Tag Archives: Filmmaking

Why Your Business Needs Video

For a filmmaker like me, it makes sense to have video on my website. Video is my product. Video hosting sites like Vimeo and YouTube allow me to upload my work and embed it on my site. I can display a selection of my best or most recent projects as well as a showreel giving an overview of my work as a whole. Keeping the rest of my work on my YouTube channel allows me to direct potential clients to previous work that is relevant to their project.

The evolution of digital technology has given video a home on the Internet and revolutionised the industry. Before the Internet and digital video, filmmakers like myself would have a very limited output for our work and getting our films seen by an audience was a huge challenge, especially for short films. You could enter festivals and competitions with the hope of being selected, you could organise a screening of your own or you could send out DVD screeners. Your audience was always limited. Online, videos can be accessed by people all over the world, 24 hours a day.

Filmmakers were early adopters of online video because we were quick to see the benefits, but the boom of online video has spread across all industries as more and more businesses are using video within their marketing strategies, even small businesses and start-ups.

If you’re running a business you’ll already have a website and be active across social media, but are you using video yet? You should be. Here’s why:

Video Creates a Personal Connection

You already do a great job of representing your business, so why not put that on show for the rest of the world to see?

Online video:

  • Allows you to pitch your business in your own words
  • Allows you to demonstrate your passion and energy
  • Allows you to convey your knowledge of your industry
  • Allows potential clients to get to know who you are
  • Allows potential clients to see you at work
  • Allows potential clients to see feedback and testimonials from existing customers

An online video is a great way to gain the trust of your potential client base as it gives them a face and personality to relate to and connect with.

Video Drives Sales

  • People can gain a better understanding of a product or a service when they see and hear someone explain it
  • A recent Video Rascal survey showed that 85% of people are more likely to buy a product once they have seen an explainer video
  • Axonn Research found seven in 10 people view brands in a more positive light after watching interesting video content from them
  • Diode Digital found that, before reading any text, 60% of site visitors will watch a video if available
  • Video promotion is over 6 times more effective than print and online

If a client is curious about the product or service that you provide then a video that allows them to see it in action will give them a sense of what to expect and why it has value.

Video Improves Search Engine Optimisation

  • Websites with video on the front page rank higher in Google
  • YouTube is the number 2 search engine in the world
  • YouTube is owned by Google, the number 1 search engine
  • YouTube has more than one billion unique visitors every month
  • Google’s search ranking algorithms take into account how long a visitor stays on your page
  • Visitors are more likely to stay on your site for longer if you have video

Social Media Loves Video

  • Video is the most shared brand content on Facebook
  • Videos are shared 1,200% more times than links and text combined

Every business needs to consider SEO within their marketing strategy. Online video gives you content that can be uploaded to YouTube, embedded in your website and shared across all of your social media channels. If your followers like it then they’ll share it too.

Video isn’t just an addition to your website, it’s becoming something that visitors to your site are expecting to see.

No Business is Too Small

No business is too small to use video as a marketing tool. In fact, I’d argue that it’s even more important if your business is small. Online video isn’t just about marketing; it’s about telling people what you do and why it matters. It’s a great way to demonstrate the value that you offer.

I run my own business and I understand the difficulty of having to cover every role that in a larger company would be shared across a team of staff. Keeping active with social media and marketing can be a challenge when you’re also delivering work and dealing with clients. You can’t do everything at once.

If you run a small business like I do, you’re used to relying on your online presence to do some of the work for you. I consider my website to be my shop front and I’m reassured knowing that it can be accessed 24/7 by potential clients no matter how busy I might be.

I also know how important it is to be able to represent my business in person when the opportunity arises. No one can describe your business better than you do. Being able to talk directly to a potential client is usually the best way to win their confidence but we aren’t always available to make new connections as often as we’d like to. An online video does some of that work for you, enabling visitors to your website to get a sense of who you are and hear you talk about your business with the passion and enthusiasm that you bring to your work every day. An online video can be accessed at anytime of day or night from anywhere in the world, meaning that whether you’re busy at work or it’s out of hours, people can still hear your pitch and engage with what you do.

As for the cost, digital technology has made video production more affordable and more accessible than ever before. A video for your website may not cost as much as you expect.

Case Study

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I’ve been making promotional videos for arts organisations and theatre productions for a while and I’ve recently extended my services to include local businesses. I’m a Community Filmmaker so my interest is in creating content that people can connect with on a personal level.

My latest video is for Octopus Alchemy, a social venture in Brighton that talks food politics and educates people about traditional foods. Octopus Alchemy is run by Darren Ollerton, who has an obvious passion for his work. I used an informal documentary style to make a video about Darren and to showcase his talents as a workshop leader. The aim of the video was to show what his workshops are all about.

I filmed two of Darren’s workshops and an interview with him about his work. The workshop footage conveys a sense of the atmosphere of the workshops and gives potential participants what to expect. I was also able to film participants enjoying the workshop and get their feedback. The accompanying interview gives a sense of who Darren is, how much he knows about the subject he teaches and most importantly, how much he cares about it.

“Whilst I’ve done a bit of it, in various guises, being in front of the camera is not a favourite pastime of mine and filming a promo piece for my project came at quite a difficult time for me. But Evan’s confidence about the project was infectious; he remained very objective about the whole process throughout which was reassuring. Evan definitely has a craft – he works with people, not just film – and he puts community at the forefront of his filmmaking, which really chimes with my politics.”                                – Darren Ollerton, Octopus Alchemy

Ethical businesses and social enterprises like Octopus Alchemy are on the rise in the UK. There is a clear market for personal, local businesses that customers can relate to. Faceless corporations are out of fashion, so letting your client base get to know you through video makes sense.

I have no doubt that your business could be improved by using video and if you’re local to Brighton then I can help you do it. I specialise in working with the community and creating video that has meaning. I can work with you to create a video that is true to your identity as a business. Visit my website to find out more about my work and how to get in touch.

*A lot of these stats were sourced here.

About the Author:

Evan Wilkinson is a Community Filmmaker based in Brighton who creates video for the local community. As well as producing videos and community film projects, Evan teaches workshops in filmmaking, script development and animation. For more information please visit: http://evanwilkinson.co.uk

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Exiled: Five Years On

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In my last post I discussed the making of the documentary Exiled in 2010 and my experiences of producing a political film during an election year. Whilst reflecting on the film I caught up with President Allen Vincatassin about what life has been like for the UK based Diego Garcians since the making of the film, and the latest developments in their campaign for a return to their island.

In February of 2013 Allen met with Mark Simmonds (then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Foreign Affairs) who agreed to a new feasibility study into the possibility of resettlement in the Chagos including Diego Garcia. The study has now been published and can be found here.

As part of his research, Mark Simmonds visited the island in March 2014 despite protest from Mauritius who are still pursuing claims of sovereignty. He was the first UK minister in history to visit the islands.

The study had favourable results, concluding that there is no legal barrier to resettlement and theorising various options by which a return could be implemented. This feels like a big step forward for the Diego Garcians who have been held back by such feasibility studies in the past. Previous studies have focused on a lack of infrastructure and environmental changes such as rising sea levels, claiming that the island would be uninhabitable despite the contradictory presence of some 5000 military personnel.

The new report in fact states that the ideal island for resettlement within the Chagos Archipelago, is Diego Garcia. The report concedes that the island base means that an infrastructure is in place as Diego Garcia already has a port and airport. Diego Garcia would be better for resettlement than the outer islands because of this existing infrastructure so the presence of the military base has actually become a positive factor in the case for resettlement.

A larger question remains as to how to create jobs and industry on the island and this is one of the areas that now needs research. A number of contractors from the Phillipines currently work at the base, so it is clear that the base does provide potential employment for civilians. Allen has managed to convince the UK government that the defense of the base isn’t a problem as islanders can occupy the other side of the island which is currently uninhabited. In the past, resettlement of Diego Garcia has been discouraged on the basis of it being a threat to international security, but people live next to and near to military bases all over the world.

