Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Murder on the Trans-media Express

Murder on the trans-media express

This is the event that nearly never was yet it was also the most important event I've attended for months and could drastically affect the future of film making for not just myself but the whole industry, certainly according to the speakers.

Present were Hilary Perkins (Skins - ch4), Tim Wright (Oldton - website), Ian Fenton (Kronos Time Machine - Tyneside Cinema) and Tarek Nseir (Harry Potter - Pottermore website) , who between then represented writers, producers, directors and designers across platforms from film to tv, literature to web design and everything in-between.

My intentions at this event were mostly about networking at first, then j studied the content of the session and realised it could be slightly relevant. Three hours after it began and I think it could make the difference between success and failure of a long-term ongoing project, currently titled 'Grand Scheme of Things' which I began to promote at Cannes back in May.

The new term for what I might call multi-media is 'Trans-media' and now included is Facebook, twitter, myspace, alongside audio-visual mainstays such as music, video and books.

I have collaborated with Martin Wood for over a decade to provide content for the world of Jonny Fix and friends, never quite knowing what the final format should be.
And now I know - ALL FORMATS!

Nothing we've done to date will be wasted, everything has a point and potential. Content commissioners are already looking for added value to their brands and the best added value is created ALINGSIDE the primary product, not bolted on afterwards.

The event was everything we all wanted it to be - everyone I spoke to at the networking session afterwards thought so too and the speakers were very generous with their time, allowing us the opportunity to ask direct questions and dig deeper into the answers than would be possible in the group forum format.

Many thanks to mike Boyle for passing on details of the event and to Scott Watson who kept me up to date with the revised date. Without them, I'd have missed a something BIG!

Here's a link to the event:
Here's a link to GSoT:
Here's a link to the delegates: - Ian Fenton - Tim Wright - Tarek Nseir - Hilary Perkins

Monday, 21 November 2011

Moving On - Director's Cut Online NOW!

Today it's one month since the deadline for the 90-second Ghost Film competition and it seemed a fitting time to park up my three-and-a-half minute 'Director's Cut', here's the link:

It's always a challenge to maintain the original intentions of a script the greater the amount of time that passes from inception to realisation and this film is no exception. Originally conceived as a fantastical study of a broken heart and fragile mind, I pushed the snowball over the hill and surprised myself by the momentum it gathered; family, friends and colleagues all supported me to make a much bigger and better film than I ever expected.

It is what is mind you, everything was shot on one day, everything on the storyboards that is. But - and here's the thing - the actors brought something more to the performance than I'd envisioned, effectively changing the ending - and for the better.

I pushed out the 90-second version within a week but spent a lot longer piecing the Director's Cut together.

Once again, serendipity played it's part and creativity, unburdened by a tight deadline, flourished. Once I had the rough cut before me, I could see what more I'd like to add... Well reshoots weren't an option, so I had to make do with using out takes, harsh crops and split-screens to make up the image I really wanted.

The finished film is best seen as a highly-evolved animatic, I think of it like The Evil Dead when compared to The Evil Dead II: The first film was a balls-to-the-wall experiment in film making, getting ideas out of their heads and onto the screen; the 'sequel' was more of a remake, now they know what they're doing with the cameras!

Will I ever remake this? I hope I never have to!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Joint Second... Along with EVERONE ELSE who didn't come FIRST!!!

Well, we were in good company at least!

There were some fourteen minutes of 90 second films being shown last night and Laura Degnan, of Writers' Block, announced that this was one of the strongest field of entries in the [admittedly short] history of the competition.

The winning film failed to play on the night mind you - we saw the first and last ten seconds and heard the full soundtrack - but we're assured it was outstanding.

So, well done to everyone; at this point we don't actually know how high the bar was set but next time, I'll give everyone MORE time, and we'll go for the win once more!

Here's a link to the 90-second cut of 'Moving On':

The next competition entry must involve puppets. The current level four students are making puppets. Sadly, the deadlines are the wrong side of one-another. Ho-hum, life, eh?

