This week we speak with Sami from Signature Pictures, a London based production company that helps more young, unemployed creatives get real on the job training.
Casting Networks: How was Signature Pictures come into fruition?
Sami Larabi: Signature Pictures was formed in 2012 by our creative director, Jon Max Spatz. He had worked in the camera department on several Harry Potter films, but found himself unemployed afterwards. He went to the Jobcentre and told them that he would like to work in the creative industries, only to be told that there were no relevant opportunities available. Following this, he decided to create a production company that would offer this opportunity for others in similar positions going to the Jobcentre.read more
This month Casting Networks interviewed Jaine Green, the Head of Festival and Chair of Judges at the discover.film awards, about how the indie film platform is changing how audiences can access short films for the better, and what she looks for in a great short film.
Casting Networks: Where did the idea for discover.film come from?
Jaine Green: Looking back, I can see discover.film was born out of a happy accident and necessity. Several years ago we made a short film called Cherry Cake, which did very well on the festival circuit, so we had fun travelling the world attending many of the major festivals. We were blown away by the quality of the other films and enthusiasm of the many filmmakers we met. However, the more we talked to producers, it became all too clear there was zero distribution opportunity for short films, which meant all this passion and talent was being thrown away. Few of us make a short film to become rich, but it’s ludicrous that there wasn’t even a platform for filmmakers to screen their work. We felt we needed to address this.
On the first Wednesday of each month in Manchester, Liverpool, and now Sheffield, 80-odd film-lovers, makers, and socialites gather together to appreciate each others’ work. What started as a small social gathering has grown in to a multi-city, monthly, international film festival, and doesn’t look like it’s stopping there.
Split into two parts, the evening begins with a selection of ‘Short Shorts’—films 15-minutes-and-under are watched, and then voted for by the audience to win the People’s Choice Award. The ‘Feature Short,’ 15-45 minutes, is then shown before the night culminates in a Q&A with the filmmakers present on the night.read more
‘Alpha Female’ is the brand new video from UK band Wild Beasts, produced by APA member Rumble and directed by Sasha Rainbow. We chatted with Sasha to find out where the concept came from and what inspired her to shine a light on the skater girls of Bangalore.
Casting Networks: Where did the inspiration come from for the music video concept?
Sasha Rainbow: For the Wild Beasts music video, I directed I tried to pull apart the song title Alpha Female and think about what it really meant. I wanted to use the video as a platform to celebrate women boldly going against the grain through affirmative, inspiring action, by following their passions; in this case, through skateboarding. The core message for me is ‘big change can start with just one person.’ The Holystoked Skate Crew and the girls that I worked with are an inspiration that cuts through age, gender, and class barriers. I wanted to commemorate this incredible moment in India.
Last month Manchester Actors Platform saw the return of #MAP48 for its second outing after a very successful 48 hour short film competition last year.
Casting Networks speaks with MAP and the team behind the Best Film winner “Am Dram.”
We would also like to congratulate LouLou Dayeh and Will Huntington, the winners of the Best Actor and Best Actress award, each awarded with a 12 month Premium account with Pro Services.
Casting Networks: Where did the idea for MAP48 come from?
Manchester Actors Platform: MAP48 sort of arrived many years ago as a crazy idea I had in London. Everyone had heard of the ‘24 Hour Plays’ and ‘Play In A Day’ type competitions and events, but there was very little out there for films. When I moved back to Manchester it was clear to see there was a massive film community from indie, grass-roots film makers to established teams. Having done a bit of filming myself and enjoyed the challenges of it, it seemed like a good time to complete the initial planning stages and get the beast up and running. The beauty of it being that, as was proven with thee awards this year, experience isn’t essential. This was key to us in structuring the event. Because some people have access to all the quality gear, we couldn’t let that mean that they were a shoe-in for taking Best Film, so we ensure that the decisions made are not about where the film is in HD! We also want to encourage people to try out new skills—this year, Best Writer and Best Director both went to people who were doing it for the first time!
This week Casting Networks caught up with the folk at Outward Film Network (OFN), a Midlands and London based filmmaking organisation that boast support for low and no budget filmmaking. Their remit is to support all those filmmakers who can’t reach the general population because they just don’t have the funds or support. What a great idea. So here we talk with one of the founders, Matthew Simmonds, about what they offer, how they can help actors and filmmakers, and what’s coming up for OFN.
Casting Networks: So can you tell us a little about Outward Film Network and how it came to be?
Outward Film Network: The Outward Film Network was setup to support, produce, and promote films shot on a no/low budget. Heading Outward is Matthew Simmonds, David Woods, and Phil Slatter. We’ve been making movies (short and feature) and writing about film for over fifteen years.
