Sunday, 29 September 2013

(24) Short Film Sunday #10: The Last Bookshop (2012)

The Last Bookshop (2012).
The Last Bookshop (2012) is a short film set in the future, where digital holographic entertainment has taken over physical and actual entertainment, like, books. The short film portrays this, in my opinion, dreaded future, where real books have died out. One day, the holographic computer/device fails, and a young boy is left with nothing to do, so he wanders around the streets and stumbles upon this long forgotten bookshop. In fact, as the shopkeeper states, he had his last customer 25 years ago. So, of course, the shopkeeper is excited and happily gives a pile of books to the young lad and tells him the stories of the old world, times when things were real and you could touch and smell them. The old shopkeeper even tells about one of his adventures, when he "queued up at midnight for a book about a wizard. It was the vogue.".
It is delightful little story, that reminds us, how important is physical communication with people, having first hand experience of everything (what also Whitman emphasised in his poetry), so lets not forget about it. So, pick up a book and have a reading hour with a nice cup of cocoa and go and visit some of your friends tomorrow or just smile to the stranger. Because, I certainly don't want to end up in the world where there is only one bookshop left, and even that is taken over by a mean villain named Gamazone. See for yourself how it would look!

Remember, the book can never show you an error message, it will never fail you...

Friday, 27 September 2013

(23) Encounters: Film Industry Road Map, Panel Discussion

Watershed. Bristol, UK. (Picture from:
From September 17 till September 22 Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival took place in Bristol, UK. This year I didn't have a chance to attend any of the screenings, however thanks to the IdeasTap I had an opportunity to attend "The Business: Film Industry Road Map Panel Discussion" on September 18, at  the Watershed, Bristol. This was the first of that kind of discussion that I have attended, and being a skeptical person, my hopes weren't high. Obviously, they won't give you a magical formula how to break your way into the film industry, but I must admit they gave some darn good advises, and I am glad that I had a chance to attend this discussion. Therefore, I decided to share some of these advises.

But first things first, who were the panellists you are asking? The panel consisted of four very talented and hard working people and it was hosted by two members of the IdeasTap. The first and the youngest one of panellists was Rob Savage, "multi-award winning writer/director", who recently with his feature film Strings won a British Independent Film Award. One of his latest works include a music video for Dear Reader's "Took Them Away", you can watch it here. The second was Henry Beattie, who is an Acquisitions Consultant at Transmission Films, he also works in a creative development role at London based production company Montebello Productions. The third was Madeleine Probst, who is a Programme Producer at the Watershed, where the event took place. And the last, but not the least, was Gavin Humphries, who is a Producer at Quark Films. The panel discussion was hosted by Will Davies, responsible for the IdeasTap Spa (Spa as in career advice and events), and Laura McFarlane, partnership manager at the IdeasTap. They all come from different walks of life and it amazed me how many different jobs and things they have done before they got the jobs in which they are working now. Well except for Rob, who already at the age of 18 wrote, directed, shot, co-produced and edited feature film Strings, which is quite an admirable achievement.

One of the first tips they gave to the filmmakers was [#1] do your research. As in, before you approach someone with your CV, or ask to screen or distribute your film, do research and see whether the company you are getting in touch with will be interested in your product. For example, if I don't like chocolate with nuts, don't come offering me chocolate with nuts, because I will turn you down without thinking twice about it. Next, and it might seem the most obvious advice, although I would say that it is the hardest one and most time consuming of all advises: [#2] build your network. And when you meet someone somewhere and you get his or her card, don't forget about the [#3] follow up. Remind them who you are, that you are the person from the last day's party, conference or whatever. If you have aroused their interest once, don't let them forget about you. Most probably thanks to your network and connections, you will also get your first experience in your desired occupation. Remember, [#4] experience is more important than education. When watching a film and enjoying its soundtrack, script or the way it was directed, write it down, try and get in touch accordingly with the author of the script or composer or director, [#5] find your mentor. Mentors usually will help you also with building your network and gain some experience. [#6] Deliver your work on time. Don't start making up excuses why you are late, why you couldn't finish your work, just finish it, deliver it, go through with it, don't half arsed do something, do it. If somebody isn't fully happy with your idea, try and adjust it to what they want. Adjusting doesn't mean losing your own idea, it's just means being flexible and showing how creative you can be. Last but not least, [#7] always keep at least two other ideas in your pocket, if they don't like one, offer the next one.

Remember, as Madeleine Probst noted, instead of calling mistakes mistakes, call them breakthroughs. Even with a mistake you have achieved something, you have learned something new.

Finally, at the end of the discussion I asked: "How do you joggle between a full time job and get your first experience in film industry (which usually is unpaid, but it is necessary to eat and pay bills)?" The answer being: work hard, and if you are doing that, work even harder. So go out there and start working hard to prove yourself! Nothing comes easy, and the only way to get something you desire is hard work.

Good luck!

