In the beginning we had few different ideas on what we’d shoot, but in the end we went with my horror idea for the script. We wrote it down, and then, together we came up with a shot list. Dylan and I found the doll on Gumtree, which I bought for 5 quid the next day. Then we split the rest of paperwork between us, and set up a production schedule. We planned on shooting the whole movie at my house.
We shot the movie over three days. Everyone had a turn at every role in the crew. I mostly handled the directing, leaving the shooting to others with explanation of what I’m looking for in the shot.
Mateusz Pandzierski, HNC Film & Television, 2019.
Overall we shot the film for around 3 days at Mateusz` house, he filmed on his own for a day, with his cousin, and we did two days of Foley work. All days of filming were really interesting, we had to set up and get familiar with a lot of different gear, lighting scenes properly was essential to a great looking film, getting levels right is essential to avoid sound distortion and you obviously need good camera work.
Before shooting we had to do some basic but pretty effective Mise En Scene, things like new bed sheets, some books and a guitar made the scene feel much more alive.
I also feel I helped greatly in the editing process. Meeting up with Mateusz and Charlie to get some great Foley sound effects done, editing the whole video down, and adding effects to both video and audio really helped make the film what it was. Without the ridiculous amount of effort we put into editing I don’t think the film would’ve been half as good.
Overall I feel the horror project turned out extremely well and I’m happy with the work we did.
My story and overall idea I think is a strength in my project. I managed to create a good idea for horror that is based around trauma. Using real life issues like trauma, eating disorders and abuse gave my story real life horror that people can relate to. The creature concept for Lamia was something I spent time researching so that the creature under the bed would fit with the story and would be a child eating monster. Creatively I think overall it was a good idea that would grab people’s attention.
Another strength would be the makeup look I created for Lamia, making the nails and face was something I really enjoyed, and it has now made me want to do more SFX looks and gain some skills in make-up. Peoples reaction to the look has been very positive and has pushed me towards trying out other looks.
I was going to make my documentary about the accessibility of Veganism in 2020. The doc would have included interviews from people working within the vegan food and grocery industry as well as hopefully some activists but none of the activists got back to me and all the grocers cancelled because of lockdown restrictions and rightfully so. This sent me into an intrapersonal tailspin and I almost dropped out of college. I was of the opinion that I wasn’t good enough to be here and since I was robbed of the chance to make my short film for HNC by COVID 19 I had decided that if this doc thing didn’t go well then I’d drop out because I wasn’t meant to be here.
As quite an extreme response to this I decided to go with the idea of doing a UFO abduction documentary, I didn’t know of any famous cases in Scotland but I went and asked to talk to people online about interviewing them and filming re-enactments of their stories in an exaggerated True Crime show style, a genre I have a lot of affection for, even though I know it’s trash. The research I did looking for these people led me to the story of the Dechmont Woods Incident which I felt was famous enough and good enough for me to just make the whole short documentary about the incident and Robert Taylor experienced. I found a Paranormal Investigator who wrote a book on the incident and was willing to be interviewed, but it had to be over Skype. I did that interview, and although he was nuttier than a squirrel’s favourite pie, perfect for a documentary I didn’t feel the interview was good enough to be used in the doc since we couldn’t cut to him, he did however agree to do a voice over. A week later he pulled out and I was distraught again, I felt nothing could go right.
Given the context of where you are reading this, you know it’s for the college, you know I did my Recces and my Risk Assessments, I would much rather talk about what it was like to have to film and produce content in this current environment. It was hard. Going through a rough time inside of myself at the time and dealing with an extreme bout of self loathing and an obsessive compulsive relapse which were all brought on by lockdown, too much time alone and too much time stuck in a particularly hectic household made being confidently creative difficult as well as having to remember to stick to PPE and lockdown restrictions which I took very seriously.
I felt I needed this documentary to be made before lockdown said we couldn’t be out filming and I wanted it finished before the original deadline to prove that the deadline being extended didn’t save me from a late hand in. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. Filming wasn’t hard, once we were out there it was great! (there being a Carluke that we used as a dummy Dechmont and we being Kieran, Jasmine two classmates who are better than me and I couldn’t have done this without them and Todd, a fellow classmate who was playing Robert Taylor and was terrific) I remembered how fun filming could be which I had definitely forgotten.
