At some point in the future, I aim to write, finance, direct, and produce a low budget feature film; but at this moment in time, I'm lacking the skills, knowledge and experience required to take me forward - therefore, I believe undertaking this course will take me one step closer to achieving my goal.
So, why film?
Firstly, I'm neither doing this for fame nor fortune (couldn't think of anything worse), nor am I looking for work within the industry; I'm doing this because I believe happiness and contentment are directly tied to goal setting and the pursuit of one’s passion. Creative goals can give rise to the sense of fulfilment that’s as valid as any pay check, if not more.
“The only thing that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” - Albert Einstein
From a young age, I’ve always had a passion for story and film, and found fulfilment within creative endeavours. Furthermore, after recently completing GCSE English, I fell in love with writing, words, language and the painting of the voice. For me, the literature on the page is just as important as the motion picture itself; it should stand alone in its own right; it should sing, dance, and read like the rhythm of a great symphony,
But Unlike writing - which relies heavily on the reader's imagination - film gives life to the author's vision. Film combines elements of literature, motion picture, music, editing, collaboration, performing arts, lighting, and audio (to name a few), which can spawn a powerful narrative, inducing a wide variety of emotions within an audience; emotions that can be etched into the human soul forever. Film can inspire, film can educate, film can liberate, film can change the world. Film is the ultimate art form.
I understand that the task I’m undertaking is immense, challenging and quite frankly, insane; it will take many years of hard work and dedication to acquire the required proficiency to create anything even remotely worth watching, but ultimately, It’s all about the journey, not the destination. It’s about learning new skills, expressing myself, providing a release valve for pent-up creativity. and most importantly, having fun!
Apart from GCSE English, I do not currently possess any other formal qualifications to meet the entry requirements, but I do have a modest understanding of basic concepts. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been self-educating through the reading of educational books, reading screenplays, listening to movie audio commentaries, shooting footage on my mobile phone, experimenting with editing software, dabbling with website creation, and writing short non-fiction and fiction.
Due to the lack of qualifications and to further support my application, I’ve put a little extra depth into the course pre-assignment below.
HNC Media Admissions Task
An electrician and his newly assigned apprentice are presented with the task of rewiring a castle in the Highlands of Scotland, but all is not what it seems.
£10 million. (£9 million of which will be allocated to the attaining of music rights).
The story starts on a warm summer’s morning in an unspecified town in the North of England. John - a 40 odd-year-old, battle-hardened electrician - is on his way to pick the company’s new starter: an apprentice named James. John is money-oriented; has no children; lives with his 24-year-old materialistic girlfriend (who likes to spend his money like it's going outta fashion). and although he earns a hefty packet, he’s indebted up to his eyeballs.
James, on the other hand, is a naive yet cocksure, 18-year-old lad, fresh out of college. James’ father left when he was a nipper, and his mother sadly passed away shortly after. James has spent the last 12 years living on the breadline with his grandad, Frank.
After taking a detour to the local coffee shop, John finally arrives at James’ house. James jumps into the van with a bravado attitude and a butty box full of ramshackle tools that look more suited to a museum than having any practical use on a construction site. The pair then head off to the morning's first job - a job at the luxury home of the retired and stern, Mrs Johnson.
The pair commence work, but things quickly turn sour. James has deceived John by overstating his hand; instead of completing the task at hand, James has completely FUBAR’ed the situation. Not only has James turned the bedroom into a Jackson Pollock, polyfiller nightmare and accidentally poisoned Mrs Johnson’s do - he’s also crashed through the ceiling, dousing the fogey in god knows what. The pair are quickly evicted from the property and head back to head office - where John plans to hand-in his notice.
When they arrive at the office, they are greeted by Leo, the 30 odd-year-old company owner. Leo occasionally works on the tools, still thinks he’s one of the lads, and believes he’s the greatest spark to ever grace the Earth, but in reality, his workmanship is subpar and none of his employees can stick him. Leo is only interested in two things - profit and profit.
