Revisiting my own Short Films || The Film Graduate

During my time at University, I made a total of seven short films/documentaries. Some better than others and a couple too questionable to display here on my blog. There are also another three missing due to current festival submissions or post-production delays due to COVID-19.

My recent showreel demonstrating my best work.

Today I will be revisiting my own short films and giving a little bit of background on the process behind their creations. Starting with the projects created in my first year of University through to my third and final year. I hope you enjoy reminiscing on these past projects with me. All of these projects I took on the role of producer ~ the role I aspire to fill as my experience as a filmmaker grows. 

Fear (2018)

Fear (2018) is a short film featuring Archie Westland-Rose and Malin Karp. The short follows ‘Jack’ a young boy terrified of the darkness found within his wardrobe. One night after much preparation Jack decides to face his fear head-on by entering his wardrobe meeting a personified version of the darkness he has always feared.

The short was shot on 16mm black and white film using a Bolex Camera. It was an honour to be able to work in this physical form. Changing film reels, developing film and editing on the Steenbeck which included physically cutting and sticking our footage together. This was a form of filmmaking none of us had previously worked in. With the project taking place during the height of summer, I remember sitting for hours in the sweltering heat helping our editor with this extremely time-consuming process.

Fear was an extremely enjoyable project for me to produce and was the project to unite me with Laurence and Charlie who became close friends to me for the remainder of our degree. We went on to create many films together including one currently in pre-production and one outside of University being selected for festivals as we speak.

The project had many challenges for me as a producer. This was the first time I would tackle child licencing laws, scheduling and taking responsibility for health and safety on a built set. Despite its challenges, this is the project that truly grew my love for producing and was extremely rewarding.

I am Gwen (2019)

I am Gwen is a short film starring Sophie Dora Hall and Laura Ashford. The short follows Gwen, an isolated lonely women, raised and living in a small conservative community that has forced her to suppress her true self. However, an unexpected meeting with an old flame forces her to rethink her entire life.

The film covers themes of societal homophobia, suppression and isolation.

This was the first short film I produced after completing my producing specialism. It was the largest project I had worked on to date and also my first time working with dialogue. Previously all my films were silent ~ this was a way to teach us the importance of visual storytelling over the reliance on dialogue.

Again this project was shot on film this time, Super16 Colour. Despite throwing a lot of challenges at me with crew working dynamics, location issues and logistics I thoroughly enjoyed this project now looking back. I worked with a crew of completely different people and working alongside Euan was a joy. I am pleased how well we pulled this short off despite its challenges and the talent of our wonderful actors which made the film stand out across our year group.

Brutalism – A Hope Dashed (2019)

Brutalism – A Hope Dashed is a short documentary investigating the demolition of Brutalist Architecture tearing down an entire era of buildings still fit for purpose. The documentary includes interviews with academic Steve Pile, brutalist architect Owen Luder and architecture photographer Jo Underhill.

I absolutely love documentary and despite a majority of the films I make being fiction I spend most of my spare time watching documentaries. I have many ideas of documentaries I would love to produce and direct further into my filmmaking career. Brutalism – A Hope Dashed confirmed this love and passion. This was the first project that we were able to choose our own crew, topic and have free reign over equipment.

Running around London and collecting footage alongside a crew I am close friends with was one of the best filmmaking experiences I have had. We were all on the same page throughout the production which leads to a sense of true collaboration and ownership over the project. Getting Owen Luder as an interviewee was a dream as during early development of the project his building ~ the Tricorn in Portsmouth was a huge influence on the creation of the project.

I really want to explore documentary filmmaking more now I’ve graduated. I have lots of ideas I would like to explore further.

 


 

Above are the three short films I’m able to share with you in their entirety. The remaining short films are still in post-production or up for festival nomination.

 


 

Spinning Frame (2020)

Spinning Frame is the first short I produced outside of the University setting. An enjoyable project working alongside the same crew as Brutalism – A Hope Dashed. Shot in both the United Kingdom and Poland, three individuals sink into absurd fantasies amidst the swarm of their busy lives. Sound and vision entwine around them to manifest their dreams of an alluring escape.

Originally, this short was called Moments in Swarms which was screened at WeWork in London as part of an event. Following feedback received at this event, we revisited it to further improve the final film. After this revisit, we decided on the new title Spinning FrameThis re-edit is currently entered into festivals across the world one of which is currently at the public vote stage of the competition. If you would like to rent the collection of short films and support Spinning Frame you are able to do so by clicking here.

Petrol Station Girl (2020)

Screen Shot 2020-06-18 at 13.58.09

Petrol Station Girl was made as part of my final year coursework whilst at University. Due to COVID-19 post-production has been delayed and we have a few aspects we would like to tidy up ahead of festival submission.

Petrol Station Girl, a Coming of Age short, follows Connor on his last night in his local town who plucks up the courage to finally confess his attraction to ‘the petrol station girl’, Katie who he admires from a distance every day on his way home from school. This interaction makes Connor realise reality doesn’t quite match up with his initial perception. Katie encourages Connor out of his shell through a very innocent and endearing conversation. Following a difficult past causing much anticipation and anxiety, this is the first time Connor feels as though his voice is heard.

This was my first time working alongside this crew of people. They made it such an enjoyable situation despite having some very stressful and challenging situation we had to overcome. Again this project tested my skills working with children yet this time around it was much easier having previously had the experience during my first year of University. Sourcing a Petrol Station was the most challenging aspect of this production, however, in the end, we all pulled together to find a location we were pleased with.

Home Gnomes (2020)

Screen Shot 2020-06-18 at 13.56.53

Home Gnomes was definitely my most stressful short film to date. Being the film with the biggest budget, crew and cast I ran into a few issues. Trying to keep peace among a large crew with conflicting interests was most probably my biggest challenge.

The short features Belinda and her three gnomes who have inhabited the uncanny world of her garden for many years. Following the timely death of homeowner Belinda’s eldest gnome, the arrival of new gnome Tony causes unrest within the garden.

Ray, one of Belinda’s older gnomes takes it upon himself to preserve order within the garden he’s lived in throughout his lifetime. With little time Ray must decide on the actions that he must take to maintain balance within the garden he’s worked so hard to protect, resulting in tragedy.

There must always be three, no more shall we see.

The film is now in post-production and like Petrol Station Girlhas been delayed due to COVID-19. We are planning to revisit it once the University is back open ahead of submitting to festivals.

 


 

My passion for filmmaking has definitely grown whilst at University and my ambitions to make bigger films than I have previously is driving me to keep creating post-university. I never thought this little hobby I started in my early years of high school would lead me here.

 

Have you ever made any short films? I would love to see or hear about them in the comments below!

 

Interested in my Film work? Visit my online portfolio!

Follow me on Bloglovin’ to easily see whenever I post! Also, are we friends yet on Instagram? It’ll be lovely to see some of you over there @jessicabensonn_


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