Posted in Stories

Things Editors Want You To Know

Thinking of becoming a filmmaker?

Here are some things you should know to make sure your editor doesn’t hate you 🙂


1. Give Us Something To Cut

Editors need footage to… well, edit.

Otherwise we’re just sitting in a dark room watching outtakes for no reason.

While I do believe there is such a thing as too much footage, as a general rule, the more footage you film, the happier we’ll be.

Record early and cut late- that way we’ll have a place to cut, not just having to leave it where the camera turned on and off.

Always film extra angles and takes and, when shooting b-roll, film a minimum of ten seconds and record it at least three times.


2. No, We Can’t Fix Everything In Post

While I agree editors are like media magicians, if you didn’t film something, we can’t magically pull it out of the stuff you did film.

My favourite request from a director- when they realised they hadn’t filmed a particular angle- was: ‘…can you not just move it round a bit.’

No.

No, I can’t.


3. Tell Us What You Want

Talk to your editor, go through the footage with them, explain your vision for the piece.

Of course, all films develop and we change our direction and minds, but don’t wait until the last minute to tell your editor you’re not happy.

We don’t like staying up all night… again.


4. Clap. For. Audio.

For the love of God, please don’t forget to clap in view of the camera and range of the microphone.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a board or just your hands and saying out loud the scene and take.

I’m begging you, just do it.

Syncing audio is a tedious job, but what is even more soul destroying is when there is no marker to help us.


5. Sound Design

I think this one mostly applies to filmmaking students, but please let your editor know if they’re going to be volunteered to do sound design as well.

It’s nice to be prepared for extra work like that.


Posted in Recipes

Easy Vegan Sausage Casserole


Serves 2

Ingredients

  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Oil
  • Vegan Sausages (I used a packet of 6 of the Linda McCartney)
  • Onion
  • Mushrooms
  • One packet of either Colman’s sausage casserole (tomato flavour) or Schwartz Beef Casserole (Meaty flavour) mix.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Vegetable Stock Pot (Optional)

Method

  1. Quarter the potatoes and cover them with water in a pan and boil for 10 mins.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
  3. Place a tbsp of butter in an oven-proof tin and melt in the oven.
  4. Drain the potatoes and place in a cooking tin. Stir to coat with butter. Sprinkle with garlic, salt, pepper and paprika.
  5. Cook for 25-30mins until golden brown and crispy.
  6. While the potatoes are in the oven, spray a frying pan with oil and add a tsp of garlic. Cook until fragrant.
  7. Add the sausages and fry until browned.
  8. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pan.
  9. Mix the contents of either Colman’s sausage casserole (tomato flavour) mix or Schwartz beef casserole (Meaty flavour) mix with enough cold water to cover the sausages.
  10. Place the sausages, mushrooms, onions and casserole mix to another oven-proof dish. If using the Colman’s mix I like to add a vegetable stock pot (optional).
  11. Cook until the sauce has thickened. (20-25mins.)
  12. Serve and enjoy!
Posted in films

Why Refn’s ‘Only God Forgives’ is a Masterpiece.

Only God Forgives is Danish auteur filmmaker, Nicolas Winding Refn’s ninth feature, released in 2013.

It is a stylistic, metaphorical film which tells the story of a man named Julian (Ryan Gosling) and his reluctant search for revenge.

Set in Bangkok, Julian’s brother, Billy (Tom Burke), is killed by the father of a 16-year-old prostitute that Billy had previously violently murdered.

Their mother, Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas), arrives in Bangkok to identify her son’s body and demands Julian finds the man responsible and make him pay for what he did- regardless of what Billy might have done.

Refn himself describes Only God Forgives as ‘a thriller produced as a western, set in the Far East and with a modern cowboy hero.’ (Jagernarth, 2012) He said it’s based on real emotions but set in a heightened reality. It’s a fairy tale.’ (Sullivan, 2012)

Gosling described the script as ‘the strangest thing [he’s] ever read, and it’s only going to get stranger.’ (Otto, 2011)

Strange, indeed.

But in that strangeness lies the reason I believe this film is a masterpiece.


In an age of blockbusters, artistic expression through terms such as intensified discontinuity (the stylistic use of non-linear, fragmented imagery and narrative), especially in mainstream cinema, is sparse.

Films are, nowadays, more likely to be franchised and few large scale, big-budget films dare take the risk of being unique.

However, there are a number of directors who chose to defy this assumption.

Refn being a prime example.

‘Refn’s films tell stories about the lives of misfits, gangsters, and obsessives, with honesty, human insight, and sympathy. For Refn, filmmaking should be an organic process.’ (Big Dracula Cinema, 2012)

He doesn’t use storyboards and opts to shoot his films in chronological order, resulting in a process of discovering the film as it happens, and stubbornly refusing to obey any genre conventions.

