Archived Production Page
Bird Song is a Short Film I am making for my Third Year Major Creative Project at the University of Canberra. It represents the end of my training at UC, before I graduate in 2013 with a Bachelor of Media Arts and Production, and utilises all the skills and expertise I have acquired during this time.
This is a Futuristic Psychological Drama set in a Police Interrogation Room, where Abie Baker, a prostitute from the wrong side of the tracks, waits to be interviewed for her vicious assault on a state politician. A slick, well-groomed woman, Detective Sargent Astrid Mason enters and begins questioning Abie, but her line of enquiry shifts to Abie herself, who may not be who she claims to be.
It is revealed that Abie's real name is Emma. Astrid's boss, Deputy Commissioner Trevor Reid, assaulted Emma and her absent sister Elenore, in an orphanage as children. The orphanage burned down but the two girls survived, to hatch a lengthy and elaborate scheme for revenge. This revelation prompts a system error in the Interrogation Room, and the possibility that Trevor himself has been listening to the conversation.
Emma reveals Astrid is nothing more than a false identity, one that she implanted in her sister Elenore. Astrid would rise up through the ranks of the Police force, getting close enough to Trevor so Elenore could kill him. Astrid would not know she was part of the plot, ensuring the sister's scheme would never risk being uncovered. Emma draws out Elenore, and the two sisters are reunited. Elenore no longer wants to continue with the plan, but Emma convinces her to go on. Believing their scheme to be revealed through the system error, they decide to go out in a blaze of glory, to storm the Police facility and murder Trevor. The film ends with the sisters leaving the room to an uncertain future.
You can download a Powerpoint Presentation of the intended Visual Style for the film HERE.
I am currently looking for two very talented Actresses for the meaty roles of Abie/Emma (Age 29) and Astrid/Elenore (Age 25)
Those with the following qualities preferred:
- Screen Presence
- Easy access to emotions
- Confidence with multiple layers of intent and line delivery - this is a very dialogue and exposition heavy script so I cannot stress that enough
- Time for rehearsal
- Formal Actor Training
There will be some leeway with these character's ages (Ideally 4 years either side) depending on look and obvious talent.
You must be available for principal photography (Filming) from Mon Oct 1st - Wed Oct 3rd 8.30am - 5.30pm, at the University of Canberra Media Centre, Building 9.
I would also like to keep Fri Oct 5th, 8.30am - 5.30pm, free for any additional filming where needed
Auditions will be held on Thurs Sep 13th 7pm til late, and Fri Sep 14th 10am - 3pm, at my Residence in Mawson. Details provided by Email
Please confirm which days you will be attending via email
If you cannot make these dates I am more than happy to receive Video Auditions. These will take the form of audition footage uploaded to your Youtube channel with the link sent to my email address.
I'd be looking for a video of yourself (Laptop or iPhone footage would be acceptable - don't get too hung up on the image quality) with another actress/actor speaking off screen. For video auditions please use pages 3 and 8 for Abie/Emma and pages 5 and 10 for Astrid/Elenore from the .pdf script available below.
I will be accepting Video Auditions via Email til Midnight, Fri Sep 14th
All applicants will receive a response and I will have the roles finalised by Mon Sept 17th
Rehearsal times will be negotiated with the two leads.
You can download a copy of the script HERE.
You can access my Email HERE. As well as following the Contact link on this page
There will be additional roles for characters featured in photos during the film
- Vivian Wu - (Age 30 - 50) A cleaner with a side line in forging ID
- Trevor Reid - (Age 30 - 50) The Villain of Bird Song
- Young Abie/Emma - (Age 13) Role for young teen
- Young Astrid/Elenore - (Age 9) Role for young girl
As these will be non-speaking roles a recent photo or Actor's Photo would be sufficient, sent as an attachment to my email.
Just thought I'd show you this great sketch for the planned look of our Interrogation Room set, done by Gerry Satrapa of GerryBuilt. Gerry will also be constructing the set for us.
Now the big one, for those successful actors and actresses involved in the project, production crew and other associated parties, I need help zeroing in on the final script for this thing.
With the script links below, I have been attempting to address the biggest criticisms of the previous scripts, which have focused on the length, the amount of exposition, the lack of flashbacks and other scenes to break up the script, and the clumsiness of one or two devices, i.e. the pen.
