What’s the story?

Three words that I saw on the back of a bus while driving yesterday. I think it was an ad for a radio station or something, but it got me thinking.

These three words are super important, and something I should keep asking myself all the time when working on a project. Does my choices serve the story? It can be framing, camera movement, colour, music, a cut in the edit. All of this plays a part of highlighting the most important aspect of my film: the story.

That’s all I had to say for today. What are some choices you have made to tell or highlight the story when working on a project? Would love to hear some examples in the comments.

– Morten

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Locked – Short – BTS

Locked from Morten Furre on Vimeo.

I really had a great time working on this short film. The idea came out of one of my house mates locking his key in his car. As any good film maker, I took advantage of the hilarious situation and made it into a short film. It worked out well, because my final assignment of the year was to shoot a scene that had most focus on the dialogue. This also gave me an opportunity to practice writing dialogue in general, and shoot in a way that told the story the best way possible.

One of the great things that I learned in the process was that having good actors is key. Both of my actors, Abby and Stennar, did an amazing job of rolling with the script, taking directions where needed and bringing the crucial natural aspect into the short. Their performance ended up being golden, leaving me with an easy job for the edit.

The other thing I learned and put a lot of thought into was the lighting and time of day I choose to shoot. I didn’t want to have any extra lights or even reflectors, but only go with what I had available. So I chose to shoot in the afternoon, and also in the shade, getting that nice and soft light.

To get into the technical side of things, I always like to challenge myself to use mostly the gear that I own myself. The whole short is shot on my beloved Canon 550D, using two prime lenses: Canon 50mm f1.4 (which I own) and a Canon 28mm f1.8 (which I borrowed from my friend Catrina, who also was my ‘soundie’). I have to say, I loved using the 28mm. On the 550, it really gave me that nice wide shot, the important two-shot of my actors and it still had the nice depth of field and quality to it. I used the 50mm on the Over-The-Shoulder shots, and close ups, which ended up looking really nice.

It’s funny, because for a long time I really didn’t like to use my 550d. I really wanted a new camera because I felt that the images I got from it was just horrible. But after learning to work around it’s weaknesses, and adding some sharpness/colour grading in post, I am getting more and more satisfied with the result that it produces.

Editing was a really fun experience as well. I tried to work even harder on timing the music and using it to back up the story and situation as it was unfolding. It didn’t get to advanced, but I just made some simple choices of having it start and stop at certain times. I also used DaVinci for the first time for colour grading. I’d been playing around with it before, but this time I actually did the whole correction and the grade in it. I really like DaVinci. As of now, it’s probably the best colour grading program out there for free, and the possibilities it gives is just amazing. The only thing that is annoying is the workflow from it to Premiere. But it’s easy enough to learn, so I would highly recommend it!

Well, that’s all I have to say. If you have any questions or comments on the film, please let me know! Would love to hear some feedback and thoughts on it.

– Morten

Stop Making Shorts!

I recently attended a 2 day film school with a well known instructor from LA. These three words slapped us in the face, and set the tone for the rest of the two days. At first, I did not agree with this statement at all, but as the course progressed, I understood the context of it.

The whole point of the film school was that we would learn how to produce and distribute our first feature film, on a micro to low budget. We got taught how to write, budget the money, shoot and get it out on the market. This brings me to the point of the statement; if you are going to spend $50 000 on a short film, why not spend the same amount on a feature film? The instructors point was, that it isn’t easy to make money on short films, but a good feature film on the other hand, actually has a huge potential!

So, does this mean I will not make short films anymore? Not at all! (In fact, I just shot one the other day). I believe there is so much you can learn in the process of making a short in terms of directing, storytelling and so on. It is faster to produce them and you can get away with a smaller crew. On the other hand, one thing I got from the course was that I can’t be limited by a ‘short film mindset’ anymore. What I mean is: it is so easy to think of a feature as something you will maybe make one day in the future, and I won’t start until I have years of experience. So I settle for making shorts with my friends. But the fact is, if I actually want to create a feature film, why not just start?

So that’s what I did. I started working on an idea that I got the weekend of the film school. To be honest, I haven’t gotten further than the treatment of the film, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I’ve begun on a journey of making my first feature film. I can’t guarantee that this will be the feature film that I’m going to make, but it has expanded my way of thinking. I’m not limited anymore to “only” create short films or work on commercial projects. If I really want to tell feature length stories, I have to go for it. And so do you.

Every dream has the potential to become reality, but for this to happen, you have to start somewhere.

Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments!

– Morten

*Facepalm*

Have you ever felt super organised when working on a project? You have total control over all the files, the music and graphic elements. “Everything is fine”! Yeah, I thought so too, then I opened one of my projects from 6 months ago, and I wanted to punch myself.

I work for a cycling company, and recently I have been needing to go through some of my old projects to find and re-export a couple of the first videos I made for them. I thought my adventure into my old project files would be a quick walk in the park, but it turned out to be an expedition into the depts of the Amazon jungle.

