Wednesday 31 March 2010


Completed the edit on Just War today; I'll be handing over the final file tomorrow. It feels good to get another project 'signed & sealed' so-to-speak, and I feel rather positive about it. I think it, along with the third Zombie Man, is my best editing work to date.

In other news, I mentioned a few posts back that I was to do some filming on Sunday night - well that filming session went well. It was for a charity talent show called "Hereford's Got Talent", featuring a selection of the county's youth getting up on stage and showing us their musical talents. It took place in the main theatre at the Hereford Courtyard Theatre (the same place Gaia & Genesis was screened last month, albeit in a different theatre there), and I've now just got to cut the whole thing together and put it onto a DVD, that'll then go on to be sold to raise further money for the charities the night was in aid of.

There should be a web clip going online soon, so when I have the link I'll post it.

Anyway, that's you lot updated ... I'm trying to get myself back into my notes for this script I've been talking about (and planning) in spare time for a couple of months now, and perhaps with Just War finished off I can invest a bit more time in the old writing, you know?

Belmont Abbey screening...

Last night there was a screening of Gaia & Genesis at Belmont Abbey just outside Hereford city, so naturally I went along. Same format as the Kilpeck screening a while back, splitting the film into two parts and then closing the evening (after discussion time - which proved very fruitful last night) with Doing Our Bit.

It was interesting to watch it through again, now that I've cut together the third Zombie Man short, as well as Just War (the latest educational project I've edited), as I was able to see all the areas in which I've improved my editing skills since doing Gaia & Genesis, and how I now employ the NLE software.

So all-in-all it was another positive screening of the film.

Flavours of the Month: March 2010...

Another month comes to a close, so that means another round of Flavours of the Month.

Technically the very end of February, but nevertheless, the month kicked off with a Crazies vibe, checking out the actually-quite-good remake of Romero's 1973 infection shocker at the cinema before returning home to give the original movie another spin (a movie which gets better each time I see it).

Moving swiftly on I finally got around to reading Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas, which I bought months ago but have only just gotten to after a stack of other books from Christmas had shrunk down a bit. I'd already seen the Gilliam film version (which is bloody brilliant in itself), but it was great to read the absolutely bonkers source material. Naturally a re-watch of the film was in order, but not only that, it was Knox's birthday (he who plays Zombie Man) and he was having a Vegas-themed fancy dress bash - as such I donned the key apparel to outfit myself as Hunter S. Thompson.

There's been a bit of a Jason Vorhees vibe to March as well, with a bargain bin priced DVD viewing of the okay remake, and another spin of the franchise documentary His Name Was Jason.

It's been a strong month for editing, with "Just War" being the latest educational DVD project I've cut together, and I have to say the muse has most definitely been with me. I feel like my editing stamina has increased, I've even become oddly addicted to trying out nifty little ideas throughout and trying out new tricks. I also think that "Just War" features some of my best editing - we've always aimed to produce visually stimulating films (and constant feedback from the customers confirms our success in achieving that goal), and "Just War" is our most visually stimulating educational project to date. The idea being, of course, is that if you present something in an intriguing and arresting manner, you'll get the kids to pay attention to the information being imparted via the voice overs.

As near as makes no difference, two years and one month since my Xbox360 first broke (total video failure, 9 months after purchasing it), it conked out for a second time (total video failure again, plus the disc drive was showing its age). Within a week my console had been picked up and a 'new refurb' (i.e. not a used refurb, but not brand new console either) had arrived. Seems to be running fine, and the disc drive is certainly a considerable improvement over the one with my original console ... as such I'm now gradually picking my way through 15th Century Italy in Assassin's Creed II, which I have to say is quite a spiffing game.

Finally, having discovered that Tremors: The Series had only just been released, I snapped up the DVD and have been making my way through the episodes (that I fondly remember seeing on the Sci-Fi channel years ago). I love the Tremors franchise (well, part 4 was wholly unnecessary) and I'm eagerly awaiting the rumoured Tremors 5, so I'm thoroughly enjoying getting to see the series all over again.

