Reflection on 364MC

Before this module I was a little anxious about leaving university and entering the big wide world. I did not really know what to expect from the industry I wanted to go into, or about the industry in general, this module made me take a very close look into my chosen field and made me contact people who might be able to help me in my future career. From booking meetings with Ruth to finding out about how to make a sustainable portfolio, I have truly benefited from this module. It has made me more aware about the industry that I am about to enter and what to expect before I enter it. Finding out about how people entered the industry was very inspiring because everyone had very different stories, some of them studied media and film in university, some of them did not, some entered the media industry later in their life, this taught me that I should preserver and try and find a job within the industry. I know I will not become a director straight away I will have to work for it, therefore I will use social media such as facebook to offer myself a runner on different projects, Like I learnt from the 10 professionals I contacted, I must start at the bottom and work my way up.

I still feel anxious but there is no doubt that feel more prepared about leaving university now, with a strong CV, portfolio and showreel. I am currently in the process of looking for media jobs in the UK. Many of the jobs I have found are in London so I may have to consider moving after university if I am offered a job there, however I will look for media jobs in Birmingham first. I am also in the process of branding myself and making business cards to show that I am serious about working in the industry.  I recently got my 1st paid job which is taking on a role as a photographer for an engagement party. This is freelance work and If I do my job right hopefully this will lead to more opportunities.

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My Contacts

For this module we had to contact 10 individuals who we think would be potentially useful in our future careers, if I am being honest this was harder then I expected it to be as I had a lot of people not replying or people giving very short answers, however I found this extremely beneficial in finding out about how people got started in the industry and the struggles they faced. I talked to some of the people before I contacted them via email. When contacting people for this module I tried to personalise the messages instead of just copying and pasting the same message to everyone as I felt that this will get more a response, I wanted to show the professional that I have taken an interest in their work. Even thought I found this difficult I did manage to connect with 10 people .

1 – Shah Mahi – Media Technician at Birmingham City University (Email)

A professional contact that has been very helpful to me over the years is Shah Mahi. Shah has been a big help with helping me move my career forwards. Before my 3rd year started I got in contact with Shah as I was anxious to start this year. I talked to him about my FMP and he was extremely helpful with presenting advice for me. Here is the email he sent me during the summer. Shah’s Advice. I recently got in contact again where we decided to meet up to talk about my FMP and other options. I choose this contact because a couple of years ago he was in my position, a graduate out of uni looking for a job. He is now a media technician at his old university and really enjoys his job. I find this contact useful for my future career because this is a potential contact to collaborate with, also he is a guaranteed person to give me feedback on all the work I produce which will benefit me greatly in the future.

Here are some of the emails we exchanged.

2 – Tim Hall – Lighting Director (Email)

I attended a talk with Tim Hall, a lighting director. A reflection upon the talk can be found here >  Striking Lighting- Meeting Tim Hall (Lighting Director). The next day I connected with him on Linkedin, where I found his email address. I immediately emailed him in regards to my FMP. I found that people are more likely to reply if you ask them a specific question towards their career path, this is what happened when I connected with Tim Hall. Like I said in my other blog post I have no interest in becoming a lighting director however lighting directors share similar skills with directors which is why I found some of the things he said useful, having said this I do not think Tim Hall will be helpful to my career plans as I have no interest in working in Television or becoming a lighting director, however he is someone who I can run my future projects by and ask for advice on lighting them. Our conversation can be found below.

3 – Asif Kapadia – Director (Linkedin & Email

Asif Kapadia is my favourite documentary director, so he was the first person I thought of when I found out we had to contact 10 people.  I thought that it would be worth a shot to reach out to him, in hope that he will respond to me. I chose Asif because he is a person of colour who has broken into the hollywood industry with his documentaries “Senna” and “Amy”. He is also from the UK so he has a lot in common with me. I found an email on the shooting people website that can be found here > Asif Kapadia Shooting People but I had no luck. So I reached out to him on LinkedIn where he responded with an updated email address, I then sent him an email in which he did not respond to me. I assume that he was too busy to respond however it was worth it to reach out to him, especially because he is doing something that I want to do and he does it well. If Asif replied it would have been a massive step towards my future career.

