Wednesday @ ECIAD – Reading the Screen class

September 11, 2008

Notes from my morning film screening – we watched the following films:

Chicken Run – Directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park of Wallace and Gromit fame – here is the trailer:

– – – – – – – – – –

Film, Film, Film – Directed by Fyodor Khitruk

Film, Film, Film – Part 1

– – – – – – – – – –

Film, Film, Film – Part 2

– – – – – – – – – –

Questions to be answered:

“Chicken Run”
1. Chicken Run was inspired by two famous escape movies. As you watch the film, pick
out conventions (rituals) or icons (visual images) that tell the audience this is an escape movie.

Answer: Prison camp setting / guard dogs / watch towers / fences / shovel = a spoon / music soundtrack = just like, “The Great Escape” / Mrs. Tweedy = like a Camp commander / military drumming symphonic score / head chicken Ginger put into solitary confinement / mini-railway inside escape tunnel / egg beater used to tunnel through ground / chickens dressed up in a human costume with stilts / Ginger sees the geese flying away, yet she and the other chickens cannot fly / Mr. Tweedy says, “They’re organized…she’s their leader!” / disguised a teapot as a chicken / Rocky Rhodes (aka Mel Gibson) is the Lone Free Ranger / yells out, “FREEEEEEEEDOM!!!” like in Braveheart / secret walls and hideouts in the camp cabins / “It’s Raining Hen!!!” / camp goes from being a prison camp (egg production) to a concentration or death camp (Mrs. Tweedy’s Home Baked Pies) / chicken knits a noose out of wool / Rocky uses a clothes hanger to slide down the telephone wire to rescue Ginger / Tarzan rope spoof inside the pie machine / Fowler hides buts and bolts inside his pants, just like the prisoners hiding dirt in, “The Great Escape” / “WE’LL DIE FREE CHICKENS OR DIE TRYING!!!”

– – – – – – – – – –

2. This film is essentially a co-production between a small successful British animation
studio, Aardman, and a large successful American (Hollywood) studio, Dreamworks. In what
way was America (Hollywood) represented in the story?

Answer: America is pretty much ridiculed throughout the film due to the main male leading character, Rocky Rhodes, voiced by Mel Gibson (aka The Lone Free Ranger). The entire plot development of having an American living, cavorting and pretty much stealing the show in front of English women (all of the chickens) was a commentary on how much British became jealous of the “Yanks” coming in unannounced, acting boorishly and hitting on their women. The elderly British rooster character, named Fowler, is very harsh with Rocky when he first appears and his role of authority within the chicken farm is threatened due to this young, good looking and charming American rooster. In essence, the British didn’t want the Yanks to come to their home and tell them what was, “What, What.”

“I’m not even certain he was even an American!” – Fowler

– – – – – – – – – –

“Film, Film, Film”
3. In your text pp 8&9, Bordwell and Thompson talk about patterns that filmmakers use to
emphasize story points. What patterns does the Russian animator, Khitruk, use to
illustrate his view of the industry of making movies?

Answer:
– Screenwriter – neurotic and struggling to find inspiration, which hits him every so often, yet interspersed with more struggle and head banging

– Director – waits for script to be finished by the screenwriter / once completed, he kisses him

– Scipt Re-Write – long, long, long process / many, many stages to get approval and have everyone sign off / too short / too long / RED FACED DIRECTOR + Screaming + Valium / tries to throw script away / gets to the final door, the studio president, who green lights the project / passes out / APPROVED!!!

– Film Studio – a lot of running around from set to set, office to office, having everyone on board / Production Designer, Cinematographer, Composer, Sound Engineer, Set Decoration…

– Location – they finally arrive on location, set up the stages, get the lion out…WTF, we need a bull not a lion!!! / hurry up and wait essentially as everyone has to wait for the animal wrangler to take the lion to the city and then drive back with the bull!

– ACTION! – hose = rain, but they ran out of water / now they have to wait for more water to come / all the extras go to sleep / ACTION! / thunderstorm / everyone including the bull gets an umbrella

– Child Actor – Director gives step by step instructions to the young girl how to perform for the scene and she nods her head / ACTION! / she does nothing / several iterations and everyone gets angry as the girl still doesn’t act / Overtime Bill + Schedule + Over Budget / as all of this is going on, the young girl finally grabs the flowers and everyone scrambles back to get the shot

– Funeral Scene – everyone is performing according to script and direction…all of a sudden the phone rings / TOO DEPRESSING / funeral then becomes a party scene!

– Editing – Director slowly becomes buried by the sheer amount of footage that was shot…

– PREMIERE – Director, Screenwriter and crew wait with baited breath for the audience’s reaction…nerves start to fray / Screenwriter tries to jump out of the window!

STANDING OVATION = WHEW!!!