Well there we go, that's it for March as I wrap up editing on a couple of projects and seek to knuckle down and get the character arcs fully fleshed out for my next script, which has - I must admit - taken a bit of a back seat this month what with all this editing that's been going on. Hopefully in the coming weeks I can say I've made some real progress on that script, but we'll have to see.

Monday 29 March 2010

Shutter Island...

I've been waiting for a really good mental asylum movie for a fair while now ... an odd statement to make, perhaps, but it's true nonetheless. Specifically a good horror movie set in a mental asylum, and with Shutter Island I've pretty much got it. Naturally, as what happened with Silence of the Lambs, Shutter Island is labelled a "psychological thriller" - which it is - but it's also a gothic-like horror. Sure, the horror elements may be more subtle than that of Lambs, but the same theory applies.

Scorsese has crafted a genuinely creepy flick, which manages to convince you as the viewer that maybe you're a little bit insane too. It drip-feeds paranoia into your mind slowly but surely, leaving hints and misdirections to the truth throughout. Who do you trust? Who's telling the truth? What's going on? Not as mind-bending as an episode of Lost (fortunately), Shutter Island weaves an assured B-Movie schtick with an A-Movie production. This isn't an insult, far from it, some of the best movies are B-Movies - and Scorsese has given us a film which could have easily been a whole lot less in the hands of a lesser filmmaker.

The chills come slowly, creeping up your spine throughout, but the film never descends into the "BOO!" jolts that have become so commonplace. Indeed, Scorsese has made a far more classical chiller, relying on a growing sense of dread and paranoia to unsettle his audience.

It's also a beautifully shot flick, with typically slick Scorsese film editing, and another stand-out performance from Scorsese's modern muse DiCaprio, who was clearly seeking to explore new areas with his directorial master, and he has succeeded in spades.

While perhaps a tad overlong, Shutter Island isn't so much about the intricacies or basics of the plot, but rather how you arrive at them - not so much the story, but the telling. It's the sort of film that demands, and will reward with, a second or even third viewing. Intriguing, involving, at times even mentally taxing, visually imposing and nothing short of chilling ... it'll leave you thinking about it after it has finished, that's for sure.

Wednesday 24 March 2010


The new educational film I've been working on, Just War, is coming along nicely. I've been making some final visual tweaks, and layering in sound effects today - soon the music will go in, and then the credits will get tacked on the end, and then it'll be done.

It looks like I'll be filming a local event on Sunday evening too, more on that as-and-when.

The latest script hasn't been started yet, but I plan to really focus on that after Just War is done, I've just got some character stuff to figure out first (arcs, and characterisation polishing) and then I can get started on writing it. Still no title for it yet, but I'll figure one out eventually.

Green Zone...

Perhaps it's telling that it's taken me almost two weeks to get around to saying something about Green Zone, but I really couldn't think of much to say. It's what I like to call, an "Iraq-tion" movie (combining Iraq and Action) ... although if you don't pronounce that perfectly you'll just sound like a bit of a pervert.

Anyway, it's not as thrilling and intriguing as the Bourne franchise, but the action sequences (especially a perfectly panicked, even chilling opening) are pretty good - well, you'd hope so considering it's Paul Greengrass at the helm.

Plot wise it all gets a bit confusing after a while when it gets into the nitty gritty of WMD ... or the lack thereof and what's really going on. Quite quickly you give up trying to figure out that stuff, unsure of how much is true and how much is fiction, and just wait for another well made action sequence to roll around.

Probably the best of the "Iraq-tion" genre, if you will, but nothing all that amazing either.

Monday 15 March 2010

Survival of the Dead...

Over the last five years, we Romero fans have had not one, not two, but three zombie movies from the Godfather of the horror sub-genre. Night, Dawn and Day are iconic moments in horror history, each in their own right, and have long since been held in high regard by millions upon millions across the globe.

