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#1 Ashley Wing

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 04:53 AM

Hey guys,

Awhile back I made a short World War 2 film called 'Between the Lines' which I posted here for some feedback. Coming from a background without any previous training I found it quite hard to get started and to get people to take me seriously. I do have a huge passion for filmmaking so as it happens I stuck with it.

I was hired by a special effects studio in Norwich this summer to direct a short science fiction drama that promoted their products. I really do feel I've come a long way in the last two years and only hope the next two will see me progressing to making my first feature with financial backing. I'm still making short films because I feel it is the best way to to experiment and find the kind of crew I want to work with. I was intending to go and shoot a feature straight after Between the Lines, which if I'm being honest wasn't a sensible way to go.

I'm yet to shoot anything on film, a lot of the funding schemes in my area are only set up for digital which I'm a little disappointed by. I have two more shorts penned in for the 1stQ and 2ndQ next year. Should they get the backing from the council I feel inclined to go with the RED camera. The budget would be there for it so if we have to shoot digitally it's where I want to go. I actually wrote the short with the digital aesthetic in mind so it should suit the story well.

I'm at the stage where I need to get a showreel together and start passing it out to agents. I'm just waiting for my stronger and more professional work to come out of post.

I'm not under any illusion that it's going to be easy doing what I want to do full-time, but the way I see I'm doing something I love. And regardless of what happens, at worst, it'll be a hobby that keeps me very busy :)

Ash

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#2 Glen Alexander

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 10:46 AM

After my short, ~24min is complete and shown, I'm heading straight for one full-length film, ~101min, it is going to be completely guerilla or like a runaway train or a thought unchained... Of course, I already have the images in my head and the actress has agreed without a script, just us talking about what we want film so it's just a matter making it happen.

Edited by Glen Alexander, 11 November 2008 - 10:47 AM.

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#3 Ashley Wing

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 04:12 PM

I've shot a fair few digital shorts now. I don't think the experienced I've gained is much good without the experience of shooting on film. It's something that grates with me, I feel it's something I have to do. It's directing I'm interested in and want to follow but I feel the lack of knowledge about technical side of using film would somehow let me down. I mean I'm not sure how someone would react to that in my crew especially my DoP.

Would it be looked down upon? Some people argue everyone has their job to do, but I almost feel in order to have the right to direct a team of skilled people I should have some basic know how of the technical equipment we're using. I'm savvy with digital because it's all I've used.

Glen Alexander- I think your very brave, your actress even more so for signing without a script. I don't think I could ever do anything without months of planning, it's just not in my nature. I agree about making it happen though, sometimes you just need to get out there and shoot something, anything.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 04:37 PM

Well Ash, you can't know everything; ya know? The Dp, I feel, is very much so there to serve you the director and the script/story. This isn't to say that they should follow your blindly, rather that they should voice their opinions in the right time/place. I would think/hope that any DP you brought on board would not only be happy to go over anything technical you don't understand or want to better understand if only you ask-- and would voice concerns s/he may have with certain shots etc in the pre pro stage in reference to technical limitations and/or hurdles. I think, so long as you are a good communicator, then you're set in this profession, because so long as you can relay what it is you're trying to say, you have a pool of very talented people to draw upon to help you-- the director-- realize it.
Congrats on the job though!
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#5 Lars Zemskih

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 05:02 PM

I don't think you should encourage yourself by thinking that the Director shouldn't know that much about technicality and lighting.

Director is the captain of the ship, he shouldn't think that working with actors is his only task.

Many DP's don't like working with first time directors for that specific reason, trying to tell them what is actually possible and what is not in the given budget, time and place is usually frustrating when the director is all "visionary" and has perfect/extremely optimistic pictures in his head.

So no, learn as much as you can, shoot on film because it is still here and make good films.

Edited by Emile Rafael, 11 November 2008 - 05:04 PM.

