RansomNoteRansom Note, an experimental thriller that turns conventional film making on its head, has scooped Colchester Film Makers Club three prestigious awards in this year’s British International Amateur Film Festival.

Written and directed by Henryk Jachimczyk, with photography by Paul Desmond, the film strips out any attempt to encourage emotion or identification with the characters.

Instead of seeing faces or hearing voices, the viewer is presented with bald facts as though watching a real time news report. Only at the end is the “truth” revealed.

Ransom Note has been awarded the IAC Diamond trophy, the equivalent of the top Five Star rating; the Best Entry from an affiliated club: and Best Editing.

It is eligible to compete for the Daily Mail prize for the Best Amateur Film of the Year and the IAC’s Best British Film.

The final judging and presentation of awards will take place at the festival’s Premier Awards Show in Sittingbourne, Kent on April 19.

The panel of judges commented: “The most defiantly stylish film we have seen this year, it tells its fairly simple story of a sting in a way which is both alienating in a Brechtian sense and also fascinatingly engaging.

You (Colchester) force us to observe the details which reveal the story. The title sequence is at once charming and also suggests the way we will be fed information in visual snippets throughout.

The editing, in the sense of both timing of cuts and layout on-screen, is what makes the film powerful and memorable.”

LiveMixThe main hall in the Hythe Community Centre was transformed into a television study on February 10 when the club staged a “live” recording of its version of Ask the Experts.

In the chair was Barrie Gibbard (club chairman), who was joined on the panel by John “JJ” Jones and Henryk “Hen the Pen” Jachimczyk, both club members and award winning film makers.

Questions on issues ranging from white balance to “Who do you make your films for – yourself or competition judges?” prompted a lively debate, all of which was captured on camera.

Professional directors-cameramen Robin Garton and his son Dylan set up a video mixer connected to the three cameras in the “studio” while the cameramen were linked via talk-back. The 30-minute programme was screened at a later club meeting.

The exercise proved so worthwhile that it is hoped to repeat it next season.

RJ14-StringsWhat’s that un-PC expression about two birds and one stone?

Well in chairman Barrie Gibbard’s case it certainly proved correct when he competed in the club’s Ray Jennings, the annual cut-to-music competition (February 24 2015).

As Barrie explained after his entry Strings Attached outperformed four other entries to win the judges’ vote in the annual technical challenge: runner-up was Brands Hatch 1969 by Robin Garton, and third Measuring up for Lunch, Paul Desmond.

The results of the members’ vote were: first, Holiday in New Zealand by Peter Noakes; second Strings Attached by Barrie Gibbard; and third Measuring up for Lunch, Paul Desmond.

ScriptWritingAs part of the club’s regular technical sessions, member John Howden employed a wide selection of his films and script print-outs to illustrate the different ways he goes about achieving a film script. (February 3, 2015)

The key considerations, he advised his audience to consider, were:

  • allow the pictures to tell your story while letting the script fill in details not shown

  • write in ordinary, spoken language

  • research your subject before writing

  • be prepared to rewrite and restructure as you progress ideas

  • use an on-screen scripted narrator as well as the anonymous off-screen commentator where appropriate

John explained that there were basically two types of scripted film: 1. the pre-written, researched script with the images shot to order; and 2. the randomly shot video, such as the traditional holiday film, which were later scripted and built into a feature.

He concluded: “The most important thing about film making is to enjoy it and be open to learn from others.  Watch TV and go to the cinema as often as you can and then go and do likewise with your camera!”