Friday, 21 October 2011

Dead-On the deadline, but I'm not Moving On yet!

Technological failure couldn't stop me, and frankly, it might have done me a favour...

I was unable to upload the 90-second Ghost Film entry, 'Moving On', today at work but I had arranged to meet James at seven pm to drop off a data disc.

Good job I did; I watched the lo-res version on my phone and realised I had some sound-synch issues. Although I left work late after jump starting a car (belonging to one Jamie MacDonald, photography course leader and documentary film maker) I felt that I had just enough time to do one last tweak...

Well, you know how it goes; one tweak leads to another and before you know it, you're meddling in areas that didn't need attention.

Since the deadline of 7pm was drawing near, I managed to stop myself and whiz over to Writers' Block HQ to drop off the disc.

Job done.

Now, two things followed from this: I came straight home to work on the three-minute 'Ditectirs' Cut' - that's coming along nicely, thank you - and James Harris has asked me to partake in a film project they have planned for tomorrow... Excellent, it's been too long between projects and this is just the medicine I need to het my mojo back.

I'll blog back tomorrow when I know what the story is... Unless its under embargo for some reason!?!

Deadline Time...

As the Writers' Block 90-second film competition deadline looms large, technology has once again become my enemy, after having been my best friend all week...

The competition rules stipulate the film file must be uploaded to '' by today - and the computer firewalls at work are preventing this!?!

A few calls later and I've arranged to drop off a data cd with James Harris tonight - Phew!

I'll post pictures from the set this weekend - but no spoilers mind you!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Post production almost done, with one day to go...

So how can I possibly stop myself meddling until the last minute and ruining it?!?

The running time is now a perfect 90 seconds. The ADR we did yesterday is dropped on, additional sound effects added and a musical track created with a piano keyboard and my dads new violin..!

Tonights mission is to colour correct the shots and to balance the sound levels.

The last link in the chain is actually getting the film to the competition; the rules stipulate using a virtual drop box - I sure hope my Internet signal stays strong this week!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Editing going well...

My second night of editing sees me off to bed with a ninety-second version of 'Moving On' - thus time yesterday it was 2mins 45seconds, so I'm really pleased.

The story I wish to tell really takes a little more than 90 seconds to do it justice, to give the characters room to breath, but the necessity to crop it back has resulted in some more unexpected pleasant surprises.

What in most pleased about is that all the tough shots have stayed in. I would have been strung up by the crew if I didn't use the apparition-in-the-reflection bits!

Tomorrow night I'll add the extra sound effects then plan the music, which I should be doing with Curtis Rowlands... The longer version will benefit from music for sure but this shirt one, well, I might just fro a few piano keystrokes on and a little violin for atmosphere...

Anyway, that's tomorrow nights business, I've got a full days work and a night class to attend first!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

It's a Wrap!!!

Principal photography is over, phew!

We convened at my house pretty much in time yesterday; the idea was to meet at noon, shoot from one, pause early evening till dark then film some more until maybe ten or eleven.

Half past ten we wrapped. There were slight changes to the script in order to speed things up and we decided to save the external shots until daylight.

Everyone was brilliant on set - and patient. We did have enough crew to form a second unit but due to technological constraints (my camera only records directly to a laptop) we could only shoot one set up at a time.

If you ever need an enthusiastic, energetic and competent crew, I can't recommend the following people highly enough for their skill, ingenuity and professionalism:

Actors: Hannah Matthews, Harry Peach
Production Designer: Billy Cessford
Prop Mistress: Rachel Lee
Camera Op.: Peter Suttron
Lighting/Sound: Karl Keenen
Make-up/On Set Photographer: Hannah Prince

I'll be making a rough cut today and hopefully working with Curtis Rowlands next Wednesday on a musical score.

I'm not quite sure if this will cut down to a fully understandable 90-second film; we threw so many ideas into the mix both at the script stage and on set; character motivations evolved and unscripted backstory was filmed too.

