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The Importance of Filters

The look of a production is a key element of the same that is usually taken for granted. This is however a good sign, as this means that it has been seamlessly integrated with the tone of the story. But to achieve the perfect look for a production, there is a piece of gear that might seem menial but that is actually very important.

What are filters?

Filters are rectangular or circular pieces made of glass that allow for manipulation of the light coming through the lens. Some are also made of optical coatings placed inside said glass. This light manipulation capability helps dealing with unwanted lighting conditions and allows for adding creative effects, modifying colour, depth of field and in general, adjusting the image. Filters are usually placed in front of the lens, but can also be placed after the lens and sometimes inside the lens – certain cameras include built-in filters as well. The most popular brands are Tiffen and Schneider, companies with a proven record of know-how, experience and presence in the industry.

How to use them

In order to place a filter before the lens, the most common practice, a matte box is required. Matte boxes come with filter trays designed to hold these in place right before the lens. Except for screw-on filters, which are naturally circular ones like polarisers that screw onto the front element of the lens, filters are placed in the matte boxes’ filter trays, and should cover the diameter of the lenses’ front element.

This is the reason why they normally come in two sizes: 4”x5.65” (also known as PV or Panavision size), which are rectangular filters that cover the diameter of most prime and zoom lenses, and 6.6”x6.6”, which are square filters normally required when working with big zoom lenses such as the heavyweight Angenieux Optimos or when working with full frame. There are also filters in 4”x4” but this size is not so much in use anymore.

Filter trays are normally horizontally oriented, however there are also vertical trays for portrait settings and rotatable trays, which are most commonly used with graduated filters and polarisers. The former is a type of filter that gets gradually darker from one edge to the other, thus the angle in which it is positioned makes one side darker – this can be used for example, to make the sky look darker.

The latter refract the light evenly in different directions depending on the angle, getting rid of glares and reflections. Rotatable trays make it easier to position the filter in the best way to achieve the desired effect.

Types of filters

Filters can be classified in these main categories:

  • Protection: such as the Optical Flat, a filter with no modifications – just a piece of glass for protecting the lens
  • Polarisers: as described above, these refract the light evenly getting rid of glares and reflections in the sky, glass and water.
  • Neutral Density (ND): these reduce the amount of light passing through the lens without modifying colour and are particularly helpful to avoid overexposure. ND Grads as mentioned above also belong in this category.
  • Infra-Red Neutral Density (IRND): same as the NDs, however these help control the amount of Infra-Red filtration on blacks and dark colours.
  • Diffusion: these help diffuse the light to create softer images or distribute the light across the image while controlling sharpness and can also add glow and enhancing traits to skin tones.
  • Special Effects: these add special effects to the image, such as light streaks, fog or day for night.
  • Colour Effects: these are tinted filters that help enhance certain colours on the image or add a tint to it.
  • Diopters: these filters behave similarly to magnifying glasses and are designed for close-ups and extreme close-ups as they allow for close focusing. Split diopters are diopter filters that only have half the glass, enhancing depth of field and increasing the amount of the image that is in focus even at a very close distance from the subject on the foreground.

Even though the final look of a production is achieved during post-production, the use of filters is key to achieve certain effects or image traits that could not be created digitally. This is especially true with polarising, skin tones, flares and bokeh control, particular lighting setups and colours. For this reason, it is not uncommon for DOP’s and camera assistants to carry out filter tests during prep to see how filters behave under the conditions they are going to work during the shooting. The footage of these is then taken into the editing suite, to check how the final result would look like in post-production. At this stage, producers, executive producers and director will also have their say in the choice of filters that best represent the desired look for the production.

Filters can alter an image so much in terms of lighting, colour and skin tones that even some actors and actresses are known to regularly have taken their own filters to the set. One actress that is said to have done this was Joan Collins, who allegedly handed her own filters to the crew for them to use when shooting her scenes, so her skin tones looked to her taste.

On-Set Etiquette

You have been scouring the Internet in search of opportunities for a first job in the film or TV industry. You have been applying for many of them and finally, it happened. You got that email, the job is yours.

Landing your first on-set job in film or TV is a very exciting time. However, how to behave, what to do, what to say and even what to wear might be some of the questions going through your mind. Hopefully this article will point you in the right direction and put you at ease so you can go off to a wonderful first day.

Chances are your first job will be that of a runner-like role, be it camera, floor or otherwise. If for some reason this is not your case, I’d like to encourage you to read on as you might still find the rest of the article very useful. There are things stated below that might sound very obvious, however they don’t always come across as such.

General behaviour

Being as helpful as possible is a no-brainer, but you should also be aware that sometimes too much assistance can be considered interfering. Sometimes we want to be so helpful that we get in the way of other people, which is evidently not well-regarded. Along the same lines, you should only speak when you are spoken to. Don’t try to look or sound smart by demonstrating your skills and just focus on completing the tasks you are given. One thing to keep in mind is that a production always runs against the clock so everyone is always very busy doing their part and no one has time to waste.

Be proactive about offering help if you don’t have anything to do at a given time and never do something you haven’t been asked to do or touch anything you haven’t been asked to touch. Conversely, always ask about things if there’s something you don’t understand or if you are not sure about how to do something. It is much better to ask again and get it right than not asking and getting it wrong. If you do make a mistake anyway, apologise, try to find a solution for it and move on.

