Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Final Film: Director's Mistakes

I think it is very healthy to go over anything I've done and look at the mistakes I made so I can do better next time. Here is a list of mistakes I made while shooting 51 Percent. Bear in mind these statements do not mean the film is ruined are unfixable. They are a constructive look back on the production:

  • I slightly rushed the final scene because it was nearing the end of the day and it was freezing and windy outside and we were losing the light. It still works but I should have had more detailed about some of the closer shots I wanted.

  • Halfway through filming, 90 second story very kindly leant me their boom mic, which worked wonders in the wind and served us wonderfully for the rest of the film. I should have thought about filming dialogue outside in the wind earlier and thought about the equipment we would need for it. 

  • During the emotional scenes, because Charlotte really gave it her all and a lot of emotion was put into it, I was a little cautious about asking for more and getting a wider range of angles. I know that should not have stopped me but it did. I didn't want to ask too much of my actors. Not really a good excuse. What can you lose by filming extra?

  • Shot list. I hate shot lists and I find them very anti-creative and anti-artistic. I like to be creative while shooting and sometimes the actors do something that makes me want to shoot from an angle I hadn't planned or even rewrite the scene there and then. But I do think that if I had written shot lists for every scene, when we got tired it would have helped. Sometime just looking at a piece of paper and knowing what comes next is easier than explaining when you've been filming for 12 hours. 

  • I had too much faith in British weather (when will I learn?) and did not dress well or accessorise enough for the cold, blustery outdoors. 

  • I should have insisted on my own HD monitor for every shot. Unfortunately this was made difficult because the Canon 5D switches off the in camera monitor when you plug in meaning the DoP couldn't see. My husband figured a way on day one of doing it through my laptop but because it was very slightly delayed I chose not to use it all the time. If I had I would have noticed very tiny, subtle errors such as actors looking into camera, or their eyes 'coming out of the emotion of the scene' which left me with fewer options in the edit. My fault. Not theirs. I should have noticed and asked for another take.

And on second thought, I will also list some points in which I feel I may have improved since my last short film. If I didn't that would be showing no progress:

  • I waited much longer to call action and cut on the scene meaning I have more to work with in edit. It also lets the scene breath

  • I think I asked more of my actors then I usually do

  • I didn't forget any scenes because I did so much prep and had a folder with my storyboards and script and personal notes in it which I took everywhere

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Final Film: Directing Actors

How do you prepare as a director to direct your film? I like to learn by watching experts. Since I didn't have access to any tangible directors around me prior to the shoot, I sought out education online and through reading books.

Here are a selection of resources I used before shooting "51 Percent." Whether you think the film turned out well or not, these are still wonderful resources that I would recommend to anybody.

Michael Caine's Acting in Film Workshop series. There are 6 parts to this and I would advise you to sit through the lot, both for actors and directors (and writers):

Alexander Mackendrick: A Director Prepares. This is a little treasure. The cuts are wonderfully unnatural and we learn that the shots from the video 'tape' cameras can be switched in real time in the control room. However, the material is based on a book by Peter Brook and there are some great tips and ideas for getting a performance out of your actors and how to set up the environment to allow the script to come to life

Then from the master of suspense and thrill, Alfred Hitchcock gives us a wonderful story to illustrate storytelling at it's best. It's only 2 minutes long but one of the best lessons I've come across:

Another master of storytelling, Steven Spielberg. Here is a tribute to him at the DGA, Steven being interviewed by JJ Abrams and James Cameron. It is quite long but this director has some fabulous experience and his way of directing is much more to my liking in that he appears to be not so tied down by format and rules of the trade.

(Sorry about the boring links, some of the youtube videos won't allow embedding) All worth a watch and I feel I learned so much. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Final Film: Directors observations


Trust your gut instinct: When my producer pointed out Andrew for our other lead character, the minute I looked at him, I just knew, actor or not that he would work. The rest of that process would be whether I have enough skill to bring out his acting, not whether he can act or not. During the screen test, others realised that he worked as well but even though it was suggested we look at other possibilities, I just knew he was the one. Trust your gut. It's usually right.

Use embarrassment: Romantic scenes are really hard to rehearse, especially with non-actors. I get embarrassed so I know they do. However, remember this - if your actor get embarrassed during rehearsal, and still carries on - get excited. It means there is a special spark there. They are willing to try and it also means something is happening internally that is real and has emotion, which technically as a director you can convert into energy for the performance. The real performers to fear are the ones who show barely any emotion, off screen or on. Generally it means you have nothing to work with.

