Friday, 20 April 2007

Film reviews for the attention span challenged

A bit of fun really, but here’s a website for people who can’t be bothered with long film reviews. The limit here is four words:

For example:

Forrest Gump: America loves an imbecile
Pulp Fiction: Uma does line, dancing
King Kong: Gorilla falls, in love
Star Wars episode 1: 16 years for this?

Friday, 13 April 2007

3 Point Lighting for < £50

Last night we played around with some make-shift lighting. We basically got hold of a couple of work lights from Wickes (click here to get some). They are about £25 a pop and come with a 500W bulb in. They are adjustable in height and direction.

We didn't have any gels around and were short of anything to soften the light with, so we plugged in a couple of 150W bulbs instead and used some white polystyrene board to bounce the light.

I'll pop up some results so you can see the outcome but all-in-all it looked pretty good for the time we spent and lights we had.

We used one of the lights as a kicker and placed it to above and to the side of the camera.

We used another as a fill light and placed it to the side of "the talent" (Rob!), pointing down and reflected the light using a piece of white polystyrene.

It worked pretty well, softening up the shadow and illuminating his face.

Finally, we placed a small halogen lamp behind him to act as a back light.

Okay, so this was pretty make-shift guerilla 3 point lighting but the result was quite acceptable for less than £50s worth of lighting kit.

We got some shadows but this was because we weren't lighting our back cloth (a pair of white curtains).

Tuesday, 3 April 2007


We all know how important getting good sound is when making a film, well I found a blog article that covers this subject quite nicely:

The blurb:

"If you are making an independent film on a miniscule budget it is
inevitable that some aspect of your movie will be compromised due to your lack
of funds. The ultimate challenge for an independent filmmaker working with a
shoestring budget is to some how make their movie look and sound like it
deserves to be with the big boys on the film festival circuit."

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Straight Curve - One day event

This saturday, Rob and I went to the Straight Curve one day filmmaking event.
The line up was:
"We have a fantastic line up of Tutors and Guest speakers who are there to give
you information and advice on how to get into the film industry.

Johannes Roberts: Director of When Evil CallsWriter and
director Johannes Roberts whose latest feature "When Evil Calls" starring Sean
Pertwee is due for release later this year will discuss how to get into the film
industry, what will be expected of you and the process you will need to go

A Battle of Opinions: Ben Blaine VS
Johannes RobertsA lively debate about the "Auteur Theroy" with Johannes Roberts
and Ben Blaine of Charlie Productions, co-director of Free Speech starring Danny
Dyer and more recently "Hallo Panda" with Film 4 and the Film Council. This
debate will be hosted by Sandra Shevey who is an authority on Film Theory and an
exciting new addition to the Straight Curve Team.

Brad Ashton: Comedy WriterYou will also hear from Brad Ashton who has had
over 40 years experience in writing comedy. His credits include writing for Bob
Monkhouse, Tommy Cooper and many more. He is also the author of "How to write
comedy" and "The funny thing about writing comedy" both of which will be
discussed on the day.

Frank Graves:
Screenwriter and BAFTA memberAnother of Straight Curve's fantastic tutors Frank
Graves a member of BAFTA will take you through a short discussion on script
writing for beginners and give you his experiences as a writer.

Chris Knowles: ScriptwriterChris Knowles will take you
through a discussion on advanced scriptwriting looking at two methods in
particular called ScriptSpine and Scriptwrite.
life of soundFeatured guest speaker Chris Gurney (shooting dogs, basic instinct
two) a freelance sound engineer will give an inside look on what it is like to
work in the industry. He will give you usefull hints and tips.

John Ratcliff and Jules Dawton: The importance of
SoundSound recording introduced by our highly experienced Straight Curve tutors
John Ratcliff and Jules Dawton who will give a short tutorial.
So, what did we think?
First up were John and Jules, to talk about the importance of sound and being a sound recordist. They made quite an amusing double act and told a number of stories from their combined near century of sound recording history. Overall, very interesting, although it seemed totally off the cuff and unstructured. I couldn't say I learnt much about sound but it was a fun session.
Chris Gurney was next. Again a pretty much off the cuff chat, with Chris stood at the mike and telling a few tales of his experiences and advice. An interesting session but very similar to the first one.
Next on was Frank Graves. Frank was lined up to talk about screenwriting. Again the majority of the talk was taken up by Frank discussing his background, how he got into screenwriting and his involvement with BAFTA.
I enjoyed his talk but the deepest he got into screenwriting was mentioning that there was a "3 act structure" and that in his opinion it is important to copyright your work.
Brad Ashton came on to talk about comedy screenwriting and foreign markets. I liked Brad. he was funny and had quite an upbeat presentational style. He gave a lot of encouragement and talked about how visual comedy is international and to not forget that there is a large market of foreign buyers gagging for good comedy. he mentioned that the german market was a big buyer and that a comedy scene, if written correctly, could be rolled out into several markets.
Chris Knowles was talking about intermediate/advanced screen writing. Sorry Chris, but this was the slowest section for me. Chris was obviously very knowledgeable about film theory but his presenting style was totally mismatched for my tastes. he spent a long while describing how he came to be a screenwriter and mentioned a little about his ScriptSpine and ScriptRight systems that he teaches.
The next session, and the favourite of myself and most of the people there that I spoke to, was run by Johannes Roberts. Johannes started by telling us a little about his first movie, a slasher horror pic which he funded himself from credit cards. After telling us how he had sweated blood and tears to make it, he then went on to read the list of awful reviews he had got. He giggled his way through each one and in true self deprecating humour joked about them and his movies. All the way through, he gave the message of "just do it" and not to let bad reviews, rejection or difficulties put you off. A very inspiring and funny presentation.
The final segment was intended as a debate about the Auture theory of filmmaking. Ben Blaine, who was meant to argue half the case was absent due to train problems and in his place we were given a monologue about Alfred Hitchcock by Sandra Shevey. Quite interesting but her views grated with a number of audience members and for myself I lost interest after 30 minutes. Sorry Sandra.
Overall, a fun event where we got to meet a number of people and do some good networking. With the price (free), you can't complain. What would have made it better would have been a bit more structure to the talks and some illustrations with video clips, etc. In their defence, after speaking to one of the organisers, I discovered that the venue had been a pain to work with, wanting loads of cash in order to allow any video footage to be shown.
Would I go again? Yeah, I reckon so. It was a good day out and a good way to do some networking.