WE ARE GORILLA Matthew E Carter, Ailsa Dalling, Tom Dalling, Sofia Ejderos, Robert Gould, Andy Greenhouse, David Knight, Stuart Laws, Jack Lee, Kyle Macfadzean, Eric Mack, Charlie May, Charley Murrell, Jonathan Neeves, Ben Osborne, David Price, Frances Rennison, Nina Scott, Christopher Smail, Sophie Standing, Robert James Taylor, Kip Trevaskis, Joe Turnbull, Adam Walker, Rajan Zaveri
SPECIAL THANKS Rebhi Barqawi, Nikki Griffiths, Mal and Rose, Grant Dean Ramboux
— This issue of Gorilla Film Magazine was sponsored by Cannes in a Van. If you’re interested in working with Gorilla on future projects email us at email@example.com
www.gorillafilmmagazine.com Design by Jack Lee / © 2013 Gorilla Film Magazine. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior permission of the publisher. Every effort has been made to trace the copyright holders, but if any have been inadvertently overlooked the necessary arrangements will be made at the first opportunity. All opinions expressed within this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily of the publisher.
Hello traveller. It’s a small world. Right? It wasn’t always like this of course. Once upon a time people lived entire lives in the comfortable bubble of their own blissful ignorance. The world was too big to fathom, too abstract to pin down. At some point it must have shrunk, and now we’re all standing far too close to one another, breathing each other’s oxygen. There’s no room. From a distance – space, for example – our planet looks like a microorganism, a fleck of dust floating in the great cosmic darkness. It might as well be nothing. Nothing at all. But it’s a big world, really. Surely. I mean look at it; it’s huge. There are vast oceans filled with monsters (probably), there are deserts, jungles and mountains. People are separated, segmented and suspicious. We don’t really understand each other. Thanks to modern technologies, we can all communicate with one another, without really saying anything. We’re totally connected and utterly apathetic, up-to-date and out of touch. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything. It’s a complex world. An oxymoronic world. And life, the journey we all must take, is pretty confusing for most of the time. But that’s okay. Nobody said this adventure would be easy, and you’ve come this far, right? So take off your boots, hang your coat up to dry, and come and warm yourself by the fire. You’ve earned yourself a rest, my friend. Let us tell you a story, just like people did in the old days. Just like we’ve always done. We’re storytellers, that’s what separates us from the beasts, and everyone has a story in them. We need to thread a narrative through life, to make sense of it, to add weight to it, to ground ourselves firmly in place. To say we were here. We existed once. Not so long ago it was only a select few who got to share their stories with the world. But now there’s a stage for each and every one of us. Gorilla Film Magazine is a platform for truly independent filmmakers, and a guidebook for anyone interested in telling stories. Within these pages you will find reviews of short films, interviews with filmmakers, features on the independent film world and articles about film and filmmaking. You will also find brilliant and beautiful art and design, and, inevitably, a bunch of stupid jokes. We are a community of filmmakers and film enthusiasts, artists and writers, held together with blood oaths and blu-tack. We host film screenings and special events, we promote up-and-coming filmmakers, we make silly videos and we welcome any and all contributions and collaborations. So whether you want to get involved or you’re just passing through, we hope you enjoy the journey. The Editor is currently missing. This was written by somebody else.
05 INDEPENDENT FILM WORLD
SHORT FILM REVIEWS
FILMS THAT ARE GOOD
Cannes in a Van and
The Van d'Or Awards
The Virgin Herod
The Passion of Anna
Van d'Or – The Judges
Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land
40 The Story of Turtle Canyon Films
Swhype and The 900 Project
Oxhide 1 and 2
THE FILMMAKERS GUIDE TO FILMMAKING
Chapter 1: Development
An Introduction to Film Theory
Chapter 2: Pre-Production
Chapter 3: Production
Chapter 4: Post-Production
The Male Gaze
gorilla film magazine
An Interview with Will Anderson
Van dâ€™Or Films of the Past
What is Woodhouse?
Making The Jump: From Short Films to Feature Films
Making a Feature Film with Science Team
An Interview with Xander Robin
The 7 Basic Plots
The Rise of Low Budget Games
You find yourself once more at the beginning of a long journey. You are the chosen one. You are unique. You are a storyteller. Just like everybody else.
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CA N N ES IN A V A N / / / / / / /
V A N
D ’ O R
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here’s something ephemeral about the world of short films. You don’t really get many timeless shorts, and short film nights focus almost exclusively on recently produced films. Anything made before 2008 is treated like an artefact, and not a particularly desirable one at that. This brevity is not confined just to short films themselves, it also infects the mini-industry that revolves around them; short film nights, websites and blogs frequently pop up one month only to disappear a few months later. There are a number of possible causes of this: the lack of profits in short films; the ‘stepping-stone’ nature of the medium; the fly by night nature of lower budget filmmakers; the lack of profits; the lack of mainstream recognition; the increasing volume of new content; the lack of profits; and so on. Short films equal short lifespans. However, there are a few outfits in the short film ecosystem that defy this short existence, and one such entity is Cannes In A Van.
Cannes in a Van is a simple concept: get a Ford Transit van, install a screen and soundsystem in the back of it, get some good short films, drive to Cannes, park up on La Croisette, and show films to people in the street. Compared to the alternative of having to find a fixed screening venue it’s relatively low cost, and it means that low-budget, independent, short films get to be shown at the biggest, most prestigious film festival on Earth. 10 INDEPENDENT FILM WORLD
Like all of the best ideas, Cannes In A Van was the product of an inebriated conversation. Andy Greenhouse and Simon Harris had been screening short films at their ShallowSHORTS100 film night in London for a few years, but they wanted to go bigger. So, in 2007 they formulated their plan to gatecrash the mega film junket on the Med and headed to France to see how the increasingly big-budget nature of Cannes would react to their plucky, up-start attempts to screen short films.
As it turned out, a guerrilla, indie concept like Cannes In A Van proved a refreshing antidote to the barrage of big Hollywood films that are increasingly using Cannes as a launch pad for global release. The success of this simple concept has been borne out by the fact that their trip to the Riviera in 2013 was their 7th consecutive visit to the festival, and also their most polished excursion to date. The van was brand spanking, as were the massive LCD TV and soundsystem. The pre-festival promotion was on-point, and the programme of films had been audience tested. The capabilities of Cannes In A Van has undoubtedly grown, partially thanks to a BIG backer. In 2011, having slogged away at Cannes In A Van year after year, ploughing their own funds in, the team managed to land a big partner. After months of back and forth, Ford agreed to get involved and put some of its considerable financial muscle behind the venture. So far, the car giant appears to have taken a hands-off approach. They recognise that Cannes In A Van has succeeded due to its organic growth, gradually gaining success and credibility; something that heavy-handed interference from a big sponsor could obliterate at a stroke. The team that had so much success before Ford, have been left to get on with doing what they do best, allowing the whole venture to retain its credibility and affinity with short film makers.
The inaugural Van d’Ors were held in 2011, a reasonably modest affair, it nonetheless proved the concept worked and tied in well with the Cannes In A Van ethos, with the winners being screened in Cannes the following year. For 2012, with Ford’s backing, they stepped up; more films, bigger awards, and Barry Norman presenting. Now, on September 19th, the Van d’Ors return to find a new crop of films that will make up 2014’s Cannes In A Van expedition. However, the introduction of the Van d’Ors wasn’t simply a diversification of the Cannes In A Van ‘brand’. The two ventures compliment each other in a way that no other film screening and award ceremony seem to. With most film awards it’s a one off event; if you win you get a prize, a bit of publicity and bragging rights, but that’s usually where it ends. But with the Van d’Ors, winning on the night is just the half of it. The other half is having your film screened under the banner of a recognised brand at the biggest film festival going. This is arguably more important as it actually gets your film seen. Not to mention that it’s fun to say “my film’s in Cannes this year”.
The founding principle of Cannes In A Van was similar to that of most short film event organisers; they wanted to help the films they love get recognition. The partnering with Ford in 2012 allowed them to do more than just improve the Cannes In A Van experience, it also helped them to seek out great films to introduce to Cannes. It allowed them to hold their very own short film awards; The Van d’Or Awards. 11
Much like they’ve done since the beginning, the team are still looking to grow. In August this year they went to the Venice Film Festival for the first time, and are launching Student Films In Transit (see page 88) later this year. This will make them an even more valuable entity in the short film world, with each new festival and event they visit resulting in thousands of potential new viewers for the lucky set of films that make it through the Van d’Ors and onto the Cannes In A Van programme. Life in short films is fleeting for many, but Cannes In A Van has eschewed this. They’ve stuck to their principles, expanded without selling-out, and continued to offer independent filmmakers bigger and better incentives to get involved with Cannes In A Van. They started out with an ambition to show the short films they loved at Cannes. Like a good independent filmmaker struggling with budget and resources, they subverted common logic and found a different way to achieve their goal. Since this first success they’ve stayed committed, they’ve stayed smart, and they’ve stayed ambitious. This is what has helped them outlast other film screenings, film events and film awards. This is the key to making it in the world of short films. David Price
12 INDEPENDENT FILM WORLD
Cannes In A Van In A Bar In A City The Cannes In A Van team don’t go into hibernation between Cannes and the Van d’Ors. Every second Wednesday of each month they host Screen Social at The Book Club in Shoreditch. At these nights they offer a mix of short film and live music, and thanks to hosting it in a cool venue in a prime location, the night also appeals to those who don’t have any great stake in short films, but just want something different from a night out. While not being exactly the monthly manifestation of Cannes In A Van, it does nevertheless allow the team to stay relevant in the short film scene; offering a chance to meet filmmakers, producers and others working in the business. Screen Social takes submissions all year round at screensocial.com. If you're interested in collaborating with Screen Social and currating a night of film and music, then email firstname.lastname@example.org
VAN D'OR INDEPENDENT FILM AWARD 2013 / POWERED BY FORD/
Gurinder Chadha CBE
Founder and Creative Director, 125 Magazine
Festival Director, The International Random Film
Award-winning director of Bend It Like Beckham
Rob is a London based creative who specialises in art
Festival & KINO5
and Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, and
direction and design for the music industry. In 2003 he
Synes is the Festival Director at the International
Olympic 2012 Torchbearer.
co-founded 125 Magazine, an international, bi-annual
Random Film Festival, which celebrates ‘randomness
fashion, style and photography bible.
that has been under-appreciated and neglected’
Janus has been a good friend to Cannes in a Van,
Founder and Photographer, 125 Magazine
Graphics and Communications Manager, Design
accompanying them four times on their pilgrimage
Perry is the co-founder of 125 Magazine, the 300
Laboratory Central Saint Martins
to the south of France. Janus has worked in nearly
page bi-annual ‘bookazine’, produced as a gallery
Carrie works at the Design Laboratory, delivering
every role that is integral to film production, including;
space in print for photographers around the world
media, graphics, fashion and product consultancy for a
producing, writing and directing.
to experiment with new work and ideas, whilst
wide range of international clients.
making fine-art photography available worldwide. Joe Bateman
Festival Director, Rushes Soho Shorts Si Harris
Joe has over 15 years experience in film. For the last 6 years Joe has been the Festival Director and Head of
Co-founder, Cannes in a Van and Swhype.
Marketing at Rushes Soho Shorts. He is now taking his
Lux Artist Management Limited
For almost 20 years Simon has worked as an animator
wealth of experience to the BFI.
Jerry worked with Fujifilm Motion Picture for 15
and designer for a range of broadcast outlets and
years, introducing initiatives such as ‘Fujifilm Shorts’
production companies including, MTV, BBC and
and ‘Complete16’, a 16mm stock and processing
Channel 4. Simon co-founded Cannes in a Van in 2006
package that made shooting on film more affordable.
and Swhype in 2012.
Freelance Motion Graphics and Editing. Adam heads
He has now started up his own cinematographer
up ‘The Video Shop’ and created the marvellous
management company, Lux. Stuart Harris
charity Marathon Film Quiz. Lee Denny
Lecturer and Cinematographer
Foudner, LeeFest Music Festival
An award-winning cinematographer and tutor at The
Lee founded LeeFest in 2006 in his back garden.
