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Making Films in Lockdown

By Mark Haines- 19 August 2020

How we wrote 'My Skat'

I think that now, more than ever, it’s important to keep storytelling alive and well in whatever form. Sharing stories and empathising with each other is how we get through these dark times together. Filmmaking and how it is achieved has recently changed given the current pandemic. Precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of everyone involved on film sets around the world. What Jaco and I also found is that making a film together doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to actually be physically in the same room. Which is a lovely oxymoron, if you think about it. If storytelling creates empathy - bringing people together in terms of understanding, then telling a story and creating a film in lockdown is a testament to the sheer passion and dedication needed to create and tell such stories.

The process of making our short films, ‘My Skat’ and ‘home.’, was an organic one due to the nature of everything being online these days. The distance between people is not bound to proximity. Jaco and I had frequent Zoom meetings, and a WhatsApp video-call walkthrough in his garden (the primary location for ‘My Skat’) when brainstorming the script. And with helpful tools such as Arc Studio Pro, that allowed us to work on the same script at the same time, it made the process feel less lonely while loneliness seems to be the pervasive modus operandi these days. And after dedicating myself to filmmaking, that is one of the big factors that makes filmmaking so appealing - it necessitates bringing people together in telling a story.

 

It’s not one of the things that initially attracts a person to filmmaking though - there’s the twisted idea of being a brilliant, misunderstood auteur who charges ahead crafting a masterpiece alone. That notion is nonsense when you get into the nitty-gritty of actually making a film. I’ve found that camaraderie and collaboration are what makes one return again and again. For me at least, even clashing over the best way to communicate an idea is extremely appealing, because I’m a part of doing something that I feel is important. And I feel extremely lucky every day that I get to pursue something that I enjoy doing with every fibre of my being. I also feel like most of what everyone does in our daily lives is just a way to feel less lonely. Collaboration is the key to keeping that loneliness at bay and keeping that creativity flowing. I cannot tell you how invaluable it is to be able to bounce your ideas off of someone and keep iterating. We’ve currently got a film in the works that we’re collaborating on the story with people other than Jaco and myself and it has been a gratifying experience thus far. We hope that you’ve got your eyes on the Looped Pictures YouTube channel for upcoming projects and videos.

And, quick side note here, speaking of the Looped Pictures YouTube channel, we currently have (at the time of writing this) 210 subscribers and 103 videos. Both of those numbers were big milestones for us and it’s been a big climb to get there. We can’t thank you enough for joining us on this journey thus far, we really appreciate it.

I feel like mine and Jaco’s passion for filmmaking, and that of our many colleagues and filmmaking friends, runs down to our very DNA and I feel like it has to be this way. You kind of have to be a special kind of crazy to be a filmmaker. And I wouldn’t trade that crazy for anything. I always think about how insane it is to make a film shot by shot, to film a wide shot, mediums, close-ups, and somehow maintain continuity so it seems like life happening in front of you. So much construction around trying to create something natural and organic that resonates deeply sounds like an impossibility. But therein lies the magic. And that magic can be created and exist even when you’re not in the same room. Even when co-writing a script on Arc Studio Pro or uploading proxies of footage you’ve just shot to Google Drive because your collaborator in another province (or even country) is going to dive in and edit it all together.

What I’m getting at, in an incredibly long-winded way, is that Jaco and I have made two short films while living in different cities, one of which ‘My Skat’, recently won 4th place in the KykNet Digital Short Film Competition - and this validated our aforementioned ‘crazy’. This is not, in any way, to brag about supposedly flourishing in a pandemic, definitely not. This is just a supportive chin-up to those storytellers around us, all going through this difficult time, to say - carry on doing it. Push through. Tell your story. Make Your Movie.

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