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Cortege by Hondartza Fraga

on Thursday, 26 September 2013.

cortege  

How did you find the poet?

The work is part of a project titled Scale, which was a curatorial collaboration between Longbarrow Press and artist Paul Evans. They paired artists with writers and poets to collaborate. Due to the nature of our works, I was paired with the poet Rob Hindle. The both of us focused on some aspects of travelling and wandering. So, the starting point of our collaboration was a collection of existing poems by Rob entitled Flights and Traverses.

Note from Rob Hindle:

“The poem itself was the result of a commission by Longbarrow Press in which several poets were asked to respond to the theme of walking. I produced 5 'itineraries' in and around Sheffield, all of which explored personal or public histories through the context of a one-way journey on foot. The poem we agreed to use for Scale followed the funeral cortege of Samuel Holberry, a Sheffield Chartist who died following a period of imprisonment in the 1840s. His body was transported through Sheffield on an open carriage. The cortege procession attracted in excess of 50,000 people.

The poems are to be published in October 2013, along with work by six other poets, in a Longbarrow anthology called The Footing.” 

How did the poem inspire you - did you automatically visualize something similar to your film?

It was definitely not an instantaneous idea. After discussing with Rob, we decided to focus on his poem that followed the path of chartist Samuel Holberry’s funeral cortege in 1842. We met and did the walk together with his poem, discussing different ideas, from installations to objects. I was attracted to the dialogue between the present and the past. Brian Lewis had made a sound recording of Rob reading the poem, so I decided to work with that. 

What was the creative process behind the mix of animation and still images?

I have done work with animation from still images before, where very little happens or the narrative goes on in loops. I am interested in that tension between stillness and motion. Because of the content of the poem, I thought that animating old photographs of Sheffield will work perfectly to express that dichotomy between now and then, but also between fact and fiction.

How did you know what type of images you wanted to find?

I didn't know at first. Once I had decided that I wanted to look for old pictures of Sheffield, I started looking in the library and local studies archive, which has a great collection. I searched for images of the specific streets and places that are mentioned in the poem and then for other images that inspired me to create a feel or an atmosphere…

What was the inspiration behind the videos besides the poem?

I wanted to create an atmospheric landscape that would complement the poem, not simply illustrate it. I am interested in artifice, and artificial and mental spaces. So I wanted the landscapes to seem staged, but to also still remain inviting. I wanted them to have an air of decay and fragility, and also to have an air of old fashioned cinema perhaps - like theatrical backdrops brought to life.

Was a mix of poetry and film something that has always interested you?

I have only recently included spoken word in my work, and this is my only work to date in direct response to poetry. Involving more words (written or spoken) in my work is definitely something I want to develop and do more of.

What is significance of the birds?

There is no human presence in the scenes. Because of this and despite the fact that we can hear other people in the background but can't actually see them, I felt the images needed some kind of element of warmth and life in them. They can be interpreted as companions to the poem, or as witnesses. I actually love walking around in British cemeteries and I love how many crows are usually around them. On the other hand, through history, crows have been seen to have both positive and negative symbolic meanings. In this respect, I prefer to leave a certain ambiguity in my work.

What’s next for you?

Throughout this year I have been an artist in residency at the Maritime Historical Studies Centre, at the University of Hull. It is a project funded by the Leverhulme Trust. I am making work in response to the archives of Hull's whaling past. The exhibition will be opening across Hull in October. It has been a busy year and a great experience. (http://seawardpeep.wordpress.com)

 

Funny Ha Ha by Ozzie Pullin

on Wednesday, 25 September 2013.

funny-ha-ha---ozzie pullin

What got you into film making?
I got into it purely from borrowing one of my Dad's Hi-8 cameras and making a bunch of skateboard films. From there, I realised that there was bigger and bigger possibilities. Mostly from influences such as Spike Jonze.

Funny Ha Ha is a cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for - what inspired you to make it?
Basically, I've always been interested in the old Twilight Zone films and one of my friends at university had this small idea about a comedian and it just developed from there. I always loved how the films never really had a happy ending.

Other than being careful what you wish for, what other message did you want Funny Ha Ha to convey?
It's kind of that point that you have to make decisions everyday and those decisions can completely effect everyone around you. I guess you could say it has a lot to do with loneliness as well and what measure people will go to for happiness.

How did you go about casting the film?
Casting was very difficult as we didn't really have much time to pull the whole film together. So I used an actor I'd previously worked with before, Keir Brown, who plays the lead Simon. I knew he would be great for the part and kind of carry the story the way I wanted it to. Other parts were kind of people we had to get at last minute due to there being limited budget and no time.

How did you go about finding the locations?
All the locations were in and around York city centre. As this was my University final project I wanted to find locations around the local area to keep cost down. In the pre-production process this was the main focus. We went to every working men's club in the area to make sure we found the right one. The one we actually found was amazing and only charged us for electricity. Other locations were just friends' houses and we even used one of our University lecturers house. It's one of those things, as long as everyone is in it together and loves the project you can make anything happen.

Any challenges whilst filming?
I feel our main challenge was the amount of time we had. I think we shot everything over a week and then had 2 weeks to do the post. It was insane.

What advice would you give to budding new filmmakers?
Make sure you love what you're doing. Without that then there isn't point in doing it.

What's next for you?
At the moment, I'm currently living in London doing the odd bit f directing work for a production company called Partizan. They help me with music videos and online commercial content. Music video is kind of the direction I've gone in, but would love to jump on with another Short film in the near future.

One Split Second by Ben Chambers

on Tuesday, 24 September 2013. Posted in Hush Hush Film Night Artists Interviews

1-split-second 

What was the inspiration behind One Split Second?

I've always been fascinated by monumental science fiction scenes, such as Fritz Lang's Metropolis, the city of Midgar from Final Fantasy 7 and the Star Wars trilogy to name a few. What interests me about these scenes is the sheer industrial mass shown before me, that a City can literally swallow its inhabitants, eventually absorbing them into its mass. I'd say
for One Split Second, I had the setting before I had anything else, the storytelling and characters were something developed afterwards.

