UK FILM REVIEWS

A forum for sharing views on the art of film, video and AV sequence making as well as on competitions, judging and festivals.
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TimStannard
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Re: UK FILM REVIEWS

Post by TimStannard »

It's simple. I admire your work. Will you act as cameraman/DoP on my film and help realize my vision?
Tim
Proud to be an amateur film maker - I do it for the love of it
Michael Slowe
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Re: UK FILM REVIEWS

Post by Michael Slowe »

Ned, I find it difficult to answer your question because I often wonder how I have been so lucky with my choice of subjects. It just suddenly occurs to me when talking with someone that there might just be a film appearing here! It doesn't always work out of course but it is just that sudden 'spark' that triggers the idea. My problem is that I never know when to stop and a thread of criticism of almost every film is that it is too long. Our films are generally viewed as part of a programme of films, that is the problem for me. When I'm cutting a film I'm looking at it as a 'stand alone' work, but that is my fault. If people think it's too long then it's too long!
I'm currently cutting a film without a central character so we'll have to see how it works out, I've no idea at the moment. Who ever knows if a film that they are making is going to turn out well, do you?
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Howard-Smith
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Re: UK FILM REVIEWS

Post by Howard-Smith »

Thanks everyone for your feedback. I’m carrying on making films in my own way regardless of what people think of them. I developed a thick skin regarding criticism early on.
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John Simpson
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Re: UK FILM REVIEWS

Post by John Simpson »

Should the link be http://www.ukfilmreview.co.uk/ without the s ?

Thanks for sharing the review Howard. They went to a great deal of trouble, I suppose they are trying to make a sort of online business.
I have watched the film, I wonder why you chose to have the dialogue in Russian, did you have some Russian speaking actors available and base it around them? I personally find sub-titles hard work.

I might send them one of my films, they could really tear it to shreds! As Michael Slowe says "we must not be too sensitive" pearls before swine and all that! I suppose Film Review are reviewing the films from a particular perspective, and everybody's point of view is different

I have just shot a short film with a woman who was keen to do some acting, we were guerilla filming in a church, she quite understood, she said if we had asked permission, it would have probably taken ages, and there would have bound to be someone who made a fuss! Although I did ask permission to film in a garden centre once and the manager was very obliging.
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Howard-Smith
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Re: UK FILM REVIEWS

Post by Howard-Smith »

To answer your question John, I very much wanted to make a foreign language film with English subtitles. Then a friend of mine told me about his (married) Russian girlfriend and about how she had fled from Russia to the UK with her teenage sons so they could avoid compulsory army service at aged 18. That gave me the idea for the story. That friend I mentioned was annoyed when he read my script saying he hadn’t told me the (true) story just so I could develop a film from it and he didn’t want me to make it. But nobody tells me what to make and what not to make and I went ahead anyway. And I still think it was a bloody good story.
Re the two main actors both of whom were from Star Now: Nik was a Russian student who helped translate the script and assisted me with the subtitling during the editing process. Zdenka was actually from the Czech Republic but spoke fluent Russian.
It would have been unrealistic for them to be speaking English to each other in this film.
I was irritated with a particular comment from the BIAFF judges: “This film suffers from the same problem that all subtitled films in that they take the viewers’ eyes away from what is happening on screen.” That same year an excellent subtitled film called “The Warehouse” won Best Film. I bet the filmmakers didn’t receive a similar comment about the subtitles.
I hope to make another foreign language subtitled film sometime… maybe in French. There are lots of people who simply won’t watch subtitled films but I personally enjoy them and seek them out. The most recent subtitled film I rewatched was the classic Louis Malle debut ‘Lift to the Scaffold’ with a terrific score by Miles Davis. In my opinion if the dialogue were dubbed into English it would ruin the film. Give me subtitles any day.
Last edited by Howard-Smith on Wed Aug 18, 2021 8:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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John Simpson
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Re: UK FILM REVIEWS

Post by John Simpson »

What an interesting story, you are thick skinned to make the film when the originator of the story was against you. I have just watched it again. I felt the woman actor could have done with a bit more emotion but surely it should have been at least a BIAFF 4 star. Watching your films I am a bit worried that you know so much about weapons, drugs and torture techniques Howard !!!!
tom hardwick
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Re: UK FILM REVIEWS

Post by tom hardwick »

“This film suffers from the same problem that all subtitled films in that they take the viewers’ eyes away from what is happening on screen.”

