I didn’t expect us to have such an intense session of short films – but we did.
Film 1. “Flights”: UK by Jamie Stone
This film had a very nice soundtrack, the film itself didn’t have any lines, there were just three or four people starring in it. It was all about the sounds, music, close-up shots and lightning. It had a twisted ending and it could actually go on for ages – it had a looping element – so it not only ended with the same shot as it started with, but it could continue like this forever.
What I learned from it:
- Films are all about visuals. The less dialogue there is, the better. Lightning, sound, music and camera position are already too many means of expression, and there should really be a big story if you need to add dialogue.
- Even if you are a one-man army in producing your film, it’s always a good thing to have a list of people in the credits section. They don’t really need to exist, so you can just make up a list of names. It looks unprofessional and kind of antisocial if there is only one name in the credits – it looks as if you have no friends 🙂
Film 2. “Get Off My Land”: UK written and directed by Douglas Ray
This film was probably taken only in one day, in a field somewhere in the UK, using the daylight with probably no extra expenses for lightning equipment. [Link]
Offtopic: definition of short films in terms of duration:
- US definition for short feature: everything under 50 minutes
- UK definition for short film: a film under 10 minutes
Film 3. “Plum Flower” (part of)
A Chinese film, filmed in Chicago. It had a different approach to the story when compared to European films for example. And, it was a proof that you don’t need to be actually filming in China in order to create a feeling that the story is happening in China.
Film 4. My Uncle Paco: Spain by Tacho Gonzalex
This film had a significantly bigger budget, it was shot on the beach; the authors had reconstructed the looks and style of the 70’s (or at least that’s what the people that have lived in that period say 🙂 ) It featured a little boy in a main role, which rarely is a good idea since kids are tough to film and to act convincingly. But in this film, they had really found a good young actor for the role. On the technical side, the film was shot and edited using fade ins and fade outs – which helps get the feeling of changing episodes and situations, creates a rhythm and in this film’s case, it helped support the 70’s style. [link]
Film 5. “Judas / Spyhole”: France
This was a surreal film with a very big budget, a lot of effort put into special effects and costumes, and generally a very colourful production. It featured big names both in cast and in the technical staff. It was a very technical production, using various intense means of expression. In the way it was edited it somewhat resembled films like Gothica – with long shots, almost like in still photograpy. In terms of style, it reminded me of the film “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”. At a more personal level, the film was very intense in terms of visuals, but, as our tutor Mez Parker pointed out, it had “too much style and too little content”.
What I learned from it:
- It’s not impossible to have big names and experienced professionals even for a smaller, low-budget production. They are sometimes happy to even do it for free, because it’s not their typical work, it’s a different challenge. What is more, when asked how come they were part of an independent production, some of them would just say: “Well nobody usually asks us”. So if you don’t aks, you won’t get 🙂
- Short films are a good way to test the water. For example, if the feature film you are thinking about would deal with controversial problems or even tabu subjects, it’s better to start with a short film to check how people would react to it.
- You should be very cautious while shooting – I noticed a modern EXIT sign in one of the scenes, while the film was supposed to be taking place somewhere in a French parallel reality. It happens all the time with big productions too, for example Gladiator had a huge list of revealing mistakes.
Film 6. “Love You More”: UK directed by Sam Taylor-Wood
It was a classic short film inspired by a song; actually the whole story is happening around the song “Love You More”. It featured a classic reversal: the boy is making a transition from shyness to confidence, while the girl is very confident at the beginning and vulnerable in the end. [Link]