Production Topic: Darkest Days

A few members may recall this production from the Fxhome forums - The production began in October 2010, began filming in April 2011 - and Post-Production was officially completed at the end of June 2011.
Darkest Days sees Kat, Mark and Scott on the run, running from the controlling government's armed forces following an attack on their small village. They must escape the country with the help of a small band of resistance fighters - but with The Union so close behind, will they make it?
The final cut of the film is just under 40 minutes long, and will hopefully be screening at film festivals around the UK in 2012.
Since i recently completed the film I released a Teaser trailer featuring the opening scene and a preview.
http://www.vimeo.com/25148637
This production was filmed with a Canon 5D MkII with old prime lenses (35mm/50mm)
Edited on Final Cut Pro 7
Effects edited on After Effects
Heres some Screen shots from the film:
[img]http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5110/5616767216_4c30935c9d_z.jpg[/img] Screen Shot 3 by StrikeEm, on Flickr
[img]http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5149/5661443776_2cf87ab08d_z.jpg[/img] Screen Grab 6 by StrikeEm, on Flickr
[img]http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2418/5707265009_2a1515fa1e_z.jpg[/img] Screen Grab 1 by StrikeEm, on Flickr
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Comments

  • Yep! I remember this from the Fxhome forums! I don't remember the trailer though, very cool teaser. Definitely looking forward to more on this!
  • Looks good! Are you planning to release it online at some point? I know some festivals prefer you not to put it up beforehand, frustrating but makes sense for them.
  • Glad you've transferred this to the Hitfilm site i really enjoyed looking at the updates you posted on fxhome. This new teaser looks very cool- i'm quite fond of the colour grading as well- the beginning shots in the wood work perfectly to set the tone. I'm looking forward to seeing this once it's completed and done it's run at the festivals.
    Good luck!
    Sam
  • Thanks guys, I was beginning to get tired of this production by the end of it, mainly due to having to remove people/ equipment from the background of a few clips (about 37 seconds or more in total) which took over a day in total.
    Everything for this film was organised, payed for, shot, edited by just me, a lot of work for one person if you ask me, so i'm hoping the festivals like it.
    I have the first screening of the film coming up this week at my university, so it will be the first time anyone bar myself has watched the completed film.
    I have entered the film into the Norwich Film festival 2012, and i'm planning on entering it into the Edinburgh festival and a few more. Unfortunately this mean i can't release it online until about July 2012 - but until then I have some more projects coming up so look out for them as well.
    Mercian, the colour grading was done on apple colour, I've attempted to make it both natural and filmic - not just a preset film look, but as if the production was recorded on celluloid, i feel the digital look is far too clean and lacks character
  • I have the first screening of the film coming up this week at my university, so it will be the first time anyone bar myself has watched the completed film

    Awesome! When and where? Can we come? :)
  • Wednesday, Great Yarmouth College (part of UCS) -time is 6- 9pm it will be my classes films playing in a sequence most are around 25 - 30 mins long, but i beat everyone with a run time of 40mins.
    We haven't decided what order the films are in yet, but if your free, and fancy watching a few shorts your welcome.
    If not, i have just completed a pile of DVDs so i could mail one to you lot if you would prefer?
  • I just wish i had the money to travel- i'd love to come and see this at your uni- the dvd also sounds good- have you got any plans for selling it on a website or owt? I'd definately be interested in buying one!

  • I just wish i had the money to travel- i'd love to come and see this at your uni- the dvd also sounds good- have you got any plans for selling it on a website or owt? I'd definately be interested in buying one!