Stylistically I wanted the re-enactments to look more like a horror film than anything else however I did take a ton of influence from the very first episode of the X-Files with the lights in the woods sort of thing. Especially when the light shines on his face. I wanted to use POV and shaky cam at parts because I wanted this to be fun and I didn’t think anyone else’s doc would have a good excuse to experiment with different techniques like mine. I’m pretty pleased with how it looks, I hate how it sounds. The voice over was done by another classmate, Dylan who also helped me with those great sliding close ups over the documents, he did a good job with the VO and got what I was trying to do, make people laugh, although I love a True Crime doc everyone knows it’s a TV rustler’s burger of a genre
So I wanted to lean heavily on the tropes with dramatic stings and a patronising over the top narrator. That being said, if I could go back the narration would be something I would certainly change, it is also a regret of mine that I couldn’t get interviews, not for lack of trying. It goes without saying, but I’m obsessed with Twin Peaks so I did really want to use the word “Incident” and instead swap it out for the word “mystery” as I felt that was a lot more on the side that, this is a story and we won’t ever really know what happened to Rob and I also love a mystery in the woods.
It’s not the best but I’m happy with it and I think I proved to myself that I can make something fun and hopefully funny, this doc kept me in this course and I wasn’t even graded on it.
Greg Coyle, HND Film & Television
“Greg’s reflection on making Dechmont clearly illustrates many of the serious hurdles our students have faced in regard to producing content over this unprecedented period, battling practical considerations and having to navigate their own emotional rollercoaster at the same time.
As a creative response to the documentary brief when his original plan went down, the idea to film an UFO Abduction documentary with an acted narrative was an inspired choice and one which enabled him to use his scriptwriting talents and continue to make work despite restrictions.
In this sense Dechmont is an important film for him this year and one which enabled him to keep going with his studies through a very difficult time.“
Firstly, ‘Happy Mothers Day’ to all the mothers reading this! If you’re not a mother, then Happy Mother’s Day to your mother/granny/guardian or any female mentors in your life.
Last Monday was International Women’s Day and what a week it has been! The tragic death of Sarah Everard sparked women across the U.K to speak out publicly about their experiences of being harassed and feeling unsafe in public spaces. However, this week also saw images of police forcefully arresting women near to where Sarah was last seen. Four people were arrested in total during a vigil to “protect people’s safety”.
WHAT – A – WEEK!
In the department this week we’ve been political (with a small ‘p’) by increasing the visibility of our current and ex-female students, along with highlighting the female guest speakers we’ve had over the past academic year and the female filmmakers we cover within our film curriculum.
Thanks to students Jasmin Ewing and Shannon Findlay for letting us post your videos, along with alumni Chloe Cummins and Maja Engnell, for sharing their past experiences of the course at our Instagram.
Sara Harkins, Executive Producer at BBC Children’s and Training Manager at Outlander Season 6 was one of our first guest speakers last year. She subsequently organised, in her own time, four other guest speakers to join us for a chat, including Outlander Ex Trainee and now Assistant to Showrunner/Executive Producers on Outlander Season 6 – Lauren Lambie.
Virginia Heath inspired us by talking about her hypnotically beautiful film ‘From Scotland With Love” where she dug deep into archive footage and collaborated with Scottish singer-songwriter King Creosote to create stunning music for the film.
Maureen Hascoet, Producer at Firewallker Films and founder of TEDX Cumbernauld Women, shared her time and contacts with us to set the full department up with their London Screenwriter’s Festival passes and explained her own journey as a filmmaker.
I’m not a meme lord by any sense and rarely forward them on but this Dolly Parton meme has stayed with me for about a month or so now.
Recently I downloaded her new audiobook, ‘Songteller’ that plays more as a long form interview with Dolly, interjected with some narration and Dolly’s songs as she describes her process and inspiration for writing each of them.
I’ve always admired Dolly’s approach to life, art and business. She wears her heart on her sleeve and funnels her life experience and emotions through her music. She keeps her personal life private, delivering the character of ‘Dolly’ on stage and in front of the cameras. She’s a mentor to younger women in the business, a philanthropist and runs multiply charities while still staying true to herself, speaking in her own vernacular and hitting out with witty banter like ‘it takes a-lot of money to look this cheap’.
I stopped being self-deprecating about 15 years ago. Unlike Dolly, who’s successful and an there for able to make fun of herself, I realised for me it was a waste of time and potentially damaging.
If you’re a young woman working in an a predominantly male industry, the last thing you should utter is anything that puts yourself down, even if you are feeling insecure in the moment. Ask for help, but don’t let your ‘inner saboteur’ (#RuPaul #dragrace) leak out via negative mutterings to yourself about your own ability.
So, I found it interesting why I was so taken with this meme that could be read as ‘I’m so unproductive I think I’m great if I can get it together to send one email’, but that’s not what connected with me. Working from home during Covid has been difficult for everyone for many reasons. Too many to list here and we’re all experiencing the stress in different ways. This Dolly meme made me think of what it’s like trying to collaborate creatively with practitioners and students via email and zoom.