The work that drew me to animation as a form of storytelling, and one of my biggest influences to date is *Mourer Aupres de Toi (2011)*, a stop motion short film by Spike Jonze. The story takes place in a bookshop after the shopkeeper has closed for the night and follows the journey of a skeletal Macbeth. He becomes infatuated with Mina, seducing him from her bed within the Dracula horror novel. What transpires is a tale of lust, heroism and tragedy, which might also be described as a rather humorous take on a love story.

Another monumental influence of my style of storytelling is the 2004 BAFTA award winning short JoJo In The Stars by Mark Craste. What makes JoJo so compelling in a sense is the ever so small gestures the characters make. From robotic eyes widening in glee, to wings being slumped in sorrow. What JoJo achieves is a sense of longing: the audience longs for the protagonists to break free of the bleak world that’s tried ever so fiendishly tried to destroy them.

Another influence of mine is Wall-E by Andrew Stanton, “Wall-E” explores many similar ideas to what I am currently exploring in my own work. As such it was especially useful in working out how best to convey loneliness. Set in 2805, earth becomes covered in   garbage and Wall-E robots are left behind to clean the planet. These robots eventually break down until one of them grows sentient. Later in the story, another robot, Eve, is deployed on the planet. Initially hostile toward Wall-E, Eve softens over time, eventually
falling in love with him uniting on a renewed Earth.

What I find so compelling about this film is the journey of the robot we bond with. It doesn’t just feel like we are watching Wall-E, but on this solemn journey with him ourselves. This is indeed a sensation which I strive to achieve in my own work.

What inspired you to mix live action and animation?

I wanted *One Split Second* to be a collage of traditional and non-traditional animation techniques. The majority is filmed in stop motion; as for the aesthetic and storytelling I wanted to achieve I felt this was the natural choice, as it allowed complete freedom in conveying how Cogs was feeling. In addition to this I really wanted to push myself in other boundaries, such as 3D modelling and animation. As well as working with particle effects and other computer generated imagery. Lighting was also very important for setting the aesthetic, lighting has the ability to make or break a shot. This was crucial in setting the overall tone of the film.

What are the challenges of stop motion animation?

As with any traditional form of animation stop motion is very laborious, you can spend a whole day on a scene, only for it to need re shooting. Unlike other art forms the reward comes after the process. It's definitely a format you have to commit to. If the commitment's wavering, work on something else for a while, then come back to it.  This leads me onto the second biggest challenge. Like any of the arts, animators can fall victim to creative block, I've had times where I've spent days in contemplation, frustrated. What’s beautiful about animation as a medium is the freedom in storytelling it allows. Your ideas are liberated from the shackles of plausibility, the glass ceiling smashed for your creativity to fly free. It is a medium where the outlandish and far-fetched are embraced, this is a medium where I can tell my story, exactly in my way.


How did you source some of the materials for the set?

The materials were sourced all around Leeds. The place I found myself getting the most materials was the scrap store on Kirkstall Road, I got all manner of items there very cheaply. Gathering materials was the hard part, putting them together was surprisingly easy.


Were the sets handmade?


They certainly were! Building the sets was probably the most rewarding part of the film. The part I most particularly enjoyed was building Cog's apartment. It felt great breathing personality into the character through his surroundings.


What's next for you?


This is a tricky one, there are so many things I want to commit to. Firstly I want to maybe collaborate with someone on a new project, maybe a film, maybe something completely different. It's just a matter of finding someone who ticks in the same way as myself.  Another thing I'm keen to try is App Development, I dont have a clue with regard to programming but I see this as part of the fun, maybe I can find someone to work on this with me too. At the moment though I'm just sketching away, waiting for that next big idea to come through. Without a doubt, I want to make my next film feel like a progression, and not just another film, so it's just a case of waiting until I come across something I can take a risk on.

D3v1c3 by Justin Litton

on Monday, 23 September 2013.

d3v1c3

D3V1C3 is shot as a video in a video, what inspired you to make it in this way?

In my first semester at the Northern Film School, we were given the challenge to make short films that followed a few basic rules. This was my first film of the lot, and the idea was that it had to portray a narrative without using any sync sound. As always, these limitations forced me to stretch myself a bit and to come up with the concept of video in a video in a video. I have to admit, though, that in the end I did use about two seconds of sync sound when my characters were talking to each other while looking into the computer screen. It was only two very short lines, but the school noticed it and docked a few points from my marks because of it.

How did you go about making the video-in-a-video effect?

Well the first one (the guy watching television) was easy. I simply shot the content that was to be on the television beforehand and edited it together and then I played it back via a DVD player onto the television and shot it “second-generation.” And when the television signal starts to go out, the effect was easily created by just pulling the cable halfway out of the DVD player and jiggling it around a little.

The YouTube section was a little more involved. I had to take a high resolution screen capture of my screen as I was watching a YouTube video, and then I imported that video into After Effects and mapped my other footage into the rectangle where the original YouTube video had been. Next, I scaled up the image so that the video filled the screen, and then keyframed a camera move so that it slowly pulled out to reveal the YouTube page. It could have been done in a simpler manner, but this method allowed for maximum resolution to be retained while the video was being scaled.

What is the idea behind D3V1C3?

I had so many film ideas at first, but it got narrowed down to this one. I think that was mainly because my other big idea involved shooting off the edge of a three storey building with a tilt-shift lens and bunging a jib in the middle of Cookridge Street. The school makes us go through all the proper health and safety procedures before we can secure equipment to film and their answer was a resounding “no.”

So, after that idea went pear-shaped, I thought why not make a film about things falling apart and not working as they should. A few minutes passed and I had the idea to incorporate “data moshing” into the film and then I got really excited about the idea because I had personally never done it before. And data moshing is just a slang term for purposefully introducing errors and glitches into a video’s codec that cause visual degradation and compression artifacts. It sometimes results from data packet loss, that is to say, small dropouts in your internet connection that can cause videos to look smeary for a few seconds until it corrects itself. In my case, I’m just doing it on purpose as a storytelling device.

What is the message you wanted D3V1C3 to convey?

I wanted basically to celebrate, in a way, the idea of technology breaking down. The film shows a mobile losing reception, a television signal fading away, a YouTube video playing back improperly, a Final Cut Pro sequence with missing footage, and a glitchy logo. And a little bit of fun when the man who is the subject of the glitchy YouTube video instantly realises that something is wrong and freaks out about it. It’s like he can see what we are seeing, and it’s a lot of fun. Apart from that, though, there is no message. Technology breaks, shit happens, learn to live with it and love the process.