It’s also very important to always be jolly, polite, respectful and never complain. Shooting days can be very long (sometimes even 12 or 16 hours) and occur during the so-called “unsociable” hours. Therefore, you will normally spend a very long time working with the same people. This can be great if people get along but also uncomfortable if you have to put up with someone unpleasant for so long. For this reason, many would go so far as to say that they’d rather work with someone nice that doesn’t know as much than someone who is a tech wizard but not likeable.

The same goes for complaining. You will get tired and possibly hungry and thirsty. In any case, keep it to yourself and never complain. No one likes a whiner.

Nevertheless, don’t think that you have to do everything you are asked to without question. For instance, if you are told to go buy lunch with your own money and they will reimburse you later, it’s okay for you to politely decline if you don’t feel comfortable doing it. There might be reasons why the company hasn’t sorted out some of the meals, however it is not included in the runners’ duties to financially take charge of this.

Also, don’t attempt to lift anything that looks too heavy for you just because you have been told to do so. It’s perfectly fine for you to state that a determined load is too heavy for you and ask for help.

In the same way, it’s okay to admit you don’t know something if you’re asked for technical advice or told to do something beyond your knowledge or that you have never done before. The important thing here is to not try to “save the day”, especially if you are going to go about something by guessing. Again, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Along these lines, never overestimate your skills by suggesting that you are able to do something beyond your duties. For example, if you are a camera runner, don’t walk up to a camera assistant and ask if you can pull focus on the next take. Anything like this would be considered very rude, even if you can pull focus.

Productions are organised in a very hierarchical way. Always be respectful of everyone but especially more so the heads of department and talent. Try not to be nervous around talent, they are normal people too and are pretty much in the same boat. If you know who someone is without having met them before, don’t talk to them unless you have to or if they approach you.

What to wear and carry

The dress code may vary from production to production, but it will be usually indicated on the call sheet if there is one. Take the weather into account, especially if you are going to be working outdoors. Since weather can be unpredictable (particularly in the UK) it’s a safe bet to wear a waterproof jacket and shoes. The latter should be as comfortable as possible, so a pair of nondescript trainers would probably be a good call. Also think in terms of temperature, you don’t want to spend the whole day shivering or sweating.

In regards to the rest of your attire, a normal pair of jeans or trousers and a basic t-shirt should do the trick. Tracksuits can be a grey area, but it would be safe to say that most of the times they will be considered as “too casual/comfortable”. Just make sure that the clothes you’ve chosen are not noisy when you move.

In terms of colours, you can never really go wrong with dark clothes –except for maybe those occasional hot days in the summer.  However, don’t wear light or bright clothes as these cause reflections on the actors, scene, or sometimes in windows.  The plainer, the better, and it is best to avoid wearing big logos. This can cause some trouble depending on the nature of the production, so best to make sure this is alright or avoid it altogether.

A torchlight can be very useful – the one on your phone should be alright but remember to silence it! – and if you want to be extra helpful always carry a couple of Sharpies and pens, even some blank paper sheets and some gaffer tape.

What to expect

You have to be aware that “runner” is the lowest of the roles in a production. This isn’t anything bad, it’s just a matter of hierarchy. Don’t be offended if someone explains something to you that you already know, just listen and learn. Practice makes perfect, so hearing about something one more time can never be a bad thing.

As a runner you won’t be (shouldn’t be) treated any differently. However, you might find yourself having to carry out what might seem like menial tasks, such as breakfast/lunch runs, making tea and coffee, fetching objects or water and conveying messages. Again, this is not a bad thing. There is always something to learn from everything and completing allegedly easy and boring tasks in a timely manner with efficiency and a good disposition will eventually get you noticed as a hard-working, reliable and pleasant individual, which can earn you good references that will lead to roles with more responsibility in the future.

Another excellent skill to have on set is the ability to remain calm when something goes wrong –it will happen, more than you would think. In these situations, people get nervous and stressed and therefore you can expect to be yelled at as a result of high stress. If this happens don’t take it to heart, just carry on with your tasks and be as helpful as possible. However, if by any chance you had a truly unpleasant encounter with anyone that shouldn’t be ignored, leave it for the end of the day and make sure to report it to the head of department.

In terms of food, it depends on the arrangements that have been done for the day. You can expect at least one catered meal and complimentary water throughout the day.

In terms of working time, as I stated before you should expect to work long hours and to have some breaks during the course of the day. How many will depend on the intensity of the work and the schedule.

Last but definitely not least, you should always get paid for your work, unless it’s clearly stated beforehand that the role is not paid but you still decide to do it. Unpaid jobs however, are luckily becoming more of a rarity. In any case, always go on a job having clarified compensation matters beforehand.

