Goin’ South: BraineHownd Shows Code Grey

It’s been a while since I visited a film night. Nice to get out every once in a while.  Continue reading Goin’ South: BraineHownd Shows Code Grey

Yesterday’s Today: X&HT Watched Super 8

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The nostalgia at the heart of JJ Abram’s Super 8 is both the reason for it’s existence and completely pointless. The film could very easily have been tweaked for the modern day. My experiences with Straight 8 show that there’s still a vibrant 8mm community out there that love and appreciate the format’s idiosyncrasies. The film-making kids that make up the prime cast could have very easily shot on new stocks with a camera they picked up cheaply on eBay. (even the yummy Eumig that does such sterling service as the hero camera in the film.)

But then, of course, we would not have a film that panders so deeply to our fanboy love for the 80s films that built the foundation for the modern summer blockbuster. For Abrams, Spielberg and films like ET and The Goonies are not just the starting point. They’re the engine of the film. They’re pretty much the whole point.

Continue reading Yesterday’s Today: X&HT Watched Super 8

Everyday Heroes

Shooting People, the organisation that brings together like-minded film-makers across the country to collaborate on film projects, runs a film of the month competition. This month, it’s themed around Straight8. I’m very happy to report that the NO. 1 slot is currently filled by X&HTeam-mate Fiona Brownlie with her frankly astonishing superhero film Everyday Heroes. You can check the leaderboard and watch the film here.

You should bear in mind that everything you see here in Everyday Heroes was done in camera, in sequence, with no second takes. Yes, even the animation. It’s a remarkable achievement, and one that deserves your attention and applause. You may also notice that leading Man Clive has a cameo in the film. He’s the one in green spandex. I’ll repeat that. Watch this film and you get to see leading man Clive IN GREEN SPANDEX.

To vote it up you need to be a member of Shooting People. This link will help that process out somewhat. Go. Watch. Vote. And above all… ENJOY.

Life After Nano: and then this happened

First things first, then.

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I hit 50, 000 words on the evening of November 29th, which is slow by my standards, but perfectly acceptable in the scheme of things. As ever, the moment when I upload wordcount to the Nanowrimo site (painfully slow on the first and last couple of the days of November, a phenomenon we refer to as “the robust nature of the nano servers”) to get redirected to the winners page is a bittersweet one.  You expect fireworks, or a party, and what you get is… well, a very nice round of applause from the Nano staff, and a couple of downloads. But then the point is not to have the world fall at your feet at the enormity of your achievement. If you’re anything like me, the end of Nano is not the end of the story. Nowhere near, in my case. Ghosts is dangling on a massive cliffhanger. The casual reader may consider that I have written myself into a corner. Not the case, kids. But if you want to find out what happens next, you’re going to have to let me know.

Work on Ghosts will now continue behind the scenes. The first draft will stay up until the new year, at which point it’s being pulled into Scrivener so I can start work on the second draft. As for the first part of the story, Pirates of The Moon – well, I have plans for that, which I’ll share with you in due course.

 

On the same subject, you can now view Simon Aitken’s brilliant Blood + Roses on a rental pass at the all new revamped site. I can’t recommend it enough, and I’m not alone. Critical Film called it “a turning point, for the better, in the constant evolution of the modern cinematic vampire”, and I agree. This is a great opportunity to support an acclaimed independent horror, and you should run, not walk (well, metaphorically speaking, as you’re no doubt reading this at home in your slippers with no intention of budging off the sofa) to the site and check it out.

 

Finally, a little self-promotion that I can’t believe slipped through the gaps. Time Out is now available to view at Raindance.TV, at significantly improved quality from the YouTube link. Those who sniff that it was only shot on Super 8 in the first place are so very missing the point it’s not even funny. Go check it out, and witness the glory. Also, we get a tiny morsel of cash for every view, so that’s nice, isn’t it?

Right, back to work. The twist I have in mind won’t write itself…

About Time Out

Finally, at last, and about bleedin’ time. Excuses & Half Truths is delighted to present a film by Rob Wickings and Dominic Wade, shot in one day as part of the Straight 8 screenings of 2009.

The story of the shoot is here. The story of the screening and it’s aftermath is here.