The US is leasing the land from the UK and the lease officially expires in 2016. The lease will need to be renegotiated soon and the US is in an awkward position following revelations of the island base’s use in renditions flights and as a suspected black prison site – activity which may well be a factor in the USA’s reluctance to have a civilian population nearby. The US are unwilling to allow a civilian population to use any of their infrastructure such as housing, but they have not spoken against civilian use of the port and airport where immigration is controlled by the UK.

A week before Parliament’s dissolution, James Dudderidge, Simmonds’ successor at the Foreign Office, said that there is more work to be done to make a decision as to how resettlement could happen and who would want to return.

Allen has said that there is a need for more in depth work to be done as to who would like to return to the islands but the very realistic terms in which resettlement is now being discussed are encouraging. People have begun to register their interest in returning.

Allen has been in discussions with the Foreign Office about a pilot resettlement. One of the big questions is how much the resettlement will cost the treasury.

My conversation with Allen was conducted before the general election, this progress was made with the coalition government and the hope is that the work can continue when the new government come to power. There is a need for more studies in order to work towards a pilot resettlement in order to see if permanent resettlement could be sustainable. The Diego Garcians have a plan and are waiting to present it to the new government.

Today marks the State Opening of Parliament and with James Dudderidge and the Foreign Minister Philip Hammond returning to their posts it is hopeful that these discussions will continue to progress.

Looking back on the film.

Allen’s reflection on the documentary is that it highlighted the Diego Garcian’s story very well but he can’t confirm what impact it had on the local or national public. The biggest hope was that the film would reach a wider audience than just the local screenings that it was commissioned for and the Diego Garcian society haven’t had the resources to organize further screenings of the film. It seems that the Road to Crawley project hasn’t continued much contact with the community since the film was made.

Henry is still Crawley’s MP and Laura has retired from politics but both have continued their support for the cause. Henry has helped a lot with organizing meetings with Mark Simmonds to negotiate resettlement and speaking on the Diego Garcians’ behalf in Parliament on several occasions. Allen’s feeling before the election was that if the Conservatives remain in government then the DG population stand a good chance of achieving their right to return home.

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Charlesia (Saji) Alexis sadly passed away in December 2012.

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Myleene continues her work with the Sega dancers and the Diego Garcian youth group.

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Marie-Ange has made progress learning English and is now living in the Brighton area.

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Selmour is well and enjoying being a Grandfather.

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Allen has self-published his memoir Flight to Freedom which is now available on Amazon.

About the Author:

Evan Wilkinson is a Community Filmmaker based in Brighton. As well as producing videos and community film projects, Evan teaches workshops in filmmaking, script development and animation. For more information please visit: http://evanwilkinson.co.uk

Exiled: Making A Political Documentary In An Election Year

In the 1960s, some 2000 British citizens were forcibly removed from their island home of Diego Garcia so that Britain could lease it to America for a military base. Exiled follows the journey of these displaced people to rebuild their lives and fight for their return to their homeland.

In 2009 I started work on the documentary Exiled. I was working for a small production company at the time, so small that it was common to be involved in each project in numerous roles. Only about 5 people worked on the film in production and post-production roles. I was the film’s researcher, production assistant, interviewer, scriptwriter, one of the camera operators and the film’s main editor. I probably put in more hours on the project than the director did, by which I mean to say that I was very close to this film.

It was a formative experience for me. The project introduced me to the power of documentary, giving me a new respect for the form and a huge appreciation for factual storytelling. It also gave me one of my greatest experiences of creating a film for and about a community, allowing me to learn about and interact with amazing and inspirational people whose strength and determination should be an example to all of us. I was already engaged in community filmmaking, but this was my first opportunity to see it working on a wider scale and in a more vital context. It played a huge part in shaping my identity as a filmmaker today. The project also brought about my first real engagement with politics and social issues, helping to inform my value system and political leaning.

I felt extremely passionate about telling the story of the Diego Garcians. My experience of making Exiled, and of meeting and working with the Diego Garcian community living in the UK will always stay with me and I still feel a connection to the community.