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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 05:08 PM

I didn't want it to seem as though a director should know nothing; they should learn all they can learn (hence asking the DoP questions) just that the director should have their primary focus, in my philosophy at least, on all the other aspects-- actors/edit/schedule/cash flow /etc. Its a lot to think about and of course you learn a lot as you go on. You should learn ahead of time as much as you can; but you don't need to know how to fix the engines on the ship; just who to ask to get 'em fixed? If that makes sense.
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#7 Ashley Wing

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 05:15 PM

Hi Adrian,

Thanks for the kind words and your reply. I can understand your point. I guess in order to make the best possible visual experience I just feel need to know everything about the equipment, the lenses, how using different approaches affect the picture, how far I can push things. I'm used to testing and experimenting and I just think it would be interesting to do that with film, I just don't have that luxury yet. Like you said, people are there to help, I'll put these thoughts aside for the moment until the appropriate time. I'm thinking about it too much.

It's funny you mention about the voicing of concerns. On the studio shoot we had a great DP, the first professional one I worked with. I asked about the possibility of getting certain (tricky) shots, only to have him say, "Don't be silly anything is possible."

I liked this attitude, it's the first time I had a positive response from someone behind the camera. It was also nice I got the creative freedom to actually direct and not worry about everything else. We've worked together recently and hopefully again on the next project should our funding come through.

I must admit, it's an odd industry. I've met some very strange people along the way, but also some amazing ones. I really hope my experience continues and sees me through to my feature.
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#8 Glen Alexander

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 05:45 PM

Glen Alexander- I think your very brave, your actress even more so for signing without a script. I don't think I could ever do anything without months of planning, it's just not in my nature. I agree about making it happen though, sometimes you just need to get out there and shoot something, anything.


My short had over a year and half of prep for a few minutes, so I'm a big fan of prep, as I was dealing with a lot of unknows, shot locations, camera, film, technique, crew, cast, don't even mention post. So for your first film, it is absolutely a must. Next film, the actress already have an artistic bond and share the same vision. Technical aspects are just small details.


If you look a few of Clint Eastwood's last films, his crew are well known and skilled, work together etc, they made Pretty Baby in a remarkable amount of time without a massive Michael Bay budget, great quality work from a craftsman.

One of the girls at the cafe where I get my daily caffeine fix has been reading "The Power of Film", I've not read it, nor do I intend to but she carries is all the time like a bible.
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#9 Hal Smith

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Posted 11 November 2008 - 07:29 PM

If you look a few of Clint Eastwood's last films, his crew are well known and skilled, work together etc, they made Pretty Baby in a remarkable amount of time without a massive Michael Bay budget, great quality work from a craftsman.

The nice thing about being Clint Eastwood is apparently he is such a smart film-maker and nice guy to work with that the best of the best all want to work with him, both above and below the line.
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#10 Lars Zemskih

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 11:44 AM

I didn't want it to seem as though a director should know nothing; they should learn all they can learn (hence asking the DoP questions) just that the director should have their primary focus, in my philosophy at least, on all the other aspects-- actors/edit/schedule/cash flow /etc. Its a lot to think about and of course you learn a lot as you go on. You should learn ahead of time as much as you can; but you don't need to know how to fix the engines on the ship; just who to ask to get 'em fixed? If that makes sense.


You contradict yourself a bit here, schedule and cash flow are a job of a producer.

I think a good director can light, frame and fix the camera himself, only he doesn't because it would take forever and he wouldn't be able to handle all these jobs at once. It is not about doing it, it is about knowledge.
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#11 Glen Alexander

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Posted 12 November 2008 - 11:51 AM

..... fix the camera himself, only he doesn't because it would take forever and he wouldn't be able to handle all these jobs at once.


are you joking? i can rip apart, replace, clean, load, fix a VV camera in about 5 minutes. just by the sound of the camera, i can tell how much film is left or what is going wrong. of course a VV camera is not the quietest camera in the world.

Edited by Glen Alexander, 12 November 2008 - 11:51 AM.

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