen running down the stairs and into a huge carnival. Rides are surrounding them, from the Ferris Wheel to pie the teachers. The scene shows the freedom and happiness shown by students after a huge amount of hard work and effort.
Wayne, G. (2016) ‘Grease Filming Locations Part 2’
Overall, I decided to pick this scene because I feel as if it has such a large range of things to research in such a small scene. I think that this clearly shows how much time and effort goes into creating just a short part of a Film, as well as how important research is within a scene.
A huge part of being a creator is being able to research, and to have the patience to be able to make sure everything about your Film or TV show is well researched and put together. It is these subtle details that can change a TV show or Film from being low quality and incomplete, to incredibly made and full of effective props, costumes and makeup.
The first thing I am going to be researching is Location. The location, like any other part of the production, is extremely important. You have to research the location for a variety of different reasons. Firstly, the location has to be safe to film in. So when researching location you have to find out whether it is a public space that you can legally film in. You also have to research and find out whether or not you would need to close any roads, or rent the location you are filming in.
- California 1959
- The outside of an old building, with large doors for the students to barge out of
- Old school/ Old large building
Useful websites (Harvard referenced below):
After a lot of consideration, I decided that the best way to approach the production research of location would be to find two or three different locations. One location would be where you can film the main bulk of the scene, so a large field big enough for a carnival. It would have to be level and big enough to film, and it may also have to be private so there isn’t anyone looking at the cameras in the background of a shot. I decided that I would film the shots with the school in the background separately. This is actually what they did in the film itself, and I now realise that this is a very interesting and positive idea. It allows me the freedom to choose the best areas to film to create the most accurate atmosphere, and the create a more realistic and authentic vibe. I will also have to find somewhere to film the shot of the student running down the bleachers to get to the carnival.
I decided first to research into finding a field, or area practical enough to recreate the astounding carnival scene. After a lot of research, I decided that the most appropriate location would be The Meadow and Slamseys. Here are some images below to show the area:
Field Lover (2016) ‘The Meadow and Slamseys’
This screenshot has helped me learn a lot more about the location. For example, the area will cost £750 to use for a day. We also learn through this research that the area has direct access from main roads, like I mentioned previously, and so, again, it makes it a lot easier to transport the crew, equipment and props.
Another Location the I needed to research is somewhere I can film the shots of the school.
SchoolsPlus+ (2016) ‘Millthorpe School’
This school is in North Yorkshire in England. The school is still open, but it is available for hire in the evening from 6pm until 10pm. This does restrict how long you can film for, as the hours of daylight wont last for too long, but if we were to shoot what we need in the summer then the shots should be really effective. The school has large doors at the front so it would be perfect to represent the big doors the students run out of when they throw their papers in the air.
There is also a shot of all of the students running down bleachers to get the the carnival below. I found a site where you can actually rent Bleachers. As you can see by the image above, this is just one example of the types of bleachers you can rent from the site. If I was to recreate this myself, I would ring and get a price, and I would be able to consider how big my budget was, and how long I would need the bleachers for to be able to effectively film the scene.
Technical equipment is also just as important to research when trying to get the best outcome possible. Technical research can means anything from tripods to cranes used to create the most effective and well thought out shots to capture the scene. In my personal opinion, technical equipment isn’t necessarily the most important part of filming a scene. I understand that it is needed to have all of this equipment, but I truly think that there are other things that are more important overall. For example the props and costumes and even hair and makeup can make a scene more effective than the overall quality and how expensive the equipment is. I do think and understand that it is important to at least have equipment that is suitable to shoot the scene and show everything in the best light possible. I also understand that it is extremely important to maintain the safety of the equipment, and so I would also have to make sure that I have suitable resources to carry and keep my equipment safe in bad weather conditions
B&h (2016) ‘ProAm USA Taurus XL HD750 20′ Heavy Duty Camera Crane/Jib’
B&h (2016) ‘ProAm USA Taurus XL HD750 20′ Heavy Duty Camera Crane/Jib’
I decided to firstly research into how to buy a crane. After looking at a variety of different types of cranes, this was the most successful and efficient crane. As you can see by the screenshot above, the product has a 16′ maximum reach. This is one of the longest cranes that I saw when searching for a crane. I decided to pick this crane as, in the scene I am trying to recreate, the camera pans over a Ferris wheel and other carnival rides, and so the crane needs to be able to get high enough to capture this incredible view.