Do’s and Don’ts

Here is a list of some additional do’s and don’ts that can help you on set:

  • Be polite, respectful, pleasant and helpful.
  • Never sit down unless you are on a break. In this case, make sure to stay away from the set and any busy areas.
  • Don’t carry copies of your latest script/film to show people, especially not to heads of department or the director, producer, etc.
  • Don’t ask for anyone to let you do anything beyond your duties/capabilities.
  • Never brag about your past work and preferably don’t mention it unless you are specifically asked about it.
  • Always keep receipts if you buy anything, whether it’s for yourself, the production or someone else.
  • Never give your opinion about the work that is being done unless you are asked to. If this is the case, always start with something like: “I’m not sure, what do you think?”
  • Use your common sense.

The Festival Run

Finishing a film is always a great accomplishment. It is very rewarding to see an idea come to fruition through the coordinated effort of people working in team to achieve the representation of that idea. However, the last step to make that effort complete is to show the results of the hard work. And as if making the film wasn’t hard enough, showing it is likely almost as difficult, if not tougher. It is all very nice showing it to family and friends, but that won’t exactly yield any sort of professional recognition or prospects of career progression.

So, who should I show my film to and how? – you might be wondering. The answer is “festivals”.

What are film festivals?

Film festivals are events that provide the opportunity to showcase new talent and productions in the film industry. They are also great places to do business, network, stay head about new developments and even learn new things through Q&A sessions and workshops.

Simply put, a festival can be thought about as a film market. Filmmakers submit their films looking to catch the eye of people working in the industry. Executives, producers, directors, actors, distributors, press, critics, agents and many others attend to look for new productions, new deals in terms of rights, ideas or distribution agreements, opportunities to collaborate and uncover new talent.

Generally, it is possible to also attend festivals even if you don’t work in the industry or if your submission hasn’t been selected. You can buy tickets for most of them, however the more popular and prestigious, the more expensive and difficult it would be to get a pass. This can be nonetheless worth doing for big festivals, since these are a very interesting window to peak through to see how films are actually bought and sold. It is also a great experience and you never know who you can end up meeting.

Reasons to enter them

The main reason for filmmakers to enter festivals is therefore to get exposure. No one is going to come looking for you or your film, especially if they don’t even know you exist and make films. This is tied-in with trying to win awards, another reason to enter festivals. These are the main places to do so –even cash prizes- and this normally translates into recognition and press attention. Depending on the prestige and popularity of the festival, there can be high career development prospects – like getting on the radar for big productions or projects, or maybe having new opportunities for higher funding. Awards also look great on any personal filmography, and you might want to consider listing them on your CV since this could provide you with a boost that takes you to the next level.

Even if you don’t win any awards, most would consider getting accepted into any category of any respected festival, a great success. You can still get recognition and press attention just for being selected – and there could be as many prospects if your film appeals to the audience even though not so much to the jury.

Process

The process for the festival run starts by planning it right at the pre-production stage. In my previous article “Starting Pre-Production” I mentioned providing an allocation for festivals when preparing the film’s budget. This budget would be for submission fees, as most festivals are not free to enter, and in most cases, for preparing a submission package.

In order to get an accurate figure about how much to spend in festival submissions, it is necessary to carry out research that determines which festivals you are going to submit your film to. Knowing exactly this will save you a lot of time, money, effort and disappointment in comparison to just winging it.

Bear in mind the time that it will take to complete your film, not to overlay it with any deadlines. If you are thinking of submitting a film that is already finished, you don’t need to worry about this –however, you will need to check festival’s guidelines to see that your film is not too old to be submitted. Normally festivals have several deadlines: early bird, regular, late and sometimes extended. It might be an understatement, but the later you submit, the more expensive the fees will be, therefore you would want to aim for the early bird deadline especially if you are concerned about saving some money.

The next thing to do, as I mentioned above, is create a package to present your film when submitting – a requirement in many festivals. This would normally include a synopsis that talks about the film and its meaning, as well as a Director’s statement (you can check out this article on how to write one: The Director’s Statement: What to Write). You would also need to talk about the team, their aspirations and motives and what they have done so far previous to your film, especially about key roles such as Director, Writer, Producer or DOP and the main cast. You would also want to consider spending some of the budget for this package in still photographs both from the film and production, a poster of the film (or a few) and even some marketing and promotion efforts and distribution plans.

The last thing is applying and forgetting about it. This is where blunt honesty comes into play: it is very difficult to win at festivals, but not impossible. It might sound very bleak, but the safest –and healthiest- tactic to follow is not to expect to win or to even be considered. However, if it does happen, the reward is immense.

It may seem like a lot of effort for nothing in most cases, but the only certain way not to win anything is never submitting. You’ve got nothing to lose – you should consider your festival budget allocation as a loss if you hadn’t done that yet.

What festivals should I submit to?

Yes, there is nothing to lose, but no one said you cannot play it smart and possibly stack more odds in your favour. The way to do this is to be truly honest with yourself about your film, especially in terms of the end result and its level. By doing so and researching festivals, you will find that there will be festivals of the same level of your film, where it will be most suited. This way, you will definitely increase your chances at winning.

So don’t be discouraged if your film isn’t at a professional level or the level you wanted it to be – there’s nothing wrong with this since there will still be festivals out for there for you.

Another tactic is to browse festivals by genre – some festivals are broad and others are specialised. If your film is a particular genre, like sci-fi or horror, you will find that there are many dedicated festivals where your chances of winning might be greater. This also includes student or independent festivals.

