film student

The only two reactions I get when I tell people I'm a film student
  • Person 1: WOW! So you're gonna make movies! That's so cool! Hahaha look out Steven Spielberg! Could I be in one of your movies one day? Better prepare that Oscar speech! Can't wait to see you on the red carpet! :D
  • Person 2: What's your backup plan? Cause I mean maybe you should just do film as a hobby.

no but, in all seriousness guys, as a film student, words cannot express how proud and how flawed I am with Taylor music video’s this era. Wildest Dreams has such an air of precision and craft about it – The cinematography, particularly, with the decisions to capture almost all the shots with lense glare form the sunsets to emphasise them, and the use of shadows and camera pans on tiny details, the way the camera shows the two lovers’ as they embrace only for us to realise it’s their reflection in the mirror… this is all really, really impressive, well-considered, beautiful, beautiful stuff, and don’t even get me started on the second cuts to lightening filled skies and weather and animals and just ugh.   The effort and art to this video, to all the 1989 videos, literally singles them out as ‘short films’ rather than ‘music videos’ - because I don’t think the word ‘music video’ does justice at all for what these are… I mean, previously, only music GIANTS like Michael Jackson (80s represent) made videos that were deemed creative and crafted enough to be called ‘short films’ instead of ‘music videos’ (in fact, he refused to call them the latter), and he had some of the most impressive, and still some of the most admired, videos made in music history EVER. 

So to see Taylor’s transformation in film this era, collaborating with the likes of Joseph Kahn, a filmmaker in his own right, and literally beginning to reach that same level of artistry, first with Style, in particular, then Bad Blood, but mostly I think with Wildest Dreams… Well, it just shows how far she has come…. 

Very few musicians are able to reach this stage, where their videos are so powerful and tell such stories, even BEYOND THE SONGS that feature in them… Nevermind reaching it with such beauty or such grace as Wildest Dreams possesses… I just… I’m a film student in awe…….. Can you tell?

I got asked a few weeks ago by pictosays if I had any tips for upcoming film students, now I’m nowhere near an expert but this is what I have come up with from personal experience.

Learn from the ground up 
You are in school for a reason, don’t walk in thinking you know everything because you made a film for A Level Film Studies, everyone did and people will get annoyed with you rather quickly.

Take risks
University is the time to take risks in your work, you have a safety net, use it to your advantage.

Get experience
Talk to 2nd/3rd years to get roles on set, they need some extra hands on set and you need to know how a set works in the ‘real world’.  Also use your summer/weekends wisely, get an internship or some runner jobs at a production company. Hands on experience is invaluable and a foot in the door never hurt.

Be nice to your peers
In film school more so than others you have to work in teams, it’s part of the industry and it’s a part of everyday life. Don’t make enemies you will regret. 

Theory is important
It’s one thing being able to make a film look nice but if the shot has no real relevance/meaning then it’s pretty useless. 

I use this website all the time, it has detailed tutorials on all industry standard software. There is a subscription fee but most (mine anyway?) universities offer a subscription as part of the degree. (Also Avid is the industry standard for editing Feature/Hollywood films at least get your head around the workflow) 

Be prepared to self-teach
This is true of all subjects but in film somethings you just have to figure out yourself, you have to figure out your own workflow. So instead of complaining about it just get stuck in - you never know it could be fun. 

Don’t get cocky about your specialism 
You want to be a director? Awesome, go for it but have a backup. Director isn’t the only job available and it also isn’t ‘the most important’. Film sets are nothing without all the other departments, learning how they work will do you no harm.

Watch films!
Expected really but at times you get caught up in production, make time to go to the cinema or to re-watch your favourite film, remind yourself why you do what you do. Also expand your genres, watch the classics and go to experimental film festivals because inspiration can come from the strangest places.

That’s everything I have for now, it’s also good to remember my BA is more fine art film than feature/hollywood but the principles the same - play around, find your niche and work hard.