4 – Zana Briski – Director (Email)

In the summer I watched a documentary called “Born into Brothels” directed by Zana Briski, This documentary was one of the best docs that I have watched in a long time. So for this module I decided that is was worth a try to reach out to her. I contacted her via her website where I found her email address, although I got a response it wasn’t quite the response I was expecting. Again just like Asif it would have been a big step towards my future career if she replied.  Nevertheless I am glad I tried to reach out Zana, it is always worth a shot.

5 – Brendan O’Neill – Writer, Producer, Director at Stickleback Productions (Facebook)

I met Brendan in the event “6ofthebestfest”. A reflection on the event can be found here > 6 Of The Best Fest. He hosted this event and I wanted to find out more about any other events that happening in Birmingham that he might be involved in. I was also keen to get Esther May Campbell’s email off him which is why I emailed him in the first place. I then realised that he also works in his own production company, since then I have been in contact with him regarding any film events that are going on in Birmingham, He has been a big help with raising my awareness about the film scene in Birmingham, Before I met him I had no idea about networking events that happen every month or that Birmingham was filled with creative people in the film industry. This contact is valuable and will continue to be so for my future career because since I met him, he has been inviting me to different film events around the city. Here is some of the messages we have exchanged.

6 – Phillip Parnell – Freelance Photographer (Networking Event, Email)

I met Phillip Parnell at the Film Brum networking event in Birmingham. He was in charge of taking pictures of the event and quickly got our attention. I wrote about him in my post > Film Brum Networking Event. Me and my friend were curious about the lights he was using and went up to ask him some questions, he then explained to us in detail, how composition and lighting are really important in photography in which he then gave us examples of what he meant by taking pictures of us. After this Phillip then gave us his business card, from this I got in contact with him via email and asked him a few question in which he gave really detailed answers. His answers can be found here > Phillip Response. I found Phillip to be a valuable contact and useful for my future career because I have an interest in photography as well as having an interest for filmmaking. Phillip is also a freelancer so if I decide to go down the freelancing route he will be able to help me and advise me on the dos and don’t of freelancing. I plan to go to the networking events every month, so hopefully I can create a good relationship with him and learn more about photography. Here are some of the messages we have exchanged.

7 – Clio David – Documentary Director (Linkedin)

Linkedin has proven to be a massive help when trying to connect with people in the industry. Even though I sent many messages out on LinkedIn, I only received a few messages back. One of the people that messaged me back was Clio David. David is a documentary director, something that I aspire to be one day. I connected with her because I thought she would be able advise me on how to get started and tell me her story on how she got started. I do not think Clio will be beneficial to my career because she seems like a very busy woman, this can be seen in her response, however she is from London so I might be able to meet her in the near future. Here is some of the messages we exchanged.

8 – Nigel Douglas – TV Drama & Theatre Director

Since LinkedIn was so great the first time I decided to use this as a main source to get the rest of my contacts. I reached out to Nigel Douglas a BAFTA award-winning film director. If I am being honest his response surprised me. Connecting with Nigel taught me that everyone looks at things differently. It was a learning curve to see how he defined the media and was interesting to see how he got into the industry. Connecting with Nigel was helpful because he is also a lecturer in the University of Salford where he specialises in directing and screen writing. I thought that he would be able to offer a different perspective than the lecturers at my university. This is one of the reasons why I connected with him. Although he did not really answer any of my questions, he did respond to me which I appreciated. Here is the messages we exchanged.

9 – Angus Brown – Writer/Producer/Director (Linkedin)

When I first got in contact with Angus I realised that a lot of other student on the media production course all connected with him. I was a bit weary to send Angus an email because I assumed that a lot of people had sent him one already, however he carries the title of a director so I decided to send him a message. To my surprise he responded and offered me some great advice. He has proven to be very helpful and has given me advice on how to start of my career as a director. I connected with him because I thought this would be a valuable contact to collaborate with as he only lives in Bristol Here are some of the messages we exchanged.

 

10 – Andy Linfield – Documentary Filmmaker and Researcher (Linkedin)

I decided to reach out to Andy because he is a documentary filmmaker, something that I want to be in the future. I thought he would be able to give me some good advice on how to get into the industry. According to his Linkedin page he has had a lot of experience in documentary production. He agreed to look at my portfolio which shows that I can trust him to give me some feedback on my work. He also lives in London so there is a chance to meet up in the near future. Here are some of the messages we exchanged.

 

Here are some of the people who I engaged with but have not replied.

