Discover and Learn From a Peer’s Journey: from Writing to Releasing the No Budget Short ‘Setback’
I’m very happy to introduce you today to Bulent Ozdemir, aka @RumbleGum, a fellow filmmaker based in London who released online his short film Setback a week ago. After watching it, I talked a little bit with Bulent about his story and found myself curious to know more about his overall process. I offered him to share with story with all of us and he kindly accepted not only to talk about his process, but also to share what he learned on the way that helped him finish his short film.
Discover Bulent’s journey and watch Setback below:
Setback (Short Film)
“I had bathed in fire and that fire had bathed in me.”
Hey guys, my name’s Bulent Ozdemir and I’m the writer, producer, director and editor of the psychological thriller Setback (2011). This no budget short film tells the story of a man who finds himself locked up and protesting of his innocence for the brutal murder of a young female.
Like many of you out there, I too am a self-taught independent filmmaker. My filmmaking journey started when I left my 13 years day job as an Insurance Broker back in 2010. So I find it kind of fitting to write this post for a blog called ‘Mentorless’ 🙂 Thank you, Nathalie, for suggesting the idea.
Today I’ll be touching on my script to screen process for Setback, my very first collaborative short film. I’ll try to be as thorough as I can.
The Writing Process:
I’m one of those people who write and let the story/character/conflict unfold as I go along. This is good, up to a certain point. After that, I need to figure the shit out properly. Two important factors that helped me were:
- The ‘What If’ factor.
- Knowing the ending.
For Setback I wanted to create a multilayered story that started with this germ of an idea: “What if a man is stopped by a female whilst walking to work.”
What if that female asks for help? What if the man is too busy to help? What if the female pleads a little? What if the man finally agrees to help and then, What if the female says something totally unexpected? It’s all about creating conflict. By the time I went through this process, I knew my ending.
Once the script was completed, I broke each paragraph down into storyboard drawings an 8 year old would be proud of:
As you can see, I wasn’t too hung up on my drawing technique. What I was hung up on was camera movements. I knew from the off-set that the camera had to move with purpose in order to serve the story rather than move for the sake of moving. What I couldn’t wrap my head around was the best way to compose those movements.
Here’s what I learned. There are only ever TWO shots in a film. A WIDE and a CLOSE. That’s it. The rest are variations based on how each individual wants to tell their story. A good thing to bare in mind.
Cast and Crew:
For Setback, I searched through all social media venues in order to find my peeps, and then interviewed them in person. I feel it’s important to meet people face to face in order to get a sense of how you’ll get along on set. Very important when shit hits the fan. And it will.
Keep In Mind — There are a lot of talented individuals out there who will help you shoot your film. You may not have the money to pay them a wage, but at the very least, they must be fed and watered. Must.
Two weeks prior to the shoot, I arranged a meet up with my actors (in a park). We had a little chat about the script then I walked them through the scenes. No pressure. Once everyone was happy with what they were doing, I recorded the (storyboard) scenes on my phone. Again; no pressure. Later I put together an edit of the session (with basic sound effects) and send it to everyone. That way, they could see how the story would play out visually.
Aka Judgement Day. From what I remember, everything kind of blurred up in my mind. It’s amazing how quickly things cloud over when shooting your very first collaborative short!
The key thing for me was to remain calm and confident. Having dealt with individuals throughout my office life, it was essential that, at the very least, I looked and sounded like I knew what I was talking about. Even if in that precise moment, I didn’t.
Here’s what I learned. It’s important to follow a shooting schedule, factor in set up/shoot times and make sure you follow either a shot list or a storyboard. It’ll be hard to concentrate on the day, so anything to make life easier for you is a gift from the gods. Trust me.
I edited Setback on a 2007 PC with Sony Vegas Pro. It was a ridiculously poor setup both in terms of hardware and software.
Something I did then, and will always do, is to edit with all the sound OFF. I feel it’s important to understand a film’s storyline with just the visuals. Other than that, the rest of the edit was done with my gut. No, not literally. It sounds silly, I know, but the beats of a cut are something I felt my way through. Call it instinct. There’s no other way I can explain it.
Once the edit was locked, I sent the video file over to my composer then carried on with the colour grade. Once the score was completed, I synced everything up and rendered it out as an MP4. That’s it. Setback was born 🙂
(Side Note: I manually synced all the external audio for Setback.)
Don’t know about you, but I’m worn out!
I hope this post is of some help to you guys. Filmmaking is not an easy process, but the feeling of bringing your story to life is priceless. Go out their and make it happen, people.
Watch Bulent’s short and share your own experience shooting a short or leave him a comment below:
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check the archives for a taste of it.