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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.

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.

 

The Third Act: The Grand Finale

So, you’ve reached the end. It’s time for your protagonist to give us their last sweeping wave before the curtain falls and the lights come back on.

Hopefully you’re planning on going out with a bang, but before you dust off your hands completely, there are a few things you should know.

What goes inside the third act?

The Resolution Stage

Final Confrontation: Victory or Defeat

Based on the resolution section of the script, this act is usually the shortest (between 20 and 30 pages) it’s the final twist or metaphorical battle, and then the return to home or normality (though life for the main character will never be the same again–definition of a successful character arc).

This is what Snyder would call the Break Into Three. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Here your story will reach its final twist, the moment everyone’s been waiting for since you unleashed the inciting incident. It’s the climax of the story, the final battle. Your character has been pursuing a goal throughout the entire second act, and now they’ll either get it, or they’ll change the goal to coordinate better with the theme, i.e. the moral lesson they’ve learnt. If you ended the second act on a low point, now it’s time for your character to get back off the ground and re-group.

During the final confrontation, the main character is forced to reexamine their beliefs. They will put everything she or he has learnt over the course of the film to good use to defeat the antagonist, always incorporating and exposing the nugget of truth, the film’s overall theme. In the Hunger Games, Katniss stops obeying the game’s rules, and starts to fight back herself, using what politics she’s learnt during the first and second act. Instead of murdering Peeta, she tricks the capitol into thinking they’d rather kill themselves by eating poisonous berries, when in fact it’s a survival tactic.

Character Arc in the Third Act

Another determining factor of the third act is the character, unlike in the second act where they’re surrounded by other characters, will mostly work alone (in the absence of their mentor) against the antagonist. In the Silence of the Lambs, Clarice has to stop Buffalo Bill by herself, because the police have gone to the wrong place and Hannibal, her “mentor” didn’t hang about long to help her.

Basically, your audience has witnessed your character go through hell and back, and now they’re waiting for the reassurance that it wasn’t all for nothing, that your character has beaten the odds and grown because of it, developed in some positive way.

Normally, this character arc is represented through a mirror effect. For example, if the character’s flaw in the beginning was to lie or connive, in the third act the character will do exactly the opposite of his/her previous nature.

Denouement (the Afterward)

The resolution at the very end will give us a glimpse of the new status quo, or the state of your protagonist’s life after all has been said and done. In the Hunger Games, the ending isn’t Katniss and Peeta defying the capitol with the berries, it’s Katniss and Peeta back in District 12 as the crowning victors, hinting at the change in Katniss as she struggles to familiarize herself with her surroundings.

This–very short–section ties up any of the film’s loose ends and answers lingering questions about the plotline.

It’s Blake Snyder’s final image. It’s what he calls the opposite of the opening image, the final shot that demonstrates the absolute mirror change that has occurred. In Pride and Prejudice, the opening image has Lizzie walking through the grounds of her father’s cottage, alone with her head stuck in a book. One of the final images of this film sees her walking at dawn, still alone, but then Darcy comes striding out the mist towards her. She’s no longer alone, and more than that, she’s completely changed since the opening. She’s less proud and quick to judge.

Script to Screen

Scripts which transition into films will most certainly go through test screenings to gauge the audience reaction so that producers can decide whether or not they’ll be a box office hit. Third acts and character arcs are often changed as a result of a negative test screening.  

In Blade Runner, Ridley Scott was pressured to change Ford’s Character into a more ironic, upbeat version than his original, darker self. This eventually affected the ending, in which the original dark ending was changed into a more upbeat one to reflect Ford’s character. Instead of dooming the entire human race, the ending scene touches on a hopeful ending in the sunshine.

In Pretty in Pink, according to the original script, Andie’s character arc saw her develop feelings for Duckie, whose own unrequited love for her form the emotional bulk of the film. But when tested on audiences, this romantic development wasn’t at all favoured, and so Blane and Andie end up together. Receiving mixed reviews, some thought this made Andie’s character slightly more realistic and less fickle, because she continues to like the same character she did in the beginning, and still appreciates Duckie’s relationship.

