Category Archives: Short film production

The two days of shooting

After coming back from Iceland really excited about our short film and with really good perspectives and expectations about our short film, I must say that I was disappointed to find out that we don’t have proper actors. In Iceland I enjoyed the fact that it was a better sense of responsibility and a better understanding of every key aspect in a film. As I mentioned in an earlier post, casting was one of the crucial things that we needed for our production, and I worried that we could face this problem. From my previous experience I’ve seen that unprofessional actors are not always serious about their job, don’t pay attention to the requests of the director and more than that the final product will look amateur. All this being said, we encountered a problem from day 1. One of our actors decided to back-up in the day of the shooting, so Amrit had to remake the script in accordance to this new event.

I think this problem was mainly due to the fact that half of our crew was in Iceland, so we couldn’t communicate properly, we couldn’t help each other by giving suggestions that could have solved our issue. On another hand I think that we might not have advertised our film properly in order to raise the interest of possible actors. Also we were restrained to a certain budget and this was an obstacle in achieving our goals.

The first day of filming didn’t start very well as we encountered a problem with the timings. Part of our actors were’t ready till one our later than the we scheduled. The time in which we were going to film was short, as we choose to film in the library so we had to keep focused on every step and take responsibility of our roles. My role was a little bit tricky here, as I had to set up an office in one of the study rooms from the library. I had to come up with ideas of how to make the cubicles desks out of nothing, and I also had to finish everything in a restricted time. The props that I choose were not only the ones usual to an office, but also one that are in accordance with the character;s profiles, because I wanted to transmit a message through the set, I wanted to give a shape of the character’s profile. After I finished the set, my job yes wasn’t finished, as I was the sound operator. I must say that I enjoyed my role, because some of the scenes were really hilarious. Though we had a good time filming it, we also were careful about the shooting schedule and tried to take as many takes as possible from different angles and perspectives. I haven’t mentioned the fact that the “actors” were pretty good, and despite my expectations they behaved really well on set, listening the requirements of the director and trying to accomplish them as best as possible.

Day two started really well, and we were all enjoying the fact that we finally decided to do something right and chose as a location for the park scene to go in Birmingham. Locations are very important, and raise the interest of an audience, so I think that it is important that we made this call. I was surprised to see how good this day went, because I was a little bit nervous that we had to work with children, thing which we avoided till now. But we had to go for something different, that we haven’t tried so far; you can’t always work with people from your age. As I said, things turned up to go really well, and we even finished the shooting before the scheduled hour. The camera operator and the director said that we got all the footage needed, so we didn’t had anything to worry about.Unfortunately, I thought that things can’t be that perfect, so when I got home I’ve found out that the footage was not as good as we thought.  The camera was out of focus in some of the farts, and the framing was not that good. Now I feel sorry that we didn’t take addvantage of all the time that we had, in order to make further takes that would have helped in the editing process. This is a think that we must keep in mind.

I am glad at least that I can learn from every mistake made, thing which is really important for my experience. As it is said ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail! ‘.

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Roles

Artistic director

 To some up in a few words, I think that my job as an art director is to supervise and unify the entire vision of the film. As I searched into, I managed to get the real sense of this role. An art director needs to communicate visually with the audience, to contrast features and stimulate moods and not at least to psychological appeal to a target audience.

 What is hard is that an art director needs to take the concept and visualisation of the director, and transform it to reality. Basically I had to be in charge of accessing props, surveying locations, model making and helping to produce all sets. The key skills that you need as an artistic director are

  • a good sense for decoration, detail and matching;
  • potential to conceptualise ideas;
  • good communication skills;
  • the ability to work alone and as part of a team;
  • knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety procedures.
Sound operator 
My job on the set is again the one of a sound operator, not necessarily because I like it that much, but because I feel secure of it. As a sound operator you need to record high quality sound film, and this is a key role because without a good sound you can’t have anything. Sometimes the sound matters more than the visuals.

