Oblong Films

Oblong Films is a Bristol Based film company specializing in observational documentary. The company was set up in 2009 and has had a number of documentaries presented on television including ‘Prom Queen Divas UK’ (channel 5) and ‘The Naked Rambler’ (BBC) The Company was nominated for 3 RTS West Awards for their documentary ‘Millionaire Boy Racers’ an unscripted documentary that provides an insight into the influx of super cars and their wealthy owners in central London each summer.

The company hasn’t posted any recent updates of work online and they haven’t posted on Twitter for the past 6 months.

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New Chartist Idea Tutorial – Judith and Alistair

New Chartist Idea Tutorial – Judith and Alistair

This afternoon we had tutorials with both Alistair and Judith about our new Chartism project. We were a bit apprehensive about suggesting a new project at this stage in the semester but myself and Hannah-Jane felt that we had valid reasons for parking the St Fagans project (access, pace of development and story) and that our new idea was a lot more suitable and achievable.

Our first tutorial was with Judith was brief but we explained our reasons for the project change and Judith was positive about our plans, she was aware of the Chartism movement and was pleased that we were continuing to work with interactive platforms. I think she was particularly pleased that we had now included the Klynt application which will allow us to create an interactive archive of our event and the research we will be carrying out.

Our third tutorial of the day was with Alistair. We briefly explained the project to him and he offered some useful advise on research. Primarily that we had to nail the history of the Chartists ready for the pitch so that we could easily and clearly explain both the project idea and Chartism in general as most people will be unaware of the movement. Alistair also suggested some people to contact for research for the project and students who could maybe help with that. Colin Thomas who is a BBC film maker and is part of the Bristol Radical History group. and Ben Pike, A fellow student who has made a number of social history films while at UWE.

Our meeting came just two days after the election of Donald Trump and with this in mind along with Brexit we all felt that this project could fit in well with the current mood for politics and change in the UK and around the world. Our project documents part of the introduction of real Democracy in the UK and the plight of the people who fought for it and could remind people about how important it is and how it may/mayn’t be being eroded.

Wildscreen Festival Day 3 Work Experience

Later start today, But caught in traffic so we were a bit late arriving. The Boat is lovely to work from but it’s right in the centre of Bristol so is a nightmare if you’re in a car during rush hour. On the plus side, I have free parking which is a rarity in the centre of Bristol, well more than rare, it just doesn’t happen at all.

Today we had to film more talks and couch sessions and later had to do an interview with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. Rich suggested we split the team up today. We had a team working on filming the coach sessions and another starting edits and gathering some more GV footage. This was a great opportunity for me to get behind the camera and film using the Panasonic during the talks. I was in control of the main close-up camera using the canon 70-200mm lens with an extender making it 400mm. Jake was on the back stage camera and Rich/Tom took control of the safe wide and the vision mixer. Using such a long lens at a ow aperture was tricky keeping focus, especially as some of the talks had moving guest speakers. The couch sessions were much easier as the speakers remained static. Working with Tom on Vision mixer was great, I could keep an eye on the camera that was live by looking at his screen and he allowed me to use my intuition to find him suitable shots to cut to.

The live mixing became sort of a game, we were trying to complete it in the apollo to save us time in editing and the further we got into the talk with no issues the more challenging it was not to mess up a shot. Unfortunately we still had sound issues which means the recordings will once again need some re-editing. The sound issues are stating to frustrate, especially as the sounds team don’t seem very approachable, i’d expect them to be a bit more professional.

In the afternoon I went back to the boat to start work on the Highlights film edit. I was given the job of creating a timeline of ‘Selects.’ This meant going through the footage so far and picking out shots that could be used in the highlights film. I had to trip out bad bits, shaky footage so that the timeline only contained usable footage. This process will make creating a highlights film a lot simpler, the editor will know that all shots can be used and won’t have to root around in different folders to find footage as all the good stuff will be in one place. This is an idea I will now adopt in my editing workflow.