Opposite to that, there are broad, very prestigious and popular festivals like Cannes or Sundance where it is almost impossible to be considered – for starters you most likely need to know someone in there to even have your film looked at and have a shot at being within the 0.74% acceptance rate. My recommendation is not to bother entering very famous festivals at first, but best of luck if you decide to!

So, how to research for festivals?

There are great websites like FilmFreeway, Withoutabox, Reelport or Shortfilmdepot where you can browse for festivals and apply directly – some will in fact, only let you apply through these websites.

A word of warning to conclude, make sure to include as part of your research some time to verify the legitimacy of festivals. An accurate rule of thumb is to check the festival’s website – see if it doesn’t look weird – the number of editions the festival has run for – the higher, the better. It is especially questionable if it is running for the first time – that it is organised by a trusted and reputed organization and even the location. Believe it or not, scammers also target festivals aiming to get hold of enthusiastic filmmakers’ money by setting up “festivals” which end up taking place in their living room or in the middle of nowhere!

From Shorts to Features: An Interview with Chris and Ben Blaine

Chris and Ben Blaine (also known as The Blaine Brothers) are an award winning English writer-director duo who have garnered much praise for their short films and sketches for Film Four and the BBC. In 2015, they released their debut feature film, Nina Forever– a darkly comic, twisted and genre defying tale of love, death and un-dead exes.

Ben and Chris recently spoke at the ‘Shorts to Features: Journey of the Award -Winning ‘Nina Forever’ event hosted by IMIS on Monday 25th of September to talk about the transition from short film to feature film and the journey of their first feature from conception to premiering at SXSW.

I caught up with Chris for a chat following IMIS’s event:

 

LD: So, you’re professionally known as The Blaine Brothers, yourself and Ben, as film making siblings who write and direct all your projects together. Could you tell us a bit about how this came to be? When did you start the collaboration?

CB: We obviously used to play together a lot, but then I fell in love with animation and wanted to do some animation. Ben was always writing from a really early age and I was always doing art. So, I bought a camera to do animation and Ben had written a script with his mate Keith and said ‘Do you want to make this film with us?’ We spent the whole summer holiday making a feature length version of the Bible, like a piss take. But you know we’d not actually ever watched Monty Python’s Life of Brian at that point and there were jokes in there that were quite similar and obviously there’s a little bit of animation from me to complete it. But yeah, we had a good time arsing around in the woods with our school friends and putting on fake beards and playing around with fake blood and gore and doing stupid jokes. We sold it to the kids at school and it got banned by the school for being blasphemous which was great because it meant that it was something that everybody wanted because the school said they shouldn’t have it and we actually sold a lot more copies. We thought this is easy, we can make money from this! So, we started making short films and didn’t make any money from those for a very long time.

 

LD: Quite ambitious beginnings then!

CB: Well, sort of, it was just arsing around with a VHS camcorder. We didn’t have any idea about film making or where to place the camera or anything like that and we slowly learnt that by making short film after short film.

 

LD: So, moving on to screenwriting. What would you say are the benefits of having a writing partner?

CB: Well the enemy so often is the blank page and when there are two of you it’s a lot easier to not face yourself with a blank page because it might not be that you’re writing but you’re always talking. One of you is going to be helping the other one think through exactly what it is that you are trying to do. So, we rarely have the writers’ block thing that most have to struggle with and that I do terribly if I’m on my own. But together certainly it is a real joy.

 

LD: Does it present any challenges that you didn’t expect?

CB: It did early on. Ben always did the writing and I was always doing the camera work. Then I’d written a script for the first time and by swapping those roles it suddenly became really clear that we weren’t necessarily making the same film when we were shooting it. In one film, there was one character that one of us thought was alive and one of us thought was dead and was a ghost. But we didn’t figure that out until the edit and one of us was sitting there going ‘Sorry, you think what?’ We’d both been intending to make a completely different film, that was actually a good step to find that out and to start properly interrogating each other. And that film then Ben started to really rip apart as a script and we hugely improved it and rewrote it and reshot it as a short. Then after that it was kind of no holds barred, we were always just ready to rip into each other and try and make stuff better but mainly to be going ‘What is it that you’re actually trying to do?’ rather than what it says on the page. So often with a script the intention is actually not in the scene so it can be easy to misread the intention of what that particular scene, or what the film as a whole is trying to say. You can go off on tangents really easily so we just always keep talking about what it is we’re trying to do so when you’re writing it comes out from that.

 

LD: How do the two of you set about co-writing a script, do you have a specific method that you use or is it a bit more spontaneous?

CB: It’s a fairly regular routine of ideally writing every day but basically we share a screen so we’ve got two laptops but they’re both seeing the same thing. We write in Scrivener which is an application which has organisation so you can do each scene as its own little card and you can put those scenes within a folder for a sequence and you can put that sequence as a folder of an act so you can get the structure of your film and see it really clearly and write a whole bunch of notes. Usually when we’re writing we will talk and write notes and figure out what it is we’re supposed to be writing. We usually beat out a film using Scrivener and taking a while to actually get into writing it on the page because so often when you put a thing on the page you get really attached to the formulation of the words. That can be a really delightful thing but it can also be really that it doesn’t matter the way that those words are put together because an actor will come along and do it in a certain way and is it actually getting to the point of the intention of the scene, it can really get in the way. A lot of the time now we take a while to get around to writing and have talked it through so much that it becomes quicker to write and is a lot more liquid and fluid and easier to keep changing it.

