Posted on 22nd July 2019

Rebecca Manley: Now You See It, Director

The award-winning Director talks about her new film, which is narrated by British actor Ewan McGregor:

“This short film was a real passion project for me. I was driven to make it both by my love for the natural world and a wish to contribute a creative film to the urgent global conversation about climate change.

At all stages, from pre to post production, I had an eye on the carbon footprint of the piece and keeping it to a minimum. Just like the film itself, the production of Now You See It was very compact. I worked from my home, in our small attic studio, on all pre-production and the shoot. We get our power via green energy company Ecotricity, so all the power used on this part of production (and the final render) came from ‘…green electricity made from the Wind, the Sun and the Sea, and green gas made from organic material…’

There was no budget for the piece and so worked alone on all the pre-production. I hand-crafted the models myself, for the most-part, from eco friendly and recycled materials including old packing boxes and wrapping paper tubes for the leaves and trees, sheep’s wool for the orangutan’s fur, paper drying clay and soluble rice paper for the people and houses. I love recycled cardboard and it is a material I have used on two previous productions – in 2015 I won the award for ‘Best Green Production’ at ‘Going Green Film Festival’ LA for my short Table Manners. (All the puppets in that film were made out of recycled cardboard).

Of course I had to use plastic to make the mountain, in the second section of the film, because the narrative highlights the issue of the build up of plastics. But I made the decision to make the model very small in size on purpose, instead using clever framing so that it appears larger on-screen. The model actually stands at under 30 cm in height. I also did my best to reuse or recycle any elements that I could from it afterwards. So this approach meant that I kept the plastics waste to the absolute minimum possible.

There were only two of us on the shoot, my DP and myself, no other crew. We shot on a 5D Mark II DSLR, and fed the rushes straight through to my laptop. So, regarding energy usage, the shooting process itself ranked pretty low. Editing took a couple of days and was done on a single laptop. And all post-production took under a week in total, including colour grading. I used public transport to hand deliver the hard drive to wherever it needed to be. Apart from one main studio session with the composer, our exchanges of different versions of the track were done over the Internet, which meant I wasn’t physically travelling to see him each time.

Ewan McGregor is based in LA, so we did his voice record via Internet connection from Santa Monica studio Margarita Mix to 750MPH here in London. The session took less than an hour. And similarly the final sound mix also took less than an hour. I exported the final master of the film from home using After Effects.

I am very proud of what we have achieved and the low carbon footprint of the production.”

The film is currently on the festival circuit. In April 2017 it had it’s festival world premiere at the Earth Day Film Festival in the beautiful Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree, California. It also played at the International Nature Film Festival Gödöllő in Hungary in May and was presented as a special screening in the ‘Save the Earth’ program at the prestigious Short Shorts and Asia Film Festival, held in June.

It is my hope that the film will screen at many more international festivals so that its message reaches as wide and varied an audience as possible worldwide. To watch my film click here: