Along with Health, women rights, LGBT safety, and friendliness to Muslims, the new administration (Note, Quickclass refuses to write his name.) has a dastardly choice to ‘lead’ education in the US. Her name is Betsy DeVos, and she is, as is utterly to-be-expected, hideous. So much so that is actually took VP Pence to break the Senate tie to confirm her. Unpresidented for a cabinet nominee.
One of our favourite satirical go-to’s, The Onion, is mercifully, managing to see the funny side of the new insanity with this brilliantly summarised list of why, in fact, Betsy is great.
“Betsy DeVos was confirmed by a 51-50 Senate vote Tuesday to run the Department of Education. Here’s how President Trump’s controversial cabinet pick plans to change the nation’s education policy:
Relax unrealistically strict standards for secretary of education
Modify Title IX to allow invisible hand of the market to sort out any student rape cases that may arise
Identify at-risk students and do nothing whatsoever
Ensure that all students, regardless of background, receive the opportunity to bask in the shining light of Christ
Let low-income parents choose which one of their children gets to go to school
Create emergency vocational program for cabinet members who lack proficiency and are way out of their depth
Place power for establishing gym class floor hockey rules back in states’ hands where it belongs
Require free- and reduced-lunch recipients to prostrate themselves before the principal at mealtimes
Steer tax dollars away from failing, fundamentally defective public school students”
(reprinted without permission but with utter reverence and respect to TheOnion.com. They’ll understand.)
As the 2017 Berlinale approaches its conclusion, many wonder how the European Film Market, or EFM, compares to its American and French counterparts. Although there are various film markets that congregate throughout the year, it’s the EFM; American Film Market (AFM) and Cannes marché du film that are regarded within the industry as the ‘Big Three.’ While the Berlinale and other similar film festivals generally circle the larger film markets, they are quite separate with the EFM working around the awarded and premiered films in order to sell distribution rights as well as help fund films that are currently in development. With the AFM and Cannes so heavily covered in November and May respectively, you may wonder how large the EFM is when compared to its sister markets.
In 2016, over 9,000 visitors officially registered at the EFM with 18% credited as ‘Buyers.’ The title of ‘Buyer’ at any large film market is deeply vetted and those registered generally need to provide evidence to justify their ‘Buyer’ status. This comes with a few cushy benefits including guaranteed entrance to market screenings as well as access to the coveted ‘Buyers lounge’, a place for an international community of film magnates to meet and network as well as try to purchase distribution rights for their individual territories.
Last year’s EFM screened 784 films across over 1,000 individual screenings. Out of those films, over 50% were ‘Market Premieres’ meaning that the films had never before been screened to the industry at a film market, allowing those in attendance to be among the first to offer distribution deals. Although the EFM did screen more films than the AFM in November of 2015, the majority of the screenings at the Los Angeles based event were market screenings leading the American event to feature a more exclusive roster of films.
The Big Three
While neither the EFM nor AFM are officially tied to a specific film festival, the Cannes marché du film is exclusive to the world-renowned film festival that takes place every May on the French Riviera. Comparing these big three, given Cannes’ coveted status in both film and social circles, the attendance is almost five times that of the EFM and AFM. Overall attendance however for both the EFM, which is heavily linked to the Berlinale, and Cannes, includes those who attend the festivals without taking part in the film markets themselves. Festival attendance is a poor relative indicator as it doesn’t account for the number of professionals in the markets themselves.
Although the ‘Big Three’ are the most popular and heavily-attended film markets each year, there are countless others taking place around the globe. Film markets are not only incredibly beneficial to attend because of the career and marketing opportunities they offer but also for the endless networking possibilities that come with each screening or event.
When most people think about visual effects in films, their minds jump to the big blockbusters produced by companies like Marvel, Lionsgate and Lucas Films. The films and often franchises that are known for their stellar effects are generally huge commercial successes and sit in cinemas for weeks after their initial release. However, visual effects are not just for action flicks and many believe that the best use of Visual Effects (VFX) technology is when it’s barely noticeable. Visual effects can add value and setting to scenes as well as help increase production quality on low-budget or independent films.