This evening we had to pack up quick and take our gear to the Watershed Cinema. We had a 5 minute slot with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall for an interview. We quickly scouted out a location, a balcony with a view of the harbour and we set up ready to go. We used the Panasonic Varicam for the interview and a Sony A7r2 for some behind the scenes footage. The interview was short and sweet and Rich managed to get Hugh to give some sound bites that we can use in the highlights video. We seem pretty slick now and are producing some really nice content. The team seem to be feeding off each other which is great for Moral.

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We ended with a Pint and Ben and Matt went off to film one of the evening events while myself and Jake packed up and headed back to wales.

Wildscreen Festival Work Experience Opening Day

The Wildscreen Festival got underway today and this was our first day of propper filming. We arrived at the boat at 8:30, grabbed the cameras and headed straight over to the registration area to meet Rich and gather some footage for the promo video. This was a great chance for myself and Jake to get a go on the Panasonic Varicam LT. We spent half hour gathering shots of delegates registering for the event and then we headed over to the Arnolfini to setup the cameras ready for the first talks.

The schedule is very tight and luckily Anne has been working to sort our timings out for us so we know where we should be at specific times; we also have a WhatsApp group for communication on the go which is good idea.

The initial talk was an introduction to the Festival for new delegates, it was hosted by Laura Marshall, Managing Director. of Icon films. She seemed like a really lovely lady and gave some useful tips on how to get the best use of the festival in terms of networking, most importantly not to interrupt people who are talking as they my be in the middle of an important one time opportunity pitch to a potential backer. Very good advice I though. Laura seemed really approachable and so maybe I will contact her in the future for more work experience or even film ideas, she seems keen to nurture new talent.

This initial talk was mainly a live test for us. We seemed to handle the mixing well, myself and Jake watched from the seats while the Floating Harbour team took on the important roles. We did have an issue with communication with the camera operator on the stage. We did have talkback units but we didn’t have an easy way to communicate and tell the op not to move as they were live in the mix. I had a torch with me and covered it with red gaff tape, from my position I was able to see when the camera was live and lit my touch so the operator on the stage had a visual indication to tell him not to move, this seemed to work well and was a good on the spot problem fix.

The introductory talk was followed by some ‘on the couch’ sessions with big name industry professionals and a number of other seminars. These were interesting to watch as well as film. I felt privileged to be able to attend these talks, not just film them. They were full of good advice from people who work in this industry.

While our technical end seemed to run smoothly we did have some sound problems, this was not our department as we were receiving a feed from the sound guys but it didn’t seem professional and means we’ll probably have to re-cut the days talks to fix the sound, this isn’t ideal on such a short turnaround time. Hopefully the sound problems will get sorted for tomorrows talks.

After the final talk we packed up for the day; returned the cameras to the boat and had a quick de-brief and planning session for the next day. Overall all seemed to go OK for the first day. We had some GV shot and worked well to capture all of the events, the only issue seemed to be the sound problems which was out of our control.

Overall a good day.

Floating Harbour Production Meeting Work Experience

Really excited that the folks down at Floating Harbour have invited me to do some Work Experience with them as they document the Wildscreen Film Festival in Bristol.

Today we got together for a couple of hours to introduce ourselves to the rest of the team and to go over some plans for the filming week (next week.) The team seem really tight-knit. There is Rich who is the boss, Ben and Tom who seem to take on the technical roles of camera, edit and general organisation alongside Rich; and there is Emily, Alex & Ann who work on the administration roles. The team really do seem to get along well and everyone pitches in to help with tasks that need completing.

On the Work Experience team there is myself, Matt and Jake. Matt and I are both in UWE and have worked together before on projects, Jake has come from Bournemouth Uni for the week although He lives in Newport so we could possibly travel together.