So, taking the below script as the basic storyline, the essential meat of our tale, which I'm happy with and consider to be have been reworked and checked enough (With regard to the above criticisms):
We now have two alternative versions to consider.
(Although do tell me if you feel V.6.5 has enough strength to stand on it's own. It's the shortest version thus far)
This is the version I'm leaning towards, as it gives a context for Abie's revelation of the Reality Merchants, where before the revelation comes through dialogue, unrelated and unestablished by anything else in the script.
It also gives a pretty heavy script some more humour and satire, making for a more satisfying meal film wise.
It means finding a Dentist or Doctor's clinic comfortable with letting us film there, disrupting them during business hours, it means finding locations like a board room and sound recording studio.
It means location filming and filming things in bits, which is what I was hoping to avoid with this film. My reason: location filming, especially at someone's business, means filming under time limits, means shooting under duress = crap footage. Whenever you're shooting under the gun I guarantee you wont get every shot you wanted or need. I've been through it myself too many times before.
This version makes for a more visually interesting and mysterious film, playing better to my strengths as a filmmaker. I consider myself quite good at creating surreal and beautiful images.
It also explains the nature of the device in Abie's tooth in more detail: Elenore's Identity is digitally stored inside it, growing older naturally in an artificial reality, waiting to be injected into Astrid's neck. We see that Abie has direct access to this artificial reality, and has been visiting her sister. Abie is also able to visualise memories in this environment.
Abie's revelation of the Reality Merchants, again, comes without context.
I feel the added scenes give away too much, and some audience members will have already worked out the plot before we reach the revelations at the end. As human beings we process images much quicker than we process words, and once Astrid looks at the photo in the dossier, audiences will know something is up having unwittingly seen Emma and Elenore in the previous scene.
It means building a second set, a strain on time and resources. Also necessitates working with a Green Screen for the window that Elenore stares out through, and shooting beach footage separately.
It also means shooting more footage in the Studio, which could split our focus with the Interrogation Scene, ultimately the more important sequence.
Please send your thoughts, which version you prefer, to the usual place at email@example.com
At this point I'm considering shooting a brief flashback of Trevor and young Emma and Elenore in my downstairs storage area, just for safety. So this could be added to V.6.5, V.7 or V.8 to strengthen the revelation. The flashback would borrow all action inside the chalk square in V.8.
Tell me whether or not you feel this flashback is necessary. It would fall during Abie's dialogue "He kept us locked in a cellar…" Etc.
Thanks guys, I realise that's a lot of reading but it will be worth it to hopefully lock down the script by the end of this week.
At long last here is our Storyboard!
Note: It only addresses V.6.5 so far. (With allusions to an earlier draft. The storyboard was drawn in stages:p)
Click on the Thumbnails below, a larger image will open in a new tab or window.
Obviously this is the scene with Trevor Reid and young Emma and Elenore in the cellar, that I will be shooting for safety
Hey Sarah and Katarina, sorry it took me longer than I expected to get this up on the site, but here it is, our final draft for filming:
It's had another major overhaul, (Despite what I said in rehearsal...) a revised idea of what the Artificial Reality Room looks like, snips and alterations to existing dialogue, and based on our rehearsals I've removed and moved parts of the whole chunk of dialogue surrounding Astrid warding off Abie with the Taser. I've also removed any inference that Abie and Astrid have had prior dealings.
Emma, Elenore and Trevor no longer appear in the Artificial Reality sequences because the two girls will be unavailable on our principal shooting dates.
But this is the script you should now memorise, even if we make further alterations during next rehearsal or on the day of shooting.
I look forward to Wednesday's rehearsal:)
Here are some BTS photos taken by our production designer, Gerry Satrapa. These were taken over the course of filming this week.
Here are some early design photos done by our Prop/Cinematographer/Lighting go to guy, Jeffery Truong. These are of the Holographic Projection Unit. Used by Permission.
The photo below is a proposed look for the Holographic Screen to be achieved with After Effects. Included is Jeffery's completed prop with inbuilt LED lights.
This is the altered Storyboard we used for filming. It includes both the flashback and the added scenes in the alternate reality.
Though unfortunately we couldn't use her work in the final film, I thought it was time to highlight the efforts of an exciting new sketch artist!