Saranne Bensusan http://sarannebensusan.com Saranne Bensusan - writer & film director Sat, 28 Jul 2018 12:50:12 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.3 http://sarannebensusan.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/cropped-Director-Saranne-Bensusan-32x32.jpg Saranne Bensusan http://sarannebensusan.com 32 32 155405300 Buy your copy of The Anthropocene Chronicles today! http://sarannebensusan.com/buy-your-copy-of-the-anthropocene-chronicles-today http://sarannebensusan.com/buy-your-copy-of-the-anthropocene-chronicles-today#respond Wed, 20 Jun 2018 13:47:21 +0000 http://sarannebensusan.com/?p=669 Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, then you’ll know that we published our collection of dystopian short stories “The… Read more Buy your copy of The Anthropocene Chronicles today!

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Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, then you’ll know that we published our collection of dystopian short stories “The Anthropocene Chronicles” in paperback format! 

You can buy your copy in all good bookstores online, including Waterstones and Amazon.  Please leave a review when you are finished!

The stories are written by authors Saranne Bensusan, Emma Pullar, Carmen Radtke, Rachael Howard, Nick Jackson and Fiona Leitch.

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My interview with Swedish film maker Emil Johansson http://sarannebensusan.com/my-interview-with-swedish-film-maker-emil-johansson http://sarannebensusan.com/my-interview-with-swedish-film-maker-emil-johansson#respond Tue, 19 Jun 2018 10:42:39 +0000 http://sarannebensusan.com/?p=690 I had the chance to have a catch up with fellow film director Emil Johansson.  We didn’t meet face to… Read more My interview with Swedish film maker Emil Johansson

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I had the chance to have a catch up with fellow film director Emil Johansson.  We didn’t meet face to face as he lives in Sweden, but that didn’t prevent us from talking about his film work! 

Tack för din tid Emil!

Jon Klarström
Emil Johansson photographed by Jon Klarström

I have a background in theater (mostly Shakespeare) and filmmaking felt like the natural way  for me to evolve my craftsmanship further. So after 13 years on the stage I left it for the camera. Sure I did some short fun stuff while doing theater, but my focus shifted to have more creative control really. The first “real” short I did that I still sometimes show is called The Sacrament (2006) and is a graphic retelling of the sacrament. We (my team and dear
friends) were about 15 or 16 years old and had come up with the idea while being high on caffeine and watching The Passion of the Christ (2004) around 3 a.m while being exhausted from a day of rehearsals of The Merchant of Venice.
Some people really liked and some not so much. We grew up in a pretty small religious town so we had our audience cut out for us. We did a couple of shorts after that in a lot of different genres, mostly in the crap one. But we enjoyed what we did most of the time.
I usually skip ahead a couple of years while telling “my origins” by this point because it’s barely interesting even for me. If I ever write a autobiography I might bring it up in some way then, but for now – no. I did things, yes. But nothing that I want or, sometimes, even can show. In 2013 I did my last Shakespeare play with my original ensemble and I wrote and directed my first short that “went anywhere” – Sleigh Runner (2014).  A movie about a man who grew up without Santa during Christmas and who later decides to hunt the jolly icon down and kill him.
It did good enough to be shown on a online video magazine by the name ’12:01 Beyond’ run by Josh Hadley in 2014 and it got a great reception. I currently work on a project with Mr. Hadley and it’s a pleasure. I do recommend you all to look him and his podcasts up here.

Sleigh Runner is pretty amateurish in it’s execution but we did it with no budget and with happy amateurs as actors with one exception and that is the lead, Hauer, played by my dear friend Mattias Malm. A great actor with a lot of talent that prefers economic security and a good night’s sleep before unstable freelance work and long nights, burning the midnight oil.
A joke of course, but there is some truth to it as I bet you know.

Sleigh Runner and all my theater work caught the attention of some local “big shots” and I got a scholarship big enough to buy more and better equipment. By then I had also been selected for a newly started filmmaking program in a city one and a half hour away from my home. I traveled there almost everyday for the first semester and lesser days during the second (sometimes while being drunk I might add). My life crumbled around me at that time and the only thing I could focus on to keep me from breaking was my next short – Evy (2015).

I’m gonna be honest. This was a very dark period in my life. But I could still write and shoot, and I did most of my days. But I really wanted to quit. I hated what filmmaking had done with me and my life. I had lost a very important person in my life – my girlfriend for almost six and a half years. She didn’t die or anything, we had grew apart for sometime so it was time. Still,it hurt.
When Evy was “in the can” I met my highschool sweetheart and we got back together. She was my rock for the next two years, but I didn’t treat her well and that hurts me a lot now. We have a great relationship now, but I’ll never get over my arrogance towards her.
I moved to Gothenburg to study at the university but I didn’t count on me getting burned out in a really bad way by the end of the first semester. I had to quit my studies and most of 2016 I spent in my apartment sleeping and being terrified of the outside world. I was diagnosed with exhaustion, depression, anxiety, stress sensitivity and I suffered a lot of harsh panic attacks during the year. I’m not gonna lie, it was rough and I still suffer from some of it. But 2017 was quickly coming up and it came with a few surprises in store for me…
I got a phone call about making a music video, that same night in a matter of fact. I grabbed my camera and went into town where we shoot one of the most renegade things I’ve ever done. Long story short though – I got unceremoniously fired from the project. But through this I met the cult movie maker Jonas Wolcher of Die Zombiejäger (2005) fame. We began talking and I agreed to help out on some of his projects and suddenly I got my passion for filmmaking back! I don’t know how, why or when but it came back. It’s a very ungrateful line of work most of the time, almost always underpaid (Hollywood salaries is an exception, not the rule) and very tiresome – but I love it! Without filmmaking I would feel even worse than with it, despite all the poor hours and low pay.

