Monday, July 20, 2015

An Eighth Of A Script

At the moment I am working on a feature film. It's something I have been writing since 2008 - so 7 years now, and I am currently trying to get it ready for fundraising and possible interest by producers or something like that.

Part of this involves getting the budget as close to reality as possible. And that involves scheduling.

Scheduling means estimating how long it will take me to shoot this film and putting that into some sort of timeframe - 6 weeks, 8 weeks?

Part of the process means using page 8ths. A script page is usually about 8 inches long. So you measure, with a ruler, how much of those inches each scene takes. 1/8th, 3/8ths, 1 and 3/8ths? Once you have that down it allows you to estimate how long it will take you to shoot each scene, using the eighths as guides.

This is how I spent my evening.

How was yours?

See people, even if you choose the most creative profession out there and think you'll never have to look at maths ever comes back to find you!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How To Conduct An Interview | A Few Basics

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Live TV Interview at COMEX 2014 - Another perspective
Dickson Phua

1.Have a few questions to warm up with. People become more relaxed and friendly the longer they chat to you - we hope - so leave your best questions for when you're a little way into your interview, once they've warmed to you

2. Never ask closed questions, for example:

Q. Do you like Taylor Swift?

A. Yes/No

A better way to phrase it would be:

Q. How do you feel about Taylor Swift?

A. Blah, blah, blah

Even better be more specific:

Q. How do you feel about Taylor Swift being chosen as one of the nominees for Time Magazine person of the year?

A. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah blah, blah, blah blah, blah, blah

3. Prepare your questions well. Know as much about the person as you can but listen to what they are saying in their answers before you just storm on with your next question

4. Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT tell them what to answer. And try not to let them prepare their answer too much. A lot of people want your list of questions before the interview. Don't give it to them. The answers sound rehearsed and stale. You want natural and candid. Having said that there have been many times where I was working for clients who insisted on having the interviewee know the questions and prepare answers before filming. The way I see these situations is, the organisation is paying me for a film they want, if they are insisting on breaking some of my rules and they are sure about that - just do the job and get paid. Some jobs are just jobs and you do your best but you can't always have complete creative control.

5. DON'T talk all over their answer. Pause. You will hate yourself when you get to the edit and you have an amazing interview but you can hear your voice going "Yeah, oh yes, of course, tell me more" all over their answers

6. Look interested, be interested and LISTEN to them. If you are just looking down at your questions while your interviewee is talking from their heart, they're going to feel like you don't really care

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Make A Film Challenge

The only way to learn to make films is by making them. 

Start out simply and increase in crew size and budget as you go. But first you need to make a short film - any short film, a simple story that allows you to understand what the various components are of filmmaking and the difficulties you will learn to overcome.

Please join me in this 2 week short film challenge


A HERO who WANT SOMETHING but there is an OBSTACLE in his/her way. Film it on what you like, upload it to YouTube and comment me the link. I will be doing it too. Looking forward to what you make!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Explore Filmmaking | National Film and TV School

The past couple of weeks I have been doing the free online filmmaking course from the National Film and Television School, a school I have wanted to attend since I was 15 but is now one of those dreams that must die. The course is really good for beginners and filmmakers who need to be kept sharp. I feel I have learnt so much already. They use a combination of filmmakers and writers talking through their own films and tasks to help you learn. This short script is one of the tasks set this week. The brief was as follows:

  • Character 1 is already in a room.
  • Character 2 approaches the room, opens the door and comes in.
  • They have a very brief conversation in which Character 1 gives Character 2 an object and then Character 2 leaves the room.
  • Consider how you are setting up character, theme and story.

So here is what I did with that:


Amy is sitting reading a card in the living room. She is smiling while reading. The radio is playing in the background. 

The door opens and Josephine walks in, flustered, carrying a load of papers and notebooks. 


Josephine, Josephine! Look at this

My hands are full. Hang on. I can't really stop

It's a card - from Jenny

Josephine is still busying herself with the notebooks. Amy, ignoring Josephine's difficulty, gets up and hands her the card, forcing Josephine to read it. Reluctantly Josephine reads it. 

Isn't that exciting! 

She says she's writing a book

Josephine hands the card back and starts looking through her notebooks

Yes! Isn't that fantastic? This will be great for her

I'm sure she will enjoy it

Maybe you could help her. You know - give her some tips

She's never written a book before

Neither had you

Josephine puts one of the notebooks down with a thud on the table.

I had actually! I'd written a lot

Not that were published

JOSEPHINE grabs a notebook and leaves the room. Amy is left standing holding the card.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Beginners Filmmaking Equipment | Starting Out

Excited about this 50mm lens!

Starting Out...

I remember how I bought my first camera. I was 16 or 17 and it was a tiny handheld Canon camcorder (really awful quality but good for the times) and I think it cost around £300 and the people I was lodging with at the time allowed me, because I was under 18 to buy it in instalments through their name. I felt so proud the day I paid it off and owned my very own camera.

There is so much more available now but it took me so long to realise what I actually needed and I wanted to give beginners out there a helping hand. If you want to get into filmmaking or are interested in making a short film for the first time, you'll need some basic tools. Everything costs even though it's way more affordable these days so I have tried to find you the low end, necessary equipment that will work and give you some tools but that you can afford - if you save.

Here is a list of some basic equipment that will get you started and isn't ridiculously expensive:

This camera gives a really high quality look and is relatively cheap (considering semi-pro cameras are in the £1000s) You don't have to get a Canon DSLR you can go Nikon. They allow you to get different lenses and are quite easy to carry around. 

