Interview with Gavin Strange (JustMakeIt! Conference 2022)

Our video team sat down with director and designer, Gavin Strange, to talk all things creative! Gavin will also be speaking at our conference in April 2022!

 

Gavin Strange is an experienced and enthusiastic creative who has worked at Aardman Animations for more than thirteen years. For his day-job as a director and designer, he has worked on award-winning projects such as Shaun the Sheep, Turtle Journey, his own music project called Project Toy, and is the author of the bestselling self-help book, Do Fly. 

To hear some advice about just getting on with projects and reaching out to people you admire, our team sat down with Gavin for a conversation.

 

We really enjoyed your talk, ‘Don’t Make It Perfect, Make It Now’. It runs parallel to Cahootify’s ethos, ‘Just Make It’. What does ‘Just Make It’ mean to you and why is it important?

 

Gavin: You know, on a weekly basis, I hate everything I’ve ever done and I’m just frustrated that I’m not better, and it comes down to me siting grumpily and thinking to myself: “Well, the only thing you can do is get better, then.” That’s it! All you’ve got to do is get better – and for me, the only way to get better is to make more stuff, and get into that cycle of trying to do stuff.

Then, of course, we get back into the complications: when are you going to find the time to do it? How are you going to find the energy? But you’ve got to be kind to yourself, one step at a time. I think, take solace in the fact that, those people you look up to – unless they’re not human – are definitely going through the same frustrations. I’m sure they look up to other people and go, “Man, why didn’t I do that?”

 

“You’ve got to be in the game to try and win it.”

 

That’s so bizarre to think about, isn’t it? The people we look up to and celebrate, they’re like gods. They are just these beings that have created these things we love… but someone has to do it. Someone in the world has to write that script you love, someone in the world has to design that typeface you adore using – it might as well be you! You can only try! You can only be a part of the game, there’s no point sitting on the sidelines. It might be you, it might not be you… but it also might be!

 

What advice do you have for creatives who are exploring their own distinctive voice across different mediums?

 

Gavin: I’ve always loved music production and have always thought, “Agh, well, I’m not good enough so I’m never going to try,” but I’ve actually found it a really fun and creative process. I enjoy it because it’s very different to what I do for a day-job, and it’s also sort of easier because a lot of the devices I use don’t need a screen. If my daughter’s asleep on me at night, I can have one hand and I can make stuff, so it’s a way to be creative without changing my scenario.

I’m really not very good and just don’t simply understand music theory, but there’s still in something in me that goes, “Well, it doesn’t matter about that. Try. Just try!” You know, I don’t need anyone to like it – I’d love someone to like it – but I don’t need anyone to like it to stop me trying. The worst that can happen in the digital age is no-one will hear it to read or care or click the link, and that’s fine. You just move on the next thing and try and do something else.

So, yeah, it’s just constant push-and-pull, isn’t it? This emotional rollercoaster! But you’ve just got to try it. Make wonky music, make wonky stuff.

Don’t make it perfect, make it now.

 

How can creatives take inspiration from around them and use this to inform and develop their work?

 

Gavin: My inspirations kind of come from everywhere, and I really want to be a cheerleader for creativity and people in general. There are so many different people who do so many different roles. You know, I love film directors like Spike Jonze and Edgar Wright, but I love visual 3D artists like Ash Thorp; I love this artist called KAWS who makes beautiful, big, amazing sculptures and paintings and graffiti; mainly because they all do lots of different things, and I guess, again, they have a distinctive voice. They might all do things differently visually, but they still have a strong authenticity to their art.

I’m always reaching out to different people. I’ve done it since I was younger and I still continue to do so. When I first joined Aardman, I seeked out Nick Park because I’m a huge fan – now I’m very proud to say that we’re mates – because he was so kind and welcoming to me when I first joined the company thirteen years ago. It really showed me that you can take that risk and reach to the people who really inspire you, because generally, A, it’s flattering to hear from someone who likes what you do (that’s always a wonderful thing to be told!), but also, creatively, it’s really nice to talk about that stuff, so you might as well take the punt.

