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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, Sep 2 2019 07:00AM



A Day in the Life of Midlands Camera Operator Mbili Munthali


We return with the second entry in our "A Day in the Life of" features courtesy of Kelly McCormack who has been throughout the region and spent time with a number of local productions to find out about what it is like during a day on set.


Covering different roles we hope this will help first-time and more experienced film industry workers see what it's like during a local film shoot.


This week sees local camera operator and director of photography Mbili Munthali take the stage as he tells us about one of his recent days on set and the experiences and challenges he regularly faces:


06:30 - 08:00: Wake up and get ready for the shoot. I like to be limber and although I don't run in the morning anymore, a good stretch feels good and prepares me for the day. Physical and mental readiness really helps. Read my notes from the recon of the location, shoot schedule etc again to put the whole day into context for myself as I will be relaying that information out throughout the day. Have a good breakfast since I have a high metabolism and need nourishment as often as I breathe. Final check of the equipment list that I am taking and need to have at the end of the day (Can't beat a good list).


08:00- 08:30: Get picked up since I don't drive (yet) and make sure I've had strong tea (I don't drink coffee at all).


08:30 - 09:00: Walk the set and unload equipment I have brought. Breathe, the calmer you are through the day the calmer everyone else is. The calm before the storm so get ready to get your head down. The main crew arrive and we have a quick chat and just talk about everything except filming while I help them unload whatever I can. Many hands make light work, this is all a team effort. Set up camera and lights.


09:00 - 09:30: Main cast arrive and go off to make up and outfits. I talk to the director and just touch base for the day and just give them confidence that you have it all in hand and play devil’s advocate for some things that could go wrong but already have options to counter those things. It's not about assessing everything that could go wrong, just to keep a reality check with a lot of optimism. A crew will remember the negative person on set that brings the mood down but if you're taking on challenges with a gun ho attitude, people will gravitate to work with you. A team is only as strong as its weakest link.


09:30-09:45: Touch base with the actors and extras and give some reassurances. You are going to make them look good, they need to trust that they are in safe hands without being pandered to. They have enough to think about being in front of the camera. Extras arrive and get set.


09:45-10:00: Safety briefing with everyone, where everything is, procedure of the day and who to talk to for each department or general questions throughout the day. A reminder that the hardest part is getting the team and talent together, this is the fun part of a long process.


10:00- 13:00: Shoot. Get the hardest parts of the day first. Get as much coverage with minimal set changes as you can but do not compromise. A difficult balance but trust your team, there is a reason they are on this set with you. This is when the actors are at their freshest for the day, capitalise on this. They've been rehearsing and they know what they are doing. Trust them because they trust you behind the camera, the director is getting the performance from them, you need to get the performance from camera, light and sound. Do not skip blocking unless absolutely necessary. This is a partner dance, especially if the camera is moving.


13:00-14:00: Lunch. Very important for everyone. There might be a shortage of time due to something to taking a little longer than expect but we did the best we could to second guest this before we started right? Give each department at least some time to eat and sit for a little bit. Sound to have lunch but have lights and camera set the basics of the next shot. The director should be sat with the talent chatting and reaffirm that they are doing very well. Don't forget the extras. Stand in for framing for camera and lighting and once the bulk of the next set up is done, send them to lunch and grab a bite. Find a seat and eat/drink. A tea to keep that caffeine coming as you shift a few things to get the essential shots but get those extras too. Don't lose heart, it's only been a couple of hours. Make use of your runners to stand in, check equipment is on set for the next run of shots and hydrate everyone. Then they too should eat and rest.


14:00-14:30: Camera and lights back on set. Ready to go again.


14:30-17:00: The last of the shots with extras. Wrap them if they are no longer needed. Work on less physically intensive shots, emotional scenes are a good way to go. The actors have settled into their characters by this point and are not even thinking about the camera and they've just been fed/rested. Run the scenes and get those shots. Shoot the B roll and the scenes you may have missed earlier in the day that you weren't able to before lunch.


17:00-17:30: Give everyone a break. Naturally, everyone is a little tired including you. Just make everyone know that this is the home stretch, you've hit all the shots you wanted and they've been rock stars. Just a last little push.


17:30-19:00: There are some dusk/night shots so get those now. The sun is/has going down in the colder months so move indoors. Runners are packing down some equipment outside to shorten the end of the day.


19:00: That's a wrap! Thank everyone. Everyone. This was a long day and everyone pulled together, despite some things that meant that you had to think on your feet. Everyone already has the information for the next shoot but remind them anyway and trust the rest with your producer. Check your equipment list before you leave. Those markers usually end up going for a walk somewhere. You're going to need them for that next day though.


