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By midlandsmovies, Sep 9 2019 07:00AM



A Day in the Life of Midlands producer Kelly McCormack


In our third "A Day in the Life of" features, local Leicester producer Kelly McCormack herself describes what it's like to be involved on a film shoot in the region.


From early starts and long complicated days to celebratory drinks once a film has wrapped for the day, Kelly explains below the pressured environment of a Midlands film producer and the varied tasks to sort during a production.


0900: Wake up, get ready, sort out my paperwork ready to head to the venue. I choose a bright outfit with our production company’s logo so that any extras or location staff can recognise me as a point of contact.


10:00: I arrive early and the first person on location to ensure I can handle any early problems with the city centre venue such as no answer or room not cleared. Fortunately on this occasion everything goes to plan so I order myself a coffee.


10:20: Crew and main cast start to arrive, I keep an eye out for who is here and who there is no sign of. I start to ask around to see if everyone has heard from each other and if they are ready and excited for the day ahead.


10:45: I ensure whoever is due to have make up is in the makeup chairs while the crew continue to set up. Anyone already made up, I ask them to run through lines with each other. I let everyone know where the ‘snack trolley’ is based.


11:00: I sit down to have a chat with the director to see where his head is at. I explain we are slightly behind schedule and need to make a start asap. We discuss cutting a potential scene to help with timing if necessary. I help an actor with a read-through of his scenes whilst he is waiting to go on set.


11:00-13:00: I sit back and observe the shots that are happening, answering queries from the director, venue staff and actors not in the current scenes. I remind the director of timings when needed. I ask those not on set to take regular breaks when they can and ensure they have had something to eat.


13:00: Extras begin to arrive whilst I am covering clapper board duties so I ask my production runner to get them all signed in. I remind the director that we are technically behind schedule but I think we will be ok to catch up.


1330: I have a chat with my extras to ask how they are, how they feel about the shoot, if they have been on a film set before.


14:00: I do a speech to the thirty extras about the filming day, the scene they are in and what they need to do; it’s a gig scene so they just need to react to the two bands playing. I remind them that this is all for fun so to go with it and enjoy it but if anything concerns them or makes them uncomfortable that they can talk to me or our production runners. I ask them to only talk to the director and camera men if essential as they will do a lot of moving in this scene so need to focus. Everyone gives a big cheer to signify that they are happy. We sing a quick happy birthday to one of our cast members and the scene sets to begin.


14:00-16:00: We spend a good amount of time on the scene, rerunning about ten times to get different angles, ensuring the extras only put 100% when the camera is on them to ensure they aren’t too worn out! They all do brilliantly. I help by pressing play on the audio system for playback purposes about six or seven times. I take some behind the scenes photos.


16:00: I clarify with the director and camera men that we have everything we need, they confirm so we wrap the shoot early! We have an hour still in the venue so take our time to pack away, chat to the extras and lock them into some more shoot and just have a breather after an intense but seriously fun shoot.


17:00: I chat to the main cast and crew informing them of when the next shoot is scheduled and what is needed, they have already been told electronically so it is more of a reminder. We all thank each other for the hard work that has been put in.


18:00: We head to the bar, order a Guinness and toast to an enjoyable St Patricks day.


By midlandsmovies, Aug 19 2018 09:30AM



Midlands Interview - Christopher Bevan and Belinda Basson talk The Other


Midlands Movies speaks to the director Christopher Bevan and Producer Belinda Basson of upcoming local film The Other - an ambitious and gripping short thriller currently in production from the award-winning team.


Midlands Movies: Hi both, can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Chris Bevan: Hello. I’m a Derby-based director working across shorts, music videos, commercials and documentaries with a real interest in thriller, sci-fi and drama films. In addition to freelancing I also am the creative director of my production company YSP Media.

Belinda Basson: I moved into film production following a career in corporate communications, marketing and PR, fulfilling an ambition I had had originally to work in film as a first career. I am now Director of film production company Dreamfusion Productions, with a diverse portfolio of films completed.


MM: And how long have you worked in the film industry?

