Capturing a sense of place in sound as well as vision is something we strive for. We’ve recently had the pleasure of working with two ‘special’ contributors. It’s been a very rewarding experience for our team and we’ve learnt a lot. Meet Chris and James.
Additional Sound, Chris Watson
Chris Watson, one of the world’s leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena. His television work includes many programmes in the David Attenborough ‘Life’ series including ‘The Life of Birds’ which won a BAFTA Award for ‘Best Factual Sound’ in 1996. More recently Chris was the location sound recordist with David Attenborough on the BBC’s series ‘Frozen Planet’ which won a BAFTA Award for ‘Best Factual Sound’ (2012). Chris has provided us with additional sounds specific to our location and advised us on issues relating to sound design.
Composer, James Burrell
James Burrell is a London based composer, songwriter and music producer, specialising in children’s television, feature documentary films and the development of recording artists. His track record, particular empathy with our film and his sensitive approach towards bespoke composition for the moving image attracted us to work with him. It’s the first time we’ve worked with a composer.
The Addicted to Sheep team have been working hard for a long time on our indie feature length documentary. It’s time to introduce ourselves.
Directed & Filmed by Magali Pettier
I’m a farmer’s daughter, originally from Brittany but have lived in the UK for over 14 years. I’ve worked in the industry for over a decade but Addicted to Sheep is my debut feature and has been a passion project. I filmed for 18 months, mostly self-funded to make sure the day-to-day reality of farming and being brought up on a farm were as authentic as possible. No big crew, just me. I’ve discussed my motivation and approach to making this film in our press pack Q&A which you can read on our media page. Favourite Documentary The Story of the Weeping Camel by Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni.
Co-Produced by Jan Cawood, Tin Man Films
I’m a film-maker who loves a beautifully shot story. When I first saw the turkeys hung up on the wall I was hooked! I’ve got a film history/marketing background and know good things when I see them. It’s been a pleasure getting to reach out to funders and audiences and being involved in shaping the film too. We have high hopes for Addicted to Sheep and aim to screen at high profile film festivals in 2014/15. Favourite Documentary Grey Gardens by the Maysles Brothers.
Editor, Matt Dennis
After completing a degree in Fine Art, I began splicing film at the BBC many years ago. I’ve cut lots of films over the years but real storytelling is something which is a collaborative process. It’s like moulding clay, you get a shape and begin to build it up in an intuitive way. Since watching the footage I’ve also taken up dry stone walling! Favourite Documentary Etre et Avoir by Nicolas Philibert.
We’ve also recently had the pleasure of working with two very ‘Special’ Contributors. More about them coming soon.
Stats, Structure and Seasons
So much has happened we’ve kept a log of our approach so far. Stats 33 days observational filming over the course of 18 months. 62 hours of footage to view and notes made over the course of 2012/13. We’ve also edited trailers, pitched for funding and developed our website and reached out to our audience in between.
We’ve logged the footage which means we know where everything is – every cough, sniff and dog bark! We’ve even transcribed the formal and informal interviews (about 15 hrs in all) so it’s easy to find what we most like. We have one major lever arch file jammed full of notes to refer back to.
Winters in Upper Teesdale can be long and it feels the same in the footage. We’ve chosen to follow the four seasons largely because we want to tell the story of the sheep as well as the family and wider community. It’s hard to go from lambing to shearing if you don’t follow a seasonal order. We’ve chosen to tell the story from the children’s POV as much as the adults. Our family are at the centre but the wider community are interwoven throughout. The 15 pupils who attend one of the remotest schools in England are key to sharing the child’s POV. We learn from the children as much as the adults which give the film more depth. The seasonal order, the mix of adult and child’s POV and the story of the sheep makes for a very interconnected edit. Each dependent upon the other.
Mainly observational, small details speaking louder than words. We see the family at home on the farm, at auction sales, the children at school. We also meet people beyond the family, those who come to the farm and those in the wider community – at the annual community show and so forth. Filmed within the North Pennines, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty the interdependency of landscape, animals and people are obvious throughout.
The rough cut
From 62 hours we’ve now edited all the daily rushes and gone through a series of scene selections. From a 12 hour timeline of favourites we’ve gone down to 4 hours then built up the themes we want to share into a 2 hour rough assembly. The story begins in winter and ends in the autumn. So far it’s looking and feeling like a film. It’s exciting! – See more at: http://www.addictedtosheep.com/
It’s a great feeling. We’ve reached our goal thanks to all our supporters. If you wanted to be part of it but haven’t had the chance to yet, you still can!
There is a fine balance between asking too much or too little when running a crowd-funding campaign and we felt a £7,000 target was attainable, but we always thought we would need more funding later on in order to meet the final costs. So, if you want to be part of our journey and can still help us that would be really great.
As we have run the campaign from our own donate page on the Addicted to Sheep website we will keep our support page open for a while longer while we are editing the final film.
With about 8 weeks of post-production in front of us, we aim to complete the film by summer 2014. We’ll be posting weekly ‘tales from the edit’ so please keep checking on our progress and sign up for our newsletter on our home page to make sure you don’t miss anything. It would be really great if you could join us as we want you stay on our film-making journey all the way to the big screen!
We set out to raise £7K to complete our first indie feature-length documentary, Addicted to Sheep 2 weeks ago. With a three week campaign in mind, all from our own website to minimise admin fees, it’s been a steep learning curve, fun and frantic at times. We’re now moving into the final week and have learnt a lot! It’s about building an audience as much as raising the funds. Reaching out and raising awareness. Listening too.
There’s still time to be part of this very special film. Find out how you can be involved by visiting our website
With Addicted to Sheep, our first UK Indie feature documentary in post-production, it was great timing to join the inaugural webinar by Debra Zimmerman of Women Make Movies (WMM) on How to Navigate the International Festival Circuit.
Two and a half hours later, and armed with a follow-up email package, we’ve saved weeks of research and sleepless nights all from the comfort of my lap-top and armchair!
To summarize, here’s ten key takeaways from NAMAC and WMM’s Film Festival webinar:
1. Define your Goals
Every film-maker and film are intrinsically connected. Research the market and do your best for both in order to grow a profile, reach an audience and develop the relationships that will allow your film and career to sustain.
2. Create your Strategy
Create a watch list of festivals. Great resources include Festival Focus and Indiewire. Start with the A+++ festivals like Sundance and track back to create your own wish list. Premiere status is important so make sure you start with World, then International and Regional. It’s hard to do it in reverse.
3. Research is Queen
Look at genres, categories and types of festivals that best suit your film. Dig deep and read the Programmers’ and Jury profiles. Get specific and knowledgeable and try find the perfect fit. Look at what has been successful before and track the journey of similar films.
4. Timing is everything
You have 18 months to maximize your launch options. About two thirds of Festival programmes are filled before submissions are reviewed. Start early or better still, get someone to recommend your film on your behalf.
5. Get the right mix
Premiere status matters, it’s your launch pad so don’t give it away. Check the guidelines and prioritize submissions in the order and status of your best ‘fit’ preference.
6. Slow burn or a bird in the hand?
If you are approached to screen your film locally – call it a ‘sneak’ preview rather than a premiere. Otherwise take your time and work through your strategy.
7. Watch and Learn
Get to know programmers and successful films and track their journey and see what works. Ask for advice, support and recommendations along the way. Treat it as an opportunity to develop support and connections for the long-term.
8. Ask what a Festival can do for you?
It’s a two way process so be selective and make sure you get what you need to reach your goals. If you aren’t selected ask for feedback to trusted contacts and make adjustments to your approach.
9. Making a submission
Prepare quality marketing materials – photos or graphics that capture the story and catch your eye go in the catalogue. See Festival catalogues and tailor submissions for the end user.
10. Make it easy to promote
Once you are successful other festivals are likely to invite you to screen. Make sure your online content is up-to-date and everything you need in terms of press pack, trailer, poster (vertical is best) and a good Facebook page is ready to go.
So, finding the right fit between film and marketplace is key. A blanket approach won’t work.