Life After Film Studies at RIC – Young Film Maker Sam Shepherd

Sam was a 1-year GCSE Film Studies student at RIC during 2018-19.

I was infinitely proud after opening an email from him almost a year after he finished his GCSEs with us. Sam told me about his new film project and explained, ‘The film is supposed to show a cycle of the ‘rat race’, that’s why my shots are similar.’ He included a link to his final production, which follows the life of a businessman and his routine. You can view the film here: I’d recommend subscribing to this channel: Sam is definitely a young filmmaker to watch!

Sam also produced almost all of the music. Personally, I thought the use of sound in this film was very effective and certainly Lynchian. It turns out that Sam’s biggest inspiration for this film was, in fact, David Lynch’s Eraserhead, in terms of visual style and sound design

Sam explained that since his time at RIC, ‘You practically opened up my eyes to what film could be and I’m now pursuing it seriously… I feel like I’ve grown an actual personal taste or at least more interesting taste. My favourite film right now is Eraserhead. I also like La Dolce Vita a lot.’

Sam also outlined his study plans for the future and we were able to give him advice about his university options in Film Studies.  

A little bit later I was made aware of this gem Sam’s second short film ‘Stories’.

This is what Sam had to say about the film:

‘This film details my nomadic upbringing as a third culture kid portrayed by my family members.  I wanted to show the idea of travelling with items that are put on display around my house and are rarely touched or moved. This is also my first attempt at animation. My big inspirations for the film were Jonas Mekas and Hollis Frampton for the style of narration over pretty imagery. I also took inspiration from the Psychic TV music video, Godstar, because of its editing style of having an image within an image. This has been my most personal venture yet. It also feels the most sincere work I’ve done and I think I represent myself in it truthfully whether that be style or my story.’

Films Sam recommends:

The Face of Another

Daisies 1966

 Butterfly Dress Pledge (1974)

Chelsea Hotel (1970)


Marketa Lazarová (1967)

Yr 11 Film Studies Student’s Favourite Films pt 3

My favourite film is Catch  Me if You Can (2002) watch the trailer here:

The director of this 2002 comedy-action film was the award-winning Steven Speilberg. Other films he is known for include E.T, Jaws, and Jurassic Park.

Catch Me If You Can is a 2002 action and comedy film. It follows the true story of an incredibly smart 18 year old boy named Frank Abignale. Frank lives a life of luxury, being able to do so by using forgery. This does not go unnoticed, as Detective Carl Hanratty follows Frank throughout the country, following the forced paper trail in an attempt to catch young Mr Abagnale. 

While we follow Frank along his adventures, and understand he is just a child, con man Frank is not the protagonist, as the FBI agent Hanratty is the voice of reason and justice.

The stars in this film include Leonardo Dicaprio (Frank Abignale) and he had previously starred in the world famous film ‘Titanic’. Alongside him, as the work-driven detective, was Tom Hanks (Carl Hanratty). Tom Hanks is best known for Forrest Gump and Castaway, although he has been in many films and TV series. Both of these actors are very skilled, and truly brought the story of Frank Abagnale to life on our screens.

The sound director was John Williams, who had collaborated with Spielberg before, and he helped to create the perfect atmosphere for this hilarious nail-biter that is based on a true story.

The woman behind the skillful range of looks and disguises main character Frank Abignale (Leonardo DiCaprio) wear is Mary Zophres. She managed to create these looks in a way which convinces both the audience and the characters of Franks alter egos. The cinematographer was Janusz Kaminski, who displayed the emotions and actions subtly and cleverly. 

The use of mise-en-scene is well thought out, not only establishing the 60s setting but showing the many lives of Frank Abagnale Jr. The mise-en-scene captures the life Frank wants to live, while still reminding him that it is all a lie. The editing and sound help to create tension, leaving the audience on the edge of their seats, eager to know how this daredevil match between the con man and the FBI will end. 