Argos (2016) ‘Velbon EF-61 Camera Tripod – Black’
Argos (2016) ‘Velbon EF-61 Camera Tripod – Black’
It took a lot of consideration to decide on this tripod. At first, before researching further, I was thinking of renting a tripod. I have found that it is much more cost effective to actually buy a tripod. This is because not only is it more cost effective to buy for one production, but also you can use the same tripod in multiple productions.
In the end I decided on this Tripod. It was around mid range price, and extremely high quality. The description explained how the tripod could be used by a beginner or a professional, which means that it would be versatile in the future for other uses rather than just in the filming of the recreation of this scene.
I have actually used this specific tripod myself before, and I found it to be of extremely high quality, this means that I can trust the tripod to fulfil its purpose well.
As we learnt in week one, props are an extremely important part of a scene. The audience automatically decodes everything in a scene, and so just one prop can change the audiences perception of a character or situation. It is also important to make sure all of the props that are used in the scene were actually around at the time Grease was set. for instance, grease is set in 1959, and therefore it would completely pull you out of the scene if you were to see, for example, someone using an iPhone.
- school books
- school papers being thrown everywhere
- ‘Rydell Graduation Carnival’ ‘senior carnival’ and a variety of other signs
- carnival ride including large Ferris wheel and a variety of other spinning rides relevant to the time.
- candyfloss maker
- sausage on a stick
- sign for the candy floss stall
- high striker game and hammer
- a huge variety of toys and stuffed teddies
- hula hoops
- cream the teachers sign and set
- cream pies
- candy floss machine
I decided to try to find somewhere to buy reasonably priced school books, as at the beginning of the scene the seniors throw all of their papers in the air, scattering the papers onto the floor. As you can see from the site above, Shopinc sells small notepads for under 50p. They also come in a variety of different colours, meaning that each student can have different types of books, and so the scene would look more realistic, as not everyone would have the same type and colour books.
Anton, J. (no date) ‘Vintage Fairground Amusement rides’
As you can see by the screenshots above, this site offers a huge variety of ‘vintage’ style carnival rides. It mentions that their rides are well known for being in Film and TV productions, which clearly suggests that they are willing to rent to productions for a longer amount of time.
Unfortunately, on this site, it does not give a prices for renting each carnival ride. Because of this, I have looked on a variety of more sites to try and find an average sort of price per day for renting carnival rides such as these.
Websites used to find comparison:
After a lot of research, I have found a range of prices that I think are representative of an average carnival ride hire:
Dodgems from £1500 per day
Carousels from £1500 per day
Octopus from £1000 per day
Big Wheel from £1300 per day
Miami from £1200 per day
Twister from £1200 per day
Coconut Shy From £150 includes prizes
Penalty Shoot From £150 Inc prizes
Hoopla Stalls From £200 Inc prizes
Juveniles from £150 per day
Inflatables from £150 per day
Children rides from £250 per day
Side stalls from £200 Inc prizes
(List from http://www.ridesforhire.com/pricing/ harvard referencing below)
Overall, I have noticed that is is incredibly expensive to rent carnival rides. If I was ever going to try to recreate this scene, to save valuable time setting the rides up, and money, I would trying to only hire out the rides that will be seen in the background of the shots for that day. If I don’t do this, the price for hiring out a large range of carnival rides every single day would become extremely expensive.
One of the props shown throughout this scene is a women making candyfloss. At first observation, I decided that I wanted to research how to buy or hire a candyfloss machine. Later on throughout my research I understood that I can actually hire out a candy floss carnival cart. This is definitely more representative of what you see in the scene I am trying to recreate. I found that Candy Floss/ Popcorn carts come from around £100 each. This is a reasonable price, and will help to reinforce the classic carnival scene look.