Hancock was originally a script entitled, Tonight, he comes, and Hancock’s character was much darker, dabbling between alcoholism and depression. The end result, produced nearly a decade after the script was written, became a much lighter, quirkier version than its predecessor, all for story purpose.

 

Tips on How To Get a Job In the Film and TV Industry – #1 Email Signatures

We sit down with Tom Piamenta, cofounder of WiseStamp,to discuss the importance of formatting and presenting yourself to potential clients and branding techniques.

BC:  Why is it important to have a well-formatted email signature?

TP:  A good email signature serves 3 major goals.

 First, it sets the tone of the email. It shows who you are, your persona (e.g. serious vs fun) and promotes your personal brand.

Second, it lets your recipients easily see who you are and take the conversation into a friendlier place while removing hesitations and obstacles. People are also less likely to ignore a “personal” outreach. This is why adding your personal photo or a favorite quote is a good idea.

Third, an effective signature can be a powerful ally of the content of your email. Let’s say you wish to setup a meeting with someone, you can add to your signature a distinct button saying “Let’s schedule a meeting” that allows the recipient to book a time online.

 

BC: Why is it important to put links to my website and social media profiles?

TP:  People who take the time to view your email are likely to Google your name and gather more data about you. Adding links to your website and profiles makes sure they will come across the content that you want them to see and not random stuff they can found online.

 

BC: Is putting a profile picture next to my email signature a good idea?

TP: This depends on the outcome you’d like to achieve. A profile picture makes the email more personal and harder to ignore, while adding a logo makes matters a bit more formal. Personally, I use a profile picture, since I prefer to keep the conversation light and amiable rather than strictly professional.

 

BC: What other ways can email signatures help me as a freelancer or business?

TP: Your email signature is a powerful piece of real estate you are leaving untapped. That’s actually the reason we created WiseStamp – to allow you to make your signature more effective using a variety of Email Apps.

A physician can add a call to action to his signature (“Book a meeting with me”), where an eBay seller will add a promotion (“Click here to enjoy our holiday pricing”) and an actor can add the cover images to showcase their filmography.

 

BC: Are there any rules to how long an email signature should be?

T.P: I’m a devout believer in the saying that less is more. A good signature should include your profile picture or logo, personal data (name, title, company), icons to your social profiles (Linkedin, Facebook, IMDB  etc.) and a concise call to action relevant to the outcome you wish to achieve.

 

BC: What about font selection?

TP: The only thing to remember is to never use fonts that are not websafe. If you do you have no idea what the recipient will actually see. We only allow websafe fonts at WiseStamp so no need to worry about that.

 

BC: Is it important if I work in a business that everyone’s email signatures are consistent?

TP: When WiseStamp started we only had a solution for individuals, but since consistency is of grave importance our users drove us to develop a team solution that does just that – allow for central management of the company’s email signature. Signatures that aren’t unified reflect badly on the company and sometimes cause actual harm (e.g. if the legal disclaimer is omitted by some employees).

A big advantage of a centrally managed solution is that the company can push its marketing messages in all emails sent with a click, thus promoting webinars, sales, launching new products etc.

 

WiseStamp is the leading growth platform for micro businesses and freelancers, helping over 700,000 professionals grow their business.

On top of the email signature solution, WiseStamp offers tools to create a personal webpage with a click, promote and list your site in search engines and directories etc.

No matter what your business or profession – we’ve got the apps and services to help you achieve your goals: get leads, brand your business, distribute your content, showcase your portfolio, build a community, all while looking super professional – we’ve got the features and tools to help you do it.

 

WiseStamp is offering a 20% off discount to all IMIS members.  Head over to the Members Section to access it.

 

Six Ways Film & Television is Embracing Women and BAME

 

The most prominent debate in film and television in the present day is the representation of women and BAME. In this article, I hope to present schemes and organisations that are dedicated to creating diversity and equality in the industry.

