Just wanted to quickly update this because I’ve kind of neglected the blog here. Our supernatural thriller won Best Film at Murdoch University’s My Film Fest that was held at 6th November, and we couldn’t be more proud of the film which is now 2 days away from an online release. Cheers!
It’s no surprise that being an independent filmmaker starting out in UAE, the odds are stacked firmly against your favor when it comes to resources, funding and ease of networking. But we as independent filmmakers take those odds and try to work with them, turning them into advantages. Lack of gear? We shoot with what we can beg, borrow and steal. The advent of the HDSLR changed that for us big time, making high quality filmmaking affordable. Location permits? Shoot with what you have access to and build your story around it. Actors? Shoot with friends and family who would be very excited to be a part of your project. That’s the advice that I give to anyone looking to make their first film and it has never failed.
Where it gets tricky however is what you do after you shoot your film – the post-production. You not only need a semi-powerful computer to edit your high definition projects but also some expensive software to go along with them. It’s an area that the advice doesn’t quite work as well, and budding filmmakers in the region have always been held back by a lack of access to high-end equipment for post to really hone their ambitious projects to the best they can be. So imagine my surprise when I read about possibly the most significant boost to regional filmmakers in the past few years – twofour54’s #TheLab.
Another quick update on the film festival front. Our short film Bubble has traveled around the world from Tunisia, Iraq, Yemen to India. But this is the first time the film will be playing in the country where H0llywood resides – the USA. I’m proud to announce that Bubble has been officially selected to screen at the VOB International Film Festival in Brewster, New York next month.
After a lot of bad buzz and reactions, Brad Pitt’s ‘World War Z’ released right in the middle of the highly competitive summer season and surprised everyone by not only getting very positive reviews and word of mouth, but also standing tall at the box-office with a hefty $65 million opening weekend. The momentum followed as the film continued to make impressive box-office numbers for weeks to come and became the number 1 film worldwide for weeks. Currently, it’s made a grand total of $517 million and counting! The bad buzz mentioned earlier was about the film’s production woes, mainly the very costly seven week reshoot that was done by Paramount and Brad Pitt which included an entirely new third act written by Damon Lindelof when the studio and filmmakers realised that their third act flat out doesn’t work. Though reshoots are slowly becoming a very common occurrence in tentpole summer films, one that shoots an entirely new third act to an already finished film admittedly raised a lot of eyebrows. But it only took one viewing of the film for audiences and critics to embrace the restrained third act that World War Z provides. And here’s why it’s a classic example for us filmmakers of why it’s never too late to go back and fix your film.
It’s been a long time since I’ve made a production of my own. No seriously, ‘Bubble’ was the last film and that’s now over a year old! My amazing team and I have been busy doing a lot of commissioned branded content for a lot of cool brands including Samsung and FujiFilm and other videos for smaller brands to build our portfolio. In short, 2012 and the first half of 2013 was the time for me to really gain some visibility in the corporate world, handle our finances and do something innovative with brands and advertising. I feel we’ve done that, but there was this supernatural thriller I shot back at the end of 2011 which suffered because there was no time to edit it. That changed this month, when I made sure I make time to edit it and make it ready for festival submission.
And I present to you – a supernatural thriller short film called ‘Scrambled’. Here’s the poster!
Lessons Filmmakers Can Learn is an ongoing series where I will derive filmmaking lessons (for better or for worse) that I learned after watching a recent film, in terms of writing, directing and editing. For our third edition (and we really have to do this more often), we have the Marvel’s big superhero film ‘Iron Man 3’.
With Joss Whedon contributing his writing and directorial talents to making ‘The Avengers’ a critical and especially financial success, Marvel’s ‘Phase 2’ began with a three-quel to the most popular superhero in their canon and the face of Marvel at this point – Iron Man. But they had to be very careful not to make the same mistakes they did with Iron Man 2, a sequel that did deliver financially but is mostly seen as one of the weakest Marvel films with glaring flaws thanks to a lot of creative meddling and a lack of new ideas.
But with the hiring of writer/director Shane Black and a drive to make this a definitive sequel that matters, Iron Man 3 is smart, action-packed and almost as good as the original. A shining example of a superhero film done right.
And there’s a few lessons filmmakers can take from it as well.
