Category Archives: Film Oxford Production Group

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

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Crossing the Threshold

Recently I met The Choice production team to discuss our assembly edit. Most film-makers will tell you this is usually a bit depressing. Once the niceties were dispensed with, I started to get information back from the crew about what worked and what didn’t. I set about correcting things enthusiastically. Feeling good, I went to the Guerilla Filmmaker’s Masterclass and got chatting to some of the editors. More feedback:”The opening doesn’t work”, “The ending doesn’t work”, “Needs even faster pacing”. Most of it was candid and invaluable advice, with only a few subjective comments.

I went back to the edit suite for a seismic shake-up.

SubEdit

I started to play around with the structure.  Out went most of my favourite shots including the beloved single take (pacing). The context of the story was changing. I even removed an entire scene. All in all – a pretty brutal experience! Strangely it now feels streamlined and I’m happier. I’ve also just reached my goal: getting the runtime under ten minutes. Who knows – it might not be too much longer before I can focus on the next set of post-production headaches: sound fixing and colour grading.

Deathly Silence

Whilst I was intending to have a quieter 2015, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’d completely given up at blogging for good. Well, bad luck – I haven’t!

Music is perhaps one of the most subjective forms of creativity on the planet. I compose purely for fun (being self taught rather than classically trained). In particular I enjoy score-writing and would love to do more, although things don’t always work out.

In some cases I simply don’t have enough time (such as my original unused score for Sick – when I was directing The Choice, juggling family life and my full-time job). The score for Sick will now be by Lisa Pipkin – it sounds great and I look forward to seeing the final edit. Here was my original take below:

 

In some other cases things just don’t hit the right spot, pretty much like my most recent scoring assignment for the Film Oxford project Let Nothing You Dismay. My score was described as “too Ealing comedy” and “not the right tone” by the director (a short comedy where the Grim Reaper gets bored at Christmas – the first thing which popped into my head *was* an Ealing Comedy crossed with Danny Elfman). To be fair I did entertain and experiment the directors original idea of using a Shepard Tone, but this felt weird to me for a comedy of this sort (again – love to see the final version to see if they can make it work). There is no point in fighting this, it’s a simple matter of creative differences which (as a film-maker myself) I don’t take personally. It was fun to make.

I don’t like to see things go to waste however. There is definitely a market for rejected scores. My personal favourite is LaLaLand’s rejected John Barry score for The Golden Child (which is essentially like an 80’s Bond score – some of material was reworked into The Specialist score). There are many other rejected scores I’d still love to hear, some of which I am told are arguably superior to the music actually used (eg. Bernard Hermann’s Torn Curtain or George Fenton’s Interview With A Vampire). Half of these gems are never released because of complex legalities. Being as I have no such complications to concern me, here is my concept material for Let Nothing You Dismay (not sure how this will translate being as it was largely designed to mickey-mouse the onscreen actions/sound-mix). Enjoy!

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 20: Fully equiped

As a film-maker it’s easy to chase your tail in terms of equipment. There is so much amazing kit out there right now and it’s getting better and more affordable all the time! One of the nice things about working with the Film Oxford Production Group is getting to share and play with each others kit.

Setting up kit

In terms of Emmi, for lighting we had softboxes, redheads but the real winners were the portable LED panels which threw out a fair amount of light in a confined space and were used in all exterior shots.

For sound we had used a Zoom H6 to record the audio. We had access to wireless lapel mic kits, but in the end opted to record everything with an Rode NT2 shotgun microphone on boom for a more natural sound.

Then there was the camera (or rather cameras). We used a combination of the Panasonic GH4 and GH3 with various lenses. The two worked very well together, I have to say I am particularly impressed with the GH4 for the price. That said it isn’t a low-light camera and you need nice lenses (and ideally the Metabones speedbooster so you can attach faster lenses with less crop on them).

Making everything look more impressive were monitors, matte boxes, follow focus, stabilising gimbals. Toys toys toys!
Toys Toys Toys

I have a GH4 on my Christmas list, but sadly I don’t think I’ve been quite good enough this year!

Day 8: Bah Humbug!

I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with the whole advent blog thing, mostly because I don’t have the time to juggle family, work, blogging and Christmas (which is now ramping up at great pace). I tend to write my blog entries on the day (rather than write a number and store them for later release). I’ll *try* to find the time to add some more content rich entries, but don’t be surprised to see a few lower-key entries (eg. “Behind the scenes” photos). And with that, here is a “Behind the scenes” photo from the Let Nothing You Dismay shoot yesterday by Nicola Armitage as posted on the Film Oxford Production Group page (wish I could have been there, looks like everyone had fun).

Let Nothing You Dismay Carol Singers

Day 7: Let Nothing You Dismay

After yesterday’s post, this might look like yet another non-Christmas entry. Good news however, it is! As I type, the Film Oxford Production Group is out filming a motley-crew of choir singers for the Let Nothing You Dismay, a comedy short where the Death gets bored at Christmas and decides to take a holiday in Oxford (as you do!). I was hoping to make it along to the set today to be an extra, but sadly I can’t make it. However I did pop in to the crypt location (just down the road from me), so will share a few photos of this instead (along with it’s wonderful set design):

Death's Crypt Photo 1

Death's Crypt Photo 2

Death Made-up Photo

I’ll be on music composing duties for this one, so expect to hear a bit more about it soon!