I learned a huge amount in my research of the islanders’ plight and knew nothing of the situation before embarking on the project. I ended up with a massive wealth of information and I was horrified by my findings. I was shocked to discover that our country could be responsible for such injustice in recent decades, and that so many of us are completely unaware that it even happened and that the saga is ongoing. The history of the Diego Garcians’ experience is long and complex. I’ve posted a brief summary here.

In the build up to the general election, I’ve been reminiscing about the project, which was completed during the last general election in 2010. As the documentary touched on local, national and international politics, the backdrop of the election began to influence the project more and more in the build up to Election Day as it began to attract interest and scrutiny from politicians. I’ve also been in touch with President Allen Vincatassin to find out how the community have fared since the film was made and what progress they have made with their campaign to return home.

Making A Political Documentary In An Election Year

In the 2010 General Election, Crawley’s seat was a swing seat, having been won by only a tiny margin in 2005. Henry Smith was the Crawley Conservative Parliamentary candidate in the 2005 General Election where he received the highest national swing from Labour to Conservative (over 8.5%) reducing the Labour majority from 6,770 to just 37 – making Crawley the most marginal constituency in the country. The winning Labour candidate, Laura Moffatt, had the number 37 tattooed on her ankle as a reminder of how slim her victory was.

The growing Diego Garcian community in Crawley made up over a thousand new voters in the area, so winning their votes was set to make a huge difference to the outcome of the election in 2010. Laura was retiring as an MP and Henry was taking another run at her seat.

Both politicians were involved in the documentary as both had been greatly involved with the Diego Garcian community – Laura in her role as the MP for Crawley and Henry as the leader of West Sussex County Council at the time of the Diego Garcians’ arrival in Crawley. I met them both and interviewed them about their support for the Diego Garcians. Both seemed genuine and engaged. Both continue to support and work with the Diego Garcian community.

We’d reached out to numerous other members of Parliament, past and present who had been involved in the story or could offer a valuable opinion, but we had no take-up.

In March 2010, David Miliband (then Foreign Secretary) visited Crawley to attend an event for the Diego Garcian community. He was involved in declaring the waters around the Chagos Islands a Marine Protection Area in the interest of conservation. The Diego Garcian Society were optimistic about the plan, considering it as not just a means of protecting their homeland, but a potential opportunity for new jobs in the Chagos and a chance to be more connected to their home.

We originally had permission to film the event for our documentary, but found ourselves turned away by security when we arrived with our cameras. After some negotiation by our hosts on the council we were allowed into the event, but sadly, not with our cameras. When the event ended, however, our Director used the question and answer session to his advantage, introducing himself and our project to David Miliband and asking him in front of the audience if he would agree to a quick interview with us. David agreed. We charged back to the car for our kit, ran back in –almost getting blocked by security once again – and hastily set up an on-the-fly interview.

The original footage of the documentary is no longer in my possession (as Compulsive, and its archives are no longer in existence) but I do have a low-res copy of the interview. The quality is terrible and I didn’t include it in the final cut but I’m still proud that I was able to interview the Foreign Secretary.

It felt a little suspect for the government to suddenly take more notice of the Diego Garcians so close to the election but the islanders were optimistic and keen to support any initiative that could lead to a return. Unfortunately, the creation of the conservation area was later criticized as a further obstacle to the Diego Garcians’ right to return as the islanders would now find their return posing a threat to the environment as well as international security. The possibility of this being a tactical move by the British government to further deny Diego Garcians access to their homeland was confirmed by Wikileaks. 

Our clients at Crawley Borough Council, had set a screening date for two weeks before the general election and as the day approached things started to get crazy.

Once government entered Purdah, we were contacted by an official at the council who told us that we needed to submit the film to their office for approval before the screening date. They would advise us as to whether we would be allowed to screen the film and explained that we would need to accept any necessary cuts that they recommend or else have the screening banned. We were told that all publicity of the screening was banned. No photos could be taken at the event. A list of all guests at the screening was required, detailing their political bias. No political figures were permitted to speak at the event unless we allowed someone from every party to speak and be given the same amount of time.

Following this, we had requests from the Foreign Office, the local Conservative Party and the local Labour Party to allow them to see the film before the screening and make cuts if they deemed necessary.