In using unconventional narrative and aesthetic technique, the conventions of Hollywood storytelling of cause and effect logic are replaced by a much different representation of spatial and temporal coherence.

His films are non-linear and fragmented to create images that are ambiguous and disorientating, existing in different layers of reality.

Even the characters narrating the story are unreliable and often losing their minds and control.


Only God Forgives has a hyper-real aesthetic, achieved through the use of intense, highly saturated coloured lighting.

Red and blue colouring clash against each other and mirror the narrative’s underlying motif of good versus evil; crime versus punishment.

Red is the colour of aggression and compulsion; it is powerful and can look like it is advancing towards us, manipulate the screen’s sense of space.

Blue is a non-dominant colour; it is quiet and aloof, usually connoting sadness as it is the coldest colour on the spectrum.

This sets up the visual warfare that mirrors the destructively violent yet quiet and guilty character psyche of Julian.

Much of Refn’s films utilise colour schemes in this way. These vibrant colours begin to play equally important roles as his characters do and often mirror their emotions.

He also uses lots of symmetrical framing and obscuring angles to portray the power or solidarity of these characters.

Most of the time the camera is static, opting ‘to tell the story in the composition of the shot, and cutting as little as possible.’ (Big Dracula Cinema, 2012)

This results in lingering shots that are usually unseen in mainstream cinema and leaves gaps in the narrative that the audience is left to fill in.

The camera merely observes as hideous crimes are committed, and much like the extras in the scenes, we are unable to move forward or intervene; only watch and pray for justice.

Refn, therefore, creates a sense of revisionist filmmaking and, as a result, there is a highly personal feeling in this film since ‘the viewers receive a strong connection to the protagonist, and they easily immerse themselves in the film.’ (Ahmed, 2012) 


The Julian Complex

The story of Oedipus:

Once upon a time, there was a King named Oedipus…

King Oedipus ruled over the city of Thebes, after running away from his home in Troy to escape a terrible prophecy that he would one day kill his father and then marry his mother.

Unbeknown to Oedipus, when he was born his real parents, King Laius and Queen Jocasta of Thebes, had abandoned him on the side of a mountain, after hearing the same prophecy.

But baby Oedipus did not die on the mountain as they intended; he was instead found by a shepherd who gave the baby as a gift to King Polybus and Queen Merope who couldn’t have children.

So, in his very attempt to outrun the prophecy, Oedipus ran right back to his real parents, where he killed his father in a fit of rage at a cross road, and unknowingly married his mother, who bore him four children.

It was only when the shepherd was brought to the king for questioning does Oedipus realise what he’s done.

Guilt-stricken and betrayed, Oedipus orders his servants to bring him a sword so that he can cut out his mother’s womb in revenge and gouge out his own eyes, so he never had to look at his parents again.

Blind and alone, he exiled himself from the kingdom.


Poor Oedipus, admirably tried to outrun his fate but pitifully failed. 

Sigmund Freud- who named his Oedipus Complex theory after the character- argues it was inevitable for this to be his fate: ‘Every newborn on this planet is faced with the task of mastering the Oedipus Complex.’  Such is the nature of the universe, and it happens over and over again.

And Julian is yet another character struggling with this task.


Julian is a monolithic character who speaks very little throughout the film; opting to stand alone and observe rather than act.

But his presence and his expression always fill the scene, giving the sense of a character who is alluring and tender yet very brutal. 

His inner desires, which are often extremely violent and sexually charged, spill out into the narrative, showing his lack of control and understanding of the world around him.

This lack of understanding can easily be traced back to his mother; since the relationship that Julian has with her is undeniably oedipal.

Refn uses parallels and intercutting between Julian and his mother, Crystal, to hint at the incestuous relationship Crystal had with her sons, filling their scenes with uncomfortably sexual undertones.  

Julian, however, could never be the man Crystal wanted and couldn’t satisfy her the way his dead brother could. Her blunt, disturbing remarks during the dinner scene show that Julian could never live up to his brother, despite always being in competition with him.

And like Oedipus, when Julian finds her murdered body, he takes a sword and cuts open her womb, placing his hand inside. 

The image of hands is very prominent throughout Only God Forgives, as Julian is desperate to get them clean after committing the murder of his father; he too feels guilt-ridden and betrayed.

This also signifies, again like Oedipus, a terrifying sense that Julian cannot escape his fate.

The long peering shots and static camera, as well as frequent close-ups of his hands, create a sense of dread and places the audience as mere observers of the events on screen- who, like the characters, are unable to react or change the narrative that plays out.


Only God Forgives uses a slow, meditative narrative that cuts into time frequently.

It distorts reality as the shot sequences don’t necessarily make sense, dislocating the viewers’ sense of time and space.

Julian’s conscience frequently takes over the narrative, giving the audience a glimpse of another dimension; a dimension that is detached, confusing and trails the viewer in Julian’s nightmare toward his fate.

