Category Archives: London Film Academy

LFA Certificate 77

(Originally posted 21/12/09)

My month at the London Film Academy is sadly over. And what a month it has been. I can honestly say it has been one the best experiences of my life. What has the LFA given me? An idea of how a professional film set works, the skills to start making short films on my own (well with a crew), professional contacts, a load of new friends and most of all a head for film.


Catch Up Part 3 – Editing

(Originally posted 21/12/09)

35mm Film

On the first day of editing we went ‘old school’ with linear editing.

We had the opportunity to edit film using scissors and tape. Teaching this was Brian Blamey who was Stanley Kubrick’s sound editor on A Clockwork Orange (1971). Editing like this was something I always wanted to try.

The rest of the week was set aside for us to edit our films on the computers. We used Avid which is a good editing program (although I prefer Final Cut Pro). It was very hard to put the shots together as we had mainly only master shots that gave us coverage of the story. This was because of the tight timing on the day of the shoot, I wasn’t able to shoot a lot of the close ups and cutaways because of time. This gave us little to work with in Avid.

With the visuals edited together the look of the film was less than ideal; then we started adding sound and the whole thing changed. With music and some well timed sound effects the film become funny and a lot more enjoyable.

Catch Up Part 2 – Clapper Loader

(Originally posted 21/12/09)

The following day I took on the roll of what is in my opinion one of the most difficult, important and stressful jobs on a film set…the Clapper Loader. The Clappers jobs are loading/unloading the film, slating the scenes and collecting lens etc for the camera team. The loading/unloading of the film is a job that makes you sweat. I had to load 400ft of unexposed film into the camera magazine, oh yeah and you have to load/unload it all in the dark. If a single ray of light hits the film its ruined…and film costs a lot! Breath easy I got it done with no hiccups. Slating the scenes is a little harder than it seems. Not only do you need to write up the clapper board between takes you also need to write down the lens being used and the aperture, time the scene and calculate the amount of film ft used. The majority of this day was shot outside and it happened to be the coldest wettest day of the week. I was numb with cold but still enjoyed the day. It was good experience to shoot outside as all the other shoots were interiors. I came away from this day thinking Clapper loaders need more than one pair of hands.

Catch up Part 1 – Gaffer

(Originally posted 21/12/09)

The second shoot was indoors which was great, as it was wet and very cold outside. For this film I was Gaffer (chief lighter). My day consisted of waiting around a lot, for your work is done before they start shooting. I along with the DOP and Spark set up the scene working out which areas would need lighting and how we could do it in a natural looking way. After the initial set up was complete my job was then to be on standby in case we needed to change the set around. I also had to be alert for health and safety issues as the lights get extremely hot and there are wires running across the floor in all directions. It was a good day for experimenting with lighting as it is an extremely technical and complex skill. I believe I came away with more of a grasp on the basics.

Shooting Sabotage

(Originally posted 05/12/09)

Well, the first thing that was to go out the window was the schedule. It took us all an hour and twenty minutes to get to the location which was on the other side of London. But we all got there and the crew of 10 all got busy setting up the camera and lighting. I went straight to work with my actors running through the shot order with them so they knew what we doing and when.

Throughout the day problems arose that needed me to think on my feet and somehow get the shot. The main one that comes to mind was a shot where we needed a ‘fisheye’ lens to get the shot but for some reason it had been left at the film school. To solve this we put on the widest lens we had and repositioned the camera a little. This gave us a shot that looked close enough to the one that I wanted.

The main problem we had was time. We had so little time shoot in and so much to shoot. The 1st AD really saved the day here, she kept us going and managed to talk me into cutting out a few shots and tweaking others so that we got two shots in one and thanks to her we finished pretty much on time. I also have to give the actors a nod of gratitude here as they were fantastic in getting the shots mostly in one take.

Although the pressure was on all day to deliver, I was mostly excited rather than stressed and was very happy when I got to hand deliver the film to Soho film lab for developing.

Last Minute Planning

(Originally posted 05/12/09)

I’m first up out of the four films we are making this week and I found that the day before was to be one hell of a busy day. The morning was full of production meetings about scheduling, equipment booking and paper work (contracts, health & safety that sort of thing). In the break I jotted down my storyboard that only I could understand then we had a private meeting with the tutors in our teams. This meeting was in a way a checklist ticking off the things we had to do for our shoot (i.e. call list, schedule, health & safety, shot list). Then it got to the file load of paper work that needed to be filled in. However lucky me got out of this as that was the producers job and my actors had just turned up for a rehearsal. As director this was where my priorities lay.