During the meeting we discussed some other scheduling for next week. Team availability and locations we’ll need to film. The Brief is to create a number of short promotional videos for the Wildscreen Team to be used for online promotion and also as a record of the event. We also have to film a lot of the seminars and talks that are taking place throughout the week so that they can be made available online for delegates to view later.

The plan is to split into small teams to cover all of the filming. The FH team will take lead roles but will have assistance from us on W/E for help with gear, finding suitable shots/locations and dealing with any contributor issues.

Rich explained some of the equipment we will be using and this made me quite excited. As a Panasonic fan I am thrilled that we’ll be using the brand new Varicam LT cameras for most of the event, along with the new Black Magic Ursa Mini. These are professional cinema cameras which of only just been released, they will be great to get my hands on and see how they compare to my GH4  and G7 Mirrorless cameras. We will also be using a Convergent Design Apollo to live multi-cam record the talks along with a Canon 5d mark 4 and Sony FS5 cameras. I’m pleased to be able to get the chance to work with such high-end equipment and i’m sure it will help when building a CV for future jobs.

Really looking forward to next week.

Bracken Films – Corporate and Documentary Small Film making Company

UWE Industry Talk – Bracken Films

Bracken Films is a small Corporate and documentary film company headed up by Two ex UWE Film making students Jim Smith and Zander Mavor. They created the company after leaving UNI and have secured a number of contracts with high profile customers to create promotional videos and internal team videos for company training and information.

Jim and Zander came to UWE to give an industry talk. he main focus was of their experience since leaving UWE and how they went about setting up their company; they also showed us some of their past work including Jims documentary ‘The man who fell from the sky’ which documents the story of immigrants fell from a planes landing gear onto a London street.

This talk was very useful to me because it’s the sort of area I wish to go into after finishing in UWE. While I feel many people will turn their noses up at corporate work, i think it’s a good way to build a brand and a reputation which could in tern lead to bigger more creative documentary work, Also I think this steady work offers stability while still offering the opportunity to work on passion projects for low or no income.

Jim and Zander explained that they have a good working relationship because both of them specialist in different aspects of the film making process. Jim is more of the DoP while Zander takes on the sound roles, I think having these specialisms is a real asset because it means that both parties need each other which will help strengthen the bond of the owners while also easing the pressure on each person.

Jim and Zander explained some of the pitfalls of setting up their company and things we might avoid. they explained how they contacted a number of companies to offer their corporate video services and that this didn’t get them much work; the work they currently get comes through networking and through contacts through friends so this is something to think about when I start my business. The boys talked about some of the processes such as invoicing the company (40% pre-production & 60% on delivery) and the importance of contracts to protect yourself. They also explained some of the other work that may be involved including pitching ideas from a brief to potential clients.

Zander and Jim also stayed behind after the talk for a beer and had some great personal advice for myself and Hanna-Jane.

One criticism I do have around Bracken Films would be the lack of online presence, while the boys had business cards it is very hard to find any information on the company and there is currently no website to get contact information or view the companies show reel of past work. I think when building my company this will be one of the first things I should look into initially.

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Can a Music Video be a Documentary?

We had just discussed our plans for our short documentary about Bristol and the opportunities for media in the city. We came up with a narrative that explored how Bristol was probably now known as a ‘one trick pony’ in media (everyone is always harping on about Aardman) so we wanted to show something different. Driving home I hear Sigmas latest dance tune, featuring Paloma Faith ‘Changes’. I’ve heard it many times before (being a bit of a fan) but never really heard the lyrics.

Now listening to the lyrics it seemed like it would fit ideally as our background audio and could even be used to push the narrative along. I had visions of fast moving shots of Bristol landmarks and people along with our ‘sheep’ narrative that had already been discussed. The main issue that I was debating with myself was can a music video be a documentary?

I think Documentary or Factual as a genre has a very wide reach. As long as something is being ‘documented’ then does it matter if it’s being done in the style of a music video?

I don’t think it’s a problem but would be interested to hear what other people think.