As well as the many carnival rides present in this scene, there are also other props that make a huge difference in the scene, and really add to the semiology of the scene. There are a few girls trying to keep Hula Hoops up around their waists. I think that the hula hoops are really important in this scene, even though they are only seen for a second. It shows the inner child of the students, and how they feel so free and relieved after a years of working for their results. I found a website that actually sells hula hoops for £2.99, which is a really reasonable price. You can also buy them one by one, which is really practical as I actually wouldn’t need that many.
Throughout the Grease carnival scene we see a variety of different coloured balloons, one of the most prominent ones being a white balloon being held by girl on the Ferris wheel. In the site above I have been able to find a helium balloon party pack. This pack includes a disposable helium cylinder and 50 balloons. This is really useful, as you could use the amount of helium you needed each day when filming, instead of buying balloons with helium already in them, which would deflate before filming is over. It is also much easier to transport this, as you would only need to inflate the balloons you need to use to film with on the day, and then you can save the rest of the helium for the future, or just nicase you need to film anything again in the future.
stuffed toys and teddy bears:
Throughout this scene, there are a variety of different prizes on offer that the students can try to win at the carnival. Here I have found batches of bears you can purchase for a low price. This is better than buying individual bears, as it is less expensive this way. As well as this the teddies come in a variety of different designs, and so this means that prizes in the scene will all be slightly different, making a more effective and aesthetically pleasing scene.
The final prop that I have researched into is bunting. bunting shown in the link above is multi-coloured bunting, which is clearly present throughout this brightly coloured carnival scene. The bunting is reasonably cheap, just over two pounds, and so it shouldn’t be problem to buy as much as we need.
Health and Safety:
Health and safety is essential when thinking about production research. Not only is it a legality, the safety of your actors and crew must be, at the end of the day, the most important thing. Although it is not necessary for this scene in particular, this could involve hiring stuntmen.
- All of the rides must be up to the standard necessary at the time of filming
- you would need to know what is in the food being given to people throughout the scene
At first I found it reasonably difficult to understand what health and safety precautions would need to be taken in order for everything to be safe. After a lot of research I now understand that there is also a lot that goes into making sure everything is safe.
The first thing that needs to be thought about is fairground rides. It is important that all of the rides have been safety checked, and constantly are checked throughout the day. There should also be maintenance there the whole time to make sure that, if something did so happen to go wrong, they could fix any problems so filming could continue as soon as possible.
In the link below there is information concerning health and safety guidance for fairgrounds. It is important to know the laws surrounding fairgrounds and their rides, as otherwise what you are doing on set could possibly be illegal.
The site even provides information on what to do if someone does get injured on a ride, and what to do in different situations.
Another thing that must be taken into account is the foods that you are giving your actors and the food that is being made on set. This is because an actor or member of the team may be allergic to certain ingredients, which could in tern be very dangerous.
I would need to find out if any of the actors or the team that any foods that they are allergic to or any other dietary requirements, and ensure that this is taken into account when making any foods involved in the production, or for lunch and dinner for the cast and crew. After this I can then analyse and decide which foods are still appropriate to use throughout the scene, by find out what they have in them and seeing if that will affect anyone. For example, one of the foods used throughout the scene is candyfloss.
- 800g sugar.
- 240ml corn syrup.
- 240ml water.
- ¼tsp salt.
- 1 tsp raspberry extract (or any flavor you like)
- 2 drops pink (or any color) food coloring (optional)
I can then find if anyone has any allergies concerning any of the ingredients.
The cast of a production is obviously something that needs to be researched when you are doing production research. Picking actors suitable to their roles is so important. For example, the TV show Doctor Who (Waris Hussein 1963) involves hiring different Actors over time to play ‘The Doctor.’ Each individual has their own opinion, but it is clear that some actors depiction of the iconic character have been far more successful than others. For instance Tom Baker, the forth reincarnation of the iconic character, has remained a fan favourite for many years. It is also important to make sure that the actors will work well together to create the most effective scene.
- extras: seniors celebrating finishing school by having fun at the carnival
- main actors.
