First Edit of Yoanna’s Story


Developed plan of final film sequence.

Before the plan of my final sequence and filming, an interview was conducted to give me inspiration of how to envision the sequence of my film and how to portray through moving image.


To open the film I intend to depict an ending of a journey, the reason for this is to set the scene to the audience and give an impression of an arrival, and in Yoanna’s case depicitng her arriving in Manchester. This way the audience is given an insight to the setting in association to travel.  I feel the best way to do this is to film a first person perspective of a train journey, the reason for filming from first person perspective will be to give the point of view of what Yoanna has encountered on her journey to the UK.

I plan to introduce a train journey in the next scene to link from the introducing scene but this time give a second person point of view, the audience at this point will gain insight to who the main focus is and give more context to the story. I intend show Yoanna alone on the train to signify the independence it requires to uproot and move away from home to a completely different culture and place. I intend to not show her face during this scene as i feel it will show a more thoughtful perspective of her looking out over the city, i want to show feelings of anticipation on arriving to a new place through this action and scene.

In the second part of the middle section I plan to change the setting and take the audience in to Yoanna’s own home environment to give insight further in to her personal life. At this point in the film I will place the audio where Yoanna discusses her feelings towards first arriving in the UK. I will include aspects of her life back home to bring juxtaposition of two lives Yoanna leads to bring this forward to the audience. I want to also show aspects of Yoanna’s positive and cheerful personality to give a high-spirited atmosphere to this section of the film.

The interview with Yoanna then moves on to how the culture is different in the UK in comparison to Bulgaria. Yoanna gives her own opinion of how she is perceived in Bulgaria compared to in the UK. It could to some extent give an impression to the audience that Bulgaria as a society is quite negative, which myself and Yoanna mutually agreed to try to move away from this as it could be seen as ethically wrong or insensitive/stereotyping but as this film is based around her own personal experience, I felt it was okay to include. During this section I want to show Yoanna in a natural/relaxed atmosphere as she tells during the interview of being able to have more freedom in the UK.

At the end of the film I want to end on a positive note as Yoanna’s main experience of the UK as she mentions in the interview is a positive experience. I want to finish the film with a wider outlook of the city Yoanna now lives in, Manchester. I intend to incorporate timelapse to signify time passing and to highlight how busy city life can be as Yoanna mentions during the last section of the interview that she never feels lonely here and there is always things to do.

Conceptual Levels of Meaning in Photography.

Reference: Educating Artists for the future: Learning at the intersections of Art, Melvin L. Alexenburg.

Roland Barthes was a French Philosopher and Semiotician and below is an extract from his essay ‘Rhetoric of the image’, he talks of connotation in the form of Advertising.

(The Factual meaning)”Here we have a Panzani advertisement: some packets of pasta, a tin, a sachet, some tomatoes, onions, peppers, a mushroom, all emerging from a half-open string bag, in yellows and greens on a red background.” Let us try to ‘skim off’ the different messages it contains. The image immediately yields a first message, whose substance is linguistic; its supports are the caption, which is marginal, and the labels, these being inserted into the natural disposition of the scene, ‘en abyme‘. The code from which this message has been taken is none other than that of the French language; the only knowledge required to decipher it is a knowledge of writing and of French. In fact, this message can itself be further broken down, for the sign Panzani gives not simply the name of the firm but also, by its assonance, a additional signified, that of ‘Italianicity’. The linguistic message is therefore twofold (at least in this particular image): denotational and connotational. Since, however, we have here only a single typical sign, namely that of articulated (written) language, it will be counted as one message.

