Mercy Henderson-Scarlett is one of the participants on our sixth BFI Film Academy. Having almost completed their short film Pushing Buttons, we asked Mercy to reflect on her time on the shoot and in the academy…
When I found out I had gotten onto the BFI Film Academy course I was extremely excited. Not only at the prospect of furthering my knowledge about the industry but that I was going to meet other aspiring filmmakers who also share my passion. The first session we had was film theory. It is in these sessions that we learnt about the origins of film and how film has progressed through the development of technology. We also discussed the different genres/styles within the film industry (i.e Old Hollywood/New Hollywood) and debated our ideas surrounding topics such as auteur theory (when a director controls all aspects of a collaborative, creative work). Not only does film theory help expand my pre-existing knowledge, it also furthers my knowledge in wider aspects of the film industry such as learning about film movements. It is extremely fascinating learning about how politics and film are intrinsically connected and how individuals exercise their own political stance through creativity.
We then began to work on our own film using different sources of media to come up with a narrative. As a group, we decided that we were interested in portraying the different relationships between different people in everyday mundane life. However, to make the project feel more like our own, we settled on adding a touch of surrealism and manipulating the concept of time, hence, the film is forever set in a lift. We were then paired off and each of us given a different character to write a section of the script. This was extremely enjoyable creating the different dynamics between each character and being in control of moulding their personality and shaping their characteristics. Once we were done storyboarding and scriptwriting we then began to move onto the more technical aspects of filmmaking.
Personally, I have never made a film before so it was extremely challenging working with the equipment and understanding how to use it successfully. Fortunately, John, Dean and Bart were extremely helpful and really supported us as a group whenever we were unsure. Now I have gained experience of directing and editing a short film which is an amazing achievement to gain. My favourite part of filmmaking, however, has been helping Ally with the production design of the film. By decorating the set and deciding which costume fits the character the best makes the film more cohesive and really builds on the overall aesthetic. Pushing Buttons had a surrealistic nature and style and so there were hardly any limitations as to what the characters could wear. This enabled us to break tradition and contrast colour palettes and patterns.
Now we are near the completion of our film but we are yet to add the film’s soundtrack or finish the editing of Pushing Buttons. I’m extremely excited to see how these two factors contribute to the ambiance of our film and cannot wait to see the final product!
Find out more about our BFI Film Academy, head here.
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