Brief 5 – Narrated Film

For this brief we were given the task of creating a short black and white narrative film. This was in response to an actual Penguin design brief, and it was required that the film convey one of several suggested poems. We chose the poem, Love and Friendship by Emily Brontë.

Research Process

This research process mainly involved looking at the brief and other narrative films in order to gather inspiration.

The Brief – Penguin Publishing
Poetry Films

Penguin Books are launching a new range of poetry books. The creative agency in charge of the promotional strategy have decided to create a range of short films featuring famed poems to be used online. You have been commissioned to produce one of them. The client was inspired by the poetic style of Chris Marker’s film La Jetée (1962) and would like something produced in a similar way, featuring photography and a narrator.

You will be assigned a famous poem. You are to create a short film from black and white photographs based on it. You are also to commission and record a voice artist, who will read the poem. This will form the narrated audio of your film.

How you interpret the poem is up to you – what is important is that the visuals enhance the words. The photographic imagery may be abstract or literal, it may closely tie to the poem, or be more interpretative, it might tell a short story or simply present evocative imagery. It is up to you.

Whilst the photographic content is a creative opportunity, there are limitations. All the imagery must be black and white and photographic, there is to be no moving image content or illustrations, although you are free to add sound effects (foley) and have the camera pan across or zoom into images. You may not change to an alternate poem, or change the words to the poem in any way. The final image of your film must be the Penguin logo supplied.

Films are to be standard definition (720x480px) with sound and should be around a minute in length.

Concept Generation

As a pair, we decided that in order to generate two different perspectives and sets of ideas for the film, we would each go away and come up with our own interpretations, before meeting up to discuss our ideas and finalise the concept.

I began my idea generation process by first writing out the poem by hand in my sketchbook. I felt like this would help me begin to think about the poems meaning at a much deeper level than by simply reading it. On the right side of the sketchbook page I wrote down my ideas on the themes and photos that could be incorporated into the film.

Poem- Initial Ideas1
Initial Poem Ideas

From this initial draft, I then wrote out a small section giving my interpretations of what narrative the film could convey, as well as the visual metaphors that could be incorporated to achieve this.

Poem- Script1
Developed Narrative Concept

Finally, I put together a rough storyboard of my ideas.

Poem- Storyboard1
My Storyboard for the Final Poem

The Final Film

After having a second meeting, we presented our ideas to each other and generated a final concept based on a combination of both. I provided a number of the macro-photos shown in the final piece and my team-mate edited the photos and audio together. As the poem was on the theme of romance, she had the idea to have the narrative spoken in Spanish. This was something that we felt worked. See the final film, below.


Although the final film seemed to fit the brief well, there were a couple of issues mentioned when we presented it to the class. Firstly, our peer feedback suggested an editing issue in the fact that that too many photos were used, and some of the images changed before the viewer had a proper chance to focus on them. Secondly, the Spanish dialogue, although a nice addition, presented translation issues with the audience.

In response to this feedback, the final film was revisited later and the dialogue was altered to English. This consequently meant however that the photos were out of sync, and due to time constraints, this was unable to be adjusted.

In future, it may be better to return to just one collaborative process of idea generation, instead of two individual ones. This would combat the issues of two concepts needing to be blended together, which could lead to a final result that appears to jump between themes and become confusing.


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