National Film and Television School, Stuart is also
Senior VP, Producer, and View-D at Prime Focus World
Since then it's grown, moving from Lee’s garden to
known for his commercial work and music videos with
Prime Focus World is a world leader in visual effects
Highhams Hill Farm in South London. LeeFest was
and 3D conversion services .Matthew has most
voted Best Independent Festival 2012 at the AIM’s
recently worked as a stereoscopic producer on World
and was a nominee at the 2012 UK Festival Awards for
War Z (2013) and Gravity (2013).
Best Festival Line Up. Christine Hartland Producer, Patchwork Productions
Christine has over 15 years experience working as a
Founder and Editor of Motionographer
Filmmaker, Redcap Productions
freelance corporate event and video producer. In 2004
Justin founded Motionographer, a leading source of
Sean joined Cannes in a Van for the annual trip in 2012.
she set up Patchwork Productions, which has a slate of
inspiration and news for motion design, animation and
Sean has over 5 years experience in video production,
feature film projects in development.
filmmaking, in 2005. Since then, Justin has also gone
with more than 200 projects for corporate and music
on to co-found ‘F5’, a cutting-edge creativity festival
industry clients completed to date.
in New York.
14 INDEPENDENT FILM WORLD
Adam Paul Hollingworth
Member, Cannes In A Van
Motion Designer and Director, Cake
Actor and Director
Adam joined Cannes in a Van in 2011. His Cambridge
Co-founder of animation and design event 'See No
Geoff accomplished the remarkable feat of creating
degree and first class honours wit has provided many
Evil'. Thiago has helped produce work for Cartoon
the world's first one-man feature film with Madness In
a laugh for the crew in times of despair. His specialities
Network, BBC, Microsoft, Pepsi, RedBee, SKY and
The First Degree in 2008.
including screenwriting and directing. Adam has
co-hosted The Van d'Or Awards since 2011. Ben Mallaby
Senior Lecturer, Ravensbourne
Producer, Rushes Soho Shorts
Ben currently lectures in Digital Film Production
Aside from his producer role for the Soho Shorts film
Editor-In-Chief, Phoenix Magazine
at Ravensbourne. He is also an award-winning
festival, Thom also has varied production experience,
Hannah specialises as a journalist and editor in fashion
from micro-budget shorts to Harry Potter.
beating heart of London’s vibrant fashion and culture
Director and Producer at Bullion Productions
Bullion is a vibrant collective of producers, directors,
Samantha acheived notable success with the short
film, Wish 143, which was a nominee at the 2011
and lifestyle. Phoenix is an internationally distributed, independent, quarterly magazine that represents the
Founder, Kino London
Formed in January 2008, Kino London’s monthly
Founder, The original 48-hour Film Challenge
open-mic film night is a one of a kind event. Clocking up
Director, DOP, editor, producer, stunt person, and
over 50 installments, Kino celebrates filmmaking for
creator of The Original 48-hour Film Challenge.
Project Manager, Film Nation UK and National Youth Film Festival
the sake of filmmaking.
The first National Youth Festival, organised by Film Jason Korsner
Nation UK, takes place in October and November
Journalist and Director, UK Screen/BBC
Editor, Film & Festivals Magazine (Online)
2013, with the aim of engaing young people in
Jason has been a journalist with the BBC for 18 years.
Chris works as a film journalist covering the work and
filmmaking and introducing them to the film industry.
He has also reviewed films for a variety of outlets
activities of film festivals.
including the BBC and UKscreen. He has covered the Oscars and festivals including Cannes and the London Film Festival. Jason has also written, produced and
Tom Dalling, David Knight, David Price
directed short films.
Gorilla Film Magazine
Design Manager/Transit Designer, Ford
The people who helped make the magazine that you're
A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Paul has
holding and reading right now. Also responsible for
worked in design at Ford for 10 years.
www.gorillafilmmagazine.com and curating film
events for Screen Social, CineEast and The London
The European Independent Film Festival
Student Film Festival
Robert Wray Shortwave Cinema, Independent Film Champion
Kadi is a graduate from The International School of
Robert founded the wholly independent Shortwave
Management Lyon, France.Since becoming Festival Manager at the ECU, Kadi has developed dozens of
new partnerships around the world and expanded
Editor-In-Chief, Moveiescope Magazine
ECU’s social media activity.
Moviescope covers the process and business of international movie making from an insider's P.O.V.
Cinema in Bermondsey in 2009.
Stoyan Yankov Head Co-ordinator, Aarhus Film Challenge
Stoyan is the co-founder of the Danish based Aarhus
Short Film Challenge. He also has experience as a
Richard was the deputy editor for Film4.com and was
Curator, Cigarette Burns Cinema
producer and director.
Senior Editor for Empire (Australia) between 2001 and
Cigarette Burns is one of London's leading cult film
2005. He regularly contributes to Esquire, SFX, DVD &
Blu-ray Review. Chris Lupton
Art Director, Empire Magazine
Chris has been an Art Director and Design Consultant
Rob is an award-winning filmmaker who completed
for the last 10 years, working for Empire Magazine,
his first feature film, Strings, in 2012
Emap and The Observer.
Kibwe Tavares first found recognition through the staggeringly pertinent Robots of Brixton, a piece melding archive footage and animation to show how repetition of tragedy throughout history is a fickle innateness of humanity and its inability to learn. Now, the director releases Jonah, the story of two young men from Zanzibar with dreams of fame and fortune, fulfilled when one of them, Mbwana, is photographed in front of a gigantic, unidentifiable fish springing from the sea. Often when filmmakers start off, they tend to drift towards a certain standard
16 SHORT FILM REVIEWS
or genre, or indeed style, yet Tavares assuredly confirms his willingness to experiment by delving into magicalrealist lands anew and coming out utterly unscathed with a film of the highest quality. Swimming with relevant thematic elements, Jonah elicits thoughts of Mรกrquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude and Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, with the charisma of Beasts of the Southern Wild. Yet, in spite of such lavish comparisons, this is a film borne entirely of originality, filled to the brim with social conundrums for the audience to ponder
and discuss. Is it so wrong of the characters to hope and wish for something better, even if the reality is anything but? Can we honestly disapprove of Mbwana's actions in attempting to forge a career based on celebrity at the expense of his town through westernised tourist-infested pollution? There's almost certainly this grey area contained within Jonah, as we struggle alongside Mbwana and his friend Juma in understanding whether or not reaching for the stars and aspiring for more can ever be justified in the wake of such dire consequences. Actions have reactions, but without the power of foresight, who are we to condemn the behaviour of what is, for all intents and purposes, a young man without direction in life? The key to Jonah seems to be the link between the old and the new. Whilst there's a connective urge between Mbwanaâ€™s young and elderly self, in trying to capture and harness the power of the fish, there's also a distancing that comes with the experience of maturity. The naivety of the boys, and of the town in the beginning, is grotesquely juxtaposed with the emergence of brilliant, neon-flashing, celebratory lights, and the gradual decomposition of their home in the aftermath of a flash-inthe-pan period of fame.
For all its inherent values, Jonah wouldn't be quite as magical without the realisation of the fish, in all its wonderful, monolithic glory and seemingly impossible size. Adorned, or plagued, by attached bottles, cans and general waste, it wanders the sea, a representation of all that is happening above. It is harmless, elegant and dangerous all at once. And that's what Tavares brings to this film, the sense that nothing is as it seems, everything is constantly changing and that perhaps, in the end, we will all inevitably be defined by what happens when we're face-to-face with that impossibly mysterious fish.
Director Kibwe Tavares Cinematographer Chloe Thomson Writer Jack Thorne Producer Ivana MacKinnon Duration 17:42
Watch this film at http://factoryfifteen.com/ 7936/1433863/home/jonah
The Virgin Herod
Robert James Taylor
Director Xander Robin Production Designer Nicole Groton Cinematographer Taylor Cohan Duration 7:45
There is something truly disturbing about the bodily functions of other people. For instance, I can happily sit through Linda Blair’s head rotating like a teacup ride at a carnival, but when she’s projectile vomiting bile the colour and consistency of lentil soup, I have to hide my eyes behind my hands and wait for it all to end. Taking cues from a genre that’s been sadly neglected since the 80s, The Virgin Herod is a refreshing return to body horror. The opening scene sets the tone of creeping, awkward and low-key revulsion, with our protagonist picking at his pockmarked, scratched and bloodied skin. The film builds on this concept through to the dreamlike finale. The plot rests on the socially awkward eponymous character, travelling to see a girl called Mary who has invited him to a ‘thing’ she’s at. Along the way we’re shown nearly every possible bodily action and excretion, with Herod’s physical deterioration mirroring his psychological decline. On his journey to see Mary, he sweats, scratches, bleeds over himself, swigs a bottle of mouthwash, and all this before he even arrives at the party. Reminiscent of the Korova Milk Bar in A Clockwork Orange, the party scene begins with an orgy where condoms are hung from a chandelier, and only gets more surreal from there as Herod searches the house
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for Mary. These scenes culminate in our protagonist crawling towards a giant papier-mâché vagina, which, in case you were left in any doubt, even has a clitoris peeping out from the void (a clitoris that, rather unnervingly, is similar in size and shape to a Space Hopper). Let’s be frank, the symbolism wrung out of the second half smacks of a college lecture in Art History; the tree as a representation of fertility and duplicity, the luridness of the dark in opposition to the earnest hope of light, the ‘innocence’ of the woman, the Biblical references and the prostrate submission of Herod at the feet of the girl he worships. Yet at its heart it’s a tale of unrequited love and harsh dismissal. There are aspects that grab your attention by the lapels and force you to watch the unfolding drama, and it’s difficult to cast this film aside when it has such a brilliant, haunting sensibility to it. Forgive the schlock symbolism because when the film works well, it’s a revolting delight where you will, on more than one occasion, find yourself saying ‘what the…’
Watch this film at http://xanderrobin.com
Filmmaker Mark Bowsher Cinematographer Pierre-Henri Landriau Duration 12:04
A homeless man is plucked from the street by a well-dressed doctor and offered compliments, coffee and free accommodation in exchange for participation in a medical trial. The hopeful Mr Dowling is introduced to a set of four “experimental, but essentially harmless” lacquered pills, each a differ-
ent colour and posing its own level of threat. He dutifully takes one each night, with the resulting effects to be recorded the following day by the doctor and his watchful assistant. They quiz him on elaborate mathematical equations, as well as the governing body of Tanzania. His progress continues to surprise, although perhaps not always for the right reasons. And while Mr Dowling’s patrons have their own dubious desires, they will not break a single one of their promises in order to realise them. At first glance, The Watchers is a modest, slightly unnerving chamber piece movie, aiming for a kind of lo-fi creepiness. However, writer/director Mark Bowsher transcends his obvious budgetary restrictions, and the film eventually
takes shape as a caustic social commentary informed by debates on class and scientific evolution. The film’s title and prowling camera work evokes an effectively paranoid quality, as does the deep low-end rumble that ominously rears its head throughout. However, the Watchers is at its best when it indulges in flashes of perverse humour, poking fun at daytime television and snotty intellectualism in equal measure. Although told in a rather traditional manner, Bowsher does supply his film with some cool flourishes. He makes ample use of a slightly softened focus to suggest a deteriorating mental state, and thought processes are disrupted by quick bursts of images that are almost subliminal in their presentation. His boldest move, however, is an excruciating sequence in which a desolate conversation is muffled and layered over still images of a diluted soul and its limited perspective. And, while the film’s spikes of humour may make a tough pill easier to swallow, it’s flashes of inventiveness such as these that gives The Watchers its real power.
Watch this film at http://caflt.wordpress.com
Director Guy Reid Cinematographer Christoph Ferstad Original Score Human Suits Duration 19:02
Overview is jointly directed by The Planetary Collective, a group of directors and designers based in Brooklyn, NY who regularly collaborate with philosophers, scientists and other intellectuals to answer the big, unsolved questions of the universe. The title comes from The Overview Effect, a cosmic theory, which alludes to astronauts’ experiences of witnessing the earth from space, and how this changes their perspective on human life and the ways we interact with the rest of the planet. The documentary can be watched as a separate short or as a prelude to the group’s upcoming feature debut, Continuum, an extension and expansion of the ideas being discussed. “Once a photograph of the earth, taken from outside, is available, a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose” This is how Overview kicks
20 SHORT FILM REVIEWS
off, with a quote by English astronomer Fred Hoyle, which perfectly captures the essence of the concepts discussed in the film. By weaving together a simple narrative that contrasts talking-head interviews and stunning footage of Earth seen from the blackness of space, Overview achieves a lovely balance between stimulating the mind and pleasing the eye. This film really sends waves of shivers down your back, in a good way. Listening to someone talk about how his or her relationship with the earth profoundly changes after seeing the planet suspended like a Christmas ornament in the universe is spine tingling. The fragility of Earth isn’t something we like to hear about, but in Overview it’s granted a whole new perspective, one tinged with a melancholy sadness and hope for the future.
from the aurora borealis dancing across the earth. When we see the boundaries erected by mankind’s influence over the planet, in deforestation and urbanisation, this startling imagery takes on a more sobering tone. One we need to heed closely for the future.