20:00: You're back home. It's another shoot tomorrow, better get some dinner and sleep - a bit of whisky helps the digestion.


Kelly McCormack


By midlandsmovies, Jan 27 2019 08:05AM



Midlands Spotlight - Snarl


Lightbeam Productions is reuniting with Pat The Bull Films, Brumtown Films and 5cm/Sec Films to produce SNARL, a terrifying new horror short to be directed by L.J. Stark Greenwood.


Starring Jay Podmore (Sustain), and reuniting Charlie Clarke with Jack Knight fresh from You Are My Sunshine, the film will be directed by L.J. with special FX by Gary Hunt, Steve Bosworth, Troy Dennison and Alex Bourne while Will Bradshaw is back as Director of Photography.


Kaushy Patel and Paminder Bains are on executive producer duties while Dave Hastings is in the producing chair as well as writing the script.


The film is set in England in 1934 where a young man, Elijah (Jay Podmore) has been captured and accused of being a werewolf by Clyde, a self-famed bounty hunter from a nearby village.


As Elijah is brutally tortured in a vain attempt to get him to confess to his alleged shapeshifting, he suddenly finds himself covertly released by two villagers, Faye (Charlie Clarke) and her younger brother Benjamin (Jack Knight), who believe his cries of innocence.


As they attempt to help the young man flee through the woods, all the while pursued by the maniacal Clyde, the night time forest suddenly reveals that some legends are not myth at all.


Director L.J ‘Stark’ Greenwood explains, “I’ve always wanted to try my hand at directing but so far have never had the chance to fully immerse myself into it. So I couldn’t have asked for a better cast and crew to help me bring this story to life, one that I am very excited about, because it is so scary and really plays directly into what story elements I think helped make some of the best Werewolf films we’ve already got".


"It will also allow me to indulge in visuals that are inspired by my love of Guillermo del Toro as well as my love of the 1930s carnival atmospheres".


"We’ve already been working on shot lists and ideas for how to not only present the characters but also our elusive werewolf, as well as looking at locations and filming test footage, so it’s all becoming very real and exciting! This has always been my favourite sub-genre of horror, the Werewolf film, so I hope to really do it justice with what we’ve got to show the world", he adds


Writer and producer Dave Hastings continues, "Originally starting out as a small 2-3 minute film idea, L.J. approached me a few months ago, about her dream of making the ultimate werewolf short. She had been wanting to have a good go at directing for some time now as well, and we all really wanted to help give her the platform to do this and combine a project with her love of Wolfman folklores. It was also a way to say a massive thankyou to her, especially after all the work she has done to make House of Screaming, Sustain, You Are My Sunshine and countless other movies projects we’ve all worked on".


Jay Podmore who plays Elijah describes joining back up with the established team, "I'm really looking forward to working with LJ, Dave and the team again - and the challenges that we will face together working on such exciting, graphic material. I can’t wait to play around with Elijah’s character - he has endured a great deal of physical and spiritual strain so I will be delving into a deep part of my mind to bring to him a rawness and vulnerability. I just cannot wait to get started on this! Such lovely talented people involved and looking forward to morphing into Elijah in 2019.”


And Charlie Clarke who plays as Fayeis in a similar position: "I am most looking forward to being back with such a great team for my first werewolf film and being on board for LJ’s directorial debut! I’m also looking forward to the 1930s styling and seeing the werewolf make up".


SNARL starts filming in early 2019 with a release planned for later in the year. More updates and details will be coming soon and follow the latest production news at http://www.lightbeamproductions.co.uk/


A recent behind the scenes film has been released from the crew and watch the video below:





By midlandsmovies, Jan 23 2018 05:56PM



Midlands Spotlight - A Fistful of Fivers


Midlands Movies Mike finds out about a new low budget project from fellow Midlands film organisation the Outward Film Network.


With an aim to connect no/low budget filmmakers across the Midlands and London, the Outward Film Network promotes down to earth and regional filmmaking of both shorts and features.


The filmmaking organisation has been promoting zero budget films for a number of years now with a goal to lose some of the taboos around the practice. They often set challenges to writers,directors, cast and crew to shoot zero budget scripts and then subsequently screen the films to appreciative audiences.


Their latest endeavour is the exciting 'Fistful of Fivers' project where they are asking local filmmakers if they can make a film for five pounds?



With money so often being a barrier to making a film, the Outward Film Network (OFN) aim to remove that barrier and promote creativity in short films.


To that end, they’ve launched ‘A Fistful of Fivers’ and are asking that if you have a film that you want to make for £5 then send over your script to them.


If a script is one of the best five judged by OFN, they will send the filmmakers £5 to make it as well as provide support during the production and distribute it on their website and social media platforms.


