My First Experience as a Runner

Sunday 22nd October 2017 was the day I started my first ever runner position for a show called ‘National Treasure’s’.  The show was looking for production runners for their roadshow which was taking place throughout Ireland. They came to Belfast for one day and fortunately I managed to gain the role for the Belfast shoot.

How did I find out about the role? 

The role was advertised on Facebook. I had to email the production with a CV and other details about myself.

What is the ‘National Treasures Roadshow’?

The National Treasures Roadshow is part of an upcoming television series for RTÉ One, with host John Creedon. It is a campaign to collect everyday objects that explore this history of Ireland over the last 100 years. The roadshow took place in Belfast, Cork Dublin and Galway. The show allowed the public to come in with historical objects for historians to exam and for them to reveal the fascinating stories behind them.

What did I do on the day? 

During my position as a runner my first duty was during the setup. I had to help the set designer to carry large flags outside the titanic building and to make sure that they were weighed down so they wouldn’t fall over or fly away. During the first half of the day my main job was to go out to the public and hand out flyers which would hopefully encourage them to go up to the roadshow and visit the historians. I was also responsible for guiding the public to and from the set so that they knew where they where going. I was also allowed to stay on set and talk to the crew and ask about their positions and gain advice. Everyone was really lovely and friendly, I had a great day and absolutley loved gaining a new experience.

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GRACE AND GOLIATH

I have been extremely fortunate to have gained a place as a Trainee DIT on Cinemagics’ new and upcoming film ‘Grace and Goliath’. There were 37 Trainees on this project between the ages 18 – 25. This was an amazing opportunity for us young inspiring filmmakers to gain our first credit on a feature film! I never thought at the age of 20 I would ever accomplish something like this. During the course of filming we worked alongside industry professionals such as Director Tony Mitchell, DOP Aidan Gault , DIT Cel Bothwell Fitzpatrick , Gaffer James Maguire and loads more ! The film is produced by Cinemagic and written by Maire Campbell who had also written their first feature film A Christmas Star. Cinemagics first feature film A Christmas Star was such a success for the trainees that they have now secured work in various film and television companies such as BBC, Disney, HBO, Sky, RTE and Bedlam Productions.

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First day of masterclasses!

In this Blog post I will talk about my first two days of introductory masterclasses we had at the very start of the project. I wont write about my experience onset until next year which is when the film will be released as I don’t want to leak any spoilers !!!

The masterclasses we participated in covered a range of departments within the industry. Over the two days we learnt about cinematography, music, costume, make-up, directing, camera work and also rules behind broadcasting and distributing film.

DAY ONE – 9am – 6pm

Today was the first day the project officially started for me. I had been so excited for this day ever since I found out I was accepted on to the project. I was so excited to meet new people and make new contacts.

When we first arrived at the ulster bank which was where all our masterclass’s for the first two days were taking place we had an introduction to the project which lasted an hour. Next up we had an overview panel with Producer and Cinemagic Chief Executive Joan Burney , Script writer Maire Campbell and Director Tony Mitchell . This involved us hearing about their plans for the project and also hearing more plans on the script. It was also a chance for us to introduce ourselves and to tell everyone what our role was on the project. Next up we had a Directing masterclass with Tony and then also a Music masterclass with Mark Gordon who works for Sixteen South to finish off our day.

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Overview panel with Tony Mitchel, Joan Burney and Maire Campbell

 

DAY TWO – 9am – 6pm

Second day of masterclasses and also the last. The day started of with a Masterclass with Michael Wilson. Michael Wilson was the UTV managing director and he went through an exercise with us on how to handle a situation on deciding which news stories to broadcast on the news. This was really interesting as it taught me that you had to really think carefully about what news is suitable to broadcast on national TV because if you make a bad decision on what to broadcast there could be severe consequences.  Next up was a masterclass was with Stacey Teague on costume and production Design. This was really interesting as Stacy talked about her role in costume and she actually brought in some of the costumes from Game Of Thrones ! We then had a make up masterclass with Liz Boston . Finally we had a cinematography masterclass with DOP Aidan Gault .I was really excited for this masterclass because I had already seen Aidan’s showreel posted and shared on Facebook before this masterclass which I thought was really beautiful and incredible. I was also really impressed by his masterclass especially as he is only a couple of years older than me and he is doing so well in his career.

This is my first post of my experience on Grace and Goliath. I will definitely be posting about my experience as a Trainee DIT working on the film next year when the film comes out !!

 

Get Your Foot in The Door with RTS Futures NI

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Earlier today (23rd February 2017) I went to an event called Get Your Foot In The Door with RTS Futures NI. This event was quite similar to a masterclass as I was part of an audience set in front of a panel of industry professionals who talked about their own experiences in the film industry.