At the end of the day, it’s the ideas that linger on after Overview has finished rolling. It’s the stories and memories from the astronauts who have felt the full power The sound design is bubbling of experiencing The Overview Effect, and with electronic loveliness, seamlessly it’s the film’s message of unity with the adding to the mood of cosmic isolation planet that sustains all our lives. that’s pervaded during the course of the film. And the imagery is beautiful to behold. We get panoramic images of Watch this film at thunderclouds seen from thousands of http://www.overviewthemovie.com miles above and waves of green light 21
Filmmaker Mikey Please Animation and Photography Mikey Please & Dan Ojari Duration 6:07
Mikey Please’s previous film, The Eagleman Stag, was a big hit with Gorilla, and one that we screened to hundreds of people at a Cycle-In-Cinema event (it also won a BAFTA, but whatever). Clearly his new film, Marilyn Myler, has quite an act to follow. Marilyn Myler opens big; we start with creation, space, light, planets, stars, and a woman floating in the void. All this grandiosity is paired with a sparse, deadpan, voiceover which explains what we are seeing, albeit with some trepidation. From the big opening, Mikey shrinks us down and takes us to Earth, where we see the woman from space moulding the planet; rivers, mountains, tress, and humans are conjured with her own two hands. And then, frustratingly, destroyed. The perspective changes and we see Marylin outside of this God-fantasy, and in reality, where she’s just another struggling artist beavering away at her lonely desk, frustrated
22 SHORT FILM REVIEWS
with her skill, frustrated with her ideas, frustrated with being unappreciated. This is the crux of the film; the frustration that comes with creation. The frustration for Marilyn comes from two sources, one is with herself and her inability to execute her ideas as well as she’d like, and the other comes from people’s inability to sufficiently appreciate her work. They can look at her sculptures, stroke their chins and call it moving, but can they ever really appreciate what she’s gone through to produce her work? How can anyone but the creator appreciate that? This would understandably be a matter close to the heart of Mikey Please. His animation, which uses white foam, moves with remarkable fluidity and incorporates incredibly intricate sets, and must be painstaking in the extreme to produce. Does the audience’s response match up to his levels of effort and commitment? And then there’s his subject matter, which is existential in
essence and hard to nail down; why lighting, and bold, confident shot choices make something if it’s not going to be (the camera pulling out of planets is everything you want it to be and won’t be worthy of special mention). appreciated the way you expect? If the ‘frustration in creation’ of If the audience do not appreciate Marilyn Myler is a reflection of Mikey’s Marylin Myler to the level Mikey hopes, feelings about filmmaking, then it may it will not be through his lack of effort be no bad thing for us as viewers, as it’s or talent. The modelling is precise but clearly driving him on to greater things. playful, and the movement achieved is energetic and smooth. But perhaps The film is currently touring festivals http://www.mikeyplease.co.uk the most impressive element is the way he employs light; it bounces off, shines through, and shadows his foam world in a way that really brings it to life. So it would seem that once again Mikey Please has produced something exceptional. With Marylin Myler he tackles a difficult, obtuse subject, but deftly builds a compelling story with a deep subtext. His animation has improved too, thanks to his skilful use of
1 : DE VE L OP ME N T
It can be daunting making a film. Especially if it’s your own vision that’s being brought to life with cameras, boom poles and magic. The road is long and arduous and your story is small and fragile. It would be easy to give up before you’ve even begun. But don’t be afraid, with time your confidence will swell, you’ll start to pick up tricks as you go along and, eventually, you’ll have the satisfaction of injecting a little part of yourself into the world. And besides, we’re here to help. Gorilla will be your spirit guide,
from the conception of an idea to extensive choice of tried and the birth of your very own film. tested tools to add to your inventory. The particular tools Shooting a movie can be like ten we’re going to talk about here will people trying to paint the same help you to solidify your story, as picture, often halfway up a Welsh well as share your ideas with your mountain in the lashing rain. With crew. When you find yourself this in mind, you’ll want to make deep into production territory, the rest of the process as simple these items will help you to hold as possible. As with any creative true to your original vision. endeavour there is no right or Creativity is a swirling vortex of wrong path to take, but a little bit chaos, and it helps to have a rope. of structure goes a long way. There are no maps where you’re People have been making movies going, but we can give you a since the 1800s, so there’s an compass.
24 THE FILMMAKERS GUIDE TO FILMMAKING
The Premise Odds are you probably have a thousand ideas bubbling away in your brain. Write them down. All of them. Any writer worth their salt will tell you it’s quantity not quality that’s important when you’re first getting started. Of course, a final Premise should be as succinct as possible, but you’ll want to concentrate on getting everything out first, and then refining it later. It’s also a good idea to rewrite your Premise after you have developed your idea a bit, as this will help you to really clarify your vision. Your final Premise should be about 30 to 50 words and contain the key elements of character, setting and conflict. The Treatment The Treatment is the very soul of your story. So far you’ve only imagined your idea in fleeting, intangible bursts of inspiration, but now you’ve got to write the whole thing down. The Treatment is the full narrative of your film, from beginning to end, in clear detail. This is not a simple task by any means, and early drafts will likely consist of tear-smudged pages of utter drivel until you find a way to bend and shape the story into something that actually works as a film. You may find that some ideas simply don’t work on paper, but that’s okay, there’s always another film in the sea.
Step Outline The humble Step Outline is a blow-by-blow breakdown of the important parts of your story. Write a single paragraph for every scene, including all the significant actions. You will retrace your steps many times, until everything is in there. Don’t worry about making it a beautiful, flowing prose like your Treatment, a Step Outline must be rugged and practical. It is the bones of your narrative, and you will refer back to it when you’re making your film. If you continue to rewrite the Step Outline as you go along, tightening the action with skill and focus, it will eventually metamorphosise into its final stage; the mighty Script. Text: Tom Dalling / David Knight Illustration: Frances Rennison
The Script Writing a Script is easy. The key is communication; you’re making a blueprint for your motion picture, which will be used by your cast and crew for preparation and production. You need to communicate everything that will happen in the film. The Script has three main elements. The Slug Lines
You should include headers at the start of every new scene to establish the location and time. This is really important, because if you’ve got an exterior scene at night, you’re going to need to bring lighting equipment. If there are a number of scenes set in one location, you can shoot them all at once and save yourself some time and travel money.
The action is aligned to the left margin. This is everything that happens, so try to keep it simple. Avoid all unnecessary descriptions, keep the adjectives to a minimum and use short sentences. When you introduce a new character, write their name in capital letters. Make sure all key props are named in the Script, don’t just assume they are there. Write in the present tense.
The talking bits should be centred, with the name of the speaker above the text. Avoid adding any inflection to the dialogue, that’s the actor’s job. Besides, it should be clear from the context of your Script whether the character is crying, or being sarcastic, or on fire.
1. EXT. BEACH. DAY. The TRAVELLER stands at the water's edge. He pulls a watch from his pocket. Fiddles with it. The DOG looks up at the Traveller. TRAVELLER It’s time to go old friend. DOG I always knew this day would come.
26 THE FILMMAKERS GUIDE TO FILMMAKING
The Storyboard Storyboarding is essentially an alchemical process by which words are transmuted into pictures. This is a road best travelled with your cinematographer, so if you haven’t met one yet, you may want to leave this task until later. You storyboard is a highly valuable tool, but it doesn’t have to be a work of art. Your childish scribbles are perfectly acceptable, so long as they make sense. Draw crosshairs on the heads of your characters to illustrate where they are looking, and feel free to draw arrows within the frame to show movement and direction. You should also use arrows outside of the frames to show camera movement. Number each shot, not each frame. If a shot has complex action or camera movement it’s cool to use more than one frame, but keep the shot number the same for every frame in the sequence. Be sure to write short descriptions below each frame so that your terrible drawings make sense. The main things you are trying to communicate are; camera placement and movement, framing and angle of the shot, and placement and movement of objects within the frame.
> Up until this point it’s possible that you could have been flying solo, but from here on out it’s going to be a team effort, so pull up your tights and get out there. You’re about to cross the first threshold into the world of Pre-production, you’ll need to surround yourself with a competent crew you can trust, because you’re flying into a storm of dicks, and things are about to get hairy.
I n t e r v i e w w i t h W i l l A n d e r s o n
interview by: Tom Dalling
ill Anderson and Ainslie Henderson create short animated films about smoking pigeons, floppy filmmakers, talking dogs, splashy ducks and dancing turkeys. Releasing a new short every few months, they’re fairly prolific, they’ve even won a BAFTA (Best Graduation Film for Longbird), but more importantly their stuff is bloody funny.
Hi Will, so we assume that you are Scottish, but can you tell us anything else about yourself? I’m 24, grew up in the Highlands, live and work in Edinburgh, and I’m blind in one eye. When did you begin animating? I made little animated things when I was younger, borrowing video cameras from friends and clicking the buttons really quickly, and my dad had a super-8 camera, which I tried using on one occasion. To be honest, I didn’t really start working with animation until I studied it at college, but I’ve always drawn since I can remember. How would you describe your films? Somewhat reflexive. Animation usually takes ages to make, is this also the case with your work? Not at all. I am incredibly impatient, and need to make things as quickly as I can. I have a huge appreciation for beautifully realised work that
takes a lot of time, but my style lends itself to more spontaneity. Although a lot of the animation I make is digital, I tend to only animate through once, even though it is very easy to go back and alter things. I see animation at the moment as a response, and I like that to be as intuitive as possible. What is your director/animator relationship with Ainslie? Ainslie Henderson and I, we seem to work very well collaboratively. Lots of what I’m doing at the moment involves conversational dialogue, so we won’t make anything that doesn’t have a certain energy in the performance. It can be really tiny, but there needs to be something to get me animating. Ainslie generated the idea for our new short, and he is directing it. I co-wrote it with him and I'm the credited production designer, responsible for how the film appears visually. I guess we are comfortable working on projects together in different capacities. How do you and Ainslie come up with ideas? Just by playing. We have a great laugh and try things out frequently. I think our most success29
ful work together came from having the freedom to do whatever we want. For longer projects Ainslie and I sit down and play out scenes that we like, and I usually do some designs to make it more exciting. So far I've been the designer, but we both have a say in what we make. It’s probably easy to dwell on things for long periods, but that's not what I'm here for. When we come up with something, we record, and then I produce it as quickly as humanly possible. Our new short, Monkey Love Experiments, is a little different though. We wrote and edited the script for months, and as it's stop-frame, it's a much longer process. I like this also, it gets me out of my comfort zone. Ainslie is a lot more paced at what he does, and sometimes more thoughtful. I think we balance our work ethic well. Do you ever worry about what your films mean? We are always thinking about what we are trying to say. And if you know what you’re saying with your films you’re safe, I think. I’ve been animating birds a lot recently. It seems to have become a formula for Ainslie and I to experiment with sketches to share with people. I can’t give you a very good rea30 FILMMAKERS
son here, I think when designing I’ve found myself a way in which I can focus my work, at the moment. This will progress though. What do you think it takes to be an animator? Well, I don’t see myself as a particularly good animator really. I'm definitely not the most technically clued up. I think an animator needs to understand what they are bringing to life, and therefore be thoughtful in giving something existence. So what’s next? Well Ainslie and I have just completed our new short [Monkey Love Experiments] which combines stop-frame animation with live-action. We’ve been working on this for the last few months and we're really hoping it’s well received. Other than that, we both work under our collective ‘White Robot’ and are developing a TV series for children. Any advice for aspiring animators? Draw all the time. Just be bold and make what you want to make. It’s okay to take risks here. What makes you laugh? Ainslie makes me laugh.