Through Jonas I got to know most of the team I’m currently work with, with DP/editor David Nilsson and actress/makeup effects artist Eliza Sica being two of the most important part of my craftsmanship.
The most recent project we made is a crazy weird segment in a anthology called The Gated Community that I produced together with director/prop maker Gustav Ljungdahl for a extremely low budget (below eight hundred USD, perhaps even lower). The segment is called Unplanned Parenthood and was shot in a barn between Stockholm and Uppsala in below zero degree temperatures by the end of it.

It was a very stressful shoot and we discovered that we had very different ways of working. I strive for quality, even in the smallest of projects. Gustav works fast, and according to me sometimes too fast. My projects might take time (not Terry Gilliam long) but in the end the look pretty good with a look and feel that I’m happy enough with. I admire and respect Gustavs way of working, but I wouldn’t do it myself if I didn’t absolutely had to. I actually shot another segment for “Gated” in under two hours because we needed another one because of some drop offs, just to reach a running time we were satisfied with. Am I happy with the result so far? Yes. Because I knew from the beginning that we had a time crunch and we had to get it done. We took an idea I had for another project, evolved it, did some much needed prepping and then we shot it – everything in less than a week.

It became a pretty fun and gory little short (with the name Auopssessed ) that shouldn’t have a problem finding its way into the hearts of quick and dirty low budget gore lovers. Hopefully it will at least make someone laugh, that’s the whole idea with this – to entertain and maybe even disgust a teeny tiny bit.
The release of the whole thing have been a bit of a mess as well with many different ideas and opinions. All I know for certain at the moment is that the whole anthology will have a preview showing the 29th of June and that we might sell some DVDs, maybe. The whole DVD thing have been its own mess, haha! We’ve had some independent distributors showing interest in releasing it in a very limited run, but some in the team didn’t want to wait
for everything to be settled with that so that might not happen with this project. We have some festivals that we’ll send it to and I’ve decided to send “Unplanned” as its own thing to some others since I have complete control over that segment.

By next time I will push harder for some contracts, haha! They exist for a reason. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed making this whole thing. But the entire experience could have been so much smoother, but as long as people enjoy what we’ve made I think it’s been worth it.

Jon Klarström
Emil Johansson photographed by Jon Klarström

My next project won’t be a splatter or horror one though. I don’t want to get stuck with just making that. I have some scripts that I really want to dive into and make into something beautiful that I’m optioning at the moment.
I think I’ll take a more backseat role the rest of the year and produce some things rather than start another bigger project on my own. There is some other things in life I need to tend too, so I think that would be the smart choice. I also need to get back to writing again. I haven’t been able to the take the time to actually write a good script or story since I’ve been so busy getting things done that already was in motion that I had to prioritise and good writing takes time and dedication that I sadly haven’t been able to afford the last couple of months, but I still write in some capacity everyday (with some rare exceptions).

I have two feature scripts that I need to have another look at and another two or three that I have in active development that I really need to sit down and work with. Writing is where I shine I think and it’s been way too cloudy for way too long, haha!

And as a low budget filmmaker I can say that I need to find another job. Not just to pay the bills, but to fund my and other projects. Getting funding is a nightmare and being able to handle all that yourself is a really good feeling when things aren’t too expensive. And I really need a vacation. That was years ago!!

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We have #TheAnthropoceneChronicles books available for sale! http://sarannebensusan.com/we-have-theanthropocenechronicles-books-available-for-sale http://sarannebensusan.com/we-have-theanthropocenechronicles-books-available-for-sale#respond Wed, 06 Jun 2018 08:56:39 +0000 http://sarannebensusan.com/?p=670 The Anthropocene Chronicles are now available in paperback from all good book stores including Waterstones and WHSmith! However I have… Read more We have #TheAnthropoceneChronicles books available for sale!

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The Anthropocene Chronicles are now available in paperback from all good book stores including Waterstones and WHSmith!

However I have copies in stock and ready to dispatch with free UK postage! 

 

If you want to get you hands on one from me directly, please pay £8.99 to www.paypal.me/SaranneBensusan/8.99 and add your address in ‘add note’ section and I will dispatch a copy for you within 2 working days.

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My interview with Film Director Neilson Black http://sarannebensusan.com/658-2 http://sarannebensusan.com/658-2#comments Tue, 05 Jun 2018 10:16:41 +0000 http://sarannebensusan.com/?p=658 Continuing with my mission this year to raise the profile of  my fellow film directors and producers,  I will be… Read more My interview with Film Director Neilson Black

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Continuing with my mission this year to raise the profile of  my fellow film directors and producers,  I will be running #DirectorShowreelDay again on 26th July 2018. This is where we directors get to share our short films, trailers and showreels with a view to connecting with writers, producers and agents, or even just meeting new people for collaborations.  All you need to do to participate is (1) Share your work using the #DirectorShowreelDay hashtag on 26th July 2018; (2) Include in your tweet/post what you are looking for e.g. collaborations, agents, producers, writers;  (3) retweet/share other reels from the day. That’s it!  