I’m forever e-mailing people or sending little messages. I just think being an active participant in that world has obviously been reduced so much in the last few years, because it’s dead easy to see what that person’s up to – send them a message, send them a tweet – so I think it’s really nice to be an active member of that community.

 

“Take that risk and reach out to the people who inspire you.”

 

I take inspiration maybe not from the individual pieces of work, because when I do, I just get really sad that I didn’t do it! (laughs) You know, I get really sad looking at what they’ve done and going, “Oh my days, you’re incredible.” Instagram is both a blessing and a curse, because you see it and think, “Wow, look at that, that’s a really awesome thing,” and that fades really quickly and your brain goes, “But what are you doing?” “I… I’m just scrolling on Instagram.”

(laughs) You know, you use this tool to be inspired, but then you realise you’re using a tool but you’re not creating. You’ve got be fluid in taking the inspiration, but not the negative associations of your own brain telling you, “You didn’t do that, you’re not good enough to do that, and why aren’t you doing that?” You have to keep at arm’s length and go, “They did an awesome thing… maybe I too could do an awesome thing?” I think that comes down to a positive mindset and you’ve got to be in the game to try and win it.

Watch the full interview videos with Gavin on our YouTube channel here

 

 

 

 

Interview with Robin Mukherjee (JustMakeIt! Conference 2022)

Our video team sat down to chat with award-winning screenwriter, Robin Mukherjee, who will be a guest speaker at our conference next year!

 

Robin Mukherjee is a hugely successful writer of film and television scripts, known for his work on Casualty, The Bill, Hetty Feather, and the award-winning feature, Lore.

Before he gives an exciting talk at our conference next year, we wanted to chat to Robin about his experience as a writer, his advice for aspiring creatives, and the value of networking.

 

What is the value of Cahootify and ‘Just Make It’, in your opinion?

 

Robin: There’s very few flowerings of any cultural movement, around the world, through the history of mankind, that does not in some way involve a collective venture. And I think Cahootify, in a sense, is that collective venture. It’s the collective, creative community of today.

Somebody wants to make a film. They’ve got a story to tell. Or they have a great eye for the visual effects, or they’ve got a good ear for sound. They want to make something, they want to create. They need a team, they need people to get in touch with, and Cahootify is about that.

 

“The ones at the top get out there and do it.”

 

Robin: If I could have a diagram, so this was, let’s say, a triangle, like this [Robin forms a triangle with his hands], with a point at the top and the base there, and it represented all the people who ever wanted to make something; the people who actually make something will be at that tiny little tip at the top. All the rest will do it one day, they’ll do it someday. They’ll wait for the stars to be aligned. But actually, the ones at the very top, the ones who make it, they get out there and they do it. They have the initiative.

You’ve got to push it through. You’ve got to take responsibility for it yourself. Cahootify then provides the wheels for that engine to turn. So I think it’s really important that there’s a way for people who have the initiative and the spark and the determination to make something, to then meet other people who are on a similar mindset. And then things happen.

 

 How important is ‘truth’ in writing?

 

Robin: It’s the most elusive, mysterious part of writing, but I think it’s also the most central and powerful part of it. It is the truth of it. It’s the truthfulness of it that hits you, that resonates with you, that lingers.

It’s the perennial question, really: What is the writer attempting to do? Communicate, of course. We’re attempting to communicate. We’re attempting to divert people from their anxieties and problems into a kind of fantasy landscape that we’ve invented for their benefit. But there’s also, kind of, the work of the artist. The honesty of the studio. The honesty of the easel, or the pad of paper. You’re trying to produce something that is true to you, that is authentic, that is genuine, that is real.

