In my short film, The Tell-Tales Ghost, my vision was to portray fear with the paranormal. Paranormal activity interests me and this short film allowed me to capture my vision. In this three minute and 25 second video, I captured an evil ghost haunting a man who was in extreme fear over the ghostly encounter. This ghost was not a friendly ghost but an evil spirit. In the short film, I utilized special effects, an actor, scene setting, background noise and editing, to name a few. This essay will comment and evaluate on each scene.
The film starts off with a shot of the cemetery using special effect. This effect gives a strange optic and enhances the eerie feeling the cemetery gives off. The cemetery introduction and title announces to the viewer that this is a ghost tale. The sound of the birds and nature in the background enhances the natural setting and makes it realistic. I believe this scene set the mood for a scary short film.
After the eerie cemetery introduction, I go off into the mise-en-scene, where the actor is sleeping in a bedroom setting. The room is dark with no sunlight and the actor is spotlighted, on the bed, by special lighting to bring him into focus. As he is in his state of sleep, I added a scary sound effect of a laughing ghost that would cause anyone to jump out of their bed. You can notice a moving shadow by the sleeping man; the cinema photographer needs to work on placement for future reference. The actor does jump out of his bed and acts concerned with fear. He was directed to express fear. This scene was set to climax with the stop motion clips of the ghost creating a mess and moving objects disastrously. This occurred to send the message that this was not a nice ghost and that he wanted to inflict fear and even death to this man. After this happens, the man runs in utter fear.
As he runs out, it was my goal to portray that he was so scared that he fell down while trying to get out of the door. For example, when actors are in intense fear and they can’t gather the keys to start the engine. The act of fear is disorientating and makes every day movements hard to achieve. As the actor is going down the stairs of the dormitory, you will notice he is tired and out of breath and trying to gather himself, and then he is scared again by the ghostly sound effect. As he runs out the door of the historical dormitory, he finds himself outside in a lush ally way, over grown by vines. The architecture of the building gives the scene and old world setting, which is very historical. The older structure has more history, and the more history, the more chance of a haunting.
The actor is time lapsed running from the ally into the cemetery. A cemetery cross is captured to give that cemetery feel to the scene. Again, the actor is tired after running so long and fast, but the ghost does not give way. The actor is being followed by the ghost and the ghost appears through sound effect/voice. I wanted the ghost voice over to say something extremely scary to exemplify the horror of such a paranormal activity. There is room for improvement in this scene with acting and voice over type usage.
Now the actor is horrified and begins to run into the city. The camera focus goes into hiatus and nothing is recorded except the street. The intention of this is to show how much fear has over powered the scene. The concrete street is bouncing through the lens in a discombobulating manner. All is unorganized and nothing is calm. This is a scene that enveloped with fear. Nothing really good comes from fear so this scene is a quick foreshadow of what is to come. Then the sound of traffic comes into the scene with a loud car horn and then a crash. The car horn is long and pretty scary sounding. The ending gives the viewer room to use their imagination. The actor is not seen after this. This scene was satisfactory; however, I would add in a longer car horn sound. The longer the car horn sound, the scarier the incident.
The short film is ended by focus into a bush. The intentions of focusing on the bush, is the give the viewer time to think. It’s a thinking abyss as to what happened to this man running for his life and then hearing a crash in the street. This time when the camera is focused on the bush, also gives the viewer time to reflect. How does the viewer feel about this short film? Do they feel scared, rushed or sad? I think giving the viewer time to reflect creates a memoir of what they just watched.
The intention of The Tell-Tales Ghost was to promote fear and death from a ghost encounter. This is in the horror genre. Horror film is not meant for everyone but the horror genre seems to do very well for itself. There are miraculous movies that portray ghost encounters, i.e. Poltergeist, the Haunting and What Lies Beneath, just to name of few.
After evaluating this short film, I do think that there is plenty of room for improvement. The areas that need improvement are: acting, voice over usage and scene transitioning. Every scene could be enhanced in some form or fashion. There is a lot to learn about film studies, including but not limited to; sound effects, scene shots and acting. What we see in the movie theaters takes a lot to happen and a lot of people and equipment to make that happen. Through practice and learning, I believe that my films will get better each time.
The Tell-Tales Ghost. 2015. [Film] Directed by Elvis O E. Cambridge: Cambridge University Short Film Project 2015.