I also had an opportunity to interview film and stage director Neilson Black, following on from his meeting one of our producers Lawrence Mallinson at the Dorking Film Festival earlier this year. 

Neilson began his training at Raindance Film School and Central School of Speech and Drama. After training he worked in film production to build up his set experience and CV whilst writing scripts in his spare time. This led him to writing and directing three plays and three music videos. To gain more control of his artistic voice, Neilson started his own production company Pattern Maker Films where he write, direct and produces its short and feature films. His passion is to write and direct narrative content, but he is also an experienced producer and production manager in the independent film arena.

I would describe myself as a proactive get up and go doer, ambitious, passionate and brave. An example of this being: when starting out as a runner I had so many ideas, passion to tell stories and scripts that I was confined and trapped had I not started my own production company to put those scripts into action. Everyone else was too busy to care about my vision so I didn’t wait for someone to give me an opportunity, I created the opportunities for myself. It is the only way and then I had material to show.

I knew I wanted to be a film director when I was around 6/7 years old. At that age I used to watch the same films over and over again like The Godfather. I was one of those people. My dad had an old JVC camcorder which I used to make my own movies. I would write the scripts, play the characters, source the costumes, handle the camera and of course direct the film. I even designed the VHS cover. As an adult, around 19/20 years old, I knew for a fact I wanted to be a filmmaker as a career after watching DVD ‘Making Of’s’. They made me believe I could do what they did and is what led me to film school and I haven’t looked back since.

My work as a director consists of three plays, three music videos, six short films and one feature film. I believe I have found my style in black comedy and drama. When I started out I didn’t know what type of filmmaker I wanted to be. As a boy I was influenced by Steven Spielberg, and when I started writing around the time I went to film school I was heavily influenced by Woody Allen, most notably his film at the time Match Point. I have a keen interest for dramatic stories with simple characters and settings, the style mainly found in European cinema most notably French cinema. My short films were experiments to find my voice, but drama was evident in all of them. Comedy developed properly later. By the time I did my short film Paradis (my best attempt at blending the drama and black comedy themes) this is when I knew I found my niche.

My work is totally inspired by Wes Anderson and Woody Allen, both being my film director heroes. The style of film I love most is French new wave.

I have two greatest achievements in my career. The first being my short film Paradis which is by far my most successful project to date: screening at six international film festivals, most notably Orlando Film Festival in the US, and winning Best Film at Dorking Film Festival in the UK. The second is my debut feature film New You which has just begun its festival submission process. By far my greatest achievement because features are big projects and I got the film into production and released within 16 months. I also produced the entire project by myself after being turned down continuously.

My biggest challenges most certainly lie with New You. Raising the funds at development and pre-production stage was one thing. But during production, budget was overspent so I had to re-raise to complete post production. I then had to re-raise again to get the film through its its marketing and deliverables. New You was a constant matter of re-raising after re-raising (and it hasn’t stopped today). Also managing a cast and crew of that size was character-testing to be polite. Just seeing the project through to the end was a challenge in itself and at times during pre and post production the film was in danger of collapsing multiple times.

My latest project is New You. It is about a bored, twenty-something woman, a ‘nobody’ who wants to be famous and sets out to achieve her dream with a modelling career. The film stars rising British/Italian actress Veronica Osimani. The film was produced by my production company Pattern Maker Films. You can view the trailer here:

My plan for the film now is to test its waters with low to medium tier festivals. I am currently speaking to one independent sales agent from America whom is interested in giving the film its sales home. The purpose of this film is to see how well a first time feature can perform in front of an audience and on the market. Ultimately it is learning project but of course hoping for a positive outcome. The film being very micro budget with no names, I am realistic enough to release the film to a ‘small pond’ to see how it does before competing against films that have much higher production value.

I plan to go about building an audience with the movie by screening it at low to medium tier film festivals as I mentioned. I want to build word of mouth at regular networking events and be an attendee of film festivals even if the film is not exhibiting. I will continuously be designing and printing up to date marketing material such as flyers, cards and DVD’s to promote the film and keep its interest relevant.

Right now if I had the chance to work with anybody in the industry it would be the composer Alexandre Desplat because his music would suit my films like a glove. Keira Knightley because of her Britishness and the richness she would bring to one of my female characters. The cinematographer Bill Pope because I think our styles are very similar. And finally the sales and distribution company Wild Bunch because they are the ideal company for my films to find a home, due to the style of films they represent.

I see myself in 5 years producing for a very large sales and distribution company. And my films being continuously financially backed, outputting a feature every 2 years, and as a result my production company Pattern Maker Films turning over annual profits.

 

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The Anthropocene Chronicles gets published in paperback! http://sarannebensusan.com/the-anthropocene-chronicles-gets-published-in-paperback http://sarannebensusan.com/the-anthropocene-chronicles-gets-published-in-paperback#comments Mon, 28 May 2018 10:35:57 +0000 http://sarannebensusan.com/?p=648 You may have wondered why everything has gone quiet here for the last few weeks, but I have been working… Read more The Anthropocene Chronicles gets published in paperback!

