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Making Films By Yourself When All of Your Friends Are Busy

By Lorenza De Benedictis (Content Creator, The Continuist)

Illustration by Seerhana Tarannum (Graphic Designer, The Continuist)

Disclaimer: this in no way is directed at anyone in particular. With the current state of the world (Quarantine) and students swamped with homework, it’s difficult to get projects together.

Let’s say out-of-the-blue one day an idea forms in your head that goes “I want to make a film!”, and so, you begin to concoct this amazing idea with fully fleshed out characters, a clever plot, cinematography, costume design etc, etc. You’re excited by what you’ve just created so you go to all of your friends that you know can help make your vision a reality when their responses pierce your heart with disappointment and frustration:

“That’s a great idea, and I totally would help but I have so much going on right now.”

“That’s awesome, but I’m swamped.”

“I’m helping on another set already, sorry.”

*Read 6:54 PM*

Being a film student with almost no opportunities... this stuff is hard to hear. Ouch. First of all, your friends are allowed to be busy. You’ve probably been that busy person before, and second, you don’t need to rely on anyone but yourself to get the job done. Making narrative films requires a crew, but the medium of film and what you can do with it is much broader than Hollywood and Film School leads you to believe. So before you lose your motivation to make anything, hear me out.

Enter the wonderful world of Experimental Cinema, where the likes of Norman McLaren, Stan Brakhage, Bruce Elder and many other filmmakers venture for a new experience in filmmaking. It’s different, and though many people don’t quite understand this genre or practice, whether you’re a film student, someone with free time, or a filmmaker who’s been in the game for a while, creating something that doesn’t follow the normal consensus of what a film should be teaches you to be comfortable with taking risks and trusting your judgement. It allows you to express yourself and place yourself into your work completely.

This article by No Film School was my inspiration to make short experimental-type films on my own, and it made a world of a difference in the opportunities it opened up.

Here is an image of the first film I made on my own, which you can watch in full here.

This is a clear 16mm film leader that I bought from Ryerson University. I used multi-coloured sharpies for the scribbles. It was then scanned at the university lab.

In a similar vein, I have also done this technique without film, and in a more stop-motion style.

I had many more frames than this. No frame was repeated when the images were scanned. All were done in pencil and pencil crayon on regular paper.

This is one completed frame!

The possibilities are endless, which is why this is not a step by step guide on how to make one. I have used camcorders, super 8 and 16mm film, DSLR’s, composed my own short melodies, played around with editing software effects all to keep creating when my friends are busy. I’ve made films about things I’ve been feeling, films about my cat, vlog-type shorts and found footage films. I’ve submitted the ones above to festivals, which have accepted and screened them.

The point is to experiment! Put your heart into that minute, minute and a half (the time stamp doesn’t matter) and accomplish your goal of making that film on your own!

To see my work, click here.

Check out two of my favourite experimental filmmakers: Francisca Duran and Anna Malina.

For where to buy the film leader I used, check out LIFT Store.

Lorenza De Benedictis (Content Creator, The Continuist)


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