Lift-Off Sessions 2020 Laurel - finalist

Why Is No Hard Shells Crack? working well?

Synopsis of film :

The film is an allegory concerning the inability of the British public to follow guidelines during the COVID-19 Lockdown and the subsequent strain put on the National Health Service. All represted through a suitcase.

- It is short -

Some big players from the film industry did quote and praised No hard shells crack? for actually being a short film. Babak Anvari, Bafta award winner for his film Under the Shadow praised the film for being just under 3 mins long and enjoying the ride from frame one.

Coming by a short that’s under 3 mins is probably a bit refreshing for Judges/Critiques and likely to have a more optimistic approach. I my-self am a victim from this act, A FILM that was way over 15 minutes I tend to skip although If the synopsis of the film was intriguing enough or had an appealing thumbnail ( cover art does sell ) to reel my interest then definitely.It’s a sad thing to admit….but It’s kind of  true.

- The score Is Phenomenal -

The music Is the absolute core to the film's success. Thanks to Ian cook, a Digital media producer from Australia. We discussed at length the themes of the film, visual and musical influences and potential approaches. I used Future Markets by Jonny Greenwood, taken from the score of the film There Will Be Blood as a temp track.

The visuals are important but the music is so much more in my view. setting the tone and creating an instant anxiety which is what the film is all about. I knew from the very beginning It was going to elevate the film to another level.

Ian established a palette of sounds to work with. After listing out sounds that could be associated with the pandemic in the UK, he picked out those which thought would be most effective. I used handclaps, representative of Clap for the NHS, to keep the film moving forward and to maintain tension. Also sourcing the sound of a ventilator and used it as the percussive anchor for the track, the hiss and release always hitting on or very near the downbeat. Vicious cellos as the principal instrument to refer directly to the temp track, and included a muted acoustic guitar to add more percussive rhythm to the piece. At the peak of the film, the big reveal, a trombone sound with a phasing tremolo effect added to disconcert and build terror.

Needles to say, Just the hidden layers spousing UK covid 19 is very impressive form any level and from the get go, this score draws you in instantly, you will be glued from the first beat and wanting to know where it is going.

- Edit -

The editing is something else the film has been praised for. I believe it’s not too quick and not too predictably paste. Typically, It begins with simple cuts, cutting to the beat of the score like a bad music vid. This becomes predictable just like life It self for some, especially during Lockdown ….. but the covid-19 comes along and It gets uncontrollably messy, thats when the edit isn’t so predictable. The Final cut for the climax duration Is about 15 seconds, It took me about a week to do. This took me a lot of patience with the key framing, very tedious particularly when your working up against simple editing tools and I don’t have the skills for after effects to help the enhancment. But as they say.... Don’t give up 

There are flaws if you look close enough but I was happy with the end result considering the cheap equipment we used.


- Ambiguous -

There’s a main theme against the film and It’s obvious It’s about Covid-19 but the questions in hand and meaning Is really open to multiple interpretations. It’s really not just random. I have my interpretation…what’s yours?


- TIME -

    We were in Lock-down for a solid 2 Months before things were loosening up. My videographer work was wiped out so I had loads of time to edit, work on the score, figure out what the film actually was, Do additional shots and loads of Marketing, which was tons of fun to do.


- Simplistic shots and Angles can work extremely well If the narrative is good enough -


for the first time, I kept the shot list simple, like…really simple. There were no real complexed coordinations needed and no technical shots required. This helped me relaxed a whole lot more and assist the time to focus on what was crucial… which was the subject matter, that was more important. I’ve created short horrors before where It was all about making the film look good and basically cool with funky angles, colour grade etc ….That is an absolute school boy error. It’s all about the concept and Story…full stop.


- Post production -

When the edit was completely finished, The hard work Is done in my opinion.…and I mean Finished, like after the 25th finals final cuts. Everything else after the final cut you can leave to your enthusiasm and passion.

Finding that energy to promote your film is easy. Create some cool thumbnail styled stills for social media etc etc but You have to dig deeper than that, you 100% can’t rely on social media to do everything for you. No hard Shells Crack? cost nothing to make and is the absolute definition of independent film making…No one else is Involved In this. I started off with contacting a Lot of first time filmmakers to check out my short, Contacting someone like Alex Cox, Ben Wheatley will probably not work….but contacting a recent successful full feature film maker seemed more successful and they were more than happy to give up a bit of their time to check it out and dish back feedback. That feeling of trying to break through into the industry is still very fresh in their mind. It’s just oddly enough…A lot of my favourite films in recent years just so happened to be debut films! I was basically sending Instagram DM’s, emailing agencies, Twitter stalking….. that kind of creepy thing. keep promoting and create a buzz…a genuine buzz.