The Remake of the ‘Reservoir Dogs’ Opening Task

For our next task, we had to remake one of the most famous openings in the history of film. We worked as one big group to recreate the opening of ‘Reservoir Dogs’ – a 1992 action/thriller from the famous director that is, Quentin Tarantino.

This is what we had to recreate:

Planning

This was what we obviously started with. We discussed who would be which character, where we would film it, costumes, makeup, props, how we would film it etc etc.

The characters are: Mr. White (Harvey Keitel), Mr. Orange (Tim Roth), Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), “Nice Guy” Eddie (Chris Penn), Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney), Mr. Blue (Eddie Bunker) and Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino). We then decided who should play each character, this concluded with: Adam playing Mr. White, Owen playing Mr. Orange, Katie playing Mr. Blonde, Sean playing “Nice Guy” Eddie, Kieran playing Mr. Pink, Millie S playing Joe Cabot, Grace playing Mr. Blue (was originally going to be Emelia but, she was not here on the day) and finally, Millie P playing Mr. Brown. I took charge of the camera.

Costumes were quite simply a black blazer, black tie and black trousers – with the exception of Sean who needed to bring in a blue jacket and a gold chain for his role. However, for makeup, girls drew on moustaches and beards, if necessary. We drew on chest hair for Sean so, he fitted the role even more. For props, we bought in fake cigarettes, a toothpick and a homemade, pretend cigar. For the diner scene, we used a tissue holder from the canteen like it shows in the diner in the film. Another key prop/costume essential were: sunglasses. These were key as most of the characters needed them. They were easily brought in by the people who played these characters.

For location, we decided to film in the school canteen for the very start of the opening where the characters are in the diner. For the actual walking and opening credits, we found that the best place was to film in the “drive way” of the school. This part of school allowed the dolly track to be set up and moved easily here.

Filming

This was the most difficult aspect of the task as we didn’t have a whole day like the original film did in order to film the opening. The English weather is also very unpredictable so that proved another difficulty.

We started off by filming the part in the canteen. This was because, it gave us a starting point and, that it would be easier to edit together since it links in with the opening theme. We did two takes for the scene in the canteen as we only had one lesson to film it. This scene was fairly easy to shoot since it just required the camera to be placed onto the tripod and kept in the same place for the whole of the scene – it required no dolly track. The most difficult part was making the shot look exactly like the one in the film.

After we filmed that scene, we went outside to do the main part of the opening: the walking and opening credits. For the crab shot, we set up a dolly track by the side of the drive way. The cast placed themselves like the characters were stood in the original opening. They walked at a normal speed and, I pushed the dolly along just a little bit behind them. This meant that I wasn’t ahead of the characters at all so, the audience get to see all of them come into the shot.

For the close ups, I placed the camera on the tripod and I put it in front of the characters, slightly zoomed in. The actors then walked on the spot to give the illusion that they were actually walking. To film the final shot, the camera was placed in the middle of the driveway. The actors then walked away at a normal pace.

Editing

In terms of trying to get the opening to play exactly like the original, this part of the task could arguably be the most important. I started off by playing the original opening next to the open FinalCut Pro window. This meant that I could compare the two whilst I was editing and made sure that I got them the same. I exported all of the clips into the blank project. I put the audio of the ‘Reservoir Dogs’ opening onto the project and put the clips on from there. I removed all of the audio from the clips to ensure that the background noise was not interfering with the soundtrack and so, that I could start off with a, you could say, “blank canvas”.

I cut the clips down in time with the real footage, which meant putting it time with the music. The hardest part was definitely putting the transitions in and finding the right ones. However, once I got the hang of it, I found it quite easy. The text was also very difficult to get exact especially finding the perfect colour for it to look as accurate as the font in the real opening credits. Another difficult part was making the text move up the screen. Even thought it was a challenge, I finally got it to work.

Artefact

Here is my finished remake of the ‘Reservoir Dogs’ opening sequence.

Evaluation

There are some good things and bad things about my remake.

Pros

I think the cuts between scenes worked really well as they were very close to the original. This also links to the similarity in transitions with the fade outs. The font I chose was a very close, if not, perfect replica of the real thing; the colours also suited it too. I also think the timing of each shot and scene were very close too. Even though it was difficult, it worked out in the end. Another difficult aspect was getting the right composition of each shot as well, especially to get it as similar as the real ‘Reservoir Dogs’ opening. However, with the right placements, I managed to achieve the right close up as, it still had some of the environment in the background.

Cons

I could definitely improve on the steadiness of the camera whilst filming the first walking scene with the dolly track. This was because, the camera wasn’t tightly put onto the tripod when moving along the track – this caused the shakiness. Continuity was also a big issue as at the end of the opening, the characters have their backs towards the camera in the wrong way. This meant it looked like the characters walked around in a circle.

Obviously, if I did this task again, I would definitely correct the improvements to make the opening as perfect as possible. Overall, I do think it was a good remake with a limited amount of time and for a first time.