Year 11 Film Studies Student’s Favourite Films pt2

Coraline – This film has a Tim Burton esque feel to it, the dull, gothic aesthetic reflects his artwork and stories. This is because director Henry Selick helped direct and produce one of Tim Burton’s most iconic films, ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas.’ However, Coraline is much more twisted and the world she lives in is almost nightmarish. Bruno Coulais created a soundtrack to perfectly match the haunting animation and visual masterpiece the film is, the sound further boosts the tension, the ghostly choir and whispers used in the opening theme are incredibly effective, making one feel shivers down their spine. The costumes the characters wear in Coraline’s reality are nothing unusual, the only thing that sticks out is her yellow raincoat. It becomes a staple throughout the film, just like Georgie’s did in ‘It’. Though the films seem different they seem to follow the same theme, while Pennywise terrorises children with their fears, Coraline’s ‘Other Mother’ or The Beldam lures children in with treats and a perfect life only to take their souls in return.

 The concept itself is dark, but the button eyes which make every character look so dead behind the eyes are far more unnerving. Pete Kozachik, the cinematographer, also worked in ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ and the ‘Corpse Bride’, all films feature eerie and odd shots. But ‘Coraline’ doesn’t follow the same colour scheme, Burton keeps his animations lighthearted with greens and oranges which almost make the film seem more comedic. ‘Coraline’ has a bleak tone throughout, the lighting is almost always dark and foggy and it possibly represents the blur between Coraline’s reality and her nightmares/dreams. 

Watch the trailer here

Year 11 Film Studies Student’s Favourite Films pt1

My favourite film is Into The Looking Glass (2016), an adaptation of the Lewis Carol story  was directed by James Bobin and produced by Tim Burton Tim Burton. Burton is famed for films such as Dumbo (2019) and Big Eyes (2014).

 Stars include, Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, he has also starred in films such as Cry-Baby (1990), Mia Wasikowska who plays Alice and has also starred in Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) , Matt Lucas who plays Tweedledee and Tweedledum and has also starred in Come Fly With Me (2010 TV Series), Helena Bonham-Carter who plays he Red Queen and has also starred in Fight Club (1999) , Anne Hathaway who plays the White Queen and has also starred in Oceans 8 (2018). 

 The music in Alice Into The Looking Glass is by Danny Elfman, the costume designer was Colleen Atwood, the cinematography director was Stuart Dryburgh.

This film follows the story of a young girl called Alice (Mia Wasikowska) who once followed a rabbit down a rabbit hole and came out into Wonderland but now that she has left wonderland and has grown up  no longer has any recollection of this place except for in her dreams. At her and her fiance’s garden party Alice spots the white rabbit which led her down the rabbit hole before and she follows it once more and meets her friends again , such as The Cheshire Cat (voice acted by Stephen Fry) and The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). Alice soon realises that she is meant to end the Red Queen’s rule.

 I find the writing and the relationships between all of the characters as a truly beautiful thing. There are many points throughout this film which I find deeply sentimental and often evoking tears. This film is filled with amazing characters and acting, including one more menacing character known as Time (Sascha Baron Cohen), Time has a very unnerving personality. The setting of this film creates a fantasy world that is astonishing and beautiful however there are many parts in this film that bring that darkness that Burton is Known for to the text.

GCSE Film Studies Screenplay ‘The Girl Who Flew Too Close To The Sun’

For GCSE film studies coursework this year, all of our students decided to create the openings of original screenplay (filmmaking is also an option).

First, the students choose a genre: sci-fi, horror, musical, crime or teen and research the genre by watching key films from their chosen genre in their own time and analysing extracts.

Students then pitch their own original idea, which must be inspired by 3 key films.

Students learn the conventions of screenwriting in lessons- this part can be tricky to start with but then it becomes like riding a bike.

Week by week students submit 250 words of their screenplay which are edited with suggestions and the result is a 1000 word original screenplay opening, which effectively sets up the narrative, introduces key characters and reflects the conventions of their chosen genre.

This particular screenplay opening was written by Hattie Drury, a very talented year 11 student, she was inspired by CANDY JAR (2018), THE BREAKFAST CLUB (1985) and SIXTEEN CANDLES (1984).