Roy Andersson’s World of Glory

Swedish filmmaker, Roy Andersson is one of the most renowned Swedish commercial director. His adverts generally take place in pretty mundane environments and feature ordinary people, what makes them so good is that he works on them meticulously injecting them with humour and a bit of distance.  He favours fixed images with no cuts, over panning camera angles and over the top editing, this very minimalist technique has become his trademark. Through producing his commercials he has been able to set up his own production company with a studio and equipment, so he can make movies again (after his 25 year break).

I attended a screening of his 1990’s devastatingly powerful short film, Härlig är Jorden (World of Glory).

The film’s long desaturated images, capturing the cast’s Zombie like performances created a distance between the viewer and the lead character. It was an almost uncomfortable insight to an emotionless, troubled man who lives in a bizarre alternative universe. The opening image of the film shows women and children being loaded into a truck to be gassed because the beginning is so horrific it captures to audience’s attention and allows Andersson to slow down the pace and allow the viewer to look for clues as to why this has happened. Many people may not like Andersson’s artistic film style, some other people at the screening said it was too boring because of it’s slowness but I thought it was beautifully shot and deserves to be viewed with an open mind. However, I am still baffled by the film and left unsure of the message of the film. Instinctively I would say it’s second world war related or just a dig at us all for standing by as we see terrible, inhumane things happen.  I’d love to hear anyone else’s thoughts too…

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Chocolate Éclair anyone..?

I Stumbled upon this really interesting short film starring Ewan  McGregor.. It’s a really simple concept, playing with role reversal. I think it is BRILLIANTLY executed. Along with ‘The Black Hole’ I would say it’s one of my favourite short, short films.

BFI’s 5th Future Film Festival

Yesterday was the first day of the 5th BFI Future Film Festival. If you don’t already know what this festival entails it’s two fun filled days of workshops, networking opportunities, Q&A sessions and film screenings. The programme is designed to help young people develop their film making (or acting) skills further and provide an interesting insider’s look into to the industry.

My day began with a BBFC master class, run by Lucy Brett, an examiner for the British Board of Film Classification. She really engaged the audience, showing us clips and getting us to discuss a suitable classification for them.

Prior to the session, I hadn’t quite grasped the importance of the BBFC. One part of what they do is to protect the film industry as well being mindful of the legal obligation they have to audiences.  Imagine, there are some groups who are campaigning for every film that contains smoking to be an 18, undoubtedly this would never happen. The BBFC realise that by doing this the film industry would cease to exist!!

Amazingly, in 2011 out of all 721 films the BBFC certified there were only 2 rejections, The Human Centipede’s sequel and a film called The Bunny Game. The Bunny game was very violent and was considered to be verging on rape pornography, it was deemed to be potentially harmful to society, so to protect the audiences, the BBFC rejected the film. The Bunny Game was the 13th film the Board had rejected. The BBFC also make sure the film-makers aren’t prosecuted for breaking any obscenity laws.

In contrast to the dark over 18 films we discussed, the BBFC also had to deal with a problematic film which was aimed at a younger audience. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight received over 400 complaints when it opened in cinemas. The film’s opening sequence epitomises all the controversy over the films certificate. It contains lots of glorified violence which is almost presented as some sort of cool game and I completely understand that for a 12 year old, the relentlessness of it could be a bit overwhelming. 

However, the film was able to maintain it’s 12a certificate with no cuts made. Even the shocking pencil trick was kept in because the film did not dwell on the violence and it was bloodless. The session was really interesting and I left feeling informed and up to date with the UK’s film certification.

I then went to a short Blogging workshop run by http://permanentplastichelmet.com/‘s Ashley Clark. Although I had to rush off to my next session halfway through, he covered alot of ground. He discussed the importance of establishing your own voice and to be successful the best thing to do is take your own approach to things, even if it means going against the grain sometimes. After the session I realised there is no need for me to compromise my opinions when writing about films and that as long as I can substantiate any negativity, it’s fine. We were also given a big tip, that when writing a review, never read someone else’s before hand because it can warp your views of said film.

After a short break, I went to another BAFTA film session. It was a Q&A with three BAFTA nominated short film makers, led by producer Lisa Bryer. Each of the filmmakers told us about their path to filmmaking and the struggles they faced during the process of making their films/animations. The main things I took away from what the three of them were saying were the importance of a good sound designer and the best way to capture your audiences attention and get them hooked is to think of your short as a ball of string. At first it should be all wound up but after the first minute it will unravel. 

Abuelas is one of the short films that was screened after the Q&A session. It was all done using stop-motion animation and I think it is really hooks the audience into watching the tear-jerking short film.

The final session I went to was about mastering the art of production. It was led by Lisa Bryer who is a woman who really knows her stuff, having worked on great films such as Goodbye Charlie Bright, The Hole and The Last King of Scotland. She is also one of the founders of Cowboy Films alongside Tim Pope. Cowboy films is a company set up to produce ads and promotional videos but then moved into making features.

Lisa worked as the producer on most of The Cure videos. She also has produced videos for well known companies such as this memorable advert for Carling’s Black Label 
I will follow this up with a post all about Lisa and her route into the industry.

Lisa explained to us what she thinks makes a good producer, she said as a producer you have to never give up, just keep on going and making sure everything falls into place. She said that timing is crucial and for something to work, the timing just has to be right. Another important thing Lisa talked about was having to delegate roles. As a producer you have to find people who are trustworthy and talented enough for projects and then allow them to get on with their job. It is not your vision you are just a facilitator and an organiser.

Overall, the film festival was really enjoyable and I feel I got a lot out of it.

Case Study: Diablo Cody

Juno, Jennifer’s body and Young Adult, what do all these films have in common?

Their fantastic screenwriter, Diablo Cody. 

Cody’s path into the industry had a strange start. Her journalistic feat was a blog about she wrote during her year working as a Stripper. The blog was a success because of her frank and sarcastic voice and was soon asked to write for weekly newspapers. In 2006, she published her memoir called Candy Girl and secured a contract with Gotham Books.  She also writes a column for Entertainment Weekly. After she finished her book, her manager advised Cody to start writing her first screen play and a few months later, she had finished Juno. 

Diablo Cody is also the Creator, Writer and Executive Producer of the united States of Tara which is a Dreamworks television series.  She has a new film coming out in 2013 called ‘The Evil Dead’ a remake of the 1980s Horror.

What I love about Diablo Cody is that she shows that there are so many different routes into the industry. Obviously, I don’t intend to follow exactly in her footsteps but she has a strong voice and puts herself into less than comfortable situations giving her interesting experiences to write. It is because of this that she became noticed. She was able to build up a following and her cult films are hugely popular.

Inspirational Figure: RANKIN

John Rankin Waddell, known in the industry as Rankin, is a British portrait and fashion photographer.  He was able to transform his hobby into a career.

He has photographed many famous faces including Kate Moss, Björk, Britney Spears, Madonna, David Bowie, Adele, Tony Blair, Vivienne Westwood and even The Queen.

Rankin studied photography at London College of Printing, where he met Jefferson Hack. The two went on to start a magazine called Dazed & Confused together after they graduated in 1992. (Link to Dazed & Confused page).

He is also a prolific film maker, having made documentaries, music videos, adverts and a feature film called The lives of the Saints. He also has his own production company called RankinFilm.

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