Film Festival Update November 2019

Film festival organising has been quite a ride so far, this will continue as things gather pace! By now the reality, responsibility and enormity of the task ahead has also kicked in.

I have to begin by thanking all of the amazing filmmakers who have already submitted to our festival – your belief in us is what keeps us going! We won’t forget you were with us right from the start! Both the quality and breadth of submissions has been completely inspiring.

We’re now expanding to include an additional venue, this will allow us to show even more films. Our plan is to theme each of the ‘screening blocks’ to give the audience members options as to the type of films they would like to watch. Unfortunately we aren’t going to be able to show every submission but unlike most festivals – we will provide feedback if a project hasn’t been selected (if the filmmaker requests it). This and our beautiful surroundings are just a couple of the smaller things which we hope make us ‘that little bit different’. We are also keen to promote local talent, so if you are a filmmaker and live in Oxfordshire – please get in contact!

It’s not just the venue which has expanded, our team has also. We’ve got a few new members joining us who are helping to pull everything together!

Original OXISFF team

Our original OXISFF team are now starting to expand along with the Festival

The expansion means we can now also invite guest speakers to give us insight into their filmmaking practices and experiences. One such person is Phil Beastall who’s recently gone viral for his short film ‘Love is a gift’ which has been picked up by the media for upstaging this year’s expensive Christmas adverts. (side note: thrilled Natalie Martins is also getting recognition for her role working on this project). We’ve also received an acceptance from an Academy Award winner who is planning to give a short talk (feel free to speculate who this is). We’ll announce further details nearer the time.

Meanwhile – there is a lot of work to do and lots of exciting times ahead.

To find out more or submit to the festival, please visit our FilmFreeway page here.

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Oxford International Short Film Festival

Well, I promised a big announcement today, I suspect the title gives it away! After spending most of last year as filmmakers on the film festival circuit, we’ve decided we should now have a go at organising one! To be fair, we’ve already done this on a smaller scale (we just weren’t aware this was essentially what we were doing!).

The big day will take place on Saturday 23rd March 2019 at St John’s College located in the heart of Oxford’s city centre. Films will be played in the newly refurbished auditorium (recently announced as an Architects Journal Retrofit Finalist). A huge thank you to the College for allowing us to use this beautiful and unique venue!

St John's College auditorium

St John’s College Auditorium. Photo credit: David Fisher

Here is the official blurb from the official website:

‘The inaugural Oxford International Short Film Festival (OXISFF) celebrates the diversity and creativity of short films. OXISFF is located in the heart of the historic university city, on the same road where Inspector Morse, CS Lewis, and JRR Tolkien famously all enjoyed a tipple, a mere stone’s throw from Hogwarts’ Dining Hall.

We believe short films are an art form which deserve to be experienced in unique and beautiful surroundings, on a large screen with an enthusiastic audience. The festival will be held in the beautiful grounds of St John’s College at The University of Oxford in the College’s newly refurbished auditorium. Films will be shown throughout the day, during the evening there will be an awards ceremony before we retire to the College bar.

We are looking for great fictional stories which stir the emotions, have strong characters, and unique voices or evocative worlds. The awards will be judged by a panel of local filmmakers prior to the event across a range of categories. All eligible film submissions will be considered for the Best Short Film award. Submissions can also be entered into 17 additional categories. Film Submissions should be made on FilmFreeway.’

St John's College Gardens

St John’s College: Library and Gardens

If there are any filmmakers out their reading this blog, then please get in contact – it would be fantastic to be able to consider your latest short film.

For more information visit one of the pages below and please do follow us to keep up to date on the latest festival developments:

Speed scoring

So far this week I’ve only showcased stand-alone music tracks. As a filmmaker, the area which interests me the most is mixing music to picture. Below are a couple of recent examples of this. I’m not seasoned by any means, but these exercises made me appreciate the pressure film composers find themselves under. Music is generally added as one the last element in a production, usually just at the point when energy, money and time have all disappeared. Worse still, everyone seems to love the music when they hear it, but before long they want to start changing things – often people with little-to-no musical knowledge. It’s little wonder so many composers suffer exhaustion and mental disorders!

