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MY FIRST DAY FILMING!

So my first day ever behind a camera is done!

Phew. It took a lot of bloody organising I can tell you. I’ve been trying to crew it and film since April this year. And how did it go? I hear you shout. Not bad, not bad. The baddest bit was the sound dude’s rumbly tum. Five takes and a snack later and I sent him out of the room! But I’m so glad he was there. Thank you lovely Alan Deacon – take a bow.

Alan responded to a Talent Circle crew shout-out and his area of expertise is actually post-production sound but he kindly offered to come and set up the boom and levels and everything sound-wise and I was very glad for his presence and knowledge and look forward to his work after the edit.

I would also say that doing the directing, lighting, camera, sound, art direction, props and make-up is too much.

I found it difficult to actually focus on my actress and felt pressured and rushed. Thankfully, Ffion Evans is a very talented young lady and I felt enough confidence in her to move on swiftly.  I had also done an awful lot of pre-production preparation. This was reiterated over and over in every book or article I read about making low budget shorts and although it meant another huge chunk of time out of my MA work it was definitely worth it.

I want a producer. This is the main big lesson I have come away with. A producer I can forge a great relationship with and work on the next couple of shorts and then onto a feature.

Will I continue directing? Well, I haven’t watched the rushes back yet because I have a huge academic deadline looming and the next day’s shoot for this film, Paranoia, isn’t until 31st July so I won’t be editing until sometime in August. I’ll let you know then.

Meanwhile I’ve got another shoot booked this Tuesday to reimagine a scene for Film 4’s Scene Stealers  competition. I transcribed the scene last night and am looking forward to a couple of hours rehearsing and shooting with some fabulous young actresses. We’re spinning a classic gangster’s scene on its head and will be shooting outdoors with two cameras. Should be fun.

Audition Day

Thanks must go to my wonderfully quirky classmate Jackie Pasco, a fellow scriptwriter who today did a sterling job as the clapper loader, and Edd Lane my stills photographer. Looking forward to putting some pics from the shoot up soon. Watch this space!

I’m now off to write a feature length screenplay.

In a week.

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Posted by on July 19, 2012 in Short Film

 

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COCAINE CHICKEN

Last night I met up with some film makers from Bath who had responded to my shout outs for crew and collaboration on Shooting People and Talent Circle. Five showed up and we were a really mixed bag of ages and experience and had a brilliant evening. Everyone is really keen to be involved so I’m finally going ahead. Yay! They are mainly all free all the time too which is just perfect and one of them is another woman and she is going to be my right hand man and has just come off making her own first short film so has lots of advice and handy hints.

I contacted them all using my writing name MJ Hermanny and without exception, they all thought I was a man, even after I emailed them the little detail that I would be wearing a checked trilby with a huge feather stuck in it – they just thought I would be a flamboyant man! Hilarious. I wonder how many would have turned up if they thought I’d been female. The shock on a couple of the older, more experienced film maker’s faces amused me greatly. They all stayed though.

I plan to shoot a found footage short which is currently in an anonymous competition so I can’t name it yet but it should be ‘easy’ to film and I wrote it specifically to be something that could be made with a very small cast and crew.

Today I will meet with a member of staff to sort out all the insurance and risk assessment issues with using non-students – thankfully, the fact that I’m also a member of staff means that there isn’t too much red tape to deal with. I can’t wait to set up the auditions.

This week I’ve managed to write 30 pages of my new feature script, 2 x 2 page short scripts around the theme of love for the London Screenwriter’s Festival competition. A 7 page short for Script Fest competition, I’m in the middle of a 15 minute play for a competition in response to a book called The Jilted Generation which I happened to have read and I must get my paid 10 page script first draft out by Sunday. And my essay – I have to write 3000 words on the marketing strategy I will employ for my final script and the essay must contain interviews from industry professionals and their advice. So, today I plan to email several writers, a script editor, a producer and a sales agent. I also need to find a manager to get in touch with – if anyone knows of one please give me shout!

I’ve seen tonnes of films recently but just can’t seem to find the time to review them. The two that I can’t recommend highly enough are Dead Man’s Shoes by Shane Meadows – I kept putting this off and putting it off, thinking it would be really violent and it has violence in it but it is unbelievably moving. It’s a great moral tale and the performances, especially Toby Kebbell (Rocknrolla) in his first film role, are just fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed This Is England some time ago too when I didn’t think I would.

The other knock-out film which I just can not get out of my head and which had scenes in it that I found very difficult to watch is Tyrannosaur by Paddy Considine (star of Dead Man’s Shoes). It moved me more than any film has ever moved me and I felt emotions that were uncomfortable and shed tears for characters who had done reprehensible things. Unbelievably excellent script and extraordinary performances from Peter Mullan and Olivia Coleman.

Mirrormask – all images of this film look amazing but on screen they just look low budget.

I also watched a very strange film written by Neil Gaiman called MirrorMask. It’s kind of experimental I guess, a fantasy film on a low British budget with the Jim Henson Company involved. Very odd. I don’t think I liked it very much.

I’ve also just read a fantastic book called Phallic Panic: Film, Horror and the Primal Uncanny by Barbara Creed- all about psychology and film monsters. I’m on the lookout now for the companion piece called Monstrous Feminine. Horror in film still fascinates me even though it rarely scares me and it is still the most popular genre.

Right, I must go and do filmy stuff – I’m hoping that now that I’ve got far too much to do I’ll actually get loads more done as I’ll have to focus more – instead of wondering how I’ll work on one thing all day, I’ll be charging around like a cocaine chicken getting ten things done at once. We shall see. 