    I had no plans to sell the film, but i was hoping i might earn back a fraction of the budget at festivals. but again, if you're interested in watching the film, i could mail you a DVD or data DVD with the HD version on.
  • I'm being slightly sneeky and i've uploaded the full film in three parts as an unlisted video on youtube, i would have used a private Vimeo link but it would have taken me 2 weeks to get everything online.
    So, i finally present to you all (for a undefined period of time) Darkest Days in it's entirety:
    Part 1:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8mujRAuEpM
    Part 2:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0UpWYD4YbQ
    And finally
    Part 3:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yyJdG5uA3Y
  • Congratulations StrikeEmstudios! I've been eagerly anticipating this since you posted the production diary on Fxhome- i've enjoyed all the updates, the stills and general progress repeats and awaiting it's final release. You haven't disappointed :D I've only managed to watch the first part at the moment and it is amazing! Well done. I personally love films with interesting costumes and locations and so i spend a lot of time looking in the background and so on- you had some amazing locations in this first part- the destroyed houses are a given, i know a lot of us liked the look of them on fxhome. But i also liked the location with the trees whilst they take a break- i don't know what it was about it but it had a nice quality to it.
    The music on this was also good- i liked the piano notes whilst they were wandering- it gave it the impression of a very lonely existence- Nice!
    My favourite scene from the first part however is at the very end- the scene at night where they're talking before going to sleep. It was very nicely lighted i thought and the acting was, for me, much better in this part- i think it's because you got to see them at their most sincere and more emotion came through. I liked that scene a lot.
    Like i said, i've only watched part 1 so far but i'm so excited to watch the remaining two- thanks for posting these so early!
    Sam
  • Thanks Mercian, I'm glad you are enjoying the film so far, and it's nice to see someone paying attention to the smaller details I put into the film. I spent a good 3 months trying to find locations for this production, and I simply stumbled upon the derelict house, which was actually an old wether station, so i simply thought Jackpot!
    I know the acting is somewhat uneven in places, and as you said the scene at night is one of the strongest in the film - this is because it was one of the final scenes that was filmed, and we had no time before production to rehearse unfortunately, on top of this i chose to give first time actors a shot in the main roles (about 3 of the actors had basic stage experience before - none on film). Naturally due to the tight schedule the actors only began getting their performances up to scratch on the final few days of shooting - but the way i see it is, everyone deserves a shot and their'll all get better with experience.
    Note, for some unknown reason part 3 has uploaded in 480p rather than 720p even though it was compressing the same way, must be a youtube error.
  • I threw together a quick and simple VFX breakdown, it's not in depth but it shows some of the work that went into various clips
    http://vimeo.com/27455742
  • Bravo, StrikeEmStudios, Bravo!!!
    The VFX blended in very well and I liked the entire movie.
    My only critique is in the dialog when Olly asks Mark to give him "a hand" when uncovering the boat. I had to snicker a little- no direspect meant to Mr. Edwards. Perhaps just a poor choice of words?
    Ariel Guez did a wonderful job expressing angst with the music. I hope that's what you were going for.
    Congrats to your cast and crew and I hope you win some awards for your efforts.
    BRAVO!!!!
  • I think you need to maybe try to get some more noice removal on some of the dialouge, and get more foley so you dont have you to use the on camera mic. The white noise is sometimes unavoidable however .
  • Thanks for watching, glad you enjoyed the film Stormy. The 'give me a hand' was a mistake - but i also liked it so i left it, I wrote the part of Mark for a two handed person, and only found out that the actor had one hand on the first day of filming - i didn't make anything of it, just quickly went over the script in my head and saw no reason to change anything - i decided to just leave things as they were, as his sister and cousin would be used to the matter i didn't need to address it until they met with outsiders. so only minor changes were needed - but the odd thing slipped past my revisions.
    Daniboy, what part of the audio were worst affected by the noise? I had many audio problems in the production - the first 8 minutes of the film was recorded with a Rode stereo videomic attached to my camera, which was my back up audio recording. We recorded the whole film with a boom as the primary mic, but on the first 2 days of filming we had a issue with the Tascam recorder and I had to boost the back up volume + denoise it a lot, I'm no audio expert, in fact i hate editing audio, but i did my best with what i had. The beach scene was also problematic, as the boom picked up background noise (odd considering the mic was very directional) - and the last thing you want to have is some family/ odd old woman talking about the beach/ rocks in the background of a supposedly abandoned beach.
    I had a strict deadline to meet, so i had no chance to ADR the problem scenes, and a few of my actors were not local, so it would be impractical and expensive to re call them.

  • Thanks for watching, glad you enjoyed the film Stormy. The 'give me a hand' was a mistake - but i also liked it so i left it, I wrote the part of Mark for a two handed person, and only found out that the actor had one hand on the first day of filming - i didn't make anything of it, just quickly went over the script in my head and saw no reason to change anything - i decided to just leave things as they were, as his sister and cousin would be used to the matter i didn't need to address it until they met with outsiders. so only minor changes were needed - but the odd thing slipped past my revisions.
    Daniboy, what part of the audio were worst affected by the noise? I had many audio problems in the production - the first 8 minutes of the film was recorded with a Rode stereo videomic attached to my camera, which was my back up audio recording. We recorded the whole film with a boom as the primary mic, but on the first 2 days of filming we had a issue with the Tascam recorder and I had to boost the back up volume + denoise it a lot, I'm no audio expert, in fact i hate editing audio, but i did my best with what i had. The beach scene was also problematic, as the boom picked up background noise (odd considering the mic was very directional) - and the last thing you want to have is some family/ odd old woman talking about the beach/ rocks in the background of a supposedly abandoned beach.
    I had a strict deadline to meet, so i had no chance to ADR the problem scenes, and a few of my actors were not local, so it would be impractical and expensive to re call them.