It’s always taken me longer just to do the simplest of tasks as opposed to working face to face, where tasks/issues would be relatively easy and fast to resolve. Working face to face allows you to bypass all the misunderstandings that comes with written/ video call communication. The lack of body language and not being able to see a student’s facial expression to gauge if they do understand the assessment task you’re explaining or just being polite to get off the call.
Emails have always been anxiety inducing for me due to the struggles I’ve had with literacy and spelling. It always takes me longer to draft an email that communicates my thoughts, plans and ideas. Even when I’ve finished, inevitably, there will be the obligatory typo, usually in the form of a rogue vowel or a wrongly chosen word from the dropdown in haste, that knocks the full sentences out of context.
So, yes, sometimes I do stand back from the computer feeling like a ‘boss lady’ for pressing send on one email that’s taken me hours to write, but I bet I’m not the only person feeling this way these days!!
In Dolly’s book ‘Songteller’, she tells a very tender and moving story of how her mum made her a coat to wear to school and told wee Dolly her coat was more valuable than a store bought one because it was made from different pieces of fabric taken from clothes belonging to members of her family and sewn together with motherly love. Inevitably the kids at school took the total mick out of wee Dolly and even locked her in the cupboard to really ‘stick the boot in’. #kidscanbecruel.
Dolly was angry, not only at the kids, but at her mum, for lying to her about the coat. She felt betrayed. When she confronted her about this, and her mum explained she was not poor. They were rich with music, culture, laughter, love and spent time together as a family telling stories to entertain each other on the front porch. Dolly was richer than them all, even back then with her wee patchwork coat of many hand-me-downs. It’s these moments of resilience that shape us for the rest of our lives, fueling the type of tenacity it takes to be a super star like Dolly Parton.
Dolly founded the charity ‘The Imagination Library’ in her father’s honour. Robert Lee Parton died in 2000 having struggled with access to a formal education all his life and this was her gift to him. Moreover, Dolly Parton is considered one of the best blue grass guitar players alive who can out-strum the rest, even with a full set of false nails on! All of the above is what makes her a ‘Boss Woman’! Dolly Parton is just one example of the many inspirational women who work in music, art, film and culture, that continue to inspire and push for change.
Ideally, I’d liked to have rounded up this week of IWD in the department by taking all my female friends, family, ex teachers, colleagues, mentors, students to Dollywood for a fun filled feminist day instead of this Dolly Parton rant!
This imaginary International Woman’s day trip would be epic. Riding on the rollercoasters and dodgems, taking about our ideas for a better future and finding strength in being together for the first time, in some cases, in over a year.
The next day everyone else would arrive, sons, fathers, grandads’, husbands and parners who support these amazing women, who are mothers, by being co-parents and childcare providers, making possible for them to be a mother and have a career if they choose to do so.
Finally, my two-day Dollywood trip would culminate with the woman herself joining us on stage to perform for everyone, much like in this footage below from Glastonbury 2014:
My vision couldn’t happen this year due to Covid travel restriction or the fact it’s a completely ludicrous and ridiculous idea. Well, we can dream can we? 😉
When Dolly sees disparity or injustice, she puts her money, power and influence where her mouth is to effect real change.
Rather than point at it, tweet about it or even just write a successful pop song about it, Dolly donates $1 millions of her own money to develop a vaccine and goes on TV and sings ‘Vaccine, Vaccine, Vaccine’ while being vaccinated.
Whether you’re an anti-vaxxer or not or even a Dolly Parton fan or not, there’s no doubt about it, Dolly gets it done!
Unlike Dolly, we don’t have anywhere near the cash, resources, connections or the musical abilities that Dolly has but we can take inspiration from the way she turns her ideas into actions and directly effects change within her own society and culture. This is the type of woman and feminist I’m aspiring to be.
Thanks to everyone in the department this week who helped by creating content, posting on social media and on the department blog, or for just being a general cheerleader from the side!
HND Film & Television student Kieran McLaughlin has already worked on a variety of features, one of which recently had its debut on Prime video. Kieran talks about his film making journey and his hopes for the future as he works toward completing his HND.
When did you take up film making?
My interest in filmmaking began back in 2017 when I went on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Summer School. This was a great introductory course to film theory and the process of making a film from pre-production to distribution. I went on to be a part of the GMAC Film Summer School in 2019 when I directed the film. This was a great opportunity to develop core hard and soft skills whilst furthering my knowledge of the craft.
