Lab Contact: Helen Keegan
Team: Katherine Wimpenny
Looking for Charlie; Or, Why Do Clowns Kill Themselves
“A Documentary about Life, Art, Show Business, and Dying Alone”
When we think about the most important comedians of the early twentieth century a list of familiar names come to mind – Laurel & Hardy, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and, of course, master of them all, Charlie Chaplin. Their images are ingrained in our collective memory, as sharply defined and realised as if they were stood in the room with us. But those names are so familiar now because, as masters of cinema, we can recall them any time we want.
We need only watch a DVD or visit youtube to remind ourselves of their genius. Lost, however, is the comedic generation which blazed the trail which Chaplin, Lloyd, and Keaton followed. Marceline Orbes and Francis ‘Slivers’ Oakley were legends in their own life time, comedic artistes whose work on the New York stage drew applause and adulation from hundreds of thousands of screaming (and laughing) children and adults.
Students receiving direction in Central Park as they prepare to recreate Slivers’ long-lost routine
This project involved extensive use of DSLR cameras, multiple lenses, stabilisation devices, sound recorders, and various other technical devices which our students had to learn to use to a high standard. The team deployed DSLR cameras in order to give our footage a look that approximated that of celluloid. In order to take advantage of this technology, students (who typically had only limited prior experience with this type of equipment) had to learn not only how to use the equipment, but also why the equipment was being used in the way it was – aperture size, frame rates, the different between shallow and deep focus; these were the new skills for history students more familiar with research and analysis. In the post-production phase, students will be introduced to industry level software and introduced to the process of colour correcting footage in addition to editing techniques. This use of technology brings a new dimension to humanities courses which typically focus upon traditional methodologies and techniques. Not only did our crew learn how to use equipment rarely employed in most history degrees, they gained work experience by taking part in this project.
• Canon D5 and Nikon D3100 cameras
• A range of lenses and filters
• Directional and lavaliere microphones, audio recorders
• Tablets with shot and set design software
• Industry level post-production software, including After Effects for colour correction
• Light reflectors and external lighting sources for scene composition
Phase 1: Pre-production: writing, preparation for filming, etc.
Phase 2: Production: Principle photography, initial editing and colourisation tests
Phase 3: Post-Production: Editing together of footage, recording voice overs
Alongside and ahead of the film’s release, a series of youtube videos, interviews, behind-the-scenes production diaries, etc, will be released. For more information please visit http://www.darrenreidhistory.co.uk for on-going updates.