 

LD: 2015 saw the release of your debut feature ‘Nina Forever’. What did you find you find where the challenges of going from writing short scripts to your first feature script?

CB: Definitely not our first feature script! Ben had been writing them since god knows when. I started writing features not long after I started writing short films and Ben had already written some by that point. The biggest thing for us with Nina was that we got to the point that we’d been writing films and slowly but surely trying harder and harder to fit in the model that everybody expects of 3 acts and a down point here, that sort of stuff. It kind of kept taking the life out of the scripts that we were writing as we don’t naturally write in 3 acts, it just doesn’t really fit us. With Nina we basically just went ‘f*** it’- we’re not going to write in a genre, we’re not going to try and write anything that we expect anyone will like, we’re just going to write for ourselves. Literally the weirdest, darkest s**t we could think of that felt right and was making us laugh was all going in there. We fully expected the script to horrify most people in terms of them wanting to work with us because up to that point pretty much all the short films we’d been making were comedies and Nina is blackly comic but isn’t really a comedy and it’s quite horrific in many ways. We were kind of expecting people to say ‘Don’t make that movie! Why? Why would you do that?’ which was almost the point. In terms of the difference between the shorts and the features, a short always feels like you’re trying to express a single idea really simply and perfectly and a lot of the time it either comes out all in one go and it works or you keep going back to it and reworking it to the point that you’re not sure that it does what you want it to. With features it is all about the reworking of it. We always find it hard with a short, you feel like either it comes out and you’re like ‘yeah let’s do it’ or you get into development hell. It’s weird, it’s almost easier to get into development hell on a short film than it is on a feature, I guess because it’s so few words to be talking about compared to a feature where there is so much that you are able to change. I suppose a lot of that is the juxtaposition of one scene after another, as soon as you just move some scenes that’s changed the whole film, with a short you’ve probably only got about 3 scenes. You don’t have as many options available in order to see how it can work, it either does or it doesn’t.

 

LD: Bearing in mind the quite shocking subject matter, did you find that that made securing funding for the film quite difficult? Did people not really understand what genre you were trying to place yourselves in?

CB: Our attention was always that we were never going to go to the industry with it. We raised money privately, we’d actually saved up some money ourselves. We were doing editing for tv- working all hours means that we’re not spending the money so we had this chunk of money in the account and we thought ok we can use that to make the film and we can maybe double it and go and make it with as many friendly people as possible and with as small a crew as possible. The producer that we work with Cassandra (Sigsgaard) said she thought we could make it a slightly bigger movie using FDA scheme. So, we went to a lot of different people to raise the money but it actually came together quite quickly. I think if we’d gone to the usual industry sources we probably would’ve gotten ourselves stuck in the quagmire of ‘yeah but what genre is it?’ and all of those usual questions that you get. Because we were avoiding it we just got to talk to people who either really believed in us as film makers and were willing to come on board due to that or they actually read the script and because there was a real honesty to it and a real freshness to it, because it is a really different film, they could see how it could be a cool, interesting movie. So, we didn’t fall into those pitfalls and the money came together really quickly.

 

LD: Did you find that by getting financing by other means other than fully funding it yourself that anyone wanted to make any adjustments to the script or change the kind of vision you had for it?

When Cassandra came on board she gave us a bunch of notes and we definitely re-wrote with those in mind but it was still very much the film that we’d wanted to write. The biggest thing for her that sells us as film makers is our voice, so she was really on point in terms of going ‘yeah that doesn’t really feel like you guys’ and actually a lot of the time was pushing us to be weirder which was fun. We were really quick in going into shooting it and possibly could’ve developed it for longer but actually I think that’s part of the reason why we raised the money quickly because we were basically just set on the idea of ‘yup we’re going to go ahead and make this and we’re going to shoot it for whatever money we’ve raised and you can either be a part of it or you don’t have to be a part of it.’ We weren’t really beholden to anyone which was a really liberating feeling. But then in the edit we definitely got some feedback from our execs and they weren’t ordering us to do anything, they were very much like, ‘these are my thoughts but it’s entirely up to you’. It was actually really nice and again, they were actually encouraging us to go further and be more daring with what we were doing, so it was really positive.

 

LD: So, what advice would you give to film makers who perhaps have experience making their own shorts but are finding it difficult to progress from that onto making a feature film? 