A fate that is inevitably going to be bloody and violent.


Posted in Stories

Why I Write

‘Once upon a time, there was a chicken named Jenny. But she was no ordinary chicken. She was the odd one out. All the other chicken were brown with small beaks; she was covered in white spots and had a large beak. The other chicken made fun of her.

Oh God.

Re-reading old stories from when I was a child had never been my favourite thing to do. Yet I still kept them all, and occasionally I leaf through my big green folder in search of childhood inspiration.


I remember as a kid I always playing pretend; making up pretend worlds, pretend characters, pretend adventures.

I was either lost in a book or lost in my head.

Because of that, in Primary School, I was the ‘buffer’ kid; you know, the quiet one they put in between the loud ones to split them up.

They aren’t my favourite memories but I think that’s where it all began.


This one is called ‘A Bundle of Fur’: ‘It was Halloween and the moon was high in the sky…’

And it’s about kittens…?


I loved writing stories in class back then… well, I say short, I always had trouble sticking to the word limit. I suddenly found I had a lot to say with a pencil in my hand.

Writing those stories was the first time I really believed I was good at something and felt true, excitable passion. I became the good writer of the class which was pretty cool; it was like being the centre of attention but no one was really looking at me.



Other writers always put it so eloquently… I’m not sure how many artists would admit to finding their passion in a sticky blue seat in the middle of a snow storm.

But I remember sitting in my Primary 4 classroom in winter- hoping to get sent home earlier due to the weather- when our teacher handed back our marked short stories.

The feedback on mine read: ‘Great story, Rebecca, as always. Perhaps we’ll see a book from you in the future.’

And it was like a door opened.

That made complete sense.

My heart whispered yes and as simple as that I suddenly knew what I wanted to do.


When I got to High School I was told writing was not a ‘real job’ and was strongly advised to choose a more ‘substantial career.’

This conversation took place in a library, just so you know.

So I applied to study writing at Glasgow College, because… Well, why would I listen to a bunch of teachers?

It was there I fell in love with scriptwriting.

And one honors degree later, here we are.

Still writing.


Posted in Stories

Let’s Talk About Life After Uni

On Friday the 28th of June I graduated.

After four years, I finally got my Bachelors Degree with Honors in Filmmaking and Screen Writing.

It was a lovely day starting with pancakes in a quaint coffee shop here in Ayr, before heading to Troon Concert Hall where the short and sweet ceremony took place.

My parents, boyfriend, and university friends were all there, and it was great to catch up and celebrate our achievements together.

But I couldn’t help thinking: Now what?

It was equal parts terrifying and exciting as I was handed that piece of parchment.

My life plan was always to get to this moment: to get into university; to get a degree in something I loved.

I have that.

Now what?

I have no plan for life after.

And it’s a daunting thing to walk off the stage and have life- real life- suddenly open up before you.


After I submitted my dissertation (finally!) in April and classes ended, I found I really struggled to cope with the sudden end of work, seeing friends every day and direction.

Combined with no idea what I wanted to do and needing to get a job before SAAS ended, I felt myself going a bit crazy.

It was three months of staying at home applying for jobs all day, having no money to go out, awkward interviews and rejection emails- a stark contrast to comfy student life.


Fastward and I finally got a glamorous job cleaning at Morrisons.

It’s not perfect but it’s where I am right now. And it isn’t where I plan to stay. But it is hard to look ahead to a future you have no idea about- particularly a creative career where the entry and progression aren’t as clearcut as some jobs.

If you did study a creative profession like me, the best thing I’ve found to do is don’t stop once university ends. Keep making things; art, poems, scripts, films, stories, photographs, mistakes.

Don’t let the post-uni slump ruin your creativity.

We will find a way to make a living from it. It will just take some time.

Zulie Rane wrote a great article on Medium called Listen, You Absolutely Can Create For a Living which I highly recommend reading if you’re starting to have doubts about which direction to take.

She says: ‘It’s bizarre, but writing is one of the few things that people tell you not to chase your dreams on. It doesn’t matter that writing is a great way to keep your memory or observation skills sharp, or that it delivers a much-needed boost of introspection into your hectic life. People will go out of their way to let you know that you’re not going to be the next J.K. Rowling.’

I feel this is the same for many creative professions.

But it doesn’t always come from other people; we often say it to ourselves. And I found, after university, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of believing those thoughts.

So my advice to anyone just about to graduate: when you receive rejection letters, silence that voice in your head that’s telling you you’re not good enough.

Silence it, then keep going.


It’s ok not to know. It’s ok to work a crappy job while you figure things out and try new things- so many new things. Your job is not who you are and, if you let it, your creativity will continue to guide you to where you need to be.

I’ve made a list of things I want to try- youtube, blogging, restoration business, publish a book, study makeup artistry- and I will keep trying each one until something works.

It’s all about the journey. So make it a good story.