The joy of screenwriting

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I’ve been toying with screenwriting for years without actually finishing anything, until we started Zolascope. The first full-length works of fiction I completed were two novels, Lady Caine and Black Project. So when I came back to screenwriting with renewed seriousness it was with a sense of discovery and surprise. Writing screenplays (long or short) is entirely different from writing… Read more »

It’s a wrap … but it ain’t over

On Wednesday we finally wrapped on The Garden. For a short film it’s been a long haul, with principle photography having started back in February. But now the hard work really begins. It’s also when a lot of the fun begins. Editing is painstaking work, but it’s where the movie really gets made. At the moment, we’re in the process of… Read more »

Essential software for independent film-makers

Software is crucial to every aspect of film-making these days. I’m making no claim that this is the best software, or even the best example of each type. What I am saying is that this is the software we use at Zolascope, and we’ve decided on these packages for good reasons. (Disclaimer: we have no connection to any of these… Read more »

How would Shakespeare shoot it?

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Cuts need to be motivated. That’s one of the first things you learn about filmmaking. There has to be a reason for every edit. Often it’s speech. In reverses, for example, where you’re shooting a dialogue between two people, you’ll hear the off-camera person’s voice a fraction of a section before you cut to show their face (ie, a J-cut)…. Read more »

Leaving space for creativity

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How big a crew do you need? For us, that’s less of an issue than how big a crew we can get, but all the same… As zero-budget filmmakers, we’re dependent on the enthusiasm and goodwill of people to get our films made. I understand that not everyone is as crazy (and I use that word advisedly) about making films as I… Read more »

You’re never alone with a film crew…

Is there a fine line between reality and fantasy? Not really. They are two different worlds. Take the following still from our latest movie, Cigarette. It’s an image of a woman utterly alone, isolated in her own personal hell. And here’s a picture of the filming of that shot. Not quite the same atmosphere, is it? As Brian de Palma… Read more »

Perfectionism or gloss?

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A recent article on the BBC website treads the old, familiar territory of film directors as tyrants. In particular, the piece talks about the habit of some directors – such as Stanley Kubrick, Charlie Chaplin, David Fincher and Ridley Scott – of demanding dozens of takes to get the shot ‘just right’. The article gently nudges you towards the conclusion that… Read more »

Cheating in screenwriting

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There’s been something of an interesting debate in an online forum for filmmakers I frequent. One member asked it it’s sloppy story telling if characters suddenly seem to be possessed of crucial knowledge without showing how they came by it. You know the sort of thing – a protagonist or antagonist suddenly turns up at the home/office/lair of another character leaving… Read more »

10 best movies about making movies

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The filmmaking world is nothing if not narcissistic, so it’s not surprising that there are many movies about the movie business. This list is just a small selection, but includes some of my favourites – hence the ’10 best’ claim. Obviously, your list might be somewhat different… 😉 Living in Oblivion A favourite of many an indie filmmaker. We’re on set… Read more »

Is sound half the movie?

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There’s a pithy saying you often see bandied about in film-making forums – sound is half the movie. The truth, as ever, is far more nuanced and complex than that bumper-sticker aphorism allows, but it’s true in at least one respect: just as with the cinematography, the audio element of the film needs to be executed to a certain minimum… Read more »

Cigarette – the trailer

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Our most recent short film, Cigarette, now has a trailer. You can watch it on Vimeo or via the movie’s page on this site. Creating a trailer is always a fascinating experience. In this case, I had to boil down a 13 minute narrative into 40 seconds (including credits), capturing the mood of the film without giving away too much detail…. Read more »

10 invaluable tools for independent, low-budget film-makers

So, you’ve got a camera, a mic and a sound recorder. Hmm, what else do you need to make a movie? The answer, of course, is ‘lots of stuff’. The buying never ends. Even short films require a surprisingly large amount of equipment. But every now and then you look at something you’ve bought – often something inexpensive – and think,… Read more »