Putting aside the linguistic message, we are left with the pure image (even if the labels are part of it, anecdotally). This image straightaway provides a series of discontinuous signs. First (the order is unimportant as these signs are not linear), the idea that what we have in the scene represented is a return from the market. A signified which itself implies two euphoric values: that of the freshness of the products and that of the essentially domestic preparation for which they are destined. Its signifier is the half-open bag which lets the provisions spill out over the table, ‘unpacked’. To read this first sign requires only a knowledge which is in some sort implanted as part of the habits of a very widespread culture where ‘shopping around for oneself’ is opposed to the hasty stocking up (preserves, refrigerators) of a more ‘mechanical’ civilization. A second sign is more or less equally evident; its signifier is the bringing together of the tomato, the pepper and the tricoloured hues (yellow, green, red) of the poster; its signified is Italy, or rather Italianicity. This sign stands in a relation of redundancy with the connoted sign of the linguistic message (the Italian assonance of the name Panzani) and the knowledge it draws upon is already more particular; it is a specifically ‘French’ knowledge (an Italian would barely perceive the connotation of the name, no more probably than he would the Italianicity of tomato and pepper), based on a familiarity with certain tourist stereotypes. Continuing to explore the image (which is not to say that it is not entirely clear at the first glance), there is no difficulty in discovering at least two other signs: in the first, the serried collection of different objects transmits the idea of a total culinary service, on the one hand as though Panzani furnished everything necessary for a carefully balanced dish and on the other as though the concentrate in the tin were equivalent to the natural produce surrounding it; in the other sign, the composition of the image, evoking the memory of innumerable alimentary paintings, sends us to an aesthetic signified: the ‘nature morte‘ or, as it is better expressed in other languages, the ‘still life’; the knowledge on which this sign depends is heavily cultural.

(Barthes 1977, 33)
There are three types of meaning in a photograph, which are:

Factual Level

The factual level means listing the facts of the physical in the piece. Such as this extract from Barthes’ essay:”Here we have a Panzani advertisement: some packets of pasta, a tin, a sachet, some tomatoes, onions, peppers, a mushroom, all emerging from a half-open string bag, in yellows and greens on a red background.

Interpretive Level

The interpretive level is deciphered by breaking down what the facts mean. This is a relevant extract again from the Barthes’ essay to give an example: “the only knowledge required to decipher it is a knowledge of writing and of French. In fact, this message can itself be further broken down, for the sign Panzani gives not simply the name of the firm but also, by its assonance, a additional signified, that of ‘Italianicity'”. 

Conceptual Level
The conceptual level is finding what the deeper meaning of the piece is,  it could be determined by finding the answer to what is the essential meaning for the piece.

How has this helped me progress in relation to my own project?

From researching different levels of meaning it has helped me to understand how the audience will interpret my video and how I can improve on aspects such as composition and sequencing to reveal the intent. As my intentional message is to give the audience an insight on the experiences of youth migration, such as challenges faced, feelings and the additional factors that come with uprooting from a home and starting completely fresh, i will aim to show this by taking in to account the timing of the frames alongside the audio to best deliver the message to the audience. Looking into different levels of meaning has taught me that by using different elements it can change the meaning of the piece, factors such as the environment, colours used and objects all play part to this. In order to communicate what I intend to I will take in to consideration different social contexts, that different life experiences will mean that it will vary in respect to who the audience is and what it means to them.

Critique 3:

Critique 3 consisted of showing our finalized ideas either in short video or image stills. It was really interesting to see my colleagues work at this stage too.

My main concern for my work at this point was the quality of the edit. The feedback I received from the rest of my crit group included the jolting on the audio, to make the sequences shorter, to edit the sound balance and to cut the end scene. As the film currently ends on more of a negative note with Yoanna mentioning during the interview the things she misses from home, I am deciding to re edit this to make the ending scene a positive one, as the overtone of the message is positive in this case.
Although I still yet need to improve my editing skills to ensure it runs smoother, in regards to the brief I believe it is a cohesive personal experience and a constructed narrative with a point of view.

Critique 2:

After researching the idea of Everything Being Connected , there are multiple agreements and disagreements as to whether this is a solid fact. Although there are many non scientific and scientific views on this idea, in relation to the brief I feel it is a difficult subject to create a narrative around, to engage the audience successfully as it is a completely subjective idea and that is the reason I have decided to change my idea in which to create a narrative more successfully.