If you have any questions just drop me a message :)


I finally uploaded my second year film from CalArts! Here it is!
Thanks to everyone who helped out on it, I couldn’t have done it without you!

Music and Sound Design by Taylor Page!

5 Things They Don’t Tell You About Being a First-Time Director

If there’s anything that’s even harder than making a movie, it’s making your first movie. All week long, we’ve been sharing words of hard-won wisdom given to us by some of the veterans of the industry, but what about the first-time filmmakers who’ve miraculously managed to mount a movie despite overwhelming odds (and underwhelming budgets)? For their perspective, we talked to John Krokidas, whose first film, Kill Your Darlings, stars Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan in the true story of the murder that brought Beat icons Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs together as young men. Here, Krokidas shares the five unexpected things he learned on his directorial debut:

You’re standing in the way of your own movie.
Something I didn’t know going in is that first-time directors are considered by financiers to be “deadly attachments,” meaning that even if financiers are interested in your script and your vision, you are still considered to be a strike against their desire to invest in the film. In some ways, that’s fair: They don’t know whether you can deliver the goods yet, and they might fear that you’ll have a nervous breakdown in the middle of shooting, as some first-time directors have. In order to balance out your deadly attachment, then, these financiers want you to cast movie stars. I think it’s funny that the question I get asked the most is, “How did you get so many movie stars to be in your film?” because the real answer is “Out of necessity!” That’s what it takes to get an independent period drama made these days — especially as a first-time director — and if you don’t have those stars, you’ll have to slash the budget and the number of locations.

The way that independent films are generally put together is that an investor sells off foreign territories before you even shoot the film, and just off of the actors’ names, they actually sell the movie to various distributors around the world before anyone has even seen a frame of the movie. To be honest, when we first cast Daniel Radcliffe, I thought, We’re good to go into production, he’ll help me reach my foreign sales number. Game over. And I was told, “Not so fast. Daniel Radcliffe cannot open a movie without a wand in his hand.” My response to that was, “He’s playing Allen Ginsberg, so there will definitely be some sort of wand in his hand … ”

We still weren’t sure if we were going to be financed or not until The Woman in Black, starring Dan Radcliffe, opened the same day as Chronicle, starring Dane DeHaan. Those two movies opened at No. 1 and No. 2 at the box office and overperformed, which was one of those lucky moments I needed after four years of struggling to get the movie financed. We got the money we needed after that because Daniel Radcliffe had now proven that he could open a movie outside of the Harry Potter series, which finally balanced out my deadly attachment.

Background actors can ruin your movie.
This is something I discovered on day one: You can have your shot list memorized, you can know the emotional arc of the scene forwards and backwards, and you can get great performances out of your actors, but all it takes is one extra in the background to ruin all of that work. I remember there was this one moment during the shoot where Daniel Radcliffe broke down and bared his soul, and after that amazing take was over, someone whispered in my ear, “Did you see those cops behind Dan?” Sure enough, the two background actors we had cast as policemen were straight out of a Keystone Kops movie in 1924, shaking their fists and overemoting. Just when I thought I had nailed Dan’s greatest scene ever, I had to junk it because I had these two extras in the background ruining the shot!

When you cast background actors, you have no idea whether or not they can actually perform — the casting agent will e-mail you head shots for Cop No. 1 and Student No. 3, and it’s your job to cast them based only on those head shots while you’re busy doing eight other things. Usually, I’d pick the most interesting faces, but it’s like online dating: They’ll show up on set, and seven times out of ten, they won’t look anything like their pictures. I didn’t talk to the extras as much as I should have because I was more concerned with directing my lead actors, but when you hear about someone like James Cameron, who went up to every single background extra on Titanic to give them a name and a backstory and an objective … well, what first seemed like maniacal director behavior now seems completely logical, and something I’ll do on every movie going forward.