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You may have wondered why everything has gone quiet here for the last few weeks, but I have been working hard on something wonderful….

Following on from from the publication of our #TheAnthropoceneChronicles novellas in e-book format last year, I have combined the two and am thrilled to say that it is now published in paperback format!

For the last few weeks I have been working on the book cover design and editing the content. The paperback book not only contains the original eight stories, it contains author biographies, and the shooting script for my prologue short film ‘Lavender’s Blue’.  I have also been working with Rachael Howard and Nick Jackson to produce the treatment, synopsis, and the first ten pages for the feature film script, which we have called ‘Dissonance’. The first ten pages of the script are in the back of the book as a teaser!

For those of you that don’t know, #TheAnthropoceneChronicles is a collection of short stories written by different authors. It is a cross section of a dystopian society ruled by AI in the year 2160 and told from the point of view of eight different people. These stories were written by Emma Pullar, Carmen Radtke, Rachael Howard, Nick Jackson Fiona Leitch and myself. From this, I made a short prologue film in Danish called ‘Lavender’s Blue’ starring Stine Olsen and Natalie Sloth Richter. The lyrics are by Rachael Howard and the music/vocal is from Guthrie Lowe. The rest is written by myself in Danish. You can watch it here on your mobile or device (remember to enable to ‘full screen’ mode):

The book is available from most booksellers, including Waterstones.

For the feature film I am currently seeking ‘Above the Line’ contributors so if you are interested please contact me by email on saranne@sarannebensusan.com. 

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My interview with Writer, Producer and Actress Leila Kotori http://sarannebensusan.com/my-interview-with-producer-and-actor-leila-kotori http://sarannebensusan.com/my-interview-with-producer-and-actor-leila-kotori#comments Mon, 16 Apr 2018 15:36:38 +0000 http://sarannebensusan.com/?p=587 There is a wealth of talent out there and one of the things I would like to do this year… Read more My interview with Writer, Producer and Actress Leila Kotori

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There is a wealth of talent out there and one of the things I would like to do this year is to raise the profile of new and emerging film directors and producers.  Along with re-running the successful #DirectorShowreelDay on 26th July 2018 (put that in your diary peeps if you haven’t already!) I am going to be interviewing film directors and producers on a regular basis. Starting it all off is a great interview with British born actress Leila Kotori, who was the star of a short concept film ‘Nicola’s Shedim’ I wrote and produced as part of a feature film pitch package.

Leila studied screen acting at Redroofs Theatre School, since 2008 she has appeared in numerous film and TV productions. Her most recent accomplishments include being cast as the lead in ‘Human’ the multi award winning short by Patrick Ryder, feature films ‘Set me Free’ (released 2016) by Kris Smith, ‘Fighting Heart’ (2017 release) by Lee Hampton and ‘Palatable’ (in production) by Hartfelt media Ltd.

Leila Kotori, Blame, Producer, Actor, Actress

Behind the screen Leila has written and Co – produced the concept film ‘Blame’ (Hartfelt Media ltd), which is currently is currently in the draft phases of being written into a series.

Leila Kotori, Producer, Writer, Actor, Actress

Beyond the camera Leila is an avid writer, currently writing her first novel, a urban fantasy story about two sisters who are thrown into a world on the brink of destruction.

You can follow Leila’s work via her youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/user/leilakotori/

How would you describe yourself?

I would describe myself as very strong willed, anyone who knows me would say I am extremely determined, I do not quit, no matter how hard things get. If something doesn’t work one I will simply try another avenue. I am also very dedicated to each production I work on, I believe in being grateful for what you receive and so in return I give everything to each role I am fortunate to have. 

I was brought up in a family of women so I am very independent and headstrong, I know exactly what I want from life and I am not afraid to take risks and challenge myself, if I happen to fail at something I just learn from it and try again.

But I am not all business, I love to have fun, when on set I am always trying to have a giggle, as much as I have a vision for where I want to be, life, is also there for living. It’s all about finding the balance even when busy….something I am still learning to do. 

What made you get into film making and acting?  What was the moment when you thought that this was what you wanted to do?

I had always wanted to act since I was a small child, performing is my passion but it wasn’t until I attended university to study Geography that I truely realised I wanted to pursue Acting professionally. It was a gut instinct that I could not shake and I knew I would massively regret not following my true desire. I knew I needed to complete my degree as I was half way through the course, so I decided to gain some experience through local theatre companies over the course of my final year. I then knew I needed to get some professional training, I did not want to spend another 3 years studying drama and though I love theatre, there was something about Film that always captured my attention. The ability to visually create an entirely new world, to completely change the appearance of an actor beyond recognition that it fully engrosses you into the story and that world! I knew then I wanted to do a course in screen acting. The course I did also trained us in the work that goes on behind the camera, what goes on either side of the camera is equally important to the production as a whole. Over the years I have worked on both sides and I have to say the thrill of simply being on set and bringing to life someone’s vision is like nothing I have ever experienced before. I get that thrill everytime.

What films have you been in?  And what was the last film you made?