CB: I’ve been making films for a good 12-13 years now since picking up a handycam at 16 years old and making action movies with my friends and family. Since then I’ve turned it into my full-time career and have never looked back!

BB: I have worked in different capacities in film production for ten years, producing a diverse body of work through my company Dreamfusion Productions. My collaboration with Chris began six years ago and we have written, developed and produced a wide range of films since the first project we worked on together.


MM: It’s great to see such collaboration. So, what has been the most difficult hurdle you have had to overcome?

BB: The biggest recurring hurdle is finding all the resources to get films made, from funding to locations. That said, by working with Chris and several excellent teams of cast and crew, we have brought some great films to completion, all with high production value, even when limited funds have been available.

CB: Belinda and I have collaborated on quite a few films now and I think as time goes by, the challenge of finding the funding to realise these ideas and concepts as they become greater in scope and ambition is definitely a hurdle but one we have tackled head on. As a producer Belinda is ambitious and never backs down from a challenge, always finding a way to pull off the seemingly impossible!


MM: Your new film is The Other. Can you tell our readers a bit about it and how it came about?

BB: The idea for 'The Other' came from a film I once saw called 'The Man Who Haunted Himself'. In what was widely recognised as Roger Moore's best and most chilling performance, a successful man has his comfortable life challenged by unexplained occurrences which have an increasingly dramatic and devastating effect on his mental state. The film left a lasting impression and I have long wanted to revisit the 'doppelganger' notion but in a contemporary context relevant for society today and reflecting the pressures of our everyday lives.

CB: We were excited to bring on board writer Ben Errington to develop the story and script for The Other. Our story follows Marcus, an ambitious chef who wants to reach the heights of his profession. His life is stable and predictable until one day an unexplained event sets his life on a frightening course, increasingly throwing his life into chaos and making him question his own sanity.



MM: And how did you come to cast your actors Adam Horvath, Dani Tonks, Liz Leonard, Christopher Tajah?

CB: The lead of Marcus was definitely written with Adam Horvath in mind. We’d worked with him on a project a few years ago and having seen his performance in Derby Theatre’s production of ‘Brassed Off’ we knew he could deliver both the depth and range of emotion that the challenging role of Marcus required. Belinda was very keen to cast Adam and we were all delighted when he loved the script and accepted the role!

BB: For the roles of Ruth, Wendy and Phillip we put out casting calls and had a great response. We managed to narrow down a shorter list of actors who appeared to be a close fit our character profiles and held auditions in both London and Derby. Of the great calibre of actors we auditioned, we cast Dani, Liz and later Christopher.


MM: As we’re a local organisation we are always keen to find out how filmmakers make the decision to create their movie in the Midlands?

BB: The Midlands has a wealth of film making and acting talent and we wanted to reflect the quality of both people and locations in the region. We decided on Derby as we are based in the City and our lead actor is from Derby. We were very fortunate to find and receive permission to film in some great locations.

CB: We filmed in the city centre with amazing support from Derby Museums and had some additional locations in Sandiacre and Ripley.

BB: We also chose Birmingham due to the excellent support available from Film Birmingham, which was outlined to us by Sindy Campbell at an RTS Midlands networking event. We were very keen to achieve the maximum production value possible so chose to aim for feature-scale settings. One of the ways to achieve this was to have an impressive cityscape backdrop, which was perfectly delivered by the City of Birmingham.


MM: And are you both from the region yourselves?

CB: I was born in Shrewsbury and later moved to Derby so have always lived in the Midlands.

BB: I am not originally from the region but studied in the Midlands and have spent a considerable amount of time in both Derby and Nottingham.


MM: And with the film ready to go, how was the actual shooting?

BB: The shoot was challenging in terms of the number and types of locations, but our excellent cast and crew rose to the challenge and delivered awe-inspiring work! We are very excited at the prospect of working with them again to finish The Other.

CB: We had such a committed cast and crew and working with them across the main block of filming last year was a pleasure. Of all the films I’ve worked on as director, this felt the most ambitious and I’m really pleased with the results so far. We have shot 80% of the film now and are looking to crowdfunding to support the final 20% and post-production.



MM: And with regards to your influences, what films or filmmakers inspire you?

