Posted in Short Film yr2, Uncategorized

Short Film -P.s I stole your car- Reflection.

Taking on the role as the cinematographer was a chance to make my little individual stamp, after watching a few short films it is clear that good filmmakers develop their own style allowing the audience to recognise their brand. Savides, the DOP of ‘American Gangster’ starring Denzel Washington has said “I think that a film has to have just one style, one look, whatever that is” There is a need for stability, the frame shouldn’t be identical but should be uniform to an extent. The cinematography of the film will determine the mood and the meaning the viewer takes away, learning the impact my role had, it is not just choosing an angle. A BBC interview with Cohen, the cinematographer of ‘The Kings Speech’, when asked ‘what does a cinematographer do?’ answered “My job is to help the director realise what’s in his head. The cinematographer creates a consistent look for the film and makes images that help tell the story.” 

Never have I ever worked in a team of ten, appreciating the challenge because it finally handed opportunity to work in a professional environment, emphasising the chance in comprehending what each role requires. In all honesty before the module I would have thought ‘whats the point of having a cinematographer, camera operator or a gaffer, ‘one person can do all that right? In the midst of all this, it hit me how difficult it was, it’s not a matter of pushing a red button while shouting rolling.

“On most feature film sets, the cinematographer’s team is the biggest crew on the production, which means that the cinematographer has to interact and delegate with many production members. Fortunately, the “division of labor” on the set makes this a manageable task.”

Every single person is essential, my role is literally to imagine the image, think about how I want it to look, I would delegate roles to my team. On a bigger set, communicative skills are crucial when for example, passing information through to the gaffer onto the best boy and then the spark ensuring lightings acceptable conforming to the mood’s conventions for the scene and overall film. However, in our case, we had fewer people so one person took charge of lighting, managing by all working conjunctly to achieve exactly the look we desired.

Considering my new found awareness of how little I actually knew abouRule of thirds.pngt my role and the others I binged watched numerous youtube videos on what skills I need to be a decent DOP. Richarch Michalak emphasised the value of ‘mastering composition’ gr
asping the main rule of thumb and then bending the rules. Also not being boring by placing everything in the centre using tools like ‘Rule of thirds’ to cement the visual gratification.

To practise my technique while growing professionally I’d bring a camera to the location scout, take some shots, I also formed a storyboard so I could visualise my thoughts making sure everyone knows what is going on at any one time.

In the industry, there was a system ‘in previous decades’, whereby you needed loads of money to get your work printed and advertised before consumers even got to lay their eyes on it. “the main stumbling block for independent filmmakers operating within the low budget and DIY realms was always distribution.” Not too long ago VHS and DVD’s were a necessity, imagine the cost of printing just to enable you to reach a wide audience but even then profit is not guaranteed.  Moving towards the present web 2.0,  YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu and facebook are some of the tools used for effective but cheap distribution making it easier to gain viewership.

From the get go our crew discussed briefly how to go about the distributing, ‘P.s I stole your car’ would be entered in film festivals. Prior to this task uni projects was something you do then it’s over but that’s only the beginning. Studying other short films such as ‘The strange thing about the Johnsons’ and ‘Hageraseb’ they both went down the route of film festivals slowly revealing it to the world as weeks go on gradually acknowledging more critical acclaim. To be considered, an EPK would have to be created and that is exactly what we did. “Smart movie making means figuring out a marketing and distributing plan before you begin” Ideally putting research into “what genres are selling and what genres” distributers “feel will be hot in a year.”  That’s one of our mistakes because now we will have to look for festivals that meet our requirements rather than us meeting theirs limiting our options. Also, many film festivals such as sundance recommend shorter films,”you might find yourself in more festivals if you make a 5 minute short versus a 15 minute one. A lot of this is simply down to the math involved. If two movies are of similar quality, and both deserve to be in the festival, it’s only logical that the shorter film has a better shot” P.s I stole your car is touching 15 minutes so if the movie isn’t mind blowing/revolutionary then the chances of making it into festivals are slim. For next time I know during the pre-production stage a list of every little detail will have to be made to ensure we don’t forget or underestimate the importance of each task.

“A 2009 report by stradella road showed that 80% of those surveyed said they were more likely to see movie after hearing a positive review from other moviegoers.” Leading us to showcase the rough edit to the class observing their reactions and taking in their feedback. If they liked it they would talk to their friends about it generating a buzz that may spread around the university to then grow nationwide.

Electronic press kit consists of …

  • Teaser / Trailer
  • Film poster
  • Synopsis
  • Format information
  • Cast / crew bios
  • Contact details

Physical press kits with hard copies have almost completely gone out of style and have been replaced by the electronic press kit. Short films may present their EPK in PDF form like ‘Run’Screen Shot 2017-03-28 at 4.19.33 AM.png but we wanted it to be interactive, we decided to create a website, Converging Trailers, posters and Crew Bios into one place that is easily accessible stirring a buzz.