The enemy of art is assumption

Agents are quite often unhelpful and sometimes act stupidly: Like everything, this has a few exceptions (i.e Kreative Talent Agency who have helped me out a lot and actually seem to care). I sent out countless emails to agents of named and unnamed actors looking for an actor for one of my roles. At first I thought it was wonderful. "I'm sorry, David Tennant won't be available at the time of your shooting." How marvelous. if he had been available they might have read the script! By the 5th reply that was almost word for word from every agent I contacted I decided that this is a sentence that the Evil Agents Guild came up with at their annual meeting back in the 1800s and thought was polite enough yet firm enough to get rid of any short filmmakers who won't make them any money. That's the unhelpful. As for the stupid - I sent out a casting call asking specifically for a male actor and received a reply telling me that "Mary" would be a great option for me to contact...

Pay your principal actors: Not just because it shows value to their work but also it's good for you. It gives you a reputation (hopefully) that you're serious about your work. By paying you are also, effectively making a contract with your talent and they are far less likely to bail on you or mess around. The actors who want paying are also probably the ones you want to work with.


Direct some theatre: I was so thankful that I was able to direct at Stockton Arc Scratch Night. It was a different environment to direct in, it made me think on my feet and definitely gave me more experience. Just getting as much experience prior to your film really helps you to. Being around performers and seeing how they work sinks into your subconscious and gives you knowledge you will use later

Read "Directing Actors" by Judith Weston: Just read the whole book. Then read it again. She really has some great ideas and techniques for rehearsals and working practically with your actors.

Make sure you know all the cast (if possible): Having 'rehearsals' over tea and cake and general chit chat are really helpful because everyone knows each other before they have to perform together and you become more comfortable with them. It gets rid of a whole lot of awkwardness. Of course, some of your actors who are only coming in for the day of the shoot from a long distance are difficult to meet up with and that's just life. In those cases just be super friendly as soon as you meet them and put them at their ease. Try and keep it professional though. The more you joke around the less authority you'll have. Find a balance.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Final Film Project

In 2 weeks time I will be picking up the equipment I booked out and getting ready to start filming "51 Percent."

I hoping that the age old saying planning is half the battle comes true. We have spent the last two months in pre-production, sorting cast, locations, props, scheduling, budget, fundraising, storyboarding and crew. This week we have a few rehearsals and then we just have to do it.

I keep saying to myself, I don't care what happens during the shoot, I need to get these scenes in the bag. I also want this to be fun. It's a fun story. It's essentially a light-hearted story and it's about growing up. Yes, it is our final project and a lot of our grades rest on it being good, but if it becomes deadly serious and we can't have fun, that will reflect in the final product.

Looking back, I am amazed things have come together as they have. Tomorrow night, I have a group of girls coming round so I can show them the restaurant scene and what the dancing involves. We also have 2 professional belly dancers willing to take part in the scene. It's exciting.

So...roll on 18th March. I look forward to working with you.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


I have to say I find Mick's lecture's very interesting. It is a subject I have never bothered to look at before. How you appeal to different groups of people with your product is quite fascinating. I suppose, ultimately, it's just another way of analysing human behaviour.

For example, we were showed a few different advertisements for Nike.

Aimed at women who are busy but want to run: career driven woman, mothers

Then there's this

It took a little while for this one to sink in.

"The only thing worse than going to the ballet, is going to the ballet to watch your son."

Wow. So in one sentence Nike have managed to say a) Ballet is for girls b) Any boy who does ballet must have something wrong with him c) a man doing ballet isn't really a man d) all fathers would hate to see their son doing ballet

Notice the tiny little writing down there in the corner 'Raise a champion" or maybe it says "Raise a champ" - I think it's curious how the page curls just right to lose the 'ion' off the word...

From a marketing point of view it's probably one of the best. 

  • It plays on emotions. 

  • It plays on a parents emotions

  • It plays on a man's emotion (which I find are far more set and longer lasting than women's)

  • It plays on a value that has been created in a persons upbringing - something very hard to change or break

  • It plays on the notion that 'if you are different you won't be cool'

  • It plays on peer pressure

  • It plays to a (I'm guessing) largely religious, church-going group of 'manly' men who read "Wild at Heart" (To be a hero, to be a warrior, to live a life of adventure and risk -yuk!) and believe that having manly man times with other men is the answer to being a man. There are a lot of that type living in America. 
So, I guess what I am learning is that marketing really can be ruthless. You just have to view getting your product out as a way of exploiting people's beliefs, emotions and values and you'll create a great marketing plan. 

Of course, there is always plain funny and sexy too...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Back to School: Final Project Presentation

This blog has been neglected for a while. I don't think I have ever needed a holiday so much. Over the Christmas break I got up late, painted and sketched, watched films and in general...did nothing. I forced myself to do no university work until after New Years day.

Final Project Presentation

I had my Final Project Presentation yesterday at 9.30 a.m. I had practised the other day in front of my parents and my husband, which is a lot more intimidating then doing it in front of lecturers and fellow students. Family see right through you. Yesterdays presentation went well. From where I was standing it did anyway. I think I said everything I wanted to and I felt able to answer the questions afterwards. My video was in the wrong format for the PC I was presenting on so it didn't play. I'm hoping we don't get marked down for technical issues though. I did test a lot. Just forgot about PC-Mac hatred.