Obviously the film has been tweaked and titles added, but at heart the story remains the one we shot back in March last year. A tale of modern life, and how escape from it can be all too easily permanent.

We couldn’t have done it without our most excellent crew. Without Whom awards go to Lewis Shelbourne as general camera assist, and Hayley Jannesen as AD (and it’s Hayley’s voice you hear at the end).

But it’s Kiki Kendrick who makes the piece. Her performance is extraordinary. And she forced Dom and I to up our game, think things through and generally sort ourselves out. We’re better directors because of her. Kiki, we don’t have the thanks. Her show “Next!” is tearing up the Edinburgh Fringe – if you’re there, then go, and be ready for a cracking piece of theatre.

Ladies and gentlemen. TIME OUT.

Endings, beginnings and others.

It’s been an interesting week, filled with activity of all sorts which could make 2010 a very fulfilling year for me creatively.

winner_night_120x240.pngFirst up. I hit page count on Script Frenzy. I made it a couple of days before the deadline, which is always a nice feeling. Not having to race to the line gives you a feeling that you’re ever so slightly more in control of the material, and not just lobbing random words at the screen in the sure and gloomy knowledge that they’re all coming back out when it comes to the second draft.

Writing a comic script is different from anything I’ve ever tried before. I’ve had to be much more aware of the way the story flows from page to page, keeping things moving while leaving little bits of room for the story to breathe, for the characters to come to life. Essentially, I’ve had to write 96 little stories, each with their own cliffhanger. It’s been fun, and a challenge.

The job now is to get an artist on board. I can layout and probably do character design, but I’m fully aware of my shortcomings as an artist. I know I couldn’t do the story in my head justice. Any takers out there that might be interested collaborating in a dose of decent old-fashioned skiffy?

In Straight8 news, Dom and I finally got together with the brilliant Kiki Kendrick for a morning of reshoots on our 2009 film Time Out. It’s been over a year since the initial shoot, and we’ve been trying to merge schedules for the last nine months. Third time turned out to be the charm. In an intense two hour session we nailed five shots in two locations. The film is being processed, and with luck and a fair wind we can drop these shots into our existing cut and have something we can show you in a couple of weeks.

Finally, potentially the biggest news of all. Leading Man Clive and I are collaborating with Simon Aitken, Ben Woodiwiss and Brendan Lornegan, the guys behind Blood + Roses on a feature horror, Habeus Corpus. It’s an anthology movie, and we’ve all contributed a short script. The overarching theme of the film will be “the exploitation of the dead”. Treating the dead as a resource, rather than a threat. Humanity doesn’t come out well in our tales.

We’ll be directing our own segments, apart from Ben, whose opening segment will be helmed by the mighty Paul Davis of Beware The Moon fame. I’m incredibly excited and gut-wrenchingly nervous about this. It’s a massive step up for me, and I really hope I can do it justice. It’s some comfort to do something like this with friends, though. People whose judgement and skill I trust without question.

The script is just about locked and it kicks significant barrelfuls of ass. We’re starting on the long painful task of looking for finance. It’s going to be hard work, and I know blood will be spilled. But at the same time it’s another step up, another barrier to vault.

See? Told ya. Exciting times.

Banksy, Time Out and NanoWrimo.

It’s time, I think, to start talking about a project that I’ve been tangentially involved in for a while. This is a short documentary that Dom, one of my best friends and filming partners, has been working on. It’s about the art and public perception of the graffiti artist Banksy. It’s an unusual project, in that Dom is claiming that he has nothing to do with it. He’s telling people that it was simply something he came across, a DVD that he found behind a lamp-post somewhere, and that all he’s doing is bringing it to the public’s attention. To the point where the working title is now “I Found A Film About Banksy”.

Fair enough then. I too have fallen down the rabbit hole, and can only tell you what I know about this film. Last Thursday, for reasons I am not at liberty to go into, I was on a slow-running train into London on my day off, with my trusty MiniDV camcorder. Dom and I were off to The Courthouse, a hotel that used to be the Great Marlborough St Magistrates Court, to interview entrepreneur Ivan Massow.