It’s weird how you can live in chaos and think that everything is fine. If I remember correctly, I didn’t think I was that unorganised when I first started working on those projects. Now on the other hand, it feels like I’m a stranger visiting someones messy home (we’ve all been there), and thinking: how did I even put up with this?

What’s funny is that I’ve always considered myself as a fairly organised, but maybe I am more of a creative minded person than I thought I was. At least I have learnt something from this. And it made me re-think how I label and organise my projects, so that in the future I’ll be wanting to give myself a hug instead of a punch. Also, not only is being organised important for your own benefit, but especially when working with other people. If you bring your mess into a project, people are going to pull their hair out because of you.

Here is a couple of the things I do:
1. Label exports with date, time and proper description.
I learnt this from my friend when we were working on an ad that we exported countless version for people to look at and give their input. It usually looks like this: year/month/date/time/name. (Example: 2015-04-28-1000-BlogPost. Important! Remember to use a 24 hour clock.) This way, the newest version is always on the bottom of the list in my folder and it’s easy to share with other people.

2. Folders, folders, folders
Inside my projects, I’ve been starting to make way more folders. And folders inside those folders. Obviously they have to be labelled properly, but at least I don’t have to look through a list of endless files.

Do you have any horror-stories like this? Or are you the organised type person who has everything under control? I would love to hear some stories, and even some tips on how you organise your files, because believe me, I need to learn it!

– Morten

‘Thief!’ or ‘Thief?’

Where does the line between being inspired by something and copying go?

I remember when I first started doing graphic design. I said something like “I am not going to copy or use anything made by people from the internet. I’ll make all the graphic elements my self..” There is probably no need to say that this didn’t get me really far.

It is so easy for us today to go online and get inspired, find resources and learn from tutorials. And with everything available by just a quick google search, it is also so easy for us to just copy what we see and make it “our own”. I mean, who is going to find out if I use a design for something?

Or what about filmmaking? There are lots of movies out there that build on the same concepts, and even comes close to the same story. Are they just inspired by the same thing, or did something think they could “copy” something, tweak it a little bit and make it work? In my “Storytelling” class at my college we learned about the concept of “Reinvention”. It is basically taking a story and putting it in another setting. Our assignment in that subject was to write a short film, based on a bible story. This was a great exercise, and I loved writing the script. But it raises the question if I was just copying and tweaking, or actually being inspired to tell a story in a different way.

I guess this could be an endless discussion. I just thought I’d ask the question.

What do you think? What separates copying and being inspired, and where do you draw the line? Would be great to get some comments on this.

– Morten

Go! Go! Go!

A couple of weeks ago, my “Location Camera” class teacher walked in and gave us the task for the day: Make a 2 minute skit that is awkward and takes place in a car. Deadline: 3 hours. Let’s go!

Now, this has happened before. We got a small list of guidelines for the skit and off we went. Last time, I was prepared. I already had a script that I wanted to film, so it was easy. This time though, I was not prepared at all. And, as mentioned in my last post, my brain went “Nothing Found”. Luckily, my friends and I got an idea after 45 minutes of brainstorming, and we pulled it through. (I’ll see if I can get a link to it sometime soon.)

In spite of the stressfulness of these turnarounds, I actually really enjoy them. The reason is that we get challenged to just make something. ANYTHING! Just get the task done. Most of the time, what we produce isn’t going to be the next big YouTube hit or make it to a short film festival. It does however, challenge us to take what we already have learned, our skills and ideas, pull it together and produce something that we all can enjoy and have a laugh at.

The second reason that I like these kind of projects is that they require that I work with my class mates as a team. I quickly realise that I can not create the idea, film, act and edit all by myself. In the end, if I ever am going to create a feature film or do any massive projects, I need more people around me that can help out. It’s not about me at all, it’s about telling the story together.

– Morten

“Nothing Found”

That’s what welcomed me when I first opened this blog. The reason? I hadn’t posted anything yet. (Obvious, I know..)

This happens to me a lot, especially when I am trying to find ideas for a new story or just being creative in general. My brain tells me: “Nothing Found”. So I sit there. Trying to dig through all distractions and working with every single hint of an idea that I can possibly think of. But again, I usually end up on “Nothing Found”.

What I realised was that the more I try to look for an idea, the harder it is. Usually, the best ideas that I’ve had has come when I really don’t think about it. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that I’m just going to walk around and do nothing, then one day something big is just going to hit, and that’s when I’m going to start writing. I believe I need to write and work on my creativity every day (That’s partially why I started this blog). My point is that when inspiration hits, I write it down. It can be as short as a small note on my phone, or I sit down and write the first pages of a script. That way, I’m not stressing out when it seems like my brain is going “Nothing Found”, but rather just relax and take a hold of inspiration when it strikes.

– Morten