Raindance Saturday Film School

Having always been a big film buff (this derives from my love of 80’s movies) and not having formally studied any type of media or film related degree, I decided to head to Raindance for a one day film school with my Director of Photography friend Matt Thomas.

First a little intro:

‘Since 1993, Raindance has presented the very best independently made shorts, features and documentaries in the heart of London’s West End, showing films like Blair Witch Project, Memento, Ghost World and Pulp Fiction. Raindance is unique in combining film courses with the UK’s only truly independent film festival, the Raindance Film Festival, founded to provide a platform for independent film and specializing in first-time filmmakers.’

So, upon taking our seats along with 500 other people, we were treated to a little background story from Raindance’s founding Director Elliot Grove on his Amish background and first discovering ‘the devil’ (cinema) with ‘Lassie Come Home’. He even excused his directing attire – namely black clothes and wearing sunglasses inside…

We learnt the quick rules of how to write, produce and direct a film. Through writing the story using the social stage, structure and an action flowchart down to a checklist of what you need to make a low budget film – it’s a lot to learn in one day;

Writing The Screenplay
Elliot explained the basic principles of writing screenplays and demonstrated the powerful storytelling tools used by the professionals;

  • Finding an idea
  • Creating memorable characters
  • Playing with story structure
  • Copyright and legal basics
  • How movies are bought and sold

Making the movie
how movies are produced and told us dozens of shooting tips that will save you money and make it easier to get your movie made.

  • Creating a budget
  • Chosing a camera
  • The Raindance 5 Minute Film Lighting School
  • Shooting on locations
  • Securing permissions for shooting in public
  • Guerilla filmmaking demystified

After lunch, came Patrick Tucker to the stage – an internationally acclaimed stage and screen director and founder of the Original Shakespeare Company. A loud and mental little man, he was. Here is where we learnt about directing a film – which the majority of the audience wanted to do;

  • Basics of film directing
  • Crossing the line
  • Camera placement and why it is important
  • Communicating with your cast and crew

This is where Matt & I got up on stage with Patrick and a few other audience members to demonstrate how to make a scene look good regardless of an actors physical ease. We had to stand in front of another person with our noses 3cm apart while saying a line on camera. Needless to say, this was uncomfortable and I couldn’t stop giggling. I would definitely hate to be an actor!

After this the final lesson was about ‘Breaking Into the film industry’, where Elliot Grove came back and explained how to prepare for work as a writer, producer, director, cameraperson, editor or art director.

  • Showreels and CVs explained
  • Choosing your field
  • Marketing and promoting yourself
  • Negotiating pay and what you can expect to earn

On leaving the saturday film school, my first thought was how much I would love to be an art director for films…who knows maybe one day, but for now I can say Raindance’s saturday film school is definitely one to go to! Even if you just love cinema or have some interest in making films, they are very in-depth and inspiring with a follow up email the next day with useful links and additional resources.


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