How did you go about casting for D3V1C3?

I didn’t have to go far. They were all my coursemates! The girl on the television who is talking on her mobile is Mariana, a director on our course. The couple looking through the computer screen near the end are Angelia (director) and Aaron (editor). My main subject who did the reacting for the YouTube sequence is Leo Bryan, actor. We were all tasked with creating films at a very fast rate, so we ultimately ended up working on everyone else’s films in varying roles.

Were there any challenges whilst filming?

There was a really fast turnaround, so all my problems were relating to time. I almost didn’t have the equipment I needed due to working on a film set for days while my equipment request was denied due to health and safety concerns and I nearly didn’t have time to dispute it, but it worked out in the end. I also had to edit it together very quickly. Ideally, I would have liked to have had one or two more scenes in the film and to explore the idea even further, but I was knackered at the time. Also, the movement of the opening dolly shot is horrible. Ideally, I’d have shot a few more takes and tried to get it right, but I ran out of time. And I still think the credits are too long for the length of the film. If I had more time, I would have noticed that and fixed it. Maybe one day I’ll revisit it. I still really love the concept.

What's next for you?

Well, I graduated in July with my Master’s degree in filmmaking. At the moment I’m back home in West Virginia about to enjoy the “fall” in one of the most beautiful places one could do so. I do have hopes to return to the UK and start a production company, but that is very dependent on my ability to secure a work visa. Failing that, I’ll be looking for work in the States. I’m most interested in cinematography and post production, but I’m happy to be doing any kind of production work. Hopefully, though, I’ll be seeing you at a Hush Hush Film Night again in the near future!

Showdown (Toby Gale) by Crown and Owls

on Tuesday, 17 September 2013.

crownowls

How did you go about finding the actors? Were they also dancers, or was that improvised?

This was the hardest part. The script was originally written for kids a lot younger, around 9-10, but we really struggled to find kids that were of that age who could move gracefully enough, they still had that youthful clumsiness. We almost changed to our other script for the track, but then we got an email from Rueben Crossland Jones, saying that he'd heard through the grapevine that we were looking for young people that could dance but also act. We were initially skeptical as Rueben was 15, then we saw a photo and knew he was the guy - yep, that's his natural hair! We got him into our studio and he just killed it.


The locations in the film are very cinematic and beautiful - how did you find them?

The process was quite long for the locations, as we had a fairly ambitious treatment so it required quite a lot of persistence to find the right places! The wides were found on a day of rolling through the North Yorkshire moorside, the abandoned building - through an urban exploring Flickr account, the house belongs to a grandma who hasn't redirected in about 30 years, and the forest was found via satellite mode on google earth!


Who created the choreography?

Thomas and myself created the choreography. We had never tried it before but we knew what we wanted to achieve. We can't dance...at all, but we researched pretty heavily into a whole bunch of references and worked really closely with Rueben and Jake (the antagonist) to come up with a routine. I think it took a couple of evenings to find our phrases and then perfect them. A lot of time spent watching Flashdance, and doing the routine with the boys to make sure we were all on the same page. It was actually really fun- the hilarious part was the nomination for "Best Choreography" at UK Music Video Awards. I think we lost out to Will Young...


How did it feel to receive the accolades the video has?

The amount of positive reception the video receives continues to amaze us. The UKMVA nominations were really humbling, and although we didn't walk away with an award, the ceremony was insane. The amount of views it still gets on Vimeo is pretty startling too, especially after the "staff picks" moment. It's really nice to see, after something that started so personally for our good friend Toby Gale.

What was the inspiration behind the video? That twist at the end is fantastic.

The piece started as a story about pushy parents pressuring young kids into underground boxing, but then we thought about the context of the track and naturally it lead us to the 1980s. We thought about some of the most iconic moments in 80s’ popular cinema and how we could apply them to our initial idea. We arrived at Rocky pretty quickly, and then thought about our ending. We were kind of half and half on the dance off ending initially, mainly because of the logistics but we just shrugged and thought, let's give it a try.


What were the main challenges when filming?

The whole dance off scene was tough. We got to the abandoned building super early to rig the lighting and prep our shots. We had our lead father drop out on us on the day of the shoot, so Trevor Jones (who we originally cast for the rival character's father) stepped into the lead father role and we had to think in our feet to replace his abandoned part. That worked out, but it ended up being a long night. I think we wrapped at 5am, getting home for 7am with a call time of 11am for Day 2.


What are you working on now?

We're currently working on a handful of fashion films for Ted Baker, and we've just shot a promo for the Rugby World Cup. We also have a new music promo coming out in the next few weeks!

Let me know what you think?

-James-Alexander Adair, Rory Martinez & Thomas Harrison (Crown & Owls)

The Dreamer Saniari - Left Eye Blind by Matt Maude

on Wednesday, 29 May 2013.

dreamers lefteyeblind-2

How did Left Eye Blind begin?

When we first started Left Eye Blind it was a collective of filmmakers all working under the same name. We signed to a London based commercial agency called Academy Films in early 2009 and created music videos and promos for bands and clients all over the UK. It wasn’t until late 2010 that Jamie Donoughue and I started Left Eye as a production company. Since then we’ve shot two feature films, a couple of short films and A LOT of music video content. It definitely beats going to work…

What inspired you to make a film about sleepwalking?

I was lucky enough to attend the European Summer Film School; a week-long master class that invited eight directors from across Europe to a seven day intensive workshop in Belgrade, Serbia to learn new skills and meet other filmmakers. While we were there we were told we had to write, shoot and finish a film in under three days. Each director was allocated a small team of university students, (producer, DOP, editor, sound designer) and given the theme of ‘a Kiss’ to structure our films around.

Belgrade is an incredible city. Like a lot of ex-Communist capitals, it’s really well lit at night. The practical light sources there were just incredible. And the whole city is beautiful. It’s architecture is just insane. I wanted to shoot something at night that showed off the space there is there and I loved the visual idea of having people wandering through the city alone. The idea sort of came together from that image. I’ve always loved stories based around sleep and dreaming… I just thought ‘what if our dreams were so powerful that they sleepwalked us towards the subject of our subconscious’ – what that film would look like

 Were you struck with any difficulties in the development of this film?

