Month: October 2019

Community at Raindance Film Festival 2019

This year, Raindance put community first with free morning screenings, full community days and a focus on the people that make Raindance tick!

Your enthusiastic response to our crowd funding campaign allowed 150 under 25-year olds to attend Raindance’s Emerging Filmmakers’ Day for free! Not stopping at that, we invested our Patrons’ generous contributions into a VR Community Day and a series of morning screenings, free to charitable and community groups.

A patron, member or other contributor? Or just interested in Raindance’s commitments to the wider filmmaking community? Read this summary of the projects and networking opportunities we’ve hosted this year!

Community Screenings

This year Raindance out-did ourselves, offering daily morning screenings for free to the charities and community groups we love and admire! We started off with a Silver Screening of Babysplitters and were joined by the enthusiastic group from North London Cares. We also ran our first Parent & Baby screening for Festival favourite Greener Grass. Thanks to guidance from Raising Films and support in the form of crèche toys and play-matts from Lewisham Toy Library, we were able to open our screens to parents and their sprogs!

In another first, we hosted the inaugural Total Arts Film Festival at Raindance. This network of disabled young people aged 11-19 have been working on films over the past couple of years with Total Arts & Cambridge Junction. On the first Saturday of the Festival they road-tripped down from Cambridge to share a few of their projects with us. It all looked spectacular on the Raindance screen!

Total Arts Filmmakers show us the true Raindance spirit of independent filmmaking!

VR Community Day

Raindance is proud to have a truly extraordinary VR or immersive film programme curated by Maria Rakusanova. However, we recognise that it can be a higher cost, and therefore more exclusive, experience… with this in mind, we opened the doors of our Raindance Studios so that community groups could explore VR for free! This year we were lucky to have the young people from The Working Party along for the ride, most of whom had never experienced VR before. Two of our generous filmmakers, Nanna Gunnars and Owen Hindley, from A Box in The Desert, joined us to host and introduce the incredible world of VR!

Not ones to stop while the night is young, we also hosted an evening in partnership with the Independent Film Trust. Represented by Charlotte Knowles, the IFT were launching their latest project COLDHARBOUR.This is a VR film produced by, and about, members of the Brixton Market / Coldharbour Lane area. A mixed group of filmmakers, VR fans, patrons and the IFT group all gathered over Prosecco to celebrate the imminent opening of their exhibition!

Thanks to The Working Party for introducing Raindance to these wonderful young people!

Emerging Filmmakers’ Day

Elliot Grove speaks to our room full of emerging filmmakers!

This might have been the best Emerging Filmmakers’ Day yet! What a way to start the day – an inspiring and heartfelt conversation with Ed Skrein?! He even brought us an exclusive screening of his short “Little River Run”. Sitting down with Raindance Founder Elliot Grove, Ed opened up about representation, London, directing versus acting and, of course, the importance of young people in the film industry!

We followed that on with super important talks from Raindance partner De Montfort University and Freelance Circle. We finished it all off with Elliot Grove’s dynamic Pitching Skills workshop. There were even a couple of pitches from the audience! It was a full day of fascinating, much-needed conversations that never made the mistake of oversimplifying for our young audience!

The Freelance Circle Founder Casey Bird hosted a discussion between emerging young filmmakers and producers about the pros and cons of freelance working

Meeting and Mingling

The Raindance community is independent and self-motivated, so we don’t really need to do much to keep it alive and kicking… that being said, we want to give you guys the spaces (and the drinks) to gather in and plan that next project! This year, we ran a Raindance favourite Boozin’ n Schmoozin’ in collaboration with Festival Formula. We hope all of you there got the chance to schmooze them – real gurus of the festival circuit!

There were also private Members’ Drinks, kindly hosted by the Virgin Money Lounge. It was an intimate and buzzy few hours spent sharing a drink with programmed filmmakers, patrons and jurors… We hope to see more of you Members there next year!

Boozin’ n Schmoozin’ with Festival Formula

As a team, and personally, writing to you as Development Officer, Raindance is proud of the varied and ambitious Community programme we delivered this year. We are all passionate about expanding the reach of the film industry and championing the underrepresented and un-empowered.

Get Involved!

We would not be able to achieve these things without the generous support of our members, patrons, and partners. We will continue to pursue and deliver community projects and events throughout the year. Get in touch if you would like to get involved or check out our individual giving pages here.

If you are a community group or charity who would like to find out more about our Development and Creative Learning programme or get in touch with an idea for collaboration, please email kezia@raindance.co.uk

Cheers for a great Festival,

from the Raindance team!

Filed under: Filmmaking, Raindance Film Festival

#1MinuteHorror Short Film Competition 2019

As we get ready for Halloween, the Raindance horror competition returns for 2019 – with a twist! This year, we’re challenging you to shoot a one-minute horror film.

How to Take Part:

1) Shoot a 60-second horror film.

2) Post the completed film on Instagram, tagging @raindancefilmfestival and including the hashtag #1MinuteHorror

E.g.: Hey @raindancefilmfestival, here’s my #1MinuteHorror!

Submissions close at midnight, Thursday 31st October.

3) The top 3 films will be reposted on our Instagram account for an audience vote on Monday 4th November.

One entry per person.

Submissions under 60 seconds will be accepted, however, submissions over 60 seconds will be ineligible. Opening titles and closing credits are included in your runtime.

What you’ll win

The winners will receive:

  • 1st Place: 2x Raindance Film Festival 2020 VIP Passes + your #1MinuteHorror film will be screened at the festival
  • 2nd Place: 2x Independent Filmmaker’s Ball 2020 VIP Tickets
  • 3 place: 1 Raindance Membership

Prizes are fixed and judges decisions are final.

Everyone who enters the competition will receive:

  • 10% off any Raindance course.

Previous winners

Head Over Heels

Upskirt

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Filed under: Filmmaking

Can You Actually Make Money From An Indie Film?

Creatives generally don’t make great entrepreneurs because most of them have their heads firmly in the clouds which, frankly, is exactly where they should be. Subsequently scriptwriters and directors are often not much cop at the ‘business’ part of show business. The problem is that low budget filmmakers often have to straddle both worlds, as I found out when I both wrote and produced my first feature film ‘Trick or Treat’. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) for me I used to be a banker and so I didn’t find it too difficult to grasp the financial side of making a film and, even more importantly, could give potential investors the impression that I did! I always asked myself this question: “Can you actually make money from an indie film?

Can you actually make money from an indie film?

Whist film investors often want to get involved in movies for the kudos and fun, the reality is that most still want to turn a profit. Aspiring filmmakers need to get comfortable with the requisite ‘bread-head’ lingo and be able to answer all the tricky questions that will come their way when they’re presenting their business plan. I believe the lessons I learnt from my recent film-making experience will help newcomers to this industry make their investors a return – which after all may well be a pre-requisite to getting the opportunity to make a second film!

As far as I can see, the simple way to make investors make a profit is to create a brilliant film with the highest possible production values and the most well-known cast for the least amount of money. Of course, this is a little easier said than done! However, my seven-point plan below may just make this lofty goal slightly less impossible:

1 Script

This may sound blindingly obvious but the only way you’re going to attract stars (who you’re going to need in order to attract finance) to work on a low budget film is if they love the script, so don’t do anything until you’re absolutely 100% happy with it. We only managed to get the likes of Frances Barber, Jason Flemyng and Shaun Parkes involved because they saw the screenplay’s potential.

2. Plot

For God’s sake try to avoid period pieces, dinosaurs, car chases and explosions! In fact, try to have as few actors and locations as possible. As screenwriting legend William Goldman said, you need a valid reason to have ‘fifty camels in central park’.

3. Tax breaks

Make sure the special purpose limited company you set up to produce your film is SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) approved (or EIS if you’re after more cash and are making several films). SEIS gives investors 50% relief on their income tax as well as other tax breaks that actually mean only 11.5% of their capital is at risk (but unfortunately the amount you can raise is limited to £150K). And don’t forget to utilize the UK tax credit (offsetting 20% of legitimate production costs) and make damn sure your company is VAT-registered too.

4.Favours

Call in as many favours as you possibly can from friends, family, film students and actors you once met in a pub. This may well be a trick you can only pull once, so use it wisely!

5.Auto-exploitation

Forget about paying yourself or your co-producers up front on your first film. Your debut movie is your calling card, or as they say call it in the retail industry, a loss-leader.

6. Deferrals and points

Try to pay cast and crew with as high a percentage of deferred payments and points (e.g. % of future profits) as possible BUT be scrupulously honest in dishing them out if your film shoots the lights out.

7.Get a great team

There are certain crew who will be vital in keeping costs low. They are worth spending decent money on because, if they’re any good, they will actually save you money. A tight-fisted, imaginative line producer and First AD are worth their weight in gold.

So, to use a real-life example to illustrate what a British indie film needs to do in order to make a return, let’s look at my movie Trick or Treat, which cost £400K to make. That cash came from the following sources:

Cash Raised 
  
High New Worth Individuals’ equity investment (SEIS)150,000
HNWs’ loans120,000
Tax credit70,000
Deferred post-production fees (to be paid by future sales)60,000
 400,000
Which was spent on the following things: 
  
Crew (incl. food & expenses)190,000
Cast (incl. expenses, excl. deferrals/points)30,000
Equipment (including damage)30,000
Locations (including hotels/travel)30,000
Insurance/finance/legal20,000
Post-production (incl. score/editing)70,000
Misc (props/costumes/petty cash etc)30,000
 400,000
  

Taking into account our sales agent’s commission and their marketing costs, my spoddy spreadsheet tells me Trick or Treat needs to make gross revenues of £350K to give my investors the 20% return I ‘promised’ them (taking into account the 50% tax break they’ve already received). It’s a long shot but, with the right headwind, it might just work!

Trick or Treat is headlining the Marbella Film Festival and will be out in UK Cinemas from 25th October and then our fantastic sales agent will be selling it internationally at the American Film Market with a digital UK release to follow early next year. It’s too early to say whether it will make a profit for our investors (and the BFI stats suggest only 1 in 10 British indie films do actually ‘make money’) but all I know is that we’ve done everything we can to make sure it does… now only time will tell.

If it’s good news I’ll report back but if it’s not… this may well be the last time you hear from me!

Geraint Anderson is pleased to announce that since he wrote this article his movie ‘Trick or Treat’ has won the award for best feature film at The Marbella International Film Festival and that Evolutionary Films have secured a cinema release (Vue & Odeon) on 25th October (pre-order Book online here)

Filed under: Filmmaking, Filmmaking Career, Interviews

Why Aren’t Indie Filmmakers Using This Revolutionary Technology?

Avengers: Infinity War is not the film you might expect to start off an article on indie filmmakers. Bear with me because this is going somewhere good. Avengers: Infinity War was a landmark film in visual effects. It is the first film in the MCU to realise the full power of our favourite purple demi-god, Thanos. It utilised the same technology that War for Planet of the Apes did to bring life to an army of chimps, gorillas, and orangutans the previous year.

Avengers: Infinity War                                                                          War or Planet of the Apes

It becomes cheaper. Attack of the Clones was the first studio film shot entirely on digital cameras (back in 2002), and now we all carry cameras capable of shooting a film (often in 4K!) in our pockets. The digital effects that revolutionised cinema in The Abyss, Terminator 2, and Jurassic Park can now be created and rendered on a home PC. Gollum was brought to our screens 17 years ago in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, but there has not been the same uptake of the technology used to create him in the indie world. Where are the indie mocap characters? Because, contrary to what you might think, we are in the perfect place to take advantage of this tech.

This isn’t an idle assumption either, because for the past year I’ve been in production on an action-fantasy feature film in which the main antagonist is none other than a CGI creature fully animated with motion capture technology. This means that the monster (or rather, the actor playing the monster) can be directed like any other actor in the scene and elicit a fully-realised performance. Because, while I’m big into technology, I am no animator and there’s no way I’d be able to create convincing animation without the help of a talented, real-world performer.

My hope is we’re can entering a time where people’s imaginations are their only limit to what they can put to film – and as the technology to do this gets more and more accessible then we’ll see more adventurous films being made.

I’m looking at a release date of early next year for my film – titled ‘Anghenfil’. There’s loads of other brilliant aspects to the film – including medieval (and modern-day) battles, legendary swords, exceptional makeup effects, and incredible original music. So, to keep updated on our progress and release date, follow us on your favourite social media platform:

Website ► http://www.motioncapturemonster.com/

Instagram ► https://www.instagram.com/ryigarry

Twitter ► https://twitter.com/RyiGarry

Facebook ► https://www.facebook.com/Anghenfil

YouTube ► https://www.youtube.com/user/ryigarry

Filed under: Filmmaking, Filmmaking Career, Gaming, In Our Opinion

A screenplay and a novel- The Must know differences

Ever wonder about the difference between a novel and a screenplay?

I was a novelist before I tried my hand at screenwriting, and it was only a happy accident that led me to change direction. In 2009 the BBC optioned the rights to my first book ‘Cityboy’ with a view to turning it into a TV series and whilst I thought it was a catastrophe when their option lapsed a few years later, if it hadn’t I’d have never got into film-making. That’s because, with the confidence that only unbridled naivety can engender, I decided that I’d cut out the middleman and simply write the Cityboy screenplay myself.

So, I bought ‘Screenwriting for Dummies’ and the latest version of Final Draft and opened up my trusty laptop. Within hours it became quite clear that I was flailing in the dark. I realized that I needed to learn a whole new skill set and that, of course, is why I immediately signed up to one of Raindance’s amazing screenwriting courses!

There are actually quite a few similarities between successful novel-writing and effective screenwriting – both involve telling a compelling story with believable and interesting characters, an exciting plot and realistic dialogue that respectively keep the reader turning pages and the viewer glued to the screen. Both media thrive when they are original, innovative and lacking in tiresome clichés and both eschew implausible ‘Deus Ex Machina’ developments and tedious over-used tropes. Novels and screenplays also often utilize the three-act structure and generally benefit when the writer chooses to ‘show not tell’ and ‘arrive at the party late and leave early’. The time-old (but perhaps old-fashioned) story of a likeable/relatable hero who reluctantly leaves his comfort zone to go on a seemingly impossible mission to overcome a vicious antagonist can work just as well in both formats.

However, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. A screenplay is a short (100-140 page), pacey and almost entirely visual way of telling a story. For example, whilst a novelist has the freedom to spend sixteen pages describing exactly what’s frustrating ‘Mildred’, a screenwriter does not. A screenwriter could use a convoluted voiceover to explain precisely what’s going on in a character’s head, but it’s frowned upon (as is ‘on the nose’ dialogue that is sometimes used to perform the same function). Subsequently, the screenwriter will instead simply state something as concise as ‘Mildred clenches her fist in anger’! Likewise, the long tangents and multiple sub-plots that are common in literary novels have no place in a ninety-minute film, especially as attention spans become ever shorter. Generally, if a scene doesn’t move the main plot forward or efficiently enlighten us about a major character’s motivations it should be binned.

Successful screenplays also generally stick to a more restrictive formula than novels whose content is only limited by the writer’s imagination and the rules of grammar (and sometimes not even those!) Blake Snyder’s screenwriting guide ‘Save The Cat’ receives a lot of flak for its formulaic advice but so many great films have an ‘inciting incident’ at around page ten and two ‘plot points’ (that dramatically change the story’s direction) around page 35 and 75 that only the most arrogant rookie would choose to ignore his words completely. Likewise, scenes should generally not be longer than six pages, uninterrupted dialogue not much longer than eight lines and the ending/resolution should always be ‘inevitable but not predictable’. Indeed, you can bet that even non-conformist screenwriters like Tarantino, who seem to abhor such formulas, have an intimate knowledge of the ‘rules’ they choose to break.

Let’s also not forget about budget. If you have the misfortune not to be Aaron Sorkin it’s unlikely that you’ll be writing a multi-million-pound movie and that means your screenplay should contain as few actors, locations, explosions, car chases and dinosaurs as possible. I genuinely believe that such budget limitations force the scriptwriter to use his imagination and that they make his or her job all the more vital – as only a brilliant low budget script has any chance of attracting a decent director or known actors and without them you will struggle to attract finance. Obviously, I like to think that’s why my recently completed half million-pound film ‘Trick or Treat’ managed to secure great actors like Frances Barber, Jason Flemyng, Craig Kelly and Shaun Parkes!

One other similarity between a novelist and a screenwriter that I should also mention is that both need to be unbelievably persistent and capable of dealing with almost constant rejection. Despite years of trying, Cityboy never got made (though I still hope that one day it will be) and nor did my next three speculative scripts. It was only my fifth screenplay, for ‘Trick or Treat,’ that came good. Frankly, neither the thin-skinned nor the uncommitted should even consider pursuing either career path.

I may be just a tiny bit biased, but I believe that the screenwriter is the most under-appreciated component of any successful movie project with the director and lead actors generally getting all the glory. However, I absolutely love screenwriting, so despite the lack of accolades this is what I’ll keep doing… and besides my teeth are just a bit too wonky to play the lead!

Geraint Anderson is pleased to announce that since he wrote this article his movie ‘Trick or Treat’ has won the award for best feature film at The Marbella International Film Festival and that Evolutionary Films have secured a cinema release (Vue & Odeon) on 25th October (pre-order tickets here)

Filed under: Filmmaking, Filmmaking Career

5 Big Mistakes Documentary Filmmakers Keep Making

As a documentary consultant I help documentary makers make the best film possible. You can learn from me in person at the Raindance Documentary Foundation Certificate. I usually work with directors before they go out to film, however sometimes I’m brought in after they’ve shot their film. Obviously it’s much harder to turn a film around once it’s been shot. The following are insights about the big mistakes documentary filmmakers keep making.  I’ve learned from my experience of both watching documentaries as a consultant and selecting them for film festivals:

1. Thinking that documentary-making is just filming an interview then shooting some random B-roll.

There is far more to filmmaking than shooting a long improvised interview then filming a load of B-roll footage which you will later try to use to illustrate what the interviewee is talking about. As a documentary consultant I see lots and lots of this type of film from filmmakers who are baffled as to why their film hasn’t been accepted into film festivals or sold. And I just think what a waste – it doesn’t have to be like this. At its essence great documentary filmmaking is about telling a great story in a truly inspired way – and that, from the moment that you start to develop your film, should be your overarching job as a director. I believe that great documentaries have more in common with poetry or drama than journalism.

2. Not evoking real emotion in the viewer.

What I notice that people love so much about their favorite documentaries is that they evoke a real emotion in them. This could mean that a film moves them for instance. Or entertains them. Or both. But the viewer is indisputably moved in some way. If your documentary isn’t evoking any emotion in the viewer I suspect that there’s something wrong and should be addressed – usually at the early stages of production rather than in the edit when it’s probably going to be too late. And yet filmmakers often don’t think about this – it’s as if they are just going out making a film because they find the subject interesting and assume that an audience will be equally captivated. It’s a real craft to translate that interest of yours in a subject or someone, into a living breathing film that will truly resonate with an audience.

3. Not offering the audience a story.

We as humans need stories. We are story lovers. We thrive on the dramatic arc of a story to draw us in. This is what gets us sitting on the edge of our seats and what gets us paying money to watch documentaries. Work needs to be done at the planning stage and during shooting to ensure that there is a dramatic arc to your film. Without doing that you’re very, very unlilkely to find it during the edit. To understand about story-telling the first thing I believe you need to have a real grasp of is the 3-act structure. And then you need to understand the rules of dramatic movie-making. Knowing these rules will help you craft your film into something that will hopefully pull viewers and broadcasters and festivals in.

4. Just playing it safe.

Too often what directors are doing is more akin to producing. They are just playing it safe directorially and not using the medium of the moving image and sound in an inspired way to take us on an emotional journey. Put another way – you can’t separate how a film is made from what the story and emotion is. Great documentary directors make bold, personal films with a unique vision. So one way to make a make a bold and distinctive film is to first understand why you’ve made the creative decisions that you have (See the next point 5).

5. Not knowing the rules.

Just as you’d not just go out and buy a violin then book a performance for yourself at the Royal Albert Hall, so a documentary filmmaker needs to learn real, tried and tested rules to help them both identify if they have a film idea that has the potential to be an emotionally engaging film, and then use those rules to help them understand how to make their film. As a teacher and consultant (and filmmaker) I use these rules constantly. They are my best friend and when I pass them on to documentary makers I see the real change that these rules have on not just their films but their confidence as filmmakers as well.

Filed under: Filmmaking, In Our Opinion