Blackout Scene ft. Radio/TV Broadcasts – Brainstorm


Because filming is coming so close and we are almost, almost there with the storyline, I’ve been throwing all the ideas out there about what can be heard when one of the characters blacks out. In theory, this will also flash up our names so that we can minimise the credits at the end of the film, giving us plenty more time to tell the story. I say plenty, it will be something like 30 seconds, but worth it.

These are not in order, but essentially I’ve been patching some kind of dialogue together that I think could be useful in the scene. I was going to say just close your eyes and imagine a radio presenter reading the lines but then you wouldn’t be able to read them…it’s been a long week.

  • Symptoms of the epidemic will be listed so that citizens know what to look out for. “If you do not see your doctor it is highly likely that you will die. This epidemic is fatal.”

“You will be notified of which compound you are to move to. The compounds are to keep you safe and alive.”

*White noise*

Chat show host – “So we’re all upping and packing and buggering off to the coast. Sounds like a lovely holiday, don’t it?” LAUGHTER. “It is now estimated that over 8,000 people have died from the epidemic (name it). It is advised that you wait in your homes until further instruction. Compounds are being built for your safety. Keep safe and keep alive.”

Prime Minister Speech – “The Prime Minister spoke today on the evacuation of the remaining inhabitants.” – “We as your government, are going to keep you safe. I have made it my missions, my promise to keep every single person alive. We will pull through this, as a nation we are proud and virtuous. Winston Churchill talked about how strong we are; ‘We [the British] have not journeyed across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.’ We will win this war.”

“If you see anyone with these symptoms, do not approach them, advise the authorities and/or medical professionals.”

“If you choose to stay where you are, we will not help you and you will die.”

“The Government has decided to cease the medical aid of people already infected and are exhausting all of the medical supplies on people who are living in the compounds.”

PM – “We are sorry that we cannot help those suffering any more and must maintain the health of those still alive in the compounds.”

“It is in your interest to follow officers’ and doctors’ advice.”

Jonathan Cooper of Project Venture Industries has developed a deterrent for the epidemic, claiming that it will save the lives of everybody. Devices will be distributed across each compound, effectively preventing the ____ to spread.”

Chat show host – “First bird flu, then swine flu now this, what they calling it? Dog flu?”


These are all of course suggestions and the wording is obviously subject to change, but hopefully you can get a sense of the general idea I’m heading towards. Let’s also bear in mind I probably have no more than 30 seconds to create this. Yippee.

Test Shoot #2 & #3


Test Shoot 2

Friday saw the second of our test shoots on an alleyway behind a row of houses, just outside the centre of York and five minutes from our university. On this street we tested the very first scene of the film which will establish the nature of this world which we have created and will involve some lovely sound effects! Joy! There is to be no talking, just background noise really, such as footsteps on mossy brick and murmurs amongst people that the main characters walk passed. It was a pretty successful test shoot and we achieved a lot in terms of realising what shots we will need. As for sound, it’s not all that ambitious but I’m intending for it to be atmospheric, if not eerie.

Test Shoot 3

And today we went back to the beach to try out some shots with the equipment. Well. It rained and it was windy and freezing cold and the rain hit your face like a bunch of needles. Unpleasant is not the word. Immediately this rings alarm bells for sound because the wind is the least ideal thing for filming. It’s loud, noisy, and clogs up the microphone with unnecessary noise. Also, there’s the sea, surprisingly which also makes a lovely sound. From the top of the cliff it’s not great, it sounds exactly like wind so my intention is to venture down the cliff to the waves and record them from down there because they sound amazing, especially if they’re strong. This is one of the upsides to it being horrible weather, but other than that it’s unpleasant.

Essentially, my main plan for shooting after we go to Poland (more on that later) is to wear my bright red raincoat and purple wellies. Oh and to record some ace sound, obviously.

Masterclasses of Sound (Incl. Aesthetica Film Festival)



Today I have been to two masterclasses on sound, courtesy of the university and the Aesthetica Film Festival in York ( ) given by two sound practitioners – firstly a man called Jerry who is a friend of my tutor’s who works on video games and secondly Joakim Sundström who was the main sound editor for films such as Filth and Seven Psychopaths. The second one was an official masterclass part of York’s very own film festival and had I not been part of the university, I would have had to pay £8.

