British stop-motion animation of Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark now available

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From the 3rd Story Productions is excited to announce the
launch of The Hunting of the Snark, a stop-motion animation based on Lewis
Carroll s final poem of the same name that was debuted in Cannes last year and
has gone on to pick up awards at festivals since.
From the 3rd Story Productions believe the film is in the vein of the original poem,
having kept the original dialogue whilst the director added her own, touches of
nonsense to Carroll s classic story. All this was brought to life with the aid of a
group of great actors which included Joerg Stadler (Saving Private Ryan), who
played the Bellman that was leading this group of strangers on their hunt.
In spite of its success, the film has had a rather low key launch so far, only
being made available on VOD, and a self-distributed DVD, with many
territories and formats still available to distributors, but find how to watch
the film you should visit
Sept2016 Toronto Film Week Official Selection
June2016 Southway Film Fest “Official Selection”
June2016 Phoenix Comicon Film Festival Official Selection
Feb2016 North Wales International Film Festival Best Animation
Jan2016 World Animation Awards Award of Merit Best Animated Feature
Oct2015 Russian International Film Festival “Official Selection”
Sept2015 IN.S.A.N.E. animation festival “Official Selection”
Sept2015 London Comic Con and Film Festival “Official Selection”
Aug2015 Fantasmagorical Film Festival, Kentucky “Best of the Fest – Animated Feature Film”

From the 3rd Story productions are a multi-award-winning film production company that, as well
as making award-winning films, also provide affordable production and post-production services
to independent filmmakers

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.



PAC Video

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PAC Video from From the 3rd Story Productions

This video was made by the Power & Control Group, who are a group of people that act as the voice of people with learning disabilities in Islington. This group is commissioned by Islington as part of the Consultation Services contract, which focuses on user & carer feedback of issues and learning disabilities services in the borough. Edited by Saranne Bensusan.


DVD Invites Commercial

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We have a brand new DVD Wedding Invite service too – where you can invite your guests to your wedding via DVD or video message instead of the traditional paper invitation! This can be fun too and can be as personalised in any way you like, with your favourite music, pictures of the venue, the story of how you met or who proposed to who, and how to RSVP. </p> <p>The cost is £2.50 per invite, however if you have having your wedding filmed or photographed by us and book with us at the same time then we can drop this price to just £2.00 per invite. This includes the filming, editing, the printed discs, a DVD menu, postage and a carded envelope to protect the disc.