They will even pay for one festival submission! To prove it can be done, here is their own £5 short…that was actually shot for just £1.50! (See YouTube clip below).


For more information on how you can enter, visit: http://outwardfilmnetwork.com/fistful-of-fivers/ and use the hashtag #FistfulofFivers over on Twitter.


Twitter: @OutwardFn

Facebook: www.facebook.com/OutwardFilm

Youtube Channel - click here









By midlandsmovies, Feb 24 2016 08:16AM

Make Your FIRST Production Go Smoothly


So you have finished a script and you want to make a video of it. That is great!!! Congratulations are in order, as you have come a very long way. Now unless, you have your own crew and are going to be your own camera operating person then you will need to hire someone that will shoot your video. Personally, I really like this approach, for a couple of reasons.


First, you wear only one or two hats, instead of 10. As a video maker you will have so many responsibilities to make your video be great. Give that responsibility to an expert. Secondly, you are expanding the group of artists that help you make you video or film…your team. So in order to make the best of this and get off to a wonderful start, here are 5 tips that will go a long way in making your shoot go smoothly.


1. Be A Storyteller

The Bottom Line is this: The video creator is first and foremost a storyteller. You must have a cohesive, compelling story to tell. This is not a difficult thing to do, as everyone has at least 1 real-life story to tell. Whether it is a breakup, or a family trauma, or a secret desire… the list is endless. You have to trust that no matter how painful the story is, or how embarrassed you are of that story, it has been experienced before by someone else. This is not a bad thing… it means that we are all connected in many ways and that these stories are indeed universal. We all have a unique story to tell that many people will relate to and identify with.


2. Have Your Shot List Ready

There are some video creators who will storyboard every single shot on their shot list. Alfred Hitchcock was notorious for this, as he was also notorious for giving his actors very little freedom in their movements and portrayal of their characters. I don’t do this personally. I write out a complete shot list of every scene that I want to video. What I am trying to say is this - ALWAYS finish your shot list before you get to your set. It will give you a road map of what you want, and how you will shoot your video. And because you are so well prepared, you can easily replace or remove a shot that you don’t need. Or you will be inspired to get another shot…one you didn’t think of before. And when this happens, it always feels great.


3. Have Your Location Set

I love shooting on real locations. The environment is real, as it is the world of the story. This is very helpful for your actors to believe the world they are in. But have it ready to show your video producer, so that he/she can prepare adequately. Bring them to the location… let them see what you have in mind. This will help your producer immensely as it will show them HOW to shoot there…what types of shots will work from your list, and which ones won’t.


4. Know What Equipment You Think You’ll Need

This usually will come to you when you are preparing your shot list. As the video creator, you should have an idea of how you want all your video shots to look. This usually means that you should have a basic working knowledge of the type of equipment you will need in order to get the shot. Example: Your opening montage is a sweeping arc of the countryside that then leads into a house with two people eating dinner. You should know that this type of shot is going to require a crane, with the ability to swivel 180 degrees, and then also have it on wheels or some stable moving vehicle that this crane can be attached to. This will show the producer that you know what you want and it will be their job to try and get it for you. But if you walk into a meeting with your producer, and just hand them a list without any clue as how to get it…well prepare for disappointment.


5. Learn Communication

In my experience of making short videos, I honestly feel that this is the single most important thing you can bring to any meeting with your crew. The ability to communicate with your team on what you want and how you want to get it!!! And you MUST be able to shut up and then listen to what they have to say. Communication is a two-way street. If you go in and start to demand all these things and be immovable…well all I can say is, good luck with that!


So I will finish this up with giving you an example of something that happened to a dear friend of mine on a shoot that she was the line producer on. The video creator had gotten a location for free, with the stipulation that they all be out by 7am, as that was when everyone came in to work for the day. It was an office building. This video creator was incredibly arrogant and unwilling to listen to his team. There was a certain moving shot that he wanted, but because of the tightness of the location, this was unattainable. But he was so adamant and ego-maniacal that my friend had to go to the main producer, who then had a screaming match in front of the crew. He ultimately scrubbed the shot, but the damage had been done. He lost so much time arguing, that he lost 7 shots that he really needed. So the video stank.


So these are 5 important tips that every video creator should have addressed before meeting with a video producer. If you take the time to prepare for your shoot correctly, then when you actually get to the set, things will flow much more smoothly that if you were careless. Because if there is one thing you can always count on, is that there will be “challenges” that arise on the set. It is how well you deal with them that will make or break your video.


About The Author:

John Montana is an actor living with his wife in L.A. and has begun to make short films. His most recent film, “Hungry” has been accepted into 24 film festivals all over the world. Check out his short films at No Title Production Films

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