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Albert

Sam Bennett’s Albert is the heart warming comedy about an elderly man who escapes from a nursing home. Selected for Top Screen 2015, Albert proved a crowd favourite, receiving a People’s Choice award.

The initial inspiration for Albert came from a film that Sam made in primary school. “It came from an idea that I had with a friend when we’re back in primary school,” he said. “We were both really into Star Wars and we decided to make this short movie, I don’t think it ever got finished, but it was a Star Wars parody that we called Granny Wars. It was about these two grandmas that escaped their nursing home…I took that idea and made it into something a bit more watchable.”

During the development of his idea, Sam looked towards The Shawshank Redemption, Hogan’s Heroes and Toy Story 3 for inspiration. Sam encourages young filmmakers to look for tutorials and videos online to help them develop their filmmaking skills. He found FilmRiot particularly useful when achieving some of Albert’s impressive visual effects.

Planning and organisation was an essential part of developing such an impressive film. Sam spent a great deal of time developing the screenplay, shotlist and storyboards. The process of carefully storyboarding the film gave Sam a clear sense of every shot he needed to capture. A side-by-side comparison of storyboards and the finished film demonstrates how close his plan was to the finished film.

When planning a short film, Sam urges young filmmakers to create a detailed schedule based on the availability of actors and locations. Going into production armed with a shooting schedule meant Sam was better equipped to deal with the often difficult process of shooting an ambitious film like Albert.

When it came to choosing actors, Sam decided to cast his grandfather and a family friend as the main characters. He approached the local RSL and Legacy group and found a lot volunteers enthusiastic to appear as extras in the film.

Before deciding how he was going to light the film, Sam did a lot of research into three point lighting to achieve a cinematic look. The film was largely lit using a pair of $30 work lights from Bunnings and an iPhone torch, proving that you don’t need expensive lighting kits to create a visually stunning film.

“Post production for Albert was quite a big thing,” Sam said. He encourages young filmmakers to log their shots and label footage to ensure that the editing process goes smoothly. When he was editing Albert, Sam did a number of edits, refining the story and paring it down to its most essential and most exciting elements.

“I am the most un-musical person in the world,” Sam confesses.

When it came to sourcing music, Sam decided to use royalty-free, Creative Commons sites like incompetech.com and the YouTube Creator Studio.

“I think if I had to give one piece of advice it would be don’t stress about your gear and equipment,” Sam said. “Spend more time developing your story than trying to source gear.”