Waiting for ‘the Golden Snitch (Pt. 1/2)

End scene. The credits are rolling up the 27″ iMac, 2 meters away from me. The sound of eastern european music is playing in the background.

“Did you like it?” my girlfriend asks me with anticipation in her voice.

“Yeah, it was good!” I answer.

The eastern european music continues, and we start laughing at a tiny animated cartoon, dancing what looks like a Russian traditional folk dance.

It’s times like this, when I’ve finished watching a movie I really enjoy, that is not only a good story that has kept me interested the whole way through, but also done excellently in terms of costume, style, colours, framing etc, that I start dreaming again about finally making a narrative film myself.

But then, the excuses come.

“I don’t have a script yet”.
” I can’t think of anyone to act for me”
“When will I get time for this?”
“Would other people want to help me?
“I don’t have enough gear”

The list goes on and on.

I think one of my biggest problems when dreaming about making something new, is that I’m waiting for everything to be perfect. I am waiting for the right opportunity to make the film that I’ve been dreaming about making for so long. So I sit. And watch. And I look for ‘the Golden Snitch’. It’s out there somewhere. I know it. And when I get it, it’ll win me the game. So I leave it with dreaming, and waiting. Maybe I’ll start writing a new script, and then put it on the shelf after 2-3 pages. And then I wait again.

How long am I willing to wait? Don’t know. But maybe I should just start playing the game instead. Get in the game with the other players. Fight for goals and have a good time. And then, maybe one day, the snitch will show up. But who knows?

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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

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

A mountain, two Norwegians and a camera

It was a beautiful day in the beginning of January. The snow had settled like a white blanket covering the earth. I grabbed my camera and a shoulder rig before heading to the pickup spot. The blue VolksWagen shot over the bridge in high-speed and the breaks squeaked a little bit before the car stopped in front of me. I put my gear in the back and hopped into the front seat next to my friend Benjamin.

Let the adventure begin.

I think we all have some friends that we just know we are going to do fun stuff with for the rest of our lives. Benjamin is one of those friends for me. We’ve been making films, playing music and designing websites together for a solid amount of years. Back in January, we decided to go on an adventure and just film something. Everything was really spontaneous. We knew we were going to film something that would fit Benjamin’s music, and we knew we wanted to go to a mountain. From there, we just drove through the country side of Norway and stopped along the road when we saw something cool.

One of the things I learned with this project is how key lighting is. We shot this during a whole day, but the light in Norway at the time is almost a full day of “the golden hour” (which is a time of day where the light is really colourful and soft), which usually just appears one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset.

The second I learned was this: location, location, location! How much do we really want to sacrifice to get the best location possible? We could have settled for something less, but deciding to climb the mountain and getting to the amazing view. It really paid off!

I’ve discovered this about myself, that I need a reason to film. I’m not the kind of person who enjoy to just capture nature and random things that pop up. It needs people in there, because with people, you suddenly have a story. It can be as simple as getting from point A to point B, but it makes the video way more interesting.

Anyways, have a look at the video and let me know what you think! Anything you like or dislike? Or maybe you agree or disagree with something I wrote? Would love to hear back from you!

One last thing! If you want to hear more from Honestly, please check them out on their websiteYouTube or Spotify!

Enjoy!

– M

Smoke Lay Low – Honestly from Morten Furre on Vimeo.

What do you have?

I love to follow the NAB show that is currently going on in Las Vegas. The different companies bring out the new cameras, gadgets, software updates and so on. It’s exciting, because technology is moving forward, and we are getting bigger and better tools to make movies and tell out stories.

On the other hand, I get a bit sad. I look at all the new goodies coming out. The cameras, lenses, gimbal stabilizers and so on, and it all seems so far out of reach!

I am a low budget filmmaker. At the moment, I don’t have the money to invest in a lot of gear or to rent anything better. I own a Canon 550d, two lenses, a tripod, a shoulder rig and some audio gear. To be honest, I don’t always like my camera, and wish I had better gear all the time. But the truth is that I am really lucky to even have what I have.

One thought that struck me a while back when I was wishing and dreaming about a new camera was this: If I learn to use the gear I have now, I set myself up for a win when I get the chance to upgrade. If I can’t tell a story properly with a $450 camera, then I probably won’t be able to tell the story with a $2500 camera or $20 000 camera.

One movie that I really like is “Monsters” directed by Gareth Edwards. The reason I really like this movie is because it was written, directed, shot by Gareth Edwards himself. On set, which was different places around South America, most of the time the crew consisted of him, the two actors and a sound guy. His camera was a Sony PMW-EX3 with a 35mm adaptor at the front, giving him the option of putting DSLR lenses on it. Several times in the movies, the quality of the images itself isn’t good at all because of how the camera handles low light. But none of that really matters, because the story gets told and mr. Edwards just decided that he had an idea, and he was going to use what he had access to, and just make the movie. (Btw, I highly recommend to check out the behind the scenes for the movie.)

Alright, to wrap it up: My point isn’t to despise better cameras or to make you think that “I never should upgrade to better gear unless I am able to tell the story first.” In fact, better equipment are greater tools to tell the story! What I found is this: Usually he people who have done something great in this world was not hindered or stopped because of what they didn’t have, but they took what they had and made something great out of it.

So what do you have? Would be great to get some comments about gear and even see some videos that you have made with what you had access to! It can be anything from a high end production to a home video. Leave a comment and let me know.

– 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