I Needed You

My experience in Manchester at the National Youth Film Academy was incredibly intense time but in a time like that I think you really do need to just keep pushing yourself. The opportunity may not come around again. As the groups were split and with there being a large majority of actors present on the course after the filming had took place their schedules were pretty free besides a monologue to prepare. Speaking of opportunities, it’s not always that you’ll have so many talented actors at your disposal who just want to make more and more films.

While taking a little break to given Ethan a chance to put the first rough cut together of the film, I was browsing some scripts I had on my computer and saw Warrior. Personally Warrior was my favourite film of last year. Reading over my favourite scene I saw a bit of an opportunity. I had the camera equipment with me and actors at my disposal, why not do a scene?

So with a couple of hours spare on an evening, with the help of fellow director Ben Hancock we began filming a short scene from Warrior. The fantastic Michael Shon and Daniel Campbell got straight into it as the scene chosen was not easy at all. With lots of dialogue and intense expression it was a tough scene to tackle.

It just shows you though, on a spur of the moment decision we were able to film the short scene. It’s became showreel material for the guys and an extra bit of a filming for myself. If you have the equipment and the time, even if it’s just an hour or two, go and film something.

Inspire Mark Celebration Night 2012

Back in mid February alongside Act2Cam I documented a celebration evening for the Olympics 2012 Inspire Mark project. This was my first experience filming a performance/speaking event and was something I was quite excited to be involved in. Taking place at Alnwick castle with it’s grand surroundings, there was sure to be some interesting imagery. The end product is a combination of audience reactions, speakers and performances such as dancing, rap and judo.

It was also another circumstance where the majority of those being filmed, didn’t necessarily want to be filmed. It’s a good learning curve in how best to handle it. You’re there to do a job which you need to get done yet some people keep shying away from the camera. In the end you learn to be slightly stealthy and be quick, get the shot you want and get out of there. It’s quite an art. Since getting back from Manchester, it was straight on getting this finished and out there. Enjoy.

The NYFA Experience

As you can probably tell from my lack of posts i’ve been away with the National Youth Film Academy on their Easter ‘Make It Happen’ course as a Director. To right about the whole experience would be essay length so i’ll do my best to shorten things down! There were so many new experiences in this course for myself personally.

The idea of working alongside a separate producer, writer and editor was something totally new to me. I’d never directed someone else’s script at all before so this posed something interesting challenges and a big responsibility on my shoulders. Luckily enough I was coupled with a fantastic writer who provided me with a great framework to begin with and help craft a story. I’d yet to work with a single separate producer on a short film i’d directed so this was great to have someone to rely on and help support the decisions that need making. I was lucky enough again to be coupled with a fantastic welsh producer who was just as passionate and driven as I was. Onto the final few days i’d also never handed my film off to an editor before. This was a great experience to keep coming back with fresh eyes and let someone else help tell your story.

One of the biggest challengers I was faced with early on was being given 7 actors to work with. To craft a story involving 7 characters in a short film is no mean feat. Everyone wants their moment to shine so this was something always in the back of my mind. All of our actors were fantastic, very talented and very helpful in crafting the story.

The film that was the end product, entitled Elan Vital, is about a world where the universe is over-populated and has to re-stabilise itself by killing everyone not deemed as ‘good’. Our story takes place in this world where our central character Kate struggles to understand if she is good and the meaning of it all.

To sum up the whole experience would be intense. For two weeks I lived with all the people and we worked day and night to make the best films possible. I learnt so much about myself as a director, new techniques and ways to work together as a team. Not only did I make, what I would like to think, is a pretty decent film, I also made some amazing friends too.

5 Short Films – 5 Days

Now last year as part of Act2Cam, a film school who train young actors and filmmakers I shot 3 short films in 3 days helping the actors and hopeful filmmakers. This week I went one step further and shot 5 short films in 5 days!

For a start it was totally physically draining. Not only was I helping to shoot the film, I was essentially teaching and organising the students all the time. Sure that’s fine sometimes when the group is older and more mature, but when they’re young, it’s more of a challenge. However with the different age ranges also brings different films, ideas and themes.

In the space of the 5 days we had films exploring a taxi killer, a disturbed teen, a bored worker with an urge for adventure, a murder mystery and a drama in the woods. Each film brings a totally new location too, from the woods to houses, it’s all different environments. So each day was a fresh new challenge and as a filmmaker you have to relish that!

I was lucky enough to have a great team around me helping me each of the way, whether it was helping to manage the students to helping on the technical side. So after a very tiring week i’ve had a day rest before travelling tomorrow. Fun times lie ahead!

Alone

I love what I do. I really do. There’s so many moments, stories that really remind you why filmmaking, to me at least, is the best thing in the world. One of those reasons is something I don’t even really know how to describe, it’s sort of being in ‘the moment’. When you get that magical one take which blows you away and exceeds any expectations, when there’s a camera movement that blows you away, what it may be it’s mesmerising.

A similar moment happened to me yesterday. The location was the Millennium bridge in Newcastle and the time was dusk. The light was just getting low enough that the streetlights were appearing but not dark enough for the camera to struggle. It’s also the beauty of shooting on such a camera as a Digital SLR is their fantastic ability to shoot in low light levels.

The was a costume change happening ready for the next scene and so the rest, including the crew, were simply taking a break. Enjoying the sunset in the beautiful weather it was really exciting to see how the camera captured all the images using the prime lenses. It just felt like I need to just shoot something, anything and just enjoy the low light values. Jack Robertson, one of the actors in the video agreed. With no clue what was going to happen, where we were going to go, we started rolling. Here is the end result.

