Q&A with Writer/Director, David Skynner

Word of Mouth

In our latest Word of Mouth we talk to Writer/Director, David Skynner, about his career to date, including BAFTA wins, interviewing Gary Numan, and starting out on Aliens.

What was your first job in TV?
My first job in TV was also my first as a director, on The Bill for Thames TV, but by then I had already been working in the industry for ten years, partly in features and also making corporate films.

My first proper production job was after I left The London Film School, when on graduating, the school found me a two-week attachment to the AD dept. on James Cameron’s Aliens. I got on so well with them I ended up staying three months and moved on to the creature shop for another two months, when Stan Winston saw a painting I’d done for a film school production. It was a very exciting film to work on, very very long hours though as I’d be in at 6am to open the dressing rooms and as the film slipped behind schedule and the days got longer, I often wouldn’t leave until 11pm.

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How To Become a Cinematographer

How to become a Cinematographer

What is a Cinematographer?
A Cinematographer is responsible for all of the visual elements of a film. They oversee and direct photography and camerawork across a whole film or TV production.

What is the Job?
A Cinematographer is the person actually in charge of shooting the film. They have the ability to make creative decisions, under the guidance of the film director, regarding the picture’s lighting, camera motion, shot colour, depth of field and scene composition. Even in pre-production, the Cinematographer has to make crucial decisions such as whether the film will be colour or black and white, whether it will be shot in digital or on film, and the style of shooting.

The Cinematographer works very closely with the film director, who will oversee and approve the decisions. A Cinematographer’s job is to impress the story of the screenwriter, and the vision of the film director, onto the actual film.

On larger films, the Cinematographer is solely responsible for shot composition and planning, whilst on smaller films, the Cinematographer will also take on the role of Director of Photography, and so will look after the lighting and make decisions regarding the camera, lenses, and other equipment.

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How To Become a Storyboard Artist

How to become a Storyboard Artist

What is a Storyboard Artist?
A storyboard artist creates visuals for each major scene in a film or TV show. Visuals will include character poses, facial expressions, and backgrounds.

What Is The Job?
The roles of a storyboard artist can differ from job to job. In some cases, the storyboard artist gets a script and has to create a storyboard based on that script, whereas in other cases, the storyboard artist also acts as the writer of the episode. In many cases, storyboard artists are responsible for ‘pitching’ their ideas to the director of a film. It’s one of the few art jobs in animation that can influence the final product.

The storyboard artist has to visualise everything, specifically from the camera’s point of view – from gestures to emotion, and based on preference, a storyboard artist can visualise the scenes by hand, or visualise them using software such as Photoshop or Storyboard Pro.

The illustrations that the storyboard artist creates have two functions: to help directors clarify what they want to achieve, and to illustrate to other members of the team exactly what is required (e.g. props, makeup, computer generated images).

The main role of a Storyboard Artist is to produce a series of panels of images to plan the animation’s shots and ensure continuity between them. Storyboards are mostly useful for productions involving a large amount of action, CGI and special effect, as it allows to reproduce expensive and time consuming on-screen effects just with pencil and paper. Big budget movies are often entirely storyboarded even before production, to help avoiding overshooting and prevent the filming to be too expensive.

During the first day of production, Storyboard Artists meet with the directors to discuss angles, mood and colours of each scene. They can then start producing the first illustrations and possibly give suggestions on the following scenes if the Director asks for their advice.

In big-budget films there are usually 2-3 Storyboard Artists employed on set full-time, usually working within the Art Department, where they can examine any props, models and Location photographs they need to get a clearer idea of scenes.

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How To Become a Digital Image Technician

How To Become a Digital Image Technician

What is a Digital Image Technician?
A Digital Image Technician (DIT) is responsible for the handling of content and image quality control. They’re responsible for ensuring that all footage is available for the editor. The role requires a vast amount of technological knowledge. The growth in the use of digital cameras has resulted in the creation and progression of the DIT position.

What is the Job?
The role of Digital Image Technician involves using a vast amount of technological knowledge to assist with monitoring exposure levels, colour correction, and creating dailies. The responsibilities and duties of a DIT varies from set to set.

A Digital Image Technician will also determine the camera’s menu settings, recording format, and output, and they will then be responsible for maintaining these. The DIT will work in collaboration with the cinematographer on workflow, systemisation, camera settings, signal integrity and image manipulation in order to achieve the highest image quality. A DIT is the connector between on-set time and post production; they are responsible for tasks during preparation, on-set time and post production.

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Member Discounts: Who Are Crunch?

Did you know that as a ProductionBase member you can get discounts on a growing range of industry services? From kit hire to mortgages, and car hire to accountancy. In their latest guest post, the guys at Crunch tell us more about their accountancy services, specially tailored for freelancers. All ProductionBase members are entitled to 10% of their first year’s fees.

Well, this is a little embarrassing. We’ve been writing for ProductionBase for months now, and we still haven’t properly introduced ourselves!

In the spirit of things being better late than never – hello! Erase everything you think you know about Crunch, and let’s get to know one another properly, shall we?

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Freelancer Tips: How Much Tax Should I Pay?

When you’re working freelance, calculating how much tax you should be paying can be tricky. We’ve partnered with Crunch, who offer specialist accounting services for freelancers, to help guide you through the maze.

Crunch have two webinars running tomorrow, where their experts will be on-hand to answer your queries, depending on whether you’re working as a sole trader, or you have your own limited company.

What taxes do I pay? A webinar for Sole Traders – REGISTER HERE

What taxes do I pay? A webinar for Limited Company directors – REGISTER HERE

Both webinars are free, so don’t miss your chance to have your questions answered by the experts.

Don’t forget, all ProductionBase members receive a 10% discount on Crunch accountancy packages for the first year, as part of your exclusive range of Member Discounts.

Freelancer Tips: Pay & Tax For Sole Traders

Starting out as a freelancer can be a daunting process, not least from a financial perspective. We’ve partnered with Crunch, who offer specialist accounting services for freelancers, to help guide you through the maze. In this article, we’ll take a quick look at pay and tax for freelancers working as sole traders.

How do I pay myself as a sole trader, and how much should I put aside for tax?
You don’t need us to tell you that everyone loves to get paid. When you’re a sole trader, though, what sounds like a simple concept can get a little tricky.

As far as the law is concerned, there’s no legal difference between you and your business when you become a sole trader. You receive the income and you pay the expenses – including the tax liability, which you pay as an individual. That’s why we always recommend you put some money aside to pay your taxes, as HMRC have very strict deadlines.

So, how much should you be putting aside for tax, and how do you go about getting your hard-earned cash from your business into your pocket? Let’s explore.

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