I have been in various films over the years from shorts to features. The short film ‘human’ by Patrick Ryder has recently gained 500,000 views on youtube, which is just incredible that so many people world wide have seen this story.

Human, Leila Kotori, Patrick Ryder, Short Film, Award Winning

The last bit of filming I did as an actor was in February for the trailer ‘Mrs Plonkers sitcom’, this has now been given the green light to produce the pilot episode in November so I am incredibly excited to start on that. It is also the first bit of comedy I have done.

Aside from acting I have also made what was originally a short film called ‘Blame’ (with Hartfelt Media productions), this has now turned into a concept film for the ‘Blame’ Series which will consist of 8 episodes. ‘Blame’ was the first script I have written and I was incredibly fortunate to have my good friend Shane Hart (of Hartfelt Media) agree to direct and produce. At present the first episode is staying in the can until I have completed the rest of the season which is currently in its 3rd draft phase. But I am incredibly excited for this to get into production, with everything though patience is needed! Again something I am still getting to grips with! 

What has been your greatest achievement? 

My biggest achievement has to be ‘Human’, half a million people viewing the short on youtube is one hell of an achievement, I know the whole team are super proud. Not mention the film has won multiple awards.

Plus writing and co-producing ‘Blame’, from concept to finish was a year, as my first film I am over the moon with the finished production. I don’t think you can ever forget your first film, getting it from as seed of an idea and then seeing it on the big screen. It is thrilling!

What is your latest project about and who is involved?  Are there any links?

‘Blame’ is about Eight people leading very different lives, hit desperate times in a world of corruption and drug culture ruled by The Don . The mayhem surrounding their life choices unravel as they support each other in seeking a release from their turbulent nightmares/Daymares. They create what they believe to be a safe, therapy style environment where they can support each other when no one else will. But fate has a different idea for them!

We have a great cast attached to this production as well as myself there is Lee Wakefield as ‘The Don’, Ritchi Edwards as the ex soldier ‘Will’, Lane Paul Vernon, Jimmy the bee Bennett, Stephanie Booty, Karen Fairfax and Shane Hart.

At present only the teaser trailer can be viewed which you can below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_Xb9NC7KP0

What is your plan for it? Festivals? Cannes?

We had originally planned to send ‘Blame’ as a short off to festivals but we have decided that as it will be pilot for the series it must be kept from public viewing for now. 

If there are distribution plans for your film, how will you go about this?

We are currently considering if ‘Blame’ will be pitched for a TV series or produced as a web series. So I cannot say more than this right now.

How do you go about building an audience for your film?

Firstly you need to think of the age of your audience, what age group would most likely watch your film, what type of person. From there you can socially market to that category with appealing content, this can be through posters, recorded interviews, blogs, vlogs, teaser trailers. You want to build momentum and appeal with your audience until they are literally gagging to see what you have made. It is all in the marketing, so many films are made these days with no end game and little to no marketing, you want people to be talking about your film way before they see it. With social media thriving so much there is no reason why you can’t affordably market a film.

You work to help other film makers through networking. How have you done this and what tips would you give to someone starting out?

I have recently started making vlogs and I will be covering tips about the industry there, I am still learning but I would like to think I have some pearls of wisdom to pass on to someone starting out..

Networking is a huge part of working in the film industry, so often alot of success is is not only based on talent and hard work but also who you know. You should be connecting with people daily, there are also alot of social networking events that are posted on many acting/filmmaking pages which are always worth attending.

My tips for anyone starting out is to watch your peers, follow people who interest you on social media, research what they have done and then emulate that. Alot of actors cannot afford to go to Drama school (I mean it is ridiculously expensive), so how do they start out? I always say get some experience where you can, everyone has to start somewhere, whether that is an Am Dram production, expenses only shorts, you have to start practicing your craft! I saw a quote the other day: ‘ All professionals are amateurs who never quit!’

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

I will be winning my oscar I hope! Hahaha

Jokes aside I know I will be working full time as an actor/filmmaker, I know that in my heart, there is no doubt. 

Doubt can kill dreams, so don’t ever let it in!

 

www.leilakotori.com

Holonis: www.holonis.com/leila-kotori/

twitter and Instagram @leilakotori

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Networking! http://sarannebensusan.com/networking http://sarannebensusan.com/networking#respond Tue, 13 Mar 2018 14:50:49 +0000 http://sarannebensusan.com/?p=581 This is probably the most important part of being a film maker, writer or an actor, and how well you… Read more Networking!

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This is probably the most important part of being a film maker, writer or an actor, and how well you network will impact how much work you get and who you work with.  This isn’t something I’m very good at myself, and as an introvert I find it hard to initiate networking opportunities.  Here are a few things you can do to get networking online – even if you are like me!

1 – Get a website for yourself. There are many companies that do free or really cheap web pages with easy-to-fill-out templates that will give you a professional look. Some examples are Wix and GoDaddy. These make it easy for you to put photos up, share videos and allow you to blog about what you have been up to. These sites are easy, even for technophobes! You’ll be able to upload your showreel for people to look at.