I think the organizers of the European Summer Film School were looking for pretty containable films that were easy to produce and shoot. When I told them about what I wanted to do, seven actors, multiple locations, shooting at night etc - I was told point blank it wouldn’t work. It was too ambitious, would take too much time and couldn’t be done on the scale that I envisioned it. I told them it could…

I was blessed with the best crew possible. Sara Andrejevic - the producer was just unbelievable. She called in every favour, every friend. We argued about everything, locations, timings, actors… but she backed me up constantly to everyone else. At the time she was just 19…

Miksa Andjelic, the DOP was one of the best cinematographers I’ve ever worked with. His eye for a shot is incredible. And he worked quickly. Breathtakingly.  We shot the entire film from 5PM till 6AM the next morning. We had this massive argument on set… Twice.

And Bojan Kosovic, my editor was unreal. We had 20 hours to cut the footage. I hadn’t been to bed so he was working with this sleep-deprived British director. We argued all the time… We cut the story together. He’s as much the writer as I am. 

Serbs like to argue. I was told once that they only argue about everything to agree about something. So we argued about everything to agree about this film we made together. It was one of the best times of my life. Those three days I felt like I was a director. I can’t wait to work out there again. 

How did you select the main couple? 

We street cast all the couples as couples. I didn’t feel like doing it with acting students would work. I wanted the kisses to feel real. Familiar. Ones only that couples could really do with the time we had available. Sara suggested the leading guy, the husband in the film. I watched his work online, met him and said he was the guy. Mladen, has this incredible face. He’s so capable of expressing emotions without dialogue. I didn’t know two things though until we started shooting with him.

1.He was Serbian’s Postman Pat (they shoot it live action rather than stop frame over there) – which was mental 2.He was Sara’s Dad… And he’s a very famous actor out there.

How would you best describe the film in its entirety? 

Sleep deprived…

What advice would you give to budding new filmmakers?

Find a small team of people you respect, trust and like. You need all three of those qualities. Miss one and it won’t work. You have to be able to feel confident in their abilities, in trusting their judgment and respecting it… And you have to be able to spend a lot of time in one another’s company. You have to be able to argue about your passions passionately, what’s best for the film, all without it hurting your friendship. Once you find them… shoot with them. All the time. It doesn’t matter on what. But keep on creating. Keep making. Keep pushing the envelope. The technology to create is cheap now there’s no excuse not to.

Are there any intriguing projects in store for us, future or current?

I’m back to writing again which is an absolute joy for me. The whole of last year felt a mad blur of Blind Club after Blind Club shoot. It’s something I’m massively proud of. Both of the projects, The Blind Club and Left Eye Blind as whole… but I’m dead excited about the narrative stuff I’m writing. With new people working here having a bit of space and time to write is just awesome.

Wake - Sami Bassam

on Tuesday, 21 May 2013.

wake

What’s your background and how did you get into film-making? 

I am originally from Africa and came to the U.K when I was 8 and settled in Leeds.

Growing up as a child like most kids my age I was a football fanatic and also enjoyed watching films mostly action and comedy films and carried that on through to this day. I am passionate about film and would like to one day direct and produce my own major feature film. I was really fortunate to star in the British documentary film’ In the Hands of the Gods' which got rave reviews, was a real honor and a great experience. It gave me the belief that if you set your mind on something no matter how big you will achieve your goals, so from then on I began to dream the impossible dream, I got into college in Leeds and started experimenting with the camera and producing my own short films and music videos for some of my mates from the neighborhood

Currently I am studying in Bradford City College doing a course in film (AS Level) and hoping to progress to University to fulfill my studies and improve my all round skills in film production.

 How did the idea for Wake come about?

We had to produce a 3 minute film for a college assignment and I wanted to produce something from scratch instead of re shooting a scene from a film.

The idea for wake came from stories you hear from the streets and moments some of us have experienced in our darker days growing up in districts where opportunities don’t come by often.

Was there a message you wanted to convey with Wake?

‘What goes round comes round’ certain lifestyles are not cut out for some people and once you’re ‘in’ it’s quite difficult to get out without any consequence or payback. Experience has thought me to think long and hard before I do something stupid or anything in that matter.

What influenced the distinctive soundtrack of the film? 

Not much really other than the tracks I listen to, they help me to envisage and develop stories in my mind so long as it’s appropriate to the scene and sounds right to me then ill play around with the track because I feel that music and sounds are important in most films.   

What was the casting process like for the film?

A bit difficult trying to find mates who were willing and able to act out the characters as most of us work and study during the day. Luckily I managed to round up a few good friends who were really instrumental in this film and I am grateful for their help because in the end they did a better job than I could have hoped for

Did you encounter any unexpected difficulties in making the film?

To be honest this time round, not really other than the freezing conditions when we were filming at night. Due to the length of the film and the basic narrative it was pretty straight forward even during the editing.

What’s next? Any current projects or future plans?

I’ve got a few ideas I am working on at the moment, definitely will be producing at least 2 more projects this year. 

What advice would you give to someone interested in making short films?

Always believe.

           

El Patron (The Story of Pablo Escobar) - William Child

on Thursday, 16 May 2013.

el patron william child

Tell us about your background, what path lead you to filmmaking?

Last year I graduated from Northumbria University with a degree in Graphic Design, having focused on image making and illustration. For my final project I decided to use papier mache puppets to tell the story of Pablo Escobar in an illustrated book, and also create a short  animation showing the route his cocaine took into America. The Escobar film was my first time working with film.

What inspired you to create a film about Pablo Escobar?

I am a big fan of action & crime films & documentaries so I guess I just wanted to make my own lo-fi ridiculous little version. I'd heard little bits about Escobar's story before, so I looked into it and there was so much mad stuff to work with I just ran with it. 

Could you tell us a little about the research that went into making this film?

In terms of the models & scenery I've always loved the models of Aardman and Mackinnon & Saunders from when I was a kid, and I used to love stuff like Thunderbirds which was a big inspiration. But the biggest inspiration was probably Team America; the way they work with miniatures & the lo-fi style but still get incredible detail was really what I wanted to achieve in my project too. Other than that, films like Blow, Layer Cake, American Gangster as well as books & documentaries about Escobar's life were really important too.