TEXT: DAVID PRICE
Van dâ€™Or Films of the Past The films that compete in The Van d'Or Awards come in all shapes and sizes; from slick-looking productions starring recognised film actors, to low-budget films made in 48-hours. Hereâ€™s a look at some notable runners and riders from the 2012 instalment.
82 Winner of Best Film
Directing just his second official film, Calum MacDiarmid ended up with a hit on his hands with 82. The film follows a local postie as he takes the audience on a journey into darkest suburbia. With Nick Moran (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) starring, the film has gone on to collect over a dozen awards at film festivals in the UK and USA.
Winner of Best Comedy
Just to prove it’s not only the UK that the Van d’Ors looks to for films, this Dutch short won best comedy at the 2012 awards. A farce in the traditional comedy style, Rouw was actually a product of a 48-hour film competition. Just goes to show, you don’t need a huge budget and loads of time to produce a winner.
VAN D’OR FILMS OF THE PAST
Winner of Best Documentary
Roger The Real Life Superhero This documentary, which follows the efforts of 20-year-old Salford man, Roger Hayhurst, as he tries to make the streets of Manchester safer by fighting crime as his alter-ego, Knight Warrior, caught the attention of the national press.
Winner of Student Film In Transit Award
The Van dâ€™Ors understandably want to push the talent of tomorrow, so to recognise young aspiring filmmakers it has the Student Film In Transit Award. This was won by Alistair Oloo, a student at the London College of Communication, at last year's awards.
Winner of Best Director and Best Actress
A domestic drama with a shocking ending, Taking Life achieved huge success when it was picked up and turned into a feature film, a dream for many short-filmmakers. For more on how the film made the jump from short to feature, check out our interview with director Steve Reeves, and writer Mike Oughton on page 62.
Nominee for Best Drama and Best Cinematography
Written and directed by John Brown, Mum Says was a favourite with the Van dâ€™Or organisers for its high production value, and picked up two nominations. This film has a sad epilogue though, as its lead actor, Tommy Vine, unexpectedly passed away in 2013. A fund has been set up in his honour to help aspiring artists get their projects off the ground by providing grants and bursaries. Search for The Tommy Fund on Facebook for more details.
VAN Dâ€™OR FILMS OF THE PAST
<essay> stuff explained
F i l m T h e o r y
ilm theory is a touch like Marmite in that you either love it or hate it. Well, actually, it's probably more like horseradish; the vast majority of people stay away from it, with a select few claiming to be connoisseurs of the condiment. Stepping back somewhat from food related similes, film theory is a subject that tends to elicit strong reactions. There are those who claim it is nothing but smug hogwash, and those who believe it holds the greatest significance in how we view and create film. Attempting to bridge the gap between the two camps is a task belonging to either the bravest or most idiotic people. Nevertheless, we here at Gorilla Film Magazine love to dip our toes in the murky waters of film theory, and it's our distinct aim to make the convoluted wholly digestible again. As with every new medium of culture, film was not immediately treated with the respect that it deserved. Vachel Lindsey, a poet of the early 1900s, commenced upon a literary journey that would end in the book The Art of the Moving Picture, a piece that challenged people to look at
36 STUFF EXPLAINED
film as real art, as opposed to vacuous entertainment. It would be a defining point for film theory; a point that started to bring the theorists out from beneath the woodwork, for better or worse. But, for all its fanciful words, Lindsey's book's most important contribution was underlining the fact that the future of film wouldn't be in replicating other mediums and forms, but in carving out its own niche, taking note of aesthetic, social and psychological effects. From humble beginnings, the future of film theory would move in mysterious, and at times, utterly pretentious ways. Whilst there were interesting movements like expressionism and impressionism, there was the slightly incomprehensible photogĂŠnie, which, for all intents and purposes, declares that any narrative ruins the integrity of a film. It's hard to accept theorists' views on such subjects when they still argue to this day about the meaning behind it. And surely that's one of the problems with film theory at large: in-fighting between intellectuals who are constantly trying to outsmart each other.
Nevertheless, there were two theorists who paved the way in terms of dramatically challenging the approach: Rudolf Arnheim and Andre Bazin. Arnheim persevered to tell the world that film was but the mechanical reproduction of real life; a formalist theory. Whereas Bazin (known mockingly for his changing approach throughout individual periods), would claim that film was a representation instead of a reproduction, and therefore the object portrayed on the screen was as real as the object in front of us; the realist approach. Both theorists maintained a certain credibility within the industry, and their differing perspectives each had its merits. However, rivalry often skews perspectives, and both men attempted to dismiss and undermine anything other than their own position. Whilst filmmakers often respond well to constructive criticism, film theorists rarely give each other an inch, thus feeding into the notion that they are snooty, know-it-alls. In the contemporary landscape, the word semiotics seems to be of great importance to film theory. As with other subjects deriving from the viewpoints of intellectuals, the word often doesn't get discussed in terms of meaning. How does semiotics apply to film? What does it mean? Whilst theorists assume it's obvious, we have no idea what the hell they're talking about. To put it as simply and as possible; film semiotics are the study of signs; things like metaphors and symbolism, and how they pertain to a film on multiple levels. So, when you see an alien sprout from John Hurt's belly, chances are it will be discussed
in the terms mentioned above, under the label of semiotics. After all, it's not just an alien, but a representation of men and their approximate relationship to rape (take that with a pinch of salt). To summarise film theory is a mission impossible. There are so many theories out there that stand out on their own: Auteur theory, the understanding that the film is entirely the product of the director and no-one else; Marxist Theory, where film is viewed and examined to refer to any strong relationships or constructs within any kind of moving image text; Feminist theory, deriving from the second wave of feminist movements, obviously targeting women in film as their focus; and of course, formalist and realist movements which have been discussed above. Where Sergei Eisenstein and Jean Epstein started analysing film, Arnheim and Bazin would follow, and it would lead to many arguments, counterarguments and reactionary movements. Some were based on fact, others less so. But the point being that film theory, because it's so entirely muddled due to the sweeping statements of many, actually allows us to make up our own mind in relation to film as a whole. It's a strange thought to have, but because we are able to sometimes take what someone like Siegfried Kracauer says lightly, then we're allowed, due to the occasionally pompous attitude of others, to not get too drawn in by what others say. Due to this accidental unbiased aspect of film theory, we can indeed jump head first into the melee without fear of being mocked, because when all's said and done, our views are no less important than someone like Andre Bazin.
Turtles All the Way Down The Story of Turtle Canyon Films
40 INDEPENDENT FILM WORLD
In a dark, deep past there is a world, much like ours, but where moving images could only be recorded by the elite, with equipment that would seem alien to us. That time is 1985 and the specific world is Back To The Future, a perfect film that defined the childhoods of millions of people across the globe. It was a time when films were funded and distributed by studios and the richest investors, when the equipment was so complicated that you needed huge crews of people to record a simple scene between two men and a dog in a car park. Within that Back to The Future scene was a glimpse at the future: camcorders.
That’s how Turtle Canyon Films started. Turtle Canyon Films is an independent production company based at Pinewood Studios and in Seattle, USA that was started by three young(ish) filmmakers. Independently they each appropriated the family camcorder to make such landmark movies as A Crowful of Dollars and Knife One. Movies they could export onto VHS and show their friends and family. Then digital cameras such as the Canon XL1s meant that a feature film could be made for literally hundreds of pounds, but still only be screened to friends and family. Then the Internet, a future unpredicted by Zemeckis and his fax machine, would change the way films are watched and distributed. Anyone can distribute a film now. Independence. That’s the future. Hopefully. Individuals making the videos that they want to make, the audience finding them, and the money finding the individuals. Independent production
companies making films that don’t compromise, films that may be funded by an audience before they've even been made, and a chance to be seen by millions more. The past was about taking out a bank loan, pulling favours and spending years crafting a short film, before hawking it around film festivals to get enough interest, trust and financial backing to make that debut feature that you then hawk around film festivals in the hope that one distributor thinks enough of it to pay for 35mm prints to be made and an advertising strategy devised before it disappears quietly from the schedules. That’s a process longer than that sentence.
Technology has allowed anyone to have a go, and to a fairly high quality. This is undeniably a good thing. The new world consists of creators being discovered by audiences, rather than products being delivered to a specific audience. Old Hollywood makes lots and lots of decent products, technically very competent and occasionally outstanding. The new world will lead to an awful amount of dreadful, dreadful videos and films. The new world will also lead to a lot of truly unique and supposedly unmarketable filmmakers finding an audience. The hope is that a real meritocracy will arise: where anyone can distribute films and the very best then earn kudos and then money to make new films that their newly acquired audience love even more. Of course this rosy future where anyone can indulge their dream of being the next Spielberg (a reference to the first local newspaper article headline about Turtle Canyon Films in 2003) is unlikely to happen. Amazon, YouTube and Netflix are already commissioning original content. They’ll be the new behemoths; they’ll present us with what they think we want. They might even present us with exactly what we do want, the difference will be that we can watch it when we want, where we want. Since Turtle Canyon Films started over ten years ago, it has been made possible by new technology, huge commitment and producing corporate video and films to generate income for filmmaking. Turtle Canyon Films was born out of a love of movies and a desire to make the kind of films that they would want to see at the cinema. In just the past 18 months they have produced 10 short films, winning awards at festivals worldwide and working with some of the most exciting names in the UK industry. They have two feature
42 INDEPENDENT FILM WORLD
films in development and are working on further film and television projects with some of the superb talent they’ve worked with. The future of Turtle Canyon Films will be governed by the distribution of their future films, whether that is with the backing of independent or major distributors, or all by themselves.
Turtle Canyon Films was founded on the belief that going to the movies is a privilege, to see anything from the smallest independent film to the biggest blockbuster. They want to make films that they’d want to watch, that filmmakers they respect would want to watch, and the wider public will love. Because that’s the one thing that hasn’t changed, films are for the wider world, a world that has never been wider. “Like I've always told you, you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything”
Text: David Knight / Art: Sophie Standing
Films That Are Good
Oxhide 1 and 2 Oxhide and its sequel Oxhide 2 could be considered two of the most important Chinese films of the last ten years. The director Liu Jiayin uses her actual family to construct a narrative that depicts the working class lifestyle in contemporary China. Many film scholars pigeonhole both Oxhide films into China’s so-called 'New Documentary Movement'. If you’re not familiar with this movement it essentially refers to a collective of Chinese filmmakers that over the past few decades have produced shoestring budget documentaries outside government approval. During and after Mao’s Cultural Revolution, China’s censorship laws towards films and filmmakers that did not conform to state ideologies were embarrassingly strict. As a result of the state controlled studio systems, directors and producers that wished to make films about issues the government found politically unsuitable were left with little to no options. This changed when video technology became available and filmmakers no longer had to rely on studio backing to produce their work. Like most films that are part of the movement’s body of work, Oxhide relies heavily on static one-shot scenes; the 110 minute film is made up of just 23 shots. Usually when filmmakers utilise the incredibly wide 2.35:1 aspect ratio it is to capture open spaces and landscapes. Liu Jiayin on the other hand uses it to observe intimate close-ups of what many would consider to be mundane domestic chores (mostly cooking dumplings and sewing). Initially it appears to be a strange usage of such a wide aspect ratio, but soon it becomes apparent that it is intended to work almost like a magnifying glass, where moments that would usually be overlooked are blown up and amplified. You soon begin to see how valuable the family's little domestic rituals are, both culturally and emotionally. Oxhide 1 and 2 teach us that deep down within our everyday lives are hidden signals that say more about us, and our emotional state, than we think.
46 FILMS THAT ARE GOOD
Matthew E Carter
2 : P RE- P RODUC T I ON And so it begins. It's time to leave the comfortable bubble of creativity and script development behind, as you venture out into the world of Pre-production. Prepare to have your ego shattered. A road of trials lies ahead of you, a road of new obstacles and doubts. But don't despair, you’ll also probably meet the people who will become your crew, and together, you will bring your vision to life. But you can't make a movie with the copper, gum and spiders in your pockets, you're going to need to raise some funds, or start improvising. There are many new challenges in Pre-production, but also a lot of opportunities to get creative.