The polished product is far from perfect but nonetheless victorious. The sound is not consistent which was a problem, messy external sound was a struggle to clean up. Visually every shot was very planned out from the production design to the frame composition following the conventions of the narrative genre ‘drama’ using quite dark/natural colour schemes in terms of lighting and prop colours. There may have been an overuse of drone shots within the editing and an issue on my part was the lack of creative transitional shots from scene to scene. I’ve improved professionally enhancing my confidence and encouraging me to make further projects in the future aware of what it takes to be a DOP make a short film and what needs to happen next time for it to be even more successful than what it was this time round.

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Wandering Gio. (2015). Visual style: Cinematographers on cinematography. Available: https://waondering.com/2015/04/11/visual-style-cinematographers-on-cinematography-part-1/. Last accessed 22-03-17.

Danny Cohen. (2011). What is a cinematographer?. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-12540386. Last accessed 22-03-17

GABE MOURA. (2014). THE CINEMATOGRAPHER’S CREW: Lights, Camera, Repeat!. Available: http://www.elementsofcinema.com/cinematography/cinematography-team/. Last accessed 22-03-17.

Richard Michalak. (2012). Cinematography Learn from a Master.Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwtpJ3T8eK4. Last accessed 01-02-17.

Jason J. Tomaric (2008). The Power Filmmaking Kit. united states of America: Focal press. 385.

Joe Marine. (2013). Is There an Ideal Length for a Film Festival Short?.Available: http://nofilmschool.com/2013/03/film-courage-hollyshorts-ideal-length-film-festival-short. Last accessed 22-03-17.

Nolwenn Mingant, Cecilia Tirtaine, Joel Augros. (2015). Leaked Information and rumours. In:  Film Marketing into the TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY. UK: British film institute. 97-111.

Nolwenn Mingant, Cecilia Tirtaine, Joel Augros. (2015). B. In: Brave new Films, Brave new ways. Film Marketing into the TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY. UK: British film institute. 97-111.

Film Sourcing. (). Electronic Press Kit Tutorial for Film. Available: https://www.filmsourcing.com/epk-create-electronic-press-kit-film/. Last accessed 22-03-17.

Heather McDonald. (2017). What Is an Electronic Press Kit (EPK)?.Available: https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-an-electronic-press-kit-epk-2460365. Last accessed 22-03-17.

Zia Mohajerjasbi. (2016). HAGERESEB – Short Film – dir. Zia Mohajerjasbi. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaeBHbimUso&t=1408s. Last accessed 22-03-17.

Ari Aster. (2015). The strange Thing about the Johnson’s (2011).Available: https://vimeo.com/70163273. Last accessed 23-03-17.

 

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Posted in Short Film yr2, Uncategorized

The strange thing about the Johnsons

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The strange thing about the Johnsons had the capability to captivate the viewer instantly. It’s a short film released the year of 2011 but only recently in 2017 (6 years later) has it gone viral, shaking the internet by storm.

This 29-minute short film stars a middle-class black family who on the outside seem perfectly ‘normal’ but we very quickly find out that the father Sydney is being molested by his only son Isaiah. Taboo as the subject is, it was needed and probably the reason for its success, the shock factor left viewers disgusted but still proceeded in finishing the film.

Ari Aster the Director and writer mentioned that the Idea came about the summer before he joined film school, he and a few friends were talking about topics society does not like to discuss. Topics “That should never be made into a film!” So, it began on that level, but from there it evolved into something very different.”. Breaking boundaries was exactly what they wanted to do, even though the film comes off quite comedic especially in the opening shot when the makers reveal that Isaiah was masturbating to a photograph of his father, Of course, I laughed but that’s because inherently I knew this was absurd. Choosing innovative ways in raising awareness as such issues usually don’t get attention.

Being a student you would expect their budget to be quite low or non-existant. Where would they raise the funds? If they are a nobody as of right now then who would even have the confidence to fund them? Aster says they literally had to fight to raise the budget ourselves, so convincing people to donate money”  So I can only assume they were involved in a lot of crowdfunding using pages like ‘gofundme’or ‘indigogo’ but also creating events and sales which will not only raise awareness but gather in money.  However, Aster talks about how difficult it was to raise the funds as the topic of the film is unconventional and many people found it offensive, especially the black community considering it was a white actor depicting black family life. The makers insist it’s nothing to do with colour as it happens in all races and it was mainly just focusing on the molestation aspect. In saying that they did include stereotypes within the black community but in my opinion that adds a sense of realism because people will be able to identify with or understand the characteristics of a character within the short amount of time the makers have to develop the character.

The process is not an easy one, in order for Aster to make his short film as successful as it was a crew would be not only necessary but essential. Producers, composer, Cinematographer, Editor, production designer, makeup department, sound department were only a few of the roles used within ‘The strange thing about the Johnsons’ and even within those roles there are many people performing various functions. for example, the sound department has a sound mixer, boom operator, sound supervisor and sound editor. So David Kitchens job was to hold a boom while Anthony Enns would mix the sound and within post Ben Zarai would edit sound. The more people involved the higher the budget would need to be but at the end of the day, it’s an advantage because a crew member would only need to focus on one point making it as perfect as they can rather than juggling two things at once, ensuring the film is the best quality.