 

ONE: NFTS Directing Workshop

The National Film and Television School provides teaching and training for those wishing to work in film and television. They run several diplomas; masters; certificates and short courses.

This new initiative for directors has been launched by NFTS aiming to increase the number of women, BAME and people with disabilities.

The six selected directors will take part in a 2-day introduction in March followed by an intensive 4-week workshop during summer culminating in the production of a short film.

The course is free and the deadline is 19th February.

Apply here: https://nfts.co.uk/directing-workshop

 

 

TWO: CREATIVE ACCESS

Founded in 2012, Creative Access aims to provide young BAME people paid training opportunities in creative companies and supporting them into full-time employment.

With over 200 media partners offering opportunities including ITV, BBC, Channel 4 and many more. This organisation is paving the way to creating an industry that truly reflects British society.

Want to sign up? Check out the website here: https://creativeaccess.org.uk/

 

THREE: Women In Film & TV UK Mentoring Scheme

Women In Film & TV is a membership organisation run by women supporting women working in the creative media in the UK.

Every year they run a mentoring scheme designed for women with more than 5 years’ experience looking to take a significant step in their career. Over six months participants receive six hours of mentoring contact with an industry figure. There are also seminars, training workshops and networking opportunities.

Free to apply and participate. Find out more here: https://wftv.org.uk/mentoring/

FOUR: BAFTA

In 2019, BAFTA will be adding the BFI Diversity Standards to the eligibility criteria for the Outstanding British Film Award and Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer.

This decision has been controversial in the industry with some parties believing this is a step too far and restricts filmmaking. In my opinion, it is a bold and much needed move towards creating an inclusive and equal industry. My only issue with it, is the fact this is even needed in the 21st Century to promote diverse filmmaking.

Considering that in the 2015 Oscars no non-white actors were nominated for an Academy Award, a change in criteria for these awards is definitely overdue.

FIVE: DIRECTORS UK

In 2016, Directors UK released a 10 year study on women directors in film revealing the shocking truth that only 13.6% of all directors working in the last decade were women.

They aim to use the findings of this study to improve the industry for women by campaigning for these 3 specific goals:

  1. 50% of films backed by UK-based public funding bodies to be directed by women by 2020.
  2. Development of the Film Tax Credit Relief system to require all UK films to take account of diversity.
  3. Industry wide campaign to inform and influence change

Find out more here: https://www.directors.uk.com/campaigns/gender-equality-in-uk-film-industry#support-our-campaign

 

SIX: GAME CHANGERS

In 2016, BFI Film Forever and Creative Skillset launched a workshop called Game Changers specifically for women and BAME filmmakers.

Run by Kymberlie Andrews who is a master trainer and communication coach. The aim of the two day workshop was to boost confidence; teach pitching and make contacts with like minded individuals.

For myself, this workshop changed my game by opening my eyes to my personality strengths which has affirmed by future career goal.

Hopefully this opportunity will be renewed for 2017 but only time can tell!

Find out more here: http://gamechangeruk.com/

 

If you know of any opportunities for women and BAME in film and TV then please comment below!

 

 

 

The Runner Diaries: What is a Production Runner?

 

The Runner Diaries: What is a Production Runner? from IMIS on Vimeo.

Charlotte Taylor is a freelance runner working in production and on the floor. She is studying film production at the University of Greenwich. Prior to freelancing she worked as an office runner for a well-known comedy production company.

The Production Runner works in the production team to provide administrative support the Production Manager and Production Coordinator.

Key Duties:

  • Picking up and dropping off equipment, props etc.
  • Creating and printing sides
  • Printing callsheets and movement orders
  • Filing purchase orders
  • Shredding confidential waste
  • Sorting out post
  • Handling petty cash
  • Updating unit list and facilities list

Making tea and coffee

TOP TIPS for succeeding:

  1. Be proactive and positive2
  2. Work hard
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
  4. Listen

To get work as a production runner check out these talent websites/agencies:

Talent Manager – https://www.thetalentmanager.co.uk/

The Unit List – http://www.theunitlist.com/

Calltime – http://www.calltimecompany.com/ 

The Runner Diaries: What is an Office Runner?