The deadline is this Friday. There will be a 90 second cut for that. More exciting s the Directors Cut. There is no time limit in that and as of this morning, there's 63 minutes of tape to choose from!

Next up: breakfast. I didnt eat much on set yesterday; there wasn't really time but moreover, I wanted to 'method direct' - to have that hollow feeling of lost love inside so that I wouldn't stray from the point of the story: a study of a man shredded by his feelings.

First I was 'Letting Go', now I'm 'Moving On'...

A year ad a half on from my first film making effort, 'Letting Go', comes the companion piece 'Moving On'.

The project had been languishing inside me for a fee weeks when I saw a reminder for another 90-second film competition from writers block, the theme: ghost stories.

The story follows a man who struggles to accept that his girlfriend has left him - but has she really gone for good?

I wrote the first draft in a few hours on Wednesday evening and shared it with students on the Thursday - with a view to shooting this weekend.

Hurried phone calls and emails landed me a tight cast and crew, comprising of graduates of film and tv and a couple of first timers.

The script has seen four revisions and today we shoot what we've got - kick off is in around two hours!

This is my first film for months, a very cathartic piece for me, one that I could only have conceived at this very point in my life.
I think I'll call my next film 'Falling In Love Again'..!

Here's a link to the competition:

And here's a link to the first. Film, Letting Go:

Pics and stories tomorrow - it's gonna be a long day!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Thanks Dad, you're Super (8)

Were back at film school now and the projects are beginning to take shape.

The one we're most excited by is the Straight 8 film competition, the winners of which are premiered at the Cannes film festival.

The college has one super-8 camera but no user guide.
Enter my father.
Although my request was to use the projector that's been in the loft for twenty years, he offered me the use if his camera too, and get this: it's the same make and model AND CONES WITH FULL INSTRUCTIONS!!!

We now have the capability to film films and play them back, old school, rather than having them telecinied onto a DVD.

Time will tell how well we do as a competition entry but one things for sure, it's not the technology that'll hold us back.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

It's Early Days but...

I'm entering a piece of work into the RTS Awards!

As silly as it sounds, as my personal interests and pursuits do not generally align with awards assessment criteria, however, it seems my Regent Cinema promotional film has been deemed worthy of the 'free, undergraduate' entry ticket, available to the Film and TV Production course students - we qualified because we are entering sufficient paid for projects from our recent graduates.

As I say, early days... It's not even been posted yet, it's just a really good feeling to be asked to represent the college.

I must confess, I quite fancy winning; there's nothing like taking the stage to receive an award before your peers - thanks to Writer's Block for giving me the first experience of this!

I hope the next blog on this subject says I've been accepted, shortlisted and I can round it off with an 'I've Won It!!!'

Thanks to Di Scott and Mike Boyle, our lecturers on the course, for just considering me at this stage, even this much makes the numerous sleepless nights feel worth it...

Best of luck to all involved and may the best films win!

Links to RTS Awards here:

Links to Regent Cinema promotional film here:

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Two Steps Back

Impatience is a curse of mine.

A few months ago, whilst feeling disheartened about a lack of access to camcorders out of hours fromthe CCAD stores, I purchased one from eBay.
From Malta!

It arrived safely but had a couple of tiny faults. I out it down to transit and acclimatisation and used the camera happily on a couple of occasions.

Last time out I realised that the xlr inputs didn't work...
Everything else seemed fine, just those inputs, meaning j was limited to use the onboard mics to capture sound.

Ho-hum. At the start of my summer holidays, I decided to have the problem looked at. I sent my camcorder off to a recommended repair centre ad waited.
Quite quickly they got back to me: "we fixed 'the xlr problem with a bit of soldering", "great, thanks, when can j have it back?"
"oh no, we're afraid there was another problem, we can't fix it, it needs to go back to panasonic themselves for investigation".

That was a month ago.

Tomorrow, I was due to film part of an instructional film for a world class blacksmith.

I don't have my camera.

I can't get one from college.

There is no budget so I'm not going to hire one.