We received a complaint from the Shadow Foreign Secretary about not being included in the documentary – the same Minister who refused our repeated requests for an interview months earlier. All kinds of people who had declined to appear in the film were suddenly angry that they’d been excluded. People seemed to be lining up to speak at the screening, all jostling for a chance to attach themselves to the Diego Garcian cause.

When we informed our clients about the situation they said that moving the screening date would constitute a breach of contract so we found ourselves caught between a rock and a hard place. Our film was at risk of being picked apart. All of our contributors had signed release forms. No one had any rights to our footage beside us. Our commitment was to the Diego Garcian people and to telling their story as best we could. Our intention had always been to allow the community to tell their story in their own words. We didn’t want to relinquish control of our film and allow others to dictate how the story would be told. All of a sudden, all sorts of people who weren’t even involved in the film were concerned about how the film could damage their chances in the election.

It was a stressful week but thankfully we reached an agreement with our client about rescheduling the screening until after the election, which put control of the edit firmly back in our hands. As soon as the screening was moved everyone lost interest again. The Shadow Foreign and Commonwealth Office went back to ignoring our emails and no other politicians besides Henry and Laura retained an interest in taking part in the film or attending the screening.

After the screening in May we worked on a longer 60 minute cut of the film for October’s Black History Month. After that we had plans for a feature-length version of the film that we were unable to raise funding for. Our aim would have been to further investigate the right to return and to question the role of the base in light of emerging evidence of it’s use for renditions flights. We had hoped that this final version of the film could take a harder line against the military base and the politicians involved in the expulsion. We wanted to create a campaign film for the islanders that would really question how this could happen and how the islanders could still be denied the right to return home. It’s unfortunate that our funding applications were unsuccessful.

Then the election came. Henry gained the seat he had been campaigning for for so long. He continues to support the Diego Garcian community in Crawley. Laura retired from politics but also continues her support of the Diego Garcians.

With the new coalition government came austerity cuts to arts budgets and youth services. It was a hard time for community filmmaking. Compulsive Productions sadly closed down the following year and with that went any hope of continuing the project, although I still have hopes of returning to the story one day with a follow-up film. The silver lining of my time ending with Compulsive was that it set me on the path to building a business of my own and Exiled remains to this day one of the most exciting and inspirational projects I’ve ever had the pleasure of working on.

Since the making of the film, Allen Vincatassin has been elected President of the Provisional Government of Diego Garcia and the Chagos Islands. I spoke to him last week about how the community is doing and how the campaign has progressed and I’ll be sharing the update in my next post. It’s good news and it could be a step forward.

About the Author:

Evan Wilkinson is a Community Filmmaker based in Brighton. As well as producing videos and community film projects, Evan teaches workshops in filmmaking, script development and animation. For more information please visit: http://evanwilkinson.co.uk

Moonlight Saves The Day

This was a short film made by children from Years 3 and 4 at Meon Junior School in Portsmouth. It was part of a Creative Partnerships project focused on literacy. The group had already worked with another company to devise a fairytale-like story. I was tasked with showing the children how to turn that story into an animation through a series of workshops.

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We began by breaking the story into scenes and discussing how scenes are laid out in a script. It was not long before we had adapted the group’s story into a script to use whilst shooting. Following this, we explored shot language and the group learned about how to use master shots, close-ups and cut-aways to tell their story visually. Armed with this knowledge the group were able to create a shot list and a storyboard for their animation.

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The next thing the group had to tackle was character design and so we discussed what the characters should look like and what physical attributes we could give them to enhance their personalities. Based on this list of qualities and descriptions the class drew their ideas for each character and then voted for their favourites to make the final decisions.

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Once we knew what the characters looked like we turned our attention to the animation’s sets and used a similar process to design the different environments of the story.

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Once the design stage was complete, we moved onto construction. I led the group through a workshop on how to make articulated puppets for paper cut-out animation and then we assigned teams to start work on each of the characters and sets. This was a difficult job as the children had to take into account the ways in which each character needed to move as well as making sure we had removable features for every facial expression required for each of the characters.

