'How Do You Feel?' is our latest Film of the Month winner

26 Jan 2023 in Film of the Month

10 mins
'How Do You Feel?' is our latest Film of the Month winner

We are delighted to reveal that our latest Film of the Month winner is How Do You Feel?, a short film made by young filmmakers at Sparks Film and Media Arts group in London.

How Do You Feel? (engaging for ages 14+) sees a teenager asked how she feels, which sets off a surreal visual barrage of emotions. We got in touch with the young filmmakers at Sparks Arts to find out more about their film.

A stirring and thought-provoking drama.

Film of the Month Judge on 'How Do You Feel?'

Congratulations! How long have you all been making films?

Lucas: Thank you! I have been making films for the past 8 years, starting at Sparks itself in late Year 4/early Year 5.

Alicia: I first discovered sparks creative media at the age of 12 and started my film journey when I turned 13! At first I did feel nervous, as I had never done anything like this before, but I'm so glad I joined Sparks because it has really opened my eyes - not just to acting, but to also see what goes on behind the scenes and how much effort goes into making a short film.

Zak: I have been making films for many years, on and off, but I never found anyone who really shared my excitement, so Sparks provided a fun and passionate environment with like-minded people to explore film.

Where did the idea for How Do You Feel? come from?

Lucas: The idea came from an interest in using implicit visuals to convey a message, and we developed that by linking distinct visual styles to the differing emotions shown in the film.

Alicia: The idea for How Do You Feel? also stemmed from us talking about mental health. We wanted to not just tell the audience what mental health is, but to show what really goes on inside somebody's head and how they may feel.

Zak: And we always had an idea of what kind of emotions we wanted to explore in our film, but finding a way to streamline them into a narrative took lots of collaboration and experimentation.

The way the film is made is incredible. Can you tell us about some of those practical/trick shots?

Lucas: My favourite shot in the film is a slow barrel-roll shot, moving towards a paper that falls off the wall. To do this, a string was attached to the paper and was tugged with a behind-camera prompt.

Alicia: One of the shots I am really proud of was the shot where the main character sprints through the hallway, representing chaos inside the person's mind. I also liked the scene when I'm running out of the therapy room as the effects are really good!

Zak: Funnily enough, many of the most complex shots we filmed weren't even planned ahead of time. I find we work best when in the filming environment, as it puts us into the headspace of the filmmakers we wish to emulate. Having access to our surroundings give us concrete ways to shape them.

What message would you like audiences to take from your film?

Lucas: A depressive mental state can often feel like an inescapable rabbit hole at times, but there is always a way out.

Alicia: I want the audience to realise how important mental health is and how it impacts nearly everybody in different ways. Not just that, but to think of ways to speak out to one another.

Zak: We found by loosening our narrative structure we could spend more time accentuating the emotions and themes we wished to convey through layered metaphors, so I hope the audience could take away that not everything is as obvious as it may seem. There's lots of thing bubbling underneath the surface in many of us.

How did you all find the experience, and how did you decide who did what?

Lucas: We all loved making the film, especially the starring role. We take it in turns with roles most of the time, but we have all fallen into our natural roles as time has gone on.

Alicia: As a group, from my perspective, I believe that we all enjoyed making this film. Me personally, I didn't mind who was the main character, but in this case (like the last film) I went forward with playing the main part. However, we all took part in directing as well.

Zak: Being on set is a very free-for-all experience, in the best and most creative way. We find that even with a strong sense of what roles people choose to take as crew members, as soon as someone has a good idea we immediately like to run with it, develop and execute it in a way that bypasses any set-out roles.

Are there any films or filmmakers that influenced your film?

Lucas: Lynne Ramsay's use of the awkward ultra-close up influenced the film, especially in her film You Were Never Really Here.

Alicia: From my perspective, this idea was mainly written up through our own thoughts not by any particular film or filmmaker.

Zak: Although we did also identify with many surrealist films and as a result took a lot of influence from them - not so much in story, but most definitely in terms of visuals. For example, I found Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the beautifully executed chaos of that film, how it portrayed its un-cinematic emotional reeling, to be very reflective of what we achieved with our final product.

If you could make How Do You Feel? again, what would you do differently and why?

Lucas: If I could remake How Do You Feel? I would place heavier emphasis on the movement of the camera, as I feel a spinning, disorderly shot type could enhance the nauseating effect of the film.

Alicia: If I could make How Do You Feel? again I would have added more things to the diary used, or even little makeup add-ons.

Zak: I feel having a more coherent story would have better supported these messages as it would have made for a more understandable experience. In a film full to the brim with a chaotic display of varied sentiments, the narrative should be at least one thing that is easily navigated.

What top tips would you give to young filmmakers about to make their own short film?

Lucas: Don't be afraid to place your characters in varying environments; this is a good exercise in resourcefulness. Make use of coloured light and light levels to make the most of your shots. And don't try to make something too serious - I often find that serious topics can be tricky for young filmmakers to effectively tackle due to their limited experience.

Alicia: Speak up about your ideas, or perhaps combine them with one of your peers. Write or draw out your scripts and scenes, or even improvise on some! And make sure to have fun, as it gets your imagination going!

Zak: One thing I realised across making many short films, which is something I am still far from perfecting, is that not matter how much technical knowledge you acquire about film, as soon as you are on a stressful set with only a few minutes to do an entire scene, all that knowledge goes out the window. So just practice, practice, practice!

How Do You Feel? 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 the filmmakers at Sparks Arts have also secured a £100 Amazon voucher to help further develop their future films.

Think you could win Film of the Month? Find out more about how you can enter.

If you've been inspired by How Do You Feel? then be sure to check out the following films:

  • A Little Grey (2016, Unclassified, 6 mins) Engaging for ages 11-16
    A man who feels isolated in a colourful world tries to get his spark back.
  • Latifah and Himli's Nomadic Uncle (1992, Unclassified, 15 mins) Engaging for ages 14+
    Two cousins of Indian descent wander through the streets of London and joke about assimilation and their cultural history.
  • Ratcatcher (1999, 15, 94 mins) Engaging for ages 14+
    A dark, unique portrait of Glasgow in the 1970s, about a boy who blames himself after his friend drowns in a canal.
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, 15, 103 mins) Engaging for ages 14+
    Mind-bending and utterly original drama about a broken-hearted man who wipes a whole relationship from his memory.

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