George PiggottAnalyse the short film ‘Smashed’ applying technical terms.The film ‘Smashed’ is a 2009 short film directed and written by Peter Snelling. The film is about‘being young, getting drunk, screwing up and trying to do the right thing’. The film was funded byAvon and Somerset police, which can also be seen in the events and situations within the film. Thesetting is in a built-up urban area, and many places within this overall area are shown throughout;clubs, pubs, kebab shops and the streets. The four main characters are followed around the areas,and although they are two separate groups of friends, Estelle and Sam, and George and Corey, bothof their stories are interlinked and can all be seen in the same places frequently. In this essay I planto analyse and discuss the short film ‘Smashed’ commenting on many different aspects such assetting, characters, props, camera and editing and also lighting, and what these technical elementssignify to us as an audience.Smashed is set in a built-up urban area, which is signified within the first few shots of the film. Thereis a shot of a housing estate, with big lamp posts, high rise flats, and lots of windows. This is asignifier for the class of the characters as it shows us that they are not rich, they are just ordinarypeople living life, and enjoying it. Additionally the streets around the town are very messy, with foodeverywhere, which looks like it is the result of someone else’s night out the night before, this createsa sign that it is almost like a cycle for these people, and that they regularly go out and get ‘smashed’.Bollards and metal railings can also be seen, both of these are signs that signify that they are in abuilt up urban area.Additionally, the characters can all be seen in the pub, where strong themes of drinking andgambling come through. The theme of drinking also reappears when all the characters are in a clubin town and are all seen drinking and dancing to loud music. The loud music prevents them frombeing able to hear each other so they go outside to talk. From being on the street outside the club,they then go to the kebab shop which is nearby, as they are hungry. The theme of gambling is alsopresent as a slot machine is in the shot, signifying that the characters spend most of their money ongambling and alcohol. The places all focused on are shown as being all part of the same town, asthey are all closely located, as they are seen from place to place throughout the film, creating anoverall signifier for their regular night out, signifying that they do this regularly and know theseplaces very well.The characters in the film are all ordinary people, people of the streets, and all link in together. Thetwo females Estelle and Sam, and the two males, George and Corey all are out for the night, whenthey bump into each other having previously met. One of the male characters has been dumped
George Piggottearlier that day and is very reflective, as he is reading over letters from his ex-girlfriend, and staringat a picture of them together, he also wants meaning to his life, which we learn from when he tellshis friend. Also, one of the female characters is pregnant, as a result of a one night stand that shehad on a night out, this also supports the idea of the characters being in a cycle, as she has alreadyfound herself in a situation because of this, yet she is out again repeating her actions. All of thecharacters seem very aware of their surroundings and sensible, however when they are drunk itappears that they make wrong decisions and mistakes, this concept acts as a signifier for the dangersof binge drinking. This links in to the funding from the Avon and Somerset police as this film wasused as an alcohol awareness campaign, and shows the situations that are a result of not beingcareful and sensible with alcohol. The situations expressed in ‘Smashed’ all signify the Avon andSomerset police’s message, which is to drink carefully and know your limits.All three of the characters are seen drinking regularly throughout, from the shot of one of thefemale characters downing what appears to be leftover wine, to the male characters being seenwalking through the streets drinking in the early hours of the morning. The alcohol shown is all ofdifferent types of drink, which signifies the amount they drink, as drinking the same drink could beseen as carrying on a drink from earlier, yet they have finished this and started another. Otherpeople can be seen in the clubs, pubs, streets and also at the end when they are seen muckingaround, one man can be seen with a cone on his head, showing typical drunk, immature andirresponsible behaviour, which acts as a signifier, signifying that is it not just them who follow thislifestyle, that it is a majority of people, expressing why this is such a serious issue that it has receivedpolice attention and funding.Props also play a very important part in connoting meaning throughout the film. The title clip showsthe word ‘Smashed’ which is beside a smashed egg, which has been trod on. The title of Smashedcan act as