After being given a dressing down by the gaffer, and persuaded to stay on at the firm, John is presented with his next job. Leo pulls out a scroll and an accompanying gold coin that he received in the post that very morning. The scroll is a letter from a pseudonymous client who requests the services of Blu Phase Electrical Contractors. The Job in question is to undertake a rewire of a medieval castle in the Scottish Highlands. The client is willing to pay Leo 15 million pounds sterling for his services, but there’s a catch. The electrical team cannot leave the estate grounds until the project is complete and any contact with the outside world is forbidden. The team must arrive on the summer solstice, commence work on the following full moon, and bring along the gold coin to gain entry to the castle grounds.
Naturally, John thinks it’s a wind-up, but Leo goes on to explain that he had the gold coin valued, and its value is estimated to be in the region of £50,000. Leo could’ve sold that gold coin to a gold coin merchant and been £50k better off, but if he was a gambling man, he’d be willing to bet that a person who’d send a 50k gold coin to a complete stranger would most definitely be willing to pay £15 mil for an electrical installation. Initially, John refuses, but he’s quickly persuaded by the colour of money. Leo offers John £3mil and James £1mil. The pair accept the offer.
Now, due to the extended period of time in which the pair are scheduled to be away (ETC 3 years), Leo can’t have them taking a brand-spanking-new van. So, Leo throws John a set of keys to the Silver Bullet. John and James head out-back and enter the garage. And like a classic episode of Stars in Their Eyes, out pops a clapped out, rusty, 1999 Ford Escort van from a plume of exhaust fumes.
The Silver Bullet, albeit in more pristine condition.
Stars in Their Eyes
When James arrives home later that evening, he reluctantly tells his grandad, Frank, about his next endeavour. Frank is tall, burly, and has hands that could shovel sand. He is fit as a butcher's dog and looks like the kind of guy you wouldn’t mess with when he was in his prime and would probably still think twice about it now he’s in his late 60s.
Frank explains to James that being paid £1million quid for three years' work is a once in a lifetime opportunity - hell, if he’s financially savvy, James could possibly retire at the age of 21. Frank also makes James aware that three years is a long time - if the worst-case scenario should happen, James will not be able to attend his grandad's funeral. James, undeterred and encouraged by his grandad’s wise words, packs his bags in preparation for the adventure that lies in wait.
The very next morning, a wide-eyed and bushy-tailed John arrives at James’ house and the pair set sail for the Scottish border. Cue driving montage to the track, “Electric Avenue” by Eddie Grant. As the journey ensues, John and James argue and bicker about irrelevant topics – the pair do not get along whatsoever.
On arrival, John tells the wet-behind-the-ears employee that he’ll need a passport to present to the Scottish border patrol unit (which James does not currently have in his possession). John continues to explain that foreign police ain’t all sunshine and rainbows like English police, and if he’s caught smuggling an illegal into the country, the pair are gonna end-up doing hard time in Scottish gulag; sharing soap and a tartan painted shower room with a bunch of built-like-brick-shithouse Jocks. John persuades James to take refuge in a large toolbox in the back of the van until they safely cross the Scottish border.
While confined to a box, James calls his grandad to see how he’s getting along, and as a consequence, the practical joke is revealed. James decides to turn the tables on John, and when John finally stops the van and opens the toolbox, James plays dead. A frantic John pulls James’ limp, lifeless body from the box and is about to administer CPR, but within an instant, James comes alive, scaring the living daylights out of John. The pair share a laugh and continue to their final destination. The two are finally bonding and share a singalong scene to the track “Word Up” by The BossHoss.
Aerial shots of the Silver Bullet chugging through the
Scottish Highlands at dusk.
I know that this pre-course assignment is only supposed to be a maximum of 700 words, so now that I’ve set the scene, and for the sake of your time and sanity, I’m going to condense the rest of the story into a couple of paragraphs.
When John and James arrive at the castle, they are joined by a posse of other tradesmen which include plumbers, tilers and two female carpenters – one of which, Kate, is a keen amateur boxer. The group stand in awe as they’re taken aback by a blinding, neon sign that’s retrofitted to the barbican. The sign reads “Welcome to Castle Pandemonia”.
Possible locations for the exterior castle scenes.
Bodiam Castle, East Sussex.
Caerphilly castle, Wales.
The drawbridge is lowered and out walks Princess Lucia - a mysterious, beguiling, seductive, woman. Lucia is gowned in bleak, heavy, steely attire that mirrors the weathered, impaling portcullis.
