Monday, 27 April 2015

Five Lamps: 24 Hour Challenge - Round 2

This Saturday I will be taking part in the Five Lamps Films 24 Hour Challenge, a competition which closes the Derby Film Festival.

Last year (May 2014) I came third in the competition with a short titled 'Windowpane', a film that has since been screened at the London Short Film Festival. I very much enjoyed the challenge of completing a film in 24 hours and so, in October 2014, I also took part in the Colchester Film Festival 60 Hour Challenge.

My short this weekend will once again star the brilliant Marie Holliday and so the film will, therefore, complete a trilogy featuring the actress...I hope the outcome will be as as successful as my previous two efforts!


The competition entries for the 2015 24 Hour Challenge will be screened at the Quad in Derby on May 10th.

Friday, 24 April 2015

One Day Films Blog

A post about The Rabbit over on the One Day Films blog: https://www.onedayfilms.com/the-rabbit-has-now-finished-shooting/

Monday, 20 April 2015

Raven Production Scrapbook

One Day Films have released a 'Production Scrapbook' for The Raven on the Jetty, which I worked on as the Assistant Director, Cinematographer and Assistant Editor. Link: goo.gl/RHBG0E


One Day Films: "This is a unique book in which the story of The Raven On The Jetty is told scene by scene with parts of the director’s personal storyboard and notes, production stills of the behind the scenes activities during shooting and stills from the film. Also included, is the complete screenplay and credits of the film, as well as a DVD of the complete film. The book consists of 156 colour pages in 200 x 250 mm hardback. 

There are two versions of the book available: A Hand Signed and Numbered Limited Edition by the writer and director, Erik Knudsen in 100 copies only; or the Regular Unsigned and Unnumbered version of the book. The limited edition version sells for £49.50 (or equivalent in other available currencies) and the regular version sells for £39.50 (or equivalent in available other currencies)."

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Rabbit - Behind the Scenes

Below are some behind the scenes stills from The Rabbit starring Toni Sherwood-Pearce and Harris Matthews. Shooting in a car is very difficult but, fortunately, the equipment I used made the shoot far easier than it might have been. 

Camera
The film was primarily shot on GoPro cameras, which allowed me to direct from the backseat of the car - I could watch the footage on my iPhone or iPad via the GoPro app. 

Sound
I recorded sound with Rode clip mics that recorded sound directly onto my iPhone/iPad - this meant that the actors had the added responsibility of hitting record and attaching their mics before each scene.

Test shoot with Harris Matthews
Toni and Harris getting ready for a scene
Directing on Day 1
Enjoying the shoot
Harris sets up the camera
Directing
Day 3
Laughing on Day 3
Toni sets up the camera
As ever, I'll keep you updated with the progress of the film...

Monday, 13 April 2015

The Rabbit: Vlog 2

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Instagram

I've recently created an Instagram account (markdugganfilms) and I'm very much enjoying sharing images that I have taken on my iPhone.

Below are a few examples...
A photo posted by Mark (@markdugganfilms) on
A photo posted by Mark (@markdugganfilms) on
A photo posted by Mark (@markdugganfilms) on


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Afterdown: Bitter End

Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Rabbit...One Day Films

Erik Knudsen has written a blog post about The Rabbit over at onedayfilms.comhttp://goo.gl/003fKA

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Rose


Monday, 23 February 2015

Announcement: The Rabbit

In 2015 I will be directing a short film which will be distributed by One Day Films. The project is called The Rabbit, based on a script written by Erik Knudsen.

As I did on The Raven On The Jetty, I will be documenting the making of the short film via informal Video Blogs: Vlog 1 sees Erik Knudsen (dir. The Raven on the Jetty) discussing the origins of the script and why he has invited me on board to direct the project for One Day Films (onedayfilms.com).

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Not much for talking

So I heard an interview with a song writer over the Christmas period and I wanted to share a quote that completely moved me and resonated with my approach to filmmaking.

Interviewer: "Do you ever think you've been too honest with your lyrics?" 

Singer: "Do you?…At times I probably say a little too much but thats because I don't really say much in person. So, a lot of the time, I have to tell people through song how I'm feeling"

Image by Marie Holliday

Thursday, 11 December 2014

London Short Film Festival 2015


The programme for the 2015 London Short Film Festival has been released and I'm pleased to announce that Windowpane will be screened in the 'Father' category.

Screening - Monday 12th January (9pm) at Hackney Picture House.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Facebook page...