Is there any particular message that you’re trying to convey to the viewers?

No, not particularly. The puppets and their contrast with the serious voiceover and ridiculousness of them doing all these drugs deals & stuff exploding is just meant to semi-parody the life of Escobar. Because he himself was so eccentric it seemed right to show his life in a bit of a bizarre way. If you read his story you'll know what I mean!

What was the creative process that you used to make the models?

I'd illustrated a book in a similar way in my previous year at university, showing the social diversity of Barcelona in 'The Peoplewatcher's Guide to Barcelona', so I'd had a bit of practice making the models and scenery then. From then it was just a job of researching & taking inspiration from the things I mentioned before, trying to build pretty accurate & atmospheric sets, and trying to give the puppets as much character as possible.

Did any problems occur during this process and as well as with project in general?

Making custom clothes can be pretty tricky, and generally just the time it takes to make everything. The puppets are pretty limited in terms of movements which can be difficult sometimes, but to be honest thats how I wanted it to look. Concocting a recipe for a controlled explosion took a while but we got there! 

Why did you choose to use a mix of actors and animation?

The voiceover was by Kevin Parr, a Scotland-based impressionist. I wanted a borderline-corny American narrator to describe the journey, and Kevin did a brilliant job. He also did the voice for the two news reporters in the car chase scene, which he nailed again! I think his main point of reference for that was Arnie Pye, the eye in the sky from The Simpsons. Kevin brought life to the characters wonderfully.

What advice would you give to someone interested in making short films?

Well I haven't worked on many so I'm still in the early stages of learning myself, but I'd say plan well in every element of putting the film together, research meticulously, and make sure you've got plenty of time on your hands! Get help from people in the know if possible and collaborate with others!

Michael Battcock - Echo

on Thursday, 09 May 2013.

echo

What’s your background and how did you get into film-making?

I studied Music, Multimedia and Electronics at the University of Leeds and had originally wanted to be a sound engineer. I had messed about with film when I was younger but only started to consider it seriously around 3 years ago when I decided to take the plunge and by a 5D mark II. From there I just started experimenting with the camera and learning as much as I could.

How did the idea for the video for Echo come about?

Wild Swim approached me with the song which was based around the story of Echo and Narcissus who have references in Greek mythology. Echo is said to have had been wondering through a forest when she came across Narcissus who is gazing at his own reflection in a pool of water. She professes her love to him but he is totally consumed by his own beauty and spurns her love. Driven to madness by despair she disappears into nothingness, with only an echo of her name to remain. The band also really liked a video I  had done of ink in water (http://www.michaelbattcock.com/home.html#content2) and wanted to incorporate that into the video for Echo. So there is a very subtle reference to Narcissus in the reflection of the ink in the water which looks like a (Narcissus) flower.

How did you go about finding the seemingly perfect locations for the video?

That was actually down to my friend's suggestion. We drove out to Otley Chevin forest, just north of Leeds, and found this amazing rock with a big overhang which served as the precipice from which Echo throws herself.

Are there any added challenges from combining special effects from live footage?

With visual effects you composite other elements on top of the original live action footage, so it's always a bit of a challenge to imagine that whilst filming the footage and picture how the final shot will end up. It's really exciting when it comes together in the end though!

How much creative input came from the band on how they wanted the video to look?

There were some brief discussions before filming but they largely left it up to me. They are mostly based in Oxford so I went down for one meeting where I presented my ideas for the film. They were keen and liked the style of my previous videos so they were happy to let me take the reins on the look of the film, which was great.

How did you go about casting the actor in the video?

She's actually my girlfriend and hasn't done any acting since playing Queen Elizabeth in primary school! The weird thing was that after agreeing to be in the film we actually broke up so filming it was a bit awkward, the tears she's crying just before she throws herself off the rock are actually real tears! We must have made a good team though as we're back together now! 

Did you encounter any unexpected difficulties in making the video?

I knew the underwater shots would be tricky but that was my first time filming underwater and it was even harder than I expected! Since there was a very low budget I was using a pretty cheap underwater housing (essentially a thick plastic bag) so controlling focus, aperture etc. was a nightmare. Plus there was a fair amount of air in the housing which was obviously making it float, and since I was floating too I ended up having to put a metal table on the bottom of the pool and hook my legs under it to stay down properly!

What advice would you give to someone interested in making short films or music videos?

I guess it would be just to do as much as you can and get involved with as many projects as you can, preferably working with more established film companies as well as with friends or on your own. Also be prepared to do a lot of work for not a lot of money when you're starting out. It's pretty tough at the moment as it seems everybody is making music videos on the cheap, but that also means there's a lot of rubbish on the internet so if you're good your work will get noticed eventually! 

Jamie McKeller - Hooped

on Wednesday, 24 April 2013.

hooped

What is your background and how were you inspired into making films? 

I started making messing around with a cheap camcorder in my late teens, shooting stupid little videos in my back garden with friends and editing in the camera. When we started shooting our webseries “I AM TIM” in 2010 it was treated as an education, like a crash course in filmmaking. Three years on and I’ve learned more than I could ever learn at University by getting my hands as dirty as possible, quite literally. 

My background is in theatre as a writer, director and actor. Anything that let me live in that universe really. Whereas I prefer acting in theatre, there’s an insane freedom that filmmaking grants a storyteller. It’s beyond addictive.

What was the starting point for Hooped, did it begin in simple fashion?

I had the image of James (the poor guy stuck in the can holder) running along in distress. That shot was the starting point for the film, and his distress took on several forms throughout the writing process. He had his shoelaces tied together, someone had stolen his hands… it went through several weird places before landing in the romantic comedy zone.

Where and how did you select the featured actor and actress? 

I studied at York St John University with James and Anna, and they were just the perfect actors for the job. Both incredibly physical and capable of delivering characters that are appealing and loveable without a line of dialogue. I had to postpone the shoot three times because they’re so busy with other projects.

Did it take a while for you to find that seemingly ideal location?