*This is the author's of the article interpretation/perception of the panel discussion, the panellists or attendees aren't directly quoted.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

(22) Short Film Sunday #9: Slow Derek (2011)

Slow Derek (2011).
Today is the last day of Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival, to mark that I am presenting to you the short that received the Grand Prix, Animated Encounters, in 2011: Slow Derek. However, that is not the only award that film has won. The stop motion animation Slow Derek is directed by Dan Ojari, who is a graduate of the Royal College of Art, with an MA in Animation, he has won several awards both as a director and as an animator.
Slow Derek is an epic and fascinating tale of an office worker Derek, who "struggles with the true speed of planet Earth". The short ties together Derek's slow and mundane life with the dizzying rotation of planet Earth. It is clever and, I would dare to say, a scientific short, which leaves you thinking, how we all still hold onto this world?
Ojari described the plot of Slow Derek to as:
"very much about relativity and the contrast between the mundane and the colossal. The starting point was after I became particularly fascinated with how fast the earth is travelling, especially because we don’t feel this speed. We are literally hurtling through space at hundreds of thousands of miles per hour and yet don’t feel a thing. I felt this was, aside from being an amazing actual fact, also was an interesting metaphor for modern day life."

Hope you enjoyed this little spellbinding short that deals with such big issues, and stop by in couple of days to read my piece on the IdeasTap organised panel discussion that was a part of this years Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival: Film Industry Road Map.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

(21) Short Film Sunday #8: The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling (2011)

The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling (2011).
The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling is a little sweet stop-motion animation about an old man and his fear. Nevertheless it is an ambitious and well carried out graduation project of Joseph Wallace, director and writer, and Emma-Rose Dade, cinematographer, from Newport Film School. The film was made in the period of eight months, everything you see in it is hand made, even the little flowers, everything that moves in the film, is moved by hand, and that makes this film even more charming. The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling has received several awards, including Best Up and Coming Talent Award at Canterbury Anifest, and it has been nominated for several more, including BAFTA Cymru Short Form and Animation Award.
I stumbled upon this gem through Future Shorts page on Youtube, after making a little research on it, I realised that it has been made almost in my neighborhood, that is Newport, since now I am living in Cardiff. So on my list of things to do, I now have a visit to Newport Film School, to see whether I can stumble upon other gems that are being created there.
Back to The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling, it tells a story about Ivor, whose "life is turned upside down after a falling plant pot sparks a series of paranoid reactions". It's sweet, charming, inspiring, enjoyable, admirably well done and touching, after all we all are afraid of something. See for yourself how this story goes:

Here is a short interview with Joseph Wallace and a little peak into the making of the animation:

Have a lovely Sunday afternoon!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

(20) Short Film Sunday #7: The Longest Daycare (2012)

The Longest Daycare (2012).
David Silverman the main director of The Simpsons Movie (2007) and the supervising director for The Simpsons series presents to us a short 3D animation film The Longest Daycare starring Maggie Simpson. I must admit I haven't seen all the seasons of The Simpsons, however it was refreshing to watch something that concentrates on Maggie. Executive producer Al Jean said to Entertainment Weekly, that it is "hard to do a 20-minute Maggie episode, but in four minutes it’s great. She’s like Charlie Chaplin." So it is, the animation is funny, sweet and charming, and it has no dialogue. But for a story with no dialogue and only 4 minutes in length, it has enough twists and turns. Doesn't matter if you are or if you are not the fan of The Simpsons, you will still enjoy this whimsical gem.
The short was originally screened on the big screen before Ice Age: Continental Drift, it was nominated for Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2013, but lost it to Paperman.
Sit back and enjoy!

Because it is father's day today in Latvia, here is something special for all the fathers. Never forget how special you are in your child's life.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

(19) Short Film Sunday #6: Destino (2003)

Destino (2003).

Destino (2003) is collaborative work between Salvador Dalí, Walt Disney and Disney Studio artist John Hench. Although the project started in 1946 (a year after Dalí and Hitchcock's collaboration on Spellbound (1945)) it only saw daylight in 2003. Some say that Disney approached the famous surrealist Dalí because of criticism that Disney Studio received, that it sacrificed art and inventiveness over marketability, that is, Disney Studio preferred a safer way of doing things. There was no convincing needed on Dalí's side, he quickly started to sketch, draw and make the first storyboards. However, 8 months into producing, the project was cancelled due to financial problems, nevertheless, Dalí and Disney stayed lifelong friends. From their short collaboration only a 17 second long demo reel survives alongside several sketches, drawings and storyboards. 
Destino was forgotten until the Disney Studio started their work on Fantasia (1940) sequel Fantasia/2000 (1999), both of which are richly inspired by surrealism. Fantasia/2000 inspired Roy Edward Disney to re-start and finish Dalí and Disney's project. By using Dalí's notes and storyboards and a little bit of help from Hench himself, the six minute animation was brought to life and finally saw daylight being premiered at the New York Film Festival in 2003. Although, they tried to keep it as close as possible to the original Dalí work, using some  original methods of animation, there is a sense of modernity and modern animation techniques, so in the end it is a Disney Studio work inspired by Dalí, Hench and Disney's collaboration back in 1946. However, the 17 seconds long original footage is a part of the final project, it is the bit where two turtles moves towards each other. Destino won several awards and was also nominated for the Academy Awards as the Best Animated Short Film. The musical score of the animation is composed by Armando Dominguez and performed by Dora Luz.
"Destino" from Spanish means "destiny", and so Destino tells a tragic love story of Chronos (the personification of time) who falls in love with a mortal woman and as in love stories there is a complication, that being, they cannot be together. The animation depicts different transformations as they dance over the surrealistic landscapes of Dalí's paintings.
Dalí described Destino as, "A magical display of the problem of life in the labyrinth of time." In juxtaposition to that, Disney described it as, "A simple story about a young girl in search of true love."
No matter, it is a masterpiece, which more than half a century ago was born in the minds of two geniuses, and an enjoyable treat for a Sunday evening.