By incorporating visual effects into a film, many makers are able to add elements to the shot itself. For many filmmakers, budget and scheduling becomes an issue when shooting on location. It’s often impossible to control the conditions we shoot in. Any on-location director has suffered weather that’s completely indifferent to what the shoot is trying to capture, and this will affect not only the narrative but also continuity. With elements like snow and rain, visual effects often save the day when hiring equipment is too expensive or a change in the forecast affects the desired outcome of your shoot.
VFX can help add elements and features to locations which better represent a director’s vision, for example with the use of a green screen. A long loved secret of the film industry, green screens are not only used in both commercial and independent cinema but also for television commercials and the ever growing creative community of YouTube. Whether you’re using a green screen to create an otherworldly landscape or to give a stationary car the illusion of movement, a visual effect supervisor can help add value to what is otherwise a far poorer shot.
Besides being able to add elements to a shot, visual effects can also help eliminate mistakes made during filming. Whether it’s a boom mic that shouldn’t be in frame or a lamp that throws off a period narrative, visual effects can help remove any imperfections and film mistakes in post-production.
Visual effects can therefore be flashy and grandiose or subtle and barely noticeable both in large and low budget films. 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story shocked viewers by digitally manipulating the appearances of two actors to resemble the late Peter Cushing as well as Carrie Fisher as a young Princess Leia. It was a subtle and almost unnoticeable use of visual effects in a franchise that has been Oscar-nominated repeatedly for Best Visual Effects. Similarly, lower budget films like 2012’s Chronicle, a found footage sci-fi superhero film, work with seamless visual effects that mirror those of large-scale action films without being too flashy.
While indie films like District 9 manage to snag Oscars from blockbuster films for their detailed and in-your-face VFX, many big commercial films use visual effects in an additional, subtle way. You can bet that almost every film you’ve seen in the last decade has used visual effects, whether you may have picked up on them or not. Often VFX supervisors are brought on simply to adjust the temperature of a shot or eliminate the elbow of a crew member that was inadvertently captured. Visual effects are no longer just for Hollywood heavy hitters and digital technology is now available to filmmaking productions of every size. So, ANY production that needs them can take advantage of the benefits VFX bring.
Many of your students may plan to study filmmaking at university before trying to break into the industry. The following is a series of exercises that will help them prepare for university level film courses. If you teach at a university level or already use these techniques in the classroom, check out these simple career-boosting exercises that will help your students and their resumes when applying for jobs in the competitive filmmaking landscape.
1 – Experience is Everything
Working hands on in film and TV not only helps prepare for a career in film but it’s also an excellent teaching tool. Whether being hired as a runner on a set or answering phones at a production company, a hands on approach to filmmaking will help students better understand the industry. Encourage your students to look for work, whether paid or unpaid, in film and TV and also host workshops to help them understand how to write a film resume and apply for specific jobs. With websites like Gumtree and Production Base your students can find jobs that span only a weekend or a few months so that they can experience filmmaking first hand as well as gaining confidence working with professionals. Whether over half-term or an entire summer, encourage your students to learn on the job and use their free time doing what they love.
2 – The More the Merrier
Besides working on films, one of the best learning tools available to aspiring filmmakers is actually making films. You may already have the production of a short film included in your curriculum, but your students should know that the more content they produce, the more confident they will become. Encourage your students to experiment with different genres and to constantly film, even if just with their phone. Whether your students are writing and producing their own content, or even documenting snippets of their lives with family and friends, encourage them to continue making short films. In order to encourage your students to produce as much content as possible, try to find a way to host short film festivals at the end of each term where students can screen their extracurricular films to you and the class. Have them write mini reviews for each classmate’s film that they can exchange over the holidays to encourage one another to continue producing awesome content.
3 – Network, Network, Network
It may be difficult for some students to talk to people outside of their immediate circle about filmmaking. Once at university, it’s increasingly important for them to know how to network with industry professionals and faculty members. To help your students perfect their networking skills and create career-boosting connections host a networking event with students from other filmmaking courses either within your own school or from others. By networking, your students should feel confident in representing themselves and their work.