My journey with GMAC Film continued through theBFI Academy which was an intensive weekly course spanning six months. The course was more in-depth about the theory behind film and the process of developing a script for screen. The Academy concluded with a one-day shoot using a RED cinema camera and a final premiere after the film was edited. For this, I was one of the producers. Both the Summer School and BFI Academy films were screened at the FANS Youth Film Festival in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
I’m still involved with GMAC Film through their Youth Team and the Moving Image Arts course. MIA is an Irish qualification which I currently study. The course explores the classical Hollywood style, Russian montage and Expressionism whilst working towards creating a short film.
Concurrent to the BFI Academy, I studied a HNC in TV Production with NCLAN. This was an extremely positive year which I look fondly back on as it set me up for making the next steps into the industry. I learned about shooting for different genres, lighting, developing ideas and undertaking bigger projects without a huge cast or crew. Following on from the success of the HNC, I now am at the tail end of the HND. My time has been spent creating content and planning for the future. On the course, I have created a documentary exploring sartorialism, an area of fashion/style which I fit into. Now, I am working on my showreel, editing it together and creating a website. These are very exciting times!
What equipment do you use?
Over the last few months, I have started to invest in equipment that will allow me to shoot more professional content and hopefully start earning for the work I do. After spending a lot of time researching, I settled on the Black Magic Pocket 6K Cinema Camera as this was a good entry level camera that looks professional and will allow me to achieve higher quality work.
To pair with the camera I have invested in some lenses: a Sigma 18-35mm F1.8, a Sigma 50-100mm F1.8 and a modified Helios 44-2 58mm F2. I made the decision to pick up matching zoom lenses, firstly for visual continuity and for the focal length coverage. Having two zooms which cover the main focal ranges that I will need for my work saves time on set, space in storage instead of having to swap between multiple prime lenses and carry them all, and most importantly, money. I decided to pick up a wireless focal puller in the form of the Nucleus Nano.
The goal for my camera rig is portability, efficiency and control. I am able to rig the system up to be paired with a bigger camera crew or keep the system simple for solo shooting. The rig can be set up to go between sticks and handheld with the quick release of the tripod plate. I continue to research, development my knowledge, understanding and skills in the camera department so I can self-shoot and also hold in-depth conversations with any DPs that I work with.
For audio, I use a ZOOM H4N Pro audio recorder paired with a Rode NTG-2 boom microphone. My long term plan would be to own my own cinema camera such as a RED MONSTRO 8K or an ARRI ALEXA as these are professional cameras used on high end productions.
However, despite all this equipment, it is important to note that it is ultimately not as important as the story. Substance over style! I initially started out using the Lumix G7 camera which has helped get me to where I am now, shooting most of my short films and my documentary on it. This demonstrates that you do not need any fancy or expensive equipment to make films.
Tell us a little about “Cavendish” and how that came about?
A Scottish boarding school tucked away in the Highlands. Prefects for house parents. Peers who are more like siblings. High standards of disciple and excellence. Cavendish is everything English newcomer Gracie Bennett needs and nothing she wants, except to play on their football team. Talent got her there but clashing against the new normal may well cost her the season.
Cavendish started as a showreel scene written by actor Maddy Bryce and quickly turned into a YouTube series. What was to be episode three at the time was in pre-production when I was recruited as a colourist and second editor. About a month later, I was promoted to producer for the series just before we began transitioning from YouTube to Prime video. During the transition we merged the first two short instalments into one nineteen minute, re-edited and re-coloured the episode featuring a new intro sequence that we travelled up to Loch Earn to shoot. Cavendish is currently sitting at a nice 55k rating on IMDB out of 7.5 million, which puts us in the top 1% of titles in their database. We are hopefully shooting the next episode in April with the biggest cast and crew yet.
Which Directors or Producers inspire you?
My primary directorial influence would be John Cassavetes. I see parallels in his work exploring class divide, existentialism, love, greed and the human condition with the films that I want to make and the stories I wish to tell. I like his documentary style of shooting which feels organic and fluid; it draws audiences into the story and focuses attention on characters which drive the stories. His versatility between bigger budget and indie filmmaking is something which I aspire to do.
Bong Joon-ho is another big influence. His films tend to cover a wide variety of genres and stories but they are connected through the similar themes such as class divide and good vs evil. His films are character driven too and he often makes social commentary on the world without favouring a particular side. This ambiguity demonstrates that the world is often grey and there can often be no moral high ground. This is something which I hope to explore in my own films.
A big influence in terms of producers would be Jed Mercurio who primarily is involved in British television. His versatility as a writer, director and producer is something which I hope to develop myself. With a basis in drama, he has produced series’ like Line Of Duty, Bodyguard, and the upcoming Bloodlands.