The faster the cutting, the more this applies Howard. And a lot of (iPlayer) action thrillers made in Sweden, Belgium etc hardly let you draw breath from your subtitle reading. You don't get a chance to see how the words visibly affect the actor and those around them.

Good subtitling is a fine art, and better than dubbing any day in my book.

Care to put up the BIAFF judgement on 'The Sons of..' Howard?
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Howard-Smith
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Re: UK FILM REVIEWS

Post by Howard-Smith »

OK, Tom has brought us back to how this thread started, ie. my Russian film. It was the first cut of it, entitled AVOIDANCE, that received a 3 star BIAFF award and it was this version of the film that received the comment about the problem of subtitles taking one's eyes off the action on screen. Having been disappointed with just 3 stars, I did some further editing, improving certain aspects which had been criticised, improved the subtitles so that the storyline was even clearer (as certain viewers 'lost the plot' in the original), composed a completely new music score using Magix Music Maker software, and re-submitted it under the title THE SONS OF NATALYA PETROVA. This version also received 3 stars from a judging panel which included Tom. I remember the comment along the lines of, "This is a 4 star film with too many 2 star moments." I have a hard copy of the comments somewhere but it would take me a while to find them. When working so closely on your own film, it's often difficult to perceive the faults, and I still can't really understand where the 2 star moments are. But no matter. That was 5 years ago and I've moved on to hopefully better things.
Just one more observation. The two main actors in the Russian film came into some criticism for underacting, not showing enough feelings and emotion. The difference between "good acting" and "bad acting" would be good for a discussion sometime. I've been re-reading an excellent book "Michael Caine: Acting in Film", and he emphasises how important it is for an actor to do VERY LITTLE for screen acting. He relates the following anecdote.
George Cukor was directing Jack Lemmon in his first screen role. Jack kept doing a scene, and George kept saying, "Cut! Les, Jack, less." And Jack would do it again. George: "Cut! Less, Jack, less." And Jack would do it again. George: "Cut! Less, Jack, less." Jack finally said, "If I do any less, I'll be doing nothing." George: "NOW you've got it!"
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fraught
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Re: UK FILM REVIEWS

Post by fraught »

Howard-Smith wrote: Sat Jul 31, 2021 2:36 pm There’s no way on earth that I would allow anyone else to edit my films. For me, editing is the most enjoyable and most satisfying part of the whole filmmaking process.
I used to make films as a one-man band for many years. I could never trust other people to realise my vision. This has changed hugely over time though.

I used to always do the camera work on my own, but I have made lots of great connections which include cinematographers who are far better than I ever was. I have struck up some really good working relationships with them, making the shoots that I work on real collaborative efforts. I'm all about teamwork these days. :-)

I believe that a good director is able to explain what they see in their head to their team and entrust them to make it happen. This applies to the crew as well as the cast. I'm always happy to work with new people on a project, this is a perk of the hobby, but it takes time and trust to have a key role. I've learnt the hard way too, and have had to go back and redo parts of projects that didn't meet my expectations. But I'm slowly getting together a group of people I REALLY trust, and working with them is a complete joy.

Howard, there have been times when you have used the same actors for different projects, you must feel a sense of trust with these actors? Maybe over time, you might do the same with other roles on your projects? I do get what you are saying about certain key roles, like editing, some areas of filmmaking are just too close to one's heart to let someone else do them. After all... we do this for the love of it.
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Howard-Smith
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Re: UK FILM REVIEWS

Post by Howard-Smith »

In response to Geoff (Fraught) yes there are certain actors who I use again and again because they are reliable and because they deliver the performances I’m looking for. But also I’m constantly looking for and using new actors, new talent. For my next film ‘The Morality of Lying’ there’s a cast of four actors who I’ve never worked with before. And in October I’ve recruited (from ‘Star Now’ and ‘Mandy’) four black actors who I haven’t met yet. There are occasions when actors haven’t come up to scratch and I’ve only used them once. It would be unfair to name names so I won’t.
I hope next year to make an improvised film with a multi-camera setup and I’m thinking of recruiting somebody to help with a couple of extra cameras so that there are four or five cameras filming simultaneously.
Aside from that, there are no plans to change the way I work and I stand by what I said about editing. I wouldn’t derive as much pleasure from my filmmaking as I do now if I recruited someone else to edit one of my films. I’m not like Hitchcock who worked out all the shots of his films in advance. I film scenes over and over with two camcorders simultaneously at least 3 or 4 times and then work through the editing instinctively choosing the shots and the rhythm of the cutting as I go along. As that’s what I do, it wouldn’t be possible to instruct an editor how I wanted the film to be edited.
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