Contributions Completed

The World Of The Willows has been the longest journey of all the productions I’ve worked on this year, in theory starting June 2014 when I agreed to the idea with Dan & Nathan, and even now after its completion there will still be festivals, Kickstarter pledges, etc.

Having contributed to the entire production process I feel I have managed to keep the project on track and ultimately fulfil my expectations of delivering it to time and on budget. Whilst I wasn’t on shoot I still found myself working on the project on a daily basis throughout production, treating it as a organic process as I developed the schedule and accommodated for budget on a daily budget. This attributed to creating a driving schedule, changing shot lists, finding locations, etc.

The crew themselves were fantastic and made the project enjoyable for me as a producer. Everyone was enthusiastic and reliable, at no point was I having to dramatically chase any down regarding their input, however as good practice I still ensured everyone was ‘in the loop’ on a personal basis. When on location there were little issues to report, especially after streamlining the crew for the entire shoot. I would report with Rashida and Harry regularly regarding the state of production, any on set issues never seemed to carry across to the entire state of production.

There is nothing I would change about the people involved with the production, everyone pulled through to make a fantastic production. I feel the only way to improve this would be more time and more money, allowing us to be even more ambitious. Nathan & Dan have mentioned their concerns between the film and the script, but ultimately considering the circumstances of production we made a fantastic piece of fiction.

This role has been hugely beneficial in developing my base skill set that I can carry across to any future professional role. Skills such as organisational, social, logistical and financial. Whilst I don’t have any interest in pursuing producing professional I will always appreciate the experience this production has offered and continue to be proud of the film.

Unfortunately colour grading was rushed, whilst it was an annoyance creatively I can respect logistically the importance on getting the VFX finished. The grain loaded onto the film provided most of the visual style we were after meaning my role was mostly colour matching and correcting, with the odd stylistic choice like bluer washes in the hospital. The back and forth process of grading with Dan happened quickly over two days, being completely in the mindset of grading with no other responsibilities definitely helped to speed up the process. I’m extremely happy with the end result.

The screening was a fantastic opportunity to get an audience response and thankfully it was only praises. In theory even if the film was terrible as along as everyone who contributed like it then that is a success in my books. It was a great atmosphere for a send off in preparation for university hand in and whatever else proceeds.

Looking ahead Dan & Nathan have been investigating film festivals for their work, I will help where possible and support these endeavours as best as I can. I really hope it makes it to screen elsewhere as I honestly think its a fantastic piece of filmmaking that everyone involved should be so proud of. With the remaining budget I will get the Kickstarter pledges fulfilled with Dan – posters, scripts, copies of film. Finally I will ensure everyone involved receives a copy of the film as it won’t be online until festival season has passed. I’ve got the entire contributor list for emailing purposes so any developments I will keep everyone in the loop.

Cast & Crew Screening

Tonights cast and crew screening went extremely well, it is safe to say everyone enjoyed themselves and only positives words were passed around. The following attended the event:

  • Dan & Nathan (Writer/Directors)
  • Jordan (Sound Mixer/Editor)
  • Jesse (Boom/Foley)
  • Helen (Practical Effects)
  • Harry (Unit Production Manager)
  • Julie Harvey +1 (UWE Glenside Health & Safety)
  • Lizi Carey + dad (Amber)
  • Olivia Coombs + family (Elly)
  • Thomas Collins (Kramer)
  • Michael Farrow +1 (Anthony)
  • Tyler Britton + 2 (Gang Member 2)

It would have been nice to have had an entire crew attend the event, but understandably people have other commitments. Those attending represented a good range of involvement and able to provide different perspectives when commenting on the film.

Adele Coombs spoke to me regarding the ITV Chaperoning situation apologising for what happened, she was happy with the arrangements and had no problems whatsoever, was the case of the workshop acting without their consideration. I never thought for one moment her or Olivia had any problems with the shoot as we established a great working relationship constantly checking in throughout the production process, nevertheless it is greatly appreciated and removed any awkward feeling relating to it.