Reece Gibbons is an office runner at Hungry Man Productions; a commercial production company. He graduated from the University of Greenwich in 2015.Prior to working as an office runner he worked as a freelance runner in the industry.

The Office Runner is a full time in house position. Most production companies employ an office runner to support in administrative office duties.

Key Duties:

  • Greeting guests
  • Taking calls
  • Handling petty cash
  • Keeping kitchen stocked on tea, coffee, sugar & milk
  • Scanning, photocopying, printing, shredding & filing
  • Setting up conference calls
  • Booking taxis and couriers
  • Assisting on productions
  • Filling out post production paperwork

Check out the APA Website Jobs Board: http://www.a-p-a.net/jobs for work incommercial production companies!

Events

Concept vs Instinct: A Screenwriting Workshop with Award-Winner Corey Mandell

WE ARE CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING SOME INTERMITTENT ISSUES WITH OUR CREDIT/DEBIT CARD PROCESSOR ON MOBILE DEVICES; IF YOU ARE ABLE TO PURCHASE A TICKET ON A LAPTOP/DESKTOP, WE RECOMMEND THIS.  IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO PURCHASE A TICKET, PLEASE EMAIL US AT EVENTS@SOCIETYINMOTION.COM AND WE WILL RESERVE A TICKET FOR YOU FOR PAYMENT ON THE NIGHT AT THE DOOR.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE.

Come join us as award-winning writer Corey Mandell talks about his views on instinctive vs conceptual writing. He has written numerous projects for Ridley Scott, Harrison Ford, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Warner Brothers, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Working Title, Walt Disney Pictures and many more.

Corey will:

  • Talk about the difference between ‘instinctive’ and ‘conceptual’ screenwriting
  • Give an idea of how he one doesn’t necessarily exclude the other
  • Share his experiences with working for high-end production companies and A-listers

Come along to this gem of an event, meet new people and get some insight into the ins and outs of the various ways to write for the big screen.

About Corey Mandell:

Corey Mandell is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter who has written projects for Ridley Scott, Wolfgang Petersen, Harrison Ford, Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, John Travolta, Warner Brothers, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Fox 2000, Fox Family, Working Title, Paramount, Live Planet, Beacon Films, Touchstone, Trilogy, Radiant, Kopelson Entertainment and Walt Disney Pictures.

His Professional Screenwriting and Television Writing Workshops offer an alternative to the same old tired rules and formulas found in most screenwriting classes, books and seminars. This innovative program is the only one to teach creative integration, script testing, compelling conflict, organic story design, strategic rewriting and story mapping. With these tools, writers are able to create the pitch-perfect authentic scripts required to break into, and thrive in, the current marketplace.

In the past three years, graduates have gone on to sell or option scripts to Warner Brothers, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Disney, Fox, MGM, Universal, Showtime, FX, USA Network, NBC, HBO, MTV and AMC. Others have been staffed on such shows as Community, The Fosters, Jane the VirginBonesJustified, BoJack Horseman,Young and Hungry, PlayingHouse, The Mentalist, Marvel’s Agents of Shield, Up All Night, State of Affairs, Rosewood, The Leftovers, You’re the Worst, Pretty Little Liars, Treme, The Blacklist and The Leftovers.

The Workshops teach the essential skill sets required to write at a professional level, both for feature films and television. The classes are offered live in Los Angeles as well as online using video conferencing to allow participants to see and hear each other in real time. These highly popular classes draw students from across the US, Europe and Australia.

With the recent explosion of television pilots being bought, and a healthy rebound in the feature spec script market, there’s never been a better time to jump into the writing game. One script absolutely can change your life. But it’s got to be the right script. If you’re serious about developing the skills required to launch a career, these workshops can help take years off your learning curve and significantly increase your chances of success.