I live in York, which is just one massive location. It’s an amazing city for filmmakers. Walk around the corner and you’ll find the perfect location for your film. The park we shot in is about five minutes on foot from my house.

Some people think romance as a theme has been run into the ground by the media. Do you agree and was this at all daunting when you were developing your idea?

I think films with Jennifer Aniston as the struggling copy editor who lives in an inexplicably beautiful apartment, with inexplicably beautiful friends who finds love in an unexpected (normally Mark Ruffalo) place is overcooked. But films like 500 Days of Summer or Dan In Real Life prove that romcoms don’t have to be sickening, by the numbers experiences. Hooped is more of a feel good slapstick comedy than a cheesy romance, I hope!

Is comedy a comfortable genre to work in?

With every project we try something new. I Am Tim is a horror comedy drama, presented in documentary form. It has a lot of characters placed in ridiculous situations. We set out to make “a bloody lovely little film” and I believe we achieved that.

How do you view your film in terms of silent comedy? 

The decision to ditch all the dialogue came very early in the writing process, and as soon as I discovered the band Jen and The Gents I knew that I didn’t need any words to tell the story, they’d just get in the way. When I was young I was addicted to The Keystone Cops, that show left a mark on my brain.

Do you think this piece will act as a starting point to any further projects, ones that are even bigger?

Totally. I shot Hooped in around five hours and edited it over a couple of weeks. It’s my first proper short film, and it’s doing well. I have two other shorts planned for this year, and I’m currently writing my first feature which we’re shooting in November this year. 

Chris Lumb - Our only defence

on Tuesday, 23 April 2013.

ouronlydefence

What’s your background and how did you get into film-making?

I have always been interested in films from a young age and more importantly how they are constructed, I've been using cameras from an early age making some pretty bad efforts to start with! I didn't train in film making, just decided to have a go!

How did the idea for Our Only Defence come about?

The idea of Our Only Defence came from the writer and co-director Matthew Hick. He wrote the original draft and then we worked on it together. His idea was to make a realistic drama about a woman in a trapped existence.

Why did you choose to use black and white footage for Our Only Defence?

The reason we filmed in black and white is simply because we felt the film would feel more gritty that way.

Does your background in comedy affect your film-making?

Having a comedy background doesn't really affect the film making, I think I am good at adapting to whatever we are doing at the time, it's nice to be able to mix things up too, try new things film wise.

What is Lumbfilm Productions, and what do you hope to achieve with it?

Lumbfilm Productions is a company I set up so we could label the films and keep them under one banner, we hope to work towards making films that keep entertaining people as we go and raise the quality of the film making.

Did you encounter any unexpected difficulties in making the film?

We didn't encounter many difficulties as I like to plan in advance, we were pushed for time as we wanted to get the whole thing done in one day due to actor availability.

Are there any added challenges if you’re both acting in and directing a film?

Acting and directing is a challenge, we made a feature film which I was a main role in, but I reasoned that because I would be there anyway I might as well be in it to make things easier on getting cast to locations! For Our Only Defence we actually cast a different actor and he pulled out so I had to step in at the last minute.

What advice would you give to someone interested in making short films?

The best advice is to just get filming! There are plenty of people out there who say " I'm going to make this" but nothing happens. No matter what budget you have, get hold of a camera and just film. I think it's the best way to learn and remember there are no set rules, do it how you want to do it. Festivals and film nights are great for feedback too.

Gatecrasher - Frank Ryan and Adam Hughes

on Wednesday, 17 April 2013.

gatecrasher

Interview with Frank Ryan, producer and actor in Gatecrasher

How did you come to be involved with Gatecrasher?

Gatecrasher came about following a meeting between Adam Hughes, Paul Cockcroft and myself. We were toying with the idea of producing a feature film. I came up with the concept of a young actor obsessed with an older writer. When Adam came back with the script we were sure we had something special. We decided to attempt a short version first to test the market and see how the characters came across on screen.  

The character of James Francis is a complex one. How did you decide how you would portray him?

When taking on the character of James Francis I was anxious to avoid the obvious stereotypes such as making him narcissistic or overtly camp. So I decided to portray him in as "normal" manner as possible. Which I think works.

Did your twin roles of actor and producer ever cause any difficulties?

No it honestly didn't.  If anything I found that wearing the hats of both producer and actor helped. As a producer I was more aware of what the actor's needed and as an actor I was more aware of what the production was looking for, if that makes sense.  

How smoothly did the production of Gatecrasher go? Did you experience any unexpected problems?

All on all the production went very smoothly, thanks in no small measure to the amount of support we received from the likes of The Midland Hotel, Lahore Deli, Grand Central Railway, Bar Uber and Leeds Brewery. Also the Chamber of Commerce and Bradford Council and City of Film. We did of course have the odd technical problem from time to time but nothing really major.

 

Interview with Adam Hughes, writer of Gatecrasher

Where did the inspiration for the story of Gatecrasher come from?

Well this is an interesting one. I was having a drink with Frank, one of the actor's from the film, and he was talking about LGBT films and how I should write one. I'd never done anything like this before but, like with most things when it comes to writing, I was keen to try something new. I wanted to put a twist on the tradition old man seeks younger lover and so completely flipped that with the young man being infatuated with his older counterpart (something I had never seen done before). I wanted there to be an additional context to that driven desire so I made Mark an actor and James Francis a writer. The inspiration has come from my own experiences being ambitious and the pitfalls of this! Similarly, I have also seen many other actors in Mark's situation: keen, ambitious, and desperate to get that big break. The only difference was that this was set against a LGBT background and so, hopefully, had more poignancy about it.

Was it a smooth transition from words on a page to the finished film? 

Yes and no. Whenever you write a script, there comes a point where you need to pass it on and try to accept the decisions of the people who you trust with your work (although that is easier said than done sometimes!) Surprisingly the scenes that I thought would be the most difficult to film (I'm not giving anything away here!) were the least troublesome whereas simpler scenes, such as two people sitting down in a cafe, were much more difficult. I think this is purely down to the acting and directorial process and the dependency on the actors. The script was also very dialogue heavy so there was a heck of a lot for them to do!

Was there a message you wanted to communicate with Gatecrasher?