After the French got wind of Night and applauded it, the film became a horror milestone. Dawn of the Dead, a seminal moment in horror (even cinema) full stop, was an immediate success ... and then there was Day of the Dead. Initially it was derided for not living up to the yuck-it-up disco-era mini-epic that was, and is, Dawn, but then the fans (and even some critics) began to notice what it had going for it, and it has since become one of Romero's most adored films.

Those three zombie fests were back in Romero's Pittsburgh days, where the indie spirit of filmmaking in a family atmosphere was alive and well for Romero and Company. Then the 1990s happened ... people moved on, some died, and others had their own successes. The Pittsburgh era for Romero (and we the fans) was over, and it has been for some time - but it lives on because of the fans pouring obsessively over these films and holding them so dear to their hearts. Perhaps this goes at least some way to explain the split reactions to Romero's recent cinematic offerings.

Now we are presented with Romero - the Toronto era - it began with the little-seen, not-too-shabby Bruiser, and has been thriving of late with Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, and now Survival of the Dead. However, Land and Diary have split the fanbase somewhat violently with some digging one but hating the other, hating both, or loving both. What is certain however, is that Land through Survival is not Pittsburgh era Romero. That time has come and gone and left behind a glorious back catalogue of titles. As such, Survival (nor Land or Diary) were ever going to live up to the closely guarded objects of affection that is "the original trilogy" (but lets avoid any and all Star Wars "original vs new trilogy" rants). I dig Land of the Dead and always have, and while my opinion of Diary of the Dead has gone up and down like a rollercoaster, I've always been in favour of it.

Land had some problems, but it also had a lot going for it (scale, action, the furthest into an outbreak any zombie film has been, etc), meanwhile Diary was a return to Romero's indie roots and was something of an experimentation (to which I've had a complex and ever-shifting reaction to since its release in 2007). You could tell he was relieved to be back to his low budget territory where he was free to do as he pleased, and this has continued with Survival of the Dead - indie roots and indie freedom.

Survival is nowhere near as "silly" as I was beginning to suspect/fear/feel from the handful of videos us GAR fans had devoured online. We had seen shots of fire extinguisher eye-popping, fish-hooking, and that rather ropey-looking up-close comedy headshot ... fortunately, that's about as far as the real silliness goes (a few other moments would be debatable to the extent of their silliness), and in the context of the entire film it plays far better than in dismembered clips cobbled together for an online trailer.

As I'm on the subject, the CGI effects aren't as bad as I'd feared either. Sure there are some which stick out like a sore thumb (but none as obvious as Land's fun, but utterly obvious, CGI priest zombie), but you have to let this slide to an extent for being an indie flick. On the other hand though, there are moments in Survival where the CGI stands out a bit too much - mostly because of poor matching of contrast between the 'real' and 'fake' portions of the composed shot. The shadows don't match, so it feels - at times - too fake. However, these cases are few in number and mostly briefly glimpsed at (except for the creepy/funny/low-contrast-issue 'headshot gallery' as I shall call it).

Then again, some of the other CGI moments - particularly the added blood (understandble considering an indie budget and schedule) - work surprisingly well, as the increased budget over Diary and the extra experience that Spin FX have gained since, boasts its muscles.

The classical western feel of the film is a nice change of pace for Romero (but it's not at all overcooked), and it presents a satisfyingly old school vibe that is often lost from other recent zombie flicks (including the ones that aren't actually zed flicks). Indeed, the tried-and-true two-family stand-off between the O'Flynn and Muldoon clans on Plum Island, is one that - to me at least - mirrors the spiteful acrimony of recent American politics. Two sides proclaiming they are wholly right while the other is wholly wrong, all the while failing to deal properly with the problem at hand.

Land, and particularly Diary, featured heavy handed social commentary - Romero's most famous trait second only to the zombies themselves. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't, and indeed Diary of the Dead was perhaps the most blunt of all of Romero's commentaries upon society.