2 – Get networking on Social Media. Personally, I find that my professional needs can bet through Twitter. A lot of people use Facebook, however as a business user I find it limiting in terms of engaging an audience with my work. For example, only a fraction of followers get to see what I’m doing unless I pay, and that gets quite expensive. Also, as a Facebook user I have a lot of friends and family on there and I don’t want Joe Bloggs Actor I have never met being able to see that I have liked my friend’s picture of her and her kids.  I prefer to keep my Facebook page personal. 

3 – Although I have found Twitter to be great for engaging on a professional level, here are some things that annoy EVERYBODY!

(1) Following someone to get them to follow you back, and unfollowing them the moment they do. This in no way to build a following, and most people who are looking to network with new peeps will unfollow you right back. If you are just looking for organic followers, take out and advert like everybody else. 

(2) Following someone to get them to follow you back so that you can spam them with your message about how they should look you up on Snapchat, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, their five Facebook pages etc., and then unfollowing them.  The same goes for messages about getting people to donate to your crowdfunding campaign, getting people to share your showreel or film, or asking people to buy stuff. This tactic is beyond self centred and will result in an unfollow or your message being ignored from most people.

Here’s the tip: Don’t do it!

4 – The best way of getting organic engagement is for other people to like and share your stuff. No, this doesn’t mean you should message 100’s of people with your showreel and ask them to share it.  It starts with promoting other people. If you would like people to like and share your posts to help you get ahead, then you will know that other people need that too. Promoting other people’s work raises your own profile within the film making and acting community,  and creates networking opportunities. Engaging people on social media platforms makes you more employable as producers and directors want to work with actors that will raise the profile of their film. This will attract fans, viewers and build an audience that makes the film attractive to funders. That means pay!

Written by Saranne Bensusan on 13th March 2018. If you would like to guest blog, please get in touch.

 

 

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Film producing beyond your first film http://sarannebensusan.com/producing http://sarannebensusan.com/producing#respond Sat, 17 Feb 2018 16:44:53 +0000 http://sarannebensusan.com/?p=567 As digital cameras get cheaper and VOD distribution becomes more accessible, there are many more people making films and distributing… Read more Film producing beyond your first film

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As digital cameras get cheaper and VOD distribution becomes more accessible, there are many more people making films and distributing on Amazon Prime themselves, which yields little financial return. We’ve all seen adverts from film makers looking for people to work for free on their film. This is fine for short films, student films and genuine collaborations, but what about feature films?  

Where short films are about honing your skills as a producer or director and getting exposure on the festival circuit, feature films are commercial ventures and should be approached as such. So what should you think of first when embarking on your feature film?

  1. What the endgame is. What do you want to do with your film? For a feature film, you should always aim for distribution. I can already hear the negative nellies out there saying that is impossible and throwing up barriers and excuses as to why they have not achieved it already. But is isn’t impossible.  You should ask yourself why should you even make a feature film if you are not planning to sell it. Features are a big expenditure, you’ll want to get your money back. 
  2. How to raise money for it. If you have a good plan for distribution, then raising money to pay for your feature becomes a little easier. Financiers like to see that they are going to get their money back. Gone are the days of grants and handouts, so don’t expect them. It is all repayable loans and investments now. Even BFI funding is repayable now. 

If you don’t have number 1 in place, it will be a lot harder to achieve number 2 and you’ll be asking people to work for free again.  A lot of film makers approach a feature film with big dreams of their film getting a theatrical release and being in all the shops, but neglect to formulate a business plan to show how this will be done before they go into production. And that means no money to make the film, and the working for free cycle continues. 

I had a conversation with someone today about film producing, and how difficult it is to get funding for feature films.  Their view is that there is no funding, and for directors and producers to build a portfolio and a track record cast and crew will need to work for free. The person I spoke to said that they had made six feature films, all without any funding. When probed, the person said that they haven’t been able to get distribution for any of the films they had made, and complained about how film funding is only for the elite.  A prime example of the consequences of not thinking about distribution before making a film, and also an example of low economic productivity. 

Distribution resources for producers:

Cinando – this is the online market resource for your features and shorts. This is where films are collated for the Berlin, Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, AFM, Stockholm, Warsaw, HongKongFilmMart, Karlovy Vary, and UniFrance film festivals and markets. You will get access to Cinando when you put your film in the Marché du Film in Cannes, the AFM or Berlinale markets to seek a sales agent. Paying for membership before you make a feature film will allow you to contact sales agents in advance, and give you a headstart in inviting interest in the film before it is made.  Once made, you can upload it securely for sales agents too view, but you will need to do a lot of leg work. Enter your film into competition at Cannes. It is free, and if it gets selected you will get your Marché fees refunded (and will no doubt secure distribution as a result!). 

VOD and DVD distribution – This isn’t just limited to putting it up onto Amazon yourself. Seek out distributors of films that have been made within your professional network. That film your mate worked on – find out who distributed it and get in touch. VOD is expanding and it isn’t just limited to getting onto Amazon Prime.  There are a number of commission-only distributors our there that specialise in VOD. One is From the 3rd Story Productions Ltd. A slideshow is here.  Get in touch with Lawrence@fromthe3rdstoryproductions.co.uk for more info. 

source url A number of funding resources for producers are:

Ffilm Cymru

iFeatures – Creative England

London Calling Short Film Funding

Microwave Feature Film Funding

Creative Scotland

Northern Ireland Screen

BFI

Creative Europe – Until 2020. Will be dependent upon Brexit outcome, and dependent on your track record as a production company. Be prepared to discuss the business end in your application. 

