The Filmmaking Panel took place on the Saturday of Summer in the City 2017. The panellists included Bertie Gilbert, Luke Cutforth, Hazel Hayes, Sam Saffold-Geri, PJ Ligouri, and Melanie Murphy, with Sammy Paul as the moderator.
The panel explored the general process of creating a short film, from the conception of a new idea and the ideas that inspired them, to communicating their vision with actors and developing their own filmmaking voice.
After introducing the panellists, Sammy kicked off the discussion by asking Bertie what he has to find exciting about an idea in order to pursue it. Bertie explained that he tends to feel motivated by emotions, and has a desire to make the audience feel a particular emotion by “orchestrating these emotional pockets for them to get stuck into”. He also said he takes his inspiration from songs – something that was agreed upon by fellow panellist Hazel. The conversation then focused in on how a director should share their ideas and feedback with an actor, with Hazel describing that she prefers to wait until the end of a scene to discuss with them what works and what doesn’t.
In terms of finding their own voice as directors while also taking inspiration from elsewhere, PJ explained that his unique and creative style came about “as a necessity of wanting to make stuff” while he “didn’t have any money or resources, really”. For him it was a natural process which then became an aesthetic choice. Sam also cautioned against choosing a specific style too early because it can feel limiting as a creative.
Sammy directed his fourth question at Melanie, the panellist who is newest to filmmaking, asking her what she’s learned from the process of making her first film. Melanie said that “you learn so much from doing”, and “you have to have so many organisation skills… and a huge amount of team effort”. Sam then described the process of creating his latest film, explaining that “it’s going really, really well” but that he’s also trying to get through it one day at a time.
The panellists moved on to discuss the relationship that they have with their work once it’s finished and been put out into the world. Luke, who is currently working on his first film The Drowing of Authur Braxton, explained that he never feels happy with his work, but has to remember that the things he’s unhappy about are also things that other people don’t notice – “they’re not you, they’re not looking at it like you are”. This was agreed on by Bertie Gilbert, who said that the version of the film that’s in his head is never the same as the one that is actually made. In terms of how they find their inspiration outside of film, the panellists cited personal experiences, songs, and even video games.
Closing the discussion, Sammy asked the panel what they’re working on at the moment, with the panellists describing films and series that are in various stages of development.
When questions were taken from the floor, one audience member asked the panellists what they would make if they could make any style of film with an unlimited budget. PJ jokingly suggested a Borat 2, while Hazel described her desire to create a something sci-fi, and Melanie wanted to create a fantasy series from the His Dark Materials book trilogy. The second and final audience question focused on costume design, with the audience member asking how the panellists transfer their ideas for costume design into the finished thing. The creators agreed that it was best for the directors to work with a professional, with Hazel describing the role of a costume designer as a job all in itself.
Photos by George Yonge.
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