Survival of the Dead however, doesn't hammer the message home at all. It presents it to us on a classy platter and leaves it there for us to feast upon as much as we want. In fact, this should be ideal zombie internet forum fodder, presenting a wealth of ideas for in-depth discussion topics. It's far from devoid of thought, but it's likewise removed from driving the point so far home you've gone around in a circle three times.

Similar improvements over Land and Diary come in the shape of the characterisation - here we get a range of protagonists and supporting characters who, even if they're briefly on screen, are given enough depth for us to identify with them, to laugh with them, to grimace at them, and to simply enjoy the performances themselves. Land was over-egged a bit, and Diary suffered from young actors who just needed a bit more experience ... but here we are gifted with a spectrum of wonderful character actors who are clearly having a ball just chomping into their parts with gusto.

There's drama and comedy in equal measure, existing side-by-side in a satisfying balance, that either suffered or never materialised in Romero's previous two zombie flicks. Indeed, Survival is easily Romero's most balanced film of the Toronto era.

Despite the short length, the plot has enough room to breathe in almost all cases, although its most noticeable (along with the issue of budget) in not getting to see a really big sense of the scale of disaster at this stage in a zombie outbreak. We get snippets here and there, which are satisfying, but they do leave you wanting more. That said, we do get a much better glimpse into the feel and reality of desertion (no doubt with the majority of the living locked away in private residences or at rescue stations) than we ever did in Diary of the Dead. The characters have enough time to rope us in and involve us. They're interesting people, quirky people, and even complex people, but they're drawn with efficiency.

The dialogue is a big improvement over Diary (which I have to say featured some truly blunt lines), providing numerous moments for fans to enjoy - lines that make you root for a hero, or curse a bastard, or literally laugh out loud.

Survival is also easily Romero's funniest film since Creepshow - it has that same mentality, that sense of mischief and fun - and I'm pleased to say it almost always works. Even a moment plucked straight out of a Loony Toons cartoon after a grenade explodes didn't feel too daft or off-kilter - on the contrary - I burst out laughing and enjoyed every second ("don't look at me, start shootin' the bastards!"), while not once finding myself removed from the overall film.

There are a few clunky moments here and there, but they were never enough to stick in my mind, nor my throat, and with a swift, efficient pace you're never far away from a truly entertaining zombie moment, character moment, or simply a nice shot. Survival has left the POV stylings of Diary long behind (even though its predecessor is linked to it), and has returned to an artistic eye through a 2.35:1 frame. It's abundantly clear throughout that Romero, working well with this indie production, was afforded the freedom to shoot a nice shot if he saw it - the film is littered with such compositions, and quite simply it just looks beautiful. What's more, it is rarely obvious that it was shot on the Red One digital camera.

Bursting out of the gate with plenty of action up-front, before settling into a more thoughtful middle portion, and capping things off with an action packed finale, Survival of the Dead is a seriously enjoyable flick. Balancing a fun romp with a more serious character drama, under the umbrella of a zombie horror, it is quite simply Romero's best flick (thus far) from the Toronto era.

Monday 8 March 2010

Project update...

I'm currently in the midst of editing a new educational DVD project, entitled "Just War". It's coming along nicely so far, and has allowed me to advance my editing, and improve my own ways of organising a project (and I'm already a very organised sort). I'm looking forward to seeing it all come together, because I think this will be quite a good film, and indeed the best educational film project I've worked on thus far.

The Inevitable Decomposition of Zombie Man (2010)…

In the summer of 2006 I shot a daft, off-the-cuff zombie comedy called I Am Zombie Man. In spite of its roughness it found fans in the online zombie community due to the sardonic titular character.

A sequel followed six months later that stepped up the look of the film (as I was now armed with a DVX100B) and advanced the character into realm of the “celebrity zombie”. I re-cut IAZM2 in 2010 (taking out 7 minutes), as the original 25 minute cut is a bit indulgent.