The rehearsals went really well. The actors and I went up to the studio in the LFA were there was plenty of room to rehearse. First off I got the actors talking so we all got to know each other a little more. I took them through the storyboards before we started rehearsing the whole thing. In short the actors were great. They got into their roles straight away giving me the scenes I wanted and adding more to some. We then went out to take some photos of them interacting with each other as these stills will be props needed for shooting.

After getting the actors to sign their contracts they went off to prepare for the shoot. But the day was not over for me. The producer and DOP started the game rolling by booking the equipment out ready and I got to go off with my 1st AD (assistant director) to discuss the shoot. She and I went through the shots and worked out a shot schedule and fitted it into the time schedule we were hopefully going to stick to on the day.

Week Two Review

(Originally posted 05/12/09)

This week I rewrote Sabotage, streamlining it so it was more shootable in one day. Working closely with my DOP and Producer so that we were all happy with it. When we’d finished, the script was much more of a comedic piece than the original. Seeing that all the films we making are going to be silent I believe the changes would work better making the film more interesting as a high concept comedy.

After a few days when we had no lectures (just pre production time in which we scouted locations and looked for actors) we had two days of intense particle camera and lighting workshops. Although like I said these days were intense they were also some of the best I’ve had so far at the LFA. First hand we all tried our hand at lighting and camera work. We also at times had to fill in the role of actor so we had something to film (I now know for sure that acting is not a career path for me). I learnt a lot form these days, things that I had been taught in theory but never tried out physically. Doing it instead of reading about it really helped me get my head around it all.

The weekend came and so did our auditions that we held from 2-5pm on Saturday. Unfortunately a large proportion of the London Underground was shut down and it hit our casting hard with about 70% actors unable to make it. A handful turned up but although some were talented they were not what I was looking for. So we put out another call for casting and got three responses back which said they could come the next day and audition. Luck was on my side this time as these three actors were all great for the three roles and I decided to cast them on the spot.

Next week is shooting week. I can’t wait!!!

Foxy Rules LFA

(Originally posted 05/12/09)


(Originally posted 23/11/09)

Was doing producing today. The lectures were full of contracts, schedules, call lists and health & safety forms. It was kept fun by the tutor (Rebecca Knapp) with her horror stories of what has happened on her sets and she really got across the importance of a producer. No film will get off the ground without good organisation.

After the long day of lectures I went to TGI’s with my creative team to discuss the script, locations and shots for my film. We also enjoyed a cold beer…helps the creative process.

Week One Review

(Originally posted 22/11/09)

My first week at the LFA is over. It’s been a busy week in which I’ve had 24 hours of lectures, taken 144 photos, drawn 92 pictures and drafted 1 script. I’m not complaining its been fantastic. I’ve learnt new things, met new people and enjoyed every second.

One day this week was put aside for directing. A director and two professional actors ran through some basic directing techniques with us. We also got a chance to work one on one with the actors and each directed a short scene with them. A very enjoyable day and one that has helped me believe more firmly in becoming a director.

Other than the directing workshop we were mostly concentrating on creating our own individual stories that would go on to be shot if chosen. We developed the stories as a prose storyboard and also took still photos to show our ideas. The stories that everyone came up with were widely different and all very interesting. Four of these stories are being turned into short films, sadly mine is not one of them but I agree with the choices the tutors made, they all have great potential. Students work on all the films but are split into four teams of three. These three are given the roles Director, Producer and DOP which are chosen by the tutor. You play these roles on your film and then on the others you fill in different roles such as Gaffer, Loader and Focus Puller therefore experiencing a different role on each film.

I’ve been picked to be director on one of these films, Sabotage, which of course I’m over the moon about because there was some steep competition.

This coming week will I’m sure will be just as busy as the last, if not more. I have many lectures on producing, lighting and camera operating. I will also be working a lot on the pre-production of Sabotage with my producer and DOP so that we are ready for the shoot which is in 9 days time. I shall keep you posted on the events of the week.

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