Saturday, 4 February 2012

Lights, Camera, Action!

Hello fellow bloggers! Firstly, I know some of my friends have long been awaiting this post, as I haven't updated my blog for a while! So this post is dedicated to know who you are!

Ok, well there have been many things, happenings and shenanigans that have been going on since my last post way back in early January. I have done everything I stated I would do in the last post, and more! So here it is peeps!

Firstly, in early January and even before the premiere of War Horse, my Dad's friend who is hoping to become a professional actress recommended a 1-day Saturday film school to me, which taught the basics of filmmaking and directing. I was quick to respond to this opportunity and grasped it with both hands; I went on the Saturday Film School, by the Raindance Film Festival. This course was purely theoretical with no practical element involved, but was still very interesting and much the eye opener to the film industry! Two famous phrases which I thought were purely mythical, before I even thought about the idea of becoming a film director, are very much true! In the film industry, "it's not what you know, it's who you know" and "time is money!" are indeed very, very, true. So much so that I even think to myself on occasion, when it comes to the first phrase, that my whole future career is potentially entirely dependent on luck! That said, it is necessary to know the fundamental basics of how to make a film, to be a film director. This is why I am furthering my knowledge on the subject of filmmaking by going on short courses. Film school is also a favourable option after university, expensive though it is. Anyway, back to the Saturday Film School; the day started off early and ran through until the evening, covering a wide range of topics, from screenplay writing, through to making a movie, directing and finally "breaking into the film industry". As I have mentioned in previous posts, the likely options would be to either go to film school or to dive straight in at the deep end by applying for runner jobs, the first rung on the ladder of the crazy industry that is, the film industry. Tinsel Town. La la land. You get my point. Finally, at the end of the day I had time to chat to the main tutor of the course which happened to be the somewhat wacky founder of the Raindance Film Festival, Elliot Grove. Famous for his teachings within the industry, Elliot Grove has produced and directed a few films but his main career involves teaching filmmaking to anyone that's insane enough to give it a shot, excuse the pun. That reminds me of someone...I haven't got a clue who would be crazy enough to try to break into the most competitive industry in the world! To those people who are agreeing with that last comment, don't. Live your life, go for it, take a chance...why not!!! So overall, the Raindance Saturday Film School gave me an incredible insight into the world of the film industry and I am very thankful to Vicky (my Dad's friend) for recommending it to me!

Onto the next event, which has to be one of the most awesome things I have even done when it comes to being a film geek. To put it simply, I have been to the premiere of War Horse. I have met the legendary Steven Spielberg! An honour, a privilege, and the culmination of waiting hours in the cold at Leicester Square. The day started very, very early, around 6am. I went along to the premiere with my Dad, who offered to film while I was taking pictures and hoping to get autographs. Needless to say, as a result of a collaborative effort, we got everything. My Dad's not so bothered about attending premieres, which is why he offered to help out and film, instead of fully engaging with what was going on at the event. I'll quickly add in that I normally go into detail about each premiere I go to, but for this one, I can summarise it more than the others. So after waiting for hours at the front of the barriers and watching the premiere being set up and the red carpet rolled out, the stars and guests, along with a real horse on the red carpet, who was the star of the film, started to arrive. I was only there for one person, however. One person who, without whom, Hollywood wouldn't be what it is today! Arguably the creator of the Hollywood summer blockbuster, the most famous movie director in the history of cinema itself, the one and only Steven Spielberg! When the time came, I couldn't believe that he was actually right next to me! I know that does sound a little corny, but in the world of Hollywood, I guess I can say he's my idol. So it seems reasonable to feel like jelly when your idol is standing in front of you. So he walked past me and I captured a few decent photos of him. I also held out a small book for him to sign, which he did. Along with these items, I was also holding a small piece of paper with my contact details on, in the hope that he may take it, which could ultimately lead to something great. You're probably thinking, yeah, like that'll happen. Well that's correct, he didn't take the small piece of paper and on reflection, he didn't seem like he would've done anything like that for anyone. I did but try, which comes back to one of my philosophies in life...just go for it! I had nothing to lose by handing out this small piece of paper but ultimately knew that it would be highly unlikely he would accept my kind offer of my excellent filmmaking services...Overall however, I have my whole life to go for it.

So with that sweet flyby of Steven Spielberg, a few other members of the cast and crew walked by, including Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Sherlock in the hit TV series. Finally, after security had cleared the red carpet, there were two more people who you might have heard of that walked by, without stopping. Might I mention that this was a royal premiere and thus, Prince William and Kate Middleton graced the red carpet with their presence. I didn't intentionally come to see them, but it was very much a bonus! I managed to get a very nice shot of them as they walked by us along the red carpet and straight into the Odeon cinema. And with that, the premiere was done, a success. If I only had one regret, that would be to have not been able to get a photograph of me with Steven Spielberg. At the next opportunity I get to see him, I'll jump into action! Excuse the pun.

So onto the next event. Still during the Christmas holidays, I managed to get a few more interviews for my dissertation. I had the opportunity to go to Shepperton Studios to meet only the best; not one but two Bafta award winning film directors, to be able to interview them for my dissertation and to also ask for any help and advice they had in becoming a film director. I got much more than what I bargained for!! Not only did I get an interview, they recommended various film schools, courses and even books I could buy to get my film school knowledge on the way. They even very kindly offered to see some of the future films I make, once I've made them and added them to my YouTube channel. I had the privilege of meeting Neil Armstrong. Whoaa! you say. Or you might not. You might now be thinking why I've suddenly jumped from film to space. Well, I am a space geek but I'm not someone who randomly goes off on a tangent, no sexist joke intended. I didn't meet the Neil Armstrong, but Neil Armstrong and David Skyner, of Strong Sky Media, based at Shepperton Studios. So there you go. They were both extremely helpful with both my dissertation and also furthering my knowledge of how to break into the film industry and so for that, I thank them immensely.

