The Janner is filmmaker Zaki Syed’s first short. We featured the flick on D&CFilm, and we wanted to get under the skin of what it’s like to start the filmmaking journey. Here are some of the experiences of the actors and crew who took part in the making of The Janner.
Dominic Edge – Jake
I was approached by the producer, Joe Wallis, who is a friend that I know from school, who has recently gained a master’s in media studies. I said I would be interested in doing a project.
That’s when Zaki the director and the writer of the Janner got in touch with Joe looking for some actors and Joe put me forward. I immediately got the script, I thought it was a great opportunity so I agreed to take part and met Zaki who seemed happy with me, which led me to getting the part.
The filming process went really well. I enjoyed working in front of the camera and bringing my character to life. I had good guidance of Zaki, who would talk through the scenes with me and the rest of the cast, so we were clear on how to play out the scenes.
We had many rehearsals to get to know though cast and gain more ideas throughout out the film. I learned loads from the process, preparing for a role properly. I was given films to watch to give an idea of the character I’m playing, then breaking down how the actor is playing the part and how they react to other people, how they look at other people their mannerisms and the way they talk. This really helped so I know how to approach the next project because this has given me more experience from the process.
This was my first short movie, the last time I acted was in school, so I had little experience of acting, but I had done some classes at Theatre Royal 2 but that’s as far it went really. I just really wanted the opportunity and wanted to get back into acting as I love the whole filming process and bringing a character to life and being someone else for a period of time.
I will hope to get involved in more projects where I can get more experience. I will constantly strive to work on my acting and constantly improving, doing more workshops and wouldn’t mind doing some theatre as well. I would like to have a go at everything and see how far I can get.
Nicky Bellas – Sarah
I saw the advert for this film and I had just finished my classes for the year so I wanted to keep up momentum with acting. Any experience is good experience. It’s also good to build up a local network. I will definitely keep in touch with the guys on the film.
The process was great. Zaki was such a humble director -he was gracious to all of us and was open to suggestions. Most of us were new to the industry we all worked together to navigate the process.
I have just graduated from The Plymouth Conservatoire (with a first class degree no less 😉) I had a wonderful 3 years training. Now I am off to London this month to pursue the career. Who knows, maybe the next time I’m in Plymouth I will be in a show at the Theatre Royal -that’s a goal of mine.
I hope everyone enjoys the film and recognises the hard work and dedication it takes to make short films!
Alice Warren – student
I got involved as my mum used to live in Plymouth so she’s a member of Plymouth’s sites on Facebook, Zak posted an ad on the group asking for actors for a short film and it just went from there really.
The filming was really good, all of the equipment was professional and Zak talked me through what my part would be. I’m really happy that I was offered this role as it taught me extra drama skills such as; how to react during filming and being able to adapt to different storylines.
I’m an all round performer and part of a drama group called TSPA (Tillie’s School of Performing Arts), we mostly perform musicals and work on acting techniques for monologues etc. This was my first film and I can honestly say I enjoyed it and was excited to see the finished product!
I feel that my next steps are to move to London to continue performing and learning new techniques. Therefore, in September I’m auditioning for a few musical theatre courses so that hopefully I can be in more performances and films.
I would just like to say thankyou to Zak for giving me the opportunity to be in The Janner, and also to all of the other cast/crew members for the amazing job they did!
Amy Burton-Smith – prostitute
I saw an online casting call and was thrilled to see work going on in the Westcountry. I spend my life on the M5 having to travel to Bristol or London for work so it was nice to stay local.
I had a short scene for this one and it was pouring with rain so it was in everyone’s interest to get the scene shot quickly. We all worked hard and cracked on with it.
I have been acting for 26 years (3 years professionally). I believe when I have been acting for 50 years, I will still feel that I have so much to learn! I am producing Blackadder Goes Forth at the Pavilions Teignmouth at the end of August so I absorbed in theatre at the moment. Beyond that I am producing the Teignmouth Pantomime of Aladdin.
Joe Wallis – producer
I first got involved with the project towards the very start of it.
Zak posted on one of the Plymouth film pages looking for filmmakers to collaborate with on this project, I had just finished a Masters in film production and moved back to Plymouth. So this was a perfect opportunity that i had to leap onto.
There were some issues very early on. Including a couple with the script itself. Zak had written a very interesting story with a solid premise, but it just lacked the emotional punch.
The scene between Jake and Sarah was only two lines long, and I felt that this had to longer, as this was what really drives the story; the frustration of not being able to provide for a loved one leading someone to a life of crime. I knew if we skimmed over this we would lose our audience. But Zak was very responsive to this and I feel that the changes he made to the script were brilliant.
Then there was the issue of the other crew members quitting moments before we started shooting, this was obviously a massive spanner in the works, but we did the only thing to do in that situation. And this actually worked better for me.
I’ve spent the past four years at university specialising in producing, taking on only a few creative roles, so this was actually an opportunity to take what I’ve learnt and put it into practice.
It’s one thing looking at a diagram and words on a page and saying where things need to go and what needs to happen, and its another thing to be on set and realise that there’s not enough depth in the shot, so you’ve got to move on of the lights and bounce it off the wall.
The main thing I’ve taken away from this is how important it is, particularly with small films, to have a open and creative atmosphere on set where everyone is contributing ideas and working through the issues together.
As I said earlier, I’m a recent graduate with a BA in Film & TV Studies and a MA in Film Production from Solent University.
Throughout the four years doing them, I was able to work on several fantastic projects including a World War I, a medieval film and a sitcom episode about two idiot drug dealers. But in these I was very limited in what I could do, focusing on pre-production, devolving scripts, arranging locations and doing risk assessments. This film was a great chance to get my hands on gripping story and let my creative juices flow.
I’m setting up my own production company and shooting a short film at the end of August.
It’s going to be based in World War I, and focusing around four characters dealing with mental illness. I’m currently building the dugout my garden and aiming to be finished with the project by September.
Vic Lloyd – composer
I got involved after I seen Zaki ask for people to collaborate with him on a new movie he had written.
The process for composing was very straight forward, the director sent me the script and told me how exactly he wants the music to sound and what mood he was looking for.
Film soundtracks that inspire me have got to be from The Incredibles, scored by Michael Giacchino.
Right now I am in the middle of scoring another film with another director, and Zaki has asked me to score his next film in which I have agreed to do.
I have been involved in music since I was 9 years old, I started off playing the African drums in school, shortly after I began playing the steel pans and violin.
At the age of 19 I began to be interested to make beats, I did music production courses at college and I always was interested in movie soundtracks but I never knew the process on how to get your music on films/TV.
A few years ago I did a music composition course along side studying privately in composition and orchestration. Up to date I have now scored 5 projects and I will continue on this path I have chosen.