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We also had to create versions of the puppets in different sizes, such as enlarged heads and facial features for close-ups. Added to all of this was the challenge of keeping every element of the animation in proportion so that it would work when we put it all together.

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With all of our elements prepared, we were able to start animating the film. The group had a workshop to introduce them to animation techniques at the start of the project, so they would be familiar with the software and the process. Shooting out of sequence, the classes were split into small animation teams each with a few shots to complete. We only had two days in which to shoot the film. Everyone involved in the project also got to record narration and sound effects for the film, which were then combined when the film was edited.

10 Fun 11 FunThis is one of the youngest age groups that I have worked with and so I was extremely impressed by the quality of their work within such a limited timeframe. The project was delivered and completed in the space of six weeks, with only a day of workshops each week for each class.

If you would like to try your hand at an animation workshop or make a short film as a project like this one then please visit my website for more information.

T.A.N.K.S.

T.A.N.K.S was one of the films made by young people through the Oak Grove Film Project, a peer mentoring and integration project that brought mainstream young people and young people with special needs together to make short films. Workshops explored genre, technical filmmaking skills, script writing and development, casting, stage fighting, props making, acting techniques and direction.

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In the first year of the project the young people made a science fiction film, an outcome decided by the project organisers. For the project’s second year I wanted the young people to have more ownership of what they made, so I wanted them to select the genre themselves. In order to present the group with their options I ran a series of workshops on genre looking in particular at genres that were easy to define stylistically and visually such as Horror, Western, Thriller, Action and Adventure. In each workshop I would show film clips as examples in order to prompt the group to pick out the defining elements or ingredients of each genre. We looked at the visual style, basic story structure and archetypal characters within each genre and explored the associations that the group had with each type of film. The group then voted for the genre that they would like to work in, choosing to make an Action movie.

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With the genre selected, we then began to explore Action in more depth looking at films like Die Hard, Hot Fuzz and Kung Fu Hustle. The group explored a workshop on the action hero, looking at the typical personality traits of an action hero, their journey to becoming a hero through the course of the story and their relationship to other characters such as a sidekick, a love interest (who finds herself in danger) and an authority figure who challenges the hero’s methods.

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With our understanding of the action hero complete, I then led a workshop that looked at the villain’s role within the genre and the ways in which the villain can be compared and contrasted with the hero. We also looked at his henchmen and cronies.

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To begin generating ideas for our film, I ran a workshop in high concept movies – films with a simple premise that can be explained in one sentence. The group were asked to identify a number of films from their high concept descriptions and then began creating and pitching their own high concept premises for the film. The aim was to establish a threat for our hero to fight against as this would provide the basis of our plot. We played around with a lot of ideas, established which concepts were the most popular choices and then began to swap and combine elements until we had a story idea that everyone agreed on. The threat was an evil headmaster with a brainwashed army of school children – Totally Awesome Ninja Kids – giving us our title, TANKS.

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With our characters identified and a premise on which to build our plot, I then led the group in exploring the hero’s journey more closely and used story structure, along with all of the genre ingredients we’d already listed, to map out a blueprint for a typical action film plot. This blueprint followed a recognizable three-act structure that the group were able to apply to a number of action movies that they were familiar with. This plan outlined roughly ten scenes in which our hero notices something suspicious, investigates, identifies the villain and meets a series of obstacles before finally defeating the enemy. We were then able to slot our story ideas and ingredients into the blueprint and soon had a full story outline for the writers to work with.

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The group split into two working groups for the screenwriting process with a group of writers discussing ideas and drafting scenes while a group of actors improvised scenes and characters. Each week the two groups would feed each other ideas with the writers suggesting scenes or characters for the group to improvise and the actors performing them. I felt that this was a good way for those who didn’t want to write to still feed their ideas into the script and influence the story. Improvisation can be really useful to help writers come up with new ideas or fill in gaps in the story that they might be struggling with.

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Castings were filmed and done in groups so that people could also try out for crew roles and get in some practise with the kit.