My first session was something set up by my tutor specifically for the sound people on the course and it was in fact really interesting. Jerry talked a lot about sound effects, I assume because at the beginning he asked for topic suggestions and that was mine. He gave us advice on sound editing on particular and how to subtly add effects. The biggest message I took away from this session was that you’re goal as a sound designer is to be invisible; you’ve done a good job so long as nobody notices the sound because it’s supposed to be seamless and believable. Sound is the first thing that will take an audience straight out of a story. For example, blurred and out of focus shots are not great, nor are they ideal, but it doesn’t destroy the believability for the audience. Fuzzy or muffled sound, however, is instantly noticeable and will ruin everything for the viewer. He then came with us to the Aesthetica masterclass at York Theatre Royal.

It was late starting and when we finally got in – all six of us from YSJ amongst a crowd of paying peoples – we sat down and listened to him being interviewed by his friend on the stage. It was definitely interesting and all that, it was just a tad…dry. I mean, it’s great to listen to an actual industry professional, someone who’s BAFTA winning and is earning money by doing something that he loves. I was really interesting how he showed us the different layers of audio on a film; he loaded up his editing software and separated the dialogue from the FX from the music and it was pretty cool. However when he showed us the clip with all the sounds together, it felt disjointed because I’d already seen it with the sounds split up. And I think something was wrong with the sound levels. Ironic.

It has been a really interesting day and I have learnt a lot, more techniques on how to use sound to your advantage than the technical side of it with the rules. I am just so tired…but after a nice carvery I’m sitting with lovely peoples watching Juno. Not quite academic research, but sure :)

Let There Be Music!


Here we have an example of the type of music that would suit the film down to a tee. It’s similar to The Hunger Games music in a sense, if you caught the video. I think soft is what we’re going for, without too much ‘noise’ as it were. Ideally, I want it to be raw and natural, if that’s the right word for it; something that doesn’t sound too processed or heavily produced and dubbed over/edited. As I may have mentioned before, I’m getting my sister onto this, she’s particularly good at coming up with some kind of creepy, discomforting music by just using her voice. Not that I’m plugging her or anything, but she’s ace.

This piece of music is ideal as it’s relatively quiet, eerie and keeps you listening because it hooks you in a sense. It’s as though you’re listening to find out what happens next. All I’ll need to do is get my hands on a synth…

Test Shoot Results


Our test shoot today proved to be very successful. The place that we’re going to use is ideal for the story and is a super duper ready made film set in itself. It’s got great, sweeping views, ponds, wildlife and a big massive industrial gate that is perfect for one particular scene.

Test shoots are in fact really valuable to the production process because you can’t get a clear image of the location just from a few photographs. You have to go and see the space, see what you’re working with and in my case it’s good for me to see what sounds there are that might affect or enhance the film.


I stood and I listened, knowing that there was a main road on my right and a motorway and a train track on my left. Now these could be a problem. And they are in a sense, when the wind is blowing in just the right, inconvenient direction, or when there happens to be a train passing by. But when there are no cars, which there aren’t many in the first place, and when there are no trains, all you can hear is the song of birds, the gentle rustling of the trees and the slow breathing of the whole place. It’s lovely, it really is. And these sounds are perfect for the film. The idea is that the main characters don’t have much to say in this location, but are battling with emotions of bewilderment and fear. These natural sounds that you would associate with happiness and a nice day out with the family are a great, yet an eerie contradiction to the characters’ emotions.

The biggest problem that I’m going to face, I think, will be the wind. Because the area is so open, winds can travel across it hard and fast and this is never a good thing for the sound op. Dialogue is distorted and that horrible muffled rawr is all anybody can hear. Sound really makes or breaks a film, which is never a fun rule if it’s windy.

Learning Curve

I think from this test shoot, especially as it’s the first one, we have learnt how we’re all going to act on set and what shooting is going to be like. I’ve decided what mic’s I’m going to need and we’ve found how we’re going to work in the space. It’s been an experience and definitely worthwhile. Looking forward to the next one. Pictures may (or may not) follow.


Test Shoot #1


Today we’re setting off to my very own home village back in Allerton Bywater. We’re going to a nature reserve type place because it used to be an open cast and there’s still bits of industry floating about that will look pretty good for the aesthetics of the film. My job in this is to wander off a few metres by myself and listen in to what the place has to offer. I mean, I already know what to expect, I practically lived there over summer, and I can tell you now there will be an awful lot of bird noise pollution. Wonderful. But no, it should be a good day. Got lots of listening to do anyway.

SoundFX Ideas





- TV/Radio broadcasts from when the epidemic broke out

- Couple of screams?

- Something about creating the compounds

- Dogs barking

- Whistles – military commands 

- Goes to silence then a noise like a little bang or a twig snapping

- Birdsong/natural sounds



- Gunshot

- Coastal noises

- Dogs

- Quiet town noises, murmuring