We intended to shoot IAZM3 in December 2007, but due to career developments for both Gareth and I, we didn’t get around to it until December 28th 2009. The delay allowed me to bring an additional three years of filmmaking trial, error and experience to the project. My camerawork, editing, writing and directing had all improved a great deal, and it was about time to close the Zombie Man trilogy once and for all.

Staying close to the DeadShed “literally no budget” style, the only money spent was on a few props. Further to that the shooting window was as tight as always, shooting the entire film (except for stock footage from my archives) in four hours on the only clear day during a harsh winter. I am adept at ‘run & gun’ filmmaking (particularly useful on various Arts Council projects I’ve done), and the skill certainly came in handy.

The editing process afforded me two key creative opportunities – to try out new software skills and editing ideas, but most importantly to stick religiously to a strict 10 minute time limit. Said limit really made me focus on what was absolutely necessary (and indeed unnecessary) in order to tell the story, establish scenes, and provide the visual comedy with a constant, assured beat to the cutting. I succeeded in meeting my 10 minute running time, producing a film that I’m really quite proud of, which boasts an efficient and water-tight pace.

Gary Ugarek and Brian Wright (fellow filmmakers who were behind American indie zombie flicks Deadlands: The Rising, and Deadlands 2: Trapped) very kindly composed the vibrant musical score, which put the cherry on top – boosting the visuals, propelling the film forward, and even acting as its own character.

I’m very pleased with the final product, and we achieved more than could reasonably be expected with what we had at our disposal, and in such a tight shooting window. The quirky character established in 2006 remains, going out on a darker, but no-less sardonic note, presented with camerawork and editing that boosted it far beyond its predecessors. The idea with every new film you make is to hone your skills and try new things, and I feel I succeeded on both counts with this, the third and final film in the I Am Zombie Man mini-trilogy – something which began life as a slap-dash bit of fun in the summer of 2006.

View more images (in full size) on my Flickr photostream via the embedded player, or the links list, on the right hand side of this blog.

Watch the film on YouTube via this link:

Friday 5 March 2010

The Crazies...