CB: I’ve always been a huge fan of Clint Eastwood’s work with Unforgiven being one of my all-time favourites. In terms of big names, I’ve always been inspired by Fincher, Spielberg, Nolan and Villeneuve but I also look to directors such as Damien Chazelle, Ryan Coogler, Gareth Edwards and Debra Granik to name but a few. It would be remiss of me not to mention my love for Star Wars and huge admiration for George Lucas too!

BB: I have been inspired by the work of Hitchcock, Spielberg, Coppola, Nolan and the naturalistic directing style of Clint Eastwood. I also really like the quirky, visionary creative styles of David Lynch and the Coen brothers. I have too many film favourites to mention here!


MM: So did those sway any of your creative decisions in The Other?

BB: There are several stylistic themes in the film which reference the styling of these great directors, especially Alfred Hitchcock.

CB: I worked closely with DP Karl Poyzer and we frequently referenced Fincher’s work on Gone Girl and Zodiac in particular during pre-production on The Other when developing the look. With regards to story and character, Villeneuve’s Enemy and Hitchcock’s Vertigo both came up in conversation in terms of creative influences for contemporary and classical representations of doppelgangers in film.


MM: And when and where can people expect to see The Other?

BB: We are currently aiming to raise funds to complete the filming of the remaining two striking scenes through crowdfunding support. If we are successful, we would hope to have the film completed by early next year.

CB: It’s an exciting time for us as we are gearing up to launch our IndieGoGo campaign for the film! Should we be successful in crowdfunding these two integral scenes and our post-production, we would hope to begin submitting to festivals within the next six months and a premiere will hopefully not be far away!


MM: And finally, what’s next on the horizon for you?

BB: Our next point of focus will be a challenging feature with themes that should appeal to a very wide and diverse audience. I can reveal no more at this stage!

CB: This will be another YSP Media and Dreamfusion Productions collaboration and we have spent four years developing this project. We’re hoping to get things rolling once The Other is completed and released – watch this space!


Thank you both.


The Other’s IndieGoGo pre-launch page can be found here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-other-a-short-thriller-film-drama--2/coming_soon/x/208337


And check the teaser trailer here:







By midlandsmovies, Sep 13 2017 10:37AM



Caroline Spence is a producer and screenwriter based in the Midlands and as part of our 'Professional' series we ask Caroline about her roles, experience and advice for readers interested in developing their career in this interesting and varied job.


Background

I am a screenwriter and feature film producer. I came to this profession fairly late in life as compared with other people in the business. Previously, I worked in various administrative roles in so many different industries that I’ve lost count, from law to the defence industry, accounting, finance and the mental health sector. All sounds impressive, but I was predominantly sat in front of a screen typing - always restless, always dreaming of breaking out and doing something else. In a way, this has been an advantage in my current profession – I know business, I know accounts, and I’ve met many people from many different walks of life, and so I have a wealth of inspiration to draw on when scouting for locations or writing new characters.


How Caroline got into film producing

I came to film producing through a series of events. I've been a writer since childhood and went on to write published articles based around natural history, science, and ancient history. In 2004, I was invited to appear on a TV show about international property as a realtor, because the actual realtor didn't want to appear on television! Although I knew little about selling properties abroad (in this case, Spain), I thought it would be a great experience. Unfortunately, when it came to the shoot, I wasn't too impressed by the (unprofessional) behaviour of the film crew. Nevertheless, this odd experience inspired me to write and present my own documentaries.


So, James Smith (director) and I set up Raya Films and we won a number of awards for our documentaries as well as enjoying sell-out theatrical screenings and international broadcast. We moved into commercial work and then experimented with short film, but it wasn't until I started penning screenplays that I knew I'd found my forte: feature film.


Training

I didn’t go to film school or go on any courses relating to the film industry. I learned on the job. As I already had over twenty years’ experience in a variety of industries, communication skills became ingrained in me, and I have become almost OCD with regard to organisation. In my opinion, these are two of the most important attributes to have as a film producer. I studied screenwriting religiously. I read (and continue to read) dozens of Hollywood screenplays. In the early days, I gained many tips from a highly-regarded screenwriting book (sorry, I seriously can’t remember which one!), I studied the screenplay for Ronin (1998) and The Firm (1993) on screen. I’ve been working toward achieving the standard of those two masterpieces ever since.



