Natalie Ulman

Natalie Ulman describes her experience of making a short film - made possible with the support of the HYAH Creative in Your Community fund - from the initial idea through to post production.

A few months after I graduated from the University of St Andrews in film studies I ended up working on professional film sets. After learning more in a few weeks on a film set than I ever did in the classroom I began producing independent films. However, I always had the urge to direct and be the creative force behind a project! I particularly saw a lack in female voices in the Scottish film industry and I wanted to bridge that gap.

Living in Conon Bridge I came across on Facebook the opportunity to be funded to do something creative in your community! I thought this would be my chance to DIRECT and work with some amazing young people. Thanks to HYAH I was funded to be able to make a short film in the Highlands. Immediately I began organising a crew.

I first needed a story. A few of us came up with focusing on an idea that is a huge concern for the Gaelic community which is ‘what is the future of our language?’ We also were inspired by Shakespeare’s most youthful story – Romeo and Juliet. I called up my friend who is going to Oxford University who is getting an MA in creative writing, explained the guidelines, and he began to write a short film script in a matter of a few weeks…Then we did an open casting call and crew call. And to my great joy most of the crew I organized were girls! The cinematographer, boom operator, composer, production assistants, etc. were all women.

Being on set was like a dream come true. For three days we all lived together and filmed in the Highland wilderness amongst the snowdrops. I knew after those few days on set I wanted to make film my career. Principle photography was done. We shot Nighean na Coille.

But…we had spent all of our money just to film it. I made the common mistake all first time filmmakers make which is saving no money for post-production. We had no money to pay anyone to edit the film, do foley for the sound, or do ADR. That’s when we decided to teach ourselves! We have spent hours on final cut, with fellow editors, finding the right equipment, or watching tutorials on the internet in order to figure out how to make a great film. So one year later and we are almost finished and are ready to submit it to the Edinburgh Film Festival with a product we are proud of!

It is a rare opportunity for emerging filmmakers to be able to get funding in order to create a film. I am so grateful for it as it really jump started my career and inspired a huge period of learning with fellow young filmmakers – some of which I met on the HYAH film set. Since filming Nighean na Coille I have produced five short films and directed two more films. I was also lucky enough to be able to attend the Toronto Film Festival with Scottish Film and Television Network as an emerging producer. Being funded by HYAH saved me thousands of pounds that I would have wasted on film school and gave me an artistic voice! I will always be grateful for the amazing learning curve.

Are you interested in getting ‘Creative in Your Community?’ E-mail Stacey for more info.