Category: Articles

look further than just Amazon and Netflix when distributing your movie

Published / by Lawrence

Don’t forget, From the 3rd Story Productions offers a commission only Distribution service.

Self-promotion tips for actors

Published / by Saranne Bensusan

We work with lots of different actors, and often give new actors opportunities to shine in front of the camera. So what if you are new and don’t know much about how to promote yourself?  Here are a few tips to help you get your name out there:

1 – Get a website for yourself. There are many companies that do free or really cheap web pages with easy-to-fill-out templates that will give you a professional look. Some examples are Wix and GoDaddy. These make it easy for you to put photos up, share videos and allow you to blog about what you have been up to.  These sites are easy, even for technophobes!

2 – Have some professional headshots done. You don’t have to fork out for an expensive studio shoot, but having a couple of professional photos will go a long way to getting your face in front of casting directors. Also you can upload these to your website, and social media pages. Secondly, make sure that they are up to date and represent you as you look now, not you from seven or eight years ago.

3 – Have a showreel cut together. You will need to ask the producers of the films you have worked on for the footage that has you in it, especially if you have dialogue. Asking your editor to download the film from YouTube isn’t that great in terms of quality, and you are asking him/her to wade through the whole film to find the 30 seconds where you are speaking.  If you have worked on something where your payment has been ‘showreel material’ make sure you get it off the film makers as this is your currency to securing further work. Also, if you don’t get the showreel material from the film maker you are just working for free with no benefit to yourself.  We can edit a showreel together for you at a great price. Email us on Contactus@fromthe3rdstoryproductions.co.uk

Secondly, make sure you have a reel that you can upload to Twitter directly. This will enable you to participate in the #ShowreelShareday phenomenon started by @KateDaviesSpeak. You can find out more about #ShowreelShareday here.

4 – Think about payment. As a professional actor, you will want to be paid for your work, so make sure that you have familiarised yourself with creating invoices. Admin is part of the business side of acting. You can find templates for invoices and other useful information here.

5 – Promoting other people on social media. If you would like people to like and share your posts to help you get ahead, then you will know that other people need that too. Promoting other people’s work raises your own profile within the film making and acting community, and creates networking opportunities. If you are lucky enough to get an agent, promote your agent too and remember to thank people for giving you opportunities. Engaging people on social media platforms makes you more employable as producers and directors want to work with actors that will raise the profile of their film. This will attract fans, viewers and build an audience that makes the film attractive to funders.

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upcoming festivals and Ménage DVD

Published / by Lawrence

Whilst continuing our efforts to gain maximum festival exposure for everybody who worked hard on Ménage du Trois, we came across an old friend at Dorking, who screened Nicola’s Shedim during their second year. They are now taking submissions for their third festival (all DVD submissions are free). This gave us the opportunity to create a DVD disc which we had not got around to doing yet.

For all of you hard working filmmakers, here are some other upcoming festivals for June (don’t worry – Dorking‘s deadline is in November!)

1st Abertoir (BAFTA Cymru,Melies) (earlybird deadline)

2nd  Raindance (BAFTA,Oscar) (final deadline)

2nd Holly Shorts (Oscar) (final deadline)

6th-12th Hamburg Short Film Festival (BAFTA) (festival)

7th-18th Sidney Film Festival (BAFTA,Oscar) (festival)

9th Festival Internacional de Cine Indepente de Elche (Goya)

19th-14th Sheffield Doc Fest (BAFTA) (festival)

9th-29th Moscow IFF (festival)

12th-17th Annecy International Animation Film Festival and Market (Oscar) (festival)

14th-18th AFI Docs (BAFTA,Oscar) (festival)

16th Chicago International Film Festival (BAFTA,Oscar) (deadline)

17th-26th Shanghai IFF (festival)

18th Tarazona (Goya) (deadline)

20th-26th Palm Springs Short Film Festival (BAFTA,Oscar)

21st-02/07 Edinburgh International Film Festival (BAFTA)

24th Cork Film Festival (BAFTA,Oscar)(deadline)

26th Edinburgh Short Film Festival (deadline)

30th LA Shorts Fest (BAFTA,Oscar) (deadline)

30th TOHorror Film Fest (deadline)

30 Stockholm (BAFTA)(festival)

30th-08/07 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (deadline)

30th-08/07 Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival (Melies)(festival)

30th-09/07 Fantastic Zagreb (festival)

 

 

 

Indieactivity posts Saranne Bensusan interview on website

Published / by Lawrence

Website IndieActivity have posted an interview with Hunting of the Snark director, Saranne Bensusan, which was written just after the making of Ménage du Trois, in January 2017

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Collaborations with other film makers

Published / by Saranne Bensusan / Leave a Comment

Collaborations

The bottom line is; there are a lot of film makers out there making films with no money, and it is becoming harder and harder to find funding as film making becomes more accessible to the masses. The best solution whilst you are establishing yourself is to find people to team up with. But what does collaborating really mean?

