At Screen and Film School we love hearing about our student and graduate’s projects in all areas of the TV and Film Industry.
This week we caught up with Screen and Film School Brighton student, Jake Fedarb, to discuss the making of his project, ‘At Risk: Surviving a Pandemic with HIV’, and his recent win at Brighton Rocks Film Festival.
What was the inspiration behind the idea for your documentary?
‘At Risk: Surviving a Pandemic with HIV’ actually started as my lockdown film school project but really snowballed into something much bigger. I knew I wanted to make a documentary but I didn’t know what about, so I put a post out on Facebook asking if anyone was doing anything interesting during lockdown and Oli Spleen commented: “I’m living in a shed if it’s of interest?”. I found that far more interesting than people doing online quizzes or taking up some mundane hobby, so I asked Oli to start sending me daily updates. I know Oli as we were supposed to shoot a music video with him in March but this was inevitably cancelled. Oli was diagnosed HIV positive in 1999, so for him, the coronavirus outbreak was significantly more serious and to protect himself he left his flat in Brighton to isolate in a shed and that’s exactly what the documentary is about.
How did you approach the different stages of production?
Once Oli was sending me daily vlogs I had to figure out how I was going to piece it all together, this wasn’t easy as he had sent me around 50 clips of himself and what he was up to. I had also asked him to film certain things like his surroundings for B-roll since I couldn’t get out to him to film anything myself but thankfully the shots he did send me were really nice. On top of the clips he sent me I also filmed a skype interview with him and managed to get hold of one of his live performances and a music video. I planned out the structure of the documentary and when I had everything I needed I pieced it together.
What did you enjoy most about the filmmaking process?
Without a doubt it was the editing, there’s something incredibly satisfying about beginning a project with an empty timeline and building it up into something I’m actually quite proud of. I think the hardest part was figuring out where to start editing, purely because of the amount of footage I had. Especially when you think this was supposed to be a 5-minute film.
How did your win at Brighton Rocks Film Festival come about?
After my film was screened for my classmates and I realised people actually enjoyed it I decided to submit it to a few festivals. Brighton Rocks picked it as a finalist in the Short Documentary category, which I didn’t win unfortunately, but what I did win was the Audience Award! Throughout the week-long festival, which was online because of Covid-19, there was a vote open for the audiences’ favourite and amazingly I won with 196 votes, second place had 193 votes so it was seriously close.
What’s next for you in terms of filmmaking?
I’ve got my third year at film school to finish first but then who knows, I’ll certainly be trying for more awards for sure. Once I’ve heard back from the remaining festivals I’ve submitted my documentary to it will eventually be on www.straydogpicturesuk.com to watch!
What’s your Top Tip for festival success?
Don’t underestimate your work, I wasn’t sure my film would even make Official Selection, let alone win anything but there you go!