Understanding basic structure of short films
THIS is apropos of the news ‘Syed Noor not happy with NCA teaching’ (Feb 27).
I am a graduate of the Film and Television Department 2009, NCA. My final thesis was a 20-minute film which was an adaptation of an American short story called ‘Gift of the Magi’ by O. Henry (a pen-name for William Sydney Porter).
However, my intention was to develop this story in a new manner. I changed its story, transforming it according to our society.
Also, the treatment of the film was changed as I utilised hand-held camera technique, jump cuts, and people looking into the camera so that the story seemed realistic. This style was inspired by a British and American television co-production called ‘The Office’.
In the final assessment of my thesis, Syed Noor was also invited to watch the film as a member of the jury. He was also responsible for passing or failing students.
Before the film started, I talked about my film clearly stating that it was a fictional film but its treatment was non-fictional, i.e. the story is fiction but the way it is shot makes it seem realistic.
I and other jury members were surprised at the end of the film when Syed Noor said that I was trying to make them look like fools. He said that I had made a documentary and I was trying to tell them that I had made an escapist film.
He said: “Why was the camera so shaky, why were there jump-cuts and why were people looking into the camera?”
Other jury members included Mashal Peerzada, Samina Ahmed, Asghar Nadeem Syed and Azhar Sheikh. They appreciated my style and made a positive criticism.
A few jury members tried to explain to Mr Noor the style I had applied, but he insisted on giving me negative marks.
Mr Noor, who is working on a parallel film, perhaps failed to understand the basic structure of a short film. I would like to say that theory is as important as practical. We, the students at NCA’s Film and TV Department, have learned theory and did practical work.
Finally, according to Mr Noor, a few people from TV with video cameras cannot make a film.
I would like to draw his attention to the fact that the grammar and language for a shot, for both film and television, is the same. The difference is only in the execution on 35mm.
This difference has got nothing to do with a director, idea, script, and treatment. This is not only theory but also my experience on video and film.