Tag: editing

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.


Five nominations for Snark and one for Mono from Maverick Movie awards

Published / by Lawrence

The Hunting of the Snark has been nominated in five categories by the Maverick Movie Awards, these are Best Animation,Best Director, Best Editing, Best Music and Special Achievement in Art Direction and Set Design, shared by Saranne Bensusan and Chris Wright.

Saranne Bensusan‘s short film Mano a Mono was also mentioned with Sharon Lawrence being nominated in the Best Actress category.


see the results here.

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.