Check out my page on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/markdugganfilms

Monday, 8 December 2014

Weekend viewing...

Saturday

First up was St. Vincent. Slightly manipulative and sentimental but it worked for me! The ending really moved me...

A tense, claustrophobic thriller; real edge-of-your-seat stuff! Good direction from Kevin Macdonald and a great performance from Jude Law (even with his slightly distracting Scottish accent)...

Jennifer Lawrence
Really enjoyed this! A pleasant surprise after the less than impressive Catching Fire. Jennifer Lawrence is magnetic and quite a singer too (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3hTW9e20d8).

Sunday

The heartbreaking story of Alan Turing. An enjoyable film with a touching performance from Benedict Cumberbatch.

Loved this! I need more time to digest it but it may well make my 'films of the year' list. Some beautiful moments; made me reflect on the world in which we're currently living…

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Best of 2014…

Month by month, these are the films I enjoyed the most this year…

January

February

The Lego Movie


March


April

May



June



July




October



November

Interstellar

My top 3? It's a tough one; I was particularly fond of The Grand Budapest Hotel, Her, Apes, Begin Again and Blue Ruin.

However, my top 3 is as follows:

3. Nightcrawler 
2. Gone Girl 
1. Interstellar…a film that moved me in ways that very few films ever do.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

GoPro - test 2

Some images from another GoPro Hero 4 test, which I did yesterday in Nottingham…as you can see, there is some image distortion due to the extra wide-angle view that the camera adopts when shooting at 4k. Subsequently, I'm looking into software that will "correct" the image: I'll post the results.


Sunday, 23 November 2014

GoPro 4 - test shoot

Yesterday I did a test shoot with the new GoPro Hero 4 (Black Edition), which I intend to use for my next short film. 

I'll provide more details about the film (plot, shooting dates, crew, etc.) in due course but, for now, all I will say is that the script has a number of logistical issues that I need to work out in detail prior to shooting...hence the test shoot.

So, the camera arrived in the morning and I quickly I downloaded the GoPro app onto my iPad. The app allows the user to control the cameras settings via wi-fi, and, I must say, I'm particularly impressed with it. Despite the lag, I can now use the iPad as an on-set monitor, which will prove invaluable once I start shooting.

I must say a big thank you to Katie McMillan, who will feature in the project, as she agreed to stand in and help during this test shoot, which proved to be very helpful.

The test

The main aims of this test was to see what the GoPro image looked like at different times of the day and, most importantly, what I could achieve with the camera in low-light conditions. 
  • The first image was taken late afternoon (you can see the iPad in shot). 
  • The second shot was taken at dusk, with no lighting.
  • The third image was taken at night using two tiny LED lights from B&Q


Overall, I'm very happy with the image that the camera has produced and I now have a better idea of what I can achieve/how many lights I will need in each lighting context.

Unfortunately, it appears that my copy of the camera is faulty as a number of the files were corrupted! As you can see below, the footage was damaged and completely unusable (I've contacted GoPro and I'll hopefully receive a new camera very soon). This 'hiccup' is an example of why test shoots are so important - it was better that I discovered this problem now.


Summary

Maybe I'm completely mad to attempt to shoot a short film on a GoPro camera - fellow filmmakers certainly seem surprised when I tell them of my intentions. However, I'm fond of a challenge and enjoy doing something different to what everyone else is doing. Most importantly though, I actually believe that the camera will add to the heightened sense of realism that I'm hoping to achieve in the telling of this story. 

As ever, I'll keep you all updated…

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Interstellar…and IMAX

Interstellar...Wow! I was very impressed with the latest blockbuster from director Christopher Nolan. A very moving film (it's no surprise to me that Steven Spielberg was once due to direct it) that deals with the passing of time and the connection between parents and their children. Needless to say, I thoroughly recommend seeing it and seeing it on the biggest screen that you can find, as it is a truly cinematic experience.


Which brings me to my only issue with the screening I was in…and it has nothing to do with the film itself.

A little history

The first feature film I saw at an IMAX theatre was Batman Begins (2005) at the The Printworks in Manchester and I fell in love with the scale of the experience - the screen filled my peripheral vision! Subsequently I made sure that my first viewing of The Dark Knight (2008) & The Dark Knight Rises (2012) were also at the IMAX in Manchester.