If you can think of something that you can make really small as a feature film and to be able to do it with no pressure, go do it! It’s the tricky thing of ‘you’re not a feature film maker until you’ve made a feature film’ you’ve always got that catch 22. So, Nina Forever for us was 3 people in a bedroom, and ok, there’s the two parents so there’s a little bit of stuff around their house but essentially we were thinking it’s kind of just two locations, it ended up being like 26. We were thinking this could be a really simple film, it’s something we could shoot on a DSLR, and it could just be me and Ben- I can do camera, he can do sound and just the 3 actors. It just felt like the kind of film we were totally ready to go and make and felt perfect for us at the time. When we were starting out and writing it we were thinking we were going to be making this for 20 grand, and it doesn’t matter if we fail miserably and if the film doesn’t work it’s just a chance for us to try and make something, and make something longer and learn all the stuff from that. That no pressure way of making a film can be really good because you can really get the pressure put on you as soon as you start getting money involved. A lot of the time you want your film making to feel free and to not have that pressure. There are so many good films being made now for pretty much f*** all. Actually, it’s almost like the film funders are waiting for you to make a film for not very much because they want you to prove that you can do a full-length feature. So, the starting point is no longer making a short for a certain amount of money, it’s making a feature film for nothing, following the Ben Wheatley kind of model. There is a real freedom in being able to do that and just going ahead and making something. There are feature films that people are making on iPhones that are winning awards and getting into Sundance. So, you can shoot on anything now and it looks great. So, you’re not going ‘we need to afford 35m film’, it’s more ‘Na I just need to edit it on my laptop- oh, I’ve already got that. I’ve already got some sort of a camera, away we go.’ But I think that’s kind of the way we always try to think about it- it’s just trying to be film makers so just making and not waiting and asking for permission.

 

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BSC Expo 2019

BSC Expo is coming to Battersea Evolution. Come along with your friends and join us at our boot for a chat or a quick ‘hello’ and pick up your free swag. Entry is free for all. Register now.

We are excited to exhibit again this year across two full days of fellow exhibitors showcasing their latest equipment. As well as that you will be able to immerse yourself in a large number of panel discussions and presentations.

This will also give you the perfect opportunity to come see us at our stand, pick up your free swag and get a great deal of inspiration from across the industry.

About BSC Expo:
The BSC Expo  is the UK’s premier dedicated film and TV production show and is now a recognised fixture in the industry calendar. The 2019 is set to be the biggest ever, with national and international manufacturers and suppliers. This is a great opportunity to test all of the latest equipment and technologies in a relaxed industry environment.

We are excited to exhibit alongside our colleagues at:

  • ARRI
  • NBC Universal
  • Zeiss
  • RED
  • Sony
  • …and many more
We look forward to seeing you there!

Post-Holiday After Party: Xmas Might Be Gone, But The Party Is Still On

Back from the festive month and still in party-mode? Well, look no further and join us at our annual start-of-the-year party at the renowned Phoenix Artist Club in Soho.

What you will get out of this gathering:

  • Make new connections
  • Mix&Mingle with old and new faces
  • Have a drink (or two) on the house

FREE for IMIS Members. Tickets for non-members: £6 (incl. VAT)

Come along for NETWORKING EVENT, DRINKS and a GREAT TIME!

ABOUT THE PHOENIX ARTIST CLUB:

The award-winning Phoenix Artist Club is one of London’s last remaining independently owned and operated venues, based in the heart of the west end and located in the original rehearsal rooms of the Phoenix Theatre.

Telling Powerful Stories with ‘American History X’ Director Tony Kaye

Six-time Grammy nominee director/cinematographer Tony Kaye, American History X (nominated for an Academy Award) will be joining us for an evening discussing telling powerful stories.  Tony is also known for his music videos for Paul McCartney, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Johnny Cash. For his music video for Johnny Cash’s God’s Gonna Cut You Down, Kaye won the Grammy Award. Kaye will talk about his journey on the film industry across creative sectors.

‘Tony Kaye is also the most awarded director and cinematographer of television commercials in British Advertising History.’

Tony will:

  • Talk about his experiences as a director across several creative industries
  • Give insight into working with a high-end cast in passion feature film productions
  • Discuss high-class music video production working with celebrity musicians

Come along to this gem of an event, meet new people and get some insight into the ins and outs of directing award-winning projects.

About Tony Kaye:

He has made several well-known music videos, including the video for “Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum, which won a Grammy Award, “Dani California” by Red Hot Chili Peppers, “What God Wants” by Roger Waters, and “Help Me” and “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” by Johnny Cash. Kaye is a six-time Grammy nominated music video director.

His feature film debut was American History X (1998), a drama about racism starring Edward Norton and Edward Furlong. Kaye disowned the final cut of the film and unsuccessfully attempted to have his name removed from the credits. The film was critically lauded and Norton was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film.

Kaye’s second feature, a documentary called Lake of Fire, about the abortion debate in the United States, opened in Toronto in September 2006. The movie was shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature as well as for Best Documentary Film at the Independent Spirit Awards, the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards and the Satellite Awards. Lake of Fire took Kaye 18 years to make.

Kaye’s third feature film, a crime drama titled Black Water Transit starring Laurence Fishburne, was shot in New Orleans during the summer of 2007. A rough cut was screened at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival but the film was never released to cinemas.

Kaye’s fourth feature film, Detachment (2011), starring Adrien Brody as well as featuring Kaye’s daughter Betty, is a drama about the decline of the education system in American high schools. It premiered in April 2011 at the Tribeca Film Festival. In 2011, Detachment screened in competition at the 37th Deauville American Film Festival in France. It won both the Revelations Prize and the International Critics’ Award. Detachment was also announced as the Closing Night Film at the Woodstock Film Festival, where Kaye was the recipient of the Honorary Maverick Award.

