Digital innovations and Filmmaking -

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Interview with DSLR filmmaker Mike Buonaiuto

Sometimes, the best way to talk about what you do is to talk about what others do. The rise of DSLRs has caught the attention of both young and professional filmmakers. I've been following several DSLR filmmakers since the beginning of my blog and one of them is particularly talented.

I'm excited to share the interview I did yesterday with Mike Buonaiuto because we have a lot in common in the way we approach the filmmaking world. I think that this interview could really be interesting for aspiring young filmmakers and for those from all over the world in attempt to take their first crucial step into the film business.

JM: Hi Mike - Who are you?
MB: Hey - I'm a Director and Filmmaker from the UK who loves entertaining people. I produce Promo Films, Shorts, Commercials, Virals, Event Vids. I'm also Ex-Journalist & Automotive PR

JM: How did you hear about this blog?
MB: I heard about your Cinema blog through Twitter - it's awesome :)

JM: Thanks a lot - How did you start making videos for the web and why? What got you interested in it?
MB: I trained as a television journalist as I loved using film to tell a story. I then moved into PR, started filming and editing films for clients such as Citroen and Alfa Romeo - I then discovered Canon and HDSLR and was hooked!

JM: What's your day job?
MB: I'm Head of Production at Winchester based Creative Video Agency, Reko.Tv - and love it :)

JM: Do you have special education? I have personally learned a lot about the filmmaking industry by reading books, listening podcasts and browsing the internet. What about you? Did you take courses to learn filmmaking?
MB: I always learn about new filmmaking techniques and styles by networking on Twitter and browsing filmmaking blogs. I also learnt alot by working with clients and finding out what kind of material they want. And also I official trained at Bournemouth University in Multimedia Journalism specialising in television.

JM: What is your favorite book about filmmaking and your favorite podcast show?
MB: My favourite resource for filmmaking is either for inspiration and for tips and techniques. These guys are so on the money it's ridiculous.

JM: Who are your big influences?
MB: Too many to mention. Phillip Bloom's incredible and such a lovely guy. I get a lot of inspiration through music too - which I guess was my first creative interest as I used to write songs and play piano.

JM: What equipment and software do you use?
MB: I shoot on Canon 5D mk2, 7D and 60D - variety of lens - love shooting on prime lens - much better quality.

JM: It seems that we are both doing our best to try to be visible on the Internet… Be visible! Was it the reason to create such great short films like Vedova and Jouet?
MB: Thanks. Vedova and Jouet are both projects where I let my creativity run wild and shoot something I really want to make. I want to make people think when they watch my films - which are more like poems than movies. I do use short-films together with social networking to promote my work online and it's great that people are have been showing a serious interest in them.

JM: Let's talking about your last short film Vedova… How many pre-production days? Did you storyboard? How much filming and editing? Did it cost you anything? How did you find the crew?
MB: Vedova was born out of an idea I had in a split second when I heard the piece of music used throughout the film. It was then 2 weeks of intensive pre-production, storyboarding, soundtrack composing, sourcing the cast, the crew, props, costumes and location (which was incredibly difficult as you try shooting a gothic, grim funeral in a religious location! It's difficult to get people to say yes.) I almost secured Guildford Cathedral which was used in the film The Omen. Unfortunately that ended up not happening - but Farnham Castle worked so so well - I'm so happy with it. The film cost about £200 including paying my cast, something I always try to do and paying for the location use for the day. After it was edited and graded I then set to work publicising it online, using my contacts on Vimeo to get it featured on channels, blogs and websites. and so far the response has been amazing - which I'm really thankful for. 1000 views in just 1 week online - awesome!

JM: What is your favorite part : directing actors or directing the story?
MB: I love directing - love it - there is nothing better - the whole point I do this is because I enjoy talking to people. It's surprisingly how many people who work in film and video industry who bury themselves in the technology and have poor communication skills - it's ridiculous!

JM: What is your opinion about the DSLR revolution?
MB: DSLRs have put the power of filmmaking in the hands of people who don't have £20,000 to shell out on some cool equipment. It has allowed me to produce cinematic quality films for online viewing, energise my creativity, and promote my work. Generally it's been the key I needed to jump between journalism and news to narratives and films. But I'm always looking for that next big thing and there are some big contenders coming up to steal Canon's crown.

JM: What advice would you give someone who is interested in filmmaking and wants to learn how to become an award-winning director?
MB: Don't make films to win awards... you'll only end up upsetting yourself. Instead make films you want to make and develop your own style and voice. Get used to being turned down (because you'll get it a lot in this business.) Learn to be thick-skinned, work-hard, learn as much as your can about new shooting techniques and always read about the online world of distributing film and video. The best way to learn is to do it, make mistakes and be proud of your work.

JM: Totally agree - What's the most challenging aspect of DSLR cinema for you? What's the best part of it?
MB: The most challenging aspect of DSLR cinema for me was rethinking how you shoot film. Regular film cameras have so many automatic settings and features that you can soon forget what ISO, F-stops or even what exposure actually means. But that's the most rewarding part, getting back in touch with the simple techniques that bring a picture to the screen and harnessing that power to convey whatever message or emotion you want.

JM: Do you plan to make your own feature film? When?
MB: I think the next longer film project for me will be a return to my journalistic roots, getting to grips with a really good documentary. Although I'm such a hard critic of my own work anything feature-length will most likely take years to make! haha

JM: Maybe we could work together one day. Why not? London is not so far… In my next short film, french actors will speak english… In fact, some of them will speak Franglish… Do you think that such a film could work in your country or is it a waste of time for us to do that?
MB: It's a really interesting concept and often playing with language isn't done on screen so it's something quite original too. There are lots of French speaking blog and websites which loved an English filmmaker embracning a French title for his work (Jouet) so I guess if you work hard and find the right people you will develop an audience for it. I like the idea a lot. What's the story?

JM: Be patient Mike ;-) This short film will probably be the subject of my next message...

JM: Thank you Mike!

I hope it will help. You can find Mike Buonaiuto (Reko TV) on his website and you can follow him on Twitter.