Sixteen by Nine: A film project

For this project 'Sixteen by Nine' we were in small groups and asked to create a 2 minute film on the theme of 'London'.   

Our film, Clockwork, will document the activities that occur whilst London is asleep. The film will focus on the characters that come out of the woodwork after dusk, whose jobs are to prepare the city for the coming day before the sun rises. The film aims to reveal the unexpected beauty in the overlooked night shift and early morning workers’ routines.

Characterised by muted tones and soft camera movements, the narrative guides the viewer through a gradual journey of London from dusk to dawn. The film will also highlight the contrast between the fervent activity of the workers going about their duties while the majority of Londoners slumber quietly in the peaceful stillness of the late night and early morning hours.

Our group all agreed on the concept for the film which meant it was fairly easy to come up with further ideas and development. We created a treatment to further refine and communicate our ideas and develop the concept.


After showing our treatment and talking our idea through with our tutors and Raven Smith, we agreed that we needed to go on a recce to check which locations would be best for filming. He also told us to look at the lighting in Gregory Crewdson's night photography. They gave us some interesting locations we could visit and talked about how the film needed energy in it through the soundtrack.

We then started to look at more specific locations where we could film. We knew we wanted to stay around the Regent Street area as this would give us a central point full of activity to film. It also made things easier from a logistical standpoint. We created this map which split up the area into sections for each of us to explore. We each went to our specific locations and took photos on our phone of interesting people and activity that we could film on a later date.


After the recce we all looked at the photos we had taken and found that we had not taken enough photos of people. And since people were going to be the main focus of the video, we needed to think more carefully about where we were filming. Our aim was to discover people as we explored the area in the early hours of the morning and ask if we could film them doing their jobs for a student film. We also made many lists about more specific areas we could film like the gates for Oxford Circus tube station and the Metro newspapers being dropped off. We made a list of all of the jobs we wanted to film such as window cleaners, retail staff, tube workers and street cleaners. After doing this planning we felt much more prepared and ready to start filming.

We ended up having 2 shoot days, the first one was to capture the night workers in the late evening, and the second one was to capture workers in the early hours of the morning. 

On the first day we had 2 cinematogrpahers and a person who was asking people if we could film them. This ended up working really well as we were able to to capture a lot of people form different angles. We saw a variety of people including construction workers, window cleaners, bin men and engineers. The next day when we looked at our footage we found that a lot of it focused on great content but the filming was not stable enough and this worsens the look of the footage. Our tutor advised us to use tripods, (which seemed obvious looking back) so the cameras were still and observing the night workers. 

On the second shoot day, with our tripods, the footage was much better and looked really great. With 2 cameras we were still able to get a variety of angles but now the footage looked much more stable and higher quality. As this was our second day filming on the streets, we were much more confident approaching people and asking if we could film them. Almost everyone said yes although there were a few people who didn't want to be on camera. A lot of people were very friendly and talkative which was nice to see because they normally carry out their shifts alone. I enjoyed the second shoot day a lot more as we had a better idea of what we were doing, and out footage was much better quality. 

When it came to editing we didn't know where to start so we shared all of the footage onto a Google drive so everyone in our group could access it. The people who felt more comfortable editing them made a rough cut of the film and we picked the best one. After showing out tutors and getting feedback of how to move forward, we edited the film together on one computer, with everyone contributing. This process took longer as there was some disagreements about which clips should be used but generally we worked very well together and editing went smoothly. We knew which soundtrack we were using from the start so we spent a lot of time making sure the cutting of clips and the edit flowed well with the music.

We had a lot of late nights in the studio trying to get the edit right, and when we were happy with it we started to colour grade it. We are all new to colour grading so we really struggled with this. We learnt as we did it so the film did not have the best colour.

Overall I was really pleased with the outcome of this project. Our team worked really well together and I leant a lot about planning a film shoot, cinematography, editing and colour grading. Looking back I think we wasted a lot of time at the start of the project which meant we had to finish it fairly quickly. I learnt a lot about using Premier Pro and am now much more comfortable using it for editing video, where as previously I would have used Final Cut Pro. I am happy with the outcome as we produced an interesting short piece that stayed true to the treatment.



UALAdam Marshual2