Outward looks to embrace an approach to making film that’s often considered as being amateur or “student” filmmaking. We don’t think it’s beneficial to be catagorised, we can’t afford to compete with indie films (20k + budget), and to be catagorised as amateur creates an even greater disconnect. Influenced by movements such Dogme 95 and mumblecore, we like to discuss and make films that don’t fall into the “indie” or “industry” category.
Have you ever been on set and realised how much waste there is, that perhaps you should be making more of a conscious effort to recycle? Being green when it comes to media production is never straightforward, but there are ways you can help the environment – both obvious and not so obvious. Ad Green is a new initiative set up by Jo Coombes specifically for commercial production. We spoke with Jo to find out more about Ad Green, where it came from, and her hopes for the future.
Casting Networks: When was the moment you first stepped back and realised how incredibly wasteful and un-green the commercial industry was?
Jo Coombes: I first came to the realisation that I didn’t like what I was contributing to at the start of 2014. I’d read some scary articles about climate change, and couldn’t help but think I was contributing, simply by doing a job I loved – production managing on advertising shoots. The amount of waste we create in the name of being creative is obscene, but at the time I wasn’t sure what I could do about it. It wasn’t until a few months later when the niggling feeling got too much that I decided I should find out what related industries were up to, and whether we could apply what they’d learned to advertising production.
So many actors now are multi-talented actors, writers, and directors producing their own content. But once you’ve made a short film, how do you get it seen? The festival circuit can be a bit of a nightmare with literally hundreds and hundreds of festivals to choose from. We chat to Zachary Jones, founder of the super cool online submission platform FilmFreeway.com about how they help streamline the process.
Casting Networks: Firstly can you tell us a little about FilmFreeway and how this film festival site was started?
Zachary Jones: FilmFreeway is now the world’s #1 submission site across all metrics including: most active users, most international web traffic, most film festivals, most Oscar-accredited film festivals, as well as the easiest, most convenient and reliable way to submit to film festivals and creative contests. We created FilmFreeway so that filmmakers and other creatives would have a free and easy way to discover and submit to thousands of festivals around the world in a single place, as well as provide festivals with advanced software and tools to make their jobs of managing festivals easier and more efficient than ever before.read more
The musical festival season is upon us and horrendous stories of toilet nightmares and not washing for 3 days emerge. We read a lot of reports in online magazines and newspapers regarding how to prepare in advance for surviving the festival season – what to do if you over indulge in beer and the standard good hygiene codes and conventions.
However, it’s not just music festivals where one needs to plan ahead regarding looking after yourself as the same thing kind of applies to film festivals too. Whenever I’m going to a film festival I always prepare a key packing checklist.
For anyone who knows me, perfume is my vice. I get through around 2-3 (large) bottles a month of Britney Spears’ Midnight Fantasy perfume. Also, to be honest, during a festival it’s more. Since I’m out for 12 hours or more per day, I constantly need to freshen up, so I always take about 2 bottles with me.
Below are the key items on my list. You will more than likely already have some of these on your list. However, if you don’t, feel free to include them, as they may come in use! 😄
Tom Paton’s impressive directorial debut, titled ‘Pandorica,’ revolves around the leadership trials of the “Varosha Tribe.” Eiren, Ares, and Thade are all in line to lead the next generation of their people. They journey out of the safety of their home toward a dark forest miles away, with the tribe’s current leader, Nus. Here they will take part in an age old tradition where Nus will choose his successor. Only one of them will return as leader, but who will it be?
‘Pandorica’ is an edge-of-your-seat action/horror that keeps the twists coming thick and fast. Paton took time out of his busy filmmaking schedule to speak with Casting Networks, and answer some questions about his debut film.
Casting Networks: Pandorica is an epic achievement, both on and off screen. You came up with the idea, wrote, and shot the film before delivering it to UK cinema screens in under 12 months! Was it always your plan to make the feature film that quickly?
Tom Paton: To answer your question simply, yes. I was working on another movie I had written that was doing everything the traditional way – higher budget, Hollywood sales agent, all that jazz. The film got stuck in development for two years and during that time I learnt a great deal about the movie industry. My dad always told me that if you want to be noticed, then you need to approach an old idea from a new perspective, and so that’s exactly what happened. I formed The Film Label with Nick Sadler and George Burt, with the idea being that we would co-opt the digital record label model for creation and distribution of music, and plug it into indie film, i.e. made for a small amount of money in an exceptionally fast amount of time, and released using new age outreach like social media and cross pollinated marketing with brands/people with existing followings. Pandorica was written shortly after as a method of proving the model worked, and so here we are, one year later, with a theatrical release in the UK and the worldwide release just around the corner.