I have also been directing a short film to deter young people from knife crime, we shot this over two days in January and February. Once I had edited, we realized that something was missing and wanted to do another shoot day in March/ April. We have also had to postpone this.
In addition, I had been teaching filmmaking for an organisation that had to cancel their workshops.
It seemed like the world was falling apart. All productions were cancelled and what was I going to do for work? On 25th March, 2020 the UK was in lockdown.
Fortunately a screenwriting job I had applied for last year became available. For the first two weeks of lockdown I worked as a screenwriter on this film and went for long walks for exercise in between my work. This became my routine. Writing during lockdown is a different experience as usually other people and the world around inspires me. I frequent coffee shops and often conversations from people at tables next to mine find their way into the dialogue I am writing. However, during this time, inspiration can only be other films and our own imaginations. Regardless, I have completed the script.
Currently there isn’t much alternative work for a filmmaker. I am collaborating with friends on our own film but this does not pay the rent or bills.
I mentioned earlier that my filmmaking workshop had been cancelled. For many years I have been teaching and mentoring between filmmaking projects and in 2017 I started teaching my own workshops, teaching screen-acting and presenting on camera. I had been teaching filmmaking and acting to children, and discovered how much they improved when they watched themselves back and decided to try this as a technique to teach adults. I discovered this worked for most actors and presenters.
Before I became a filmmaker I studied acting at drama schools. I was of the school of thought that an actor needed to lose self-awareness to immerse themselves into a role. This continued into my directing. I was often unsure when an actor on set wanted to watch playback and would discourage this. However experience has since taught me differently. I find to empower actors by sharing with them what you see and want to change is a very quick and clear method of communication, directing and teaching. I am now running screen-acting workshops online, using this method of collaborative observation.
There are in reality many benefits to teaching online. I can teach from home and have more time to prepare and can send written feedback straight away while it is fresh in my mind.
The reoccurring issues professional actors have are stillness on screen, focus and confidence. For stillness, my advice to actors is to place their character’s tension somewhere in their body. For example if your character is nervous, place those butterflies in your stomach. Practising visualisation can help with focus. Actors can imagine the scene of the film they are in, whether they are in their homes recording a self-tape or on a busy set. Most importantly no one technique is going to work for all actors, but developing your own technique as an actor is what my workshops are all about.
I have decided not to let lockdown prevent me from writing, directing or making films and intend to put this time to good use, writing and teaching workshops. I have started work on a quarantine film about the home video phenomena taking the Internet by storm during lock-down, that I will be able to make with actors distanced.