Monday, 23 December 2013

BFI Film Academy - December 14th 2013

This day was part Documentary, and part Networking. 

Nikki Parrott, who was a producer on a number of documentaries, spoke to use about her career as a producer, how they made her documentaries, and the problems involved with them. One particularly high-profile documentary that she had worked on was "Alexis Arquette: She's My Brother," and Nikki told us about the problems with Alexis herself. She decided not to have the operation, and she breached her contract by appearing in a new reality TV show, after refusing to continue with the film. 

We then got split into groups, and had to pick a story from a newspaper and pitch a documentary about it. We got stuck with the Daily Star, not exactly the pinnacle of journalism, and so we struggled to find anything. We eventually decided on North Korea, and came up with a pretty interesting documentary! 

We went to cake-break, and when we came back we met Rob Speranza, film producer. He spoke to us about networking, and how important it is. He also set up the SYFN (Not on that day, a while before), and encouraged us to sign up to their newsletter. 

Edit: I actually made a short horror film with some friends outside of the Academy, and emailed it to Rob. He was really helpful, and gave me a full page of feedback. The main lesson I've learnt from the BFI Film Academy is that most people are really nice, and will often try to help you out if you ask them politely.

And that's it! No more Film Academy until 2014. Gutted.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

BFI Film Academy - December 7th 2013

This day was dedicated to Animation, something that I'd never been that interested in (Spoiler: That had changed by the end of the day!). Firstly, all the films were shown. I still wasn't that happy with ours, though a few other people said they liked the idea, and I started to think it was maybe just me being overcritical. Then we were introduced to the techniques of pixillation and stop-motion, and shown a number of examples. This included the legendary surrealist Jan Svankmajer, who I became a bit of a fan of.

We were then split into groups, and tasked with creating our own short animation. We decided to go for a pixillated 'magic' film, which ended up really good! I was really happy with it. I helped out with both of the other groups' films too, as we finished quite early. Next was back to Sheffield Live to edit, and we decided to put the whole thing in black and white, with a film grain. We also put it in a different resolution, which was more similar to the first films. We tried to make it look like a Charlie Chaplin black and white film, complete with piano music (Debussy's "Golliwog's Cake Walk"), and it did come out really well.

There was an exhibition about Jan Svankmajer at The Showroom, and I went to it with a few others from the Academy because of this day. It was really interesting, and it was really good to be able to delve deeper into things that we'd learned at the academy, so easily. Though I'm not sure I liked Faust. I'm not sure I didn't like it either. I just straight-up have no idea what happened in that film.

Also, whilst watching the other group's films, one that really struck me was a much simpler film, that was just about a girl waiting for a date. It was really good, and was beautiful in it's simplicity. I was really inspired by it, and decided to use it as a stimulus. Not the same, I'm just going to focus on simplicity instead of high concept films.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

BFI Film Academy - December 1st 2013

Editing day!

Today, our group was editing the footage from the day before. However, we were told how long we had to edit the films, and we were advised to split up - some of the group working on their blogs and some on the editing. I did sit in for a while on the editing, but today I focussed more on getting this blog sorted.

The blog was for the Silver Arts Award, the reason I've been doing the other posts. A woman came in called Becci, who helped us out and told us everything we needed to do in order to get the Silver Arts Award (Here's hoping!)

One of the things that we had to do was to decide upon a personal challenge. After a bit of a discussion, we decided on writing a different script of my own, and completing it!

We ended up running out of time, and only had a rough cut of our film. We were sort of disappointed with the end results, but I think with a bit more time editing we could have made it substantially better. For future projects, I would give myself more than a day to edit. Which I think most productions have.

BFI Film Academy - November 30th 2013 (SHOOTING DAY!)

In the week before the shoot, I had finished 2 more drafts of the script, and received a lot of feedback from Rebecca through email. I'd spent a lot of time, and I was thrilled with my script.

So, quite understandably in my opinion, it was a bit disheartening when I arrived on the shooting day to find that nobody in the group had got chance to read the last draft. There wasn't a printer either. But, thanks to the magic of the internet, everyone could get Google Drive up on their smartphone and read it. Technology, eh?

We planned out how we were going to do things, and then the cast arrived and they were ... Noticeably different from the script. In the script, the two main characters had been middle-aged, and the actors were in their mid-teens. So, the group quickly got together a plot that made sense with the actors that we had available, which sort of completely changed the point of the script, but also sort of worked too. It was a bit of a shame that the story I'd written ended being changed so much, so I'm going to hold onto the script and hopefully make it one day.

Will had made a very rough shot-list, and we decided to first film the scenes with the car. This was my first time as cinematographer, and I think I did quite well. We struggled with the radio microphones, but eventually worked them out. Once this was done, we went to the Element office, and set to work shooting the rest of the film. And, would you believe it, they'd just started decorating. It seemed like someone was intentionally making the shoot difficult! We worked round this though, and filmed some good shots. We did film a lot of shots though. Probably a few too many for one person to edit in a day.

I learnt a fair bit about both writing and cinematography from this shoot. I learnt about the beauty of lens flares (Which are my new favourite thing. I'll just have to try and not get to the level of JJ Abrams!), and I learnt a trick for getting a good shot of a moving car - film it reversing away from the camera, and then reverse the footage! About writing, I learned the hard lesson that your script will inevitably get altered during shooting. Which is a shame. In future, I will make sure to be more vocal with things that I want in the film, and to discuss the story with the director in detail.

Whilst I enjoyed using the camera, I think that my heart lies with writing. Despite the end product being so vastly different to my original story, I still got to help create a story from scratch. And that was a good feeling.

Filmmaking rules!