Fundraising and Budgeting No doubt you’re raring to go now, but hold your horses cowgirl, you need to plan ahead. It really helps to have a budget, so you don’t end up wasting your precious money. This isn’t Hollywood, so it’s unlikely you’ll be purchasing a life-size, animatronic Spanish galleon or a fully opposable Keanu Reeves. Let’s think a little smaller. How about you ask your mate if you can borrow their car, and then spend most of your budget on petrol? Ferrying people to and from locations will eat up a good portion of your budget, and then you have to provide hot meals for your cast and crew. Once you’ve blown the rest of it on Gaffer tape, you might find a few pennies left over for a prop or two. But sometimes you have to spend a lot of money, whether it’s making an elaborate costume or hiring an expensive piece of kit. If it’s essential to your story then there’s no getting around it, you’re going to have to raise some extra cash. Crowdfunding
Thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can now build your own virtual gutter from which to beg for funds. Try to offer some nice incentives and rewards for bigger donations, such as branded t-shirts and mugs, or a credit in your movie.
Get a Job
Working a part-time job can be a great way to fund your work, and can give your mind a break from the tribulations of a creative endeavour.
Even now, film production has an inexplicable mystique about it, so discounts, freebies and Get Out of Jail Free cards can often be obtained by using the magic words “we’re making a film” and “we could certainly put your logo in the credits”.
48 THE FILMMAKERS GUIDE TO FILMMAKING
Text: Tom Dalling / David Knight Illustration:Kyle Macfadzean
Casting Actors Finding actors is relatively simple; use your Internet device to search for casting websites, where you'll discover an infinite number of black and white portraits and character stats. Many actors will work for free if you can convince them that your film is worthy, but you will have to pay for transport and food. Auditions are pretty weird, but do your best to be warm and welcoming, and make the actors feel as comfortable as possible. Also, try to provide the actor with a few varied scenes to read, so you can get a sense of their range. Equipment If you have a camera and a microphone you can make a film. However, there’s a long list of other items worth considering, tools to raise that all important production value and make your life easier. When it comes to acquiring these items you have a number of options; you can borrow, buy, beg or steal. The best solution is usually a happy medium of the four. Borrowing
Borrowing is great because it’s free. However, you will be at the mercy of others, and could find yourself picking up kit the night before a shoot, which will cost you precious time. Also, be careful not to use up all your favours at once, you never know when you’ll need them.
Buying or renting kit has its obvious advantages. Stick to the essentials, that big camera crane may look really exciting, but it could be wiser to get a proper microphone. Never underestimate the importance of good, clean sound.
Begging on a street corner is so passé. These days it’s all about websites like Freecycle, an online dumping ground where you can find props and setdressing.
Stealing may inject a bit of adrenaline into a lifeless project, however you will lose vital karma points.
Scouting Locations Never underestimate the value of a well-planned campaign. Scout all your locations at least once and with as many of your crew as possible. The Producer will want to fill out mysterious forms and make shady deals with the locals. The Cinematographer can take a few snaps, work on their lighting plans, maybe even try a bit of video sketching with the Director. Nobody will think to invite the Sound Technician, but they'll be there, noticing all the awkward echoes and background noises that they will have to work around without help from anyone. Take it all in, soak up the atmosphere, is this what you imagined?
2 The Crew It is indeed possible to make a film on your lonesome, but in most cases it's not recommended. As a filmmaker you should stick to your specialist skills and trust the rest of your team to do their jobs. Of course, finding people you can rely on can be difficult; they have to be just as passionate and dedicated as you are, and willing to put in hard work for seemingly little reward. Finding a crew is a lot like finding your actors, there are websites available, or you could bully your friends until they agree to help. There are many graduates and postgraduates who are itching to make another movie. If you were Hollywood, you could hire an army of filmmakers, each specialised in a specific part of film production, from Location Managers to System Administrators. However, if you don't have enough money to feed the third world, a core team of about ten should be enough to get you started.
Off set the Director oversees the production, guiding the creative elements of the film. On set their role is much more specific; they are there to direct the actors, serving as a guide to their performance.
On large-scale productions, the Producer is usually the person who came up with the whole idea. On smaller productions roles are not so clearly defined, and the Producer may simply end up being the most mentally stable person in the group. Their job is to raise funds, organise the project and eventually lose their mind.
The 1st AD (Assistant Director)
As the Producer’s second in command, the 1st AD makes sure the production is sticking to the pre-planned schedule. They hold the watch, they tell the director when the production is behind time, they keep written records of the day's footage. Basically they keep the crew in check. And shout a lot.
The Actor’s job is to act. On a film set they are expected to conjure up intense moments of passion in minute bursts, then wait for hours while the next shot is set. It’s not hard to see why most Actors prefer the theatre. Don’t take them for granted.
52 THE FILMMAKERS GUIDE TO FILMMAKING
The Cinematographer / Director Of Photgraphy
The Cinematographer comes in all shapes and sizes, from high concept DOPs to wildlife photographers. Some are masters of lighting and illusion. Others have the mystical power of intuition, reacting to unforeseen events with lightning fast reflexes, sometimes before they’ve even occurred.
The Sound Technician
Nobody gives the Sound Technician the slightest bit of notice, despite having one of the most technically challenging jobs on set. A natural problem solver, the Sound Tech must act on their own initiative, regularly saving your dialogue from being lost forever, without you even realising it was in danger.
The Art Director
The Art Director builds the world. They should be on hand to fix anything that is broken or destroyed during a take, and on smaller productions, they may also be delegated to look after the continuity.
The Writer is not necessarily the person who wrote the Premise, but they are responsible for the Script and all its complexities. On set it can sometimes be helpful to refer to the Writer for character and plot details, as they would have spent more time with the story than anyone else so far.
When the madness of the set is long forgotten, it will be the humble Editor who gathers together the fragments of film and builds them into the final narrative. With little to actually do, the Editor may feel profoundly out of place on set, but being there can help them to absorb the story and the vision through osmosis (a power that all Editors have).
A film just isn’t a film unless a thousand things go wrong all the time. That’s why it’s so important to have Runners on set to make life easier for everyone else. The Runners’ responsibilities range from making tea and coffee, to taking messages and fetching and carrying various items. Even small productions need Runners, they’re like your foot soldiers; yes they’re cannon fodder, but you can’t win the war without them.
illustration: Ailsa Dalling
<essay> stuff explained
Literally translated, mise-en-scène means ‘to put on stage’, but it can be simply defined in filmic terms as ‘the contents of the frame and the way in which they are organised’. These ‘contents’ include the set, decor, costume, props, lighting and the actors (bearing in mind their body language, expressions and movement). How these contents are ‘organised’ refers to the composition of the image as a whole and how the director has chosen to represent the image to the audience. This brings into consideration shot size, camera angle, depth of field, aspect ratio and any other photographic decisions such as lenses, filters and camera type. Thus, mise-en-scène takes into account what the audience can see and how they are invited to see it. However, mise-en-scène is also a concept, one that can be adopted in order to achieve a deeper understanding of a film. The theory of mise-en-scène analysis is based on the idea that the contents of the frame and their organisation are modes of communication, or visual evidence, that can be deciphered and interpreted. This mode of thinking has exciting and infinite possibilities for filmmakers and spectators alike.
For example, 1950s Melodrama director Douglas Sirk is renowned for his detailed, expressive and carefully constructed mise-enscène. Through design, Sirk created a sort of extra, visual narrative, one which purposefully lends itself to meticulous analysis. This was necessary, because as a Marxist making mainstream cinema in the (highly censored) studio system, Sirk could not express his political ideals overtly, only subtly. Therefore, Sirkian mise-en-scène is highly political. It consists of vast bourgeois interiors which overwhelm the frame, trapping the characters in their grand, claustrophobic surroundings. The characters themselves are silenced by upper class conformity, so their costume, props and make-up have to express what they cannot. Most importantly, his use of high-key lighting and flat depth of field gives the image a false sheen, and serves to draw attention to the film as an artificial construction. This encourages the audience to become sufficiently uninvolved in the narrative, enabling them to see the film as a comment on their own lives, and a reflection of society as a whole. 55
Films That Are Good
The Passion of Anna Rarely ever celebrated as one of Ingmar Bergman's more notable works, The Passion of Anna is a testimony to Bergman's endless curiosity regarding the experimental potential of film. Even in his later years, he was trying out new techniques and taking what some would call unnecessary risks in order to challenge the boundaries of the medium. The Passion of Anna plays out like a typical Bergman chamber piece; intense isolated environments and minimalist characters that explore the tremendous complexities of their psychological thresholds. However, what separates this film from his other minimalist dramas is that every now and then we get interviews with the actors. These interviews are the actors' personal insights regarding the characters they are playing, and they pop up at the most random moments in the film. It is almost like you are watching the drama and the making-of documentary at the same time. Many critics of the film (especially at the time) complained that it was a personal indulgence on Bergman’s behalf, and did not really add much to the characters’ development. In retrospect, the critics were obviously letting their hostility towards Bergman’s 'I’ll do what I want' attitude pollute their judgement, because it is almost impossible to deny the effect the interviews have on the film's development. However, that effect is not what you would initially expect; you would assume hearing about a character from the actor's point of view would provide new insight into that character, something that the film's narrative may not have conveyed, yet this is not the case. Of course, if Bergman had used the technique for those reasons, it would have simply been a bandage; like adding sentimental music to a scene that fails to be dramatic on its own. Bergman’s tactic is neither a bandage nor a process of providing new information, because the interviews do not necessarily tell you about the characters, in fact their inconclusive views and interpretations often prevent you making any assumptions about them. As a viewer, the interviews leave you with more questions than answers, giving the characters a complex depth that may not have been apparent without them. Bergman does not want you to make conclusions about these characters, the human mind is far too complex for that.
56 FILMS THAT ARE GOOD
Matthew E Carter
Dave Price / Fred Rowson
W h a t i s Wo o d h o u s e ? Some of the most compelling mysteries are those that touch everyday life, occurring in houses, hospitals, churches, quiet lanes, parks. They force the ordinary and the extraordinary to faceoff, and the threat of the supernatural crossing over into the natural, disrupting or even destroying our stable reality, becomes a terrifying prospect. This is what Fred Rowson explores in his new short film, Woodhouse.
With a show reel that includes short films and a number of music and commercial promo's, Fred is now embarking on his most ambitious project to date. Heâ€™s backed up by award winning producer Christine Cheung, and Executive Producers Josic Cadoret (Film London), James Studholme (Blink Productions) and Joe Bateman (former director of Rushes Soho Shorts). Gorilla caught up with Fred to get the skinny on his mysterious new project, before it hits the festival circuit towards the end of 2013.
First things first, give us the lowdown on Woodhouse. Without revealing the surprises, tell us what the film is about. What’s probably easiest is if I tell you how it opens. The film starts with a very E.T.-esque scenario. You’ve got a young girl called Carly, living somewhere in suburbia. She goes looking for her missing cat in a patch of woodland at the end of her garden. While she’s in there she sees – or she thinks she sees – some kind of creature. After that, I don’t want to say too much, but the story quickly expands into a multi-character drama that jumps backwards and forwards in time, to the 1860s, the 1970s, and the present day. You’ve said that an old short film you made when you were 16, about Bigfoot, was something of an inspiration or precursor to Woodhouse. What is it about monster myths of this type that pique your interest? I’ve been fascinated by mystery creatures since I was little, so I guess there’s an element of childlike obsession still there. Now that I’m big enough to intellectualise it I guess there are a couple of things that do it for me: first of all I’m interested in people’s need for the unknown, especially as it relates to unknown animals. There’s something primal that attracts most people to that idea. Then there’s the element of choice. I love it when you’re confronted with an apparent piece of evidence, like that famous photo of Bigfoot out in the open. You then have to make a very simple choice about whether or not to take it at face value, but it’s a choice that has huge implications. That usually puts people in an uncomfortable position.
