Reed Short Film Competition 2014

2014 got off to an exciting start with my main project in January being a personal short film project for the 2014 Short Film Competition.

The theme this year was ‘Family Business‘ and myself, fellow filmmaker Thomas Mould and Carmel Hannant (who also stars in the film) came up with a comedy script entitled ‘Success is Relative’. We shot the whole thing in a day and I then edited the film over the space of a fortnight to meet the competition’s 22nd January deadline. The finished film is now up online and available to view!

We were proud to make the selection of 50 longlisted films for the competition but unfortunately did not make the shortlist of 12 announced in early April. Nevertheless we are still incredibly proud of what we achieved and hope you enjoy!

The stars of the film are: Andromeda Godfrey, Tom Bonington, Heather Skermer, Carmel Hannant, Matt Downton and Lucas Rushby (an 8 year old acting prodigy in my opinion!)

A busy summer with the 5D mark III

Bruce Springsteen at Hard Rock Calling 2012

It’s been quite a while since I posted anything here because work has been crazy the past few months. Since I invested in the 5D mark III a couple of months ago I’ve hardly had a day off from shooting with it; promo videos, weddings, timelapse, corporate and a bunch more, I’ve shot a lot of stuff with the 5D mark 3, including an intense initiation on two beautiful weddings in London – back to back! Over one weekend I probably shot with my new toy for around sixteen hours overall and for much of that it was side-by-side with the other camera I use at weddings, the Canon C300 – no pressure on the mark III then!

So it had a fairly huge task on it’s hands impressing me while I shot with both that and the C300 together! First impressions and I found that the 5D mark III (at least mine anyway) isn’t as ‘muddy’ and soft in focus as much of the feedback has made out, although it does benefit from around 8 – 15% sharpening in post. It doesn’t come near the resolution and sharpness of the C300 but then I never expected it to! It produces a lovely full-frame image just as the mark II had done but without the dreadful problems of moire and aliasing.
As I had been using the Canon 60D for about 18 months before it, the 5D3 did feel like a fantastic upgrade in every area, except perhaps the lack of a swivel screen and the ridiculously-placed zoom-in/focus check button. Thankfully the customisable buttons meant I could place that function in the centre of the wheel (the old 5D mark II record button) and it didn’t take too long to get used to.

Not long after the double-wedding I got a fantastic gig shooting the preparations, stage build and festival days of Hard Rock Calling 2012 in Hyde Park (my own edit is pending – watch this space!) I was predominantly there to shoot a timelapse over the space of around a week of the stages being built so I actually resorted back to using the Canon 60D to click away all week long whilst I used the mark 3 to get video cutaways and second timelapse angles. This meant I got to put the new and improved JPEG quality of the mark 3 to the test (and compare with the 60D) and I wasn’t disappointed. In Lightroom it felt like I had as much to work with in the 5D3 JPEGs as I typically got from 60D RAW files! I was able to pull so much back with them and really fine tune my timelapse images in batches before exporting and creating the final product.

On video mode, as expected, things had really improved. I’ve shot with the mark 2 loads in the past and really did find that although things hadn’t massively improved on the spec list with the mark 3, all of the tiny little improvements resulted in a big all round step up. Just to confirm I consider the main things to be; 1 megapixel more, 30 minutes continuous recording, ALL-I codec, custom audio levels, headphone slot, almost no aliasing and moire, useable ISO up to 6400.) So at Hard Rock I found myself happily flipping through to ISO 3200 and 6400 in low light and noticing very little noise. 1600 in my opinion is still totally clean and only at 6400 is grain visible. In fact, recent promo work for a nightclub has meant 12,800 had to be used and even then I find the footage to be useable!

I’ve got a handful of really exciting short film and music video projects coming up, the first narrative pieces I’ll be shooting with the 5D3 in fact, so I can’t wait to put it to the test in more controlled environments where I can really focus on my cinematography.

Here’s a video I shot for an event by bespoke charity event and auction company Sacramento Events – very few of the shots are post-sharpened so I think it goes to show the 5D3 image is pretty decent straight out of the camera, personally.

‘Boss Boot Camp’ – our Reed Short Film Competition entry

We were really pleased to hear that ‘Boss Boot Camp‘ made the shortlisted 12 of the Reed Short Film Competition 2012. On Wednesday 30th May myself, Matt, Ross and James went down to the excellent Hospital Club for the awards night. Unfortunately we came close but weren’t lucky enough to win one of the three prizes on offer. We’re still really proud that the film made it to the final 12 out of 503 entries in total and we’ll come back bigger and better next year in an attempt to make it third time lucky!

Boss Boot Camp is a lighthearted action-comedy written and directed by Matt Downton and myself that explores how truly tyrannical bosses are made. It features the charismatic talent of Will Harrison-Wallace as ‘the boss’/drill sergeant and was shot over a two-day period in early March.

Our excellent cast and crew endured horrible weather, a long, exhausting weekend shoot and of course, the drill sergeant himself who is pretty terrifying at times(!) to produce a film that we’re really proud of and the first comedy I have ever attempted. There’s lots more behind-the-scenes information and photos at the Lightmill Films mini-site.

On day 1 of the shoot FXHome kindly allowed us to film the office scenes at their offices in Norwich. Later in the day we moved to The University of East Anglia (of which most of the crew and half of the cast are graduates) who allowed us to film the classroom scenes in the congregation hall. On day 2 we shot the boot camp scenes (amidst the biggest downpour of the year!) at my dad’s farm in Suffolk.

We’ll be teaming back up with many of the same people to continue making short films and other creative projects. Check back at the Lightmill Films website to see our progress and our other films.

Sheltered from the Rain: A pop-up tent provided me with some cover from the rain and I was able to shoot from a small opening in the side – Completely unplanned but an effective solution!

Umbrella: Two of our cameramen James Gorman & Ant Essberger, filming from underneath our only umbrella, in fact, Ant stayed under it all day, bless him.

Reed Short Film Competition 2012, The Boss, Short Film, short film, Reed

Props: Our lead actor Will using a tiny, not-so-macho umbrella to stay dry during the last few scenes.