Feedback on Showreel & Portfolio

Before this year I had never made a showreel, however being so close to graduation a showreel is essential to establishing yourself as a professional. A showreel sells your work and it needs to be perfect, this is why it was crucial for me to get feedback on it.

I sent it to, 2 different lecturers just to get a variety of feedback. The lecturers that I sent it to were Ken and Clifton. They gave very positive feedback. After looking at my showreel, Ken said

“It’s fine content wise except I would be a bit more specific about this sort of roles you were after. Instead of Filmmaker put down:
Director
Camera Operator
Researcher
Or choose one of the list to focus on depending on what you want to do?”

The first draft of my showreel stated that I was a filmmaker however Ken said to make it a bit more specific, I agreed with this as I feel that If I want to get recognized as a director I need to promote myself as one.

Clifton’s feedback was a little unexpected, he stated

“This looks ok a nice range of shots and style and space given to each, no fast cutting which makes a change in these kind of things. My only comment is that pretty much everyone who appears is/looks very young. Other than that you state well and clearly each section”
I understand this but I feel as though I have included my best work, when my FMP, which features elderly people, is edited I will add this into my showreel.
A portfolio needs to be professional and tidy which is something that I have tried to achieve with my website. I have asked many people to look it and give me feedback but I had no luck. Recently I got in contact with some people who graduated from university 2 years ago. I talked to Nick Leek and Meera Darji, two Coventry University graduates, who were kind enough to give me some feedback on my portfolio. Nick said…

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 21.33.04

I was really pleased with Nick’s feedback, due to timing I did not split up my portfolio into different areas of work, however I did take on board his comment about making my showreel autoplay on the home page, I also looked through the spelling and grammar and made sure everything was spelt correctly. After making these changes I then sent my portfolio to Meera Darji who said…

Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 22.32.22

 

Again I got some positive feedback from Meera however she wants me to be more creative with my website. When I first started creating the portfolio I decided not to use a template and work on a blank template instead, I carefully designed everything on the website. I am working on branding myself as a professional, once I have done this I will change the portfolio according to the theme, colours and overall look of my brand but till then I think I will keep it to how it is.

UPDATED SHOWREEL

UPDATED PORTFOLIO

Primary Research – Experience

Although this is not a work experience module I felt that it was important to get involved with some projects to learn new skills and increase my employability. As an aspiring director it is important to see how other directors work and how connect with their actors, therefore I have been working on other students FMP’s. So far I have worked on 3 FMP’s, all different in form and style.

The first FMP I worked on was a short film that goes by the name of Between the Lines which is a crime thriller created by Shahid Mahmood and Matthew Johnson. The story follows 26 year old Oliver who has been plagued by dreams of killings about to happen by one serial killer. One day he dream about his own death at the hands of the killer, but with clues as to how to take him down. Knowing this Oliver has an important decision to make. (Mahmood 2017). My role for this short film was taking pictures and videos behind the scenes. I was also a runner. Shahid stated that..

“During the production of Between The Lines, Anita Kaur was in charge of documenting behind the scenes of the production through taking pictures and was also a camera assistant/ runner. She was punctual and a joy to work with. Her duties were carried out exceptionally and production would have been difficult without her present. In addition she agreed to play the role of a dead body in a scene which was greatly needed. I have worked with Anita in the past numerous times and hope to work with her many more times in the future, she is one of the few people I would personally think of whenever I am creating a crew for a project”. – Shahid Mahmood

The second production I worked on was a live event called Subliminal Dreams. This was created by Darshan Patel. Subliminal Dream is a short experiment/ film to explore and discover how colour in motion can affect an individual’s mind, mood or emotion. (Patel 2017). Darshan stated that…

“When I was in search of a production assistant for my event I first approached Anita as I knew from previous experience that she is a reliable, dedicated and hard-working individual with a positive attitude. During the event, Anita assisted me with scheduling, greeting guests and making sure everything went smoothly, incorporating a great eye for detail as well as technical skills. I highly recommend Anita as part of any production and she truly has a passion to succeed and achieve great things!”  – Darshan Patel

The third production I worked on was a short film which goes by the name Lost Online created by Sharifah Mian . This was an extremely enjoyable production to work on because it is all filmed through social media. Lost Online is an interactive short film about a young woman who goes missing and you must make decisions on how she can be found (Mian 2017)  I found this interesting because it was different to anything I have watched. In terms of directing it was different. Sharifah had to direct the actors in how to respond to things because all you saw in the film is responses to what has been said and what is happening. For this project I worked behind the scenes capturing pictures and videos of the production, I also recorded the sound. Sharifah stated that…

