Category Archives: Film making

Finishing Emmi

It’s been a busy start to the year for our latest project Emmi but we have finally finished work on the film. The last slog is often the hardest!

In terms of finishing the film it’s been:

  • Music composing (I’ll no doubt expand more on this in a future post)
  • Special Effects (thanks to frequent collaborator Jim Gwilliam)
  • Creating titles
  • Colour Grading (thanks to Daniel Mac-Gregor Gill)
  • Sound Mixing (thanks to Oxford Audio Post Production who have given us a lovely 5.1 surround mix)
  • Creating a DCP (This is a new thing for me. Pleased to say that the digital projection file works – thanks to The Phoenix Picturehouse in Oxford for letting us test this).

Of course the work does not end here, we are currently developing material to help us promote the film – including:

  • The Trailer
  • The Poster
  • The Website

We also will need to work on Festival submissions. We’ll update you with these things in due course, but for now here is the first look at the Poster for the film:

Emmi Poster
To follow live developments on this project, future projects and for any film-making discussion – please follow our new Twitter account here:

https://twitter.com/fernyfilm

Deafening silence

You would be forgiven for thinking I’d left my blogging days long behind! I haven’t – it’s just been ridiculously busy! Now that certain milestones (or is that millstones) have cleared I am able to do some composing and film making once more.

We are in the final stages of completing our short film (this was rather shockingly filmed over two years ago). In October I met with Susie Stead (the writer/producer) and we gave ourselves a deadline of finishing the film “before the end of 2016”, the reality is I’d like it finished it even earlier.

This period of inactivity has been helpful in allowing us to reflect with a completely fresh perspective. The most significant change is we have renamed the title from “The Choice” to “Emmi” (the character which the film revolves around). We felt the original title no longer represented the film properly and we wanted something which was short and snappy!

Emmi Title

The film edit is locked but there are a number of post-production elements still to finish: visual tweaks, colour grading, sound. In terms of the sound we are working with Oxford Audio Post Production. They have worked on projects including the Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and the forthcoming Netflix “A Series of Unfortunate Events”.

The aim will be to take the film on the festival circuit in 2017, exciting times ahead!

The Production Process

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to give a talk about covering “The Production Process” at Film Oxford. Like many I feel nervous talking in front of an audience. They say you should do something each day which scares you, so I agreed to give the talk for an hour or so. One of the problems creating the talk was knowing how experienced the audience would be and how much information to cover. I decided to fall back on earlier experiences of filmmaking and focus predominately on pre-production.

The Production Process
If pre-production is well planned then hopefully the rest of the production should all go to plan (at least until post production). There was a dazzling array of talent in the audience (many who were specialised and had years of experience). I tried to overcome my initial nerves to deliver a candid and hopefully useful talk. Whilst some of the context may be lost I’ve included my slides here. I hope any other filmmakers reading will find some of this information useful.

Download The Production Process Talk Slides by Andrew Carslaw

Cityscape 9

Recently I had the privilege to work alongside Artist Gareth Jones (1965). Gareth studied Fine Art during the mid 80’s before moving on to varied projects such as a new edition of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (with Four Corners Books) and a solo exhibition at the Milton Keynes Gallery. In 2006 he received a Paul Hamlyn Award for Visual Arts.

It was quickly apparent that Gareth influences are Utopian architecture, in particular Milton Keynes where he grew up as a child. In 2011 he produced a short film entitled “Looking for Milton Keynes“.

Spending time in Oxford provided him with the opportunity to explore this further. Rather than focusing on the traditional sandstone views of Oxford, Gareth wanted to showcase the city’s modernism, a side often overlooked.

Cityscape 9 - Viewing gallery

The end result is part meditative science fiction travelogue steeped in mid-21st century pop-culture and part art-house (in the style of La Jetée). If you are unfamiliar with La Jetée, its director Chris Marks didn’t have money to shoot on film and instead used black and white photographs to tell the story (with music and a voice over). La Jetée would go on to form the inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s film Twelve Monkeys.

We decided to use a similar stylistic approach but with colour. I admired Gareth’s photographs taken from his tiny Olympus pocket-cam (the way he used composition, geometry and the contrasts between light and shadows). The rest of the film (scripting, sound recording, audio sound-scape, editing) all needed to come together very quickly being as Gareth was planning to show the film with his exhibition.

Hopefully we succeeded in showcasing a less familiar (and occasionally alien) side of the Oxford city landscape.

(Vimeo link: Cityscape 9)

An unfortunate sequence of events

Despite my best intentions (and claims) that I will never edit another film I’ve directed I’m back at it again. Unfortunately the original editor (being in a similar situation to me) didn’t have time to devote to the project. It’s now been about half a year since we filmed The Choice. To be fair, I should have chased harder. On the other-hand, it’s been several months and I’ve now dropped a lot of the baggage swimming around in my head during the production phase. In fact, I’ve rekindled my love of editing (at last I can see the forest for the trees).

The semi-frustrating part is that I’ve had to start right from the beginning again (would have been easier if Adobe Premiere was more accommodating with different versions – it seemingly supports Final Cut better than its own software). I began with what I believed would be the hardest scene to edit (it came together reasonably painlessly). As is so often the case with editing a couple of the seemingly innocuous scenes caused more grief. I’m now on the cusp of having an assembly edit (around 16 minutes).

Editing The Choice

I won’t delve into editing specifics for now but I will revise my original claim. I’m not going to edit another film I’ve directed unless I’ve given it a reasonable “cooling-off” period so I can look with fresh eyes.

Day 25: Christmas Teaser

Well sadly there just wasn’t enough interest in the Christmas song (thanks to those who did vote however). In place of this – I’ll share the teaser I previously mentioned on Day 18. It’s only rough but features some new music and I hope you enjoy the very first glimpse into the project. Meanwhile I’d love to know what you think, so please feel free to leave a comment below. And with that, I wish you all a very merry and peaceful Christmas!

First teaser for The Choice

 

Day 12: Crossing over

Most familiar with filming know about “Crossing the line” (also known as the “180 degree rule”). I won’t cover this in great detail but essentially when doing reverse angles and cutting between the shots if the alternate camera angle crosses “the line of sight”, the characters will flip sides which is unsettling to the viewer.

See an example in more detail here. You can also see how Stanley Kubrick used this to good effect to create unease and a sense of duality for a character on The Shining here.

This doesn’t apply only to actors, you should also consider doorways, windows, props, etc. In most cases, it easy to know how to do this with one or two characters (such as the popular over the shoulder reverse shots). But the more people or elements introduced, the more difficult it will be (you can go slightly mad even just trying to figure out something which seems deceptively simple). Of course you can also “cross the line” with camera movements as well. If you factor filming in confined spaces (let’s just say a narrow corridor for argument’s sake!) – it can also be impossible to set the camera up where you need it to be to make everything work correctly. Pretty much all of this applied to us.

The Choice Opening Scene

We did however use the trick of “cheating the eye line”. For example if you have one character looking at another, you can make them “appear” to be looking at each other when in actual fact they might be looking at the light on the ceiling or the door handle. The illusion still works when cut together because you are drawn to a single person’s eye-line.

Thank goodness I also storyboarded the opening stairwell scene for Emmi, I suspect it might have been an editing minefield if not (apologies for the terrible art below).

The Choice: Storyboarding

It acted as a sanity check for me and also helped everyone visualize the requirements in a way that no shot-list can convey.

Directing The Choice