  1. Collaborating isn’t about what other people can bring to your project to make your dream film happen.  Everyone has their dream film, and if people work on your dream film without inputting creatively then they are just working for you for free. What is in it for them? Some show-reel footage? You pay for their train ticket? True collaborations come about when you work together on something. So come up with an idea or write something together. Listen to each other. Everyone needs to get something out of it creatively. If your collaborative relationship has got legs then you will see this before the film ever gets into pre-production. Save your jaw dropping cinematic blockbuster for another time.
  2. Why collaborate?  Lots of reasons. (a) Lack of proper funding.  Unless you have a trust fund or can borrow from the bank of mum and dad, then you will probably need the help of others to make your films when you are starting out.  This can be your friends or contacts that you have made in the industry, but what will really help you is seeking out people with the right skills to bring into your circle. This is where Facebook, Stage 32 and LinkedIn come in.  By reaching out to like minded people and connecting you can pool your resources and skills – and this could lead to a much better film. (b) You can learn from others’ experiences. I was fortunate to have a professional crew working on my first short and it was an amazing learning opportunity. If you are lucky enough to get public funding, then most emerging film maker pots still require you to add a collaborative element to your work. It is their way of ensuring that you are just as committed to your project as they are.
  3. Other film makers liking your stuff on Facebook, Twitter etc.   This is networking made super easy for you. Other film makers who like or comment on your work not only appreciate your work, but are also confident in their own abilities. These people do not see you as a threat or as competition; they are exploring their partnering options and see a potential business partnership in the future. I like and comment on people’s work all the time and it is because I genuinely like the work, and see someone I could potentially make a film with to take our careers to the next level. Other film makers who like, comment and share your work should definitely be at the top of your list of potential collaborators, especially if their work is of the same calibre and attracting a lot of attention at festivals.
  4. Don’t be the person who expects likes and praise without ‘sharing the love’ back.  And I am not talking about asking your peers to post their IMDb profiles onto your page as ‘exposure’ to your fans.  This only leads to Facebook ‘likes’ and has rarely leads to an offer of work or a collaboration. Make an effort. Look at what your film making peers are doing and show them some support too. This is how relationships are forged and great films are made. This is networking at its best (and the cheapest!) as (a) you already have someone interested in working with you, and (b) you get to expose your presence as a film maker with their audience too.  Win Win!  That is worth a lot more to your career than just one more like on a post or a page.  Other film makers bring different perspectives, skills and experience in areas that you may not be too familiar with too so go and find out more about them!
  5. Don’t treat other film makers in your circle as ‘competition’ – in other words DON’T BE A HATER!  Your target audience will be different for each film, and here is the shocker – your audience isn’t other film makers!  It is the people who will watch or buy your films.  Save the competitive feelings for the film festival circuit and start working with other film makers within your circle.  Seeing other film makers as competition leads to you not liking, commenting or sharing their stuff in case it makes them look more popular than you; and here is another shocker – if you have gone down the route of treating them as competition then you already think their work is on a level or better than yours.  This could be a missed opportunity to make a great film!  From personal experience, there is nothing worse than reaching out to other film makers on social media, only to find that your professional networking overtures are not being reciprocated.

Who am I? I am a writer/producer of From the 3rd Story Productions Ltd who has written four short films and two features that successfully went on to get made. I have produced 11 films in total, including eight short films and three feature films. In the 2015/2016 year (starting at Cannes in May 2015) I have had 15 international film festival screenings of my work, including an official selection of ‘Mano a Mono’ at Carmarthen Bay Film Festival in May 2016 (a BAFTA Cymru qualifying festival), and ‘The Hunting of the Snark’ is being screened as part of the Toronto Film Week, which runs alongside the Toronto Film Festival in September. I have also picked up six awards at festivals in that time.

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Improving the quality of your non-funded film

Published / by Saranne Bensusan / Leave a Comment

Improving the quality of your non-funded film

Written by Saranne Bensusan

I am a writer/producer/director who has produced 13 films in total, including 10 short films and three feature films. In the 2015/2016 year (starting at Cannes in May 2015) I have had 15 international film festival screenings of my work, with two short films being selected at Carmarthen Bay Film Festival in May 2016 and May 2017 (a BAFTA Cymru qualifying festival) and ‘The Hunting of the Snark’ being screened as part of the Toronto Film Week, which runs alongside the Toronto Film Festival in September. I have also picked up six awards at festivals in that time.