4 – Social Presence
In this digital age it is essential to have an online presence. Try and dedicate some class time to showing students how to create webpages in which they can showcase their work and portfolios. In the age of social media as well, students should be made aware of what is acceptable to share online in a professional landscape and what isn’t. After a workshop like this, encourage students to find out what they want to present to the world and instruct them on how to go about representing themselves professionally whether through limiting social media usage or creating new accounts they can use purely for their academic and professional endeavours.
No matter how much you try, students will never be 100% prepared for university. Encourage your students to take full advantage of the connections they’ve already made throughout school as well as the resources available to them once at university to help ensure their future success.
In today’s educational environment, it is common to hear scholars talk about the importance of teaching students to work alongside digital mediums. We have written about it in various articles. However, even though we’re all aware of how a digital understanding is important, most people tend to focus on digital skills instead of digital literacy. The difference between the two may seem slight until you look more closely. Taking social media as an example, digital skills describe how to tweet or post to Instagram while digital literacy is about educating students why social platforms are more beneficial to them than traditional or private forums, particularly for film related content. Digital literacy is therefore not only teaching students how to use technology but also how to use it in order to reach its full potential.
Maha Bali, an associate professor of practice and the Center of Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo explains that adopting a curriculum that focuses on digital literacy means teaching progressively rather than sequentially which allows students to grasp concepts and lessons more easily over time. When approaching digital literacy with students, you must first show them the variety they have to choose from, informing them of the ins and outs of each individual option. Once they’re aware of the choices they have they can make an informed and literate choice as to which will suit them best for the shot or story they’re trying to tell.
However, deep understanding of new technologies doesn’t make for a literate student. In order for students to fully comprehend the digital platforms available to us, they must also understand the risks. You may find that in teaching students, particularly younger ones, that they often don’t see the full spectrum of responsibility that comes with the digital age, particularly with regards to social media. As the current generation of students has been raised with social media, they can be blind to the adverse effects that come along with embracing digital technology. You must therefore clearly inform students that they should be careful what they post online and also teach them to understand whether their day to day platforms and profiles are what they want the world to associate with them professionally.
You can teach digital literacy alongside teaching students digital skills and how to use the technology that has so become a part of today’s film industry. By teaching certain skills alongside digital literacy, students should be able to make fully informed decisions to develop a well-rounded understanding of the digital world, essential to life after their studies.
Not that Quickclass would ever condone this sort of treatment of our beloved feline friends, but a Nottingham smartphone filmmaker has caught this rather surprising (and slightly hilarious) insight into one man’s efforts not to leave his cat home alone!
Very sweet or something to contact the RSPCA about… you be the judge.
On a slightly less cruel and more film-relevant note, let’s take a moment to consider camera orientation and the modern smartphone filmmaker…
There has never been a bigger boost to the POPULATION of global filmmakers than the last decade’s smartphone explosion, which has endowed the pockets of hundreds of millions around the planet with top-notch 4K footage-capturing cameras. This empowerment (and massive video files) has led humanity to create more ‘data’ by volume in the last couple of years than in the preceding 10,000, i.e. ALL of it!
Whilst empowering and greatly improving our potential to document our lives and the world around us… BUT without the absolute basics of filmmaking tuition, the average new owner of a super-specced smartphone is likely to commit a highly basic error regarding their image orientation….
Most people use their 9:16 ratio’d screens (yes 9:16, horizontal dimension first, vertical second) in an upright, portrait manner. For browsing, tweeting, mailing, navigating, whatsapping… this makes sense, and the Apps have been optimised for this way of holding our devices.
This is unmatched by the best way to shoot film. Consider of our cinema, TV, and computer screens… All wider than tall to reflect our horizontal interpretation of a gravity-laden planet. Look around you, folks, its a horizontal world out there!
