264mc: Short Film Study – The Mass of Men

Above is a link to the British short film The Mass of Men (2012), directed by Gabriel Gauchet. It looks at the UK’s benefits system, the casualties of it’s rigid bureaucracy, and the extremes people can be pushed to when they are treated as nothing more than a name and number on a screen.

Interested to see how this film was produced I tried researching the film’s process online but could find very little about how The Mass of Men (2012) was made, except that; it was filmed on S16mm, “has been selected by 111 different film festivals and is a winner of 58 film awards.” (En.wikipedia.org, 2017). So I decided to try and reach out to it’s director to see if he could fill in the gaps. Gabriel Gauchet was kind enough to get back to me very quickly and he was happy to answer several of my questions about the film’s production process.

Gauchet made The Mass of Men (2012) while he was a student at The National Film and Television School. All films made at the NFTS are funded by the school, which “has its own purpose-built studios, including two film stages, a separate large television studio, and post-production facilities rivaling those of many professional companies.” (Nfts.co.uk, 2017). Each film project receives a budget fund of £4000. Having this funding meant Gauchet did not need to spend time trying to raise capital for his film but, if he had, he may well have considered crowdfunding as an alternative. Crowdfunding has become an amazing source of revenue to support short film with companies like Kickstarter and Indiegogo making it very simple for anyone to pitch their film ideas to backers and raise a budget almost overnight. In the same year Jarett Cale and Geoff Lapaire raised $220,856 through Indiegogo to fund their movie Pure Pwnage:Teh Movie (2016).

But film schools and crowdfunding aren’t the only way to fund a short film. Every year many UK filmmakers produce their movie projects using film grants. Funders range from the lottery funded BFI Film Fund, to more localized London Calling, who “focus on London based filmmakers who need funding of up to £4,000.” (Met Film School – London, 2017), to much larger organisations like the BBC and Film4. (Weareukfilm.com, 2017).

All films made at the NFTS, during Gauchet’s time there, had to be filmed on S16mm. This meant that half of the budget was already allocated to film stock and laboratory developing services, leaving just £2000 for locations, actors, catering etc.

Using real film also meant the team only had 60 minutes of film material for the entire shoot. Meaning the majority of scenes shot had to count. Filming digitally, as Ryan Connolly chose to do with a Canon XL-H1 for Tell (2012), means such constraints were never a problem.

S16mm also limits editing and post-production. Gauchet had no option to colour grade or adjust the film afterwards, which meant that it had to be lit and shot exactly how he wanted it to be seen by his audience. In contrast, in 2015, the filmmaker Noam Kroll finished making the short film Stray (Unknown release date) which was shot on the Blackmagic URSA in CinemaDNG RAW. This gave Kroll a myriad of editing and colour grading options, and meant he could edit his short quickly and easily. “For years now I have been using DaVinci Resolve Studio as my primary colour grading platform….. it’s critical to my success as a filmmaker that I am using tools that can enhance the speed and quality of my work.” (Kroll, 2017).

Gauchet didn’t use social media to promote the film or even make a separate website for it, although you can now view it on his own website. Instead he put his efforts into submitting the film to as many film festivals as possible; approximately 500 in total. Back in 2012 this was a very time consuming and costly process as many festivals still only accepted films sent to them in DVD format, now, with the majority of them only accepting files, it is much quicker and easier. In fact, with sites like FilmFreeway and The Film Festival Doctor, most of the hard work is done for you. “Add your project once, select your favourite festivals, and click to submit.” (FilmFreeway, 2017).

When Shawn Christensen wrote and directed the short film Curfew (2012) he set up a website (Curfew (Short Film) – Official Site, 2017) to advertise it, with links to the film’s trailer, details on festivals the film had been entered into and regular updates on any news about awards or press coverage the short had received.

Gauchet’s film was very well received despite his lack of interaction with online resources and social media but I wonder how many more people the film would have reached with a good Facebook, Twitter and Instagram campaign behind it.

Short film is still a rather under rated medium, with many people viewing it as something people just do ‘for fun’ or the medium of filmmaking students. However, many famous filmmakers used short film as a springboard to larger projects. Pixar’s short, Luxo. Jnr (1986), was undoubtedly what caught Disney’s attention, and sparked their now infamous partnership.

