We at the Berry love film. Of course we do! It’s why we make films! We really love short films that have been made by people like us – dreamers that want experience to hone their craft. Therefore we try and watch as many short films as possible. They encourage us that other people are doing what we do. They give us inspiration and ideas when they are great and… they help us know what not to do when they are bed! (eek!)
One of things we strive for are reviews of our films – be they positive or negative. Every constructive review we ever get we take on board. We learn from our mistakes and improve for our next project.
So, as lovers of short films and lovers of reviews, we’ve decided to set up our own short film video reviews! Every couple of weeks, myself (Joe, hello) and Callum are going to review a bunch of short films. A guest reviewer might join us every now and then as well, for a bit of a fresh perspective. Now our reviews are going to be our honest opinions. If something doesn’t work then we’ll say it – but we won’t slag it. Hey that’s a good catchphrase right there. “Say it, don’t slag it!” We’ll say reasons why something works or doesn’t. We’ll praise the highlights and examine the lowlights. But we’ll do it in a friendly way – we know making a film is hard work and a labour of love. We know that everyone is learning and improving so hopefully our reviews will help you to grow as filmmakers.
It’s also going to be great exposure for your film. We’ve currently got well over 10,000 followers on Twitter who we’ll pimp your film out to! So if you’d like to get involved and have your film reviewed by us, please drop us an email email@example.com and send us a link to your film online, or a video file for us to watch. It would be great to get any stills, posters, trailers or video clips too, so we can use them in our video review. I’ll respond when I get your email and let you know when you could expect your review (will be determined by the amount we receive).
Thanks for reading and we look forward to watching your amazing films!
This post was written by Joseph Monahan at http://josephmonahan.wordpress.com
So you’ve checked out part 1 of my A-Z of filmmaking – here’s part two! Hopefully this blog and the links I’ve provided will help you in your filmmaking futures!
Night Conversion! Better known as day to night conversion, using this effect can save you dragging everyone out in the dead of night to get those dark night time shots. The idea seems simple, shoot your fotage during the day then use an effects programme, such as After Effects, to transform it into night. Of course it’s not as simple as it sounds.
We’ve used the day to night technique in our latest short film ‘The Field’ and it’s currently looking pretty cool. Always remember that you need to have it all planned before shooting. For best results you need to capture a washed-out look. An overcast day is perfect. Better still, film it all in shaded areas. Keep away from direct sunlight if possible!
My co-director Callum Smith is better at these types of things than me so go ask him about it. Find him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CallumSmith87
Or let Andrew Kramer show you how it’s done in this great tutorial: http://www.videocopilot.net/tutorial/day_to_night_conversion/
Oscars! Everyone loves the Oscars don’t they? Don’t they? The most important award ceremony in any filmmaker or actors career, the Academy Awards are that grand event that seem so alien to anyone not involved. I personally love the Oscars. I love that it is a celebration of film. Fair enough it is also a celebration of who is wearing the best dress but you can’t have everything!
But the Oscars are a tradition that has been going since 1929 and will continue a lot longer. Check out Total Films best moments from the awards – http://www.totalfilm.com/features/50-greatest-oscar-moments/shaken-and-stirred
Practice! This is a must for your actors and your camera operators. Rehearsals can be put on the back burner. It means another day out of your already busy schedule. But trust me, it is very important. There is nothing worse than getting on set and having to practise everything that could take up a large portion of your time.
The best results for rehearsing with actors is to try and get them in the mind frame of the character. Get them to understand who they are, what they’ve done and then get them to become that character in various situations that are nothing to do with the films story. Get them to improvise a scene set somewhere different, say doing their weekly shop or delivering a large parcel. Then, once they have their character, begin to rehearse the scenes from the film.
As for the camera operators, if you can rehearse on the actual set, get the camera operators to check for shots, distances and movements. Anything that can save you time on the day of the shoot.
Quiet on Set! If you’re a director you need to be in control of everything going on around you, from the actors to the camera operators to the guy at the back of the room picking his nose and texting his wife. But don’t become one of those ‘nightmare’ directors you always hear about. There is a fine line between giving instructions and being bossy. On the same hand you don’t want to be a pushover and let others make the decisions for you.
Raindance have some great tips for directors – http://www.raindance.org/resources/
Raindance! If there is one company that has helped me throughout my filmmaking career it is Raindance. Raindance is essentially a film festival. So get your films submitted to them! They also provide film courses so if you’ve got the spare cash get yourself booked into one and see what you can learn.
The main thing for me from Raindance are their online tips and advice. Take a look at their website: http://www.raindance.org/
Script/Screenplay! There is nothing more important for any film, no matter what the length, than the script/screenplay. It’s the foundations for your film. Without it, it cannot be made. So how do you write a great screenplay? This isn’t an easy question to answer. The truth is that some buggers are born with a great ability to write. You’ll hear many times that to be able to write a good script you need to read lots and lots of scripts. Yes, this is great advice for people who aren’t born with this unnatural ability. And if you are one of these people then get on google and find scripts to read – there are plenty out there. If you are one of the lucky ones then get writing!