I’ve discussed the film that he’s made, “Banksy’s Coming To Dinner”, here. Dom had been keen to talk to him since he’d seen the film, and Ivan had agreed to an interview after a surprisingly short amount of nagging from my most tenacious friend. We arranged for a 10:30 meet with Ivan at the bar of The Courthouse, which has kept the holding cells it was built around and converted them into snugs. A great place for an interview about an artist whose relationship to the law is at best skewed.

As we headed in, it became clear that we were going to be late. My train was painfully slow-running, and traffic for Dom was the usual London nightmare. Also, Ivan had pulled the interview forward half an hour. We were now in danger of pissing off our interviewee with a late arrival – the most unprofessional thing to do when someone is doing you a favour. I arrived at the Courthouse at 10:15, got the bar open and quickly settled on a decent cell for a chat. Dom was five minutes after me, looking intensely harried, but with good news. Ivan was also running late.

We ran the quickest rig-up in the history of film-making ever, and were just about ready to go when Ivan finally arrived, 25 minutes late and already looking at his watch. Great. This would not be the leisurely chat we were expecting. However, we had no cause to grumble.

Ivan was great. Erudite, funny and insightful, and fully up for playing the Banksy game. In short, not admitting to anything. You might say that, but I couldn’t possibly comment. It wasn’t me, nobody saw me, you can’t prove anything. Plausible deniability. We managed 25 minutes with Ivan before he had to run, and we’re both very grateful to him for giving us that much. There is some very good stuff in that interview, and he’s added a chunk of value to the already rich mix that allegedly has been put together by someone. See, the game is addictive.

The remainder of the day was a solid chunk of decompression in various pubs, chats with friends and plotting our next move. This was a great way to relax after an incredibly panicky morning. We’d pulled victory out of the jaws of humiliating defeat, and it felt good.

So. Next. Dom will be giving Sheffield the love at the documentary film festival, and we are in prep mode for the reshoots on Time Out, which should be happening in the next week or so. Then it’s a simple case of finishing the cut on that and getting it distributed, hopefully to a slightly more interesting platform than YouTube. More news on that as it happens, obviously.

And then it’s November, and Nanowrimo again. I have a great idea, which is going to be a manic romp around some of the influences that shaped my reading as a kid. I’m really excited about this one, as is everyone that I’ve pitched it to, purely on the strength of the title, which came out of a misheard phrase when I was talking about last year’s Nano.

Ladies and gents. My novel for 2009 will be based on a very simple concept.

Pirates.

On the Moon.

Prepare yourselves.

A Progress Report

Dom discovers YouTube. That's it for work today, I guess...

Looking back over the past few posts, it’s painfully obvious that I am turning into a curmudgeonous old whiner, griping and complaining about the state of the country, signing petitions in lieu of doing something useful.

So, for a change, let’s be positive and constructive and look at how the film projects are coming along.

Time Out is taking shape nicely. We’ve closed up gaps, tweaked the edit ever so slightly, and laid in a sound bed that’s suitably overwhelming. We’ve storyboarded up the shots we need to get in a comparatively simple reshoot day, and are now getting that day together, in conjunction with our brilliant cast and crew. The plan is to complete Time Out in the next couple of months. Let’s call it a Christmas Present to the world.

Meanwhile, Decks Dance And Videotape continues on it’s glacially slow path to realisation. Dom had one of his busiest weeks ever, squeezing in interviews with Richard, promoter of the renowned Raindance night and Pez, the guy who defined the iconography of thee Acid House aera with his use of The Smiley Face. But that’s not all, dance fans. He also snagged an interview with house pioneer and legend, Marshall Jefferson. He can now brag that Marshall bought him a Chinese takeout. There aren’t too many people who can say that. All three came across as wise, insightful and funny. And they can all talk the hind legs off a kangaroo.

Logging work will commence on this prime chunk of footage, and next order of business will be a new trailer to drum up some interest, reflecting the wealth of interviewee goodness we now have on board.

And of course, how surreal the whole thing can be…

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L-R, Richard, Pez. Or is it the other way round?

Over the past week, Dom and I have really made some progress on two very solid projects, and there’s more to come. We’re interviewing next Thursday, working on yet another film that I’ve been keeping shtum about on this blog for the time being. That may well have to change soon. Keep it locked to X&HT. News is approaching.