Are there any specific films or stories that you’ve drawn on when developing this idea? I’ve been looking at a lot of early Spielberg – E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Poltergeist. Those are great touchstones for the depiction of suburbia that I want to achieve; somewhere that’s ostensibly very, very dull but which has a strong vein of magic running beneath the surface. Other than that, it’s been a lot of reading – writers like Paul Auster, especially in terms of the delivery of the film’s narration – and looking at real stories that parallel with our own: the Highgate vampire in the 1970s, giant cats, Bigfoot hunters. How does the scale of Woodhouse, in terms of budget, resources, locations, cast, etc… compare to your previous shorts? It’s big. The funny thing with The End, which I produced, was that even though that film was huge in concept – epic tracking shots, scenes in a rammed nightclub, and then the finale, which I won’t spoil for those who haven’t watched it – that was also a very guerrilla approach to filmmaking. But even though Woodhouse had no huge set pieces, the sheer number of characters and locations meant that the scale was much larger. How did you deal with the step up? Were there any particularly problematic areas of the shoot? It's a bit of a cliché that you need to make your compromises before you shoot rather than during the shoot, and Woodhouse really rammed that lesson home.
It was nearly impossible to fit absolutely everything in the script into 3 days, so there were various shots dropped or combined. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing because it forced me to consider what was essential and what wasn't. But I wish I'd spent more time on this before we shot and hadn't had to do it whilst standing in a freezing cold wood as the sun is setting on a 12 hour day. You seem to have secured some pretty good backers with the executive producers that are on board. How did you end up working with them? Did they approach you or vice versa? I came to work with them in a number of ways. Jo Cadoret came hand in hand with part of our funding (from Film London), James [Studholme] has been advising and guiding me as a director, and I spent many happy hours working with Joe [Bateman] as a Producer at Soho Shorts. Woodhouse has always felt like a bit of a culmination of all of my work and effort up to this point, so it only seemed right that I went to these very influential figures in my development and get them on board. You have experience with commercial and music video promo’s too, do you feel your work on these has informed the way you approach a more orthodox short film like Woodhouse? To some extent, yes – music promo's are so often driven by aesthetic, which I love. I remember after having made my first music video I told my Director of Photography what a liberating experience it had been – no more shot / reverse shot dialogue sequences! His response was that not all films have to be like that.
In places Woodhouse should feel like a music video: energetic, and inextricably linked to its soundtrack. You’ve also worked as a producer on other short films. Do you think your experiences of this have changed the way you approach a film as a director? Absolutely. I think as a director it’s crucial to know what you’re asking for and what that’s going to cost in terms of time, money, and people. Working as a producer puts you on the other end of that equation, it gives you a much greater sense of what is needed to achieve what you want. Is Woodhouse something that you'd like to expand on and maybe turn into a feature? I don't think it is. I've been kicking around these characters and this story in various different forms since I was about 16. So my hope is that they've reached their zenith here and I can now move away from them. That's not to say that I'm not tempted by some of the more peripheral ideas that Woodhouse deals with - the supernatural, 18th and 19th century exploration, that sort of thing. Do you have any set goals in mind for this film in terms of what you hope to achieve on the festival circuit or its reach online? I think – I hope – that we have quite a potent concept here and, pulled off well, I’d like to think that it will resonate with people. At the end of the day, that’s what this film should do: excite and intrigue.
<essay> stuff explained
Verisimilitude , apart from being a long word that feels really nice to say, is about the appearance of reality or truth in a story. This isn’t absolute reality, but the reality of the world in a story. It is created and enhanced by a filmmaker outlining certain parameters of a film’s reality then sticking to them. This is important because an audience needs to have clarity in what they’re watching and understand what is and isn’t likely to be possible. This then allows them to suspend their disbelief and become immersed in the story the filmmaker is crafting. To use an example, at the start of Terminator 2 we’re shown the future where robots are fighting a war with humans, before being taken back to the present day. This does two things to foster the verisimilitude for the crazy shit that is to come; 1) we’re shown that time is fluid, and 2) we see that machines are very advanced in the future and can fight humans. With this established the audience are more likely to buy into the idea that a cyborg with an Austrian accent can be shot up by the LAPD and keep on going.
60 STUFF EXPLAINED
In reality that whole idea is absurd, but in the reality of Terminator 2 it’s believable. If however they had gone on to show the Terminator running for political office in order to gain influence over humans that way, then that would have been unbelievable in the context of the film. This is because it is never established in the film that these robots have the aptitude for double-crossing and back-stabbing necessary for politics. Verisimilitude doesn’t just apply to science fiction and action films set in fantastical worlds, it’s also crucial to the success of dramas, comedies and all other narrative fiction. Every story presents a certain view of reality and asks the audience to suspend their disbelief in some way, whether it’s the fugitive escaping from right under the cop’s noses, or the young couple risking it all, even their lives, for love. These things may be unlikely in the real world, but if the filmmaker does their job well and creates that verisimilitude, then we’ll believe they can happen in the film world. text: David Price illustration: Ailsa Dalling
Some filmmakers who create short films are happy to stay within that format, but for many, short films are a means to an end. Whether it’s building up a showreel to demonstrate that you can handle direction and work with actors, or trying to get a specific idea funded, short films can seem like the proving ground that filmmakers have to work in before they step up to feature films.
Making the Jump
From Short Films to Feature Films The number that make the transition isn’t huge, but for some, it does happen. For director Steve Reeves and writer Mike Oughton it happened in 2012 with their shortfilm Taking Life, which won best drama at the 2012 Van d’Or awards before being picked up by producers who wanted to see the feature length version of the story. Their fairly modest short film morphed into a £1m+ feature production in less than 2 years. The resulting film is called Keeping Rosie and is pencilled in for a spring 2014 release. Steve and Mike sat down with Gorilla to discuss the transition.
G: Back to basics – was filmmaking attentions to feature films. So we've been something you fell into, or was it something chipping away at it for quite a while now. you were focused on and pursued for a long G: How do you find the differences time? between directing commercials and Mike: I fell into writing. I was languishing on making your own short film? a business studies course at an inauspicious uni when it was suggested I should go to Steve: Making films without clients Watford College and study to be an ad behind you and people worrying about every tiny little detail, which is a creative. natural thing in commercials, is good. G: How long have you been making films for? All you’re worried about is getting a great performance and you leave the Mike: I started writing commercials in '95. I other professionals around you to do met Steve in '99 when he directed an ad I'd their job. They do their job and all you written. In 2006, we turned our sparetime have to focus on is telling your story.. 62 FILMMAKERS
interview by: William Dyer
G: Taking Life has made that rarest of jumps from short film to feature film. How much did the film’s performance at awards and festivals, like the Van d’Ors, facilitate that jump? Steve: I think it made a massive difference because you have a lot of short films out there, and to have one with the ‘laurels’ does make people want to see it. The people that pay for films, the producers, are interested if it’s won something, somewhere. They’re more likely to watch it because there’s such a mass of short films out there. So it was a great thing. Mike: It’s a fickle business. If you’ve gone into a selection process and respected people have recognised that your work’s good, then the sort of people who are interested in funding a film, they know that it’s actually a good piece of work, and they instinctively take it more seriously. What’s happened to us is no coincidence. Since we’ve done well in the festivals, suddenly doors opened for us. G: I understand you worked on a previous feature film script, which unfortunately didn’t pick up funding. What do you think caused one project to succeed, and the other not to? Mike: Our first screenplay does require a fair budget and a star actor to do it justice. As complete unknowns in the film world with a near-the-knuckle script, in hindsight it was probably a big ask to get funding. Although we did come extremely close on a couple of occasions. Our second script was purposefully much smaller with minimal cast and locations. Even that didn't work. So we made a short film [Taking Life] from an abridged version of the first act of the screenplay. It did well in festivals around the world, and since then it's mental how quick everything's happened. We found some fantastic producers in Richard Holmes and Isabelle Georgeaux and by March 2013 we were on set shooting the feature film.
G: So you took a different approach with Taking Life from the start? Steve: Taking Life was really a piece of a film, rather than a standalone short. But we did a few little tweaks to the script [the feature script, Keeping Rosie] to make it into a short film. But really, we purely did it as a tool to try and get the film made. And by some miracle, it paid off. G: So what’s the plan for Keeping Rosie when it’s finished? Mike: I think the next step is to get it into festivals, basically back to what we were doing with the short. Hopefully it’ll get into some good festivals, Berlin is one that we’re looking at, which will allow us to get a good cinema release. G: You have a very strong background in commercial work. Is there any aspect of that which you think was especially useful when it came to making the feature? Mike: As an ad writer or director, the discipline of communicating a story in 30 seconds is an incredibly solid foundation for longer form work. G: It’s no secret that working as a professional filmmaker is incredibly hard to achieve. Are there any tips that you could pass on to those coming up and trying to get where you are now? Mike: Keep going. 63
Text: Tom Dalling / David Knight
3: P RODUC T I ON
You stand now on the precipice of film production, your hopes and dreams bound in a laminated folder of shot lists and storyboards. From humble beginnings you have ascended, overcoming your obstacles with perseverance and Machiavellian cunning. You have gathered a worthy crew who share your passion, and now, together, you prepare for the final battle. However, when the true enemy is revealed, it is not in the form of budget constraints, rogue actors or bad weather. Those are all just distractions, inevitable bumps on the road of filmmaking.
64 THE FILMMAKERS GUIDE TO FILMMAKING
No, the real enemy is you.
You Suck People are fallible, it’s in their nature, so you shouldn’t expect to approach the shoot in a state of perfect being. You’re going to make mistakes, but you can avoid a lot of them if you simply learn to take a step back and judge your actions. Shut Up Team communication is great, but piping up with lots of spur of the moment ideas just pisses on the Director’s parade and will only slow things down. A film set should be like a benevolent dictatorship, but be warned; with great power comes great responsibility. When a Director keeps changing their mind at the last minute, it is a sign of poor planning and a poor production. Your film is in danger, go back to page 48 and start again. Don’t be a Dick You’re a team, not a bunch of maverick renegades. Here’s three simple ways to help hold a group together; stay calm, treat each other with respect and be helpful. It’s not about shining brighter than the rest, or having more of your ideas in the final cut; it’s about making a great film. Know Your Place Everyone has a part to play in your adventure. On a low budget film it’s likely that people will be taking on more than one job during production. However, when you’re on set you need to stick to your preordained roles. Things are confusing enough as it is without the Sound Technician framing the shots and the Writer directing the actors. The set is not an environment where democracy flourishes. Think of yourself as an ant, building a flexible but robust system on the pretence of hierarchy.
Make Sense Communicate clearly within your team, to make sure everyone on set knows what’s going on. It helps to have a 1st AD with lungs like buckets, capable of bellowing commands and notices across large sets. Eat Uh oh, looks like we’re behind schedule, what do we do? It’s obvious, idiot, lets skip lunch and save time! Wrong. This kind of attitude can get you into trouble. Hungry troops get tired and irritable, and that’s how mistakes are made. Mistakes lead to more time wasted, so who’s the idiot now, idiot? Don’t be Precious Your ideas are not golden treasures to be guarded fiercely from your team. You must share them out and deal with it when they are rejected. If you cannot do this, you will eventually be slain. Value your ideas, but know when to let them go. This is a trait that will bring you great honour within the group. Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence Find the balance between being creative and sticking to the plan.
With bated breath you wait. The set is staged for filming. The actor stands under a heavy light and prepares to dive into a sea of emotions. Silence falls like an avalanche of fluffy elephants. The camera starts to roll. The Sound Technician, the herald of despair, calls halt, as we wait for the passing of some great noise that only they can hear. And finally, and finally, the time has truly come. Everything is in its right place. The Director blows the trumpet. Action!
You open your eyes, and find that you are floating far above a great forest, which cascades down like a fuzzy waterfall beneath you. As you stretch yourself out, naked and cat-like on a nearby cloud, you feel the warm glow of a benevolent sun upon your face, and a cool breeze gently tickling your toes and genitals. You are utterly calm, utterly at peace, unburdened by the worldly concerns of id and ego. Suddenly you are ripped from this temple of serenity by a long and powerful arm, which lifts you above the sky into dizzying darkness. For one, brief moment you see beyond sight, into an ocean of infinite realms, and then down, down, down you fall, as reality comes rushing up to meet you. You
Cinematographer casually slapping your face as the rest of your crew exchange nervous glances. Undoubtedly you have been changed by your filmmaking experience, you have evolved into something more than just a bag of meat and bones. You are different now. You have transcended. Nice one.
text: Tom Dalling / David Knight
illustration: Sofia Ejderos
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POST-APOCALYPTIC POST-APOCALYPTIC F I L M M A K I N G S O L U T I O N S F I L M M A K I N G S O L U T I O N S
N 2 0 3 E 6
So the world has ended. Society as we know it has crumbled. People have become animals, cities have become skeletons. Everything’s gone to shit.
