'Bye the Sea' is our latest Film of the Month

17 Feb 2020 in Film of the Month

9 mins
'Bye the Sea' is our latest Film of the Month

We are very pleased to announce that the latest winner of the Film of the Month competition is Bye the Sea, by young filmmaker Leonardo, from London.

Bye the Sea (engaging for ages 11+) sees a young man finding his daily train commute interrupted by daydreams of a beautiful seafront fantasy.

I loved the pacing of this and how the subtle cinematography takes you into the character's subjective experience. The open/ambiguous ending works well for a short film and it's left in a way that makes sense for the dreamy narrative.

Film of the Month judge on Bye the Sea

We got in touch with Leonardo to find out more about his film. 

Congratulations on winning Film of the Month. How long have you been making films?

Thanks! I started making shorts, doing all kinds of projects in BTEC Media at the beginning of Year 12. As I slowly got the filming buzz, I created more films - and not just for school. This and the lessons throughout the year helped me to learn more about the theory and technical aspect of filmmaking. Before then, I did what a lot of teenagers do: I made vlogs. As silly and slightly embarrassing as these videos are now, they gave me the spark for making stuff. I did venture into more ambitious videos after my GCSEs and learnt valuable editing and camera skills which helped me have more confidence when going into sixth form. 

Where did the idea for Bye the Sea come from?

The film's concept was a personal story and a love letter to where it was filmed, in St Ives. The idea did become more fleshed out when going to St Ives and exploring the many locations which gave me the inspiration for the 'Dream Montage'.

This personal aspect of the film also is shown on the train scenes. Many London commutes are very boring and you lose yourself in your imagination. On many commutes I did daydream, and many times I daydreamed of the sea. This cemented the foundations of this film and also was going to be a story people can easily relate to.

Your film has a very fluid sound design, seamlessly carrying us from one location to another. How did you put that together?

In many of my films, I manipulate sound to convey certain themes. As Bye The Sea is a very character-forward story, with the audience needing to understand what is happening in the character's mind, it meant that a lot of the sounds were diegetic so the film could convey this need the character wanted.

To get the 'seamless' effect throughout the film is the use of LOTS of keyframes [Note: a 'keyframe' is the start or end of any transition in the picture or sound of a film]. These keyframes faded in and out lots of the different audio effects I had. I also mixed lots of different sounds together, so that when they needed to be faded out, I could use other effects to be louder so that there can be a seamless transition. Kind of confusing! But, most of the mixing was little tweaks of its gain and listening to it very carefully to hear the transitions. I produced around 30 different cuts of the film, with very small changes, but doing this I slowly made the mixing better.

When shooting the audio, I recorded many of the effects on location. When in St Ives, I recorded tons of ambience of different areas so that that the scenes felt real. When back in London, I again recorded lots of the ambience on the stations as well as on the train. Some sounds were also found on copyright-free websites (the train horn at the beginning of the film) just to create a more realistic setting. 

How did you and the composer work together to create the music for the film?

I told Lewis (the composer of Bye The Sea) about the project in pre-production. He had already been working on a piece of score for another short film for me and was very happy to create the score for Bye The Sea. I gave him the script and highlighted where the piece of music would be. When in post-production, I used a mock-song during editing and used this piece of music as an example of how I wanted the score to be.

After editing the first cut, I sent him the film with the example song, and he took inspiration from that and worked on it. We produced around 5 different pieces before we got the final cut, and we both constructively critiqued the pieces until we got to the final piece.

Lewis is a Sixth Former in his final year as well, so I was extremely happy that he helped. Lots of the emotion and the beauty you get in that part of the film is emitted from Lewis' work, so I have to thank him for that!

Your film has a very relaxing visual harmony to it. How did you create this?

The beginning and end of the film (the train scenes) wanted to be slightly more jarring, with the visuals being more close-up. The weather also helped to give a more gloomy feel (typical English weather). This contrasted heavily with the look in the dream montage. For this part I was filming around October time in St Ives, and the weather was surprisingly BRILLIANT! I filmed during morning 'Golden Hour' throughout the whole dream sequence, to give the scenes a warm feeling. The sequences were all still and didn't have any movement at all which made the scene more smooth and relaxing.

I tested all the St Ives shots together to see what matched well when using the dissolve transitions. When doing this, I saw that the transition from the horizon showing the lower part of St Ives and the ocean's horizon on the beach matched PERFECTLY! I did plan for the shots to be similar to each other and the help of the ‘Rule of Third' grid when filming further matched these scenes. I had to do some blocking practice at St Ives as I was a one-man-crew for the whole shoot! I used the sand to make markers which made it easier.

Are there any films or filmmakers that influenced Bye the Sea?

I took inspiration for the train scenes from the cop-comedy Hot Fuzz, directed by Edgar Wright. I really like Edgar Wright (like many others) and his film has a very interesting train sequence, which inspired very similar themes in the opening scene of Bye The Sea. I also love how Christopher Nolan uses time and perspective in his projects, which did help with writing my film.

There are so many other filmmakers who inspire how I want to create stories. Some of these filmmakers don't directly link to Bye The Sea but still helped me to learn and love the craft.

If you could make Bye the Sea again what would you do differently and why?

Crew! I did have help filming the scenes back in London, but not in St Ives! This meant that some of the shots had to be slightly more basic (no movement). However, this filmmaking style helped to give the film a very smooth and peaceful feeling (with help from the dissolve transitions) but I would have liked to do some more ambitious shots.

I also would have loved to have some lighting equipment in both locations. The lighting in St Ives is always BRILLIANT and many artists go and live there because of this and its beautiful scenery. Nevertheless, having a fill light or reflector board to get that extra quality would have been very helpful.

What three tips would you give to a young filmmaker about to make their first film?

  1. Don't forget sound! I've had so many shoots where we used very faulty and low-quality sound equipment and it ruined what we did.
  2. Don't overload during post-production. Being in this part of creating a film is a very tedious process. Tackle it bit by bit.
  3. Film, film, and then do some MORE filming! You can never get enough experience!

Leonardo's film will now be showcased to over 300,000 film club members online and all of our Film of the Month films are now on the Into Film YouTube channel, and he has also secured a £100 Amazon voucher to help further develop his future films. Think you could win Film of the Month? Find out more about how you can enter our ongoing Film of the Month competition.

If you've been inspired by Bye the Sea then make sure to check out the following films:

  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013, PG, 110 mins) Engaging for 7+
    When daydreamer Walter Mitty's job at a New York magazine is threatened, he embarks on a global journey that turns into an extraordinary adventure.
  • Mirrormask (2005, PG, 96 mins) Engaging for 7+
    A dazzling fable in which a troubled young girl finds herself on an odyssey through a dreamscape filled with both grotesque and beautiful creatures.
  • After Life (1998, PG, 118 mins) Engaging for 11+
    If you were allowed to keep just one memory for eternity, what would it be? A thoughtful fantasy in which fate, Heaven and destiny is explored.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010, 12, 107 mins) Engaging for 11+
    Scott Pilgrim finally meets the girl of his dreams, but must fight for her affection in this highly stylised, energetic action comedy.

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