I fell in love with movies as a child, and began making films with a Super-8 camera at age 11. A few years later, my family moved from Sydney to Hong Kong, where my brother and I attended Island School, from 1986 to 1990. Despite my initial culture shock and shyness, I made new friends and adjusted to the fast pace of life in Hong Kong in the 1980s. It was a clash of cultures, where conspicuous wealth and opportunity paraded itself on the doorstep of authoritarian rule.
While at the school, I made short films and recorded hours of video, including school trips and candid moments with friends. In my graduating year, I screened highlights for my classmates, before we left to go our seperate ways. The response was laughter, tears, and a feeling we would always be connected by our shared experience. In recent years, I’ve found that connection has not only lasted, but grown stronger, thanks to social media and reunions all over the world. There’s just something about the place that connects people.
WHY MAKE A DOCUMENTARY?
As plans for the Anniversary Celebrations were announced, I was sad to learn that the old school buildings will soon be demolished, to make way for a new design. I felt the need to document the existing buildings before they are gone forever, and to interview the people who spent formative years at the school, teaching or studying. A film would capture the spirit of Island School, and make an inspiring tribute for the next 50 years.
Island School is a vibrant community that brings diverse cultures and people together in a place of higher learning. But why has it made such a lasting impression on so many? The film will uncover human stories of compassion, loyalty, determination, social justice and unity, against a back-drop of political and cultural change. Island School has all the ingredients of a fascinating story.
The film will follow a timeline from the school’s foundation, taking audiences on a nostalgic journey, including music and iconic images from each decade, and culminating with the anniversary celebrations: providing an emotional and uplifting tribute.
“Island School: Celebrating 50 Years”
During the 50th anniversary celebrations in June, I will film interviews with former staff and students reuniting for the event, as well as current staff and students.
Their personal recollections will be intercut with hundreds of photographs and videos, many provided by alumni, like you. (Images and audio used only with permission).
New HD video of the school, combined with archival images, will contrast the early days (1960s & ’70s) with the decades since, evoking fond memories and revealing what makes the school so special to Islanders all over the world.
WHAT WE NEED
CAMPAIGN GOAL: AU$5000
The goal of this campaign is to raise AUD$5000 (£3,050 / HK$29,600 / US$3,800) to cover costs of hiring CAMERA & LIGHTING EQUIPMENT (professional standard, Ultra-High Definition, 4K Video) for TWO WEEKS.
Some equipment will be hired in Australia, while the rest will be hired in Hong Kong, depending upon availability and affordability.
Any additional funds raised will be put towards production expenses, such as insurance, travel & accommodation, transportation and post-production costs.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
As well as financial contributions, there are several ways you can help.
Islanders of all ages, including anyone unable to attend the Gala Celebrations, are invited to contribute PHOTOS & VIDEOS for use in the documentary.
High-quality digital scans of photos, or video files showing life at the school, will be happily accepted from alumni and parents. While not all media will be used in the final edit, yours might be the missing piece that helps tell our story.
You can UPLOAD FILES via this email link: Isla[email protected]
EQUIPMENT TO BE HIRED
CAMERA: The Sony PXW-FS5 XDCAM captures 4K Ultra-HD video using a Super 35mm-sized sensor for cinematic imagery. Play the demonstration video in High-Definition (up to 4K) by adjusting settings at bottom right of clip.
GRIP EQUIPMENT: The DJI Ronin Stabiliser
In addition to these items, Professional Sound Equipment, Lenses, Lighting, Storage Media and expenses such as Insurance, will be covered.
WHAT YOU’LL GET: THE PERKS
AU$5 – Get Things Started!
Your name will be listed on the Official Website for the documentary, along with all contributors to the project. The site will feature frequent updates on the progress of the film, and you’ll receive an email from the filmmaker thanking you personally for your valued contribution.
AU$15 – Name in the End Credits
Your name will be listed in the completed film’s End Credits under “Contributors”. Your name will also be listed on the Official Website for the documentary.
AU$25 – Download of the Finished Film
You’ll receive a DIGITAL DOWNLOAD of the film before it’s available for purchase to the public, PLUS your name in the End Credits and on the Official Website.
AU$50 – DVD (or HD Blu-ray) of the Finished Film
A physical DVD or HD Blu-ray of “Island School: Celebrating 50 Years”, with cover art and packaging, including a signed letter from the filmmaker. A souvenir of your contribution to the film that you can share with friends and family. Includes a Digital Download, your name in the End Credits and on the Official Website.
AU$150 – 40th Anniversary Book + DVD (or Blu-ray)
A copy of the hard-cover 40th Anniversary book, “No Ordinary School” by Chris Forse, former Vice Principal and Island School Historian (2007 Edition), PLUS a DVD (or HD Blu-ray), a signed letter from the filmmaker, a Digital Download, your name in the End Credits and on the Official Website.
AU$300 – 50th Anniversary Book + DVD (or Blu-ray)
The updated 50th Anniversary Edition of “No Ordinary School”, PLUS a DVD (or HD Blu-ray), including a signed letter from the filmmaker, a Digital Download, your name in the End Credits and on the Official Website.
