Here is my latest short film Sybil which I wrote, directed and edited. It is based on an old English folktale called “Bearnshaw tower and Lady Sybil”. This is the first fiction film I have written and directed. I was inspired to make this when I saw The Tale of the Princess Kaguya at the cornerhouse a few months ago, which is based on the oldest Japanese folktale in known history. I went home and did some research into the lesser known English folklore. I came across the story of Lady Sybil and adapted it into an original, modern story. The film ended up being quite experimental. The main themes in Sybil are that of escape, fantasy and entrapment. It was important for me when writing to not give the protagonist dialogue, I wanted to give a more key focus on the sound design and visual aspects of the film which is something I really wanted to try. I did some research into how I wanted to add in the more fantasy style elements to the film visually, such as using the projector, lighting and a rotating star light for children. I was inspired by a youtube video showing how light and colour changed perceptions and shape of the human face and wanted to experiment with that.
To be honest, the film did not turn out the way I wanted due to mistakes, time and equipment failures but we did our best!
Last week I was able to volunteer to help with the production of Treasure Camp 2. A film made by Martin Tempest of Image Productions as part of “Movie Makers”, a fantastic scheme run in Stamford for children to take part in making/ starring in feature films. Around 10 years ago I used to do the courses myself although it is mostly targeted at children who are interested in acting.
Although I was only able to help for a couple of days (due to other commitments) it was a really interesting experience. The programme had definitely evolved since the days I took the course with better equipment and funding from the BFI for one of their projects (The Harbinger 2013). It was a really great experience to return to the place that as a child, fueled my desire to persue film making as a career as well as a great opportunity to work with Martin again as well as the other crew members on this sequel.
The original Treasure Camp was made in 2009 and won a “Best Feature Film” award. I did not work on the original film but I did have a lot of fun on my few days working on the sequel.
(Video by So. Act!)
I took these images through the installment set up for another student’s work which involved a projector and sheets of sheer fabric that enlarged the projections that ascended through the room. I think the pictures look quite dreamlike.
Media Arts Exhibition 2014 from Emily Steele on Vimeo.
I also filmed part of the exhibition to document my experience there, here is the result.
See the documentary here: https://emilysteelefilm.wordpress.com/video-gallery-2/
From the start I knew I wanted to make a documentary about Feminism in University. The only thing that changed throughout the project is how I structured the film and the topics within Feminism that the documentary addressed. At the beginning of the module I had recently watched “Miss Representation”, A Sundance documentary that resonated very strongly with me in its topics and style. However, that was an hour and a half whereas mine was a maximum of 8 minutes so obviously I could not mention the majority of the topics within the film from a student perspective so I decided that my project would, although be inspired by “Miss Representation” be covering a Feminist Society at University which is something not mentioned in “Miss Representation”.
I was fortunate because a week after I had decided to make a documentary on Student Perspectives of Feminism the Student Union Website posted that a Feminist Society was being formed at the University. I attended the initial meeting although I was not allowed to film anything during the meeting so as not to make anyone uncomfortable whilst discussing sensitive issues in Feminism. I did catch the founders of the society at the end of the meeting which began the filming process of my documentary. The society was very supportive of this project in the hope that it would be able to help tackle some of the misconceptions of Feminism and encourage more people to either join the society of simply be less afraid of the word Feminism.
I think one of the main issues I had whilst making this Documentary is that the topic of Feminism is so broad it was incredibly difficult to cover anything in 8 minutes or less. Also, there are so many different sectors in feminism that people align themselves to it was difficult to not sway to any of them. What I wanted to portray was that at a simple core level, Feminism is inclusive and strives for equal rights for all genders including non-binary people. Another issue was that I was conflicted between making the documentary a discussion with Feminists and Non-Feminists or whether I should just have it from the Feminist Society’s point of view. As a Feminist myself I tried to keep my own opinions out of the way but I don’t think I was very impartial. I did decide in the end to make the documentary very focused on seeing a Feminist perspective into University life which is something that highlighted a lot of issues that I don’t think many people knew even existed as we simply accept the aspects of University that include LAD and Rape Culture as a given without saying that this behaviour is not acceptable. This was again something I wanted to highlight in my documentary.