Experience in the film industry

In terms of feature film, there have been many ups and downs – there are many rogues in this industry and I’ve experienced my fair share of them. One of my first screenplays came to the attention of a sales agent/producer in Hollywood. We had various phone conversations – he loved the screenplay and was interested in working with us on it. Unfortunately, when he learned we hadn’t produced a feature film before he pulled out. This has been a repeated theme. The movers and shakers in the industry liked my screenplays, but with a lack of track record they didn’t take the risk. But the tide slowly tips in your favour if you keep going and build up experience - at last, my work is being taken seriously by established companies.


We came very close a few years ago with a movie set in Spain. I won’t go into detail but I had attached a named actor, a sales agent was coming onboard as executive producer, I had financiers … we were so close. Unfortunately, I brought in a producer to help me on the project who disrupted everything and caused setbacks. The film had to be put on hold. Despite this, I am now back in the driving seat. As a result of this experience, however, I am now very particular who I work with. In hindsight, this ‘producer’ did me the biggest favour ever: made me aware of rogues and the value of due diligence.


The demands from a filmmaker

Through experience, I am very strict on communication and insist people working on my projects tell me what they are going to do and who they are going to talk to before they do it. I’m not super-bitchy about this, just quietly insistent. I feel it’s important for all filmmakers to know exactly what the production team are doing – you, as a filmmaker, have worked hard to build up a solid reputation and good body of work and you can’t afford to be misrepresented to financiers, sales agents, producers or even your potential audience. It could set you back months or years.



Overcoming challenges

Shooting a film is like fighting fires – especially a zero/micro-budget one. Making Do Something, Jake – my debut feature - was tough. We had no budget for this production, so I had to wear many hats. As well as producer/production manager, line producer and screenwriter, I was script supervisor, location manager, sound technician, caterer and part-time driver. Many of our crew willingly doubled up duties as well, and even some actors lent a helping hand, which means a lot in terms of moral support for everyone. So every day was beset with problems or obstacles to overcome.


One of our locations was in a derelict pre-Victorian primary school. James, the director, asked me to prepare what was once a pantry, to shoot one of those scenes, and that meant sweeping up piles and piles of dead wasps. Not often found in the job description for a film producer.


Skills and experience

You need to multi-task and be mentally and physically fit because the whole process of filmmaking can be gruelling – with or without a good budget behind you. You need to be slick on communication. This is imperative, and in this day and age there is no excuse. You need to be able to get out of bed in the morning – if you don’t ‘do’ early mornings, go work in another industry.


You need to be tenacious. You will be knocked back time and time again, but you must bounce right back and turn those knocks, rejections , and criticisms into motivators. As Frank Sinatra said, “The best revenge is massive success.” I also read plenty of advice from other successful directors and industry professionals and take that onboard.


Advice to others

If you’re new to the industry, read as much as you can. Go on YouTube and watch as many ‘how to’ videos as you can, and then get as many screenplays as you can and read those. Whether you’re an actor, producer, director, editor, or clapper loader, it’s important to know all facets of the industry. Watch movies. All genres, from all decades and all nations. Become a movie geek. Study them and learn how to ‘read’ a movie.


After all the reading, watching movies, writing and studying, the only way to get anywhere is to go out and make a film. Thanks to Sean Baker (Tangerine, 2015) it’s now considered cool to shoot a movie on an iPhone, so take whatever you have and go and film something, learn from it, then go do it all again.


I learned invaluable lessons when producing and shooting Do Something, Jake not least about scheduling. Looking back, I realise that the schedule I drew up was incredibly tight - it's amazing we didn't run over-schedule. Full credit to the cast and crew for taking my gruelling demands in their stride. But I only learned this by doing it for real – learning from experience is the only way to progress.


Read about Caroline's latest project Do Somthing, Jake on by clicking here and check out Raya Film's site at https://rayafilms.wordpress.com/


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