1 – Sound. Most new film makers are thinking about what camera they want to shoot their film on, and I see loads of articles telling new film makers how to get a good camera on the cheap, but rarely do they mention sound. If you have only a few hundred quid out of your own pocket to make your film, spend some of it on a Sound Recordist.  It is best to shoot on a DSLR and have decent sound than spend the money on hiring a RED or Arri, with a cheap catch-all omnidirectional mic sitting in the room somewhere. The same goes for having the mic riding shotgun on the camera and then standing the camera ten foot away from the action.  The sound will be poor.  Microphones need to be as close as possible to the action without being in shot – we have used microphone stands attached to boom poles to hold microphones, and hidden microphones in books before.  Having hidden body mics on your actors will reduce the need for ADR even when shooting outside.

2 – Sound. Again. If what you have recorded is ruined by an airplane every 90 seconds (we film near Gatwick most of the time so this is a real problem for us) or by noisy traffic, or a million birds start tweeting just as you shout ‘action’, then it may be necessary to record ADR.

Please wait until there is a final cut of the film before you do this. Recording ADR isn’t an opportunity to change the dialogue in the script or correct errors, and you should only use it if necessary.

Don’t start your shoot with a view that everything will be re-recorded after.

Dialogue and phrasing of ADR must be exactly the same as the final cut of the film; otherwise it will look like your film has had a bad sound edit, which lowers the production value of the film considerably. You can choose to record a wild track on set, which is good for action scenes where there are no close ups of the actors delivering their lines.

3 – White balance your camera!  This may sound like we are teaching your grandmother to suck eggs, but the amount of orange or blue rushes I see as an editor is alarming. Secondly, check your footage after each take if see if it has come out OK.  If it is any shade of orange that has not been agreed beforehand, you should white balance your camera again and go for another take. Another reason for orange footage is poor lighting (see number 4).

Nothing in post production will replace a proper white balance on set, and not doing this will lower the production value of your film. This could be the difference between getting your film selected at a festival for screening or you getting that email that says ‘the competition was very high this year and unfortunately your film has not been selected’.

4 – Lighting. If you don’t have the budget for lights, you can use normal household lights and table lamps to light the set. A tip here to control variations in colour temperature is to swap light bulbs out to even colour temperature prior to white balancing the camera. With normal household lighting, you will see the colour temperature difference from room to room, with some lights looking orange and others looking blue or white. Aim for white light and use daylight light bulbs. We also found that some energy bulbs can cause banding, and we have avoided this by swapping the energy bulbs out for old fashioned tungsten ones, changing the camera mode, and using coloured bulbs that matched the colour palette of the film to make the colour grade look better.

5 – Focus and composition. It is very easy to set the camera up in the corner of the room and capture all the action. Consider close ups and cut aways to supplement your story telling, or to convey a feeling; and when you are outside, try experimenting with extra wide shots. In your lens arsenal the basics should include an 18-55mm and 80-135mm zoom.  I also keep a couple of 50mm primes and a 28mm prime to hand.

6 – Make sure that everyone gets the right credit. Don’t give out ‘favour credits’ to people or mates who are not actually doing the job as you still need someone to do the actual job, and you need to be able to offer up an incentive if you are not offering pay.

7 – Never say ‘let’s sort it in post’ or ‘that can be done in post’ once you are already on set and filming.  If any of your crew suggests this then don’t accept it as a legitimate solution to an on-set problem.

Deferring work to post production in an unplanned way complicates your edit and risks your film not looking how you intended, or even worse, a film you can’t use.

If you need special effects, plan ahead first and make sure everyone knows, is capable, and has the tools to do what they need to do.  For some special effects shots, there will need to be work done on set first. This needs to be addressed in pre-production.

If you need an extreme close up shot, make sure it is on the shot list so that your DOP can have the right lens at hand, rather than asking the editor to ‘zoom’ the footage after.  Your post production should be planned, not used to cover up poor planning and compromises suggested by other members of the team.

The person who handles your edit will be putting as much time into the film as you are, or even more, so ask yourself what they are getting out of this. If all you have offered is expenses, then perhaps cut them in as a producer? After all, they are doing something massive to make your dream film happen.