My first “speed scoring” effort was for a composing competition. I basically only had a day to create the tune. I’m pretty happy with the result considering the time constraints. This said I was a little miffed when they decided to change the goal-posts and extend the deadline by several days (this was just after I submitted the track). There is no denying this track would have greatly benefited from the additional time to improve the clarity of the mix. This said, it was still a useful exercise even if I wouldn’t rush out and do it again.

My second ‘speed-scoring’ experience came about when I was asked to make a video for an art exhibition. Once again, everything was left until two days before the opening (I only had an hour to prep, film and interview everything, after which the window of opportunity was gone). As if the lack of preparation for filming wasn’t stressful enough, the next problem was finding some music to edit against. I decided rather than spent the time trying to find the right tune – why not just write one? Which is exactly what happened.

I hope some of you will tune back in tomorrow for an exciting announcement!

Eye Spy Part 2

Here are a couple of new tracks which probably fit together in the “spy mould”.

His Name Is Bond

The first track ‘Clever Girl’ was intended as an underscore building piece. I had some procedural/hacking montage going on in my head whilst composing, one where the main character is cracking a techno-conundrum or uncovering vital evidence. This one came together quickly – helped by the fact I was exploring some of my downloaded Noiiz libraries (recommended to anyone who likes playing with musical loops). I changed some loop pitches and distorted + mangled things for a more grungy feeling, the majority was still composed in a traditional manner.

(direct link: https://soundcloud.com/satorious/clever-girl)

The second track is actually my most recent track, one which clearly has a James Bond slant. I was just noodling away at the keyboard for fun and this was the end result. I’m going to confess I’m not really a huge fan of the last couple of Thomas Newman Bond scores. He is great at the subtle stuff, but not so great at giving Bond a confident swagger (unless he falls back on David Arnold’s orchestration of The Name’s Bond, James Bond). There is of course usually an exception to a rule, this being the opening track to Spectre. Anyway, I really wanted to bring back a bit of that cool John Barry/David Arnold swagger. Enjoy!

(direct link: https://soundcloud.com/satorious/his-name-is-bond
if you haven’t already, check my other Bond track out here)

Tiny Steps

Following on yesterday, I present a small track called Tiny Steps. This was written for my wife’s birthday and also to demonstrate Spitfire Audio’s British Drama Toolkit to other composers. The flute and piano melody were added in later, the lead instruments in the toolkit aren’t really expressive enough (but they are great for sketching ideas down quickly).

In contrast to Tiny Steps, I’ll also share another track called Attack Of The Kroutons (thanks to Jim Gwilliam for the lofty naming). For some reason I’ve not this shared this older track before. It was intended as some sort of B-movie monster dance track – along the style of Brainbug – Nightmare (which I’ve always been a fan of).

This track is really a companion piece of sorts to Diggin’ Dirt, one of my earlier tracks. As a track, it was an absolute pain to mix. Being honest I’m not entirely happy with end-result! Perhaps the fact it’s not right lends it more authenticity to the original source inspiration.

I rather like the idea of filming a cheesy music video (ala Brainbug) to accompany this, and perhaps giving the the track a nicer mix (being as I’m now a little better at mixing than I was a year ago). A future project perhaps?

Stay tuned!

It’s been ages since my last blog post, lots has been happening behind the scenes (expect a few announcements soon).

I’ve also started composing music again and contributing on the VI Control forum (which has many insanely talented members and high-profile film composers such as Hans Zimmer and Charlie Clouser). The forum really is an excellent place for upcoming film composers to talk online, I’ve learned a lot since joining.

For me, composing brings a tremendous buzz and sense of joy. That said I’m glad I’m a hobbyist: when you are not feeling ‘in the zone’ it can be absolutely debilitating. Composers often question their abilities and suffer other problems such as sleep deprivation and stress. There is a recognised link between creatives and mental illness, especially composers. Even some of the greats like Bartòk, Mussorgsky, Schostakovich, and Tchaikovsky are believed to have suffered mental disorders of various descriptions. My broken finger has allowed me to take a break (bad pun) from composing and to rediscover it. Once the joy wears off I’ll step away from keyboard again. But for now – all is good!

As I’ve not posted for a while, I will share a new tune each day this week before making a ‘big announcement’. Stay tuned!

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Love thy neighbour – Stills

Good morning! Before we really get started on the post-production phase for Love Thy Neighbour, I though I’d post some (low quality) test snapshots taken from our final take. Enjoy and follow progress on the project here