Don’t schedule your most important scenes for the end of the day.
We had a very short shooting schedule, but when we were figuring out what to shoot and when, I had no idea that the last scene you shoot each day will be the most compromised, because inevitably, you’re running out of time. I wish I’d known that going in, because for some reason, almost all of the important scenes from the first twenty minutes of the movie tended to be scheduled at the end of several production days. When we got to those scenes, often we only had an hour to shoot an entire sequence, so they had to be rushed, and when we finally got into the editing room, the first twenty minutes were the toughest to put together. We had fewer pieces and less coverage than we had for the rest of the film, and our greatest struggle in postproduction was how to make that first act of setup seem as dynamic as everything else in the film.

Knowing that now, my advice to other first-time filmmakers is to always schedule “tissue scenes” for the end of the day. Those are the connective scenes in between the greater dramatic moments — an arrival, or a walk-and-talk — and often, they’re the parts that end up on the cutting-room floor. Another option is to save shorter scenes for the end of the day, or shoot scenes that aren’t as emotionally difficult for actors to perform. It’s hard for actors to get to a dark emotional place if they know that you’re wrapping in 45 minutes.

Your movie will be much longer than you think.
The problem with calling your movie Kill Your Darlings is that everyone asks you, “So, which darlings did you have to kill?” I was convinced going in that I wouldn’t have to cut any of my favorite scenes, and I had even pared down my script before production to the point where I thought, A-ha, I’ve made it edit-proof … only to eventually find myself with a two-hour-and-twenty-minute director’s cut that was basically a movie and a half! And what I realized then is that I had a single-protagonist film that had become a multi-protagonist film by the third act, and if I wanted to get the movie down to a reasonable running time, I was going to have to make some hard decisions.

For me, the hardest darling to kill was cutting down Elizabeth Olsen’s performance as Edie Parker, Jack Kerouac’s girlfriend, in order to excise that extra half of the movie that needed to go. She had an amazing arc and her performance was nuanced and beautiful, but that arc had to be sacrificed for the good of the movie. And the thing that sucked is that I knew I would get reviews saying that Elizabeth Olsen was underused, and I did, and it hurt. What hurt even more than that, though, was knowing that I would have to call Elizabeth to tell her that several of the scenes that we had worked on together were not, ultimately, going to make it into the theatrical cut. And God bless Elizabeth Olsen: She not only took the news like a champ, she said, “John, I’m not the kind of actor who puts her own performance above the whole film. I understand that this is part of the process.”

You will get postpartum blues.
At the end of the production, you throw the wrap party, and when you look at this crazy family you’ve created over the past few months, you almost feel like you should all go and get tribal tattoos together. You’re so close that you’re basically a gang — and as the director, you’re the leader of the gang! You’re all in it together, and you’ve bonded so much, and nothing can tear you apart … and then the next day, you wake up and everyone else is gone. They’ve all moved on to their next project, and you realize that you are all alone. After you’ve spent months building this whole family with your cast and crew, they all move on and make new families. And they try not to talk about their new families too much because they know it makes you jealous, but when you call them to catch up, they kind of have to talk about them a little bit. It’s a weird feeling to go back to normal life after shooting your first film. You’ve spent years trying to make this moment happen and it finally has … and then it’s over, and everyone’s gone, and when you sign into your online checking account, you realize you have even less money than you did a year ago.
SAM (short film)
a short drama about a nonbinary individual trying to find a means of authentic self expression in a world of strict gender roles

Hi guys! We’re a diverse, female and queer femme film crew in need of funding!

We really need your help to help fund and spread the word about our final short film for university, SAM. It’s a story about a non-binary individual and the difficulties they face in finding means of authentic self expression in a world that codes everything as masculine or feminine. 

We can’t make the film a reality without funding, and even a donation of £5 or £10 would make a big difference. You can donate from anywhere in the world via paypal or direct debit via on our indiegogo campaign page. 

If you can’t donate, please at least reblog and share this post. 

Thank you so much!

Alexandra (director and writer)