Sound operators need to have:

  • knowledge of sound, music and acoustics
  • technical skills to operate sound recording equipment and computer production equipment
  • problem-solving skills
  • decision-making ability
  • good communication skills, as they work closely with others.

I’ve learned that in order to be a good sound operator you need to have a good ear, a good understanding of the technical skill, a well managing of the equipment, good communication skills and you need to be well self- disciplined.

Casting and auditioning

Actors live your characters, give your film a sense of reality and this is why you need to pay attention at casting. Casting can be a difficult process, but in the same time can be engaging and fun. You must always keep in mind that even if your idea is extraordinary, with poor actors your idea might not have the same potential.

The first step that will help you through auditions is to have a good character profile, because in this way you will have a better sense about how your characters have to look, act and behave like. You will know exactly what you want from an actor; you will see if he/she understands the character, is he/she breathing life into your character? By doing all this you can attribute your pros and cons and at the end you’ll find it easier to decide upon which actor is best matched for your film.

When it comes to this, you need to detail the character profile as much as possible, even if you think that some of the details are not relevant, as the audience will not known or notice  them. But as much as you go deep into the character’s life, you’ll make it more unique, you’ll make it have something particular that will distinguish him from all the others. Of course, this is most in the cases of main characters which need more attention. Though, you can’t ignore the minor characters because details to count in a movie and also givess an extra touch of professionalism and makes the film really count. You need to pay attention at details such as: physical appearance, background,  hobbies, occupation, relationships, educational background. ethnicity, age, gender, interests, successes, aspirations, failures and influences.

We as students always tend to make the same mistake, of not trying to find professional actors, whether if it is about budget or comfort or anything else that can come in-between. If we want to become professionals we must learn that without effort we can’t do anything right. I’m not saying that finding actors is an easy job, but it is a key aspect of a good production. Every other choice that you make will lead you at lack of skill, lack of seriousness, impossibility of communication etc..

Professional actors are more easy to work it, they understand exactly what you want, they are more committed and you will be assured that your budget was worth it. So I will hope that we will manage to get some ‘real actors’. For this we had to look into several casting websites and we had to make a presentation of the film characters that will raise the interest. http://www.castingcallpro.com/uk/http://www.pcrnewsletter.com/pcr/http://www.starnow.com/http://www.mandy.com/http://shootingpeople.org/. The presentation needs to be engaging and it needs to be done right because it’s the first contact that you make with the actors. We went straight to the point, we were clear about what we were going to offer and we also offered all the necessary information of the character profile and the plot. Now we just have to wait for an answer!

Creating narratives

After finding a group to work with, we started sharing the ideas that we have for our short films. As we had to move our ‘key ideas’ to a preliminary  stage we decided to share and discuss them. The ideas varied much, so we started to take in consideration parameters as originality, interesting style and tone, logistics, thematic coherence, possibility of doing, success, locations and actors, in order to be able to restrain all the ideas to just 3. Also we needed to make sure that the film will respect the Olympic and Paralympic values – Respect, Excellence, Friendship, Courage, Determination, Inspiration and Equality.  

At this stage two of my ideas were chosen:

1.A young girl has a daydream, which seems to reveal a paranormal power. With the help of this power she tries to solve all the problems of her beloved ones. – she had a premonition

2. A young brilliant mind who has been all the time neglected by his family and by the people around him, starts to lose his confidence and power of keep going. He is on the verge of a mental breakdown, but a “simple distraction” makes him realize the importance of living life at its maximum potential no matter what the context is.

The third idea was Amrit’s, and it turned up to be the best one. It was original, it was possible to do it and funny, thing which I think it counted the most, because a short constructed around a joke or an unexpected twist always works the best:

3. Going with the word of truce, two gangs who don’t like each other are fighting over a hang out place (park with swings). They both start fighting and then the two main characters stop and say truce, both gangs end up playing together and become friends.

Though it turned up to be the best one, it still needs further development and it has to be really  catchy in terms of humour, so the script needs to be really well thought. As soon as the treatment and the script will be finished, we shall start thinking at every aspect of pre-production, and start doing it because we don’t have any time to waste.