AU$500 – Beauty Treatment + Anniversary Book
A Gift Voucher valued at HK$750 from “Hong Kong’s Hippest Day Spa” – The Feel Good Factor. Includes any personal health & beauty treatments valued at, or below, HK$750. Open Mon – Sat. 10am – 8pm Sun 10am – 7pm Tel.: 2530 0610 2nd Floor, 73 Wyndham St. Winsome House, Central, Hong Kong. http://feelgoodfactor.com.hk PLUS a copy of the updated 50th Anniversary book, the DVD (or HD Blu-ray), a Digital Download, your name in the End Credits and on the Official Website.
AU$1000 – Video Editing by Cinebrand
Video Editing, valued up to AU$1000. A short video, between 3 and 30 minutes, using home video or photos provided by you. The duration depends upon the content provided, and might include a holiday, birthday, a promo for your business, a wedding or other family occasion. Visit my website for samples: http://www.cinebrand.com.au/video/ PLUS a copy of the updated 50th Anniversary book, the DVD (or HD Blu-ray), a Digital Download, your name in the End Credits and on the Official Website.
AU$1500 – Associate Producer Credit
For your contribution, you’ll be named as an Associate Producer on the film, and receive 4 copies of the DVD (or HD Blu-ray), a signed letter from the filmmaker, a Digital Download of the finished film and your name in the Opening & End Credits (as Associate Producer). PLUS 1 x 60 min Memorization & Presentation Skills session, online from anywhere in the world with Paul Barry, Backstage Expert and LA-based Performance Coach. Value: US$250. https://www.backstage.com/topics/Paul%20Barry/ http://acting4camera.com
AU$2500 – Executive Producer Credit
For your contribution, you’ll be named as an Executive Producer on the film, and receive 5 copies of the film on DVD (or HD Blu-ray), a signed letter from the filmmaker, and a Digital Download of the finished film and your name in the Opening & End Credits (as Executive Producer). PLUS 3 x 60 min Memorization & Presentation Skills session, online from anywhere in the world with Paul Barry, Backstage Expert and LA-based Performance Coach. Value: US$750. https://www.backstage.com/topics/Paul%20Barry/ http://acting4camera.com
The completed film will be available as a DIGITAL DOWNLOAD (AU$25), on DVD or HD Blu-ray (AU$50).
Estimated Completion Date is March, 2018.
Sales from Downloads & DVDs/Blu-rays will help recoup the costs of post-production, but most of all, the film will become a valuable historical memento of the first 50 years of Island School.
The film’s duration will be approximately two hours, but may also be divided into short segments for viewing on-line as episodes, via the Island School websites.
RISKS & CHALLENGES
The documentary will involve many months of work, with the cooperation of many people, mostly donating their time.
To cover the inevitable costs of hiring cameras, sound equipment and post-production services, I need to raise funds from generous contributors, like yourself.
Documentaries like this one are mostly constructed in the edit suite, involving months of work, combining images and sound to tell a complete story in two hours, then fine-tuning sound and picture to professional standards, prior to release.
While this will be my first feature-length documentary, I have made films with larger budgets, more crew members, and far shorter timelines for production. Because I will be editing the film entirely by myself, I estimate it will take between six months and one year to complete the film. Editing will be completed at my home in Australia.
I’m making this film for many reasons, including the opportunity to tackle a subject which has a large audience, and is not only fascinating to me, but very important personally.
I am contributing all of my time at NO EXPENSE.
FILMMAKER BIOGRAPHY – Sean Francis Ellis
While attending Island School, I wrote, directed, shot & edited a 25-minute skateboarding film, featuring my brother and several school friends as actors. “Hong Kong Hookie” helped me earn a place in the VCA School of Film and Television, in Melbourne, Australia. During the course, I made several 16mm shorts, while training in Screenwriting, Direction, Editing and Cinematography. I graduated with a Bachelor of Film and Television Production, in 1994.
Since then, I’ve worked in film and television production in Australia and the US, directing short films and writing feature-length screenplays in various genres. My films and screenplays have been selected for various film festivals and screenwriting contests.
As a storyteller, I’m inspired by documentaries that bring the past to life, through interviews, images and music. To me, documentaries about the filmmakers’ personal experiences are more compelling, offering deeper insight and perspective than those of a passive observer.
Please visit my websites, where you can view samples of my work.
Island School provided opportunities I will never forget, opening my eyes to a larger, more fascinating world. While living in Hong Kong made travel to the US, Asia and Europe easier and more affordable, the cross-cultural mix of students and teachers introduced me to the rich diversity of our world, before the internet connected us all, like never before. I hope to share some of the magic I experienced, in the film.
The 50th Anniversary is a perfect moment to celebrate the legacy of our school and share it with family, friends, and future generations of Islanders.
Thank you for your interest in this project, which I’ve been planning for some time. I look forward to reconnecting with Islanders from all over the world in June and capturing the experience for those unable to attend.
Sean Francis Ellis – Cinebrand Productions – 2017