S O L U T I O N
It was bound to happen sooner or later.
OK, so it’s probably unlikely you’re going to find a carbon fibre tripod for your beat-up old camera in this vast sea of old-world junk, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improvise.
Our new world can be a scary place, but the human spirit is a hard thing to break. We are story animals. The need to share our stories with others is almost primal; we’d do it through the medium of sock puppets if we had to. Stories don’t just bring us hope and joy, they give us a purpose, a history, a legacy. Luckily, the end of the world doesn’t mean the end of storytelling, nor does it necessarily mean the end of filmmaking.
The mindset of the postapocalyptic filmmaker is all about lateral thinking. Consider for a moment all that expensive kit you now so sorely miss, what was it about each item that made it useful? Break it down to its key functions and you’ll see there are plenty of cheap, readily available alternatives.
# 3 0 9 4 B
A W INDOW CLE A NING P OLE IS A L SO A BOOM P OLE In our pre-apocalypse consumerist bubble, the starting price for a boom pole was around £100. A standard window-cleaning pole was a mere £10. As you look at them now, are they really that different? Both are lightweight and strong, they’re both telescopic (allowing you to extend and shorten them) and easily transportable. The cleaning pole even has a screw attachment on its tip. When choosing your pole, avoid anything that rattles, as this will ruin your sound. If the pole has the correct screw for your microphone then you’re good to go, otherwise it’ll require a few adjustments. You’re going to need to find a couple hex nuts, a hanger bolt and a cleaning pole with a plastic tip. Of course, power drills are commonly used for hunting, but did you know you can actually drill into the end of your cleaning pole and stick a screw in there? Once drilled, screw your two hex nuts halfway down your hanger bolt before screwing the bolt into the end of the pole. Don’t over tighten it! If you want it to be doubly secure, glue it tight with an epoxy resin. It’s advisable to raid the ruins of any standard hardware store – you’ll find all the threads, adapters, nuts and bolts you need.
YOU A ND YOUR SCRE W THRE A D S, A S Y MBIOTIC REL ATIONSHIP S O L U T I O N # 2 2
As a post-apocalyptic filmmaker, you will often find yourself having to adjust or fix your ragtag equipment, so itâ€™s important to know about screw thread sizes. The standard screw thread for tripods, microphones and camera equipment in the UK is a 1/4" British Whitworth, but there are many other types, such as the PG Series, so check what yours is! Always make absolutely sure your kit screws correctly onto the thread, if you get this even slightly wrong itâ€™s game over. While the mic may appear to hold, you will not only ruin the thread, but it will be liable to work loose and fall at any moment.
S O L U T I O N # F 5 0 0 0
A SIMPLE C A MER A MOUNT C A N AT TACH T O
A L M O S T
A N Y T H I N G
Find or cut a small square of wood roughly 3x3 inches. Take a bolt with the correct thread size for your camera. Drill the bolt through wood, securing it with a hex nut and washer. Now you can attach it to almost anything.
S O L U T I O N
# S E V E N T Y O N E T H I R T Y
A CHE S T OF DR AW ERS IS A L SO A GLIDE TR ACK My God, humanity really went overboard with that flat pack furniture, itâ€™s almost as if we thought it was disposable. Luckily for you, an old Swedish chest of drawers is treasure to the Post-Apocalyptic Filmmaker. Disassemble the shoddy flat pack, removing one side of a sliding drawer with the slider mechanism still attached. If you are only able to scavenge a slider, simply screw it onto two, level blocks of wood, the heavier the better. Either way, you now have a slider. Attach a camera mount on top of the slider and hey presto! Your very own glidetrack.
S O L U T I O N
# 5 7 7
A N EGG TIMER IS A L S O
T I M E
L A P S E
D E V I C E
You may think that a tracking time lapse is way beyond your technical capabilities. Wrong. Moving your camera millimetres by hand, between shots, is one solution, but doubtless the other survivors will laugh at the crude results. For that smooth, professional look youâ€™ll need mechanical precision.
Find one traditional 60-minute, twist-to-set egg timer, the type that is shaped like an egg. Next you’ll need a rotating tray, the lighter the better. Something like a Lazy Susan. Due to the low strength of the egg timer mechanism, it’s best to use a small, lightweight camera. Go-Pro’s are perfect and, incidentally, have a built-in time-lapse setting. Break off the top of the egg timer and attach it to the underneath of the Lazy Susan, so that the egg timer mechanism turns the tray. Alternatively you may be able to rig up a belt-drive system. Insert initiative here. Attach a camera mount to your tray. Congratulations, you now have a 60 minute, 360° time lapse mechanism.
THE A ERI A L C A MER A CR A NE YOU DIDN’T K NOW YOU WA NTED S O L U T I O N # 1 2
Sadly helium is in short supply, in part due to the rare and escapable nature of the gas but mostly as a result of the strategic stockpiling by the United States, which begun in 1925. America now holds over one billion cubic metres of the stuff, accounting for 78% of the world's helium reserves. Which means 22% of it is yours for the taking! Dig out that rubber balloon your were saving for your birthday, and arm yourself with your trusty fishing rod. You’re going to make a flying camera. First you’ll have to fashion some sort of amazing aerial camera mount from a lightweight material, such as polystyrene. You can probably find a nice piece that the camera will fit snugly into, so you simply have to cut a small hole on the underside for the lens to see through, adding enough Gaffer tape to suit your personal safety standards. Inflate your helium balloons and secure them to the mount using a bit of spare fishing wire, then secure the main fishing line to the crane. You may want to experiment tying this guideline at different distances from the camera to see which gives you the best control. Once you’ve found that sweet spot, you’re ready for lift off! Don’t forget to hit record before you let go. Once airborne, you’ll be amazed at the control the fishing rod gives you over the direction of the camera. This fantastic tool is a great way to achieve those classy aerial shots, and you can also use it to keep an eye on marauding packs of mutants.
S O L U T I O N
# 1 7 0 0
B I C Y C L E
P O W ERED CINEM A
Carrying on your motion picture career in spite of the apocalypse is all very well and good, but if you can’t screen your film, what’s the point? Introducing the Bicycle Powered Cinema! Our insect enemies were right about one thing; humans can indeed be harvested for energy. With the average individual able to generate between 50w and 100w of pedal power, your friends and family are like walking batteries, practically begging to be exploited. It’s easy! Just find all these components, plenty of wire, a few screws and three or four “volunteers”. Put them all together to get your very own cycle-in cinema!
Get help building your bicycle generator: http://www.magnificentrevolution.org/diy
MAKING A FEATURE FILM WITH SCIENCE TEAM
S 78 FILMMAKERS
Drew Bolduc is the writer/director of Science Team, an independent film about a national organisation that maintains interstellar peace and protects America from the threat of alien invasion. People die horrible deaths. Inner and extraterrestrial demons are engaged. Cool-looking technology is used. People's minds are literally blown out of their heads. Girls in shorts do exercises. Gorilla Film Magazine opens up Bolduc’s head and climbs inside. ... You have to be a good businessperson to make independent low-budget movies. No one is going to do that job for you. Creative control doesn't exist if you don't control how money is spent. You’ve gotta go out of your comfort zone. You have to work with people who are better than you. It is so easy now to do almost everything yourself, what with current technology, but there’s no way to complete a feature film in a reasonable amount of time if you do everything yourself. It also won’t be as good as it could be. Find support from the creative community around you. If you close yourself off, it really isn’t going to help your film. The more people you can get involved and invested in the project, the bigger and better it can be. Never turn down help. If someone wants to help you make your film, even if they have little-to-no filmmaking experience, let them be a part of it. Let them contribute in any small way they can. You can gain a lot by doing this. Producing is a balancing act. You have to find the right mix between being a professional and not being a douchebag. You have to keep people happy, while also getting shit done. You want things to be of the highest quality possible, but you also have to stay within your budget. Every shot is a compromise. Don’t try to make the movie you want to make, make the movie you can actually make. Use the tools at your disposal and be willing to cut or change things that you know you’re not going to be able to pull off. That being said, you will be surprised with the quality you can achieve if everyone truly believes in the project. Filmmaking is essentially a series of problems that have to be solved. There are social, technical, financial and countless other problems
to overcome. When we didn’t make the amount we needed for our budget through Indiegogo, we found other money and did it anyway. Once you’ve started your film, there really is no other option than to finish it. Plan for everything because anything can happen, and probably will. You should know every shot you are filming before you do it. Your actors should know their lines. We improvised a lot on Science Team, but we knew when and when not to do it. Our biggest mistake was not having a caterer. It seems stupid, but when you are producing a movie and then have to go get food at night so people can eat, it becomes a huge logistical challenge. People have said it before, but food really is the most important thing on low budget movies. Movie making is not fun. It’s a very abstract, non-linear thing; you have to keep track of everything in your head. No one will do this for you. When other crew members/actors have good ideas, use them. You should be a slave to the film. The film is bigger than you. Other people will have better ideas than you. Use their fucking ideas. I know many filmmakers that never use the awesome input around them. They are bad filmmakers. Be a slave to your film, but don’t be a slave to your script. It is not perfect. Change it when it’s not working or when you can make it better. Always work towards streamlining it into the most simple and pure expression of what it is. It is surprising how many filmmakers don’t know what their movies are about or why they are making them. You really have to work on it full-time. I’ve seen so many filmmakers who spend far too long on projects; they end up stuck working on their projects for years. You just have to get it done. Final words: Do what your parents tell you. Get a real job. Don’t make films. ... Film is a collaborative process. Science Team could not have been made without the many people that helped create it. People such as: William Robinette, Michele Lombardi, Jason Koch of Aftermath FX, Kaleigh Brown, Tommy Bell, Vito Trigo, Richard Spencer, Seager Dixon, Josh Potter, Alex Carriere, Grahm Ohmer, Will Wallace, Conrad Cotterman, Joe Narode, Criss Nichols, Will Burris, Hanna Lindeyer, Alec Iselin, Caleb Plutzer, Kate Conway, Maxwel Fisher, Matt Chodoronek, Aurelien Gendraud, and many, many more. 79
<essay> stuff explained
The Male Gaz e Ben Osborne
There’s a great visual gag in the third Naked Gun movie; the camera pans slowly up Anna Nicole Smith’s legs – but exaggerates their length and gives her an extra pair of knees. Naked Gun isn’t exactly a feminist classic, but this playful spoofing of cinematic clichés highlights a key concept in feminist film theory. The joke draws attention to a moment when three ‘gazes’ are united: the gaze of the camera filming the legs, the gaze of the other characters looking at Smith, and the gaze of the audience, placed in the same position as the characters in their presumed sexual desire for Smith. For all three, the woman is the object of the gaze. The critic Laura Mulvey, in her beautiful, persuasive article ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, is credited with theorising the gaze in film. She divided the gaze into three looks; the camera’s, the spectator’s, and the character’s. The gaze that Hollywood cinema created by manipulating these looks, she argued, was exclusively male. It turned women into objects, with no force or power of their own other than a superficial ability to excite male desire – a ‘to-be-looked-at-ness.’
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Rather than simply relating the (countless) examples of this in film, Mulvey used elements of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis to show that Hollywood filmmaking reflected the desires of a ‘patriarchal unconscious.’ She took Freud’s notion of 'scopophilia' – taking sexual pleasure from looking, an activity that turns others into objects of a ‘controlling and curious gaze’ – and applied it to the way in which films are viewed. The spectators, she suggested, are voyeurs, anonymous in the darkness of the cinema staring rapt at the ‘hermetically sealed world’ of the bright screen. If this sounds like it’s taking all the pleasure out of cinema... That’s kind of the point. Sometimes you have to question where you’re getting your pleasure from. It might seem fun to enjoy the privileged position of the oppressor, but it’s not worth it. As film-lovers or filmmakers, we have a responsibility to face this kind of ugly truth.
An Interview with
he relatively easy turnaround for short films can diminish the incentive for directors to establish a personal style or 'voice'. With the risks of making each new short film being low, some end up taking a scattergun approach, making a dozen different films, all in different genres that lack any coherence or constancy as a body of work. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, short films are a great arena in which to experiment, but it's also refreshing to come across a filmmaker whose films seem to share a common DNA.
interview by: David Price
ander Robin has recently released his fourth short film, Are We Not Cats, a surreal look at the relationship of two young lovers with a bizarre connection. His most visually striking film to date, it shares in common with his previous work a focus on the human body, whilst the setting evokes ideas of twisted Americana. It feels like a continuation of his previous work whilst also adding something new to it. This is the hallmark of a director with a clear and confident vision and style, something that many filmmakers spend their whole careers trying to pin down.
