The last ten months have been a real game changer for me. The hardest lessons I have learned have been you cannot control everything and how to manage my time. You could even argue I am still learning these two. To elaborate this further, I can say I have learned to delegate tasks and trust my colleagues more. I tend to give myself too many jobs and as a result I get overworked and run out of valuable time. For one of these projects, I ended up writing, producing, directing, editing, and sound mixing. That was simply an unnecessary work load. It was a waste of energy and the project suffered as it didn’t end up being as polished as I originally envisioned. It is also clear to me that I need to keep my ideas contained and in focus. I tend to try to do too much and involve too many different concepts, which leads to confusion and lack of cohesion. Keeping the film themes clear and simple will allow me to develop these further and the complexity and depth comes more organically.
I was also able to speak to industry professionals at different instances at events organised by the Manchester School of Art. They were a fountain of knowledge and I was able to understand what were some of the things I could be doing to make myself more employable as a creative. I was also reassured that being a mature student is a a great advantage rather than a disadvantage. I worried that I was not going to be as appealing as somebody with the same experience, eight years younger than me. Thankfully, the only thing employers care about is character, creativity and professionalism. This has motivated me to focus in excelling in my practice even more. These events also informed me about other things I could do with my skills in the creative world, outside of the obvious options like film and television, and to really feel the importance of networking and collaborating with people from other practices. I had a bit of experience with this whilst doing Unit X on my first year, so it was nice to find out the same rules apply in the real world.
I have also taken a few steps further to make myself more marketeable and decided to set up a website. I used a free engine that was included in my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. In addition to this, I bought a domain with my name for the site I built and a contact email that looks very professional (firstname.lastname@example.org). I am currently in the process of creative some business cards and creating a better looking website. I am certain that this will improve my odds at being employed.
Cinespace 2016 Submission: Starry Skies
This is actually something I was not aware of. Matthew Towers, a colleague from the Manchester School of Art told me all about it last summer and we decided to produce a short film and submit it. The brief was fairly simple, produce a work that captures the spirit of NASA and human exploration of space, whilst making use of footage from NASA’s video archive. We decided to make a personal film about a layman’s connection to the stars. The project was a lot of fun to develop and there were several challenges we had to overcome. It was the first time I was writing, directing, producing and editing a short film. It was also the first time I worked with a child actor, and the first time I tried to mix elements from narrative, experimental and documentary styles. I did a fair amount of research on how to work with children, as I knew it would be challenging. We found our actor through StarNow and him and his mother were an absolute pleasure to work with. They had an incredibly professional attitude, which helped us a lot.
We also worked with a Chilean friend of mine who does VFX for a living. His work was absolutely indispensable, as these beautiful visual effects really held the film together. We also had another colleague from the Manchester School of Art, Callum Kilgarriff, compose the soundtrack.
Music Videos: Kidsmoke’s See The World & Seeing Hands’ It’s True
I had already done some work for Kidsmoke, a band I met at a gig. They were very happy with what we did on their previous video and they wanted me to do their next one. This time, they had recorded a lot of footage of their gigs, driving around and an acoustic session of the song, so it was up to me to edit it and make it look like a music video. This was super challenging as I had to go through a lot of footage and select the best bits for the video. I cut it with the acoustic session they had done of the song and recordings they had from some live performances. After that, I did some colour grading to improve the GoPro/iPhone footage they had and added some filters.
I contacted the guys from Seeing Hands via email, linking my website and previous work. I try to work with bands I really like, as I feel I have to like their music first. They were happy for me to do a video for their single and they wanted me to use archive footage from a particular video on Archive.org. Once I had looked at the video and listened to the song on repeat, I attempted to create a narrative between two plane pilots, flying from opposite sides of the world to meet in the air. I also added vignetting, a projector flicker effect, and film burn to age it up a bit more. I also created some title cards on Photoshop to use at the beginning and end of the video. This brought the whole idea together. They loved the project and I am proud to say the video has nearly 29,000 views on YouTube.
Applying to film festivals
Besides submitting ‘Starry Skies’ to the Cinespace16 film festival, I have also submitted ‘Only When I Miss You’ to several film festivals all over the world. The hardest part was getting the confidence to make the first move and just apply. This project was developed for the Exploration unit at Manchester School of Art and after receiving some feedback I decided to re-cut it and get it out there. So far, the film has been selected to play at the Roma Cinema DOC Festival in Italy, in the Experimental category.
Applying to the Student Filmmaker Award 2017
I saw a flyer for this year’s Student Filmmaker Award/Insight Film Festival: A Newer Hope at the School of Art and decided to do further research. The brief was asking for a treatment and script for a short film regarding our personal interpretation of the sentence “a newer hope”. I had a first draft of a script regarding gender roles in children and decided to do some more work on it and write a treatment to submit it. I am looking forward to hearing their feedback.