Your course finishes in June this year, have you made any future plans?
Firstly, I have been spending a lot of time creating content, thinking about self-promotion and how I can market myself as a freelancer. I aim to set up as a sole trader and try to break into the industry. Over the past few years, I have undertaken various courses which have provided good experience and networking opportunities. I intend to continue this by looking for workshops, apprenticeships, training schemes and by working on my own projects. The intention is to continue developing my skillset in the many facets of filmmaking so I can be versatile, adaptability and widen the opportunities available to me.
Out with looking to make a beginning in the industry, I have reapplied to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Having previously applied, I have been able to take positives away from each application, learn and develop myself and recognise areas for improvement. I have spent the last year focusing on this and hope to be successful in my application this time.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
In five years’ time I hope to be established as a freelancer, making my own content and working as a director and producer in the industry. My aim is to continue building up IMDB credits, growing my business and working on bigger scale productions. In order to get to this stage, I need to continue making a variety of content such as short films, commercial work, and social media content. Amazon Prime is a great platform to get my work out there as well as uploading to YouTube and Vimeo. I also plan on submitting any short films I direct or produce to film festivals as this can be a great way to secure future funding, make money, network and create opportunities.
“The opportunity to shoot a documentary on the HND was something which I looked forward to and a challenge I relished as I had never shot non-fiction before. I dabbled between a variety of ideas but eventually settled on sartorialism which is the art of tailored clothing.
This is a style of clothing which I am particularly invested in as I often wear suiting and I thought I could provide a unique insight into the world. As there are many angles I could have taken the documentary in, I decided to keep things simple and grounded. The documentary follows four people split across three distinct sections who all dress differently but come under the umbrella term of sartorialism. The title of “Sartorialism: Style as Expression” is fitting for the documentary as it explores these people’s individual tastes, how they became interested in this way of dressing and what it means to them.
Since I was dealing with garments which were delicate, hand crafted, of unique materials and expertly paired together, I had to ensure I did them justice through the cinematography. The decision was made to make use of a continuous slow motion montage which tells a story of a day-in-the-life of the people being documented. Rather than have talking head interviews, I used voice over from the people instead, asking them the same questions for consistency between the sections. Shooting the documentary was extremely enjoyable as I was able to explore the craft between sartorialism, learn about people’s different perspectives on the world and learn of their personal journeys.
For the edit, I had the [good] problem of cutting down the runtime. Due to shooting mainly in slow motion, footage runtime was doubled or even tripled. I decided to do an initial large cut, making use of most of the footage and voice over recorded. This came to about nineteen minutes. From there, I went through, cutting out any excess, trimming shot lengths and squeezing the documentary down to twelve minutes. I am extremely happy with how the project turned out as it was a battle to shoot during COVID-19 times. As I had been efficient in my pre-production, I was able to shoot swiftly, timing my shoots prior to lockdown. It was important to remain safe though when visiting people’s houses so the appropriate safety measures were put in place such as mask wearing and social distancing along with hand sanitising. Scheduling around people was also difficult, especially for the ending which required everyone to come together. Overall, I think the entire process was successful. I thoroughly enjoyed shooting the documentary and hope others like it too!”
Film students and staff recently cast their votes in for the best films of 2020.
Though it obviously was a quiet year in terms of films released, there was still a good number of titles out there. The full top ten shows the variety of choices throughout the department, the whole process being good for everyone to evaluate and discover titles from a year everyone would probably like to forget!
Here is the top ten:
1. Soul (Peter Docter) 2. Tenet (Christopher Nolan) 3. 1917 (Sam Mendes) 4. I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Charlie Kaufman) 5. Mank (David Fincher) 6. Parasite (Bong Joon-Ho) 7. Énola Holmes (Harry Bradbeer) 8. The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin) 9. Dating Amber (David Frayne) 10. His House (Rémi Weekes)
As part of on-going engagement during remote working and the extension of the department’s guest speaker programme, Film & TV students have been given passes for the up-coming London Screenwriters Online Festival.
Film maker, Maureen Hascoet, who was involved in organising last year’s TED-EX Woman’s event in Cumbernauld managed to facilitate tickets for the students and she spoke to them as part of the guest lecture slot that takes place on a Tuesday.
“As one of the only FE colleges offering Screenwriting as an option, we felt this was too good an opportunity to pass up. The line-up is superb and it includes writers such as Peter Craig (The Batman, Hunger Games), Pen Densham (Rocky 2, Escape to Victory) and Kate Brooke (Discovery of Witches). It’s shaping up to be a great experience and one which will offer some great insights into what is arguably the most important part of the industry – the writing!!!”