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Back To Uni

 

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STORYBOARDING & BBC FINALIST

After spending a wonderful couple of hours in the library storyboarding the first page of my script (16 shots), I came home to an email from the BBC telling me my script Freer is  in the final six for a BBC Writers Room Rapid response brief. Details of the brief are here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/blogwritersroom/posts/Bread-Roses-Centennial-Rapid-Response?filter=none

and the judging process here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/about/bread-and-roses-terms-and-conditions

I got very excited when I read the email and went screaming out to my flatmate/colleague who I’m not really close to at all but I just had to share. I wish I could remain all mysterious and hug the news to myself until the final results are announced. Then I’d be able to either tell the world that I’m a winner or not say anything at all and nobody would know I’m a loser. My way means I get everyone really hyped up and hopeful  and then I let them down and it’s all a bit shit.

But for now I’m on cloud nine and the Creative Director of New Writing at the BBC will read my script. Which is a bit of a win even if it doesn’t go though. 

Back to the Storyboard.

What an amazing process. I have the film fully visualised in my head and I was actually able to turn my mind into a DVD player and pause, rewind, zoom to see what shots I would use. Hard work, but it’s all in there and I think my hours (years really) of watching films and reading books on film means that I have absorbed and understand film language.

The above pic is a particularly useful exercise from my Dramatic Structure module in the first term. We chose a Ladybird book to read and then had to storyboard it for 20 minutes and this taught us what the major beats and strong moments of the story were. Really useful for scene building and cutting out the padding.

I’m currently reading this AWESOME book:  

It literally gives you every shot and a story board and commentary from the directors who include Roman Polanski, whose first short Two Men And A Wardrobe is just brilliant visual storytelling, not one word of dialogue, and Jim Jarmusch, whose Coffee & Cigarettes is all chat. Both wonderful. I can’t recommend the book enough for film students and makers.

I’ve also watched all the shorts on CINEMA 16’s European Shorts & British Shorts which inspired and taught me so much. In particular Christopher Nolan’s first short Doodlebug just blew me away and what’s interesting is how much it foreshadows Inception

Here’s a link to a well received British short featuring an outstanding performance by Andrew Scott who recently played Moriarty in the BBC’s fantastic Sherlock Holmes. The site in general is a useful resource for shorts.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/filmnetwork/films/p00kmy38

And here is a link to a multi-award winning short and it’s screenplay. Read the script first, make a note of your thoughts and then watch the film. I’d be interested to hear what you think.

http://www.livingspiritgroup.com/podcasts/vodcasts/stephen-follows-on-sign-language/

Write, I must now do some academic work so that I actually have a 2nd draft feature script to submit next Friday…

Thanks for dropping by.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in Back To Uni

 

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MY FIRST SHORT FILM

Girl With Yo-Yo by Brazilian artist Morandini

I’m in pre-production for my first short film! I’m so excited! I don’t know how I’m going to find the time to actually shoot and edit it; I don’t even know who is writing this actual Blog because the 40 year old student is beavering away on her masses of course work.Our Course Director was extolling the virtues of having a short film as a calling card for a writer and pointed out that now is the time for us to be making one as all the equipment is available for free on campus alongside eager students as crew and actors.I decided she was right and thought I’d bumble through a first one and then make another and maybe by the third I’d have something decent as a calling card.

So I signed up for a camera course and an editing course, two hours each with a fabulous tutor called Leila who also gave me the names of two first year students who are reliable and technically proficient with the cameras which are Sony PD175 or Z1.

I was hit by inspiration in our amazing library and quickly wrote a three page horror script with no dialogue, although I’m not sure if it’s horror as there’s no gore. There is a ghost in the vein of Asian horror and the story is about bullying and mental health/suicide. The message isn’t beautiful though it’s about getting even by getting possessed.

I met with the lady who says ‘yes’ to filming in the library and was informed that filming can only be done during opening hours and must not interfere with anyone using it. Damn, I thought, it needs to be empty for the creepiness. The library lady was extremely helpful and I can get the eerie emptiness but only if I’m prepared to film at 8am for about an hour before students start arriving. I am.

Will the students be?

I think the cast will. I contacted the head of Performing Arts today and he sent out an email to all three years. Here’s what went out:

Ellen – playing age 16-20. Must be able convey growing fear and sustained terror.

Ghost – female, any age. Must have long dark hair – going for Asian horror ghost look. May have to wear effects contact lenses although I’m waiting to hear back about creating the eyes with special effects.

3 bullies – playing age 16-20. three girls who can look glam and mean. One must be able to use a yo-yo properly.

Size, shape and ethnicity are not important.

That was about 3pm. I’ve had seven replies already. They all look great too and I’m dying to start the auditioning process. The little snag so far is that I’ve not yet heard back from the recommended camera guys. I think I’ll have to put a call out for that as well. I’m excited to start story-boarding and I kind of wanted my camera-person in place so I could brainstorm with them.

Next stop is to post on one of my forums about whether I should shoot B&W. I think I want to, I don’t want to faff with lights if my time is precious and this is only my first bash. I need to find out about laying sound down as well. I’m going to record most of it without sound. It’s bookended with girls giggling and I think I’ll need to record that in situ. Any advice, if anyone is reading, would be grand.

Oh, I’m a Twit now as well, as if you didn’t already know that but it’s been publicly confirmed by Twitter. I’m tweeting about the short’s progress, you can follow me @MJHermanny.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Short Film

 

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