In relation to the idea of everything being connected and creating a story around this, I attempted to create a time lapse of a Lily flower opening. By researching how to create a home studio by blacking out a confined space to create contrast between the subject and the background, using two red lamps and lukewarm water to increase the time of the flower blooming and filming for a number of days to then be able to edit and create the timelapse of the flower. I invested in two lamps, two red fireglow lightbulbs, a bunch of Lilys and borrowed equipment from the University such as a sturdy filming tripod, canon 5dsr, 50mm 1.8 lens, charger for the batterys, however I didn’t take in to consideration the length of time the camera would need to be running for (approx 2/3 days whilst the flowers bloomed) which would mean I would need to use a battery pack extended on to the camera. If I didn’t use a specialised battery pack to keep the camera on, when changing the battery I would need to take in to consideration the continuancy of each shot to ensure the effect was realistic and ran smoothly throughout. Although this idea was not successful at this time, it is an idea I would like to practice with to get right and create in time outside university projects, as personal work.

Critique 2 reflection:

After changing my idea I began to shoot around the subject of the emotions individuals may encounter when moving to a new city or place. I based my inspiration around the question of ‘Does city life make you more or less lonely?’ and an article by The Guardian: which is an interesting article about personal experiences of individuals highlighting how cities are full of people yet loneliness can still be apparent. The short video I put together was based on this experience however I felt it is vague and didn’t have any context in regards to creating a narrative. I showed it to others to get another opinion on it other than myself and asked what feelings and ideas do they get from watching it, replies included:

  • “I felt motivated after watching it due to the hustle and bustle of the city”
  • “You have some nice filming included to show life moving by”
  • “On the whole it needs more context to create the narrative and to tie it all together”

(I apologize for the quality of the film on vimeo.)
I took into consideration this useful feedback around how my video impacts the audience and the message they take from watching it. It was then decided much more context needs to be included as it would be much more effective in a cohesive sequence. The scene opens from a first person point of view on a train journey, to show arriving or departing from a place (symbolize moving cities), it then cuts to a scene of an individual on the train with her back towards the camera, sitting along and thoughtfully looking out towards the city from the train. I then used a linear wipe transition to cut from the girl sitting on the train (second person perspective) and back to first person perspective to give an impression of being in the eyes of the girl making the journey which I edited to appear faster to exaggerate the business of the city. I understand how switching from first to second person point of view could become confusing and disorientating for the viewer after considering how the different scenes are put together to create a narrative. Towards the end of the film we see the girl looking out over the city at night time to signify loneliness and isolation. The film was then converted to black and white to signify the sadness and depression that could be paired with being alone. Personally after receiving the feedback from showing friends and family I realize the narrative is not clear and the film comes across as quite random as the film has been edited to look quite contrasting and dark but the message is positive, mainly due to the choice of music which makes a high contrast. In order to improve this I should pair it with more ambient music and reassess the message I want to portray which involves researching Denotations and Connotations in the book ‘Photography By David Bate published by Bloomsbury’ which will help me to transfer the message in a correct way.

From this critique I have decided I need to add more of a specific context. Below is my rewritten project proposal.

Project Proposal

I am choosing to focus my Areas of Photographic practice project on the personal experience of moving to a new way of life as I believe this is a much more open topic to discuss through means of creating a narrative rather than Everything Is Connected. I want to create this by showing the topic through a narrative structure of film and still images. I aim to create a personal documentary approach to this and investigate the experience on the individual such as the challenges faced, feelings, familiarization, cultural differences and memories of home.

I wish to produce this body of work to create a personal perspective on moving to a new place, to give the audience an insight on what it is like to experience uprooting your life, starting completely fresh and choosing whether to take on the new culture and lifestyle.

Aims & Objectives
My intended approach is to conduct interviews and personal experience of another through an interview as it gives a personal account of the experience with no bias. I feel as though an interview persuades an audience as it is real life and this adds credibility. I aim to show this in a Documentary format to give my audience an approach of realness through a narrative of an individual’s experience. I aim to inform my intended audience of the individual’s story to bring awareness of cultural differences and similarities faced when moving somewhere new. I intend to piece the film together by raw footage and stills to document one persons journey of migration to one country to another and their own personal experience of that. I intend to use no narration but I do intend to use a personal point of view by letting the interviewee tell the story. This means I will take into consideration what questions to ask and how in regards to attaining an interesting result which doesn’t influence the answer. There are many reasons why people decide to move to a new country or place either for work or educational reasons. Statistics show that more than three percent of the world has migrated (232 Million people) therefore my intended audience could be very broad however I want to focus on the younger generation as this is a fast growing trend. From statistics the age of young people both male and female leaving home to move country is between 19 – 27.

