13 April 2011

VINTAGE CAMERAS

Here's a short video I made just for fun, more than anything just to practice my filming skills and mainly because I love vintage cameras. The cameras featured are a Kodak Brownie II, a Quartz M and a Eumig C3M, all 8mm film cameras. The Eumig C3M is a work of art, it has three interchangeable lenses and can take single frames for stop motion animation. The Quartz M can shoot up to 48fps for lovely slo-mo footage, and the Kodak Brownie II makes possibly the best noise I've ever heard.
My patent Magazines-Under-Tripod-Tracking-Dolly.
I tried to make the video look like it was filmed on a cine camera (I don't know how successful I've been), which is kind of weird as I shot it with the thoroughly modern Panasonic AF101, a video camera/DSLR hybrid, using manual 35mm lenses. There's something weirdly appealing to me about taking modern digital HD footage and making it look old and dirty and analogue. I've always thought it'd be amazing to find a half buried canister of film and when you watch it back it's footage from the future of flying cars and robots but all filmed on 8mm film. A vintage video from the future. How amazing would that be?

I hope you enjoy the video.

10 April 2011

THE LAST BOOK IN THE LIBRARY

I've made our entry to the Sci-Fi-London 48 Hour Film Challenge public on Vimeo. Hope everyone enjoys it.

Previous blog about the film challenge.




6 April 2011

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS

Alli Parker, one of my Twitter screenwriting friends, has posted a blog about short film endings and featured my film Side by Side as an example. So I guess that makes this a blog post about a blog post, that's enough to make the internet explode surely?!

Anyway check out her blog for loads of posts to do with filmmaking and screenwriting structure, s'all good stuff!

I CAN HAS JOB?

I recently put out a casting call for my next short film and have been constantly amused at what some people consider a good covering letter. This one really made me smile so I had to respond, probably a bit harsh but couldn't resist.

*This is not a joke, I really did receive this from an actor*
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THE COVERING LETTER:

Dear Hiring Manager,

I've read your job posting with interest but I'm not coming just for an audition outside London, where I live (except if you pay for my travel).
I've done already 37 films in the UK, only from April 2010, and for some of them I didn't even need auditions.
I have extensive experience as an actor, which I believe, would be an ideal match for almost any role.
I've got profiles on Total Talent, Bedroom Genius and Facebook.
I work only with filmmakers who are friendly, sincere, reliable and professional, with clear vision, people who know exactly what they want from me.
Last but not least: you need to give me your promise, written on paper, that you'll provide, when finished, a copy of the film on DVD.

Thanks

****** ********
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MY RESPONSE:

Dear ****** ********,

I'm glad you read our casting call with interest, unfortunately if you're unwilling to even travel to an audition in Greater London (where you live) without being paid I don't think you're the right person for the role.

It's very impressive that you've acted in 37 films since April 2010, unfortunately I always favour quality over quantity. I once ate 15 packets of crisps in 3 hours but only enjoyed the 5th packet, the rest were rubbish.

It's very helpful that you have extensive experience as an actor, and I agree that it would make you ideal for almost any acting role. To be honest I'm a bit intimidated and only like working with inexperienced actors who I can boss around.

I also have a profile on Facebook but unfortunately we're not friends otherwise I would poke you.

It's wise that you only work with filmmakers who are friendly, sincere, reliable and professional. Unfortunately I don't have a clear vision of what I want, I usually just point the camera at the actors and hope for the best. I can only imagine I would disappoint you as a director.

I'm more than happy to give anyone I work with a signed agreement, on paper, that they will receive a DVD copy of the finished film. However, my DVD player is currently broken and I don't think it's fair that other people could watch my film when I can't.

Thank you for your application but on this occasion I won't be offering you an audition that you're not willing to travel to. Good luck with all your future endeavours.

Best wishes

Jamie

5 April 2011

SCI-FI LONDON 48 HOUR FILM CHALLENGE

Last weekend I and many others, over 250 teams, took part in the Sci-Fi-London 48 Hour Film Challenge. Basically the challenge is to make a five minute sci-fi film in 48 hours whilst incorporating three random elements you receive at the start. So around 10am on Saturday morning we all piled into the Apollo cinema in Piccadilly Circus to hear the rules once again and select our three criteria. One by one we shuffled to the front and dipped our hands into three silver sacks to pluck pieces of paper that gave us our film title, dialogue that had to be spoken and a prop that had to be used. Judging by some of the elements I've heard about I think we didn't do too badly. Some people ended up with the dialogue, "Geez! What have you done to my toilet? Looks like the Dulux dog exploded in there." If I'd got that I think I would've just curled into a ball and cried.

Our three criteria were:
Title - The Last Book in The Library
Dialogue - "I guess all you can do is wish them a happy life together."
Prop - A desk lamp with no bulb, we see a character screw in a bulb.

We'd already scouted a few potential locations around West London that we thought would be cool to film and had our actors in place (the great David Chrysanthou and Gabriella Montrose), so all we had to do was come up with a reasonably coherent story that worked with the three random elements then film, edit, grade, do fx work, sound design, and compose music, yeah, that's all we had to do. We quickly came up with the idea of a post-apocalyptic future and a masked character who wanders around looking for things that may be useful to salvage - so far so clich├ęd. We liked the idea of cutting back and forth between two separate time frames so we decided to use the present day and have two characters meeting and getting to know each other, intercutting that with a seemingly random salvage man in the future - slightly more interesting. Then we somehow tried to piece it all together whilst incorporating the dialogue and prop. Whether we've been successful or not I don't know, to be honest I've lost all perspective on the film. What I do know is the experience itself was really enjoyable and I recommend any filmmakers take part in these kind of challenges. You learn a lot about not only filmmaking and the challenges of shooting, editing, grading, sound designing, but also about yourself and how you cope under pressure and how creative you can be when a crazy deadline is looming. This was my first 48 hour film challenge but I loved having such a tight schedule as it meant everyone pitched in and just got on with trying to make the best film possible. At times it was slightly stressful, (we only had our actress for three hours and the sun was rapidly fading, we got kicked off of a train platform by an overzealous TFL employee and consequently had to find another location very quickly), but more than anything it was fun and now the cast and crew all have a pretty decent short film to show for a weekends work. Not bad I say. We even had time to sit down for a pizza and watch Louis Theroux whilst the footage was transcoding.

I guess it's tempting to go back to the film and tinker with it, reshoot things, expand the story, spend longer on the edit but I like the idea of leaving it as is and having the film as a testament to what we made at that point in time, mistakes, warts and out of focus shots all included.

I'm thinking about making this a regular occurrence and imposing my own 48 hour deadline every couple of months. It's a great way of being creative in such a short space of time and at the end you have a film that didn't exist a mere 48 hours beforehand. I'll definitely be entering again next year for more adventures in two day filmmaking.

Once the shortlist of films has been announced I'll post our film on here for you to watch. Until then here's a collage of some snaps I took throughout the weekend.

Excelsior!

*Geeky technical fact: the majority of our film was shot with a second-hand 35mm lens from eBay that cost me £14. Love it!*