I would have to make sure that I have set up auditions for the main cast, as it will be important to see the individuals acting style in person before casting them. I would make sure that the inidivduals that I choose to cast look reasonably similar to the character that they will be portraying, to make sure my recreation of the scene is accurate. Hiring actors that are already established could be a positive thing, as you can tell somewhat that they are going to act well and like industry proffesionals. On the other hand this could also be a negative thing, as salaries could be higher. Hiring first time actors can also give an Actor a chance to start their career, and this often spikes interest with movie goers.
As well as the main characters in the scene, there are hundreds of other extras that will be needed to play the other seniors at the carnival. In the site above you can find hundreds of extras, see pictures of them, and search for specific types of people that suit the roles you need to be palyed. If I was to recreate the this scene from Grease, I would try to find at least 100 extras around a similar age to represent the rest of the seniors at the carnival.
At first, I was unsure about what it meant when researching the ensure my scene would be ‘date specific.’ After further clarification I have found that ‘date specific’ means making sure that everything in the scene can actually be there. For example, Grease is set in 1959. This means that some things that we may now have in the modern day, they wont have in the past. For example, the characters would not walk around with touch screen phones and new cars. If the scene is not date specific, it can completely take the audience out of the scene. It can cause the audience to get distracted from the overall mood and atmosphere of the scene.
- Grease is set in California in 1959, so everything throughout the production needs to be correct to this date.
- fairground rides
costumes, like all of the other elements of a scene, are very important. Costumes can create the atmosphere behind a scene, and show the time period and where in the universe the scene is taking place. The audience can also decode a lot about a character from what they are wearing, and so it has a huge effect on the semiology of a scene.
- clothes seen in the late 50’s
- ‘T birds’ jackets
- Red hat with ‘R’ on it
Because Grease is so well known, there are actually so many grease inspired outfits that you can buy for an extremely low price. There are so many places that you can buy outfits that closely represent those that are in the scene I am trying to create.
here is a link for some of the main character outfits that you can purchase:
here is a link to a variety of other 60’s themed outfits
These low price examples of different ‘Grease’ themed outfits show how easy it is to find outfits to help to recreate the grease carnival scene.
If I was to complete primary research, I would complete a variety of different things to make sure that my recreation of the Grease Carnival scene is as accurate as possible.
The first thing I would do is to go to my locations and make sure they are what I am looking for. I would also set up the scene there, and make sure there is enough space. I can also work out which shots would work this day. I can compare the location to the photos online to make sure they show and represent what I need and what I am looking for.
I would also like to check over all of the props to make sure they are of the highest quality possible, and are what I need to recreate the Grease carnival scene.
Another thing that I would do is check that all of the costumes are of the highest quality possible. I would make sure to do this a while before the filming was to begin. This is because if the costumes are not the quality I want them to be, I would want to give enough time to research other companies to buy or rent them from.
I would also try to make time to talk to each actor one on before the filming was to begin. This would allow me to begin connecting with them, and understanding where they have come from, and what the production means to them. I would like to listen to them all as a group together, and not just individuals, and allow them to work together, to watch them bounce off of each other.
