• Ashton Blyth

After I finally had a breakthrough!

Tutor: Jonathan Kearney Date: Friday 28th January 2022


I had my second tutorial with Jonathan today, it came at the perfect time where I finally felt like I'd made a breakthrough in the pre-production (I guess?) of this film.


We talked about what I'd been doing as of late that has allowed me/not been allowing me time for university work. How I've reduced my hours at work, after having been working so much post-recovering from pneumonia at the end of November. That I've started working with a collective in Stoke-on-Trent to put on an exhibition about the moon, and that I'm in the prep stage of planning workshops for an LGBTQ+ youth group there too in March. I feel like having delved into more creative work and less in the steady, bill-paying job it's jolted my brain back into the creative gear and now all I can think about is the film and new ideas, camera angles, imagining the finished scenes and what I need to do to achieve that outcome.


Having been skipping the planning stage of the film, and just going straight into trying to chop and piece bits of footage together in premiere, I finally sat down and wrote a list of what I think are my defining moments on my journey of gender exploration, and asked my parents what they'd consider defining moments that I may not have considered. Jonathan and I spoke about some of these moments and why I felt they were important, like going to spy camp (mum's suggestion), egg freezing (something that was always going to be included) and buying my first suit for my university interviews (dad's suggestion).


I gave a rough, chaptered plan of how I think the film will go, and showed him the storyboarding I had been doing - something that I'd done a little bit of pre-breakthrough, but as more of an afterthought rather than serious prep. We discussed how the film will be approximately 1/5 footage my dad has captured of me as a child, 2/5 re-created moments based on memories and/or childhood pictures, and 2/5 of me vlogging/reflecting/narrating the other footage and the in-between moments, or the footage that cannot be recreated. Jonathan advised that I give vlogging a go as practice, even just documenting something as simple as my trip to work, or day-to-day activities. That way, when it comes to doing vlogging where I don't have a take-2 opportunity, like with top-surgery, I'll be less likely to want a take-2 because it won't be a completely new experience of working with the camera - we don't count that phase in high-school where I tried to be a youtuber...


When I finish the film, I should have several iterations of it, as I will have:

  • the final live-action film

  • a black outline of the foreground - characters (of existing footage and re-created moments, live-action of vlogging/reflecting/narrating)

  • a black outline of the whole film (of existing footage and re-created moments, live-action of vlogging/reflecting/narrating)

  • a black outline with colour-fill of the foreground, and black outline of the background (of existing footage and re-created moments, live-action of vlogging/reflecting/narrating)

  • a black outline with colour-fill of the whole film (of existing footage and re-created moments, live-action of vlogging/reflecting/narrating)

  • a version where the memories (existing footage and re-created moments) is in black and white, and the live-action is in colour

  • a version where the memories (existing footage and re-created moments) is in colour, and the live-action is in colour

  • a version where the memories (existing footage and re-created moments) is in black and white, and the live-action is in colour - and also rotoscoped like the rest of the film

This means I can find what version works best out of the final few, but by working through the whole film on one stage, means I should have a finished film to show at my degree show - even if it's not quite as finished as I want it to be for things like film festivals. Jonathan recommended a short film by Christine Hooper called On Loop (I'll write about it properly in another post) that had several final options that she put together because of how the film is cut and stuck together.


My film doesn't have an ending yet, but the final chapter I have noted down so far is (ideally) top-surgery - provided I can get it done in the next year or so. We discussed how actually that is a final ending in itself, because it will be my journey to date, and it's a nice way to end it on a high, but that doesn't feel like a final ending as my defining moments don't have an end-date insight either.


We watched the 10 or so seconds I had of animation so far, and talked about what lines are necessary to give the human appearance, for it to be recognised as me without getting too detailed and finnicky - wasting time where the same effect could be achieved with less effort. I also showed Jonathan the rough draft of my intro to the film, and added the narration live so he could experience a near-final product of the original footage. We discussed whether it needed to be me that narrated the film, how in Hooper's On Loop, she asked someone else to narrate in the end, and whether if I asked someone else to do that, I could still achieve the same emotive response from an audience - something to think about...