Due to the introduction of web 2.0, there are now many ways of distributing your film, obviously, previously the only way to get your film shown was with traditional theatre. Websites like Youtube, Vimeo allow independent filmmakers to showcase their work. If you want to add more weight/substance to the film then entering it to film festivals would be a good Idea which was exactly what was done in the case of ‘The strange thing about the Johnsons’. If the short makes it through then this will give the film more critical acclaim creating buzz, interesting more audience in watching it. The distributors sent the film off to Sundance festival, Santa Fe Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Slamdance festival and even nominated for NewFilmmakers Los Angeles. The more festivals the film was shown at the more people wanted to watch it, increasing important people with power in the industry who are reviewing and highlighting it, forcing interest.

Social media built most of their achievements especially facebook after reading the Huffington post, the author commented  “I first came to know of this short film’s existence after seeing a countless number of Facebook posts asking, “Have you heard about The Johnsons?” such an inventive marketing strategy, forming interest with consumers even if they don’t know what they are letting themselves into. They presented the film as if it was the worlds biggest secret and everyone wanted to get in on it that’s why it went viral online.

More recently people have been posting reaction videos on youtube, this is known as consumer-generated advertising, it’s more effective than using advertisements online or on billboards and also extremely cheaper.

What I’ve noticed that many short films would have their own website explaining, giving behind the scene knowledge and other useful information for whoever is interested. I am aware that ‘The strange thing about the Johnsons’ had a website but I believe it’s been taken down as all the pre existing links are disabled, which is slightly annoying because I’m inttrigued in knowing what it contained but to be fair it has been 6 years and there was no way of knowing that it would go viral again in 2017.

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Emmanuel Akitobi . (2011). “The Strange Thing About The Johnsons” Director Ari Aster Talks To Shadow & Act About His Provocative & Controversial Short Film. Available: http://www.indiewire.com/2011/11/the-strange-thing-about-the-johnsons-director-ari-aster-talks-to-shadow-act-about-his-provocative-controversial-short-film-149735/. Last accessed 21-03-17.

IMDB. (2011). The Strange Thing About the Johnsons (2011). Available: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1772398/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt. Last accessed 21-03-17.

Ari Aster. (.). BIO. Available: http://www.ariaster.com. Last accessed 21-03-17.

Malcolm Harris. (2012). What’s So Strange About the Johnsons?.Available: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/malcolm-harris/srange-about-the-johnsons_b_1147630.html. Last accessed 22-03-17.

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Posted in Short Film yr2

Dora the explorer

We trekked on an adventure with our ten man band to the peak district. The aim of this was to scout for some amazing scenery and locations to follow the scripts feel in order to execute the vision properly.

In order to meet the brief, we had to follow one major rule, which is we can not film in Coventry. This gives us the excuse to think outside the box and the opportunity for every single film in the course will look different.

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Luckily two people in our group can drive so it made it easier for us to film in different locations and transport as much equipment as we like. In terms of budget this definitely lowers our spending costs.

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P.S I LOVE YOU is based on two lovers on the run. This location makes sense because they are in the middle of nowhere surviving. There’s a feeling of them two against the world so if we are able to capture this visually

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I took the camera with me because as Cinematographer I need to generate some kind of plan for shots and if I see a location that I think fits I would suggest it to the director and producers but at the end of the day they have the final say.
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On our way to the Peak district, we passed a petrol station that I think fits the script so well. Also the fact that its close by to our other locations which makes this convenient for filming too.

It has a run down feel, you can see beautiful country scenery in the back and is deserted so we will be able to film in peace.

Posted in Short Film yr2

– My Role –

I am the Cinematographer, it is quite an intimidating word because it doesn’t bluntly say what duties belong to this role. It’s important to know the difference between the camera operator duties and the gaffers

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On Google, I quickly searched for the definition of the word ‘Cinematographer’. what I really wanted to find out was the origins of the word and its meaning as it might have made breaking down the role easier.

The definition on Google stated it was the ‘person who oversees or directs photography’. This tells me what I do on set but I was sure that there is a lot more pre-production work, it couldn’t just simply be directing the photography on the day of the shoot.

During research on the exact role I CAMR ACCROSS A FEW VIDEOS ON THE  subect matter

 

Posted in Short Film yr2, Uncategorized

Hageraseb (Short Film)

 

I saw the trailer for this short film back in 2015, it excited me because it’s one of the first westernised films incorporating my Eritrean culture. It also disappointed me because I wanted to be the first person to present a project like this.

As it is a short film it couldn’t be released straight away, the makers have to generate a buzz. This meant that I saw the actual film a year and a half later. They had screenings before then but they were all based in the US.

Hageraseb is set in 1997, the premise for the

 

Who made it? :   (director Zia Moharjerjasbi) (Writer Saman Maydani futsum Tsegai) (producer kirby grey)

When was it made?: 23 May 2015

How was it funded?:

What working practices did they adopt?: handheld

How was it distributed?: film festivals and then youtube, also social media famous music artist like macle more promoting the film.

What awards did it win and why?:  best short film Sanfransico black film festival