So Quickclass strongly endorses one of the first rules of the game in our brave new world of filmmaking, and this is definitely one to start your students off with:
When you fire up that camera App to capture the furious cat in a backpack on the street in front of you, imagine what a FULLER and RICHER view of the world you’re creating for the army of viral cat clip fans when you turn your smartphone ON ITS ‘SIDE’!
(Rant over. Thanks for reading.)
In recent years we’ve heard a lot about how digital filmmaking compares to its traditional counterpart. Filmmaking technologies have completely overhauled the cinematic landscape and have lead film in a different direction, revolutionising every aspect of cinema.
Crossing into digital filmmaking largely means opting for practices that allow filmmakers to produce, edit and finalise their films while saving time, money and energy. Because of the technology behind digital mediums, filmmakers find that they are able to complete more work in less time, managing to complete their projects under or close to budget. Although Hollywood started to capture films digitally in the early 2000s, it wasn’t until 2013 that the majority of commercial films released in the US were shot digitally. The film industry as a whole has therefore been moving towards embracing new technologies, with many pre-established companies reinventing themselves. Although founded a century ago, camera company Arri has adapted to technology and developed cameras, some of which are amongst the most-used in large-scale commercial film production.
Digital technologies have helped filmmakers revolutionise the industry during every step of the filmmaking journey. Post-production is one area which has proven that new digital technologies trump traditional ones. Digital effects can now be seamlessly blended into a film without audiences noticing when they are being used, creating a clean final product. The digital landscape has also allowed film editors to work on long sections of film, piecing together certain takes and scenes after visual effects have been added to the original footage.
With software like FinalDraft, emerging technologies have helped filmmakers behind the scenes for years. Digital technologies have also made their way into revolutionising on set practices, with many hair and makeup departments abandoning polaroid film for digital cameras in order to catalogue their work. The future of film has also changed thanks to digital filmmaking, allowing for more robust film preservation. Although many studios have released re-mastered versions of iconic films, film is highly flammable and deteriorates over time while digital archives are easy to back up and restore.
While the film industry has openly embraced new digital technologies, there are a few areas with untapped potential. Many production companies have turned to websites like YouTube to aide in a film’s promotion and use digital technologies to distribute motion pictures, however this market has yet to reach its full potential with the business side of filmmaking still catching up with what digital distribution can promise.
With the new technologies emerging everyday it truly seems that digital filmmaking has come out on top. The majority of commercial and independent cinema is now filmed digitally and in 2013 almost every UK cinema had turn to digital projection. The future of cinema is digital and emerging filmmakers and their mentors need to work alongside technology to embrace its potential. Without embracing emerging digital technologies, it would be nearly impossible to produce the growing volume of increasingly diverse films released each year – and this is the world your students will all work almost exclusively in. The king is dead, long live the King?
Diversity in film has been a topic on many people’s minds in recent years. With Kathryn Bigelow being the last woman nominated for a Best Directing Oscar back in 2006, it comes as no surprise that gender inequality in film is still an issue now.
Northern Irish director and screenwriter Mary McGuckian comes in at number 7 on the BFI’s top director’s list, the only woman included in the top ten. McGuckian manages to sit in first place among female directors in the UK, releasing five films between 2003 and 2013. A total of five filmmakers, including Bend It Like Beckham’s Gurinder Chadha and Fishtank director Andrea Arnold, weigh in in second place with three films apiece, ranking in 34th position out of all British filmmakers. The lack of female directors is not a uniquely British issue, with a 2015 study revealing that only 9% of the USA’s top grossing movies featured a female director. The same study also explained that only ‘33% of films 0 or 1 woman in the roles considered.’ Various associations have founded movements to promote female directed films, including LA’s Women in Film with their 52 Films By Women pledge, which urges audiences to watch one film directed by a woman a week for a calendar year.