“Anita proved to be a crucial part of the crew on the production of Lost Online as the sound operator. She was a massive help as she was very attentive to all the sounds that the audio equipment was picking up and easily noticed any anomalies. She wasn’t afraid to make suggestions and collaborate; I’d be glad to work with her again.” – Sharifah Mian

I wanted to work on many films as possible as I wanted to find out about how different directors work and how they see things in a different way. This is something that me and Mez/Stef explored in my tutorial. I found that working on these three projects was very enjoyable because they were all different in format and style. It was also beneficial because my speciality lies within documentary production, so working with the actors was a very new thing for me. It was great to see how the directors interacted with the actors and the relationships they built with them. Working on these projects were very useful because even though I did not direct any of them I was still able to gain skills and learn about different equipment that I did not know how to use before. During my research in how to becoming a director it was highlighted that directors should know about the technical aspects of a production, and the equipment being used. I feel that working on these FMP has made me more confident using different types of equipment and learning about how they work.

Bibliography

Mahmood. S (2017) betweenthelines. [online] Available at: http://mahmo123.wixsite.com/betweenthelines [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

Mian. S (2017). lostonline. [online] Available at: http://sharifahmian.wixsite.com/lostonline [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

Patel. D (2017). subliminaldream. [online] Available at: http://dpatel101.wixsite.com/subliminaldream [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017]

Film Brum Networking Event

Since I had such a great time at the last networking event I decided to go back this month, which I found so much more beneficial. This event was a little different to the 1st networking event that I attended.  I knew what to expect this time so I went in feeling more confident. I wanted to engage with people so I talked to many different people during this event. Two of them stood out to me.  One of them was Jemima Waltho, who is self-employed. She works for a number of different creative organisations across the west midlands. Me and a friend talked to her for a while and she gave us some advice on how to freelance and some pointers to finding media jobs in Birmingham, One thing I found extremely helpful was when she told us about the Grierson Trust.

“The Grierson Trust supports and champions aspiring documentary filmmakers. Through its new entrant training scheme, Grierson DocLab in partnership with Bertha DocHouse, it provides young people aged 18-25 the chance of a comprehensive training programme to help them transition into a documentary career.”

The Grierson Trust (2017) 

Finding out about this has made me think about life after university. I am strongly considering taking this course as it leads up to paid placements. This meeting with Jemima was extremely beneficial for me.

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Sharifah Mian, Jemima Waltho, Anita Kaur

(Phillip Parnell 2017)

The second person I met was a freelance photographer named Phillip Parnell who was kind enough to show us how to light a picture properly, although my speciality lies within documentary production I found this meeting to be very helpful. Lighting is something that I struggle with the most during productions so I paid close attention to what he was saying. He was also kind enough to take pictures of us and send them to me through email in which I asked him more about his career. Here are some of the pictures he took.

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(Phillip Parnell 2017)

 

Going to events such as these is a crucial part of me establishing myself as a director, I need to promote myself as a director whilst talking to people. I saw some familiar faces as well as some new faces and I will continue to attend these networking events.

Bibliography 

The Grierson Trust (2017) ‘Griersons DocLab 2017’ [online] available from <http://www.griersontrust.org/outreach/grierson-doclab/&gt; [9 March 2017]

 

Q&A with Josephine Doe

josephine-doe-sydney-indie-ff

(Josephine Doe 2015)

On Wednesday 1st March the cast and crew from the film Josephine Doe came into Coventry University to talk about what it is really like to work in the industry and the process they went through in order to create this film. The panel consisted of Ryan Michael (director/producer), Erin Cipolletti (writer, producer, actress) and Brad Porter (camera op). In terms of logistics they shot Josephine Doe in 15 days, this film was a 90 page script and they used 13 locations. I was extremely interested in what Ryan had to say about directing the film, something he said stood out to me, He said “You have to be the hardest critic of your own work”. In my experience of making films, I have never really loved anything I have made, I think this is the reason why. I am always so critical of my own work, and want it to perfect. I realised though being critical can be a good thing because it will make you strive to make the best film you can