It’s so much more important than technique, because it determines your own technique. Formulate technique is borrowed from other people’s truths. It’s borrowed from the form that other people’s truths have had to take in order to make themselves apparent to others. You borrow their form, great. But you need to find your own truths, you need to find the form that articulates that truth. That’s how art develops, how it progresses. That’s how it is creative, and alive!

 

Do you have a bad habit you have to keep at arm’s length when writing something?

 

Robin: (laughs) Well, it’s procrastination, isn’t it? But sometimes procrastination has its’ place. Sometimes you just need to go for a walk. You need to do something else. Do you know what? You even just need to look at Facebook. You need to put your mind into a kind of numb zone and let the subconscious wheels turn. You’ve seen something, you’ve had an idea, you’re pushing into a scene, and I find it quite useful, then, to do other things. You’re never quite separate from it.

 

“Procrastination has its place.”

 

So if somebody were to come up to me and start trying to talk to me and have a sensible conversation, although apparently I’m “cleaning my car”, the neighbour comes along and they try to talk to me, and I’m like, “… Yeah, what?”. Because actually the body is cleaning the car. The mind is in whatever imagined landscape is trying to see the story. So procrastination has its place.

But then it can – like fear and not knowing – it can get in the way. It can then become a displacement, and then creative energy gets dissipated and that’s the end of it. So one has to just gauge each moment as it comes. Whether this is sort of allowing the mind to roam freely, just slack off the reins a bit, so it can find itself, ease itself, or whether you’re just distracting yourself from what you should be doing.

 

How do you feel about the writing process in relation to deadlines?

 

Robin: Well, another fault that I think I’ve sometimes been guilty of… guilty is the wrong word, but anyway…. is overcooking. Re-writing and re-writing and re-writing, until the end, you kind of have a microscopic forensic eye on every single syllable and you can no longer see it from a distance.

Whereas actually, that sort of highly meticulous, deeply organizational, rational way of writing can get everything nicely lined up and lose the very thing all those things exist to carry. And so that’s another thing. The wonderful thing about deadlines is things are ripped from your hands before you’re ready to hand them over, and that’s a very good thing. So having too much time to write something can really work against you.

Watch the full interviews with Robin on our Youtube channel here

CAHOOTIFY Now Has An EVENTS Page!

CAHOOTIFY is now running an Events page, where you can discover local and virtual events for filmmaking audiences!

The page has only been live for a few weeks, but we already have 15+ events to look at, including In Conversation with Filmmakers, an online panel held by Regent’s University London, and Encounters Bristol, the popular film festival currently accepting submissions.

If you’re running an event or you know of something that would be relevant to CAHOOTIFY, please get in touch with us and we can set up a page for our community to see.

Ideal events include film conferences, industry days, talks at film festivals, screenings followed by Q&As, and one-off workshops. Events can be live or virtual, as long as they’d be valuable to our community of aspiring and professional filmmakers.

Find the Events page by going to www.cahootify.com/events or simply go to the menu on the left-hand side while browsing CAHOOTIFY.

If you haven’t already, sign up to CAHOOTIFY at www.cahootify.com/create-account to have the freedom to showcase a portfolio, find opportunities, and recruit people for your film projects!

Contact us about an event:

Abigail Martin (Community Manager): abigail@cahootify.com

Pete Francomb (Chief Exec/Founder): pete@cahootify.com

‘Acting For Camera’ – A Course from The British Acting Academy

Are you an actor looking to improve your skills? Are you stuck at home and need something to occupy your time? Would you like to be taught by a professional Hollywood actor with plenty of credits to their name?

The British Acting Academy is hosting an exciting course, Acting for Camera, and students will be coached by BoJesse Christopher, an actor who has starred in various films and award-winning series. BoJesse has appeared in HBO’s True Detective, FOX’s Deputy, and alongside Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in Point Break.

During this course, students will cover warm-up exercises, audition techniques, scene study, rehearsals, on-camera technique and more. You will also receive detailed feedback from BoJesse during the sessions, applying it while working on your performance.