Note – Major spoilers for the film ahead.
If you weren’t following the news today, a pretty important news broke that could change the landscape of indie filmmaking forever. And no, it’s not one of those bold claims that always end up fizzling out in execution. This is the only one I’ve written about, and with good reason. Vimeo, the amazing video service that has charmed creative artists over the years, dropped the bomb at SXSW Festival today by announcing Vimeo On Demand. Let’s read about what that really is and why as an independent filmmaker you should be paying close attention to it.
Lessons Filmmakers Can Learn is an ongoing series where I will derive filmmaking lessons (for better or for worse) that I learned after watching a recent film, in terms of writing, directing and editing. For our second edition, we have the Sam Mendes-directed biggest Bond film ever ‘Skyfall’.
At a time when the ridiculously durable and long-running Bond franchise was getting stale with ‘Die Another Day’, perhaps the most successful re-invention for the series happened in the form of Daniel Craig and ‘Casino Royale’, a gritty and grounded reboot that was not only an excellent film but made Bond relevant to the modern audiences. Unfortunately, ‘Quantum of Solace’ took a stumble and was a weak follow-up with its nauseating action scenes and lack of a memorable screenplay.
After a four year hiatus, ‘Skyfall’ brings Bond back in form in one of the best Bond films ever made which is now nominated for 5 (albeit minor) Oscars as well has crossed a billion dollars at the box-office to become the most successful Bond film of all time. Whether it tops ‘Casino Royale’ for you or doesn’t is something you have to answer, but there’s no denying that ‘Skyfall’ is a successful endeavor that filmmakers can definitely take a few lessons from.
Note: Mild spoilers for the film ahead.
Lessons Filmmakers Can Learn is an ongoing series where I will derive filmmaking lessons (for better or for worse) that I learned after watching a recent film, in terms of writing, directing and editing. For our first edition, we have the much-loved Disney animation Wreck-It Ralph.
While Disney animations have recently been overshadowed by their much more respected banner Pixar, the last couple of years have seen a shift in this pattern. Thanks to Pixar churning out a mediocre sequel in the form of ‘Cars 2’ and a fun but not very memorable adventure ‘Brave’ this year, the playing field has been leveled as other animation studios are producing quality animated films throughout the year. But after watching most of the offerings this year, the one that handily is the best animated film of the year so far is Disney’s ‘Wreck-It Ralph’. It’s a love letter to the videogaming culture and manages to be a highly entertaining adventure for both adults and kids alike. And the healthy box-office returns for the film only re-inforce the fact that audiences will respond to a film that looks fresh and exciting instead of the same old drivel. But what can filmmakers learn from the film?
Note – Mild spoilers for the film follow.
Defying Filmmaking Logic
We all know that making a film takes time. Lots and lots of it. That’s what we’ve been told in countless filmmaking books, seminars and even practical experience for most people would dictate the same. Spending enough time in pre-production is paramount to a quality film. Spending weeks writing and then rewriting the perfect screenplay to your short film is even more important.
But what if there’s a filmmaking competition with a particular set of rules that fly in the face of filmmaking logic? What if I tell you that you not only need to write, shoot, edit and score a film in 48 hours but you’ll no prep time since the elements you need to have in your film will be given at random a few hours before? What if I tell you that this project is already a long running and globally popular one embraced by filmmakers worldwide?
48 Hours To Make A Film
Enter 48 Hour Film Project – a film competition already known to filmmakers around the world for a long time, but only appeared in Dubai in its first edition last year in 2011. The idea is simple – you register as a team to take part and appear at the launch event a day before it begins. There, you’ll be asked to handpick four things – a genre, a prop, a line of dialogue, and a characters name. Based on that, you now have exactly 48 hours to go and write, shoot and edit a film with that criteria in mind which is between 4 to 7 minutes long. And by 48 hours, they mean exactly that. Even if you’re a minute late, you’re disqualified. But no matter, the eligible films as well as the late films will all be screened in public and there will be an award ceremony covering achievements like acting, directing and promising filmmaker among others. And the winning film goes forward to win prizes, a trip to Hollywood with his film at Filmapalooza, and the best films go to Cannes Short Film Corner next year (where my film ‘Perfect Living’ played last year).