Category Archives: Film

Bikini Ballet

I recently worked on this a promo for the Bikini Ballet with Director Harry Amies. Bikini Ballet is a new dance company who specialise in bringing dance to corporate events and shows.

We shot using two cameras, a Canon 6D which Harry shot with and my 5D which I shot with. We shot over two evenings, at two locations, a photographic studio and a rather pink village hall which we plugged into darkness and lit using three lights and a few chairs to disguise the  pink as much as we could. Harry edited it using Adobe Premier

Chasing Dreams: Making a Short Film

Chasing Dreams is the title of my forthcoming short film. It was shot late last year with two actors and a skeleton crew over several days. The film is now close to being finished and was largely the result of twitter. I say that because both the actors Tristam Summers and Elisa Armstrong both came via twitter as did Hannah Mizon our make up artist. Also a couple of relationships started on twitter contributed to the film, Robin Schmidt who leant me a radio mic and Sol and Matthew at RewindFX who have done the visual effects on the film. Continue reading »

Testing Times

 

Testing kit is essential, whether it is a new purchase or just something you’ve hired in or borrowed. User manuals are great as are the hundreds of user videos on Vimeo and YouTube but actually testing and playing with a bit of kit gives you the opportunity to try things others have not thought of or in situations unique to you.

Next week we’ve got a time lapse running from Monday to Wednesday for a client using a GoPro HD Hero2. The reason we have opted for this camera is a result of several factors but mainly due to power, the GoPro can be powered from the mains using a mini USB adapter. This means the camera can be set up and left to run for the whole time using a large SD card. This brings the cost down for the client and hassle for us.

On this occasion the client is supplying their own camera but relying on us to capture the sequence. To that end I have bought my own GoPro HD Hero2 and started the testing. It is something I have wanted an excuse to buy any way and am sure it will get used in the future anyway. So today the testing started with a time lapse test on a drive from home to Pinewood Studios. I set the camera to shoot at half second intervals and I turned off the spot meter.

One thing I find out that I hadn’t read about was the fact that the GoPro seems to have a folder max size of 999 images and when it hits that limit it creates and starts a new folder. This of course means that multiple image sequences had to be created in QuickTime Pro. These were then edited together in FCP 7. Music came from audionetwork costing a whole £1 for a non commercial licence . Rather that then ripping something off itunes and not paying for it even if the project is non profit. Musicians are artists too. There are many instances where the internet becomes enraged when a filmmaker or photographer has their work is used without permission and shared with the world so it’s a shame so many don’t seem to have the same respect for other artist’s work.

 

A Very British Cult on Indiegogo

 

This week sees the launch of the Indiegogo campaign for  November Films “A Very British Cult.”   A Very British Cult is going to be a feature length documentary about the 1970’s and early 1980’s self help group Exegesis. A group that was  not short of controversy every resulting in questions in Parliament and a BBC program about it.

Louis Price our director grow up in the program with both his parents members of the organisation and is exploring what really went on and examining how it has effected his and the other members lives.

Most of the documentary will be shot digitally just like the above pitch video which we filmed main on my Canon 5D. However there is the intention is to shoot part of the documentary using dramatic re-enactment the on 16mm film, which will be more in keeping with media production of the time . This will probably be the last time I get to shoot on actual film which is both an exciting and yet sad prospect.

November films have a good track record in the documentary field having already produced Beyond Biba, and distributed several documentaries in the UK.

To learn more about the campaign or the film click here to take you to the Indiegogo campaign page

 

Weekend Warriors: Canis Belli.

2011 Canis Bellis 1473.jpg
Many months ago I met up with filmmaker and blogger Robin Schimdt or as he is knows on Twitter  aka_elskid, at the London screening of  Zacutos Camera Shootout 2011. In the pub after the event he talked about an ambitious short film he had written set in the trenches of the first world war, Canis Belli. I told him if he needed a hand to give me a shout. Now when you usually hear about plans for short films of this scale you very rarely hear of them again. The ambition and scale usually halts any prospect of actually shooting them.

Fast forward almost five months and I get a message on Twitter from aka_skid to see if I was available as he was about to shoot the film along with co-director Gez Medinger, aka JerzyBondov. The film was to be shot over two and a half days on a permanent standing set just north of  Ipswich on Trench Farm. The set was been used from many major productions including Downton Abbey Continue reading »

An Education

I will start with I know nothing more or less than anyone else I just know different things from my experiences and education.

The other day I walked past my old university on my way to meet a couple of actors for a upcoming project. It wasn’t a campus I ever spent much time in if any but it was my old university all the same. Nothing much had changed, the same people stood outside, rain or shine smoking. The voices and faces may have changed but these were the same people I remembered.

There has been lots of talk about the merits of an education, a university education specifically, much of it has centred around the cost involved. It’s a tough decision for those weighing up their options and the lines of opinion seem pretty much divided these days between those who have been, being for and those who haven’t against. I went and oddly enough my friends are pretty much divided between those who went and those who didn’t. Each on are successful in there in their own area, most of the non degree friends wrk in the film industry although I have notices more and more people getting degrees and coming into the industry a little later than ten years ago.