The course will be in the form of live workshops, running over four consecutive weeks with two-hour sessions on Tuesdays from 7PM-9PM.

If you’d like to apply, head on over to the British Acting Academy course page: https://www.britishactingacademy.co.uk/livevirtualactingcourses/p/acting-for-camera-bojesse

The course begins on 31st March and has a limit of 14 participants, so don’t hang around!

 

 

The British Acting Academy was founded by Gary Owston and Mark Horton (one of CAHOOTIFY’s members).

“The Premier British Acting Academy is here to offer the best in Drama and speech training for actors. We are bringing together a team of experts that will help deliver online training of the highest quality that is accessible to all.”

https://www.britishactingacademy.co.uk/about-us

https://cahootify.com/mark-horton

The Director’s Lined Script

What is it and how can it help you make better movies?

By Keith Kopp

The lined script is hands down the most important tool I have picked up on my directing journey and it marks a point where my films started to become more controlled. It is a clear way for me to note the coverage that I want, establish the shooting style and it helps me create my shot list. It can also help you to visualise the pace and tone of the film you are about to create. If you have ever seen a director toting a script around that has several lines (each represent a shot) with a number next to it, this is it.

An example of a lined script

When I first started making films I would just create a shot list after completing the script and the downside to this is it can easily turn into a confusing approach.  You might forget the coverage you initially wanted, this may shift the tone once you arrive on set and it makes you look underprepared. The lined script is your hack to the next level of directing.

How to create a lined script:

  1. First read the scene in your script – close your eyes and visualise – how does the scene look in your mind (be specific and try to fill in any gaps)?
  2. Remember that a basic scene is a master wide shot with two tighter medium shots (a set up you have seen on procedural television many times). There are times where this is economical storytelling, but does this feel too forumlatic for the story you wish to tell? What is your style, will the scene be covered in a oner with developing blocking?  Or will it have several shots with a faster pace to create tension?
  3. Draw a line either down the side or in the middle of the script and stop the line when you think the shot will end. You will then number the lines (these are your shot numbers). Most on the left hand side and go right but I do the opposite.
  4. Create a shot list that corresponds with your lined script, at a minimum you should have the shot number, scene number, description of the shot size/movement and description of the action you are covering in the scene. This will help you remember what the plan is but also allows your team to better understand your directorial vision.
  5. One of the signs of a seasoned director is that they are not shooting everything, they shoot what they know they need. There is a fine balance between having the coverage you need for your edit but also not rinsing your actors of their energy when you have their performance already covered from another angle.

There are several ways to do this and some directors have a whole language with scribbles and symbols. I personally use lines with a dash at the bottom to show the end of the shot or an arrow to signify its continuing at another page and a squiggly mark over anything that is off screen.

The lined script can also help you in the edit when it comes to recalling your initial intentions for coverage and shooting style. If you have a script supervisor on set they will make their own version of this which will outline what was actually shot (how takes, condensed shots, and any changes to the plan).

Keith Wilhelm Kopp is a director of several short narrative films, and he is currently in post-production of his debut feature film Translations (which was partially crewed up on Cahootify). He is currently developing a feature film with the support of the BFI Network. You can check out some of his work on his Cahootify profile.

We Were Included As a Top Startup by Welp Magazine!

In one of the newest articles published by Welp Magazine, ‘Top Digital Media Companies and Startups in the UK’, we were delighted to see that CAHOOTIFY has been given a mention.

Welp Magazine, an online magazine dedicated to providing advice, tools, and guidance for various businesses, launched in 2020, and they already have dozens of articles for ‘all your business needs’. These include recommendations for office equipment, accounting software, and strategies. They also document topical trends in the business and technology industries, such as how/when office workers can return to normal after the pandemic.

CAHOOTIFY has appeared in their list of the ‘Top Digital Media Companies and Startups in the UK’, an article released on December 6th 2020. We’re honoured to have been included amongst a slew of well-established names including Channel 4, Comedy Central, and AOL. As a company committed to helping  filmmakers make their projects happen, as well as everyone involved in the filmmaking process, it’s heartening to see the development and growth of the Cahootify platform recognised by their analysts.