Finding a Theme: A Workshop on Bringing Your Narrative Together

Join us as screenwriter and story design consultant, Rick Harvey walks you through the steps of writing a theme whilst exploring its importance and often-overlooked powers in this interactive workshop.

He will address the ins and outs of what themes are about and where they belong in the writing process. In particular, he will look at:

  • Theme as a unifying element of a narrative
  • Theme as a means of establishing an emotional engagement with a reader /
    audience
  • Theme as a means of establishing/connecting to a writer’s voice

Since this is a workshop, we advise you to bring along your own project to get the most out of this session.

Come along to this gem of an event, meet new people and get some insight into the ins and outs of successful theme writing.

About Rick Harvey:

Rick is a Cambridge-based screenwriter, story design consultant, lecturer and mentor.

Since attaining an MA Screenwriting & Research qualification from the London College of Communication in 2001, he has storylined for ‘Family Affairs’ (Talkback Thames/Channel 5), developed projects for Hewland International and Frenzy Films, written a slate of short films and spec features, mentored on First Light, Media Box and BFI projects and written and developed feature screenplays for EON Productions.

He was trained by the UK Film Council to devise, develop and deliver industry-standard courses on screenwriting and cross-platform story design, and he lectures regularly on various aspects of the writing process.

Rick is currently developing, ‘Beautiful Bodies’, an eight-part serial for TV, writing a Folk Horror feature narrative, Inheritance, and overseeing the MA in Filmmaking at Raindance.

Tickets Available:

  1. General Admission: This ticket is open to any non-member of IMIS.
  2. IMIS Member Ticket: Once logged in to the website, this allows the user the ability to attend the event for free. Limit one per person. No need to register for livestream.
  3. Livestream Ticket: This ticket allows you to watch the recording live and indefinitely afterwards. A link will be sent to you before the event.

A Star Is Born: How to Find the Perfect Cast for Your Film

UNFORTUNATELY OUR GUEST SPEAKER HAS HAD TO POSTPONE, WE ARE LOOKING AT REARRANGING THIS EVENT IN THE FUTURE. WE WILL KEEP YOU POSTED!  THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE.

 

Come join us as Hannah Williams, Casting Director and U.K. Casting Specialist at Backstage, will talk about one of the most crucial steps in the film production process, casting for your film. She has worked on projects such as Fantastic Beasts, Tarzan, The Falling, Beast, etc.

She will:

  • explain the role of the Casting Director
  • walk you through the casting process of low and high budget productions
  • address the best ways for filmmakers in getting the perfect talent
  • talk about do’s and don’ts for filmmakers and actors whilst auditioning

Come along to this gem of an event, meet new people and get some insight into the world of casting.

About Hannah Williams

Hannah Marie Williams has been working in the business of casting for over 8 years, working on big budget features, indie shorts, commercials, TV, documentary and everything in between. She is now launching the UK arm of Backstage, a long established and highly regarded actor publication and casting platform from the US whilst also continuing her work as a Casting Director.

About Backstage:

For over 50 years, Backstage has been the most trusted place for actors and performers to find jobs and career advice, and for casting professionals and talent seekers to find the right performers for their projects.

Today, Backstage is the largest online casting platform in the United States, with over 4,000 roles posted every week, and over 100,000 members building their careers on the platform.

Casting professionals can take advantage of sophisticated application management tools to make the job of finding the perfect performer a breeze.

Producing Feature Films: The Ins and Outs of the Craft

Come join us as producer Pietro Greppi will talk about his experience developing, financing, producing and releasing the debut feature film by emerging writer/director Andrew Steggal (Departure) starring Juliet Stevenson (Bend It Like Beckahm, Truly Madly Deeply) and Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game.)

He will discuss:

  • Securing both development and production funding from the BFI and working closely with them throughout the process
  • Securing the rest of the finance as well as sales and distribution partners before production, which included pitching the project at a number of co-production and finance markets and labs, including Film London’s Micromarket and Closing the Gap
  • Setting up the project as a UK/ French production (the film was a British film shot entirely in the South of France with mixed cast and crew; post-production was carried out half in the UK half in France); this entailed bridging the cultural differences between the two systems, particularly in regard to the legal closing and during production on set
  • Planning the film’s festival and distribution strategy in conjunction with the film’s finance, sales and distribution partners, overseeing attendance at festivals including BFI London, Rome, Dinard and Palm Springs, and markets including Cannes and EFM in Berlin

Come along to this gem of an event, meet new people and get some insight into the ins and outs of successful feature film producing.

About Pietro Greppi:

Pietro Greppi is a London-based independent producer. He produced Andrew Steggall’s BFI-funded debut feature Departure (2016), starring Juliet Stevenson and Alex Lawther. A UK-France production, the film screened at festivals including LFF, Dinard and Rome and was released theatrically in the UK and France and sold internationally by Charlotte Mickie at Mongrel.