George A. Romero's original 1973 viral infection action-shocker was a low budget affair ($270,000 at the time, which when adjusted is about $1.3 million today) and is a film that seems to mostly elicit specific responses - you either dig it or you don't. Personally I've always loved Romero's The Crazies, and when re-watching it (after getting back from seeing the 2010 remake) I noticed that I'd forgotten how good it looks. The editing is perhaps the strongest example of Romero's commercials-inspired cutting style, and in all aspects it stands above the usual grindhouse fare of the time. There's a black humour to the razor sharp social commentary, a bravado and detail to the visuals not seen elsewhere at the time, and it's really quite despairing in its examination of an infected town going to the dogs as ill-equipped and ill-informed soldiers wrestle with the populace, and clumsy government bureaucrats drop the ball. Considering my hatred of the 2004 remake of Romero's seminal Dawn of the Dead, as well as the desecration of the Creepshow franchise with an unofficial Part 3, and the horrendous Day of the Dead: Contagium and Day of the Dead remake, you'll be unsurprised to read that I was bemoaning this remake as soon as it was announced. Then the initial trailers were released, and while the look and scale of the film appeared to be very impressive, it felt a tad too slick - but the bone that stuck in my throat most was the 'veiny infected'. Surely the strongest element of the original is that Trixie would leave no physical traces, so are the ones you're with acting crazy because of the situation or because of they're infected? I then heard that Romero had been involved, at least somewhat, with the project and had given it the thumbs up. Indeed the initial reviews were favourable, including in Total Film (which I often find mirrors my own out-look on new releases and film in general). By now I was starting to get interested, and so we trotted off to the cinema to check it out ... and I'm pleased to say I enjoyed it. While it's unfortunate that the remake doesn't contain the same level (nor strength) of social commentary as the original, it's far from devoid of it. The focus has been shifted to highlight a small band of survivors primarily, leaving the military occupation of Ogden Marsh by gas-masked soldiers (the most visceral and exciting part of Romero's original) as a secondary element after the initial 40 minutes or thereabouts which are, like the original, the most action-packed minutes of the whole film. Further to this, the involvement of the government is relegated to a few spook-like encounters with black SUVs and government representatives, and in the main to an unseen menace. Satelite imagery replaces Romero's bumbling bureaucrats (satire replaced by a sinister big brother), as the residents of Ogden Marsh gradually find themselves being cut-off from the outside world. This shift in approach from the original movie works well however, with the sense of small town paranoia looming large throughout, and most potently in the first act. What doesn't work quite as well is a general reliance on "boo scares" - loud noises and jumps you know are coming and dread waiting for (who likes sudden, loud noises, after all) - rather than an all-consuming sense of hopelessness. The remake is, naturally, flashier and bashier than the original, with a budget of somewhere between $12 and $20 million (the original was $1.3 million, adjusted for the present day). It looks and feels glossy, and there is perhaps a bit too much of a reliance as well on action set pieces - however for the most part these sequences should easily satisfy the majority of the action/horror audience. The characters range from cannon fodder, to the much more satisfying (if a bit underdeveloped) Sheriff played by Timothy Olyphant who successfully takes the role of small town hero and runs with it. Hopefully there'll be an extended director's cut for the DVD release to flesh out the characterisation and further enhance the small town paranoia ... and some more gore for the horror crowd would be welcome too, of course. Will it become a classic of the genre? That was never going to happen, not when Romero's original is still shining bright with a dedicated audience. However, Eisner's re-do does actually bring some new elements to the table (I found the cattle trucks especially creepy), and the bigger budget provides the premise with the sense of scale, and military might & menace, that Romero's original took a bloody good stab at. Even though the 1973 version could have never afforded a large scale military presence, helicopters, humvees, and a burning town in a pre-CGI age, it still portrayed a scale far, far beyond its budget. Finally, circling back to the issue of the 'veiny infected', it wasn't as bad as I'd initially feared. Unfortunately there are a few moments of 'raptor roars' amongst the aural chaos (a hang over from Zack Snyder's risible Dawn of the Dead re-hash), and the 'veiny' angle does skirt too close to 28 Days Later for comfort (remember, The Crazies is NOT a zombie movie, although nor was 28 Days/Weeks Later to be specific) ... but over-the-piece I was able to let it slide in favour of the surprising amount of fun I got out of this remake. The Crazies (2010) is one of the rare instances of a worthwhile remake, even though the original is still, naturally, the best.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Recent updates...

"The Inevitable Decomposition of Zombie Man" is now online!

A summary of our screening at the Borderlines Film Festival 2010:

Finally, a project page for short film "Doing Our Bit" is also now available:

N.B. Coming soon I will blog about the remake of George A. Romero's The Crazies, as well as put up a project page for the third and final Zombie Man short film.

City of the Living Dead...

AKA "The Gates of Hell" in the USA.

It's been in my collection for ages now, and I've just never gotten around to it until the other day. I've been in a bit of a grindhouse vibe of late again (what with Cannibal Apocalypse and The New York Ripper last month), so it was time for a new (to me) slice of Lucio Fulci - this time his 1980 supernatural undead follow-up to his rather successful (and rather good) Dawn of the Dead rip-off Zombi 2 (aka Zombie Flesh Eaters) from 1979.

Unfortunately, while COTLD looks the part with creepy, smoke-drenched production design, luxurious camerawork (even if the stylishly fun zooms are overused), and moments of superb gore (a fantastic scene where one victim cries blood - with utterly convincing make-up effects - before vomiting up her own innards steals the whole show, as does a scene which introduces a head to a bench drill), it just doesn't live up to the pace (or gore) of Zombi 2, nor the exploitation hallmarks of The New York Ripper.