In the British film industry, women are far better represented in producing roles than the director’s chair. Almost a quarter of the top UK producers (namely, those who have produced at least 11 feature films between 2003 and 2013) are women, with Tessa Ross, ex-Film4 head, clocking in as the second largest producer in the UK. Ross’ credits, which include the Academy Award winning features 12 Years a Slave and Slumdog Millionaire, produced 47 feature films in the past decade. Although Ross may have been the second most successful producers in the UK, she is the only woman included in the BFI’s Top Ten UK Producers list in 2013. Liza Chasin, producer of Love Actually and The Theory of Everything, just misses the top ten with a hefty 24 films produced between 2003 and 2013.
Female screenwriters on the other hand fail to make the BFI’s Top 10 list of screenwriters. Kick-Ass’ Jane Goldman and Suffragette’s Abi Morgan may be the top female screenwriters in the UK but are only in twelfth position overall. The only woman who trumps their credits is British novelist and Harry Potter author JK Rowling who, although credited for creating the stories behind one of film’s most successful franchises, has only had one screenwriting credit for 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
The issue of gender inequality in the film industry is one that still needs attention even in 2017. Despite many film reboots with female casts, including the upcoming Ocean’s Eight, there is still a disparity behind the scenes. With stars like Jada Pinkett-Smith believing that the issue sits with a lack of opportunity to women in film, some female filmmakers have taken action in order to give opportunities to more women in there productions. In 2016 it was announced that a non-profit production company entitled We Do It Together would launch to produce films with a focus on female empowerment. The production company includes an advisory board of female film professionals including American director Catherine Hardwicke and actresses Jessica Chastain and Juliette Binoche. The company hopes to give emerging equal opportunities and help end Hollywood’s gender discrimination.
With the advancement of smartphone technology over the last decade, it comes as no surprise that smartphone cameras are now able to capture motion-picture worthy images. The recently released iPhone 7 for example allows users to film high resolution videos up to 4k and, with the addition of camera accessories, including lenses and mounts, it comes as no surprise that a growing number of filmmakers are finding ways to produce feature length films with their mobile devices.
In 2015, American director Sean S. Baker made headlines with the release of his comedy-drama Tangerine, a film that follows a transgender sex worker who, with the help of a friend, decides to get revenge on her cheating pimp-boyfriend. The film’s budget was a mere $100,000 and was nominated for various Independent Spirit Awards and snagged the Audience Award at the Gotham Independent Film Awards. The film was shot entirely on the iPhone 5s, allowing the money saved on camera equipment to pay for locations and extras.
Japanese director Shogo Miyaki, who shot his 2016 film A.I. Love You on the iPhone 6s, said that one of the greatest benefits of shooting with smartphones is the mobility it allows. Miyagi went on to explain that the accessibility and cost-effectiveness of an iPhone production allowed him to shoot the film through trial and error since he didn’t have to worry about extenuating costs of production rentals. The use of smartphones in cinema allows for a fully immersive experience, allowing the audience to view the film as if they were filming it themselves.
Since the introduction of digital cameras into the filmmaking world at turn of the century, many filmmakers have opted to distance themselves from shooting on traditional film, with almost 90% of the top 100 US productions shooting digitally in 2015. The introduction of smartphones, some of the most advanced portable cameras, into the film industry therefore seems to be an organic evolution.
While many emerging and established filmmakers opt to use this newer technology, directors like Quentin Tarantino, who insists on shooting with 35mm, call the rise of digital cinematography ‘the death of cinema as [we] know it.’
However, smartphone cinematography is not exclusive to low budget films and has seen itself inch towards commercial cinema increasingly in recent years including 2016’s Shin Godzilla, which featured several iPhone shots despite its $15 million budget. The phenomenon of mobile device cinematography isn’t exclusive to the film industry either, with the Emmy and Golden Globe winning sit-com Modern Family releasing an entire episode shot on Apple products.
Whether you believe that the introduction of smartphones into the filmic sphere is the death of cinema or a much-needed evolution, it is impossible to deny the accessibility that these devices provide. The use of smartphones in film, a product 83% of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 own, allows many amateur and aspiring filmmakers to explore and produce their own films in a polished and professional manner.