Pietro previously produced Giacomo Cimini’s sci-fi short The Nostalgist, based on a short story by NY Times best-selling author Daniel H. Wilson (Robopocalypse), starring Lambert Wilson (Of Gods and Men, The Matrix Revolutions) and Samuel Joslin (Paddington, The Impossible). The short, partly funded via Kickstarter, won the Melies d’Argent and screened at festivals including LFF, Palm Springs, FantasticFest and Clermont Ferrand before securing distribution on platforms including iTunes, Wired and We Are Colony.

Pietro is currently developing a slate of features with partners including the BFI, Creative England, The Wellcome Trust and Ingenious Media. He is also a consultant and project assessor for a number of production companies and film initiatives.

He began his career in New York, gaining experience in development at Christine Vachon’s Killer Films and later working in distribution and sales at Magnolia Pictures. He then worked across sales and financing at Goldcrest in London, on films such as Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights and The Iron Lady.

About Departure (2015):

An English mother and her teenage son spend a week in the South of France breaking up a summer home that has become one of the casualties of the woman’s crumbling marriage. The boy struggles with his dawning sexuality and an increasing alienation from his mother. She in turn must confront the fact that her marriage to his father has grown loveless and the life she has known is coming to an end. When an enigmatic local boy enters their lives, mother and son are compelled to confront their separate desires and, finally, each other.

Tales From Hollywood: Eric Blakeney On Screenwriting

Come join us as American writer, director and producer Eric Blakeney (21 Jump Street, Baywatch and Gun Shy) gives an interview about his experience in writing for hit TV series and film, followed by a Q&A. Moderation: Phil McCauley.

He will:

  • talk about the writing for a high-pressurised environments
  • give insight into what’s going on in a high budget production Board meeting
  • talk about the ins and outs of re-locating to the UK as a writer/director

Come along to this gem of an event, meet new people and get some insight into the ins and outs of writing for large productions.

About Eric Blakeney

Eric Blakeney is a screenwriter, director, author and radio raconteur.  A veteran of television and film, Blakeney was the show–runner for Fox’s tentpole series 21 Jump Street starring Johnny Depp.

He has served as writer/producer on hit TV series such as Baywatch, Moonlighting, Cagney and Lacey, The Equalizer, Crime Story and many more. He also penned scripts for Mad Max IV-Fury Road and successful made-for-TV movies including Generation X and Fighting for My Daughter.

Blakeney made his directorial debut in the 2000 comedy Gun Shy starring Liam Neeson, Oliver Platt and Sandra Bullock. Blakeney also served as executive producer/writer for TV movie Generation X (starring Matt Frewer and Finola Hughes), the Marvel Comics classic about a group of mutant teenagers blessed with superhuman powers. He also co–authored three volumes of estoric healer Ruben Papian’s Books of Essence.

Some of Eric Blakeney’s projects:

  • Gun Shy
  • Wiseguy
  • Baywatch
  • Cagney and Lacey
  • Moonlighting
  • Max Headroom
  • Booker
  • VR.5
  • The Equalizer
  • Crime Story
  • Generation X

About Phil McCauley

Phil is a highly experienced entrepreneur.  He invests in start-up and high growth businesses in music, media and green energy having exited several businesses over the past 12 years including a NYSE listing. Market cap from of $4m to $750,000,000 in 5 years.
Phil is a strategist, consultant and expert in change management and implementation. His first business TTL Music – sold licensed music services across Europe and system installations to large retail groups. Exited. Business sold for £6m in 2001
He has taken an energy business public on the NYSE and is engaged in business change, investment and funding. His business interests also cover film and TV production companies.
Phil has also served as a board member of, The Prince’s Trust (east midlands), Mind (north Nottinghamshire), The Broadway Cinema Arts Venue Notts, Visit Nottinghamshire.

Money, Money, Money: Financing And Distributing Your First Feature Film

Come join us as EMMY and BAFTA winning producer/director Peter Nicholson (Pompeii- The Last Day, Nuremberg- Goering’s Last Stand) will present an alternative way of getting your first feature film financed using the case study of his Award-winning thriller feature Dartmoor Killing (2015).

He will:

  • give insight into the world of alternative routes of feature film finance
  • talk about harnessing UK’s EIS/SEIS tax relief schemes for investors
  • rehearse the importance of strategic partnerships in the production and distribution process

Come along to this gem of an event, meet new people and get some insight into the ins and outs of successful feature film finance.

About Peter Nicholson

Peter Nicholson trained in documentary with the late Denis Mitchell and in drama with British feature film auteur Mike Figgis. During his career of 30 years, he has written, produced and directed over 50 television films for BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and international broadcasters. In the last five years he has turned his attention to independent film.

About Dartmoor Killing

DK is a psychological thriller starring Gemma-Leah Devereux, Rebecca Night, David Hayman and Callum Blue.
Premise:
Susan and Becky’s plans for a quiet weekend on Dartmoor are de-railed by the psychological and sexual mind games of a charming stranger, Chris.
Awards:
  • Tulsa International Film Festival 2011 – Best Screenplay
  • Arri UK/DUK Alexa Challenge winner 2012/13
  • “Breakthrough Strand” – The London Screenings
  • National Film Academy Awards 2016 – Best Thriller
  • Horror Haus Film Festival 2016 – Best Screenplay
  • Screen International Screen Awards 2016 – Premiere of the Year Award