Case Study: The Red Ball Jussi Rautaniemi's dystopian short film was part of the SHIFT Film Festival's official competition.
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Case Study: The Red Ball

Jussi Rautaniemi's dystopian short film was part of the SHIFT Film Festival's official competition.

Jussi Rautaniemi is an awarded film editor from Finland and the director of The Red Ball, a short film about a 6-year-old boy playing alone, waiting for his father. He talks to his father through a walkie talkie, but gets no answer. Something is not right as the world is about to end.

"Luckily the COVID-19 lockdown had made my friends unemployed for a while so they had time."

12 oktober 2020

A coincidental discovery with a spontaneous result

"I got the inspiration for this film when I visited the location. It's a construction site for a new housing area near my home in east Helsinki. I went there for a walk and my son started playing there and jumping on the rocks. We spent a while there and I took photos with my cellphone and decided that we would come there again some day and shoot a film."

"This film was not scripted. When the COVID-19 lockdown started and my son was unable to go to preschool, I decided that today we would shoot a film. So I thought about it beforehand about an hour and then on the location we shot stuff and invented stuff with my son. There was only one shooting day, it lasted for 4 hours. We had food and candy with us."

Childish improvisations

"Nothing went as I planned. My son refused to say some lines I came up with. It was his idea to talk about a 'red ball in the sky'. At that time I did not understand what he was going on about but then realized that this is a good thing. At first I thought that this film was only set during a war or something, but now it was about the end of the world!"

Editing, composing, VFX

"I edited the film myself the next day. The first cut was about 8 minutes, then I did a couple of re-edits until it was around 4 minutes long. My aim was to make as short a film as possible." 

" I sent the film to a composer friend of mine including a reference to other music. He composed new music, using these references as a guideline. It only took 2 drafts until I was completely satisfied."

"The hardest was the VFX since I had to beg my friends to do them for free. The smoke was easy but the red ball and the missiles took some more drafts since I wanted them to be as realistic as possible. Luckily the COVID-19 lockdown had made my friends unemployed for a while so they had time."

"What really made this film was the sound design. A friend of mine did it. He did all the foleys and ambience sounds. It really lifted the film to a next level. Never underestimate the power of sound."

Going on

"By now the film has been selected to a couple of small online festivals but nothing more yet. The SHIFT Film Festival was the film's third festival."

"Since I am a professional editor my tips for directors are just to try as much as you can. Don't worry about the production value or the quality of the picture. The only thing that counts is the idea. Do as much as you can by yourself, before starting to work with other people. Film is a collective art form but you must know as much as you can about it and what every stage needs. If you haven't tried and failed yourself, you are unable to respect other professionals who will help you later on."

(c) All visual material is used with the filmmaker's permission.

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