BBC Films

Film 4 Productions –  The beauty of this is that it comes with a distribution deal. 

Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund

Scottish Documentary Institute

The Wellcome Trust

We Are UK Film

Tax Credits and Investment Funding:

Accessing film tax relief

  • Film tax relief is available for British qualifying films. Films must either pass the Cultural Test or qualify as an official co-production;
  • Films must be intended for theatrical release;
  • Films, including those made under official co-production treaties, must have a minimum UK core spend requirement of 10%;
  • Tax relief is available on qualifying UK production expenditure on the lower of either: 80% of total core expenditure; or the actual UK core expenditure incurred.
  • There is no cap on the amount which can be claimed.
  • The film production company (FPC) responsible for the film needs to be within the UK corporation tax net.

Fusion Film – EIS investments and tax relief 

BFI Tax Relief Certification

Stephen Follows – The UK’s secret 20% tax relief for short films

Of course there are the usual Crowdfunding resources. A rule of thumb is that unless you’ve raised half of your goal within two weeks, you won’t achieve your target. Also, Crowdfunding is a good barometer for testing the market. A popular campaign will attract potential customers who will want to buy the film, which in turn is attractive to distributors.  A campaign where only your mum donated is an indicator that the project itself hasn’t got any legs, and is unlikely to make you your money back. We’ve ditched projects at this stage. A mistake as a producer is to go ahead and make the film anyway, knowing that you haven’t got the funding you need or built an audience for your film. Crowdfunding is not just about the money, it is a way to engage the crowd and build an audience.

A few off the wall ideas that have worked for me in the past:

  • Get in touch with the Job Centre. This worked very well on one of my features in the past. We worked with the Job Centre to get crew, and interviewed many long-term unemployed people who were keen to work on a film set! The Job Centre paid their wages, so all we paid for were their expenses – like you would do by asking people to work for free. Win-win! The down side is that you will need to skill people up – we had people helping out with prop making, production running, motion capture work on the computers and we taught them how to animate. 
  • Approach local businesses, or businesses that can add benefit to your film. For my animation, we needed a lot of props on set and found that if we scaled the puppets down to dolls house size, we could use dolls house props and furniture. We approached a major retailer and got everything we needed in return for free advertising on our website, Facebook and on the film.
  • More recently, I have developed a film franchise but in order to test the market and raise funds, I released a series of books. This is a lot of hard work in itself, but hard work pays off. We formed a collaboration to get the books written and with the money raised we made a short film, which will be a part of the feature film and be a part of the pitch package for funding a feature. There is also scope for a graphic novel series and a TV series – so watch this space!

Written by Saranne Bensusan on 17th February 2018.

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Self Promotion Tips for Actors http://sarannebensusan.com/self-promotion-tips-actors http://sarannebensusan.com/self-promotion-tips-actors#respond Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:03:22 +0000 http://sarannebensusan.com/?p=562 We work with lots of different actors, and often give new actors opportunities to shine in front of the camera.… Read more Self Promotion Tips for Actors

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We work with lots of different actors, and often give new actors opportunities to shine in front of the camera. So what if you are new and don’t know much about how to promote yourself?  Here are a few tips to help you get your name out there:

1 – Get a website for yourself. There are many companies that do free or really cheap web pages with easy-to-fill-out templates that will give you a professional look. Some examples are Wix and GoDaddy. These make it easy for you to put photos up, share videos and allow you to blog about what you have been up to.  These sites are easy, even for technophobes!

2 – Have some professional headshots done. You don’t have to fork out for an expensive studio shoot, but having a couple of professional photos will go a long way to getting your face in front of casting directors. And it will present you in a much more professional way than just a selfie, or a photo your mate took. Also you can upload these to your website, and social media pages. Secondly, make sure that they are up to date and represent you as you look now, not you from seven or eight years ago.

3 – Have a showreel cut together. You will need to ask the producers of the films you have worked on for the footage that has you in it, especially if you have dialogue. Asking your editor to download the film from YouTube isn’t that great in terms of quality, and you are asking him/her to wade through the whole film to find the 30 seconds where you are speaking.  If you have worked on something where your payment has been ‘showreel material’ make sure you get it off the film makers as this is your currency to securing further work. Also, if you don’t get the showreel material from the film maker you are just working for free with no benefit to yourself.  I can edit a showreel together for you at a great price. Email me on Saranne@sarannebensusan.com

If you don’t have a showreel, or the showreel material is poor (e.g. the sound was bad or the film is low quality) then you can film yourself performing a scene or monologue. This is another way that casting directors, film makers and agents can see your work as an actor. 

Having a showreel or a video of your work will enable you to participate in the #ShowreelShareday phenomenon started by @KateDaviesSpeak. You can find out more about #ShowreelShareday here.  The next date is 21st February 2018.

4 – Think about payment. As a professional actor, you will want to be paid for your work, so make sure that you have familiarised yourself with creating invoices. Admin is part of the business side of acting. You can find templates for invoices and other useful information here.