The panel included;

  • Kieran Doherty (Managing Director of Stellify Media)
  • Terry Brennan (Head of News and Programmes at UTV)
  • Leon Mc Geowan-Fee (Production Manager for Disney’s ‘The Lodge’ and ‘The Secret Life of Boy’s)
  • Colin Bateman (Author and Screenwriter)
  • Michael Lennox (Film Director)

This event mainly focused on Directing, Producing, Scriptwriting and Journalism. As an aspiring film editor I decided to get tickets for this event because I wanted to learn a lot more about the different roles in film. It is important for an editor to know this as they are multi skilled in most areas of film. This is because they can use other areas to help understand how a film was shot etc allowing them to incorporate that knowledge into to editing .

This event gave me a lot of advice such as;

  • Volunteer for everything when trying to break into the industry
  • Get a role as a runner and make contacts, ask the crew about their roles.
  • Say if you make a mistake. This will save time and money.
  • In relation to Job applications, look at the company, email the right person, know the company, stand out, send a good cover letter and BE CREATIVE!!
  • Get work experience and get your name known.
  • Look into funding. (NI Screen)
  • Dress smart casual for an interview in this industry.

Overall the event was really helpful allowing me to connect with those in the industry and also allowing me to seek advice and tips that will help me in the future when trying to get my foot in the door.

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QUB First year short film’s

This is my first year at Queens University Belfast. I first began my university journey in September 2016 to study Film Studies. In this post I will be showing you what went into the making of our first two films I helped to create in this course. During the two films I worked with Ben Ross, Jenna Mealiff and Jack Tollerton. Our project brief was to come up with two scripts that were associated with the terms ‘Order’ and ‘Chaos’ that would be feasible in order to make a 1minute and 30 second film. Ben and Jack’s scripts were selected for our group.  Bens script ‘For a Future’ related with the theme ‘Chaos’ and Jack’s script ‘Chairs’ related with the theme ‘Order’. Once the scripts were selected each of us decided on a role that we would take on whilst filming. We first started with our pre-production  which meant we needed to take care of locations, actors and admin etc. Next was the production process which is when we were out on set and is when a film comes to life. Finally, we headed onto the postproduction which meant we had to edit the film and do colour correcting to create the film the way it was envisioned.

My role in ‘For a Future’ was Producer and Editor and for our film ‘Chairs’ I was the Director. I decided to take on the role as producer as I have had quite a bit of experience in organising productions before. As producer I first went through the script and discussed it with the director (Ben). We discussed what he had visualised the characters to look like and how their personalities would be so I could write up an advertisement for actors. Below I have included two screenshots of the advertisements I posted onto some film groups that I am apart of (Figure 1 and Figure 2).

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Figure 1

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Figure 2

Using this method of advertising allowed us to reach a large audience within our local area, we got many responses by using this method. Any applications I got back I forwarded onto the group so we could discuss who we thought would be best for what part. We ended up picking two characters for ‘For a Future’ James McAnespy and Andy Boyd. We also used James as our caretaker for ‘Chairs’. Next on our agenda was to find and book locations.  For ‘For a future’ Jenna and I went a walk around Belfast and Botanic to find a suitable location for our film. While we were out I took some pictures of locations to forward onto the rest of the group. Our group decided on a seminar room located right beside the reception for Film and Drama. This location was really convenient and it had everything we were looking for. We also provided food for our actors and ensured restrooms were nearby. For ‘Chair’s’ I emailed the technician for our course to book out the film studio which fortunately was available on the day we needed it. Jack also helped me out producing as he filled out the forms to collect the equipment and also completed a risk assessment. The last step I took before moving onto our actual production was to create call sheets to forward onto both our actors which included all the details needed for that day. An example of both call sheets are shown below (Figure 3 and Figure 4);

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Figure 3

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Figure 4

The filming process took place on the 30th November and 1st December. Our first shoot was for ‘For a Future’. At the start of the day the crew arrived half an hour earlier than the actors to gather the equipment and set up our location. We used the front window of the building and made it look like a jewellery shop window, Jenna was in charge of setting this up. Below is an image of her final design (Figure 5);

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Figure 5

When the actors arrived I went through the scripts and got them to act out the scene. It allows them to become comfortable with each other before they go on set. When we got round to filming I took notes of all our takes as I was also editing this film. It is important for the editor to remember about continuity in the scene so the editing will seem invisible as editing is described as the ‘invisible art’. During the filming we took a lot of handheld shots and POV’s to make the film seem a lot more realistic and exciting. A familiar example of this is in the Omaha Beech scene in Saving Private Ryan (1998) where Spielberg uses a lot of POV and handheld shots to present chaos within the scene. We were also influenced by the robbers in Home Alone (1990). The two robbers in Home alone gave us ideas of how we wanted Josh to act at the start; nervous and uncertain.