 Apple Inc., “iPhone 7”, Apple, 2016 <http://www.apple.com/iphone-7/>
 Follows, Stephen, “Film Vs Digital – What Is Hollywood Shooting On?”, Stephen Follows, 2015 <https://stephenfollows.com/film-vs-digital/>
 Matsumoto, Neil, “Down The Street – HD Video Pro”, HD Video Pro, 2015 <http://www.hdvideopro.com/film-and-tv/feature-films/down-the-street/>
 Sato, Misuzu, “Low-Budget Filmmakers Turn To Smartphones To Shoot Scenes：The Asahi Shimbun”, The Asahi Shimbun, 2017 <http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701120004.html>
 Follows, Stephen, “Film Vs Digital – What Is Hollywood Shooting On?”, Stephen Follows, 2015 <https://stephenfollows.com/film-vs-digital/>
 Marine, Joe, “Quentin Tarantino Says Digital Projection Is The ‘Death Of Cinema As I Know It'”, No Film School, 2014 <http://nofilmschool.com/2014/05/quentin-tarantino-cannes-35mm-digital-projection-death-cinema>
 Chen, Bayun; Ryan Seilhamer; Luke Bennett and Sue Bauer, “Students’ Mobile Learning Practices in Higher Education: A Multi-Year Study”, Educause Review, 2015 < http://er.educause.edu/articles/2015/6/students-mobile-learning-practices-in-higher-education-a-multiyear-study>
It’s impossible to deny that creative industries are thoroughly competitive with many aspiring filmmakers finding that they need an edge. With cinema constantly evolving, it’s important for students to know what to expect. Below you’ll find an exercise to help your students finesse their skills and get closer to the career they aspire to.
Step One: Content Strategy
If there is one skill all filmmakers need it’s the ability to identify excellent content. For film, that content generally stems from a screenplay. Whether using your own story or adapting someone else’s for the screen, it is important to know what makes a story great. Have your students read a variety of screenplays to identify what makes a story great. Once they’ve done their research, ask them to write a five-minute screenplay using the skills they learned from their reading. This exercise should help them recognise what contributes to making a great story.
Step Two: Project Management
As any film professional knows, an entire project can fall apart if it isn’t managed properly. In order for your students to learn what makes a project successful, have them create a budget for one of the screenplays they read during Step One. Once they have the budget, instruct them to create a schedule that will allow them to understand how they would go about producing their film.
Step Three: Film Finance
Once your students have completed their budget and schedule, have them look into ways in which they could potentially finance their film. With the filmmaking schemes available to amateur directors their adventure into financing will help them truly understand and appreciate the entire process of filmmaking.
Step Four: Presentation
Your students may find that many of the potential financing schemes they encounter require filmmakers to pitch their idea to investor or studio executives. Now that they have made a budget and schedules, your students should be ready to pitch their film. For this exercise, act as a potential investor and have your students pitch their projects to you. Allow other students to sit in and hear their classmates’ pitch not only to acclimate those presenting to speaking to an audience, but also so they can learn from their peers.
Step Five: PR
Although your students may not have included marketing and advertisement in their budget, it is important for them to know how films gain traction after production is completed. Have your students put together a simple press kit for their potential film.
Step Six: Social Media and Creating a Brand
Although many students may already use social media on a daily basis, they may not know how to use it to its full professional potential. Have your students create new social media handles and portals to make a filmmaking resume suited for the twenty-first century. On Instagram for example, filmmakers can upload short clips from films they’ve already produced and interact with others who share the same passion. Social media is a wonderful way for filmmakers to network and you should be able to guide your students to do this in a professional manner. Another attribute many students may want to work on is a webpage where potential employers and colleagues can see their resume and film history. By the end of this part of the exercise, your students should have a personal brand that summarises them as a filmmaker as well as the types of films they would like to produce.
Step Seven: Networking
Although having a digital presence is very important, aspiring filmmakers need to know how to network with other professionals. Have your students lead professional conversations between themselves and instruct them to make the best first impression. By the end of this exercise, your students should feel confident enough to use the other techniques they’ve learned to promote themselves and make professional connections.
We hope this exercise will help your students understand what is required to work in film.