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The film needed to be high energy. Obviously car chases weren’t possible and so our chases had to be on foot. We also had a stage fighting workshop in order to learn safe fighting techniques for the film and devise our onscreen clashes. This was a particularly fun day.

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We shot the film over a few weekends at The Rosie and around Oak Grove College. The film was entered into the Oak Grove Community Film Festival and was nominated for ‘Best Drama.’

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To find out more about my community filmmaking projects and workshops, please visit my website.

Introducing…

Hi, I’m Evan and I’m a community filmmaker.

I’ve been writing and making films since childhood. I remember the first time my sister and I got our hands on a friend’s camcorder. We created simple in-camera tricks such as making people disappear and reappear and turn into different objects. It was like performing a magic trick. Inspired by Sesame Street and the Adam and Joe show, my childhood experiments in video progressed to using stuffed animals and toys to recreate dramas and tell stories of my own. In my teenage years, like a typical adolescent, mortality became a fascination for me. I started making campy fake-blood-soaked horror shorts with friends, running around the South Downs screaming, with rusty shears and other improvised weapons.

I can assure you that all of these early films were terrible, but those elements are still present in my work today. I am drawn to the illusion of cinema and the opportunity to create effects. As an animator I enjoy giving life to puppets, toys and inanimate objects, essentially using the same stop/start technique that my sister and I employed to make ourselves disappear from the frame as children. I still love creating horror effects and channel this into experiments with special effects make-up. Horror has taught me how to create tension and suspense, which was a great entry point to understanding how to provoke a range of emotions in an audience.

Leading workshops was something that evolved quite organically for me. I started learning about production and script writing when I joined my local youth theatre. I originally had ambitions to act, but soon became far more enchanted with the world backstage than on it. I got involved in making props and costumes. I started devising and writing material. Then, around age 14, I tried my hand at leading workshops and this is when I was able to get my hands on video cameras again. At first we produced in-camera edited films but then when the group acquired a laptop I started learning how to edit and how to shoot for the edit. I went on to study film, media and photography academically, but it was through the theatre group that my education began, and years later, where I got my first paid work as a workshop leader.

Being part of a community group was not only a huge support to me throughout my childhood but also a creative playground where I was able to learn, collaborate and develop throughout my formative years. Perhaps this is why I try to keep community at the heart of what I do. I believe that film and animation can provide all kinds of people with a creative and positive outlet, to help them develop their own voice in the same way that I did. As such, I enjoy working with different communities and on projects that have a social benefit.

Coming from a background of low budget theatre and filmmaking, I am used to getting my hands dirty on set and occupying several roles at the same time. This hands-on attitude has given me the opportunity to learn about the process of filmmaking from a variety of different perspectives within development, production and post-production. It has also enabled me to experiment with production design, props and puppet-making, special effects makeup and set building.

I am an avid film fan who loves to watch, make and talk about films. I’m a big fan of innovative writers and directors like Wes Anderson, Michel Gondry and Charlie Kaufman. I have a passion for film history and silent cinema. I love science fiction, monster movies, fantasy and horror films. I am definitely drawn to the dark side, so filmmakers like Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton are a big inspiration as well as animators like Jan Svankmajer, Jiri Trnka, and the late great Ray Harryhausen.

I love animation, especially when it gives me the opportunity to create strange characters. It takes a great deal of patience and attention to detail, but it’s those details that I love to get lost in, like how a character is going to move and perform or what they are going to sound like. Watching your animation come to life is like watching magic happen in front of your eyes. The first time you watch your work back, and see your characters move as if they have a life of their own, it’s incredible. It’s so much fun to introduce new people to animation, and see that same reaction in them.

I have a lot of ambitions – one of them being to build my own production company from the ground up. I’m just starting out on that journey, but I already feel I’ve achieved my most important goal of being able to do something that I love for a living. I am learning every day – about myself, about film and about running my own business. I plan to share these experiences through this blog and hopefully interest and entertain along the way. I’m always open to conversations and opinions, so feel free to comment, critique and join the discussion.

If you’re interested in my business then please visit my website for more information. To see more of my short films and animations check out my YouTube channel. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter.