A Review of Starburst International Film Festival

After some issues with my internet yesterday I can finally post this review…

The film festival was on from Friday 26 August till Sunday 28 August, I accidentally came across it through a Twitter post. As an aspiring film maker I thought this would be my chance to get to see some great Indie work, make some contacts,  learn something. So we booked our flight to Manchester, got up at 4:30am on the Saturday and spent two days at the festival before returning late Sunday evening.

Starburst Toby Withouse

I attended talks from Peter Beale (20th Century Fox producer who worked on Star Wars and Alien), John Glen (Director of James Bond movies), and Toby Whithouse (screenwriter of Dr Who episodes, Torchwood and Being Human). I liked the talk with Whithouse best as he was the most ‘down to earth’ person and easy to talk to. Peter Beale repeated 3/4 of his anecdotes the next day and blew off my question about the amount of interaction of a director and editor in post-production, but spent at least five minutes explaining what a line producer does when a guy asked that question (the answer can be found in any book on film making) . Maybe I should have asked John Glen… We saw some indie shorts and feature films, did some workshops on comics and played games on the top floor, where the kids (happily!) spent 95% of their time.

The organisers have a bit to learn about how to hold such a big event, like planning in some breaks and giving speakers comfortable seats and clip-on microphones (instead of noisy hand-held ones). There was so much to see and do, but there were no breaks! This meant that we had no time to talk to the movie makers, make contacts, and learn from their experience first-hand. I thought that was a great miss as this was the main reason I travelled all the way to Manchester.

Watching the indie movies of other amateurs was a great lesson though and I learned a lot. I will name a few:

  • Don’t film while walking (unless you have a stabilizer)
  • Do voice overs after filming in a moving car (too noisy)
  • Shoot from different angles while filming a conversation (to break up monotony)
  • Don’t film shadows (on walls or other people)
  • Film the faces of people talking (or make sure it’s clear who’s talking)
  • Don’t do actions too fast (actor actions or panning a scene)
  • Don’t cut sounds abruptly at the end of a scene (let them run over a bit in the next scene)
  • Use non-shiny make-up
  • Beware of reflections!

All in all it was a great experience and a fun filled weekend!

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