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Moment Invitational | How This Was Shot | Ash Tailor

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| Ash Tailor
June 12, 2018
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We launched a film festival dedicated to the mobile creative, “The Moment Invitational”. 11 filmmakers made heartfelt, visually juicy short films with their phones. They each proved you can create incredible work with the devices we use every day. We got to sit down with each filmmaker to learn just how they did it!

First up: Ash Tailor. Ash festered a particularly dark, and emotionally gripping short featuring an intense soundtrack and an other-wordly acting deliverance. In, “Heima”, we see Tailor’s tasteful art direction and globally renowned cinematography in his creative slice of iPhone visionmaking. Take a look at what he had to say about his process.

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Ash also took the time to provide some advice on filmmaking, here’s what he’s learned:



What’s harder? Getting started or being able to keep going?

The hardest thing is to grow. Some people fall straight into it if they've gone to school but many of us (myself included) never went. Of course, going to film school is highly questionable these days but what still rings true is the network that creates and that's something that can help you to keep pushing forward.  Anyone can grab a camera (we all have one) and start filming things (I definitely recommend everyone to do so) but it's definitely trying to keep going, push and grow that is harder. 



When you feel creatively drained, what do you do? How do you stay fresh?

This is genuinely a tough question to answer because I often feel like this and feel I still have yet to figure it out. What I would say though is keeping your mind busy on other things. Try and have a hobby, an interest, anything that forms a sense of escape. What I've started doing recently is getting back into hobbies that I've pushed to the side - movies, sports such as formula 1 and football and things like gaming.  This has started to help balance my mind, what I think about and how I approach the things I do. Any form of art is all-encompassing and some people deal with it better than others. I, for one, think the best thing you can do is just try to let go once in a while and just enjoy something else. That in itself will open up your mind because you never know where inspiration will come. 



What makes a “good” film? Are there any must-have qualities you aim to portray with your art?

For me, it's all about the story. As a cinematographer you cannot imply meaning without a good story, it's what makes you want to showcase elements, beats, emotions through aspects such as movement and lighting.  The story doesn't have to be linear, it's just the idea. There has to be something. If you're on the other end of the scale in commercials, there still has to be story because that is something that will take your piece from some general montage to something that people can actually relate to.

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It’s not doubt that the creative process of filmmaking requires teamwork. What, to you, generates fruitful collaboration? And what do you do to enhance this collaborative process?

Filmmaking is like no other art form. it's never ever going to be good without collaborators and they can come in many forms. On the creative side, you want to find a director you can work with, not only as a person but as a creative because this is probably the most important relationship there will be. This back and forth will determine how involved you feel and how much input you ultimately have because as a cinematographer, your responsibilities are just as high. 

You need someone that is open, willing to collaborate and overall, someone you share morals with because you're going to be spending a lot of time with them and the only way a good body of work can come out of this is if the above falls true. 

The same works on my side. Some directors/clients want collaboration, some don't. What I do is try and be open as much as possible and try and give an input where it can be done. You just have to assess the situation and the type of person he/she might be.



How did you go about finding the right talent? How did those conversations go?

For my Moment Invitational film, I ended up finding my talent through Facebook, of all places. Being new in Canada at the time, I had no idea but groups on Facebook are definitely ones that everyone should keep bookmarked.  This was the most stressful aspect of the whole process because ultimately, everything resides with them. I had no dialogue, no cuts to hide things - it was all down to them.  So the immediate conversations were to just see who they were and what they were like. Like any collaborator, you want someone that you feel connected with, someone that you could talk openly with because again, filmmaking is a very intense process full of emotion, trust and a lot more that is essential if things need to go smooth. So, finding the right people is super important. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't.  I made sure that she had context and motivation. They need to know why they're doing what they're doing and in what context it all takes place. I ended up making a special context for her so she could apply her techniques which would allow her to think in certain ways to help the performance.



Why was sound design so important?

I've always been into sound, i was just no good at it no matter what I tried. I spent most of university looking at sound art and exploring how it can affect the work that you put out and it's interpretation upon the viewers.  This holds true for film, commercial, basically anything. This piece was no different.  Given the style of the piece, I knew from the get-go that it would be nice if the score would completely contrast what was happening visually. I wanted it to have its own identity, be confident and completely unhinged so that it would revolve in a similar world to what the overall theme of the piece was.  Thankfully I found an amazingly talented collaborator to work with. Like everyone who helped out on this (mostly all for free), i owe them a great deal.

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What gear did you find most useful?

Absolutely the Moment Macro lens (I adore it) and depth of field adapter from beastgrip. Sure you lose some resolution by doing so but it suits my style perfectly.

What went wrong on the shoot?

Finding the location was the biggest challenge. Again, I know very few people so trying to acquire a location was such a pain. I had one location lined up but they were asking for an extortionate amount then trying to get permits, insurance, etc was way beyond the scope of this project. I ended up begging someone and they came through bigtime.



What did you learn/How would you do things different?

Directing. It was thoroughly enjoyable but it just proved how important it is to work with your actors, create environments they can thrive in and overall, just make sure you don't waste time when it comes to crunch time. Preparation is everything.  Producing. Having a larger budget would help achieve my vision, no doubt. It would've allowed me to pay people for their time and also allow me to have a lighting package so that everything didn't have to be captured within a short 20 minute period to make use of the correct natural light.

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As an independent filmmaker, bringing creative projects to life your spark. What sorts of project are you typically most most drawn to?

Something with a good story thread. Something that I can apply myself too and can sympathise/relate to. I love dramas, I love films with very little dialogue. I love conceptual films that dont adhere to a linear time base.



As a DP, how was the transition into directing?

The aim is to work on larger commercials and short films. I'd love to approach something properly, give it the time it needs in pre-production, do research etc rather than just jumping in and filming it which of course, is a budget thing.






Director's Notes

Director, Writer and Cinematographer: Ash Tailor
Grip: Brad Brown
Hair and Makeup: Mary Cuffe
Score: Cubby
Starring: Niamh Carolan
A big thank you to Nathan Riley and Matthew Moniz.




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