And here is the final stretch of my degree presented in the form of my two films that I have produced this year:
‘The Sea Room’ (2016): Experimental Documentary
In this poetic documentary set by the shores of the Baltic Sea, Jonas and Aiste, a couple from Lithuania, share and explore their memories from the first day they met and fell in love, through a mixture of archival footage and on-location recordings.
Lived by: Aistė Jucytė and Jonas Urvakis;
Director & Editor: Jonas Urvakis;
Producer: Rita Santos;
Cinematography & Colourist: Sara Roque Peres;
Sound: Zilvinas Puras;
Score: Denis Mikhailov.
‘Bad Coffee’ (2016): Mental health drama
SYNOPSIS: Violet “Tuck” Tucker, a veteran in a Depression Alliance group, meets Ashley Conway, a troubled young woman, and together go on a journey of love, losing control and acceptance.
Producer: Rita Santos;
Director: Andrija Petkeviciute;
Director of Photography: Nathalie Pitters;
1st ACs: Jonas Urvakis, Filippo Locatelli;
Camera Operator: Katrina Ytteborg;
Sound recordist & Sound design: Peter Williams;
Music composer: Tom Kopca;
SFX Makeup Artist: Iulia Roman;
1st AD: Catarina Ribeiro;
Production Assistant: Amnah Pervaiz;
Set design: Rita Santos; Amnah Pervaiz;
Editor: Mariana Valente;
Ashley SFX: Lucia Gilibert;
Colourist: Dominika Besińska.
Evangeline Beaven as Violet “Tuck” Tucker
Roseanna Frascona as Ashley Conway
Simon Christian as Barry
Our post-production, as was part of our production days, was filled with adversities thrown at us from various ways.
The first cut of the film took about two weeks to be done and that mixed with the score being composed at the same time, set us off to a good start.
But after the film was locked, for the 12 minute version, the problems with sound design started as our sound recordist, Peter, was nearly always busy with other projects to be able to fully commit to helping us with our sound. This was not his fault, but it meant we had to work around the clock to try and get the sound design worked through as quickly as possible.
After multiple sessions with Peter, we finally managed to get the final design done alongside the score of the film although there were still some technical aspects that we will work on for the longer version of the film, as that will be the one we will send off to festivals in the near future.
In regards to colour grade, our first option for a grader for our project was Jonas, who was our 1st AC on set, but due to last minute commitments he was unable to do it so I had to quickly find a new option. Thankfully, I found Dominika, who is from 2nd year in the BA Film course, and she was available and interested in the project which I was very glad about.
Her showreel proved that she was a good option and we soon started to discuss what we intended the colour grade to be like. The grade took another two weeks and Dominika was a great addition to the team and even though she came into the project late, she still embraced it as if she had been there from the start.
Overall, I had a lot more post-production issues with this film in comparison to “The Sea Room” but I honestly wouldn’t have had it any other way. It’s been quite the ride and I am proud of it and of all the people that poured their love into it.
Today we finally presented the first 18 minutes cut of our film to the people in our degree, including the tutors. Our film was the last one of the day, which was slightly annoying since nobody ever wants to be last in anything in life, really.
But as soon as our film started playing the room went completely silent and I started to feel a mixture of proudness and anxiety for what was to come in the form of criticism.
For me it’s always hard to listen to people criticize a film I’ve done because it’s almost like they are criticizing my child and it’s hard to hear at times.
But alas, after the film was screened everyone clapped with made the anxiety dissipate as at least I knew that the worst part was over.
As the reviews started being said aloud, what most people agreed upon was that the cinematography was very good and that the choice in the actresses chosen for the roles was a good one, which made me very happy that the emotion came across as myself and Andrija wanted it to.
But the thing that was said the most was that, my peers, thought the story development happened at too fast of a pace and that the Tuck and Ashley fall in love too quickly and then break up too quickly, as well. Which, after hearing the same opinion by multiple other people, made me realise they they were right. It does happen too fast and no indication of what the characters’ relationship was like before they broke up is seen.
This made myself and Andrija have a discussion about how we intend to eventually do a new shoot day where we could film a montage sequence of different activities and places Tuck and Ashley have been as a couple as that will offer more depth to their tragic love story.
Alas, we will need to see when we’ll be able to shoot it as Andrija is soon leaving for Germany for one month and the actresses are both very busy with theatre plays, they are both participating in. So we will either shoot it before Andrija leaves or we will do so after our degree is complete and we will do so to add onto our film for the festivals we will send it to.
After having discussed how my sound composer found me on social media, for my film “The Sea Room”, a very similar story happened to my drama film with Andrija, tilted “Bad Coffee”.
Andrija had posted, on her personal Twitter page, that we were about to start looking into music composers and through that a composer called Tom, approached us as he has seen our film’s Instagram page and was interested to know if we’d be interested to have in on board.
This same day, we received his tweet, we organized a quick Skype call to assess if he was actually interested in the project and to discuss our ideas for the sound in the film and how his own professional journey has been.
Our call lasted for only about 10 minutes but afterwards, myself and Andrija felt very confident that he was our guy and that we could now shift our attention from the image to the sound as we wanted it to help mould the story into what it will become.
But overall, both of my experiences with finding sound composers (or them finding me!) has just enhanced my notion of how important online marketing and publicity really is and how it can bring people together for a project, no matter the distance between us.
Today was our last ever shoot day for our film! It was quite emotional but also a happy moment because it meant that after months of battling to have the film done and done properly, it was now time to move onto post-production.
The day began with all of the cast and crew back in the same classroom that we shot in, in Day 1, as we needed to still do a quick reshoot as well as film another scene we didn’t manage to have time for during our first shoot day.
The biggest different today was that because we all knew what to expect of the location and the scenes we were going to film, was that it enabled all of us to move quicker and with more precision when it came to the set-up and consequent filming of what was left of the classroom scene, once more.
Although we started off moving quicker, we still stayed in the location for a bit longer than anticipated so we had to quickly pack so that we could move to the exterior park location, situated in Sunny Hill Park, so that we could film the last scene in the film. The scene where Tuck and Ashley admit to have feelings for one and other and they share their second kiss.
That part of the shoot went smoother than we all anticipated and working with the dolly and tracks was easily done as the ground it was placed on didn’t have as many bumps as we had thought and the lighting from the street lamp balanced out nicely with the colour temperature of our portable LED lights.
Overall, today was a great last shoot day and by the time we wrapped at 2am, we were quite exhausted but ecstatic to have done a project that all of us love and deeply care about. I can honestly say that I had the best people and the best crew and cast working on this particular film and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Now onwards to the eminent rough cut screening to the people in our degree and the final year screening in July.
This morning was a very early start as we came at 8am but we all had to leave our house at 6am to be able to be on set on time, so everyone needed a strong cup of coffee to help to get things going faster.
We quickly moved into to shooting the breakup scene between the two main characters so we could have that completely done long before we needed to leave the house so the tenant could come in to quickly check the house before the next clients.
Thankfully we finished in time, although barely, and managed to pack everything fairly quick whilst giving a quick sweep of the house to make sure that everything was a clean as possible before leaving.
We then moved to a pub called “The Durell Arms” where we would shoot our coffee shop scenes with our two protagonists.
What was supposed to be a a shoot to wrap at 5pm, it ended at 11pm because of various different types of adversities that ranged from the obvious noise of clients in the opposite side of the pub, mixed with music blaring from the speakers to a low but distinguishable sound of a heater and the chattering between the extras that liked to talk amongst themselves when the cameras were actually rolling. So it was a hard day because of that.
Then because of the rehearsals, setting up and change of clothes, also contributed to the long overdue wrap for the day.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable experience because I managed to set design, along with Amnah, the location to make it look more like a coffee shop which was quite fun to add another “hat” alongside the Producer one. As well as the staff working there were absolute rockstars for being so understanding of our filming to the point that they accommodated us to not have music on in the pub for 3 hours whilst they had customers in and for not kicking us out when our shoot overran. The crew continued to be brilliant today as well as the cast.
I really feel like these struggles have only enhanced my passion for the craft and the respect I have for all those involved in making a film, any film, happen.