As I am a glutton for punishment, and as I am focusing on continuing my education and mastery of all things film, I have recently signed up and started an online course. The course is run through FutureLearn, and they have a series of free online courses across a range of topics. I have signed up to two courses –
I’m hoping that what I learn in these two courses will help me with my Masters focus, with my freelance producing work, and my work with Action On The Side. I’m looking at online education and pedagogy as part of my upcoming vlogs on filmmaking.
As part of the Digital Storytelling course, one section is on answering the audience’s questions. This comes from a video by Peter Ash, a consultant with the BBC. He says there are four questions the audience asks that you need to know.
Scriptwriters, this is your exercise.
What is the story?
Its type or genre; issue; content. Can you focus your story into one sentence? This is the Topline (in film terms, this is the one sentence logline).
Whose story is it?
Who is the protagonist? If it is unclear whose story we’re seeing, rewrite.
The audience relates to the protagonist, so this builds anticipation and suspense, as the audience asks ‘how will it all turn out?’.
What is the big story question?
This relates to the universal themes of the story. What is it actually about?
How will this story relate to me and my life?
The audience needs to be able to relate and connect to the story. They will put themselves in the situation, imagine themselves in the world, responding to the same issues. This will build a stronger connection to the story.
With these four points in mind, I’d like to invite the people who attend our Scriptwriters On The Side sessions to consider these four questions in particular with their scripts. I know it’s something I’m going to be working on.
The below is my first assignment for the Raindance MA degree. The assignment is to write an introductory blog post on ‘a significant film’.
A Chacun Son Cinéma
The authorial voice in a significant film
The New Zealand International Film Festival. 2008. Sitting in the back of The New Zealand Film Archive cinema. Excitement fills the darkened room. Granted, this could have been mainly from me, about to see something I had been eagerly anticipating. The screen fills with a series of three-minute short films from 35 auteurs from around the world, an anthology of films on Film: a series of love letters to the Cinema.
For my first assignment for my MA programme, I have been asked to write a blog post on ‘My significant film’. This could be the film that compelled me to become a filmmaker; the film that inspired me; a film with deep and resounding significance.
I am not writing about that film. Because I do not have one significant film. There is not one film that compelled me to become a filmmaker, nor is there one film that compelled me to become a Producer. There are many films. Or rather, there is Film.
Instead I am writing about a film that represents FILM, and the love of Film.
This is ‘A Chacun Son Cinéma / To Each His Own Cinema’ (2007). The extended title continues with “ou Ce petit coup au coeur quand la lumière s’éteint et que le film commence”, or “or the beat the heart skips when the lights go down and the film starts” (‘To Each His Own Cinema’, IMDb).
This anthology was produced for the 60th Festival To Cannes as a Love Letter to cinema. The directors were from around the world, giving a global representative voice to the project.The 33 shorts were made by recognisable directors with acclaimed bodies of work; in the case of the Coen and Dardenne brothers, these were directing teams.
Every one of the filmmakers are recognised as an Auteur.
The word auteur in French translates to author; however the academic term ‘Auteur’ bears new meaning. The concept of Auteur was born from Les Cahiers Du Cinéma, a French film criticism magazine, started in 1951 (now online at cahiersducinema.com). In the January 1954 article ‘Une certain tendence du cinéma français’, François Truffaut proposed a ‘politique des auteurs’ – “a policy of focusing criticism primarily upon directors and specifically upon chosen directors whose individuality of style qualified them, in the eye of the Cahiers team, as ‘auteurs’” (Sarris, 1963). Andrew Sarris, in his article ‘Notes On The Auteur Theory in 1962’, shortened and translated this ‘politique des auteurs’ to ‘Auteur Theory’ (Buscombe, 1973).
Auteur Theory bases itself in the idea that an author is the key creative voice in the production of a text; in cinematic terms, this is the director being the author, or auteur, of the film. Les Cahiers du Cinéma stated that not all directors reach the echelon of Auteur, staying within the realm of metteur-en-scène (someone who simply places within the stage), rather than being distinctive and recognisable as an Auteur. Their collection of Auteurs were considered the ultimate list, although regularly revised and revisited. Certain directors met their list of auteurs; these being predominantly European. The critics further extended their analyses to include John Ford, suggesting that his work within the Hollywood Studio System shows a directorial voice despite the system’s restrictions, thus making him an auteur: thereby “Ford” can be both read in the film text and positioned outside it as author (Wollen, 1972).
Back in the Film Archive in 2008, the screen opened on an empty cinema. A static camera one-shot from the back of the cinema. A film plays on the diegetic screen with actor’s off-screen voices. An ethereal surreal horror film about a dancer. Giant scissors cut the on-screen screen. Images exploded from the screen into the cinema. It is hard to describe. The short faded to black. The audience erupted into applause and laugher when all was explained with the following…
A David Lynch Film
Lynch’s avant-garde surrealist style was evident in his short, ‘Absurda’ (Lynch, 2007); if not during the short, then once his name appeared on screen, for those who know his oeuvre.
