Aleysha Minns – student film producer

Being a producer for a low budget student film is extremely hard work, especially if you are part of a large group with such big aspirations for our final project at university. I have always loved taking the role of producer during my time in the single camera unit as part of my Media Production degree and I enjoyed every minute of working on our final film ‘Forlorn’.

‘Forlorn’ is a gritty psychological drama which tells the story of aspiring photographer Ben Broadhurst. When an event dramatically changes his life, his world falls apart and he has to deal with the physical and psychological effects. Ben’s career and relationship start to fall apart as he struggles to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). When forced to seek help by his wavering girlfriend, he visits a therapist, but things take an unexpected turn for the worse.

forlorn0304130067_300wThis film was our semester 2 project but we started work on this around September 2012. The director, David Needham, began thinking of the idea and drafting various versions of the script until the Christmas holidays, which was when a final version was created. As we had our script, we began location scouting and auditioning within January as well as looking for some audio production students to help us. After putting out an email, we met Laurence Worn and Richard Mathias who did an amazing job on all things sound throughout the entire project.

production picture_250wDuring this time we also found a collection of amazing actors, all of which we found in completely different ways. Our main actor was Tom Broadhurst (who shares the last name of our character as we decided to base the name on him) is a 2nd Year Drama student at the university, and our director knew him from college. Our therapist, April Moon, we found on Star Now; she traveled in to meet up with us and we knew that she would be perfect for the role. Star Now was also used to find the character Claire, played by Cherise Mitchell, who is a 1st year Drama student and happened to be best friends with our main actor Tom! It made their couple scenes entertaining to say the least!

Star Now also helped us find our main thug actor of Jay Walters, who appeared in one of the director’s 2nd year projects, and we wrote this part in the script especially for him. Since making our film, Jay has gone onto get a part in a feature film and is about to start filming at Shepperton Studios! Our two other thugs were played by Martin Stroud, who has had a few parts in several Media Production projects across the year and who happens to be a great housemate for helping us out, and Dave Anthony, who acted in our other 3rd year film before Christmas.

Production picture 3_300wWe had a 14/15 strong cast and crew for the project, which is quite a lot for a student project and was a logistical nightmare. The film was in production from February- April with a month of post-production time and I would like to say thank you to everyone for giving up their time to help us make this film possible. This also includes John Gibbins who helped us out so much on lighting, technical support, providing an extra camera and lenses for us as well as taking a set of stunning production stills!

We shot the film on a Canon 650D with a huge range of lenses that were provided by our camera assistant, editor and general technical wizard Sam Errington. We also made a good attempt at practically taking half of the media loans equipment with us on every shoot, using the jib and tracking as much as we could as well as 4 LED Lightboards among many other pieces of equipment.

As a team, we strived for a professionally styled film and this included finding great locations, which took a total of 2 months to find, occasionally being discovered less than a week before a shoot. I would like to thank everyone who helped us search for locations, including the many estate agents and Lincolnshire Council who had constant phone calls and emails from us. In the end, New Life Centre in Lincoln kindly rented us the use of their building for the therapist scenes and Tokyo Nightclub rented us their basement and backrooms to film in. I would also like to thank Polly Griggs for letting us use her house and car.

As a very low budget student film, the rent of these locations placed us over budget, so we decided to make a Kickstarter campaign, were we raised £200 successfully from people around the world. We had donations from America and Ireland, we even had a backer, David Martin, who left a message of support on our project who is a University of Lincoln graduate! To keep costs down, all of the costumes were from our actors’ wardrobes as well as us hand making all of our props including the fake blood.

raindrops picture_250wWe have had so many great times filming this project and making it the best it can be, with lots of laughs to be had. The team got on really well and we have had some incredible moments, mainly when filming with Jay, Martin and Dave. As an extra on the DVD, there is a clip of these actors tied up to chairs, taped mouths and fake blood over their faces, who randomly broke out into a musical number singing “raindrops keep falling on my head” accompanied by a perfectly timed leg movement and jazz hands. Dave even started dancing in the background.

being hit on head with boompole_200wThe crew also had a great time together; a moment which I remember the most is when I was using the clapperboard and waiting for a shot to be set up. I was continuously whispering underneath the boom pole so only the sound operator, Laurence, could hear me, so he decided to catch me out by hitting me on the head with the boom microphone while I was calling out the shot.

Since the film has been completed, we have been included in the Degree Show 2013 trailer as well as having an amazing response from tutors, visitors to the show and the many audiences that have watched it. In the end, the film ended up nearly 40 minutes long, which classes as a feature film in some film festivals we have entered! Once the film went up on Youtube, we have had a fantastic response considering it is such a long film, within a few days the views climbed up past 300. We are looking for feedback on the film and would love any comments (good or bad) about what people think and we have entered it for as many competitions and festivals as possible looking for some industry feedback.

I have had a fantastic time at university and will miss the experience so very much, but I am so glad that I am leaving on such a high, with a film to a great standard with such a talented crew. Thank you to our tutor Ronnie Fowler who was such a great support not just through this complex project, but also through our whole time at university.

1 thought on “Aleysha Minns – student film producer

  1. Thanks Aleysha – really great piece. Inspirational! You’ve worked so hard and deserve every success.

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