Julie Harvey and her partner were extremely impressed about the level of organisation that went into the project when asking me about producing it. The fact I had to deal with actors from multiple cities, tight time frames and diverse locations they were surprised I managed to pull it off and congratulated me on my achievement.

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Following the screening there was a rupture of applauses, everyone was fully engaged throughout the film and only had positive things to say about it. The range of audience suggests a wider appeal when considering the future of the project.

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The Crofters Rights was a nice venue for the screening, it was a very personal experience and I’m glad it all went as expected. I took the opportunity to notify everyone of the immediate future – degree show, email copies – expressing thanks for any level of input once again.

The entire film was engaging constantly keeping the audience on the edge of their seats as they kept up with the ever developing narrative. There was mutual admiration of the technical and creative crafts (e.g. comments on grade and sound design). Its 23 minute duration seemed to go extremely fast proving the level of immersion it causes. A thoroughly enjoyable evening, a great catch up, and ultimately a final film that everyone can be proud of attributing to.

Grading Log 17/05

Having delivered the grade yesterday Jordan and I arranged to watch it through checking over the footage for continuity, in particular I was concerned with how graded shots cut in with the footage. I noticed a lot of errors with the grade, then I realised Dan had linked the wrong media so it was still the original footage. Stopping the viewing I went back to DaVinci Resolve to get the right clips across.

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WOTW Grading Log 16_05-17_05

The grade is now fully completed. Dan and I have checked over the entire film, no errors so it is now exporting ready for the screening tonight.

Grading Log 16/05

This wasn’t necessarily the most creative process possible, but I have still been able to have some input aside from correction at times. For examples adding a blue wash to all the hospital footage for added coldness of rejecting Philip and playing to clinical representation.

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Scene cut detection

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Colour matching with scopes

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ColourTrace between timelines

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Custom curves

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Higher contrast

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Red dot graded, blue dot VFX error

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Lines to export ProRes

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Dan has got all of the footage and will assemble it for final delivery tomorrow. I will look through the film before approving the export.

Grade Delivery

I have finally received the files for grading the film, at such a late stage I have already accepted that it will be case of colour correction and balancing shots with no time for anything stylistic or creative. The VFX for the film have held up the post-production, whilst I respect this is an important element I’m not happy the fact my creative input has been completely removed due to members of the team running over on their processes.

Whilst the colourist in me is annoyed as a producer I accept the priority of VFX over stylistic grading. Without VFX the film wouldn’t make sense, having a plainer grade isn’t much of a loss. One of the major delays in getting the footage was Dan loading film grain over the entire film. In my mind this would be a random generator that doesn’t add too much, however he has invested in expensive stocks for After Effects and previewing the footage it makes a dramatic difference.

The grain samples the content in the frame to keep the grain consistent throughout, with the option to choose to replicate particular models of camera and stock. With the grain applied it makes a huge difference and has completed the majority of the grading process. Having previewed some footage I feel like my input for grading is dramatically less than expected, treating it as a colour correction job not only accommodates for what little time I have been given but also the fact there shouldn’t be much to grade.

Taking all of this into consideration I will approach the footage with an extremely open mind. It’s not necessarily good practice but I will try and avoid grading unless its for colour correction or a relatively simple style choice (e.g. subtle colour washes). The grain has had a huge impact on the grade, one of the reasons for reducing my schedule to a couple of days, and almost nailing the visual style and colour Dan, Nathan and I intended on getting.

Full Credits List

Whilst assembling the production folder today Nathan and I realised we needed to outline the final credit list so that we could feature it in our folder and pass it on ready for the scrolling credits at the end of the film. Using my contributor list and notes from the last time I updated the credits we were able to quickly pull titles and names together. Nathan found a hollywood industry template as to how you list names so we ordered the credits as appropriate.

