A-Minus Productions

occupation-074Back in 2008, I co-ran a film production company named A-Minus Productions, which despite the various confusions at how to pronounce the word “aminus” were successful at creating a small community of visual artists and filmmakers, interesting in producing left field, outsider films. At the centre of our projects was myself, predominantly working as a director/cinematographer and my good friend Rich Craig, who was head of post-production (editing, sound design etc) and also sometimes actor. To say that we were amateurish would be an understatement, but I can still look back on the films we made with a sense of pride in terms of what we were trying to achieve.

The majority of our projects were essentially very low budget, working with a single handheld camera, some wonderfully pirated software and actors who we could not afford to pay, but were able to feed and keep supplied in wine. Both due to financial limitations and the movements that we were interested in at that time, we focused heavily on Dogma 95 techniques for our first feature length film 2/1 [Two], which was a shot using a single, continuous take, not as impressive as Russian Ark perhaps, but given our limitations an achievement all the same.

For the following short features and other various projects we produced, we stole and stole and stole some more from such films and directors as Harmony Korine’s Julian Donkey Boy and Wong Kar Wai’s Happy Together. We employed guerrilla filmmaking in terms of running into locations, paying of staff members to leave us alone (occasionally Rich Craig using his adaptable social skills to help keep them busy) and generally filmed on the go. We worked a lot of improvisational scenes and developed dialogues with the actors in terms of character development, often sending them out into the real world in the roles they were to play, in order to get them accustomed to being in lived in scenarios as these characters.

At the beginning of the project, there was no real goal in mind. We never submitted any of the short films made into competitive festivals, instead we simply moved onto the next. Looking back, there was no real decision behind not submitting that which we finished, it just never seemed that important to us, concerning ourselves instead with the next idea, the new attempt and the improvements to be made as we struggled along in our self-taught understanding of film.

So along with other various other leftovers, on this section of the site upcoming will be stills, materials and hopefully a few of the short films themselves, along with a brief description of the process behind them. These will be attached not only to give some of the more chaotic episodes behind the filming process, but also will hopefully might be able to offer some insight into anyone intrepid enough to be making DIY films themselves.


James Kramer



Author: jameskramerblog

James Kramer is a fiction writer currently based in Beijing. His writing has appeared in Your Impossible Voice, as well as various Poetry anthologies. He currently writes a monthly-ish column for LeftLion magazine on China.

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