Finally, onto the most recent event which further develops my knowledge of the film industry, helping me to inch ever closer to my dream. I have, along with the Raindance Saturday Film School, been on a two-day film school course, this time mainly practical in nature. As I stated in my previous post, I have never made a film before. Well, as I'm writing this I can now say that I have made my first ever film! Surely a significant point and chapter in my journey to become a film director! I have been on the Met Film School's "Two Day Intensive Filmmaking" course, which was very, very awesome, to say the least! The Met Film School is based at Ealing Studios so the first ever film I have made has been filmed and produced at a real working film studio! Awesome stuff! On the first day, we were put into two groups (there were only about 15 of us on the whole course all together), and were given a script from a part of a scene of a feature film, to remake and to film again, in our own way. Much like what I'm also going to be doing back home with my Dad's friends, Stuart and Vicky. So we were given a part of a script from "Thelma & Louise", a film shot in 1991, directed by Ridley Scott. With the script already made for us to use as our armour, we planned each shot, created a storyboard and a shot list of what we needed to make the scene. We then, after a brief introduction to thousands of pounds of video and audio equipment, headed out to shoot the scene. During the shoot, we took it in turns to experience the various different roles involved with the production of a film; director, cinematographer (A.K.A. Director of Photography), sound, 1st A.D. (1st Assistant Director) and finally continuity, who's responsible for the continuity of all props and actors on set, during shooting. Immediately, I learned something new for the first time, that the job of the cinematographer was very appealing to me! Basically, this guy is responsible for the camera; essentially the cameraman. However, he always has to do as the director wants and can't frame any shots of his own, although this sometimes does happen; both cinematographer and director work together to get the best out of their professional expertise. Overall, I learned that directing is for me, although many directors start off doing other jobs in the filmmaking process and work their way up to director. This is also an appealing option for me, which would involve me starting at the bottom as a runner, who is also known as the Third Assistant Director! After shooting, we then headed back inside to an editing suit, where all the original footage was already inserted into the industry standard editing program, Final Cut Pro. I then worked with another group member on the course, who happened to be a writer for the Armstrong and Miller Show! Very awesome! Needless to say I managed to exchange contact details, in the hope that he may be able to write something for me in the future! So we then proceeded to edit the footage together to produce something quite professional looking. Not bad for my first time doing everything professionally! I've edited several things before, so Final Cut Pro was relatively easy to grasp and to understand. Overall, the first day was great!

We arrived back in the morning on Sunday, ready to make a full on film. Although a short film, it still would require time and effort in all stages of production, from pre-production right through to post-production and the making of the DVD! Just a small note to add in here; the more I write this particular blog, the more I find myself using all the correct film industry terminology, which is simply quite amazing. I'm slowly developing myself into the world of movie making! So the second day started relatively similar to the day before. However, we weren't going to be thrown in at the deep end and have to write out own script, that would take time and we only had a day. Time is money! I knew I would use that line somewhere! So we got the script to a short film, which apparently is the first ever short film made at the Met Film School at Ealing Studios and has been made into a film on numerous occasions, by a whole range of students at the film school. We were simply the latest in line of past student filmmakers, turning the script into a film. The film is called "A New Life with Maurice 13". I won't say anymore about it, in case I am able to upload it to my YouTube channel for you all to see. So we planned each shot, created a storyboard, got the equipment, gathered together the professional actors and headed out to shoot. We actually shot on location in a park just off from the studio. We also shot one scene inside. The script was divided into 4 scenes, of which our group shot and edited the first 2 and the second group shot and edited the last 2 scenes, to which we would collaborate and bind together both sets of scenes to make up the short film. So we all had a go at directing, cinematography, sound and 1st A.D, along with continuity. You may or may not be thinking, what about the lights?! Well, daylight was our new best friend so we didn't need artificial lighting, both outside and also indoors, apart from a reflector which we needed indoors to reflect natural light coming from windows onto the actors' faces. The shoot lasted a couple of hours, after which we had lunch then got straight into editing. Now a little more familiar with the Final Cut Pro interface, I, along with one other group member, got to work on editing scene 1. It was therefore our job to include a title sequence, along with the beginnings of the story, introducing the characters and so forth. So after around 1 hour of editing, we had all finished and went to a classroom to await the final product, being bound together by an industry professional. Speaking of which, our course leader was also a film director himself, who had directed a few feature films and has also worked on a few episodes of "The Bill". To add to that statement, film and television go hand in hand. People who work in television can easily come across to working on films, and vice versa. That's an interesting thought. So after a whole day of practical filmmaking, the day ended with a premiere screening of the finished film, to the ones who worked on it. Might I say that it is very professional and has a very good, interesting and funny story. It's a comedy, that's all I'll say. So with a very awesome two days of very intense practical filmmaking, along with a whole host of new contacts and knowledge, I left and headed back to Canterbury, with the knowledge in me that I now have to be able to say I think I can now make a film and know the fundamentals of filmmaking. Sweet! So if anyone has any ideas for films they would like made, let me know!!

So that's it folks! I hope you've enjoyed reading my long awaited, detailed post about developments which have taken place in the last month or so, and I'll leave you with the knowledge that I'm now working on producing my own film right here in Canterbury with a few good friends, which, once made, I'll upload to YouTube, as a proper part of my show reel. I'll leave you with these two simple but powerful words.

Dream big.

God Bless.


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