During the production of ‘Chairs’ I was the Director. My job was to visualise the film and structure it to the way I wanted it. This was my first time directing a film which was not only my own so I had to communicate effectively in order to inform the actors and crew what was expected off them. We were inspired by a scene in Shaun of the Dead (2004) which used a lot of frantic zooms and quick cuts. However, when we came to filming I decided to avoid using quick zooms as I felt if they were done incorrectly they would look quite amateurish. We had a lot of montage scenes within this film so we had to repeat a lot of the same scenes over and over again. We also decided that we could use this film in quite a comedic way since there was no actual dialogue so I asked the actor if he could act like those in Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) films, very expressively.

Jack took on the role to edit ‘Chairs’ and I took on the role to edit ‘For a Future’. Editing was the role I was most looking forward to as I have had experience in it before and is something I wish to pursue a career in. To edit ‘For a Future’ I used Final Cut Pro X that is installed on my laptop. I am using this software because it is a step up from iMovie and I have been using it for a couple of years now so I am quite familiar with it. When I was editing I was influenced by the movie Saving Private Ryan (1998). This movie also used the Bleach Bypass effect with high exposure and low contrast. I decided to imitate the look of Saving Private Ryan, since it is a well established thriller action movie and is a perfect film to aspire  to, especially since it is within our chosen genre. Below you will be able to see a screenshot from my final edit (figure 6):

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Figure 6

I really enjoyed taking part in this project. I feel like our films were successful but if I could go back I would amend some things and do them differently. In the film ‘For a Future’ I would have liked to add in a significant shot of our Jewellery shop. I feel it could have been made out a lot more obvious what the two thieves were going to steal. However, I did like the fact that we decided to use a long take of outside the building and add in some non-diegetic sound to let the audience interpret what was going on. This scene was similar to one in the film Unforgiven (1992), Clint Eastwood used the same kind of effect when Morgan Freeman was getting whipped while the rest of the town were standing outside listening to the slashes but they weren’t able to see what was happening. ‘Chairs’ was my first time directing a film so I definitely improved my leadership and communication skills. I had to be confident when telling people what to do and ensure I was appropriately communicating with the actors if I wanted to make any changes.

Links to the two films are attached below;

Chairs

For a Future

 

Strictly Come Dancing! – Antrim Parish

Background

Since I have finished on the BFI Network course I want to keep this blog as a portfolio for any film related work I have been involved in. The new project I am now working on is behind the scene footage for a community Strictly come dancing competition. On this project I will be working with Chloe Langton , Nicholas Tracey and Wayne Anthony. My role will be as a camera operator.

Updates on project;

19th September 2016

Today was the very first day of Strictly and everyone was meeting each other for the first time. However , I already new Chloe before so it was amazing that she was able to introduce me to Nicholas and Louise as I will now have the opportunity to work with them in the future.  Today we collected footage of the dancers first time learning the moves which was great as it allowed us to gain a lot of comical footage. We then moved on to set up an interview area which is shown in the image below. This allowed us to get a more personal insight of the dancers background.

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Interview Area

3rd October 2016

Today was our second day filming behind the scenes of Strictly. The dancers got split into their pairs today so it was a chance for us to capture their different routines and ‘best’ moments.

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21st November 2016 – Final day of filming!

Today was the final day filming our strictly dancers! Once we arrived at our destination we quickly set up to begin interviewing the dancers. Today I was designated the role as the sound operator , Nicholas as the camera operator and Wayne as the interviewer.  The questions that where asked consisted of ” What dances were they performing?”, “Any drama amongst the group?”, “Do you think you will win?” etc. I have operated a boom and have taken on the role of doing sound before so I was quite familiar with the equipment but it was great to get used to it again and to take on this kind of role that I never usually opt for.

Below you can see the sound equipment and the interview set up for this day.

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I really loved working on this project with Chloe, Nicholas and Wayne. I gained a lot of experienced and learned a lot from them which I had hoped for. Now that the filming and sound etc is complete Wayne is going to complete the edit and send it to the organiser’s so they can show it on the performance days. Hopefully I can work with these guys again as the effort that was put in by everyone was amazing. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

Unit 2 – Part E

Review

I feel that this was a very successful project and I have greatly benefited from it. This project allowed me to develop my editing skills and allow me to gain feedback from others on how to improve. It also was a great experience with allowing me to see what all goes into creating a short film. It showed me what to do and what not to do when planning/ filming one. I have also networked with a large group of people who I will be able to work with in the future. We all have made plans to make more short films together. I also loved the masterclasses that this course offered as it allowed me to listen to industry professional’s and I gained a lot of knowledge and tips from them. I am very happy that I was able to take part in this course as I feel it was a stepping stone in my journey to pursuing my dream career.