G: Are We Not Cats takes a look at the posing, preening nature that people sometimes display. What was your motivation behind this?
G: A lot of your films have a common motif of bodily fluids, or 'grossness', running through them. What is it about the grossness that keeps you coming back to it?
I thought it would be interesting to show a relationship in which one person allowed the other to do a potentially harmful thing, centring it on hair pulling/eating.
I'm a fan of showing different textures on film, particularly when things look and sound wet. It mostly comes from a desire for the film to feel stimulating and visceral.
Being very fair-haired growing up, whenever a dark hair would appear on my upper arm I'd find it strange and pull it out. Eventually I grew a compulsion to bite the roots off the hairs, and then I got paranoid and did a little research and read accounts of people eating enough hair to have enormous hairballs surgically removed from their stomachs. It all sounded like a body horror film that hadnâ€™t been made yet.
G: It might be my inherent British perspective here, but your films invoke a sort of David Lynchlike twisted Americana. Is this intentional, or just a by-product of the sets and footage you've used?
G: What has the reception on the festival circuit been like compared to your other films? To program a film like this, the festival has to love it. At the festivals it has screened at so far the reception has been great, especially from the programmers themselves. That being said, the film's acceptance rate hasn't had the best batting average. 84 FILMMAKERS
I love David Lynch films for the most part, but don't actively try to emulate him, although I do relate to the way he comes up with ideas and images. He was one of the first filmmakers to successfully portray displaced Americans feeling how heavy and strange their world can be, often with frightening humour. G: Your films have so far been quite allegorical, impressionistic even, in their story telling. Is this an approach you intend to continue?
I haven’t sought to be completely allegorical, impressionistic sure. If a character stands for an idea or a symbol, hopefully that's due to subtext or coincidence and never feels obvious. I'd prefer it if the films simply felt expressive. G: You seem to have developed a distinct personal style quite quickly. Is there anyone that you see as being a big influence on your style and the kind of films you want to make? I'm influenced by a bunch of filmmakers in very specific ways. Whenever I have the privilege of making a film I usually try to show some images that I’ve never seen in a film before, and usually pull from a surreal version of something truthful and personal. It’s hard to stand out now in an age where everyone can make a film and all ideas have seemingly been made. It comes down to a combination of taste, instincts and experience. G: Going back, how long have you been making films for? Was there a single defining moment where you thought "Filmmaker. That's the thing for me"? Since I was 15. I bought a camera to make skate videos. I was never really too interested in films, although I liked Star Wars growing up. Someone on a skateboard forum recommended A Clockwork Orange, so I rented that. That film was pretty mind blowing because I never realized movies could be like that. That was something that I'd like to make. Then of course I tried to talk like Alexander DeLarge for the rest of the year.
G: Your career is still at an early stage, but are there any lessons you've learnt already that you'd tell 16 year old Xander? I'd tell him that he wouldn’t have an original thought in his head until he turns 19. Then I'd tell him to learn how to collaborate. As a writer and director it is unbelievably important to make sure every person working on the film understands (and hopefully likes) the material. Then the crew can all be working towards the same goal of making each scene feel truthful. In the past I would very often carelessly keep people in the dark, and when they'd see the end product it would be a surprise. There is always a huge difference when editing a scene that was truly felt and understood during filming versus a scene that everyone wasn't sure about but hoped could be cut together. One is truth and the other is a lie. G: Do you have set goals or some sort of '5-year plan' for your filmmaking, or are you just taking things as they come? I've been working on a feature that I started writing before making Are We Not Cats, which has some similar images. I'm planning to make that next year, so hopefully 5 years from now I'll be working on feature number two!
Cannes in a Van began as a drunken conversation between ‘two blokes’ (from the worlds of publishing and TV) at a wedding in 2006. A year on and that chat became a reality. Fast forward 5 years and those blokes form Swhype – a ‘Digital Motion Design House’ with big ideas and visions for the future. Cannes in a Van and the ‘music vs film’ showcase night Screen Social are now an integral part of Swhype, and the next self-produced initiative is something called The 900 Project – a multidisciplined, multi-faceted, iPad-based experiment in 'motion publishing' – bringing together collaborators from the worlds of design, film, fashion, art, photography, music and literature.
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Cannes in a Van Festival Director and Swhype co-founder Andy Greenhouse says “We’re calling The 900 Project ‘an umbrella for the unknown’ because there’s so much that hasn’t been done with the tablet format yet. Digital magazines are still text-driven. We want to see what’s possible and push it. It’s the Wild West, the uncharted territory.” This is not a digital magazine, nor is it an app, but an innovative new digital tablet experience, which is designed to squeeze and stretch the iPad and tablet mediums and realise their potential. Each edition is a showcase for design, sound, moving image and the written word.
The 900 Project
To launch The 900 Project, the first edition is entitled ‘LISTEN’.
Cannes in a Van
From independent labels, musicians using state-of-the-art tech and phonetics, to 1000 year long compositions and silent films, LISTEN explores the breadth and depth of sound in all its variations, through a series of stories. Among the contributors for this first edition are influential musicians and filmmakers, award-winning art directors, international photographers and leading writers. There’s also heavy emphasis on student and graduate involvement. Swhype co-founder Simon Harris says “It’s important that students and graduates also have an opportunity to contribute, working on specific briefs in collaboration with industry professionals. With The 900 Project and its off-shoots, we want to provide a stepping stone between education and the world of work”
Swhype are looking for writers, designers, filmmakers, photographers, and musicians who would like to contribute to this first edition. If that’s you, get in touch via email@example.com
Student Film in Transit (ad supplied by andy)
Films That Are Good
Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land is arguably the most important film from Taiwan’s 'second wave', and one of the greatest post-modern dramas of all time. The story was originally a smash-hit play concerning two theatre crews who are hoping to do a final dress rehearsal of their plays. The theatre double-books them at the same slot, resulting in them having to take it in turns rehearsing. The result is a tumultuous conflict between the contrasting cast and crews, not to mention distractions and ruptures to their respective plots. One play is a drama called Secret Love, set just after WW2 where two lovers who can no longer be together have to migrate to Taiwan from Shanghai. The man grows old, but can never free himself from the memories of the young women he once loved. The other play is a comedy based on an old Chinese poem called The Peach Blossom Spring, where a fisherman stumbles upon a beautiful land where everything is covered with peach blossoms. However, even after finding this utopia, he is overwhelmed by nostalgia for his humble home and wife (even though things are much better in the peach blossom spring). This technique allows the film to address two very different eras within Taiwan’s cultural evolution; from their ancient Chinese origins to their more contemporary venture in developing a cultural identity of their own. The film is about time, place, memories and nostalgia. It makes us face the fact that it doesn’t matter how much we want to relive our memories, time changes everything, and they only stay the same in our recollections. Nostalgia can be a powerful emotion, one that can prevent us living the present to its fullest. Despite the fact there are three narrative worlds in the film (Secret Love, Peach Blossom Land and the Theatre), and these worlds are frequently broken by interruptions, you still seem to be engrossed in each story. One of the most important characteristics of post-modern dramas is how they put an audience in a position to question the true value of conventions and, occasionally, change how we view the cinema. Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land’s narrative approach shows us how easily we can attach ourselves to certain things, even when we know they are not real.
90 FILMS THAT ARE GOOD
Matthew E Carter
The Rise of Low Budget Games Text: Eric Mack / Illustration: Kip Trevaskis
The independent games scene has been gaining significant traction over the last few years. Clearly there’s something to be said of the quality and conviction that developers are putting into their craft when large, scary publishers start taking notice, even highlighting these independent endeavours. Of course, indies have always put love and care into their creations, but only now are they finally starting to receive the recognition they deserve. With a spate of massive publishers and development studios closing or laying off employees, indies and their efforts are going to become an important focal point for the medium. It doesn’t matter where you look, there’s always some new and different experience to be had in the indie game scene. Independent developers are producing more interesting content on a daily basis, arguably leading to the greatest period of innovation since the medium's inception. This is largely due to their willingness to experiment with more sensitive subject matter, unencumbered by the pursuit of male power fantasies and buzzwords like “fun” and “marketable”. There are 92 GAMES
games about living day-to-day with depression, working as an immigration officer, and a multitude of other seemingly mundane, but strangely compelling subjects, brought to life with care and conviction by their creators. One specific and recent example comes to mind in Cart Life, created by Lucas Pope. Cart Life is a game in which the player is simply (or not so simply) tasked with living a certain character’s life. This character is trying to run one of a few different food/beverage carts to get by, and has a number of other everyday life issues to deal with in the meantime. It is the most accurate and realistic portrayal of the daily life of a struggling individual that exists, aided by the fact that it may also be the only game of its kind. During my time with Cart Life, I took on the role of a single mother who wanted to open a coffee stand, and had to juggle that with caring for her daughter, and herself. It was not a “fun” experience. In fact, it was quite depressing. But that’s okay. It was a more interesting and unique experience than anything I’ve played recently, and that’s what really matters. It gave me something
else entirely; a unique perspective and something to truly think about. This is where indie developers are really coming into their own. They’re willing to experiment and create experiences that are very much not what we are used to, and even sacrifice the player’s enjoyment for something more significant. They want to make games that raise awareness about certain issues, such as Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest. Though it’s a simply presented text-adventure, Depression Quest is deeply moving, and after playing it I felt I understood the issue in question better than I ever had before. Given that the medium is so often dominated by shallow experiences, for a computer game to achieve this is both incredible and heartening, even if the subject at hand is less than joyful.
Of course, these idiosyncratic creators also enjoy making games that are just “fun”. To find myriad examples of this, all I have to do is take a quick look at my Steam library. I see titles like FTL: Faster Than Light, and Mark Of The Ninja, which have provided some of the most enjoyment I’ve gotten out of games in recent memory. FTL in particular is a game that likely could not have existed outside of the independent scene. It began life on Kickstarter and belongs to a genre that has little mainstream traction. Games like FTL are a large part of the reason I’m personally thankful that the indie scene exists and thrives as it does. Had FTL never been Kickstarted, and released at the price and on the platforms it was, I may never have been given the opportunity to experience anything quite like it.
There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with the current state of mainstream games and what they offer. There’s a massive market for them, and despite not taking many chances, there are some fantastic experiences to be had. Occasionally, there’s even a meaningful story to take in, or a deeper message being communicated. However, those occurrences are few and far between. Thankfully, the independent game scene happily fills this noticeable void. Even if the industry at large were to crumble, finally weighed down by the dubious business decisions of money hungry publishers, there will always be the possibility for independents to exist. As long as they have their computers and their ideas, they will continue to create interesting and diverse content, to all of our benefit.
Text: Tom Dall ing / David Kn ight
4 : P O S T- P R O D UCT IO
94 THE FILMMAKERS GUIDE TO FILMMAKING
It has been a long jou rney, fraught with pe ril, despair, hope, de again and peril. Bu spair t you’ve done it, yo u’v e climaxed, you’ve fin shooting your film ish ed and now it’s over. It’s finally over. Right? Wrong. Although yo u have experienced that wonderful transcendence all passionate filmma ke rs feel, and wrapped filming, there is sti your ll a long way to go. Ye s, yo u have the ultimate treasure in your ha nds (probably a ba g of small DV tapes you must return to ), but now your story. It can be daunting returning to a film. Especially if it’s yo being chopped to ur own vision that’s pieces, rewritten an d transformed in the The road is long an editing suite. d arduous and your film is small and fra easy to give up befo gile. It would be re you’ve even begu n. But you shouldn’t be afraid of change. Yo u should embrace returning to your sto it. You are ry armed with new tools, new experie perspective. Editin nces and a new g will probably tak e longer than the en and filming of your tire production movie. It will be ha rd work, you will ma decisions, tears wi ke tough ll be shed, blood wi ll be spilled and yo enough coffee and u’ll consume chocolate buttons to kill a small eleph ant.
You find yourself once more at the beginning of a long journey. You are the chosen one. You are unique. You are a storyteller. Just like everybody else.