Fifteen Hours In Filmmaking
It’s nine in the morning and I’m sat in a local bistro with two students from the University of East Anglia. They come to me with an idea of creating a short film to help promote the UEA Christian Union’s mission week. The only stipulation, it’s got to be done on a micro budget.
It’s not uncommon to be approached with; “We really don’t have a big budget” or “Can you do this for free?”. As a new company, we have to weigh the challenges of generating enough income with building our portfolio. Often, it can be frustrating to be asked to do a project with limitations like these, but on this occasion, it caught my creative juices just right.
Sometimes filmmaking is pulling out all the stops; using the best equipment, hiring actors and pitching that big budget, to help you create something sublime. And sometimes it’s problem solving, limited budgets, untrained actors and a basic camera setup. I grew up making films on cheap cameras, with friends and family, with no training. Occasionally it’s nice to be forced back to your roots — to rely on what you know rather than what you have, and simply create.
So a budget of fifteen hours work was set and we got to work on a film called ‘Navigate’. The concept, to tell the story of someone who is lost and found again, without it feeling too heroic. We started writing, and knowing our time and budget constraints, came up with a simple idea of two people finding hope together, tied in with an original spoken word poem that Sarah wrote for this project. You can read it here: Navigate | A Poem For Busy Millennials
The next hurdle was our schedule. It was drawing near to Christmas and I had three other projects on the go. Thankfully, we called in some help from a filmmaking friend Luke Bryant (lukewbryant.com), who along with Sarah, pulled off an amazing shoot on a very cold day at the UEA. It’s great when you can pull other talented young professionals into an experience like this. They can bring a fresh eye or idea to the table — something we are always keen to cultivate.
After the filming, we had reached the six hour mark of time spent creating, but perhaps the most difficult part was yet to come. Editing.
Editing is a fine art, a process of starting and stopping, not just the footage, but also yourself as you consider every which way you can tell the same story. Sometimes an edit falls into place within moments of opening the footage and at other times it can take days of dipping in and out, waiting for your mind to subliminally process the ideas away from the computer screen.
Each edit is made up of moments. Just like in life, a moment can happen in an instant or can be an experience over a course of time. Editing is consolodating moments of emotion into a cohesive story, taking the viewer on a journey from start to finish.
For me, editing is love/hate. On one hand you hold the creative reigns, but you also hold the responsibility of telling the story in the best way possible. Surprisingly, a lot of my editing time is not editing at all. It’s finding inspiration, it’s going off for a stroll or working on something else until the ideas click.
The editing process started with Sarah creating and recording an original score, layered with her spoken word poem. Once we felt happy with this, I took over the reigns, placing footage into the timeline and developing moments within the story. Then it’s time to step back and assess the ideas, before diving back in and finalising the story you want to tell.
In total this project took us fifteen hours of work from start to finish. Not every project can be this simple, but from time to time it’s fun to take on a challenge.
You can watch ‘Navigate’ here:
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