Yes, that if you have that desire and ambition to make it to the top, then you should pursue it. It's a shame but in this industry, and in life too I guess, you see people who are close to achieving their dreams yet they just fall short at the last hurdle- for whatever reason. However, I hope the film says that regardless of your situation or your current outlook on life, you should never give up on your dreams. But hopefully it's not as cliched as that!

How do you feel about Gatecrasher being called an ‘LGBT Film?

To be fair, I am completely neutral about how the film is labelled (so long as it's not derogatory!). Obviously it is going to be classed as an LGBT film due to the context and the themes it evokes. But like any film, there is more beneath the surface. It is about a man and his dreams and the lengths he will go to achieve them. It just so happens that it is set within a gay context.

Dom Bush -My Own Hands

on Monday, 15 April 2013.

my own hands dom bush

What’s your background and how did you get into film-making?

 My background is in the arts. I have always engaged in creative processes, whether that was painting, drawing, writing or photography. Film has been the next in that chain and the most satisfying and successful for me. I feel I have blossomed, found a style that suits me and learned to run with it. From as far back as 4 or 5 years old I have loved playing in the outdoors too. Skiing, climbing, skating, biking, exploring. They are all a huge part of who I am so they influence my work in a big way.

Where did the idea for My Own Hands come about?

I have focused on climbing a lot over the past few years, both in my filmmaking and my free time. I was keen to make a film about why people climb, but knew that the topic was just too big and complex. So I thought about when I began climbing, in trees, as a kid. My son is around that age so a little inspiration comes from him too. Perhaps he has helped me to step back and appreciate the experience again.

I met Ben at an outdoor party many years ago and we spent most of the night climbing trees together; we have been friends ever since. Naturally he sprang to mind when the film idea came around!

What decisions influenced the visual style of the film?

Like most of my films 'My Own Hands' was shaped by my grass roots and low budget approach. I don't have all the best kit, and much of the time I am on my own so I follow my instincts and do the best I can with what I've got at the time. In general it works! That day the weather and light played ball and I shot as much as I could, not knowing that what I was shooting was visually unique until I watched it back through later. As is my style, the film is grounded in traditional documentary with some modern DSLR techniques used in moderation.

Were there any technical considerations when filming someone climbing trees?

The biggest technical consideration of a shoot like this is whether you can get up there to get the shots! Because of my experience as a climber and my time in the mountains I have specialised in remote location and climbing camera work, so it wasn't such a problem for me. My ability to get to places that others can’t allows me to add an unusual perspective to my work. Any excuse to climb up things really!

Did you encounter any unexpected difficulties in making the film?

 I encounter unexpected difficulties with every film I make! Ben and I had a few teething problems working on the voice-over. It was really important to me that it sounded raw and real and not too rehearsed, so that required a different approach. We re-worked it a few times and I was pleased with the results in the end.

Was there a message you wanted to communicate with My Own Hands?

In general I feel compelled to use my skills to do good in the world, but I’m not sure there was any big message when we started. Ben wanted to know if there were any other people out there doing what he does. Like many of my projects I knew roughly what I wanted to do but I allowed it to take shape itself. As it happens I think the film ended up being quite poignant and insightful but a lot of that comes from Ben.

If there is any message then this is it; we live in a society that encourages us to consume, to over-work, to indulge in things we can’t afford and to fill our time with alternate internet realities and televised bullshit. Take some time out once in a while, hang out in the woods and give your soul a clean. Laughing at funny kittens on facebook can’t substitute an understanding and appreciation of the real world.

Obviously I’m transmitting this message over the internet. How ironic!

Do you think My Own Hands will act as a starting point for more similar projects?

I find the process of making films incredibly fulfilling but sometimes tiring and frustrating in equal measure. Without a doubt I will make something similar in the future but it’s nice to start something new and different. I don’t know how I would make similar work that would convey the themes so succinctly and poignantly, until I work that out I feel it’s good to leave the subject alone.

What advice would you give to someone interested in making short films?

Be unique, find a style and play with it, follow your instincts, be kind to yourself when things go wrong. Collaborate with others to make beautiful things, be creative, watch tons of films and adapt ideas. Avoid cliché and learn to spot a gimmick in advance. Be confident but keep your ego in check!

Pussy - Debbie Howard

on Tuesday, 09 April 2013.

"I was an actor for twenty years and decided to start writing my own scripts due to being disillusioned with the lack of strong and interesting roles for women."

pussy

What is your background and what path lead you into filmmaking?

I was an actor for twenty years and decided to start writing my own scripts due to being disillusioned with the lack of strong and interesting roles for women. Once I tried directing, I was hooked. 

What was the initial idea that brought about the development of Pussy?

A real incident that happened to my daughter in school. This is how I would have liked to have handled it. It came about very quickly and was put together in no time on a tiny budget.

Where was Pussy filmed and how relevant was the location?

It was filmed outside my daughters school. Where the real situation happened. The school wouldn't let me film there, so I asked loads of my kids friends to turn up on a Sunday and we filmed it anyway. Luckily the caretaker let us in the grounds.

Where and how did you select the featured actresses/actors?

That was really easy. It's my daughter that plays herself, her real dad, my best friend plays the mum (essentially me) and a friend's son played the bully. They're all professional actors though too. I didn't audition, I already knew who would play them. 

How did you develop the script; was there retroscripting involved or did you begin with a set script?

I wrote the script really quickly while in a teaching I was attending. I'd already said it talked it out loud to myself while I was getting ready that morning, I often talk to myself, and this is what came out when I was thinking about the incident. So I just scribbled it down. I re drafted it a bit later, but it's the same more or less to what I originally wrote. 

Did the screenplay evolve much further through the development of the script?

No, only a little. We made it very quickly with a crew of friends and some of our own kit.

Did any problems occur in the development of the film?

It was tricky on the day as it's one long scene supposed to be lasting a few minutes and the weather changed continuously. It was also tricky trying to get 30 friends (extras) to look like hundreds of people, but we kind of got away with it.

Will the work you have done with Pussy be a significant milestone to even more substantial projects in the future?

Yes, I've made lots of films since and am currently making my first feature film. 

Believe - Richard Addlesee

on Tuesday, 26 March 2013.

believe

Q1: Tell us about yourself. What's your background and how did you get into film-making?

