My name is Saul Lotzof, and I am a 15yr old student at St Albans Boys School in Hertfordshire, England. He is screening with YoungFilmmakers on April 12th at 8:15pm.
I have had a strong passion in film over the last couple of years, and hope to move forward in life as a Director, like the role I played in the filming of “Alone”, my first proper short film. I became interested in film after taking my mother while she photographed many different locations in Africa. Once I had learnt a little about photography, I purchased a GoPro for my birthday; which was what sparked my interest.
This short was my first time directing and managing a multiple day shoot with multiple locations and actors, which was a very big challenge to start with. I worked with my school a lot during the planning and filming of the process; in fact a lot of the film was actually shot at the school, who were generous enough to lend us the site for a day in the holidays. I had an slightly odd role in the film as I was not only the director; I had multiple jobs including manning the camera, setting up all of the gear, doing an extensive amount of the planning, hiring the actors and crew, etc. While this wasn’t such a problem or a bad thing, it was not very organised or professional. It wasn’t only my role that changed either; other peoples roles changed too due too, due to some peoples utter lack of experience and work drive.
There were so many things that I learned from making the film, all of them being priceless lessons that I couldn’t have learned without actually making it. I learnt how to work with people more, as I had a rather tough time with a certain member of my crew. While this was a hinderance while filming, it has really benefitted me today because I know how to deal and work with people who perhaps don’t have the same ideas as I do; which is a massive part of being a director and learning to work with a crew. However, I think my biggest lesson was not paying the crew.
The producer and I were purely focused on all of the gear and music; we didn’t even think about paying the actors, let alone the crew. This was a big mistake in my eyes, because half of the crew and some of the actors lacked motivation and drive while filming, which severely inconvenienced us.
Another lesson I learned was that I was a bit too nice to my crew, who were actually my friends. This was a bad idea because I gave my friends very complicated roles, and then had a hard time with them when they did not perform. In the future I should hire more experienced people who are interested in finishing the film and are passionate about it, not some of my friends who would like to help because the camera looks cool.
The final lesson I learned was not giving myself enough time to film. We filmed it all in three and a half days, which made us incredibly pressured for time. From my point of view this ruined a lot of the shots because we didn’t have enough time to execute them properly, even though we scheduled all of the days. These lessons were all learned while filming, but our biggest challenge before we filmed was making the script accurate and moving.
Since we were talking about a very precious and delicate subject, we needed the script to really grab the audience, but also be accurate at the same time. As the writer of the script, I tried to place myself in the minds of these young people who suffer from this condition. I have never experienced depression of any sort, but do understand the certain pressures of social media. I really wanted to make the script as precise as possible, so that people who experience depression could relate to every aspect of the film and could actually feel like they aren’t “alone”. However, this was where the challenge of how to end the film came about. We could either make it realistic, and in some people’s eyes bring, and make “James” noticed by a family friend, as saved from doing something worse. Or, we could have ended the film with James doing something to himself, which would have been very dramatic, and while still accurate and realistic, it would send a message to depressed teenagers that this is what will happen to them eventually. This decision made the film more medically relevant instead of entertaining and perhaps fictional.
Brandon Ruckdashel is the Festival Director for YoungFilmmakers. He has been the Program Director for NewFilmmakers for the last three years and Marketing Director for six. Brandon is a filmmaker who is most well known for his acting work in the HBO series Co-Ed Confidential and numerous B-Movies. Brandon has worked with Roger Corman alumni Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski along with a number of other very talented directors. Brandon's Directorial debut GRINDER will be out in theaters in 2016.
YoungFilmmakers screens quarterly in New York at Anthology Film Archives. Opened in 1970 by Jonas Mekas, Jerome Hill, P. Adams Sitney, Peter Kubelka, and Stan Brakhage, Anthology in its original conception was a showcase for the Essential Cinema Repertory collection. An ambitious attempt to define the art of cinema by means of a selection of films which would screen continuously, the Essential Cinema collection was intended to encourage the study of the medium’s masterworks as works of art rather than disposable entertainment, making Anthology the first museum devoted to film as an art form. The project was never completed, but even in its unfinished state it represented an uncompromising critical overview of cinema’s history, and remains a crucial part of Anthology’s exhibition program.