DSLRs are the best when it comes to low budget, starting out filmmaking. A lot of traditional TV people have their little huffs and puffs about them but they do the job and they give lovely images

Tripods make your shots looks more professional because they make your shots steady. Always try to film with a tripod unless you have a reason for shooting by hand or are going for a particular look

These lights are not professional but they give really great diffused lighting when you are doing interviews and can be used for short film lighting. Lighting is essential. It elevates your shots to look more professional. The reason big films look so great is the amount of lighting they use. 

In general, prime lenses are faster than zoom lenses. I find them more fun to use because it makes you think about your shots more because you can't just zoom in and out. You have to move with your camera and it becomes a physical extension of you instead of just point and shoot. It also means you have to decide why you are taking your shots. Look for them on eBay they are usually cheaper.

Watch my video on this for some more details and so you can see what I'm talking about:

So go out and PRACTISE filming something with your camera. Don't be afraid of the camera. It serves you, it will not get you and it's built to be used. The worst you can do is make mistakes and film a load of rubbish. That's how I learned.

Once you're comfortable with your camera, try telling a short story.

If you're stuck for ideas why not try this STORY IDEA:

A man/woman who is afraid to leave their house but realises there is an important package left for them just outside their front door, just out of reach. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

You Know You're A TCK When....

A TCK stands for Third Culture Kid, someone who has a passport in one country but grew up in another and have combined their 'birth culture' with their 'new culture' and created a 'third culture.' It's a phenomenon. It's bittersweet. It never goes away. 

Sometimes I forget about it, other days it feels like it's consuming me - and you have to laugh, which is why I wanted to share one of these lists. 

I lifted most of these from a wonderful organisation's website although I took out a few and added in a couple of my own. Enjoy, all those who 'get this.' *wink wink* 

You know you’re a TCK when ...

- “Where are you from?” has more than one reasonable answer.
- "Where are you from" leaves you thinking for hours, often crying, while the person who asked you, totters off unaware the turmoil they have just caused you
- You flew before you could walk.
- You have a deep mistrust of doctors, policemen, soldiers...
- You speak two languages, but can’t spell in either.
- You feel odd being in the ethnic majority.
- You have three passports.
- You eat weird combinations of foods that no one else understands...
- yoghurt on rice and whole lemons with salt
- You still can't understand why the supermarkets sell half a cucumber and slices of watermelon
- You go into culture shock upon returning to your “home” country.
- You don't understand why you have to clear your own tray away at McDonalds - there are staff for that!
- You also don't get why you have to fill your own car with actually get out of the car and everything
- Your life story uses the phrase “Then we moved to…” three (or four, or five…) times.
- You get REALLY annoyed when people tell you where your 'home' is
- Anyone considered 'foreign' in your passport country you seem to really get on with
- You wince when people mispronounce foreign words.
- The best word for something is the word you learned first, regardless of the language.
- You think VISA is a document that’s stamped in your passport, not a plastic card you carry in your wallet.
- You own personal appliances with 3 types of plugs, know the difference between 110 and 220 volts, 50 and 60 cycle current, and realize that a transformer isn’t always enough to make your appliances work.
- You consider a city 500 miles away “very close.”
- Death threats are not that weird to you
- You think in the metric system and Celsius.
- You miss the subtitles when you see the latest movie.
- You don't know who it is appropriate to kiss, hug, shake hands with or smile at anymore so you just avoid all physical greetings as much as possible
- You find yourself calling your countrymen 'they'
- You’ve gotten out of school because of earthquakes and/or popular demonstrations.
- All that stuff that happens on the've been in it or very close to it
- You speak with authority on the subject of airline travel.
- You KNOW how to pack.
- You have the urge to move to a new country every couple of years.
- Because you may not have the money or time to move country that often, you move your furniture around every few months and dream about moving house
- When you run out of furniture moving combinations, you start throwing out clothes
- The thought of sending your (hypothetical) kids to public school scares you, while the thought of letting them fly alone doesn’t at all.
- You constantly hear people talking about how weird homeschooled kids are - *ahem* you were homeschooled...
- You have friends from 29 different countries.
- You sort your friends by continent.
- You can leave country at the drop of the hat and 'goodbye parties' mean absolutely nothing to you
- You have a time zone map next to your telephone.
- You realize what a small world it is, after all. 

In my graduate film from university I attempted to deal with some of identity crisis I and a lot of TCKs have. It wasn't as successful as hoped, mostly due to the lack of Turkish community around when I made it, but a lot of hard work went into this short film on all parts so I will share it anyway. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Falling In Love With Film Again

Film is Captured Forever 

I'm using this time now to get myself back to why I wanted to be a director. As much as I believe university taught me business, gave me a useful certificate and developed my pitching tools, it also crushed my passion and love for film, by teaching us to believe that research, formats and target audiences are the most important thing about production.

I read a wonderful quote from Guillermo del Toro, director of Pan's Labyrinth.

"Nobody that I remember in the 1970s or 1980s was talking about target audiences, tracking, which studio was weaker, or four-quadrant appeal. It's entering the building the wrong way. One of my most cherished rituals when I am shooting is waking up really early and playing 20-30 minutes of one of my favourite movies just to remind me what it is I am doing." 

I want to go back to the almost child-like innocence I had in simply wanting to make films because I loved to watch them. Watching entertaining, good films makes me happy and I want to make films that I want to watch.