Nolan is a huge advocate of shooting on film and utilising IMAX cameras in particular; for the Batman sequels, the director shot a number of sequences in the IMAX format (detailed in the video below), which lead to a changing aspect ratio throughout the film (2.35:1 and 1.44:1) but meant that some sequences were truly breathtaking due to the size of the image.



Nolan's experiment with the switching aspect ratios worked for me (although the Blu-Ray experience of The Dark Knight/Rises can be quite distracting) and it has obviously influenced Hollywood as, since then, I've seen Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (video) and Guardians of the Galaxy (video) both utilising the IMAX format (M:I was particular impressive). 

I love the IMAX experience…or so I thought.

The Lie-Max

My previous experiences with IMAX were at the BFI London, National Media Museum (Bradford), and the previously noted screen in Manchester. However, I'd heard that there were a number of IMAX screens popping up that were less than impressive - and these screens were quickly dubbed "Lie-MAX". The problem? Regular cinemas were converting standard screens into Digital IMAX screens, which were far smaller than the "proper" screens (e.g. Manchester and London) and were not equipped to project a feature film on 70mm. 

As this article on Slash Film notes…

"The system was designed to be installed in existing multiplex auditoriums — moving the screen 30 feet closer to the audience, covering more space from ceiling to ground and left to right, which is said to be perceived as 75 feet wider than before. So while the screen seems much much larger than your normal multiplex screen, it still doesn’t compare to that or a “real” 70mm 15 perf IMAX theater.


Also the aspect ratio, 1.9:1, is much closer to that or a traditional movie theater (1.85:1) than a 70mm 15perf IMAX screen (1.44:1). So while the image on the screen should expand some during the IMAX sequences in films like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, it is nowhere near as dramatic as a real IMAX theater. More subjectively, the lower resolution is not quite as breathtaking."

Other pieces on the problem of the Lie-MAX:

LA Weekly - IMAX or Lie-MAX
Roger Ebert - That's not the IMAX I grew up with
Den of Geek - The Incredible Shrinking IMAX Screen

The problem with the Lie-MAX had been discussed quite a bit during the release of The Dark Knight Rises and rightly so as these cinemas were, and still are, exploiting the fact that audiences were/are keen to see a film in that format. This bothered me quite a bit as people thought that they were having a certain experience, they were paying for that experience…but they weren't getting that experience.

And so…

I'll be honest, I was always going to watch Interstellar but I didn't have the level of excitement that I did prior to The Dark Knight or The Dark Knight Rises and so I didn't pre-book IMAX tickets for Manchester or London. However, I had nothing to do yesterday and so I thought I'd go to see Nolan's new film and the new Mike Leigh film, Mr. Turner (which features a great performance by Timothy Spall).

I noticed that Cineworld in Nottingham had the film playing in their IMAX screen. I knew it wasn't a "proper" IMAX screen as I'd previously seen Bridesmaids in the same space (Screen 10) but, as I wasn't that hyped for the film, I thought I'd take a look at how different these retrofitted theatres really are.

I arrived at the cinema, collected my ticket, grabbed a coffee, entered the theatre and as I popped my head around the corner to see the screen…I couldn't tell the difference between this "IMAX" screen and a regular cinema screen. Don't get me wrong, it's a large screen but nowhere near the scale of the screens in Manchester or London.

The film itself contained the switching aspect ratios but as the screen wasn't that big I found it distracting as the image didn't "open" up that much (as noted above by Slash Film). However, I must say that the sound in the theatre was very good and much better than a standard cinema screen.

When I got home I did some research and found this post, which has a list comparing the IMAX in Nottingham to the screen sizes of other IMAX theatres…


Now I don't know how accurate the other screen sizes are but the BBC also quotes the Nottingham screen as being 30ft by 62ft. Now when you compare this to the size of the screen at the BFI - "over 20 metres high and 26 metres wide!" (65ft by 85ft) - you begin to visualise the discrepancy between the two products.

Conclusion

As I have an Unlimited Card I only paid £4.14 to see the film but a regular ticket for this experience is £14.60. By comparison, the price for an Interstellar ticket at the Manchester IMAX is £16.30. Now £16.30 is undoubtedly an expensive night out (interestingly, I paid less than £15 to see Guardians of the Galaxy) but when you compare the Cineworld Lie-MAX to the full IMAX, I'd personally rather pay the extra £1.70 - especially as the Manchester IMAX is projecting the film in 70mm…

twitter - @ManchesterImax
I loved the film! My only regret is that I didn't see it at a "real" IMAX theatre…but I will be doing as soon as possible.