Other films were similarly recognisable by their directors: Ken Loach’s naturalistic conversation in ‘Happy Ending’ (Loach, 2007); Lars von Trier’s violence in ‘Occupations’ (von Trier, 2007); Wong Kar-Wai’s luscious visuals in ‘I Travelled 9000 km To Give It To You’ (Wong, 2007). The entire oeuvre is a representation of the Auteur Theory. Here we have master filmmakers showing their craft in concise three-minute short films.
The most significant of the shorts was, for me, that of a filmmaker whom I have studied since first studying film: the quintessential Australasian female auteur, the only female and the only Antipodean to have been invited to make a short as part of this project, Kiwi director, Jane Campion. From the opening of her short ‘The Lady Bug’ (Campion, 2007), I recognised her work. It is sometimes hard to dictate what makes a text recognisably of one person. For me, it could have been the colours, the shot composition, the female character, the location (a school hall similar to all those I have ever been in). I don’t know. But what I do know is that the short was recognisably a Campion film.
‘A Chacun Son Cinéma’ represents, for me, an opportunity to see the Auteur Theory in practice. These directors are masters in their field. The anthology is a masterclass in directorial voice, an exercise in mastery of the short form from talented authors. It was an introduction to new storytellers, as a taster of their style, as well as an opportunity to revisit the work of known filmmakers. I recommend ‘A Chacun Son Cinéma’ for every short film maker to see how it is done.
The workshop was designed for those of us who have recently moved into film and tv freelancing. I recently quit my day job to be a full-time film producer. The freelance life is scary — I live in fear of months where I might not be able to pay my rent or afford to eat — but in surmountable from having a network of people in the same boat.
A music video that I AC’d on recently has been released. Directed by Sophie Gueydon, DP’d by Hugo Glendinning, shot in Hoxton.
Check it out … ‘FREE‘ by Travis Bürki
Free (Travis Bürki) – Directed by Sophie Gueydon – DOP : Hugo Glendinning – Editing : Sophie Gueydon and Hugo Glendinning – Assistant and light : Patricia Hetherington et Rosie Grant. Song Produced by David Keler – Mastering by Chab at Translab – New EP “Serendipity” (75Music) – Released on 29th Aug. 2015
I’m a social person. I like interacting with others. I like socialising. I have a lot on my plate, which includes, sadly, some film projects that are sitting with me to edit.
Now, when one has editing projects to do, sometimes sitting down at a computer for hours on end to get the edit done isn’t the most fun thing to do — especially when one has been working on a computer all day. Getting the motivation to sit down for a few hours of uninterrupted editing time is half the battle.
So, I concocted an Editing Party.
You know how some scriptwriting groups get together in a cafe, write for 45 minutes, have a break and talk, write for another 45 minutes …? it’s exactly like that. Dedicated editing time, 15 minute break to chat, dedicated editing time, 15 minute break. The result is that you get the socialising, and someone to ask if you hit a wall or need feedback, and you get the peer pressure to be always editing — it’s not good if the person you’re editing with looks across and you’re on 9gag or facebook!
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsZsolti and I had the first editing party. It worked well, so we’re going to have another one soon. And, because I’ve started, I’m editing again today. MOAR EDITING! Get the films done!
I’m currently finishing some shorts I shot with my class in March, a pitch video for a short film that I am producing, and the first of my vlogs on filmmaking for Action On The Side. I’ve now got Premiere Pro Creative Cloud on my Mac, so I’m also learning the ins and outs of that.
‘Copper’ is screening in the New Zealand Deaf Short Film Festival 2015.
Support this awesome festival featuring brilliant work by Deaf filmmakers – $10 entry, at Ngā Taonga (The Film Archive). 4th – 6th September. Copper is screening multiple times across the weekend. Director Jack O’Donnell is taking part in a Q&A session on the Friday night screening (4th September). Check out nzdsff.co.nz for the programme and booking info.
Jack was recently interviewed by Arts Access Aotearoa about his recent trip to the CINEDEAF Film Festival in Rome with Copper. Read the article here.
Our Mentoring Scheme is designed for women who have more than 5 years experience working in TV, film or digital production. We welcome anyone working in editorial, craft or business roles in any genre.
Over six months, selected participants receive six hours of mentoring contact with an experienced industry figure, combined with an intensive programme of seminars, training workshops and networking opportunities.
One of the take aways from the event was even if you aren’t eligible to apply for the program yet, you should still complete the application form. There are people who have answered the questions on the form and solidified their career plans. I know I’m about to message the women filmmakers that I know and get us to all do it.
If you’d like to apply for the program, you have until midnight Sunday.