a signifier to both the egg and the condition of the characters on their night out. Thefemale character who is pregnant stares into the mirror, which can act as a signifier of an analysis ofherself, and also a crisis of her identity. She is holding a crinkly paper bag, which is a signifier, as itsignifies she has been holding it for a long time due to the crinkles, we later learn that this bagcontains a pregnancy test and the character is pregnant, and has mixed emotions about this, againacting as a signifier showing how she has been thinking over her situation. The man who was beingreflective is looking at letters, and a photo of himself with his girlfriend who dumps him later in thefilm. A lot of drink and slot machines can be seen throughout, and there is Close Up (CU) shot whichputs great focus on the transaction of buying a drink, this puts emphasis on the themes within this
George Piggottfilm, and signifies the amount of money that they waste on alcohol and gambling, showing howserious an issue this is.There is also another CU shot of the other female character taking the card for a cab in the kebabshop, which sets up her story for later on, and also signifies the influence of alcohol on people, asshe was being sensible, and then got into a unlicensed cab that she didn’t call for when drunk, thissignifies that when she was sober she thought things through. When she gets into the unlicensedtaxi, she sobers up as she is aware that he is driving the wrong way, and that there is bleach, toiletroll and string on the seat next to her, all of which can act as signifiers that she is in danger, so shethreatens to call the police.As the film is majorly based on the emotions of these characters, there are a lot of Close Up (CU)shots of the characters faces and also two shots of the male friends and the female friends together.The first shot of alcohol can be seen just 36 seconds into the film, when the pregnant femalecharacter downs a glass of wine, this can act as a signifier to show the importance of alcohol in theirlives as she can be seen drinking in what appears to be the early hours of the morning. A pan shot isused from the male friends to the female friends, to show that they are in the same place, althoughthey haven’t bumped into each other yet, signifying how they are going to meet later as they arealways in the same places. Additionally, when the two female characters are talking there is a CUshot on the bag with the pregnancy test in, which signifies how the character is contemplatingwhether to tell her friend that she is pregnant. The editing speeds up to pick up the pace andexcitement when the characters go into the club and also more CU shots are used on their faces toshow expressions, we rely mainly on facial expression as loud music is playing over the characterstalking. A lot of point of view shots are also used to put us in the position of the character, forexample the wobbly shots on the stairs signifyingthe mans’ struggle to walk from being drunk.Along with camera and editing, lighting is also used to connote meaning. A lot of side lighting is usedwhere there is light from only one side, which signifies that the characters are in a dark situation asbehind them it is just dark and only their face is lit up, again putting emphasis on emotions.Additionally in the club the lights change colour and flash, which signify that they are partying andhaving fun, as they are not plainly lit, and change colour.Sound used throughout helps to portray meaning and strengthen the film. Instrumental GuitarMusic that is non-diagetic is used both at the beginning and end of the film, which could signify thecalm before and after the storm, and also signify the cycle they are in. A buzz track is used when thepeople are in the club, although it is meant to appear as if it is diagetic sound, although it is non-
George Piggottdiagetic to allow the characters to be heard. A transition is used from the music in the club, to themusic that can be heard downstairs in the toilet, and the two characters phone calls are linked intoone another, again linking their stories.Overall, all the elements work together to create an overall world within the film, as they are allseen as living in this cycle where they get drunk, have problems happen, get drunk to forget abouttheir problems, and then have more problems happen. These elements help to enforce the idea putacross by the Avon and Somerset Police who funded the film about sensible drinking and how theaudience would be put off by binge drinking after seeing the situations the characters end up in, asthey themselves would not want to be dumped, pregnant with someone they had a one night standwith, and trapped in an unlicensed taxi. The film has been constructed in a very clever way as itsignifies the fun that can be had from going out with your friends, and doesn’t discourage away fromthis, however it does signify how too much alcohol can ruin your night, and potential your light. Thesignifiers in this film encourage the audience to be more careful and know their limits.