First After Effects animation made with Shroom Studios

29 Apr

I’ve always wanted a branded intro to my films. But wanting an animation and doing an animation are two different things. However, with a little bit of luck and networking I finally found a way to achieve that. Cue Music. Enter Christos and Alex Hatjoullis from Shroom Studio in London Fields, Hackney, London.

Now a question: Have you ever considered how long does it take to make a 1 second of animation?

I clearly had no idea. But in the case of the clip below (in loop) it took about 4.5 hours!!! 4.5 hours for one tiny second of a character jumping ! And that was ONLY because I had very detailed instructions and guidance from Alex Hatjoullis, who is a professional animator. I would have probably spent weeks, if not months, trying to work out how to do it myself.

Mally-27th-April--Anima-Jumping-loop-HS

All we started with, was this drawing of a character (below) Alex made after I told him about my idea for an animated sequence. How cute is she, right? A week and a one long After Effects lesson later, she is now bouncing from a trampoline and in the next few weeks she is due to do some other acrobatics too :).

Mallywini by Shroom Studio

Alex paid attention to the final detail. Just notice how her skirt lifts up and goes down and how her body stretches just that tiny bit at the top of the jump. No wonder. After all, I was working with true professionals.

Alex and his brother Christos, who I am lucky to have as my mentor at ZeroOne Creative Hub, have nearly 15 years of experience in branding and animation. They formed Shroom Studios in 2001 and since then worked on an overwhelming amount of projects, from independent art films to documentaries, commercials and political or social campaigns. They had worked commissioned by BBC and Channel 4 and their unique style of presenting content and animation style have been recreated by other animation companies.

Click on the logo to go to their website. There you will find examples of their work together with a blog, where Christos shares some of his and his brother’s favourite animations from all over the world. Shroom Studio

I got to respect and like both brothers very much.  They are both humble and generous in sharing their knowledge and helping others. They are also extremely involved within their community and value their small-business clients just as much, if not tiny bit more, as the bigger companies. They are also incredibly creative and together have an overwhelming amount of hobbies. Christos, I believe, is topping up the scale with his photography of dead insects, music composition, contemporary dance practice and even trampolining, which came very useful in designing our character’s movements. Moreover, they are both appreciative of their family and incredibly proud of their dad’s art work, who despite his advanced age still makes extremely detailed artwork on linoleum. Take a look on the photo where Alex is holding his collection of moths. Prints of their Dad’s artwork can be seen in the background. And check out Christos’ photograph of dead insects. He collects them, keeps them for years and photographs the decomposition process. Death and decay turned into beauty. A true artist.

Christos Hatjoullis from Shroom Studio and his photographs of dead insects

Christos Hatjoullis from Shroom Studio and his photographs of dead insects

Alex and his collection of moths. In the back, prints of their dad's artwork

Alex Hatjoullis and his collection of moths. In the back, prints of their dad’s artwork

I thoroughly enjoyed learning After Effects with Alex. So much so in fact, that I was still buzzing the whole of next day.

What’s more, in the breaks, Alex kept feeding my already overexcited head with inspirations for my other animation sequences. The one I had in mind for the PolinArts, the documentary about Polish Artists in London… Yes, yes, this project is still in progress. I’m clearly not a rabbit when it comes to finishing my projects. I am a turtle; but I will get to the end of the race… Eventually.

New project full of magic: “Hackney Fairy Tale”

23 Apr

I haven’t been writing anything for a while, but today is THE DAY, the day when I’m happily going back to posting.

I’m sitting in one of the local cafes, Lazy Social. It’s a lazy place in its best possible meaning. The large windows let in the sunlight reflected by shiny surfaces of old-school desks. The 60-70’s music coming from the speakers create a very relaxed atmosphere full of positive vibes. A strong and delicious coffee served in dotted cups fills the veins with excitement and new ideas…

I’ve been working on a new project for some time now. Originally it was supposed to be a panto- inspired story but very soon more serious themes started emerging and now the “Hackney Fairy Tale” is being developed as an urban fairytale with elements of magical realism. The idea is to explore the strengths and values of female characters, which traditionally were rewarded for simply being beautiful and not-given much credit for their intellect or any other skills.

This project is already full of magic. As soon as I decided to use Cinderella as a basis for one of the stories, I suddenly found an abandoned slipper on one of the streets of Central London. No. I’m not kidding. What’s more, a friend I invited to develop the script with me, found one too.

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Then I opened an email from one of the Meet Up groups. I usually don’t have to time to even check my group mails, so I found it very telling that the only email I actually read was inviting me to an Immersive theatre show based on… guess!… exactly: Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales.

The show was performed over 4 rooms adapted to 4 different tales. There were talented actors, wonderfully crafted puppets, realistic costumes and plenty of creatively adapted corners and hidden rooms to immerse oneself in a fair tale world.

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There was of course also a slipper. There had to be a slipper!

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“Where is Harry?”-an award winning short film- finally online!

3 Sep

Nearly two and a half years ago I took a risk and sent one of my treatments to the Allegro Short Lab competition organised by the Off-Plus Camera International Film Festival in Krakow (Poland). Two weeks later I received a message that I was shortlisted and together with 5 other hopefulls invited to a weekend long workshops, where we had an opportunity to discuss and develop our projects with the help of the industry-professionals. After that, we were given 5 weeks to complete the films. That meant 5 weeks to write a script, cast actors, find crew, find locations, shoot and edit the film. Not much considering I held a full time job at the same time. However, it wasn’t the first time that I proved to myself that the more things I had to do, the more efficient and organised I suddenly became. Plus, I had never been so determined and so hopeful to win a competition as I was while making “Where is Harry?”.

All that determination and hard work paid off. Despite some expected “unexpected difficulties” the film was completed on time. The edit was finished and uploaded 5 minutes before the deadline. And during the festival’s Opening Ceremony, I was announced as the winner. “Where is Harry?” won the first prize!

Since Krakow, the film was shown in Koszalin (Poland), London (United Kingdom) and Los Angeles (USA).Today it is being sent out there- to the wider public. Enjoy! And if you like it, share it with others, like it on Facebook or post a comment here.

For more information about the film, cast and crew please visit its FB page or http://mallywinifilms.com/projects/where-is-harry/

 

My “PolinArts…” accepted to the Dragon Forum 2014!

25 Apr

Thought I haven’t been doing much lately! You couldn’t be more wrong. :-)

Even though the blog has not been visited much, I didn’t stop being busy. I have recently directed and filmed several film sections for a stage play ‘The boiling point’, produced by Give It Some Room. (more on this with pictures in my next post)

In the meantime, I continued working on ” PolinArts…”. I’m pleased to announced we got some good news, recently!

Our project got accepted to the Dragon Forum 2014, training program for development and marketing of documentary films.  Each year, Dragon Forum takes place at the end of May as part of the Krakow Film Festival and this year is no exception.

We applied for it literally at the last minute, so we were even more glad when we found out that we were 1 out of 15 projects chosen by the Dragon Forum’s panel! You can imagine that excitement we felt when we got the confirming email!Dragon Forum Logo

No wonder! Participation in this project will give us a chance to pitch the film in front of the European commissioners.

Believe it or not, but that’s not the end of good news! Somehow, things work in our favour, and we just found out that the special guest of 54. Krakow Film Festival is United Kingdom. What a coincidence, right!?  For us, this means that Dragon Forum will have decision makers associated with Channel 4 and BBC in the panel.  How funny and amazing at the same time, would be to get one of these TV stations to back our project!? But you never know, Dragon Forum can open the doors for us.  The forum’s website says  “We hope that it [the presence of the above guests] will turn into long-term and fruitful cooperation”; we hope that too! Very much so…

 

This year, it will be us standing on that floor and pitching our hearts out

This year, it will be us standing on that floor and pitching our hearts out

However, this development brings us back to the necessity of having a proper producer on board. Somebody ( ideally a company) who can handle the legal and financial aspects of the film’s production and distribution. We have two weeks to find such person/ company as we need to pay for our participation by 9th May. So the hunt begins…

Our strategy is simple:

1. Finish the trailer and make sure it has the Polish and English subtitles (which I’m nearly done with and my friend, Norma, offered to proof-read)

2. Translate the proposal, so it’s ready to be sent out in both languages (Kasia and I are already working on the Polish translation; Fraser and Norma soon to be polishing the English version)

3. Use the list of companies (put together by Valeria)  who in the past submitted independent documentaries to the Sheffield Documentary Festival and ask for meetings…

4. Get the marketing team going so we can create some buzz before the workshops (that will include be Anna-Jane, Ben, Andy, Carolyn and Bartosz, with his technical crew)

Aiste, as always, we hope, will be overlooking and helping out with this “simple” yet complicated procedure.

Please keep your fingers crossed!

Dragon Forum is held in this beautiful, historical city

Dragon Forum is held in this beautiful, historical city

PolinArts on twitter

31 Mar

Exciting time for “PolinArts…”. I have now 12 new collaborators, who are helping with various tasks of the production process. Just yesterday two new young members joined the team. The trailer for the documentary is nearly finished… I’m thinking- we are rocking!

With so much excitement, the time has come for “PolinArts…” to go global and let the the World know about its existence. So last week we set up a twitter account, just for this project.

Please follow us @PolinArts and spread the word about our project. In return we will spread the love for Polish arts and artists in London.

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Making of video- ‘Karma': about hate, homophobia and…

18 Mar

Last year in November, I went for a drink with a friend of mine with the intention of arranging a GoPro camera for my project the ‘PolinArts….’. Little did I know that Jarek was also meeting two other people, Bartek and Michal, for a preproduction of their short film ‘Karma’.  I decided to stay and join the discussion. Two beers later, I got myself agreeing to filming and editing a ‘making of video for’ them… 3 months after that, the video is finally finished :)

‘Karma’, as its co-writer and director Bartosz Dzidowski explains, is a short film about hate, racism, homophobia, violence and.. ..love. Quite intriguing, especially that the main characters are two skinheads…

The film was shot over two days, but I could only attend the first one. However, regardless of that, I got some pretty decent footage on that day. During the editing, I was positively surprised by the footage I got from filming the boy’s meeting by the GoPro camera. Considering that there was no output, which meant I had no idea if I was pointing it the right direction- it came up pretty well. The rest of the footage was taken by my small Sony H-SR camera.

Check out the video if you have 3 minutes to spare:

Below, is a link to the original film:

“The Closure”: Adapting Theatre to Film and Writing for Low Budget

19 Feb

Even though I have been recently very busy with the documentary, I have not forgotten about all those fiction projects that have been dusting in the drawers. So with the days getting that bit longer and some sun coming my way, I started itching to do some story led film.

Making a low- or more precisely no-budget movie is an art on its own. The path to success is laid with a number of obstructions, mostly due to the lack of money.

One of the project I was considering was a short theatre play I directed over a year ago and had been planning to adapt for a screen ever since. The writer, Doc Watson, made an awesome job by setting the action in one room, a large, empty basement. A genius concept for a theatre play. No furniture, limited props, open space. Brilliant. Yet, for a short film you need to have an actual large and empty basement, which is not so common, especially in London, where every square meter is utilised for accomodation. Not to mention that getting it for free is nearly impossible.  This was mainly why I hadn’t had a chance of making the film so far. However, this time I was very lucky as I found out that one of my recently made friends had an access to a large basement and an empty house for sale. Perfect! That was exactly what I needed.

Without much thinking, my talented cinematographer and a friend Martyna and I set up a very short deadline and sent out casting calls. One would ask why I needed to cast again, having worked on the play before. Well, I was very pleased with my actors who took part in the theatre production,but the idea I had for film called for different physical appearance of both actors. This just shows how what a difficult and ungrateful profession acting can be.

As our posts are being verified and approved by casting websites and we can start receiving applications from actors (fingers crossed!), I have time to adapt the script to a screenplay.
A theatre play usually requires more dialog than a screenplay. In film characters’ thoughts or emotions can be communicated through specific images that are impossible to create on a stage. Visualising the possible shots can be dangerously exciting and it’s easy to go wild. Unfortunately, writing for low budget requires following certain rules.

Kim Simone and Mark Postgate in 'Closure' by Doc Watson, directed by me

Kim Simone and Mark Postgate in ‘Closure’ by Doc Watson, directed by me

Yet, right at the beginning of the work, I nearly made a classic mistake by plotting the action in too many locations. Luckily, I stopped myself as soon as I wrote the first scene. Careful, not too waste my time again, I looked up at some online articles about the topic of writing for low-budget. I linked them up for you at the bottom of this post.

Here is our casting post for The Closure:
‘The Closure’ is a story of a man hunted by his relative’s crime. It asks a question about the dark side of a human mind and how much of it we share with our family.
 
Mr Willis, Male, 35-55
At first, Mr Willis comes across as confident, powerful man. Yet as the story develops he reveals a troubled psyche and ill fascination with his relative’s past actions that mades him question his own sanity. This is a great and challenging role for a male actor. It requires a wide range of emotions presented in a short time. An actor playing this role needs to be able to ooze the cold and threatening confidence of Hannibal Lecter, dangerous innocence of Norman Bates and break down to child-like sobs at the end. A striking physics would be an advantage.

Anna Smith, Female, 20-35 

Anna is a young and a bit too eager to succeed estate agent. Tempted by a potential quick sale and large bonus, she falls into the trap of a kidnaper. This role requires an actress with a mixture of subtle comic skills and an ability to present believable and complex emotional responses to the threat her character is under.

This production company has signed up to the <a href=’http://www.protectingactors.org/terms.php’>Protecting Actors Casting Agreement</a>, helping to ensure all actors involved receive a copy of the final footage in a timely fashion.

Protecting Actors : SHIELD:5295
<a href=’http://www.protectingactors.org/production.php?uid=5295′><img src=’http://www.protectingactors.org/img/badge.jpg&#8217; width=”200″ height=”76″></a>

Here are few ARTICLES about WRITING FOR LOW- BUDGET FILMS:

Writing scripts for a low budget features: Reservoir Dogs as a Model by Script Teach

8 Secrets to Writing a Low Budget Screenplay by ZedFest

And about ADAPTING FOR FILM:

Adapting from Theatre to Film by Mikuro.Mak-Sima

20 Greatest Stage to Screen Adaptations by GeekWeek

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