Cast & Crew Profile: Sonia Lowe

Todays cast and crew profile is a pretty exciting one! But before we dive in, I have to say that when I first met Sonia I was a little nervous. She had way more experience then I did, she had been working on commercial sets and big budget productions. So when she agreed to work as a script supervisor for a zero budget short film I was shooting, I jumped at the chance to have her on board!

She's the definition of what you would want from a producer or really anyone on your set for that matter. You'll see what I mean when you read some of her answers. Needless to say working with Sonia really helped me step up my game as a Director and Producer. It's because of people like her, people who already have some success under their belt and are willing to work with someone who is still getting their feet wet that I was able to grow from that short film experience. So without delay, here are Sonia's answers followed by a word of advice for those looking to break into the media world. Thank you Sonia for taking the time to share with us!

Name: Sonia Lowe
Country: Canada
Position: Producer
What got you into the film world? It evolved from my background as a magazine editor for print media. In short, I was approached to write a tribute book about Michael Jackson shortly after he passed away. 

Media exposure from the book led to broadcast content creation for television segments on Good Morning America, Oprah, Dateline NBC. etc This opened the door to subsequent opportunities freelancing as a Field Producer, interviewing celebrities and creating content for major brands like SyFy Channel, entertainment Tonight, USA Network, Dreamworks Ent. Which eventually led to my working as a Distribution Executive and Executive Producer for Independent feature Films, where I continue to hone my skills today. 

Who is your film icon? Quentin Tarantino - he's a genius. 

What makes a good film? High concept, believable performances, punchy dialogue, killer soundtrack....and  a director who understands the art of subtext & visual story telling. 


Who is your favourite character of all time? I have many so I'll name one from a film I saw recently: Jackie Brown

As far as powerful female characters go, she has a rare balance of intelligence, strength and  sensual energy which transcended atypical female roles in cinema. 

Not only is Tarantino a master of designing memorable and complex characters but he is also skillful at casting. Choosing Pam Grier as Jackie Brown because she exudes the essence of the character Tarantino aimed to capture, is why her performance felt authentic. 

Favourite animated movie and why? The little Mermaid because it reminds me of my childhood and ongoing fixation with the ocean. Not to mention....mermaids. Enough said. 

Also a big fan of Finding Nemo - it's an exceptional film with incredible dialogue. And again, takes place in the ocean...where mermaids live. 

And honorable mention for a foreign animated  film called Illusionist - because it's an absolute masterpiece. 


A tip for the next generation? Filmmaking is one of the biggest challenges and toughest industries to succeed in, but if you love this art form then stay strong, roll with the punches, stay flexible and don't ever quit --- few careers are as rewarding, in my opinion. Don't just learn your craft, master it. And if you're not prepared to have your heart broken, at least once, then the entertainment business is not for you. 

 

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So You Want To Shoot Your First Film

Well, congrats on that! 

Now the hard work begins. But where do you start? 

Well where's your script? Don't have one? That's where we will start and I'll try to keep this as organized as possible. 

1- Get your script. Write it yourself or get a writer on board who can bring your ideas to life or who may already have a script ready to shoot. This is the starting point for all the steps to follow. Choose or write your script carefully, write what you know and keep your future budget in mind. So maybe leave out the massive War of The Worlds alien invasion or the Game of Thrones battle scenes. Period pieces will cost you big time when it comes to your budget.

2- Pre-Production! Time to put in work! The more you spend quality time in pre-pro the better your shoot will be and the smoother the entire process with be. So what's involved with pre-production you may ask? This stage is where you'll secure your funding (if any!), you'll find and scout your locations, bring on your cast and crew, break down your script for shooting, put together your story boards and sort out what you're going to do when your film is done. (festivals, releases, youtube, vimeo etc)

Oh, and of course you're going to make sure all your contracts are good to go. There's a number of good programs out there that can really help with this overwhelming portion of being an independent film maker. Now let's be honest, this part...pre-production...is the main reason most films don't get made. So push through and get it done and you'll be that much farther ahead then the masses. 

3- Lights, Camera, ACTION! It's time to shoot! YAY! This is where the magic comes to life. This is where you'll shoot with your cast and crew and you'll find out it takes multiple takes and a bunch of angles to get everything just right. Don't believe me? Watch a 5 min clip from your favourite movie and there's a good chance you'll see just how many angles they actually use. Each angle has multiple takes, lighting set ups. camera set-ups, make-up and hair touch ups and don't forget to scrutinize your continuity logs! 

Once you've called it a wrap on your shoot that's it right? WRONG! Now comes post.

4- Post-Production! Now you have hours of footage, so what do you do with it? Edit. Be ruthless and know you have to get your film down to a set time (some festivals require a certain time length) But what to cut? If it doesn't move the story forward or add to the overall film drop it. you may love the 10 minute tracking shot down the back graffiti filled alley but does it do anything for the story? Probably not. 

In post you'll also edit your audio, do any additional voice recordings, add your sound effects then move on to colour correction and find out if you need any pick-up shots or retakes. Then, well then I think your film is done. You probably won't and you could probably go on tweaking it forever but at some point you need to know when to release your creation into the world and take some feedback with an open mind and open heart and get going on your next project!

Ok, so I tried to keep this as concise as possible so don't go crazy with these guidelines but if you'd like to discuss more we would love to hear from you! The more people create, the more creative people will be. Happy Shooting and feel free to leave any comments or feedback below. (see what I did there?)

James

SevenSeas Productions