8 – No exterior day for night filming! Ever.  It really looks bad and never looks like night time. If you need a night time shot, wait until it gets dark to shoot it. Day for night colour grades rarely look authentic and it will create a lot of work for your colourist.  If you must do a day for night shoot, shoot during civil twilight or nautical twilight either at dawn or dusk, and never shoot a day for night whilst the sun is visible in the sky. We get a lot of requests from people to turn bright lunchtime sunny weather into night time.  Think about your team – would your DOP be able to use it in their showreel?

9 – Keep your short films short. Aim for your film to be less than 10 minutes. Festivals like to have lots of short films during screenings and a short film of 15-45 minutes is less likely to be screened compared to its shorter counterparts unless it has exceptional storytelling and cinematic style.

10 – Clapper Boards – When using a clapper board to sync sound with picture, there must be something on the sound file to identify and match it to the corresponding footage. You need to read what is on the board out loud so that the editor can line it up with the appropriate footage. This may sound like we are stating the obvious, but we have had to listen to every sound file in a series of takes to find the one we are looking for because the clapper person has not spoken the scene/shot/take out loud when they have clapped.  This is enormously time consuming for the editor, who is probably not getting paid. When time is short and there is no time to clap on the front of the take, say ‘board on the end’ into the mic and write up the board during the take and clap it at the end before cutting – and say the scene/shot/take etc.

Make sure the whole of the board is in shot when boarding a take. This may sound like we are stating the obvious again, but we have had footage where the clapper part of the board is out of shot when clapped, out of shot completely. The easiest way to around this is to board the take before setting up the shot. This will also resolve the issue of out of focus clapper boards as well.

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Advice for getting your script produced

Published / by Lawrence / Leave a Comment

Advice for getting your script produced
By Saranne Bensusan

I am a writer/producer who has written four short films and two features that successfully went on to get made. I have produced 11 films in total, including eight short films and three feature films. In the 2015/2016 year (starting at Cannes in May 2015) I have had 15 international film festival screenings of my work, with a future screening of ‘Mano a Mono’ at Carmarthen Bay Film Festival in May 2016 (a BAFTA Cymru qualifying festival) and ‘The Hunting of the Snark’ being screened as part of the Toronto Film Week, which runs alongside the Toronto Film Festival in September. I have also picked up six awards at festivals in that time.
If you haven’t made anything before, start with something that won’t be expensive to make, such as a short film, as this will be attractive to film makers. It is likely that as in the majority of cases of short films, there won’t be any money available to make it, so things like the number of people you need and locations really play a big part. Most of this will be the producer in me talking, but it is the producer in me that has led to my writing better screenplays.

1) Can you reduce the number of characters in your story? Ask yourself which characters don’t do anything to move the story along and eliminate them. This will not only reduce the number of actors that need to be paid for, but will bring your remaining characters into focus. A film with decent screen time, action and dialogue is attractive to actors as it means decent show reel material that could help them get other work. Too many characters with too few lines will dilute your story and you may find it hard to get good actors on board. The same goes for having extras.

2) Keep locations to a minimum, and avoid external locations. ‘Mano a Mono’ was shot on one internal location, and we made use of the different rooms to break up the monotony. This practice eliminates travel time between sets and means you get the best out of the day. It also means that whoever produces your film does not need to go through local Council red tape in pre-production to get permissions for outdoor locations.

3) Shoot in one day. This goes hand in hand with number 2. If you shoot in one location there is no reason your short cannot be filmed in one day. With my film ‘The Shoe’, we filmed at two different locations in London, meaning that we needed to schedule two days of filming just for a six minute film. When it came to ‘Mano a Mono’, we filmed a 12 minute film in half the time because we shot it in one location.

4) Keep your short film to 10 minutes or less. There are a lot of good quality festivals that accept films 15 minutes or less, but there are some that only accept them if they are 10 minutes or less. There are very few decent festival opportunities for films that are between 15 and 40 minutes long, and you should always have festivals in mind as this is where you will get recognition.

5) If you can, hook up with a producer who lives in London. This will open up the opportunity for your film to be funded through the ‘London Calling’ short film programme. From there, you will find it easier to get a more experienced director on board. Also, as this is Film London funding, having success with ‘London Calling’ will really doors for your next project. Their ‘Microwave Funding’ programme is a low budget feature film development and production programme, so if you have a feature up your sleeve this could be the next step. There are also funding opportunities in London for young, as well as LGBT filmmakers. There is a very useful Film London Facebook page where you can connect with people: https://www.facebook.com/groups/talentconnect/

My film short film, ‘Mano a Mono’ here