Remember that when you’re writing you need to create engaging characters. Even if the situation they’re in is ridiculous, like mutant chickens attacking the streets of Bridlington, the characters involved need to be real and feel real.
I’m not a great one for giving writing advice because I write in a very unconventional way. But check out these great writing tips from Raindance who have got it pretty spot on! http://www.raindance.org/category/indie-tips/screenwriting-tips/
Television! Most of us have one. It’s that rectangular object that is the focus point of every living room. We arrange our chairs to face it. We position our lamp so it doesn’t shine on it. We complain if there is nothing on it to watch yet still flick through the channels ‘just in case’.
Recently there has been a surge of great television – Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, 24, Lost and Touch to name but a few. Television studios are finally getting the budgets to allow them to improve their content. Which is great news for viewers. It is also a great time for television actors who are being allowed to try something new. It also means it’s a great time for writers and filmmakers as their are more opportunities… if of course you’re one of the lucky ones to get that opportunity!
Us! One of the most important things in filmmaking is the ability to work together as a team. Remember there’s no I in team! If you can’t work together with other people then maybe you should get a job that doesn’t involve… well… people. I’m not going to bang on about it. In most jobs you have to work in a team to succeed. Filmmaking is no different.
Volume! Get your sound mixing right or go home! There is no excuse for badly mixed sound. And whilst we’re on the subject of sound, capture the best sound you possibly can on location. Get yourself some good recording equipment – or find someone who already has it and get them on board. Plus you need someone good at using it too! And any sound that doesn’t sound great, has wind interference, background traffic etc, needs to be corrected in ADR. Overdubbing your actors voices may seem like a chore, and you’d be right, but it could save your sound!
There is nothing worse than watching a film with bad sound. Too many times have I watched a short film that has recorded sound via the onboard mic. It makes you seem amateur and no one will want your film!
Here’s some tips on how to record sound on location: http://www.lavideofilmmaker.com/location-sound-recording/location-sound-recording-shotgun-microphone-placement.html
Webseries! The invention of the internet and the creation of sites such as Vimeo or YouTube has it’s downsides (see Y below). It is also however a great place for ideas and what better idea than a webseries? A place for you to make a series that, unlike television, every episode can be any length you want and whatever content you like. Plus we don’t have to get our series actually onto the television in order for people to see it.
I’m not going to put a link to any as everyone has different tastes. All I can say is get searching for some and you’ll find some little gems. You’ll also find some rotters, just like the rot you go through before you find your one true love. But then that’s life!
Xylophone. Only joking – Xtras! I know, I know, extras begins with an ‘e’, but what are you going to do about it? Now at some point in your film you are likely to need extras. We all know what they are – people in the background of your film to convince us that your location is real. Be it nightclub, train station or street. All those friends of yours, and your mum and dad, brothers, sisters, cousins and grannies, at last they come in handy for something! Get them in your film as your extras. Make sure they know however, that a film shoot is a long process and there is a lot of waiting around.
Also make sure they are the right people for the scene. There’s no point have your elderly grandmother sliding down the pole in the nightclub! Another thing to make sure is that they are not wooden on screen. Many people freeze in front of a camera or appear uncomfortable. It is a directors job, or if you’ve a bigger crew, your assistant director’s job to get them acting as naturally as possible.
YouTube! The website that has changed the way we watch video content forever! Love it or hate it, YouTube is hear to stay. Now, the problem with YouTube is that for every brilliant short film you can find on there, you have to sift through a bunch of people falling over, a number of dancing girls in bikinis and a shed load of cats. So how do you stand above the crowd? How do you get your video to those heights of a million views and 50,000 likes? Truth is I have no idea. But the truth also is that if you only want to make content to get hits on YouTube then you need to be taking videos of people falling over, girls in bikinis and cats.
YouTube has created a generation of people who have short concentration spans. It is proved that on average people will only watch a video for a couple of minutes. Then, if the video hasn’t finished, people get bored and move to the next video. It has come to a point where people think they don’t really have the time to watch your half-hour film on YouTube, but will then sit and watch an hours worth of dancing cats.
Stand out, don’t be a sheep – demand great content! Here are some brilliant little short films from YouTube – http://listverse.com/2008/09/06/15-great-short-films/
Zombies! Ok, here’s a major gripe of mine – bad indie zombie films! Yes it’s cheap to make a barrel of fake blood and get your friends dressed up as the undead. The problem with that is, more often that not, they look cheap and that you’ve just got your friends dressed up as the undead – which is fine if you’re just having a bit of fun!
There are plenty of other monsters out there to chose from – or why not even create a brand new monster! If you’re a writer, a storyteller, then you should be able to come up with some sort of new monster idea.
And if you have to do zombies then please try something different! The same with music, make it stand out from the crowd. How can you make your zombie film different to the million other zombie films out there?
The End… unless there are any letters I have missed out?!
