At BIAFF 2010 Philippa Edwards won a 3 Star Award with
Through song an unhappy teenage schoolgirl expresses her feelings about
the death of her parents in a car crash. Through dance she demonstrates her
resilience and determination for the future.
Why "Aishteru" ?
Although I played a role in the composition of the song (backing vocals and
some of the piano) I felt that it was important that the lyrics came from
the lead singer. Her love for Japanese played a large role when she was writing
the lyrics as word 'Aishteru' means 'I love you' in Japanese. This personal
level of understanding of the lyrics therefore enabled her to not only know
them off by heart due to the repetitive composition process but also ensured
that there was meaning behind the words for her, creating another level to
the song and hopefully the music video.
The instrument we composed on was a standard keyboard that we were able to
use in the music classroom at school, during break time and lunchtime. We
chose this because the lead singer is also a pianist and therefore it was
an obvious choice. Also the keyboard had many different 'voices' that you
could apply therefore giving us more freedom to make a hopefully more interesting
song. Although usually with music videos the song is created first and the
video afterwards as I had the luxury of composing the song, I sat down with
my friend and singer and actress Tessa Taylor and told her my vision
of the music video and asked her if it was possible for her to write a song
There were three main reasons why the dancer, Pip Atkins, switched between
a classical ballet style of dance and a more fast-paced contemporary style
within the music video.
The first is closely linked to our age; contemporary dance is often considered
much more exciting and expressive than classical ballet and for both dancer
and audience I find it is much more compelling to watch.
The second is because we attend a comprehensive secondary school that specialises
in performing arts, so both Pip and I have knowledge of different styles
of dance, enabling us to experiment with both styles
The third and probably most influential reason was purely that it 'dove-tailed'
with the emotions of the song and the video, aiding the idea that it is not
just grief you feel when someone close to you dies.
I hope the change in style of dance also aids the narrative, showing the
girl's jump in feelings. From mourning at the beginning of the music video
shown by the ballet dancing, and then her move to determination when she
decides that she will continue to dance in her mother and father's memory
expressed via the energetic contemporary dance.
There were many reasons for my choice of locations. One was
purely due to their availability. I had to film this music video around not
only my busy schoolwork schedule but also Pip's and Tessa's busy school lives
as well. Therefore it became clear that we could not go travel very far as
most filming would have to take place after school, in school. This consequently
presented us with many issues such as other pupils in school!
However, we did find solutions to these problems. Having filmed in school
before and having attended the school for five years I knew areas that not
many pupils visit, or the less widely used staircases for example. We also
only started filming half an hour after school had ended therefore decreasing
the number of other pupils in school providing us with a quieter and emptier
environment to film in.
However, the main reasons that I chose the locations I did was because they
felt right and they fitted the emotions of the film. I am willing to do most
things and go most places to make the end product, my films, how I want them
to be. However, with this film is was not necessary as I wanted the primary
location to be school thereby emphasising the fact that this horrible ordeal
could happen to anyone, in this story it was a schoolgirl.
As I mentioned earlier my school, Hillview School,
specialises in performing arts and therefore we are lucky enough to have
a well-equipped drama studio at school. In my music video I needed a room
to act as an audition room for the dancer, so the drama studio was perfect!
The other location I chose was the common and woods near my house. I chose
this because we were filming around the time when autumn is just turning
to winter. I felt that this would look good on camera due to the vibrant
oranges and reds of the leaves but also the encroaching darkness, damp and
mud of winter reflecting through nature, the grief of the girl who had lost
her parents. I also felt that the woods were in essence so completely different
from the school setting that the contrast between the two would add to
presentation of isolation felt by the protagonist, as if her grief had taken
her to her own world and cut her off from reality.
In all of the locations we filmed in we had the song, 'Aishteru', playing
through portable speakers, therefore enabling Tessa to sing along rather
than mime to ensure that the footage looked as real and as natural as possible.
Then, during post-production I deleted the audio from the film clips and
put the pre-recorded copy of the song in its place.
By glancing at most of the films I have made, it could be assumed
that I am a morbid individual with my most recent film focussing on mental
illness. Aishteru explores the consequences of the death of
a girl's parents, and other films are reflecting on cancer, homelessness
and domestic violence. However, there are numerous of reasons why I chose
and continue to choose to create films on these topics.
I believe that it is extremely important to show other sides to stories and
focus on the less widely viewed aspects of a story. For example in
Aishteru I did not focus on shooting the death of her parents
but the internal turmoil that follows the death of a loved one. I believe
that events on their own do not have a massive impact, or create thought
provoking films but the emotions felt by those involved in the event is what
is truly interesting and therefore to capture that on film can create a truly
heartfelt and emotional film that involves the audience.
I do not know if this has been achieved in Aishteru but I hope
that it and my other films have gone some way to discuss topics often avoided
or not truly understood or purely make people think about topics that could
be considered taboo topics (such as mental illness). However, I believe that
when discussing such delicate subjects, filmmakers have a responsibility.