Will only know once the mark is back I suppose. Warren and Mick made the environment very friendly and relaxed so that helped. Warren even brought in posh chocolates.

Careers Advice

Today we had our MIM 3 lecture which was all about careers advice. I enjoyed the lecture. Well, I say I enjoyed it, I did, it was a very informative, helpful lecture on how to look for a job and what we should be doing now leading up to graduation. The problem is, I just don't have that career drive that everyone else seems to.

I want to write and direct films, yes. At least I'm pretty sure I still do. I just don't want a career. I don't want to climb the ladder. I don't want to be able to say I work for ITV or Channel 4 or the BBC. I want to earn enough to live off when I need to and hopefully earn that by doing the things I enjoy doing., being creative, storytelling, making films. At the risk of sounding like a wandering artist, I just want to express myself.

Over the last couple of years, with the help of university I have come to the conclusion that the media industry is not something I want to dive headfirst into. I'd rather hover on the outskirts, doing my thing. Freelancing possibly, maybe starting up my own company.

Today in the lecture we were asked to think about what questions we would ask someone in a high position in the media industry if we had the opportunity of networking with them. Some of the typical questions were, "How did you start out?" "What do you wish you had done differently?" "How do you go about hiring people?"

I thought about what I would like to ask that person. "How much time do you have during the week for your family?" "Have you made compromises for your job you wish you hadn't?" "Are you happy?" "Does this company respect the importance of family?" "Are you still in the job you always wanted to be in?" "Do you ever regret taking that promotion?"

Maybe I want to be the next Michael Parkinson.

But those are a few questions I would be interested to know the answer to.


The current issues essay is also going well. I had another spurt of energy in writing it the other day. It just needs a bit more restructuring and citing references.

In 5 months all this will be over.

Only problem is I have a short film to shoot, edit and submit during those 5 months...

Final Film

I have started the storyboarding process. It's going slow but steady. I'm also just trying to figure out ways of making the shooting less complicated location wise and casting is proving slightly difficult. There are not many English speaking Turkish guys in their early 20s hanging around Middlesbrough.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lots of Turkey!

I may be in Turkish overload at present. The two assignments I am spending a lot of time with at the moment are both centred around Turkey and Turkish culture. 

My Final Project is about a half-English, half-Turkish girl who is trying to make herself belong through belly dancing. 

My dissertation is all about the identity of Turkish Cinema and where it is headed. 

Final Project

So here is a slight revision of the original synopsis. A few things have been simplified and explained after pitching it to a couple of people. 

I've lost the panic attacks, the emphasis on the strained relationship with her father and her mother dies later in Asli's life, giving her more of a connection with her Turkish side.


Asli is a 16 year old girl whose Turkish mother died 7 years ago leaving her alone with her father, who she thinks doesn't understand her and little or no contact with her Turkish heritage.

Asli is going out with a young Turkish boy, Murat, whose family wants nothing to do with her because she is not fully Turkish and are constantly putting pressure on Murat to give her up. After seeing a group of Turkish girls dancing at a party for the first time, Asli decides that she can prove she is just a bit more Turkish than English by learning to dance as well as they can. She will prove she is "51%." 

While Murat slackens off seeing her, she teaches herself to dance and eventually performs at a party where Murat and his family will be in the hope that Murat's family will accept her. Although everyone accepts she can dance as well as or even better than a Turk, Murat's family still don't want her involved with their son. Asli then discovers that they have betrothed Murat to a Turkish girl in Turkey, which means he is as good as married. Despite being heartbroken, Asli has found peace with her identity and sense of belonging through her dance. 

Films That Deal With Interracial Romance

The Joy Luck Club

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?

To Do List

  • Finish the script! (*Getting there!)

  • Casting! (*no luck yet)


I have been analysing a few films for this essay, which I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying. After having lived in Turkey for many many years, I am amazed at how much I am learning about the politics and history that I did not know before. It has given me a huge insight into why some things are the way they are and why I have experienced certain reactions to seemingly harmless actions, such as listening to a certain style of music. Everything has hidden connotations. 

One of the films I have been analysing is "Dedemin İnsanları" (My Grandfather's People) directed by Çağan Irmak. It is a truly beautiful film, easy to watch and deals with the subject of nationality, belonging and prejudice in a very warm, friendly way. 

A more difficult watch is "Lal Gecesi" (Night of Silence), which centres around the wedding night of a 13 year old girl to a 60 year old man, forced to marry each other by two feuding families as an offering of peace. The girl, afraid of what is going to happen, tries to appease her new husband as he wrestles with the pressure of tradition and his own sense of how wrong the situation is. Apart from it being painfully slow, the subject is painful to watch. No action is ever taken yet the audience is constantly waiting and dreading the fate of this fragile, child bride.