You’ll find the full article  here: https://welpmagazine.com/top-digital-media-companies-and-startups-in-the-uk/

Are you a filmmaker, producer or actor? Don’t yet have a Cahootify account? Sign up at https://cahootify.com/create-account

Co-Working Relationships, the Law and the Minimum Wage

“Filmmaker seeks actor to play lead. £80 offered for three days.”

Shown above is a summary example of something I often see when creatives are seeking to make a project happen. One person (I shall call her “Jenny”) is looking for someone else (I shall call him “Joe”) to perform a role on a project. As a sweetener, Jenny is offering some money to Joe. She’s offering all that she can reasonably afford but less than the national minimum wage.

In this kind of case, someone often pipes in with some version of “you can’t do that, it’s illegal”.
Continue reading “Co-Working Relationships, the Law and the Minimum Wage”

How to use CAHOOTIFY: A set of short sharp video tutorials by Screenology

Those lovely folk at the Screenology film school have created a set of 9 short sharp tutorial videos on how to use Cahootify. The tutorials were created purely for Screenology’s own benefit but we’ve kindly been allowed to share them with you. These tutorials are aimed at first year students so if you’re an experienced industry professional some of the “third person” language might be slightly off the mark but when it comes to explaining how Cahootify works, they’ve done at least as good a job as we could have. Thank you Screenology. Enjoy!

1. Intro to CAHOOTIFY and kicking off your profile

2. Adding a gallery to your profile

3. Populating your project portfolio

4. Crediting your fellow cast and crew

5. Accepting a credit invitation

6. “Automagic” protected project versions

7. Advertising needs on an upcoming project

8. Expressing interest in another’s project need

9. Reviewing expressions of interest received

How to credit yourself on a project added by someone else (and why that’s OK)

There are two ways to credit yourself on someone else’s project – the first from your portfolio, the second from a project detail page.

1. From your portfolio

On your own profile, click the “Add Project to Portfolio” link at the top of your portfolio (on mobile screen sizes this is just a plus icon).On the form that comes up, enter the name of the project you wish to add and click/tap the “Add” button.If someone else has already added this project (or one with the same name…) then it will be presented to you in the following view. If it’s your project, click/tap on the “This is my project” button.You’ll then be taken to the “Add Project” form just as if you were adding a project from scratch – except that it will be pre-filled with the correct project information. If you wish to edit this information, perhaps because you feel it could be improved or because you wish to personalise it, you can just go ahead – Cahootify will “automagically” create a unique version for you without impacting anyone on the original project you just joined.

2. From a project detail page

From any project detail page, click on “I worked on this project” at the top of the team credits (just the plus icon on mobile).On the form that comes up, simply add the role tags for the roles you played on the project, then click/tap the “Save” button. Cahootify will both add you to the project team and add the project to your portfolio (or to the “Projects with Needs” section on your profile if the project isn’t completed and has needs).If you now wish to edit the project you can just go ahead – Cahootify will “automagically” create a unique version for you without impacting anyone on the original project you just joined.

Cahootify Credits and “Automagic” Project Versions

Cahootify is structured like IMDb in that multiple people – cast and crew – can be credited on a project. However, it’s much better than IMDb (though we say so ourselves…) in that each person or company on a project can then create their own version of that project – one where all the info is completely unique to them. This happens “automagically” without anyone even needing to think about it.

This means that, for example, if you’ve worked with a team of people on a series of projects, only one of you has to create each project and you can all easily have profiles that look fantastic. If you wish, you can then further tailor the project info in your own portfolio without impacting anyone else.

I’ve just explained how to credit yourself on someone else’s project. Link through for:

  1. How to credit someone else on a project you added (and why you should).
  2. Project versioning described in a little more detail.

All support documentation…