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!
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.
Without a doubt, the buzzword for the film industry for 2012 is going to be ‘crowdfunding’. Not because it hasn’t been around for a while, because it has. But because from the latter half of 2011 to date is probably the time that it has seen its biggest success when it comes to mainstream acceptance.
For those unfamiliar with the term ‘crowdfunding’, the concept was made popular a couple of years back by a website called Kickstarter, which allowed you to post a creative project (film, games, music) with a set budget goal and a set time period and allowed the crowd aka. the audience to make donations towards that budget goal in return for perks and rewards depending on the donation. If the total donations managed to reach the required budget that you posted for the project in the set time period, the campaign is successful and you get paid that money to make your film/game/album. But if it doesn’t, no one gets charged and your campaign has failed. Out of this, Kickstarter takes a small cut off the amount you end up gathering for your project should it be successful.
Now Kickstater may not be the first one to invent the concept of crowdfunding since the idea of online donations existed before, but it was the first platform to fully flesh it out and provide an infrastructure that is accessible to both artists and users as well as gives them something in return for donating towards a project. Every donation level has a perk attached to it that the user will receive, the lowest of which generally include a ‘special thanks’ in the credits or the website, a digital download or a DVD of the film, producer credit, exclusive artwork or merchandise all the way up to set visits and premiere invitations for the film depending on the amount donated. Plus, you know you’re secure because if the project doesn’t end up reaching its goal, no one gets paid and you don’t get charged with the risk that the filmmaker will take whatever incomplete funding he received and do nothing with it.The platform led to some landmark success stories – so many that you wouldn’t believe.
I know I’ve been missing in action lately, but then not really. Because all this while, my trusty crew and I have been preparing something in secrecy and now are at the liberty to announce it – we made a short film for Samsung Mobile in association with Triplew.me for their ‘Daily Notes’ campaign to promote the Samsung Galaxy Note. It’s called ‘The Cupidest Thing’ and here’s the poster with the link to watch it below.
The story follows Ahmed, a math student in love who stumbles upon what seems like the perfect equation for love while using the Galaxy Note. Or so he thinks. It’s my first ever attempt at anything remotely romantic and the result is a cutely cheesy story that I think will resonate with quite a few people with its core idea. It was a group effort that wouldn’t have been possible without everyone involved with the film that gave it their best and I can’t thank them enough for it.
Or on Youtube, if that’s what you prefer:
And the best part of it all, you can comment on the video page and one random winner will win a brand new Galaxy Note! As always, do let us know your feedback of our little film and rest assured we’re busy working on something else already. In fact, it’s much closer than you would think.
And here’s where you’ll hear about it first.
Some new articles about filmmaking and behind-the-scenes of this film and my last film ‘Bubble‘ are coming as well!
So stay tuned.