As it happens, it appears this enforced postponement is for the best.

I'll try again next month. If the museum is still operational.

In the mean time, does anyone know where my camcorder is?!!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Costume Catwalk Show

Last Tuesday was the FdA costume construction and BA Ents catwalk event and I'd Bern asked to film it.
The brief was 'just set up a camera and film it' but, as a tv and film student, that was never going to happen.

I enlisted the help of Jess Shaw, Laura glendenan and Charlotte Mitchell, although Sophie Crawford replaced her at the last minute.

It was a three camera set up; two set up for wide-to-mid-to-close shots and one permanently on wide, taken from the dj booth. Thus last camera was only intended to capture the voices of the compares, Tim Vine and John Archer, buy it was such a good vantage point that it was decided to use it too.

I had been asked to model two outfits on the night; a cowboy shirt and a martial arts costume.
The sense if occasion overwhelmed me and I was soon line dancing and Kai-calling my way up and down the catwalk, luckily my camera ops were doing the actual filming in my absence.

The while evening took the best part if three hours - that's nine hours if footage to log and edit. There'll be no shortcuts either.
I've just got to knuckle down and do it.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Another breakthrough!

My Regent cinema project is shaping up on the edit suite now and, although I only seem to work on it in 3-4 hour bursts, there is a definite end in sight... Lucky that, being as the deadline is not far off either!
The breakthrough of the week was in finding a way to record a musical score and VoiceOver track.
I have looked around online for ready made music; I have considered adding a popular 60's track, but I've felt blocked at each turn.
On Saturday night I found enough cables to connect a synthesiser keyboard to the edit suite and, although there's a full seconds time delay, I can play semi-live into the machine.
I was also able to use this new-found knowledge to hook up a microphone and perform an early morning VoiceOver.
I'm still up against it with everything else I have on but j feel like I can at least control every aspect now and the work I hand in will be the truest representation of my abilities.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Bottle neck passed!

I handed in a large body of work yesterday and slept for twelve hours straight!
Makes a change from the 2 1/2 I managed the nite before.

Over the past few weeks I've had a three day film shoot at the Regent Cinema, a three day beginners blacksmith course and a coursework deadline all on top of a five day working week! Well big thanks to CCAD who allowed me to flex my time and be elsewhere the last two Fridays.
I've got a lot of footage to edit and another project to produce AND another few little bits of coursework to ace.

I'm at the blood donors right now. In case my tutors don't believe me, I really am trying to make the world a better place!
See you on the other side..!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

The worst (and the best) is behind us!

We did it. Three days of filming, dozens of extras, hours of tape to sift through. The best part? I know I captured everything I'll need.

Big thanks again to all my volunteer crew, audience extras, CCAD staff and students, Rachel Meek, the Evening Gazette, Tyne-Tees news, TFM Radio, Writers Block NE and especially to Neil Bates of the Regent Cinema, Redcar.

I still require shots inside the projection booth and a little extra outside but for what I needed my extras for, that is in the bag!

Still, I can't relax yet, there's a coursework deadline midweek and another film project lined up for next Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

I can do it, nothing can stop me; man-flu tried, technology tried, the elements tried. Well I'm still here and I got my footage, so clear a path - I'm going to Hollywood!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Camera set up two ROCKED!!

A couple of changes to the line up of my crew tonight; we welcomed Kass, Jo and Craig to the fold and saw the welcome return of Peter suttron, Lee, andy and Aaron.
I'm really pleased with the shots we got tonight, one of my favourites being Craig's entrance to the auditorium dressed on full WW1 costume, borrowed from CCAD's costume department.
He use of the track and dolly was spot on and the lads nailed one of my storyboarded shots perfectly.

Fingers crossed that Neil can get my DVD to play tomorrow so that we can film the over the shoulder shots looking at the screen.

Breakdown is gonna be tough tomorrow, I can't think where to even start - but that's a problem for future me. This one's gonna get some shuteye and treat himself to a lie in! Good night!