I’m 29. I originally come from the dreaded town of Scunthorpe but have been living between Greater Manchester and the Lake District for the past 6-7 years now. I was never any good at school failing almost everything I studied, then went to college to retake some things, got into media studies and photography, dropped out, got a job, went travelling then about 8 years later decided I wanted to study something at University. I went to the University of Bolton to study their Media, Writing and Production degree course. Originally I went with the intention of becoming a writer for TV but quickly became interested in the production side of things. I tried to throw myself into any project I could but that was difficult because I was working full time at my night job and also in the 3rd year I foolishly decided to do two dissertations at the same time, a feature length script and a short film.
After finishing Uni I kept in touch with a few people I’d met, as well as a lot of the Manchester based indie film makers and again have been throwing myself into projects, helping out here and there while trying to find the time/money/energy to work on my own shorts.

Q2: Tell us about 'Believe' Where did the idea for the film come from?

‘Believe’ was actually the very first thing I wrote when I first started Uni. We were given the task of writing a one page script without any dialogue, so I came up with Believe. Drawing on some inspiration I’d gotten from a few bits of internet art, comic strips and an anime that I used to be into. The script had been stuck in the back of my head for years but I was convinced I could never make it the way I wanted to. It wasn’t until years later after I’d made a few things and hung around with the write people that I started to work out the difficult parts and the whole short slowly came into place.
 
Q3: How was the film cast? Did you have actors in mind for each role or was the process more flexible?

The casting process was pretty simple actually, I’m good friends with every person in the film. The little girl, Lucy Young, is the daughter of my friend, an actor and teacher Marc Young who also plays the father. His partner Samantha Deas plays the mother, so it was a relatively easy cast to work with. The homeless man is actually the producer George Makin, and the two blink-and-you’ll-miss-them yobs in the tunnel are my friend Jamie Coles and myself. I had originally thought of doing a massive casting session, but finding a child actor with the flexibility of going half way up the country to Edinburgh for a weekend shoot was almost impossible. I’m so very grateful that Marc, Sammy and Lucy had the patience and trust to put up with me.

Q4: Is the filming process very different when you rely a lot on CGI for one of your main shots?

Yes and no, we started the pre-production for the film about 5 months before we shot the first take, during that time I’d have regular meetings with Mark Baron the cinematographer and Paul Willis the SFX artist and colourist. Once we had determined which shots would have SFX in them we would slave over the story boards, do pre-comps, small shot tests etc until we knew exactly what was needed. The harder elements were extra SFX we hadn’t thought about, in some shots we had to replace the sky. In others we had to do matte paintings to block out roads and cars, making the city of Edinburgh look deserted.

Q5: How dose filming with a child actress differ from working with adults?

Patience. You need a monumental amount of patience, but also you have to realize that you are working with the most amazing people on the planet, children. Their enthusiasm and imagination is just amazing so you have to capture that. And the odd sneaky bag of sweets here and there works wonders. I think one of the harder elements of the shoot was trying to keep Lucy from becoming bored on set and thus giving up the ghost. For one of the scenes we shot in a small park, so between takes, after a VERY quick scramble of words with Mark and Paul I’d spend the next 5 minutes playing on the swings with Lucy, or attempting pull ups on the monkey bars. Anything to keep her entertained and happy to be there. Also the park scene was were we used a two camera set up, one on ground level for a dolly shot, the other, manned by our producer George, who was sent up the side of Arthur’s Seat (the large mountain) with a zoom lens. We had to maximize our time with Lucy to the fullest so thinking out our shots well in advance was crucial. 

Q6: Do you have any advice for aspiring film-makers?

Throw yourselves into your projects. Try not to let things get in the way, it’s hard to say that when you have a full time job or a family to look after but you really do have to dedicate a large amount of your time and energy to what you are working on. Work with others, try not to do every single last job on your own. Find people that have the same passion you have, with diverse skills and stick to them like glue. I met Mark, Paul, Jamie and George at University 5-6 years ago and continue to work with them to this day.

Q7: How do you feel the film industry is changing? Particularly with regards to technology, social media etc.

It’s getting easier to produce and share your art, but also harder to make a living from it (if that’s what you want). Over the last 5 years we’ve seen home computers take leaps and bounds in terms of managing work flow, edits and SFX etc. And DSLR’s / pro-sumer cameras (Red etc) have become a game changer, the quality and craftsmanship you can achieve now compared to ten years ago is just astounding. But that’s where the trouble arises, anyone now can shoot a video and call themselves a DOP, but it takes time and dedication to master that art. So if you are a freelancer pitching for a project you have to make sure your work stands head and shoulders above the rest to get notices.
   Social media has become the real weapon for indie film-makers, it’s so easy to share and distribute now it’s unreal. You can host a screening of your film, with a Q&A in a room 6 thousand miles away from the comfort of your bedroom. You can show your work to world famous directors and get comments back (like I have with Russell Crowe, Kevin Smith, Wes Craven etc) over twitter. But if your aim is to make a profit from that then good luck, unless you can get into a partnership with Youtube and produce content week in week out then there aren’t really that many other options. Indiegogo and kickstarter are great places to raise the finance to make your next project, but making a living from it is another thing. Peoples best hope now is to generate an internet presence for themselves, enter festivals and try to pick up awards, something that will get you noticed when you come to approach companies or commissioning editors or music bands.
   Make yourself stand out, find your voice, whatever separates you from everyone else and nurture that. Make it something you love and it’ll be easy. We don’t need 50 new Michael Bay’s, we need one or two new Ken Loach’s.
 
Q8: What are your future plans? Do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us a bit about?
 
At the moment I’m editing together a short film that I’ve helped make along side my friends Jamie Coles, Dean Carter and actors David Crellin & Tigga Goulding. Jamie went to Uni with me and is an incredibly talented sound recordist. Jamie wrote a script that I really liked a few years ago, ‘A Time To be Thankful’ about two lost souls who accidentally meet on Christmas eve and make each others lives better in a simple, human connection way. Myself, David and Jamie wanted to work together again (I helped Jamie out on his dissertation which stared David and Tigga) so we began re-writing the script slightly and pulling favours to get the short made.
 
Also I’m currently in pre-production on a short film I intend to submit to this years VMS short film festival called ‘The Visitor’.