Feedback from others;

Noah- “Ciara met all the deadlines given to her involved with editing and also kept the group involved and updated with everything that was happening”

Phillip- “Ciara kept in good contact with me and we went on Skype sometimes to give feedback on the editing. Ciara worked well within our group”

I felt the feedback was really positive and I was thankful they had good things to say about me. Patricks feedback was also very educational and encouraging.

Overall my leadership on my editing role was a success and was very worth while. This was my first time working on an edit that was not fully my own. I have now went on to editing other short films which are not fully my own which is amazing. Working in a team is very important as it gives you a great insight into how your future in this industry will work. Working in a team to create a film means my main focus is on one thing (editing) and everyone takes on a role of their own. This is what it will be like when I hopefully have a career one day as an editor/filmmaker.

What leadership skills did I develop?

I learned to voice my opinion and to know that my ideas are worthwhile. I developed my management my skills by organising our makeup artist and taking a lead role by communicating through WhatsApp and getting feedback on my edit.

What did I enjoy most?

I enjoyed the whole process on the making of ‘DAVE’. I especially enjoyed obviously the editing but also being on location with the rest of the crew. This project was also a great way to meet like minded people.

What did I find most difficult/complicated in my role?

During the process of our film making my laptop broke. As an editor my laptop is extremely important to me as I need it to edit the film. I resolved this issue by digging into my bank and splashing out on a brand new laptop. This is something i’m extremely passionate about and was an opportunity i did not want to miss out on. As an editor I rely on my laptop so it would have been important for me to get a new one anyway so it was a real investment.

Another difficult issue within the process of the edit was that my co editor was on holidays and we where going to split the edit. However the footage the other editor was meant to send to me failed to send over the internet so I then had a lot of pressure on me to do most of the edit myself. we did Skype a few times to help resolve the issue to get feedback on any ideas and on how the film was looking so far.

What have I learned about communication?

I have learned that not everybody has the same opinion and it is important to let everyone voice their opinions. Sometimes compromises have to be made so everyone is happy with the final outcome

What have I learned about planning and my art form?

I have learned that I have to work within a time frame and to meet my deadlines. Schedules are important within planning so everything will run smoothly on the day. I have learned a lot about my art form through advice given to me in this project and it has only convinced me more that this is what I want to do.

What would I do differently next time?

I cant really think of anything I would do differently. I feel that ‘DAVE’ was a huge success and the feedback we are recieveing on it at the moment is amazing. Some of the audience members have even commented wanting a ‘DAVE 2″ which I would really love to do.

Overall the BFI networking project will be one of the most memorable times of my life. It has been a great stepping stone for me ,I have met so many amazing people whilst gaining new skills and developing old ones. I would seriously recommend anyone interested in filmmaking to take part in this project!

Unit 2 Parts C+D

Deliver

Evidence of what you did to make your project happen

DAVE <- Click here to view our final Film

The above link will direct you to our final film ‘Dave’ which has been uploaded to Youtube.

Below I will upload some stills of our Make up on set. I helped arrange the make up artist for film.

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Info about how you encouraged and communicated with others

We made a WhatsApp group chat which allowed us to communicate as one whole group. This allowed us to exchange information to each other in one message. As everyone has different opinions about certain aspects of the film compromises had to be made and everyones agreement had to be sought.

I communicated with Patrick Maxwell by email. Below is an example;

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I was happy with Patricks feedback and I took on his advice as it was very helpful. There were difficult moments as well. It was difficult to find music for the film that didn’t have a copyright. Also as I live in the country the internet is very slow so I had to take my laptop to a Starbucks in another town to get my film uploaded to Patrick.

Evidence on how you are developing your leadership skills

I developed my leadership roles as I was an editor within our BFI movie. In the future I really want to have a career as an editor. Having this role in our BFI film allowed me to gain new skills and allowed me to receive feedback and advice from others. I had deadlines to meet as an editor which allowed me to take control of my role.

Evidence of the editing process

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Editing process of the Shop Scene

A technical highlight in this film I was quite proud of where the freeze frames at the end of the credits I put in for the actors. I was inspired by previous comedy films I had watched and seen similar ideas in. The image below shows someone actually commenting about this;

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