5 – Promoting other people on social media. If you would like people to like and share your posts to help you get ahead, then you will know that other people need that too. Promoting other people’s work raises your own profile within the film making and acting community,  and creates networking opportunities. If you are lucky enough to get an agent, promote your agent too and remember to thank people for giving you opportunities. Engaging people on social media platforms makes you more employable as producers and directors want to work with actors that will raise the profile of their film. This will attract fans, viewers and build an audience that makes the film attractive to funders.

Written by Saranne Bensusan on 15th February 2018

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Seven top tips for no-budget film making http://sarannebensusan.com/seven-top-tips-no-budget-film-making http://sarannebensusan.com/seven-top-tips-no-budget-film-making#respond Tue, 06 Feb 2018 15:52:21 +0000 http://sarannebensusan.com/?p=555 It is really difficult to make your film look like it is made with money when there isn’t any, and… Read more Seven top tips for no-budget film making

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It is really difficult to make your film look like it is made with money when there isn’t any, and I have spent years making films with little or no budget. Here are a few tips that I have come up with that will improve the quality of your film:

1 – Sound. If you have only a few hundred bucks to make your film and you need to choose between a Sound Recordist or a DOP, spend it on the Sound Recordist and film it yourself.  No-one will want to watch your film if the sound is crap and they can’t hear what’s being said.  It is best to shoot on a DSLR with decent sound than blow your budget on a RED or Arri with a catch-all omnidirectional mic sitting in the room somewhere.  Having a professional sound recordist on set will reduce the need for ADR even when shooting outside.

2 – Sound.  Again. If what you have recorded is ruined by an airplane every 90 seconds (we are based near Gatwick Airport) or by noisy traffic, or a million birds tweeting just as you shout ‘action’, then it may be necessary to record ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement).  But!!! Please wait until there is a final cut of the film before you do this. Most actors on indie sets are looking for opportunities to show their skills and be creative, so dialogue may drift from your script in order for them to give a more compelling performance.  Recording ADR isn’t an opportunity to change the dialogue, and you should only use it where necessary – don’t start your shoot with a view that everything will be re-recorded after.  Dialogue and phrasing must be exactly the same as what you see in the final cut, otherwise it will look like your film has had a bad sound edit, which nobody will be able to sit through or use as showreel material.

3 – White balance your camera!  This may sound like we are teaching your grandmother to suck eggs, but the amount of orange footage I see from film makers is truly alarming. White balancing is a basic process for any camera operator and should be done regardless of what type of camera you are shooting on.  Secondly, check your footage after each take if see if it has come out OK.  If it is any shade of orange that you have not planned for, you should white balance your camera again and go for another take. Another reason for orange footage is lack of lighting. Once you have orange footage there is no coming back from this, and your footage will look washed out after a colour grade.  Nothing ever in post production will replace a proper white balance on set, and will lower the production value of your film. This could be the difference between getting your film selected at a festival for screening or you getting that email that says ‘the competition was very high this year and unfortunately your film has not been selected’.

4 – Anyone who says ‘let’s sort it in post’ or ‘that can be done in post’ once you are already on set and filming should be slapped. Hard.  Deferring work to post production in an unplanned way complicates your edit and risks your film not looking how you intended, or worse, poor quality because the editor doing the work doesn’t do or have the software for the unplanned compositing work that they are now suddenly responsible for.  If you need special effects, plan ahead first and make sure everyone knows, is capable, and has the tools to do what they need to do.  If it was a shit take, do another one. If you need an extreme close up shot, make sure it is on the shot list so that you DOP can have the right lens at hand.  Your post production should be planned, not used to cover up bad film making and poor planning.

5 – No exterior day for night filming!  Ever.  It looks crap and rarely looks like night time. If you need a night time shot, wait until it gets dark to shoot it. Day for night colour grades rarely look authentic and it will create a lot of work for your colourist.  If you must do a day for night shoot, shoot during civil twilight or nautical twilight either at dawn or dusk, and never shoot a day for night whilst the sun is visible in the sky.  I have had a lot of requests from people to turn bright lunchtime sunny weather into night time – this is unrealistic and will not achieve a professional look.  Think about your team – would your DOP be able to use it in their showreel? 

6 – Keep your short films short.  Aim for your film to be less than 15 minutes. Festivals like to have lots of short films during screenings and a short film of 15-45 minutes is less likely to be screened compared to shorter counterparts unless it has exceptional storytelling and cinematic style. Short form story telling is an art and it will really help you hone your skills.

7 – Clapper Boards – When using a clapper board to sync sound with picture, there must be something on the sound file to identify and match it to the corresponding footage. You need to read what is on the board out loud so that the editor can line it up with the appropriate footage. This may sound like we are stating the obvious, but we have had lots of experience of having to listen to every sound file to find the one we are looking for because the clapper person has not spoken the scene/shot/take out loud when they have clapped.  This is enormously time consuming for the editor.  When time is short and there is no time to clap on the front of the take, say ‘board on the end’ into the mic and write up the board and clap it at the end before cutting – and say the scene/shot/take.  Lastly, make sure the whole of the board is in shot when boarding a take. This may sound really daft, but we have had footage where the clapper part of the board is out of shot when clapped, or only the bottom right hand corner is in shot. The easiest way to around this is to board the take before assuming the position and focus of the shot.

Written by Saranne Bensusan on 6th February 2018

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