Guys & Dolls (No Date) ‘Artiste Search’ Available at: https://guysanddollscasting.com/p/artiste-search (Last Accessed: 4th November 2016)
‘Candy Floss’ Available at: http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/529620/candy-floss (Last Accessed: 4th November 2016)
HSE (No Date) ‘Health and safety guidance for fairgrounds’ Available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/entertainment/fairgrounds/ (last Accessed: 4th November 2016)
NHS (No Date) ‘Food Allergy’ Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/food-allergy/Pages/Intro1.aspx (Last Accessed: 4th November 2016)
APA (2016) ‘Grease Logo’ Available at: http://www.apacape.org/wp/playhouse/auditions/grease-logo/ (Last Accessed: 4th November 2016)
Field Lover (2016) ‘The Meadow and Slamseys’ Available at: https://fieldlover.com/field/details/157 (Last Accessed: 8th November 2016)
Wayne, G. (2016) ‘Grease Filming Locations Part 2’ Available at: http://www.seeing-stars.com/Locations/Grease2.shtml (Last Accessed: 4th November 2016)
Performance staging (2016) ‘Bleacher Rental’ Available at: https://www.performancestaging.com/bleacher-rental (Last Accessed: 13th November 2016 )
Tshirtfuxx (2016) ‘FUNNY T SHIRT rydell high school’ Available at: https://www.etsy.com/listing/167608397/funny-t-shirt-rydell-high-school-musical (Last Accessed: November 4th 2016)
SchoolsPlus+ (2016) ‘Millthorpe School’ Available at: http://www.schoolsplus.co.uk/millthorpe/ (Last Accessed: 4th November 2016)
B&h (2016) ‘Professional video camera cranes’ Available at: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Cranes-Jibs/ci/3917/N/3907816541 (Last accessed: 13th November 2016 )
B&h (2016) ‘ProAm USA Taurus XL HD750 20′ Heavy Duty Camera Crane/Jib’ Available at: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1090175-REG/proam_usa_taurus_xl_hd750_20.html (Last Accessed: 13th November 2016)
Argos (2016) ‘Velbon EF-61 Camera Tripod – Black’ Available at: http://www.argos.co.uk/product/3456338?cmpid=GS001&_$ja=tsid:59158|cid:200291090|agid:12525696410|tid:pla-115455323570|crid:66128556170|nw:g|rnd:10247966439980237708|dvc:c|adp:1o6&gclid=CjwKEAiAu6DBBRDDr6-e_6698E0SJACvuxnyyu_PtPkAcVNlMCLTPwbu02V8fk9s6jPeCGTC33k_VxoCXHTw_wcB (Last Accessed: 13th november 2016)
Anton, J. (no date) ‘Vintage Fairground Amusement rides’ Available at: http://www.antons-show.co.uk/vintage_fairground_amusements.htm (Last Accessed: 13th November 2016)
Zebra (no date) ‘Major Amusement Ride Rentals’ Available at: http://zebraentertainmentandevents.com/major-amusement-ride-rentals.html (Last Accessed: 13th November 2016)
Ridesforhire.com (2016) ‘Pricing’ Available at: http://www.ridesforhire.com/pricing/ (Last accessed: 13th November 2016)
CFF (2016) ‘Carnival Funfairs’ Available at: http://www.carnivalfunfairs.com/ (Last Accessed: 13th November 2016)
Shopinc (No Date) ‘9″x7″ Blue Exercise Book – Lined with Margin’ Available at: https://www.shopinc.co.uk/9×7-blue-exercise-book-lined-with-margin/ *(Last Accessed: 13th November 2016)
sportswarehouse (no date) ‘Hula Hoop 24″ (Single)’ Available at: http://www.sportswarehouse.co.uk/hula-hoop-24-inch/?1248=1608&aid=9124&gclid=CJjb6t2VqNACFW0A0wod6egKiw#.WCmjjTJvgdU (Last Accessed: 14th November 2016)
Signature Balloons and parties (no date) ‘Helium Party Pack with 50 x 9 inch balloons (1)’ Available at: https://www.signatureballoons.co.uk/Helium-Party-Pack-with-50-x-9-inch-balloons-1/ (Last Accessed: 14th November 2016)
Baker Ross (no date) ‘Mini Animal Bean Pals’ available at: http://www.bakerross.co.uk/mini-animal-bean-pals?&mkwid=stOOFtJyq_dc&pcrid=84706718057&kword=&match=&plid=&utm_source=google&utm_term=&utm_campaign=BR+%7C+UK+%7C+Shopping&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=stOOFtJyq|pcrid|84706718057|pkw||pmt||pdv|c|&gclid=CNf-1d-WqNACFWYq0wodfQIN7A (Last Accessed: 14th November)
Party pieces (no date) ‘Multi Coloured Party Flag Bunting’ Available at: http://www.partypieces.co.uk/rainbow-flag-party-bunting-1.html?gclid=CKaG5oyfqNACFXAz0wodLdYOrw (Last Accessed: 14th November 2016)
eBay (no date) ‘Girls Grease Fancy Dress’ Available at: http://www.ebay.co.uk/bhp/girls-grease-fancy-dress (Last Accessed 1st December 2016)