Full Credit List

I have personally spoken to each member of the crew to ensure how everyone wants to be listed (e.g. Elizabeth Penny or Liz Penny); confirming they were happy with their role in the credits and changing as appropriate. In addition I checked for any “Special Thanks” credits from any other crew members. Below this section in the credits I have then listed our Kickstarter Backers (fulfilling our pledge) in order of amount pledged – 3x £50+, Left £49 – £21, Right £20 – £1. Our executive producer Charles will feature at the beginning of the credits proceeding Dan, Nathan and I.

Using a template provided by Dan I have transferred the credits across ready for the film using a PSD file. Dan can make any amendments from here, this way we can be certain every title and spelling is correct.

End-credits

Fulfilling Kickstarter Pledges

Next month we will be fulfilling all of our Kickstarter pledges, with all of them scheduled for June 2015. Everyone who pledged over £50 included an invite to the official cast and crew screening. I have gotten all the details from Dan and sent the following invite. It will be great to meet those who contributed the most to ensure the production could happen.

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Production Schedule Review

The projected schedule worked perfectly until it came to post-production, after this point nothing went as intended, coincidently this is also when I took a step back from the production and where many other productions got under way.

Production Schedule Final

The pre-production period for the film was extremely successful, we were all fired up and ready to jump straight in with production. Whilst casting ran over by a few days everyone pulled their weight to ensure production was ready to commence as intended, as a result ending a few days earlier than expected. During the filming period I found myself reviewing the production schedule on a daily basis, constantly keeping in conversation with Dan/Nathan (Directors) and Rashida (1st AD) to track the progress and review what still needed to be shot.

Taking actors availability and transport were the main factors in having the adapt the filming schedule. The fact the production took this much organisation on a daily basis made me appreciate having Rashida as a 1st AD. I was able to focus on pulling together all elements whilst she could track progress on set. At times I had to set tough time scales to shoot certain scenes to a bad response, but despite this the film still managed to be completed in the allotted time.

Everything was running to schedule as editing begun and sound started to make preliminary recordings. Come the beginning of March everything started to break away from the agreed production schedule. Many factors attributed to this such as the picture lock taking longer than anticipated and having to accommodate for a re-shoot. As soon as one element of post broke away from the schedule there was little to do other than witness a chain reaction effect as every department broke away from their schedules.

Undertaking colour grading I know I’m not happy with how fair everything has been knocked back. I understand the fact we had to reshoot and Dan/Nathan want to make the best film possible, but its frustrating the lack of time accommodated for post-production, often a common factor in student films.

As a producer I have done my best to remind everyone of the time scale, trying to push the post-production team to make up lost time. I’ve also pulled them together for meetings to review the state of the project, encouraging conversation so everyone can adapt to the delay in schedule. There is little else I can do without physically taking over the editing, this is ultimately the part that delayed everything.

The transmedia element didn’t happen in the end, I’m not certain why this was as I am purely the producer for the film. I’m yet to find out the circumstance of the project, I’ve written this off the final amended schedule.

Overall it took a lot of adapting and reworking but the schedule for production has proven successful, post-production has been all over the place. I did my best to access the situation on a daily basis and intervene when needed. Unfortunately the final delivery film hasn’t met our scheduled early deadline of May 4th, but it will still be delivered and completed ready for the final deadline of May 19th, allocating an early deadline incase of errors proved to be vital. Personally I feel like I maintained the schedule as best as possible, I could have possibly chased up post-production more in hopes the schedule would get back on track, instead I opted to get everyone to adapt.

Budget Review

With the project set for completion over the next few days I can now finalise the budget report. I have been tackling all of the numbers to ensure everything adds up correctly, and thankfully everything has! I have been unable to account for £10, I calculate the entire cost at £1525.85, and with £1556.28 funds raised the final amount in the account should be £30.43, somehow I have £40.43 left in. I’m not too certain where this error has occurred, I have checked the numbers multiple times over and can’t find the source. The sake of £10 extra is nothing to be concerned about thankfully.