Does anyone actually need a degree in the film industry, probably not. Most of the time the most qualified person on any film set will be the one person that is left of the film credits’ the Unit Nurse. The film industry has always trained it’s own and and had trainees in every department, people paid and learning on the job. The trainee position is essential, its the runners, camera trainees, people who are a vital job and get to learn how to do the nest job up the food change, such as clapper loader or third assistant director. These aren’t purely trainee positions they are important jobs in their own right. Continue reading »

The Ebay Effect

Yesterday I wrote a list of all my photographic and film equipment and put it up on my site for a couple or reasons, one being I kind of looses track sometimes of what I’ve got and where it is. A reminder sharpens my memory and stops the Ebay Effect. The Ebay effect is the looking on Ebay for something you’ve already got and have forgotten about. Im my case it’s my Super 8 camera. A few weeks ago I was looking to buy a Super 8 camera for an upcoming project and completely forgot I already had one which I found in the bottom of a cupboard. Now I wonder if I have forgotten I’ve bought film for it?

Cannes Young Lions Winners

Following my previous post I can can now reveal the brief was to create a sixty second commercial for  the charity Global Angels and the winners are;

USA Hispanic Team win Golden Lion

South Africa win Silver Lion

USA win Bronze Lion

 

USA Hispanic team hard at work in the edit bay

Looking back through the paperwork I see that all the winners took full advantage of the equipment we hauled to Cannes and back which has the trip very satisfying.

 

 

A Very British Cult

A few months ago I had the privilege of working for James Collie and Louis Price of November Films shooting some teaser trailer footage for their upcoming documentary “A Very British Cult” which is based on events of the late seventies and early eighties, it should make for a fascinating documentary, one I can’t wait to see knowing a little bit about it.

James will be heading to the Sheffield Documentary Festival next week with the trailer so if you’re going you may get to see it on the big screen. For more information on the project contact James
Continue reading »

The Dangers of Sound

HDSLR’s have a problem.  The problem I am told is sound.  No the reason I say told is, is I don’t believe it. HDSLR’s and by that I predominantly speak of the Canon’s are lacking in the sound department, with the inability to manually control or even monitor the sound as it’s recorded.  On top of that internal mic is not great and it only has a single 3.5mm mic input jack.  So on paper the camera is as I am told rubbish when it comes to sound and people moan about it, or more over bore me to death about what it can’t do. It is worth remembering it is a stills camera that shoots video and not a video camera that takes stills. I actually think this is all positive and here is why. Having sound attached to the camera can be simply dangerous.

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The “Film Look” is more than an F stop

DSLR film making quests for the film look of shallow depth of film. Film or more over cinema in turn quests for verisimilitude, a dream like environment, surrounded and wrapped by Dolby surround sound in a darkened room. We watch films and by this I mean films that end up in multiplexes in darkened places, cut off from the world outside, our only connection to the outside world or a world beyond though what we hear and the screen in front of us. The choices made by the film maker determine where our attention lies leading us through their vision. Film makers have many tools to focus out attention, crafting great performances, set design, lighting, sound and of course the camera, our visual connection to the world. The camera frames and focus’s ultimately what we see or not as the case may me.

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Now, Then & Future

Most of what I have written so far here has been about what the past, whether it be photos I have taken or video I have shot or edited for clients. Today I want to write down what I aim to accomplish in the future. Right now I have two personal projects that I want to push forward with.  The first is a short film called Chasing Dreams which I hope to shoot in the next couple of months. At this point it will be a low key affair, written specifically to be quickly shot with limited gear and artists.

The second project is a feature film called Stealing Lives, again written to to be shot with limited resources. This being a feature film is a lot more complicated in so many ways.  Stealing lives has been gestating for several years but up until now I didn’t feel the end of story felt emotionally right.

So why now, why write this?

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moments in time

Moments in time from Christopher Hughes on Vimeo.

HDSLR cameras have amongst other things created a great resurgence in time lapse photography. The ease and simplicity can make for quite a addictive experience as you don’t always know what exactly you are going to capture.

Last week I too dipped, for the first time, my toe into these time lapse waters and above is the result. The film is created from seven sessions of between thirty minute and an hour and a half  shooting a frame every three or four seconds. QuickTime’s were created from the stills using Quicktime 7 and the whole thing edited using Final Cut Pro. which took quick some time because of the amount of rendering required because of the native size of each of the time lapse QuickTimes.

The music for the film is by the amazing Moby and was licensed from mobygratis.com a wonderful resource for non profit film makers, something I had heard about sometime ago but never looked into until now.

Kit used:
  • Canon 5d MK2
  • Canon EF 24-70mm 2.8f
  • Manfrotto 561 BDHV monopod
  • Yongnuo Timer Remote Controller
  • Zacuto Z-finder

Winner Takes All

Winner Takes All from Christopher Hughes on Vimeo.

Back in the dark ages, 1997 I directed a short film, Winner Takes All as part of my final degree course work at the University of Westminster. My course Contemporary Media Practice spanned four disciplines, Film, Photography, Video and Digital Imagery, that and having a rather good time. Looking back I think I may have highest marks in the having rather good time part.

Winner Takes All has barely seen light of day ever since it was made, but for a couple of degree show screening, back in 97. The copy here is only on I have a digitised version of a Beta Sp playout from the avid it was cut on, so quality is not the best compared with todays technical standards.

The Film was shot over five days, easter 97, in Essex, Islington and Harrow campus of the University of Westminster. The film was shot Kodak negative  using 16mm Arriflex SR2 and prime lenses. The negative was processed and TK’d by Metrocolor. Editing was done on Avid at  Jim Bambrick and Associates.
Winner takes All stars Tom Lovegrove, Tony Gabriel and Mark Benton, with me doing a bit of a Hitchcock at the end.