Watch 36 Hours – The Movie

36 Hours was a feature film I worked on in June 2011. Raising money for Unicef the feature documentary followed three teams as they attempted to get as far from Brighton at possible in 36 Hours. The catch was that they had no money. Relying on persuasion, wit and often charm, the teams had to blag onto trains, buses, cars, anything they could to travel the miles and to see how far they could go. The further they went, the more they raised.

I was lucky enough to be given the task of camera operator for one of the teams. This meant that I was the only crew member on their journey, following their every step and of course, I had no money either! I was blagging along with them! What commenced was an incredibly roller coaster of a journey taking you from the biggest highs to the lowest of lows. It really was incredibly emotional and physically draining.

In the end I don’t think either team got as far as they would have hoped. It was much tougher than any of us had imagined but the gauntlet was thrown down and we all gave it our best shot. At moments we nearly looked to be heading on a flight to Dubai, then a train to Brussels. Wherever we got it was an exciting and most of the times hilarious journey. You can now watch the film in full on YouTube. Enjoy!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCZpDR4pqec]

Watch Exodus Online

Just over a year since the film was shoot back in February 2011, the award winning short thriller Exodus can now be viewed online! Starring James Hedley and Lawson Hind, Exodus tells the story of Jacob waking up in a room across from a stranger and given an choice that will change his and others lives forever.

This was such an exciting project to write and direct. I wanted to tell a compelling short drama that pushed the boundaries of what short films can be, but also push the boundaries of my own filmmaking experience. I had wrote and directed short films before but with each film brings it a new challenge and Exodus definitely was a push to something bigger and better in my filmmaking career.

We had a fantastic cast and crew on board who worked some really tough days filming in the cold and muddy location. I was lucky to be able to bring Scott Coulter on to shoot the film as Director of Photography. Scott and I have collaborated further shooting most recently Reboot. Jonathan Armandary, who i’d worked with previously, did a fantastic job scoring Exodus, creating a really dynamic soundscape which i’d like to think sets it apart from other short films.

Without further adieu, Exodus. Please like, comment, anything. Enjoy!

So What’s Next Then?

Well Reboot has been a large part of my life the past 9 months or so and it’s always been the next big project to create. With that now wrapped for principal photography and handed over to the editor, what’s next in the pipeline?

Well not straying too far away, of course I will be involved in the post-production of Reboot, but for now it’s handed over to the editor Paul Meynall to start piecing together the fire cut. Liam Johnson and I have scheduled a bit of a break onto other project to give chance for the cut to be made and for us to come back with fresh eyes to see it pieced together. So for the time being, Reboot is having a small vacation for myself. Though I can’t wait to see it in a months time!

In the meantime there is plenty of projects to be getting on with. I’m currently finishing a couple of edits for clients on a number of corporate videos including a celebration night and a quirky school documentary. The aim is to get those finished pronto ready to be approved.

I also have a number of shoots lined up with Act2Cam, including 5 short film shoots in 5 days. This will be the culmination of the spring term of teaching where the students in their groups have worked on a short film idea and developed it on their own with small guidance to the film that I will help them shoot in the coming weeks. The range of ideas are incredibly diverse including a drama in the woods, a thriller on the road and an adventure through the streets to name a few.

With some new equipment I am also to be shooting and helping out on a couple of music videos within the next couple of weeks. So as you can see, quite a lot of get through. This is all before the end of the month where i’ll be heading off to Manchester on the 1st April to begin my course as a Director at the National Youth Film Academy! Exciting times for sure!

Reboot: Day Five

So we’re wrapped now. It’s been an emotional journey and from reading the first draft, it’s been an incredibly experience throughout. Today’s location featured a house that we were thankfully allowed to invade for our shoot. I’m very grateful for the homeowners who really opened up their home to us and made us feel welcome and even though we probably were a massive nuisance, they never said. That’s one thing for Reboot, the film could never have been possible without the kind hearts of everyone involved. The cast, the crew, the extras, the people who allowed us to film in various locations, and every single person along the journey. Words can’t describe how much it’s all meant to myself, the director Liam Johnson and the DOP Scott Coulter.

We had some tricky scenes today with some very interesting setups bridging into new territory and creating new challenges that i’ve never faced before. It should be like that with every film, bringing with it unique challenges and Reboot was certainly that. It was definitely emotional saying goodbye to all the crew after a quick wrap party drink. It’ll not feel the same not getting up early to be out shooting a scene for Reboot. I guess I have a good few weeks to wait before a rough cut emerges.

I think we’ve all kinda created little breaks or other projects to be getting on with. I have a few myself. It means we can take a break, step back from Reboot and then look at it fresh faced with the first cut. One thing’s for sure, I bloody well cannot wait to see it!

Reboot: Day Four

That’s day four wrapped on the shooting of Reboot. Today we were off onto a new location shooting at a church. Sometimes a tough location to shoot in but everything went incredibly well shooting the small scene using full use of the surroundings to create a very different environment to what was shot the past three days, something that we aimed for.

The first shot the day was by far the trickiest. With extras involved in the opening scene logistically it was challenging to get everyone co-operating on the right actions and timing. Thankfully everyone was incredibly patient and worked really well in the shot to get it perfect. The shot wouldn’t have been the same without their help and you’ll be able to see that in the finished film.

The whole crew have been working so very hard throughout the days and so when the wrap for today was late afternoon it felt oddly strange that we hadn’t worked a full day and were absolutely shattered! Very bizarre! Everyone is putting so much effort into the film’s production and it’s definitely clear in the result. Onto the final shooting day tomorrow!