Round up of Session 3 & 4:
Week two of the Film and TV Ladders programme commenced with a one-hour session from guest speaker Gerry Maguire, a working producer. Since producing his graduate film Birthday (2010), Gerry has worked on several other short films and a couple of feature ones, including the BAFTA nominated I am Nasrine (2012). Following years of freelance work, Gerry decided to create Pins & Needles Media Ltd, a digital media production company whose clients include Newcastle University. Given the extensive experience Gerry has in the production world, this session was sure to be beneficial to the students.
Gerry’s main goal of the day was to discuss the role of the producer and to answer any burning questions the students had. The main focuses were on financing, budgeting, scheduling and managing, as these things are essential during a production to ensure the project is feasible. As pointed out, the most important steps in budgeting are to get quotes, call suppliers and to breakdown each scene in order to work out the cost of each element – cast, crew, equipment, location, props etc. while scheduling is essential as you need to know how long you will spend on a project in order to determine how much you will spend. This information was extremely useful to the students, especially as some are currently working on their own project.
One piece of advice Gerry gave is that “a well fed crew is a happy crew”, sharing that even if you don’t have the money to pay people highly, “the best thing you can do is feed them really, really well”.
One thing that many students were interested in was how to get experience in the industry – attending networking events seemed to be a key way of doing so as getting yourself out there is crucial in order to get noticed and build up your CV with useful things. Gerry shared his own experience of being asked to Google a bizarre item of stationary for an actor, who then sang his praises, leading to other people in the production recruiting Gerry for jobs, highlighting how you can get involved in the most random ways! Another important piece of advice the students were given was that “you don’t get anything out without putting anything in”, encouraging everyone to get out there and get noticed in the industry.
After this amazing insight into the producing side of things, it was time for the second guest of the week, Tim Lozinski, to take centre stage. An animator and sound expert, who has previously collaborated with Film and TV mentor Chloe, Tim was going to give the students the opportunity to learn about the importance of sound and practice using some equipment.
In order to demonstrate the significance of sound, the students were shown two clips from the TV show The West Wing, one of which had a clear picture and blurred sound and the other which had a distorted image and faultless sound. It was immediately clear that without the sound being audible, it was almost impossible to work out what was going on in the scene, whereas the clip with the unclear picture could still be figured out through the use of the sound, highlighting the importance of it and therefore the need to make sure it is recorded correctly and using the appropriate equipment.
As sound is such an important aspect of most productions it is essential to get it right. As Tim pointed out, there should be a minimum of two people helping to record the sound, unless of course you would be happy with a microphone boom dropping into the shot every time the sound technician needs to adjust something on the sound panel!
The remainder of the session consisted of the students getting to test out some of the professional equipment Tim had brought with him. It was exciting to see the students putting the skills they had learnt to use and showing others how to work the different types of microphones.
At the end of the session, the students were quizzed to test their knowledge on what they had learnt during the session. It was very encouraging to see the students really focusing on the task and being so receptive to the feedback they were given.
This session was very eye opening for the students, and myself, about the important tasks the producer undertakes and the personal advice Gerry was able to give from his own experiences. It was also fascinating to learn about the significance sound has on our understanding of a scene and getting to see the students get the opportunity to try out the equipment themselves.
Once again, with much enthusiasm from our Ladders participants, Tim Lozinski visited us and this time shared more expertise on a variety of different types of equipment. The students built upon the audio theory/practice they had accumulated the day before and set up a mini-film studio scenario in the library. This included a camera, microphone and lighting. The group all took it in turns to try out the different film production roles and also stand in as the actors in the scene. Everyone also brought in their own cameras to get some insights into how to get the most out of shooting with them. This included setting a custom white balance and exposure settings, which was useful for finding the limitations of some camera models in comparison to a fully manual control DSLR cameras.
In only the second week, it is clear that so much has been learnt from the answers and advice the students have been given and the ability they have had to practice these new skills. I hope you are all as excited to keep up with this project as I am!
By Olivia Carr (TICE Blogger)