The next PowerPoint presents our ideas in correlation with all the factors that we need to take in consideration.

short-film-production1

Key aspects of a successful short film

Before starting the actual work for this module I decided to look into the steps that you have to make in order to create a successful short film. Because it is not important just to make a short, it is important to “think big” and to try to aim for the biggest aim possible.

1. Amazing written concept

For this, you need to have a clever idea, an original one which stand out of the ordinary, which will raise interest in people. It has to be something unique, socially intriguing and with strong profile characters. The key is to keep it simple, but in the same worth watching. For this type of films you don’t need huge prologues and excessive character development, but you do need to inspire people, to make them think at the message that you want to transmit.

2. Genius storytelling

Do you wanna present a story that no one has heard about? Do you wanna make it famous? First you gotta do an action plan, a set of instructions. Even if it seems childish this is the way in which some of the most well – known films have originated This will make it easier for people to understand exactly what is your idea.

3. Good acting

Actors are an essential part and this can bring you an enormous benefit for your movie. Even if you have a good idea, it can be ruined if the acting is poor. But don’t put everything on acting, because even great acting can get dismissed if the story is incomprehensible or just poorly conceived.

4. Great sound design and soundtrack

There is nothing more disturbing than a bad sound, so you have to take this aspect in consideration when you are doing a film. More than that, a good use of sound and music can get  a more depth into emotional reactions and boost your film to a new level.

5. Strong cinematography

Image is important, but not as important as sound. In order to have a worthy film you have to convey the image to the storytelling, so it is important that the style is in accordance with the topic of your film, so you need to have a superb lightning, good colours and framing and it has to be originally shot.

6. Promotion of your film

When you think at your budget, you need to take in consideration one of the most important aspects of post production: promotion of your movie. So you need to get your film out there. In order to make this you have to make sure that you make DVD copies and get your films into festivals. It is important not to stop here, try to get your film in more than one festival, try to get reviews, comments and publicity through social media.

So I think the success consists in how far you manage to reach your goals, and how much time you dedicate for this.  Nothing is perfect nowadays, but at least with dedication and hard work you will manage to get as close as possible to perfection.

A brief history of short films

Why did I choose short film? Because  short films are the perfect start place for new filmmakers, is the place where you can develop your creative part and where you can develop all your technical skills, thing which can be done only by practice.

In order to have a clear understanding of the different types of film and their historical development I started to make some research. In the beginning all films were short, even if people were not aware of this concept; this was mainly because for the earliest cinema audiences was a miracle to witness man’s latest technology. But as the time passed, at the beginning of the 20th century, the technology started to become more and more developed and films started to become longer.

The short film from that period had usually only one shot and were portraying celebrities life, travelogues, affairs and day to day activities. One of the best movies from that period was: the Lumière brothers’ Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (1895), which shocked the audiences.

In other words the first films made were representing types of media entertainment that were already in practice, such as: tableaux presentations, magic lanterns show, illustrations etc.  From the beginning of 1900 many improvements were made in terms of technology, so the demands were to make longer and longer films. It was like a competition, and from here it began multi-reel films and the first features were born. Some of the most amazing short – long film of that period are: Georges Méliès’s A Trip to the Moon (1902),  Ku Klux epic The Birth of a Nation (1915) and George Loane Tucker’s equally controversial Traffic in Souls (1913). 

Even if the popularity of long featured film continued to raise, short films were not forgotten. They continued to be shown alongside, and more than that during the Second World war their popularity growth, after being used as governmental propaganda.

Nowadays things has changed. Short films are experiencing a massive success, because the audience sick a return to the old days, they sick for a innovative cinematic experience. A typical short film screening programme can cover 5 or 6 genres from several countries, so I think that this diversity s what makes people more excited about it. “As we experience rapid changes in the way that we choose to watch films, the profile of shorts will grow and grow. Future Shorts will continue to be at the leading edge of short film exposition.” – Fabien Riggall, founder of Future Shorts.

Here is my favourite short film that I’ve seen until now. I find it absolutely spectacular.