For me, short film is not only a place to experiment and develop new ideas, but an important and challenging genre in it’s own right. “Short film is a unique narrative art form that, while lending itself to experimentation, requires tremendous discipline in following traditional filmic considerations.” (Cooper, 2015) In fact, it is the very medium I hope to centre my career around once I graduate.

References

British Film Institute. (2017). BFI Film Fund. [online] Available at: http://www.bfi.org.uk/supporting-uk-film/film-fund [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

Brown, B. (2011). Cinematography: Theory and practice, Second edition: Image making for Cinematographers and directors. 2nd ed. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Focal Press.

Connolly, R., Connolly, R., Bruno, T., Canales, B. and Jr., T. (2017). Tell (2012). [online] IMDb. Available at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2168344/ [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

Cooper, P. (2015). Writing the short film. 1st ed. [Place of publication not identified]: Focal.

Curfew (Short Film) – Official Site. (2017). News. [online] Available at: http://curfewfilm.com/news/ [Accessed 28 Mar. 2017].

Do, W., Services, M., Services, C., Service, F., Team, T., Stories, S. and Channel, T. (2017). The Film Festival Doctor. [online] The Film Festival Doctor. Available at: http://www.thefilmfestivaldoctor.com [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

En.wikipedia.org. (2017). Tell (2012 film). [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tell_(2012_film) [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

En.wikipedia.org. (2017). The Mass of Men. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mass_of_Men [Accessed 27 Feb. 2017].

Film School Rejects. (2017). Year in Review: The 12 Best Short Films of 2012. [online] Available at: https://filmschoolrejects.com/year-in-review-the-12-best-short-films-of-2012-77ec4f2d63d6#.1r18qrrph [Accessed 1 Mar. 2017].

Film, B. (n.d.). British council film: The mass of men. [online] Available at: http://film.britishcouncil.org/the-mass-of-men [Accessed 12 Feb. 2017].

FilmFreeway. (2017). Film Festivals, Screenplay Contests, Submissions. [online] Available at: https://filmfreeway.com [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

Gabrielgauchet.com. (2017). index. [online] Available at: http://www.gabrielgauchet.com [Accessed 28 Feb. 2017].

Gauchet, G. (2012). Index. [online] Available at: http://www.gabrielgauchet.com [Accessed 12 Feb. 2017].

I, Daniel Blake. (2016). .

Indiegogo. (2017). Pure Pwnage: Teh Movie. [online] Available at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pure-pwnage-teh-movie#/ [Accessed 27 Feb. 2017].

Inhofer, P. (2017). Interview: Ben Franklin & Anthony Melton – Dead Man’s Lake. [online] Taoofcolor.com. Available at: https://www.taoofcolor.com/1785/dead-mans-lake-color-correction-brief/ [Accessed 21 Mar. 2017].

Kroll, N. (2017). Step by Step: End-to-End Editing, Grading and Coloring a Short Film in DaVinci Resolve 12 Studio – MovieMaker Magazine. [online] MovieMaker Magazine. Available at: http://www.moviemaker.com/archives/moviemaking/editing/editing-grading-and-coloring-in-davinci-resolve-12-studio/ [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

Met Film School – London. (2017). How to get funding for your film – Metfilm. [online] Available at: https://www.metfilmschool.ac.uk/news/2015/10/get-funding-for-your-film/ [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

Nfts.co.uk. (2017). Production Facilities | National Film and Television School. [online] Available at: https://nfts.co.uk/school/production-facilities [Accessed 27 Feb. 2017].

Stitches, M. (2017). Making Dead Man’s Lake – Bloody Cuts. [online] Bloody Cuts. Available at: http://bloodycuts.co.uk/other-films/making-dead-mans-lake/ [Accessed 1 Mar. 2017].

The mass of men. (2012). .

The mass of men. (2017). Vimeo.

Weareukfilm.com. (2017). UKFilm. [online] Available at: http://www.weareukfilm.com/sources-of-funding/ukfilmmakers [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

WRITE SHOOT CUT. (2017). Dead Man’s Lake (2012) Ben Franklin. [online] Available at: https://writeshootcut.com/2013/03/29/short-film-55-dead-mans-lake-2012-ben-franklin/ [Accessed Mar. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). TELL (A Short Film by Ryan Connolly). [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGgRH7-Qs9g [Accessed 27 Mar. 2017].

 

 

 

 

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