Noir meets reality


Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter (Ben James)

Hey all. This is a quick analysis on the transition of the Tales of The Black Freighter comic that features in the Watchmen graphic novel to the big screen version and how they fit it in with the main feature.



[ A segment from the film’s animated counterpart, Tales of The Black Freighter.]


 When looking at the transition from the comic within the comic to the animated piece, it seems to be an easier transition than it would be for the rest of the book with having animated it. Despite that I’m not quite sure what to make of the animation, as I quite liked the animation style of it but it didn’t bring that discomfort I felt when reading the comic version, which to me felt intentional.

I think the clever thing about having made The Tales of the Black Freighter is that when they made the director’s cut of the film, they managed to fit the segments of the animated film into the main film itself to match the graphic novel. I think that this was a rather interesting move and it was actually an interesting take on filmmaking. This is something that we wanted to do as a team in Johnny Noir, though instead of an animated piece we used comics to illustrate the event of Charles death.


Some Homage (Ben James)


The idea for the start of my original script came from the film Sunset Blvd. In the film a character is left dead in a swimming pool with a narration running over the top of it. The film then goes back from that point to tell the tale of what lead up to the death. I wanted to pay homage to the great Noir films out there but not completely rip them off, so I replaced the swimming pool death with a dockside. I thought it fit well considering me living in Bristol, a dockside city. Kind of a coincidence, huh? But y’know, not really. Oh well.

[ Opening of Sunset Blvd, the inspiration to the opening scene of Johnny Noir.]

Johnny Noir, The Concept/Idea (Ben James)

Hello all. I’ve told this tale quite a few times now, but I thought I’d share with everyone about how I came up with the concept of Johnny Noir and how it got made into a script.

The script idea for Johnny Noir was something that I dreamt of one night. Well, I’d say half of the idea was present in the dream. In the dream I witnessed a few events in a Noir-like fantasy. In one instance, a couple of characters were under a bridge that crossed a dockside. It was somewhat and romantic until everything went to hell. The woman of the couple quickly turned on the man, revealing a gun. After a struggle the woman manages to shoot the man and this was the point where I woke up from the dream. The other event that occurred within the dream was a bank heist pulled off by a group of men. They pulled out outside of a bank guns blazing and robbed the place before driving off again.

It was about 4am when I awoke from the dream and I immediately grabbed a notepad to write down what would be the very first basic plot outline of Johnny Noir which at the time I referred to as Noir Fantasy. This dream came to me at some point during the scriptwriting module in where we had to team up with another person in order to create a script that would later go on to possibly being made into a short film. I teamed up with Phil Hampson and we got started on writing this Noir fantasy.


Dior Noir

Dior Noir – Critical Analysis

During my research I stumbled across one of Dior’s campaign. They have done a series of short films and one was Dior Noir. I found it very useful to understand the Noir genre as the conventions are very clear. It was also a similar length to what we were aiming for with our film.

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Firstly it opens with the credits at the start with dramatic music. We have an extreme lose up shot of a female’s eye behind hinting at the role of the femme fatale. This opening has already encapsulated four conventions of the film noir genre. As a member of the audience you instantly know what to expect.

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We are then introduced to the male lead role with a zoom. The next couple of shots continue to zoom in to key points of the shot.

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We are then introduced to someone tied up. The shot uses low lighting and a lot of shadows which are also key conventions of the genre.

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There is then a low angle shot which is frequently used in noir films to make audiences feel uncomfortable. The shot suggests that something isn’t right.

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This shot also had low key lighting and shadows. The main two characters are in the centre of the frame and stand out as they are better lit.

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This shot is more about costume. The character is wearing a trench coat and hat which almost always appears in a noir film.

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Another close up shot of the femme fatale’s eyes.

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A voyeuristic shot of the femme fatale’s feet.

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The use of cross fades starts to appear more and more to create a sense of chaos in the films. However in other noir films it is used more as a transition. In this shot she is also running however the background behind her isn’t moving.

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I really like the way this shot is framed. The contrast with the clouds makes the character really stand out and the iron frame of the building obscures the shots slightly so it makes it stand out.

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Finally the film ends with a blonde femme fatale. At first glance it looks like a completely different woman but it actually is Lady Dior.

This short is very good for establishing the conventions of the genre however the storytelling is pretty poor and lacks substance. But most adverts in fashion are all about the pretty pictures and less about the meaning.

Comic/ Graphic Novel Research Part 5 (Philip Hampson)

This style was what I had planned for my hypothetical 3rd comic. It has very realistic looking characters and almost looks like a photograph. This comic is Echoes of Dawn by Cliff Richards (Figure 1). This is similar to the style I used for a previous project. It was making a point and click game, but we used real photographs for the visuals. I then took these images and edited them in photo shop. The game is called Caedus Mysterium.( Figure 2)

Style 5


(Figure 1 Echoes of Dawn By Cliff Richards)



(Figure 2 Caedus Mysterium. Photography by Fred Iles. Edited by Philip Hampson.

Figure 1 from Comic Art now by Dez Skinn

Ere mate ark at ee

Cinematographer and Lighting heads should check this book out.

painting with light

Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid

Apart from being one of the funniest spoof comedies around, this film is a really good example of the noir genre. It features loads of scenes from famous noir films, cut together with steve martin taking the piss. CLEANING WOMAN!! Check it. One love x