If you liked this post, check out Berry Productions on Twitter – https://twitter.com/BerryProduction
This post is borrowed from http://josephmonahan.wordpress.com/
Those following me and Berry Productions on Twitter will no doubt have heard us banging on about our latest short film ‘The Field’. So what’s it all about then anyway? ‘The Field’ is an adventure/horror film starring three excellent young actors. Here is a little blurb for the film to give you a little taster:
“There are many rumours surrounding Old Joe’s Field. There always have been. Rumours about the disappearance of Old Joe’s son long ago. The tales of what could possibly lurk in that field, beyond that fence. The stories of the noises people have heard or the things people have seen there in the dark.
Then there is the challenge. It is a challenge of bravery. Many of the children are doing it. In the dead of night, whoever can stand at the fence to that field the longest is the bravest. It is a challenge that sounds simple, but, as three young friends are about to find out, may not be as easy as it seems. Especially when those rumours may actually be true…”
Finding our locations was a bit tricky. It took us ages to find the most important location, the field itself! We looked at hundreds of locations, none of which could work. They either looked the part but were too close to roads, or only looked good from one angle. Eventually we discovered the little gem below in a small village near to Hull called Brantingham. It has a brilliant fence and an amazing view!
We found a great sweet shop, Megs Sweets, in Hull that had that ‘old fashioned’ feel we were looking for. The owners were really good to us, allowing us to turn their shop into a film set one Sunday after closing time! We used the back of the offices of our good friends at Jenko Marketing to film the back of our pub scenes. We also used cast members houses, my house and my parents houses for other locations needed for the film!
We started filming at the end of November 2012 and have just completed the last major scene, May 2013. We had hoped to have completed production of the film months ago but due to the terrible winter we had, we had to push our deadline back!
Now however, with production complete, we can focus on post-production – the edit, sound effects, music and digital effects. So in other words, now that the cold weather has gone and the sun is shining, we’re going to be stuck inside working on the computer. Typical!
Let me introduce you to some of the amazing people that have been involved in production of our film.
Kane Meaks as Jacob
I met Kane whilst working in his school as a teaching assistant. I taught the children filmmaking techniques and he stood out for his acting skills! Kane brought his own odd uniqueness to the role of Jacob!
Jade was part of my film club at the school I worked in. She in a natural performer, skilled in acting, singing and dancing. Jade was perfect for the role of Sarah and really made the character her own!
Matthew Duncan as Max
Matthew was also a member of my film club. He is very dedicated and a bit of a perfectionist. He was great as the cocky, bullying Max, even though in real life he is such a nice boy!
David Aston as The Shopkeeper
David has worked on numerous short films. We saw him starring in some of our friends films and knew he would be perfect for the role. He brought his experience to the role and was such a professional!
Joanne Gallagher as ‘Mad’ Maddy
Jo auditioned for the role of Maddy. We knew from the instant she started reading the script to us that she would be great for the role. She put her own spin on the character that gave her a complex and mysterious character!
Callum Smith as Eddy Jenkins
Our own Callum has been wanting to try his hand at acting for some time so he tried out for the role of Eddy and did a fantastic job! He pulled off cocky, mean and a bully a little too well!
Katy D’Arcy as Jacob’s Mum
My better half, Katy, is a great actress. She was great as the worried, caring and very loving single mother character. She brought a brilliant sadness to the character that was never intended in the script!
Joseph Monahan – writer, director, editor
Callum Smith – director, editor, composer
Ben Wade – sound
Neil Watling – technical
Carl Greene – still photographer
So there it is. The Field! There is of course much work still to be done in the edit where the magic takes place! Watch this space as we’re in creation of a trailer and some poster art! Please drop me a comment, let me know what you think!
“When I was a child I used to pretend that the Berry was a giant creator above the clouds. He was the ever watching guardian of the world. And he was accompanied by a giant spoon that would rotate around the clouds every hour to tell you the time, and an angry fat guy in a nappy who controlled the weather. Yeah… I was pretty messed up as a child!” – Joseph Monahan, Berry Productions
True story. Now of course the Berry doesn’t sit in the sky, more like on the waves of the internet as we surf through the ever expanding void. Now that void has expanded even more as we at Berry Productions have a new website! Hooray! Please stroll through our pages and find out about some of the cool stuff we’ve done and the even cooler stuff we’re doing! So cool you’ll need to wrap up nice and warm! We’ve made our website here through WordPress so we can make blogs and ramble about things that may or may not be important!
Just wanted to say a big thank you to you for stopping by! As independent filmmakers, we struggle to get our voices heard, or our films watched, through the sea of other indie filmmakers and that gigantic, dangerous ocean that is Hollywood! So that you’ve taken the time to visit our little page means loads to us!
We love feedback! Not that annoying feedback sound from speakers that sometimes intrudes our ears, but feedback from you – film lovers or fellow filmmakers! Please, leave us a comment on anything. Let us know if you like something or if you don’t – but please be constructive! Let us know why you like or don’t like it so we can improve next time!
As I write this, we are working on our newest short film, ‘The Field’. In fact we’re in post-production stages, so not far from finishing! We’re really excited about it and will be posting loads of stuff about it as we hope to get you all excited about it as well!
Live long, prosper, and look up every now and then… you might just see that giant Berry… or a fat guy in a nappy! x