Most of the advice that Ryan and Erin gave was all pointed toward making a film, which is perfect because we are all doing so for our FMP. I found this to be a very motivational talk. They both stated that “no one cares about your film, it’s up to you to sell it. This is something that I have been trying to do with my FMP. I have created a facebook page advertising my documentary and have gained interest by inviting people to like the page and also sharing it on social media platform20170301_155520s. They also gave lots of good advice on how the industry works. For example in terms of film festivals they warned us to “be careful, most film festivals are happy to take your fees but have no interest in your film”. They stated that they do this because it is a way of marketing the film festival. In terms of marketing the film they gave advice on how to make the film you are working on better. They highlighted that you should show your film to a brutal honest audience before you put it online or enter it in a film festival. This is something that I was looking into for my FMP. I want to hold a screening of it just so I can get some feedback on how to improve it, what works and what does not work. Like I said I found this discussion very motivating, so motivating that I wanted to know more, me and a couple of colleagues stayed back and asked more questions in which they were happy to respond to, although they were in a hurry, they gave us their email so we can get in contact with them further.

Through this talk I gained more insight in how the media industry works, especially for freelancers or independent filmmakers. Talking with Ryan made me realise how much hard work actually goes into directing a film. He has given me insight into how to direct a short independant film and how to market it, which will be extremely handy after I leave university. This talk was extremely helpful in telling us the realities on what the industry is really like, I feel as though I feel more prepared to leave university because I know what to expect. I am glad that this module is about making contacts and networking with people because as Ryan said  “its about who you know, not what you know”.

Secondary Research – Directing the Documentary

Following on from my research into the documentary genre that can be found in my previous post from my 360MC module,  Documentary Research. I have looked into books that talk about directing. Here is the book that made the biggest impression on me.

Michael Rabiger – Directing the Documentary

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“Becoming a documentary director is like taking over any new job: suddenly you must try to look competent in a new capacity and a new world. Discomfort and occasionally terror go with the experience; as with all the truly worthwhile new experiences” . To me becoming a documentary director is very difficult because you are dealing with such strong issues and problems, I believe that to work in this particular role you must be very think skinned as you will be dealing with difficult situations and will become uncomfortable in the process, however it all pays of when you see how your film is affecting the audience, the impact it has on them and how they react to it. It is truly rewarding because I feel that you are giving back, you are giving back to people who share similar issues that are discussed in the documentary you are making.

“Documentary is that rare medium in which the common person takes on large, important issues and shakes up society. Directing documentaries involves handling a modicum of power, and this brings ethical issues and moral responsibilities” To become a documentary director, you must be responsible, reliable and truthful. There are many things that can go wrong while making a documentary, for example, misrepresenting the subject and their story, presenting the wrong facts, A lot can go wrong so as the director you must make sure that the documentary is truthful and accurate before sharing the documentary to the world.

“To direct well takes a highly evolved triple consciousness” As a documentary director I need to be aware of all the aspects of the world I am filming, Becoming a documentary director is almost a spiritual journey as your emotions and feelings towards something may change, as you delve deeper into the subject/issue you will evolve as you learn about this “world”. Research is essential if you want to take on the role as a documentary director.

“A good director is has a lively fascination with the cause and effect behind the way real people live; has a mind that searches tirelessly for links and explanations….an loves delving into other peoples stories” Call me nosy but I love finding out about people lives, their experiences and in general, the human condition. I think it’s because I love to get inspired by peoples personal stories therefore I wish to inspire people by sharing these stories. I am a very patient person and will persevere until I find the truth.

“Directing frequently changes perfectly normal people into manic – depressives who suffer extremes of hope and despair in pursuit of the Holy Grail”  From this I gathered that directing is an extremely difficult role. In relation to this quote I am sad to say that I have experienced this while working on my FMP as the director. I wanted everything to go perfectly according to my vision therefore you could say I turned into a “manic depressive”

I used to think that the director was the most important person on the set, but after studying media I found that the director is not, sure they have a big say in the overall vision of the film, but they cannot make a film without a crew that specialises in different areas, reading this book has confirmed this. I share many characteristics to what makes a good director according to this book. The authors have discussed the pros and cons for being a director which I appreciate as not a lot of books point out the negative side to being a director. Reading this book has been extremely helpful towards my professional career as it covers all parts of directing, For example, directing the documentary, directing for tv/film, working with actors etc. It will be very beneficial towards my career plans.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Rabiger, M. (2004). Directing the documentary. 4th ed. USA: Focal Press.