Possible costume design for Princess Lucia.
Princess Lucia collects the gold coins and welcomes the workforce into the castle grounds, but to their surprise, the castle isn’t dormant and undisturbed as one would expect - It’s a buzz with activity as a nonchalant, gothic, black-tie party (filled with bizarre, eccentric, and utterly outrageous guests) takes place in the great hall. A freaky handmaiden hands each of the group a flute of red wine, whilst a pianist plays “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nazareno Aversa, on a grand piano.
The aesthetical look of the pianist on the grand piano.
The contracted workforce standout like a protruding toe from a hole in an odd sock, but nevertheless, they join the festivities of the evening.
Possible locations for the interior castle scenes.
The interior castle scenes could be shot at various
stately homes, or a set could be constructed.
The following night, the pendulous full moon aligns with the parapet, and the group commence work. The next couple of days then consist of hard graft, the usual tradie banter, and evenings gorging on the most sumptuous of banquets, but the honeymoon doesn’t last long. Soon after, members of the group start disappearing one-by-one, and on exploration of the castle, it is discovered that Princess Lucia is a direct descendent of the great Count Dracula - the group have been lured there for one purpose, and one purpose only - to be served as the main course on the summer’s menu.
The aesthetic of the sumptuous banquets.
As the bond between John and James grows, it starts to take the form of a father/son relationship. John feels a responsibility for James and becomes his unofficial protector – not just from the dangers of Pandemonia, but also from the psychotic plumber, O’Halloran. O’ Halloran is an odious, callous, misogynistic, beer-swigging bully. He consistently berates James and treats the two female carpenters as inferiors. O’ Halloran believes that there’s no place in construction for women - in his eyes, women should be fettered between the cooker and kitchen sink; to be subservient, marigold-wearing housewives to their husbands.
In contrast, Jacob - O’ Halloran’s first-born and meek apprentice - is a cordial, polite, and respectful young lad. Jacob is the heir to the O’Halloran & Sons family business; a business the youngster has no interest in. He would much rather be following his computer coding passion but was forced to abandon his dream at the hands of his overbearing father.
Meanwhile - back at home - Frank has been doing a little digging and discovered the murky legend of Castle Pandemonia and its occupants. He jumps in his pick-up truck and sets his sights for Scotland.
Back at the castle, the group (armed only with their work tools) must fight for survival against a horde of bloodthirsty fiends, whilst also trying to uncover Pandemonia’s secrets in an effort to make their escape. This part of the film will consist of practical effects, blood, gore and OTT set-pieces. Unfortunately, John is one of the first members of the group to meet a grizzly demise. A heartfelt scene between John and James tugs on the heartstrings and increases the audience’s angst as a broken James comes to terms with the loss of his protector - making him evermore vulnerable.
Cue music: Hotel California (instrumental) by Scott D. Davis. As the film heads for its conclusion, all the contractors and all the blood-biters are now deceased - bar James and Lucia. James has managed to escape just beyond the pale but is presented with one last confrontation with the princess. Lucia overpowers James and chomps down on his neck, leaving him dying on the ground. She then walks over to the Silver Bullet, jumps in, starts the engine, throws on John’s shades, and drives away (close-up) with blood oozing from her laughing pallet (imagine a Near Dark’s Bill Paxton, driving the Mustang at the end of Interview with the Vampire). An Ariel shot then presents a long dirt path with surrounding woodland which leads to a T-junction. In the distance, the silver bullet is seen turning out to the right, and momentarily later, Frank’s truck is seen turning in from the left.
A Near Dark’s Bill Paxton.
Tom Cruise at the conclusion of Interview with the Vampire.
The final shot is one of a grief-stricken Frank finding James on the ground. A semi-conscious James bleeds-out in his grandfather's arms.
A similar scene in Reservoir Dogs (1992)
The scene fades out. Cue music: Numb by Vesislava. Roll credits to a compilation of black and white still images from the film.
The film’s conclusion is left open-ended, which leaves the audience pondering the following questions: Did James die, or did he transform into the undead? Did Frank become a vigilante Van Helsing in a bid to seek revenge on his grandson’s killer? And finally, the most important question - did Mrs Johnson’s dog survive?