Into Film Clubs
Find out everything you need to know about starting an Into Film Club.
We are delighted to reveal that the August 2021 winner of our Film of the Month competition is Sick Day, from teenage filmmaker Charlie in Hertfordshire.
Sick Day (engaging for ages 5+) is an inventive modern day silent comedy about a teenager who falls sick on the week of his friend's birthday party.
This was a very cleverly made re-creation of a silent film. A great way to test skills and ability in filmmaking. I was really impressed with the technicality of this.Film of the Month judge on 'Sick Day'
We got in touch with Charlie to find out more about his film.
Thank you! At an early age I'd made a lot of stop-motion animation films with LEGO® and whatever else I could get my hands on, so that's probably what sparked the interest. But it wasn't until I developed a serious interest in film that I took filmmaking seriously as well. Whilst most of the films I made around the time I was starting out weren't any good, I hope I'm steadily improving!
I am a huge fan of silent comedy and wanted to capture its style of meandering plots full of physical humour and slapstick, but I also wanted to incorporate modern pandemic-era themes to combine the old and new. The teenager's illness, the central conflict between the teenager and the mother, and the teenager's attempts to escape were all born out of lockdown. And, given that it was filmed in lockdown, I had to come up with a story that I could film with my family and could take place in just one location: my house!
The films of Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle and Laurel and Hardy all hugely influenced the gags, set-pieces and characters in Sick Day. Even certain ‘talkies' that relied on physical comedy inspired me, like the films of W.C Fields and Jacques Tati. Their characters are simultaneously very clumsy and very indestructible, and were key touchstones for me when creating the central character of the teenager.
Yet I'd say Buster Keaton was probably the main influence on me. His comedy is intricate and complex, but like the best of silent cinema, has a universal appeal. I think he found the perfect balance between humour and pathos, and I tried to emulate that in Sick Day.
The film I think is the ideal starting point - and one of the first silent films I ever saw - is Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr. It's technically astonishing, and the stunts are unbelievable even now, so it doesn't feel like you're watching something that's at all dated. It's also a love-letter to cinema, so a must-watch if you love film.
Another silent comedian who is very accessible to modern viewers is Harold Lloyd, and I would recommend his film Safety Last, where he famously climbs up the side of a ten-storey building. That tense central sequence is so brilliant that people often forget just how good the rest of the film is!
Veering away from comedy, young audiences should definitely watch Carl Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, which features a very moving performance from one-time actress Renée Falconetti. Every frame of the film communicates such depth and complexity of meaning without dialogue, which is testament to the power of visual storytelling.
The entire process of making Sick Day - from writing the story, to storyboarding the shots, to acting - was challenging because I could not rely on dialogue to tell the story. This meant I had to use visual language to communicate my ideas and ensure the audience could understand what was going on and know what the characters were feeling. I think this was an extremely beneficial learning experience because the entire medium hinges on visual storytelling. In the best films, it is the images that are telling the story, even when dialogue is used.
As I mentioned before, I had to use my family as I shot the film in lockdown and based the narrative around a family dynamic. Luckily, they were very cooperative, and I think they were great! There were a few hiccups, especially towards the end of the shoot when everyone was worn out, but there were lots of perks too. For example, if you realise you need an extra pick-up shot, you can very easily get it, as your family are always nearby. Special thanks to my Mum for doing my make-up as well!
In general I would plan it more carefully before shooting. For example, I would shoot camera tests, which would save a lot of time fiddling around with lighting and iPhone camera settings during the shoot and would hopefully make the whole process a lot smoother. Had I done this, I would have realised that the lighting was too harsh and that I should have diffused it more.
1. Use what you have. All the films I have made - including Sick Day - have been shot on a mobile phone. You don't need fancy equipment, just determination!
2. Communicate well. If you're working with others, make sure they know what you're trying to do and what you need them to do, and be open to their suggestions. Filmmaking is collaborative, after all.
3. Stop procrastinating and don't let fear that your film won't be good stop you. First films are rarely good. You've just got to keep making them and they'll improve with each one. Get out there and make your film!
Charlie'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 Sick Day then make sure to check out the following films:
After a brief hiatus in 2021, our annual celebration of young filmmakers, clubs and teachers returns for 2022. Check out all the categories and how to enter.
Reading time 6 mins
We've added seven new short animated films to the Into Film+ streaming service, which explore a number of topics and are suitable for a range of age groups.
Reading time 5 mins
To celebrate the release of Disney’s Encanto, we’ve created a magical new learning resource suitable for students aged 6-11.
Reading time 2 mins
Viewing 4 of 4 related items.