The support I require will be to borrow equipment such as camera, lens’, tripod, lighting from the University. Travel considerations will involve getting to and from locations I choose to film at. In regards to the individual involved in the Documentary I will take this into account to give something back to them to say Thank you for taking part and giving their time.


Critique 1:

During the first critique for the module Areas of Photographic Practice we were all asked to bring our first draft of our project proposals. At this time I am focusing on the idea that “Everything is Connected” by showing this through the Parallels of man and nature. Below is the first rough draft which I later improved and made a more clarified version:

“The short film I intend to create is based upon synchronicity, how everything is connected and how much we as humans have lost touch with nature. We are all one and equal rather than how society likes to inflate an individuals ego with consumption without thought to the impact on our environment. The main focus is to bring awareness to becoming reflective to nature and more conscious of how we should care about our world around us.
A female features in the film at certain crucial points to represent mother nature and how vulnerable she can be made to feel. I intend to do this by showing a strong scene of nature using a projector over the model. The timing in which she appears will be short but giving enough time for the audience to gain the message of mother nature being something we overlook in day to day life and to convey empathy within the audience. I intend to include a timelapse of nature growing (flower buds opening, closing. Trees making movement in the wind and waves of the sea moving in and out of the shore.) To attempt to engage the audience within the beauty of nature.

My initial reference points are;
Carl Jung – Synchronicity
Ted talks – everything is connected by Tom Chi.

We are all connected with nature: Nixiwaka Yawanawa at TedxHackney.”

Through discussing my references and the intention to create a timelapse within nature, I spoke around engaging the audience within the beauty of nature.The feedback given was that editing would be the main time focus rather than the shooting. I was advised to keep it simple, to narrow down and specify rather than include all aspects and this could very much confuse the viewer. I noted these points down and agreed with them.

After re reading the brief after the session I decided it didn’t necessarily fit in with telling a story or a narrative and I became to struggle with thinking of ways to engage my audience to create the context in order to make my intention to the audience clear on the matter by controlling the message.

Workshop 3: Working with stills in moving image.

This session was focused on using still images within motion based pieces, creating motion pan and zoom and simple effects .
For inspiration we were shown the Donnie Brasco title sequence (shown below):

The title sequence of Donnie Brasco is shot in the form of surveillance, it is nicely put together by the use of slow fades and fast cut action shots using moving images and stills with the opening and closing sequence the same extreme close up of Johnny Depp’s eyes which gives context of the main character.

I incorporated still images in to the film sequence by clicking import and placing the arrow where I wanted the image to appear in the sequence ensuring that there was space in the timeline as it could have overlapped previous sequences and therefore create loss of information. I found that using an image placed in between two sequences of video works effectively. It is possible to set the duration of the image too which can work well as it this could make it easier for the audience to digest the information and become thought provoking.

We then learnt how to control the size and position of the still within the video frame which was fairly simple to grasp by. However the technique I found took me a number of times to fully understand was creating anchor points to control the focus point and zoom across an image but after a few more tries it was successful. Then we were shown how to pan across an image using key frames, panning is done by clicking on the first frame of the clip and pressing the stopwatch icon next the position icon and the first keyframe was created then move to the last frame of the clip and click the stopwatch again to complete this.

Next, we were shown how to change the opacity to in order to create crossfades which I feel works well especially with black and white sequences.
I enjoyed selecting sections of audio and controlling the balance of the audio, deciding where they would best fit in the timeline and work the best with the content. I found that Caucasian blur works in this sequence as it brings the audiences attention in to the man in the crowd even more which creates isolation from the other parts of the image.

Below is the edit from this session: