Make A Film – Learn By Doing | Raindance Film School

I had been a community member of Raindance for a few years and during this time dreamed of making my own short films. As a mature aged actress, with a very independent and resourceful streak, I wanted to create. I am a compulsive learner and tried ‘teaching’ myself filmmaking and editing through YouTube, books,  etc. Though I pick up things easily, I wasn’t getting anywhere. I was floundering. WHY CAN’T I DO THIS?

COVID-19 struck. Lock-down. Sick of spring cleaning, I knew this downtime was THE opportunity to learn to self-tape properly and create films. 

First, I became a paid member of Raindance, taking advantage of their wonderful lockdown sessions. Also undertook the 99 min film school session (again) with Elliot Grove. Being budget-conscious I then scoured all the short Raindance courses. Member discounts was the carrot. 

Then I undertook a number of Raindance courses/sessions. (Refer below)  Also included are the self-taping workshops with The Acting Habit (purocasting.com). If it wasn’t for the actor, Jon Campling’s lockdown session, ‘So Ya Got a Self-tape to do – An Actor’s Thoughts’, I wouldn’t have known about these workshops for actors. So thank you Raindance. Next, I finally finished creating a portable make-shift studio at home. 2 LED soft lightboxes, mic, gorilla, and iPhone/DSLR stands and backdrop.

July:  The Acting Habit’s, ‘Self-Tape 5 Day Online Challenge’: Technical aspects of self-taping, including projects & daily feedback. Within 5 days, I went from ‘shying away from self-taping’ to ‘bring it on’

July – 5 weeks: Smart Phone Film-making Foundation Certificate Course. (Raindance, Toronto with Director and Producer, George D’Amato). I created my first two short films (1 min as a practice run and then my 4.30 min project). Yay! I made a film. 

July/Aug – 5 weeks:  Screenwriters’ Foundation Certificate Course. Raindance,  Toronto with Randall Willis

Am currently fine-tuning an outline for a full-length feature thriller as a result. 

July:  Live Ammunition! Pitch your Screenplay – Raindance, London with Elliot Grove. Living in Brisbane, Australia I woke up at 2 am (sleepy yawn) to listen and learn from the pitches. 

August: Directing Essentials, Raindance, London with Director, Simon Hunter.  Another early morning session (sleepy yawn). 

10 October: The Acting Habit’s, ‘21 Day Self Tape Call-back challenge’.  

December:  The Acting Habit’s, ‘Write Your Own Monologue’. Teacher, Richard Parry. Wrote a 1.30 min monologue related to my screenplay outline.                                                                                                          

2021: 

January:  Mastering Genre Workshop Series: Raindance, Toronto with Randall Willis. 1. Thriller screenplay tools 2. Comedy screenplay tools. 

I have now made the following 3 short films. I am proud of myself. I learn from each film and try to ‘up the ante’ each time. No frills, no budget. No excuses. Though I have a DSLR camera, I shot and edited on my iPhone (under isolation conditions). I have used the iPhone’s inbuilt mic and camera, and also used the Filmic Pro app; editing using iMovie or PowerDirector. I am also  trying other editing programs. Always experimenting.  Undertaking all roles is very tedious  and time-consuming. But doable. And rewarding! 

My first ‘official’ short film:

  •    Monsieur L’Pook’s 2020 Lockdown Collection – Cat video created by me: 

An edited version (2.20 mins) of my 4.30 min project created for the smartphone cert course. 

My 2nd short film:

  •    Sliced Off!  2.30 mins. Initially created for The Sequestered: A Micro Short Online Film Festival’s weekly prompt Episode 36 ‘Slice’: (free non-competitive weekly online film festival). https://sequesteredfest.com/

Listed as a demo reel on my imDb profile.

Official Selection DMOFF (Direct Monthly Online Film Festival) January 2021 

https://www.dmoffest.com/post/sliced-off

My 3rd film:

  • FRAMED Short Film 4.30 mins. Initially created for The Sequestered: A Micro Short Online Film Festival’s weekly prompt Episode 34 – frame: 

Listed as a demo reel on my imDb profile.

Official Selection at DMOFF (Direct Monthly Online Film Festival) Jan 2021

https://www.dmoffest.com/post/framed-short-film-2020

I stopped thinking I had to learn everything first before creating a film. I have made mistakes. So what!?  I have learned for next time. I’ve also watched countless1 -5 min shorts – studying the award-winning ones.  As an actor, I’ve always studied actors. Now, I also watch for the directing, cinematic, and editing styles. I have used weekly film prompts (see above) as inspiration, as they resonated with me. But stories are everywhere. 

Currently, working on another two shorts. And aim to enter a Raindance 1 min film competition in the near future. Plus of course, develop my outline into a feature-length screenplay. Lots to do.

Raindance gave me the fundamentals and now I learn as I create. I’m now a filmmaker. Now, I’m off to make my next film. 

Links:

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/helenmckenzieross/

Twitter:  @HelenMcKenzieR1  and   https://twitter.com/misshelenwrites

imDb: Helen McKenzie Ross https://pro.imdb.com/name/nm12115198

Starnow:   https://www.starnow.com.au/helenross11/

FB:  https://www.facebook.com/helen.ross.568294

Blog: https://misshelenwrites.wordpress.com/

Article Author:

make a film

Helen McKenzie Ross, aka Helen Ross, is an Australian actor, writer, filmmaker.  Helen completed an Advanced Dip Stage/Screen acting at Australian Performing Arts Conservatory, Brisbane. Is addicted to creating.

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About 

Raindance aims to promote and support independent filmmaking and filmmakers.

From new and emerging to industry pros, Raindance connects, trains, supports, and promotes visual storytellers through every step of their career.

The Raindance Film Festival runs each Autumn in London's Leicester Square.

Raindance has been delivering film training since 1992. A wide range of Open Classes to a 2 year HND Level 5 BTEC in Moving Images to a Postgraduate Film Degree are delivered to students on five continents, both in person and online.