Last Thursday was the monthly 10×10 event where filmmakers gather to talk film, network, showcase and gather feedback about their projects. The event has an Oxford slant but any filmmaker is welcome to attend.
Kicking off the line-up, I offered to give a 20 minute chat about making Spare Change and screen a rough cut. It provided some useful feedback and I think overall the film is heading in the right direction. Showcasing to other filmmakers is even tougher than showing “your baby” to a general audience. Why? They are far more likely to be more critical, in particular about the technical side which most others would likely to ignore. The most important questions I needed to know was “Did you understand it”, “did it hold your attention”. With a sigh of relief, a “yes” to both! Continuity gaffes in the edit went unnoticed, which I hope is a sign that people were following the characters and the story more.
Next up was called a 6min short called Bound made by Michael Hawkes as part of the OFVM shooting video course. This was fully completed project unlike Spare Change – but it provoked an interesting discussion afterwards. Michael was the only personal who was at odds with the technical side of the Spare Change rough-cut. I am thankful for him to highlighting his criticisms. I take them onboard – one particular comment I am going to rectify in the final edit.
Michael understands all the technical sides of a film-camera and is clearly gifted with this aspect. Indeed it was a gorgeous film to look at and had a supremely strong opening – hooking the audience right from the start. Yet, I personally feel it soon got bogged down with the technical artistry to the detriment of story dynamic. The upshot was by the end – the majority of the audience seemed confused about what the film was actually trying to say and several people admitted they lost interest. It made sense after we were told by Michael after the film, but it wasn’t obvious during the film itself. The editor in me was shouting “cut down, re-focus and make it more concise”. But why not make your own mind up?
If nothing else this re-enforces the point that you can get away with a couple of technical aspects so long as the story and character dynamics keep an audience captivated. It doesn’t work the other way around. Good storytelling is the single most important thing!
Speaking of good story-telling, one of the highlights of the evening for me was the showing of Medieval Hunger, a charming CGI animation made by Ryan Harrison and Monica Nanglu. This took about 6 months to complete with a core team of 5 people behind it. It took a simple idea and was extremely accomplished. The main criticism (easily fixed) would be that the opening/ending needed some editing work. These things could be easy fixed and well done to both Ryan and Monica – I found this simply delightful.
Other things showcased items were:
A trailer shown in tribute for local film-maker Gordon Wilson who sadly died of a heart-attack aged 47 just before the 10×10 event. Gordon had a tough life himself and concentrated on making films about people marginalised who are in society. This film was made in collaboration with another Oxford Film-maker James Bluemel and follows the abusive relationship between two alcoholics over 66 months in Oxford – not for everyone, but very powerful stuff indeed!
Martin Lipson showed part of a documentary he produced (I believe it was called Leaving Home). This was the charting the history of his Grandfather who disappeared for several years for reasons apparently unknown. He managed to trace things back and uncover some of the facts which lead up to and followed this disappearance. This was a very personal piece. The thing which I particularly loved about this was what a wonderful gift will be to share with future generations of the family.
This video campaign aims to open a new secondary school in Oxford, something which long overdue and hasn’t happened for far too long. It was made by local film-maker/campaigner Zoe Broughton and teacher Eylan Ezekiel. You felt for Eylan, he is very animated and easy to talk with in real-life, used to talking in a larger group. Yet he openly admitted it is a whole different world once a camera is directed at him (something I think most can relate with). This was punctuated with nice clips of hand-drawn pictures.