Friday, 28 January 2011

First night, in the can!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to tonights' frivolities - I haven't reviewed the footage yet but I know we captured some fantastic images.

Once again my crew were professional and motivated and quick thinking and I'd gladly work with all of them again... Like tomorrow and Sunday!

Members of the public welcome, fun starts at 6pm and ends 6.45pm sharp!

VIP filming session a huge success

Everything went like clockwork this morning for the VIP filming session at the Regent cinema.
Guests included CCAD principle, Martin Raby, Mike Boyle and his five children, CCAD marketing staff, Emma, Nicola and Liam, actor Jennifer Nelson and my mum and dad and aunt and uncle, Pat, Tony, Bob and Linda - great to see you all there.
My crew, Andy Harrison, Peter Silk, Peter Suttron and Lee Charnley, were all on top form and would be an asset to any crew - and I'm looking forward to working with them again tonight.

Audience can arrive from 6pm tonight (Friday) or Saturday or Sunday, filming lasts for about an hour before the main show.

Come along, be in a film!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Media Storm!

Big thanks to Rachel Meek for pushing hard and fast and getting a Tyne Tees news crew to report on the Regent Cinema project.
It's meant I've had to adjust the schedule and have asked for a whole load of new favours from family and friends alike.
There will now be a fake-fake film shoot tomorrow at eleven am (Friday), ahead of the first filming session at 6pm.

In other news:
I have pulled a muscle in my back lifting the dolly track. I'm finding it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. Tomorrow I will feel grumpy. But I will not show it. Neither would Rambo.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Finalised times for crew and audience members

We now have official start and finish times for next weekends film shoot:

Crew to arrive and set up from: 5.45pm,
Crew briefing at: 5.55pm
Audience extras to arrive from. 6pm
Audience briefing 6.10pm
Filming with full kit* to commence. 6.15pm
Full kit* filming finishes 6.45pm
Filming with camera and tripod only 6.45 - 7pm

*full kit comprises of lights and track and dolly rail system which are to be removed from the auditorium before the general public arrive, in order to prevent them posing a trip hazard to anyone not present at the earlier briefings.

Many thanks in advance to all those who will contribute to making this project a success, we look forward to seeing you soon.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Regent Redcar Film Project

Production will last from Friday evening to Sunday evening. Preparation will start about an hour before the show starts, audience 'extras' will be asked to arrive around 20-30 minutes before the show.
Filming will cease before the trailers and all disruption will be over before the main feature.

Interviews with the public and staff will be carried out on the Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Areas of the theatre to be filmed will be marked out in advance - for anyone not wishing to take part, there will be plenty of good seating available out of shot and you are most welcome to swap seats once filming has wrapped for the day.

Participants will be asked to sign release forms, giving Living Bliss Productions permission to use your likeness for the Regent Cinema Promotional Film Project.

Please contact me for further details at:

Many thanks in advance to all who can make it, I hope to see you there.

Living Bliss Logo

Here we go - the new 'Living Bliss Productions' logo, hot off the press!

Inspired by rolls of film and the three colours ascociated with its production, the 3D aspect suggests a nod to the future direction of cinema. The design is bold and bright and works as well the size of a postage stamp as it would on a bill board.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Film night is on!

Neil Bates, manager of the Regent Redcar cinema has announced the date he will show The Green Hornet, the night(s) I will film my crowd shots, and it's TWO WEEKS TODAY!!!

I've got to create a publicity drive and awareness campaign to drum up audience members willing to be filmed, work out what I want to shot, create a fake trailer, oh it goes on..!

Call it chance, call it fate and destiny - I do - but Writers Block are having a 'Lets Make A Film' meeting on the morning of my proposed shoot, this is the group I belong to who are making a superhero movie in Middlesbrough, and quite a few members have agreed to come over and support my film making project.

Film school coursework deadlines, filming on location, acting and rehearsing, pre production tasks, Writers Block homework - am I getting too old for this?

He'll NO! I'm just not getting enough Redbull!

Bring it on January, nothing can stop me!!!