Indeed the pace of the plot is at times mind-numbing in its ponderousness, and while sleazy grindhouse flicks aren't renowned for having Oscar-worthy scripts, COTLD barelys makes a lick of sense for the most part which leaves the viewer frustrated, confused and bored. It's only in the final act that things begin to pick up pace (aside from a few choice moments in the first hour) and the film starts to live up to its name ... although neither of the titles mentioned here are lived up to. Dunwich certainly isn't a city (it's more like a rural town), and there's not nearly enough of the supernatural/hell aspect to warrant the North American title - what's more, there's not nearly enough zombies throughout until the final moments.

All-in-all, while it's dripping with style and looks, and moments of fantastic gore, it simply cannot match its peers, nor better examples of Fulci's work. A shame really.

Doing Our Bit (2009)...

This was a quick project that was put together for the One Minute To Save The World competition that ran in Autumn 2009 ahead of the Copenhagen summit on climate change. Filmmakers were asked to put together a one minute long video about the environment.

Our video was based on the theme referenced in the title - the little things that everyone could easily do to all help towards the effort of making our society more fuel efficient, less throw-away in nature, and involved in recycling.

In the end our video didn't get chosen for the final selection, but there seemed to be a significant controversy during the process of picking the videos that caused many of the involved filmmakers to lodge their protest. I never really found out what that was all about, but in the end we've still been able to show this short film at public screenings and the reaction to it has been positive.

The style of the video was one part inspired by old public domain information films, one part inspired by old music show countdowns (such as Top of the Pops in its heyday), and one part inspired by the film High Fidelity. The project also allowed me to advance by filmmaking skills across several areas - conceiving a brief and sharp idea, shooting in a controlled manner to get footage that could then be edited in a snappy manner, and finally in terms of the editing process, where I further honed my skills at saying the most with the least amount of footage, inside a very tight time frame.

You can watch the film on YouTube by following this link:

Borderlines Film Festival 2010...

Find out more about the festival here:

On Saturday February 27th we had our screening of "Gaia", "The Rapture", "All Things Are Connected" (three of the five portions that make up "Gaia & Genesis") and "Doing Our Bit" (our entry for last year's One Minute To Save The World filmmaking competition).

From the website concerning locally produced films:

"Shell Shock is just one among a cluster of films showing at Borderlines this year that were made locally. Still Life is a strikingly ambitious drama made by The Rural Media Company with members of the community in Bromyard while Gaia: all things are connected consists of two thoughtful and visually exciting short films on the future of our environment from Herefordshire film-maker Joe Jenkins."

The drive there (the screening was at the Hereford Courtyard theatre) wasn't much fun being that it was torrential rain and the roads are all still littered with potholes after January's hellishly cold bout of persistent snow ... and then the parking ticket machine had the cheek to take my £1.10 and not give me a ticket, and the other one (that actually worked) wouldn't give me change, so it stole a further 10p from me ... my guess is that the ticket machines are working for the government, stealing money from innocent civilians so that it can go towards paying off our nation's ludicrously gigantic debt.

Anyway, the night before the screening I'd be thinking "oh geez, please let there be more than two people there", so I was pleasantly surprised when I found out the theatre had been almost sold out!

The screening itself went well, having already met the nice folks we'd been liasing with in the lead-up to the screening, and there was lots of positive feedback after the show when we met members of the audience and discussed the films and the filmmaking process behind them in some depth.

So it was a positive atmosphere with the audience all enjoying the films on show. It's always nice to get a boost like that as a struggling filmmaker, because at times it can appear bleak - in this early stage in one's career - however, it's really a nice boost to your confidence when you get a good turn-out at a screening and the people respond positively.

As for the drive back, there wasn't so much rain, but there was hellish traffic leaving Hereford - which is notoriously clogged with traffic most of the time - and of course having learned the layout of the potholes on the road driving towards Hereford, the drive back would naturally have an entirely new layout of potholes to avoid, ha!

You can also view the festival's Flickr photostream here:

Tuesday 2 March 2010

"The Inevitable Decomposition of Zombie Man" is now online!

Saunter over yonder - - and check out the newest DeadShed Productions short film.

Was having some problems with YouTube yesterday which prevented me from uploading it, but I managed to get around the issue (although YouTube really need to fix the problem on their end, especially as people have been experiencing the problem for months now) ... anyway, after all the frustration of yesterday's failed uploads, I'm happy to say it's now online.

I'll blog about the film fully in due course (as I have done with all my other projects).

Monday 1 March 2010

Flavours of the Month: February 2010...

Similar to January, February is a month that can kinda just slip away, nevertheless it's time for another Flavours of the Month.

Kicking off in grand style, but in a thoughtful and atmospheric way (some might say depressing, but whatever), with having the film adaptation of The Road stuck firmly in my head, accompanied by the utterly spiffing soundtrack composed by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (who also composed the effing amazing score for The Assassination of Jesse James).

There's been a fair few DVD bargains this month too, what with the Hostel 1 & 2 box set, the jam-packed 4-disc Titanic DVD, as well as the 2-disc 'Ultimate Action Edition' of Die Hard 4.0, as well as Cannibal Apocalypse, The Wrestler and Crank 2.

I've also been getting to know the ruddy great Adventureland all over again as it was finally released in the UK this month, and it's just as charming and involving as it always was.

The soundtrack to February has mostly been M83's "Saturdays = Youth", the new Rob Zombie CD "Hellbilly Deluxe 2" (which I really dig) and the latest album from HIM called "Screamworks" (which is a return to form after the fairly standard "Venus Doom" back in 2007).

Life on Mars USA came to a close on FX. It has been a show that I've ended up quite enjoying, even though the original British show is naturally superior, but aye, I really did quite enjoy it. The ending was a bit iffy ... kind of like having its cake and eating it too, and then some. Still, at least they didn't just do the same ending as the UK version, so that's something.

I've been enjoying some nostalgic VHS viewing too, having replaced the videotapes propping up the DVDs on the top shelf in my bedroom with steel book ends ... as a result I found some old videos from my youth, a couple have gone aside for charity bags, and the other two are Volumes 1 and 2 of Deputy Dawg, a great cartoon that was made between 1959 and 1972. I tell you what, you certainly wouldn't have a canine lawman forcefully recruiting children (Muskie and Vince) at gun point to work for him in a cartoon these days, ha!

Further to my tour round some old videotapes in my collection, I dug out my old Vipco release copy of Lucio Fulci's notoriously sleazy (and quite misogynistic) New York Ripper. It's a real classic (misogyny aside) of the video nasties era, of Italian grindhouse cinema, but bloody hell this release is terrible - it's the second worse Pan & Scan job I've ever seen. The opening titles play out in the original 2.35:1 ratio, before switching to 4:3 ... and there's sod all panning going on, so characters are constantly talking to people out-of-frame, or getting half-cut-out themselves, or details (such as the red VW on the ferry) not moving off are completely missing from the shot.

What's the worst Pan & Scan job I've ever seen, you ask - a Channel 5 showing of Short Circuit, a film which was also originally shot in 2.35:1 - but this time there's no shortage of panning. The frame swished left and right in a desperate panic to get all the characters and details in, which also doing a piss-poor job of scanning, so that the image is not only horribly degraded, but flickering at the same time. A truly dreadful example of Pan & Scan, which was itself a stupid idea invented for stupid people incapable of understanding Original Aspect Ratio (OAR).

I've also been doing a lot of planning on my next script - although I'm still seeking a good title for it - but I'm getting very close to being able to start the writing process on that one.

Finally the month was capped-off by a viewing of the actually quite good The Crazies (2010) - one of the few remakes that have actually been worthwhile, and I was inspired to dig out The Crazies (1973) from my collection and give it yet another viewing.

(I will blog soon about the Borderlines Film Festival screening of Gaia & Gensis on Saturday 27th February.)