    Yeah I know how it is , iv had deadlines where ADR is out of the question. I think your film is a great piece of work . But there's areas of it where you can get rid of the white noise. For example , im watching the first part now. You only seem to have music in it, yet you can hear the white noise. An easy way to remove this is to take your sound in to logic pro(or whatever audio editor you have) and simply remove the camera sound for this segment. Then using the automation, just bring the sound up when there's dialogue, then duck it down. If you don't have a library for Foley, like twigs breaking etc, then just record them using the camera mic but only bring up the automation for it when you want to use it.
    I don't think that your sound ruins the overall film one bit. I thoroughly enjoyed it, quite liked the dialogue. Great film :)
  • I must have overlooked the hiss in that post title scene, it's the only time i noticed it, and i just re-watched the part three times using my macbook's speakers, my PC speakers and the headphones i used to edit the short with. I did keyframe the audio volume on non-dialog for the rest of the film, so considering the length and turn around on the project with doing all post production on my own, i think i did quite well for the most part on audio. Unfortunately i didn't have time to record the foley i originally intended to, so i was left using library sounds and foley work from a previous project.
    I intend to put some real effort into sound design on future projects, so i'll be enlisting the help of others to push the quality that extra mile.
    Thanks for the pointers, and criticisms!
  • Sound design is an arduous but important part . It helps if you listen to your mix on headphones AND speakers. Great film none the less and the dialogue was very clear. I quite enjoyed it and am looking forward to your future projects :)
  • edited August 2011
    Also the score was quite good, really liked the music. Was very intense.
  • So did you use any FXHome products in the making of your film Darkest Days?
    I did not see any mentioned in your list.
  • I believe he used adobe after effects though I might be wrong.

  • So did you use any FXHome products in the making of your film Darkest Days?
    I did not see any mentioned in your list.


    I used After Effects for all my visual effects, This project was completed just a couple of days before the release of HitFilm - and my primary platform for editing is Mac. I got my start in VFX using FxLab Lite back in 2006, in fact, i owe it to FXHome for spiking my interest in filmmaking.
  • Im actually making a short post war(modern day war) film my self, using your film as an example to work from . Just for visuals and stuff, I really liked the colour grading.
  • edited August 2011

    Im actually making a short post war(modern day war) film my self, using your film as an example to work from . Just for visuals and stuff, I really liked the colour grading.

    thats cool, like i said in an earlier post, my idea was to try avoid the 'digital' look and give the film a less clean, filmic visual look, and to keep things natural. for the most part i think it worked well, but i think the post credits scene looks a bit flat - didn't have the extra pair of hands on set to reflect light from the sunset back on the actors' faces.
    I'm really not a fan of the overly digital colour grading see in some films.
  • Are you in uni ? Or college? Or are you doing this as a hobby?
  • I'm in Uni, soon to start my 3rd year to get my full degree, but filmmaking is something i do as a hobby, well it wouldn't be a worthwhile subject to spend money or study if i didn't enjoy it as a hobby...
  • Hey - I recently revisited a scene from this production that I edited down quite a bit, this was cut due to the work in progress edit not spacing out the scene well enough; I originally and reluctantly removed about 2 minutes of the scene under the recommendation of my composer. I was reluctant as I know there is a fair bit of content that helps make the final scenes more meaningful.
    http://youtu.be/6izxGp-E4JA?hd=1
    I'm interested in hearing what the people who have watched the film think of this scene, if it works, the acting and the pacing.
    If the scene works i'll re-insert it for the next batch of festival submissions.
  • I think its a great scene. However.... I find however that it might not integrate very well with the rest of the film. Where exactly in the film would it go? After the fight at the derelict buildings or?

  • I think its a great scene. However.... I find however that it might not integrate very well with the rest of the film. Where exactly in the film would it go? After the fight at the derelict buildings or?

    Yeah, this is an extension of the campfire scene which took place just after they escape the derelict building. I'm still unsure of how it will fit as i haven't attempted to re insert it yet; I haven't received much feedback on how it would fit yet and i'm also a bit reluctant to re-render what will be a 42minute cut as the final render took about 7 hours and led to lots of over heating on my fans.

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