Approaching the film we never really had a clear idea for the budget, we knew vaguely how much we’d need but a precise breakdown was never really made. Dan and Nathan wanted to see as much of the money go on screen as possible, and I think this has been the case. Art Department spent a third of the budget, the second third went towards travel allowance for the actors, so in theory the final third is where the money started to come off the screening (e.g. fuel, catering, etc), but even then some of that was one the screen (e.g. generator). I’m really happy with how the money has stretched throughout production and I feel we have utilised our assets extremely well to deliver a highly professional product.

Budget Tracking Final

Transport/Accommodation

The last minute nature of securing production elements (e.g. actors, locations) made it difficult to predict how to spend money. Ideally I would have preferred to cast closer to Bristol so not as money was spent on travel, this large chunk of getting Beatrice from London and Lizi from Plymouth could have featured on screen. However it could be argued we were paying for the performance that Dan and Nathan wanted, both are valid points in getting the funds on screen.

Creating an in-depth driving rota with Rashida (1st AD) helped to bring down fuel costs. Forcing lift shares and streamlining crew meant less runs were needed to each location, it also meant each driver didn’t need a large reimbursement. I anticipated more being spent on transport, so this money probably ended up on travel allowance for the cast.

Catering

Catering for the first shoot at Glenside put an alarming figure on my predicted spending. This is one part of the budget I had to act quickly upon in order to keep the balance a float. It meant only catering for the relevant cast and bringing up the ethical debate that crew should feed themselves. Whilst we want crew well fed at the same time throughout the degree everyone has fed themselves, this is where a professional and student production cross paths. Personally I felt it was wasted money, in the end we reduced it to basic snacks (e.g. tea, biscuits, fruit, etc) so more money could go on screen.

Art

Liz and Helen were extremely happy with the budget assigned to them, Dan and Nathan wanted a lot of the money to go towards them so it can be seen on screen. At first they were free to spend, I accepted all of the art department was vital for the film so they could get priority. As the film progressed I made them work to a precise budget for the final elements. Credit to Liz and Helen who were very resourceful in creating parts, and sourcing things cheaply or free.

By working the budget freely it made it difficult when having to secure the house location. I ended up having to scout for the house, using our remaining budget as criteria for securing a location. The restricted funds made it difficult to source a house, taking a lot more of my time that hoped, but on the other hand it did force me to search deeper and end up finding a cheaper house. In theory with more money I could have secured a location quicker, but then again I would have spent more money on it. All other locations were free to use as expected, this was accommodated for early on in the film (e.g. securing UWE Glenside as hospital).

Camera

Unfortunately this part of the budget overspent. Whilst I managed to secure a good deal for hiring a generator (having accessed all lighting options) due to wet weather I had to spend the same sum of money again for a continuation of the shoot. This meant twice as much was spent, a combination of bad luck with weather and not adjusting the schedule to accommodate for the forecasts.

Miscellaneous

There was nothing unexpected in this section of the budget, unfortunately lost kit resulted in spending a little more than hoped.

Remaining Funds

£40.43 remains in the budget. This will go towards fulfilling the Kickstarter rewards (e.g. DVDs), and anything left other following this shall go towards the release of the film. I am not certain where this film will go following the UWE degree show, I am leaving this as a verdict to be made by the Directors.

Budget Summary

Overall I am extremely happy with the state of finances for the production. There should have been a precise plan on where to spend exact sums of money, this way I could have gotten a good grasp with the budget as soon as production began. Instead I found myself catching up with the funds and having to adapt to what money was available. This has made me learn the importance of planning the finance, but at the same time it has enabled me to adapt to situations, problem solve, and continue to work the finances throughout production so everything requested by the directors could be fulfilled.

The only major errors in spending came down to errors in production, unfortunately beyond our power. The weather meant we had to re-hire the generator, and accommodating for a reshoot removed any additional funds Nathan was going to put into the films release. Minus this spending everything kept to the core idea behind financing the film; get as much money as possible on the screen.

I may have generated more work then I actually needed by working with a flexible budget, but despite everything I have successfully delivered the intended final production to the allotted budget. This reason alone makes me extremely happy with the state of finances.