It is important that these topics are not presented simply, but rather as
a multi-faceted topic with many different interpretations and that films
made about these raise awareness. Therefore in some of my films, for example
Always which focuses on cancer, I have included a title at
the end saying that cancer can affect anyone urging people to please help
charities battling cancer.
Lighting & Editing
As director, camera operator and editor of this music video,
I dealt with nearly all of the behind-camera work. Before I began shooting
the film I planned the lighting as I felt it was a very important aspect
to conveying the mood of the narrative. In all but one scene, the audition
scene, I was in charge of lighting. During the audition scene, which was
shot in the drama studio, I enlisted the help of a friend to work the lights
(as I did not have the necessary knowledge of working the lighting desk at
the time) while I gave direction on the type of colours and intensity I felt
would match the mood of the scene. The colourful tints during the last moments
of the audition scene, which may appear to be the product of lighting, were
actually created during post-production.
As anyone that has created a film will know the editing process takes a very
long time. For this film I spent somewhere around 20 hours editing as I wanted
to get it just right. I edited this film on 'Final Cut Pro', which is advanced
editing software that I had not used before. Therefore at the same time as
editing the film I was also learning how to use the software.
At the same time as studying for my GCSEs (O Levels) ...
I created this film as part of an 'Extended Project' a course
I decided to take at the same time as studying for my GCSEs (O Levels).
An Extended Project can be on anything the candidate would like to study.
They have to choose a title for their project in the form of a question,
create the project and present their work at the end. For my Extended Project
I chose the title 'How does Anthony Mandler* use lighting, cinematography
and editing to create a music video based around a gothic fictional
narrative?' I had to research this topic and his work in detail, watching
and analysing many of the music videos he had directed. I then recorded the
song with Tessa and then I planned my music video by creating storyboards,
shooting scripts, production schedules, costume and prop lists and then I
filmed and edited the piece.
My music video and folder is now being used as an exemplar piece by the exam
During the process of completing this project a teacher at my school, Miss
Lawton Smith, acted as a mentor to guide me, checking I was completing
the work in the way the exam board needed. Due to her knowledge of film she
introduced me to pre-production processes such as the creation of production
schedules and shooting scripts.
It was an odd yet brilliant feeling being in the audience when my work was
being shown. I felt pride that it was my work being shown and that I had
completed it. I also felt quite nervous as I had spent so long creating the
film I was worried how it would be received by the audience, but mainly I
felt excited to see how the audience would react to it!
I do all of this because I love it!
It is very clear in my mind that
to be involved in the film and television industry is what I would like to
do with my life.
To be able to do a hobby that I adore, as a career, sounds amazing and is
where I strive to be. I am extremely aware that the film and television industry
is very competitive and therefore do not take this career choice lightly.
I involve myself in every related opportunity I can find, from learning about
and then operating the lighting for this year's school production The
Sound of Music, to attending a weekend master class on photography to
broaden my knowledge of capturing aesthetically pleasing shots, entering
competitions such as the BIAFF and the Kent Film Festival,
completing relevant work experience (unpaid), but most of all continuing
to make films. I do all of this because I love it!
In the next few months or so I will be applying to university, as in September
I will start upper sixth. I hope to study film and/or television production
at university and hope that a degree will broaden my knowledge and skills
and increase my chances of becoming what I want to be. Ultimately I would
like to be a director of photography so I can choose the shots to convey
the images and the feelings I want, or to become an editor to get the building
blocks of the film, of its story and arrange them in such a way to create
an absorbing and compelling narrative. I am also driven to learn more about
film and television, how to create it, how to improve, about the thoughts
and ideas behind it, about how to tell stories through film, so to go to
university to learn everyday about my passion seems too good to be true!
- Philippa Edwards
Vocals - Tessa Taylor Drums - Tina Hopkins Piano - Tessa Taylor Backing vocals - Philippa Edwards Song composed by Tessa Taylor & Philippa Edwards
Dancer - Pip Atkins Parents - Mr. & Mrs. Pledge Young Tessa - Dorothy Hepburne Scott Lighting support - Tina Hopkins Recording support - Sophie Thompson Direction/Camera/Edit - Philippa Edwards
Thanks to Miss Hepburne Scott, Miss Lawton Smith and
all who helped.
* Anthony Mandler is one of the top commercial and music video directors
working today. In commercials, he has worked with international clients such
as Motorola, Samsung, Nike and Ciroc. His most notable and frequent collaborator
is Rihanna. The two have worked on more than a dozen videos together throughout
her career, starting with "Unfaithful" in 2006 and most recently "Te Amo".
Company Limited by Guarantee No. 00269085. Registered Charity No. 260467.
Authors' views are not necessarily those of the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers.
Art work by Tony Kendle.