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MetFilm School Leeds students Co-Win The Unit’s Five Minute Film Club

By Elise Czyzowska

14 July 2023

Based in Leeds, The Unit is an open-access production space and a hub of production, learning, and targeted networking for filmmakers and content creators in the Bradford area. Each month, the space runs a Five Minute Film Club challenge, where teams create a five-minute film for next to no money, all while sticking with a monthly theme or rule, ranging from ‘No Dialogue’ (February) to ‘Conservation’ (June).

In April, entries had to relate to the work of William Shakespeare, and we were proud to see a group of students from our Leeds campus co-win the challenge with their film, Tomorrow.

The seven-person team included:

  • Director, Producer, Co-Screenwriter: Joshua Deal
  • Head Screenwriter: Molly Bailey
  • Director of Photography: Pranav Manchekar
  • Editor & Sound Design: Chloe Ali
  • Assistant Director: Fred Hiley
  • Script Supervisor: Anindini Sen
  • Lead Actor: Indigo Kamal-Poole

In today’s blog, we spoke to six members of the team about how they approached the challenge, as well as The Unit’s Programming & Engagement Producer (and MetFilm School tutor!), Jordon Scott Kennedy, on what he liked the most about Tomorrow.

Molly Bailey – MA Screenwriting

How did you approach writing a unique script, while also making your references to Shakespeare clear to the audience?

I started by listing the Shakespeare plays that interested me and, knowing I wanted a darker tone to my script, I opted for Macbeth. I think it’s one of the more tragic plays, especially with its’ themes of personal greed, destiny, loss, and grief.

It was an interesting project because the text is already there – I’ve never had something so fleshed out when first attempting a new project, so my approach had to change. Instead of writing a full script, I wrote a treatment encompassing the tone we were trying to achieve, character journey, and the general narrative.

From this, I decided the ‘Tomorrow’ soliloquy was the best way to go. A strong, inner monologue for a character seemed like it would offer several visual possibilities, and as the character goes on a journey of measuring loss, moving on, and adapting to the future, it related really nicely to how we’re all feeling about graduating. I wanted it to be poignant and familiar, and I’m really proud of what we produced.

‘It ended up being quite a poetic piece, and our guerrilla style harnessed that feeling of immediacy and rawness.’ – Joshua Deal

Joshua Deal – MA Directing

As the project’s director, what were you most proud of in your final Five Minute Film Club entry?

I think what surprised me the most about filming Tomorrow was how much the story we told ended up relating to myself and the crew’s own experiences coming to the end of our time doing our MA’s in Leeds.

With the one rule of the film being that it had to have a relationship to Shakespeare, the soliloquy we used ended up being very reflective of the themes of time passing, and a feeling of loss that we all seem to be confronting in our own way.

The highlight of the film for me was just how much freedom we all had to experiment on the day, and to come up with stylistic choices in the moment based on the mood and tone we attached to the story.

Anindini Sen – MA Directing

The role of Script Supervisor has a lot to do with on-set relationships. What would be your top takeaways from working in this position?

This was a very enriching experience, and one that I learnt a lot from – plus, our actor (Indigo) was really easy to communicate with, and understood the essence of the script, which motivated me to want to do my role even better.

One thing I will take away from the experience is that a Script Supervisor must have a strong line of communication with the director. Effective communication will help you to understand their vision, and to keep a check on things like continuity and other script elements accordingly.

Behind-the-scenes of ‘Tomorrow’, shot at Kirkstall Abbey

Chloe Ali – MA Directing

Editing & sound design are often underestimated by audiences – can you tell us how you approached this film?

Editing and sound design are so important in filmmaking as they add to the emotions being conveyed through the film. Working on this project was really interesting, as I edited the montage in a way that told a story through the clips, while also assisting the dialogue.

I’m really proud of the ambient sounds present in the film. As Josh had decided he didn’t want any music, I believe the sounds of the surrounding setting had to enhance and add to the story instead.

Pranav Manchekar – MA Cinematography

How did the themes of the script influence the visual style for Tomorrow?

It involved a thorough understanding of the director’s vision for the script, which revolved around themes of the passage of time and the imminent presence of death. It was key to translate those concepts into compelling visuals that would effectively portray the gradual erosion of emotions.

We went for a vintage atmosphere to do this, which we achieved through careful consideration of elements such as aspect ratio and film grain, all of which contributed to the desired aesthetic.

We also filmed at Kirkstall Abbey, a location in a state of decay, which therefore served as a poignant backdrop, heightening the emotional resonance of the narrative.

Still from ‘Tomorrow’

Fred Hiley – MA Directing

A five-minute run times means that every scene really counts – do you have any tips for keeping an organised set, while still allowing the freedom for creativity?

The key for me is to have open communication with every department – without that, the project can turn to chaos. By understanding how each department is doing, I can adjust the schedule accordingly, allowing for more creativity.

I also find having a soft but firm approach helps – an intimidating figure on set can stifle creativity, so by treating everyone respectfully, and guiding them with the schedule, you can get the best results.

A final word from The Unit’s Jordon Scott Kennedy…

The Five Minute Film Club is something I introduced at The Unit as a way of showcasing local talent, and encouraging collaboration between emerging filmmakers in the West Yorkshire region.

I was especially impressed by the film made by the MetFilm School students. It was great to see cross-collaboration across the different courses, and they interpreted the theme of ‘Shakespeare’ with innovation and a fresh perspective. The writing, cinematography, production value, and overall direction was outstanding. They were deserving co-winners of the award, and I’m really excited to see what they make next.

Jordon Scott KennedyProgramming & Engagement Producer, The Unit