Wednesday 28 April 2010

"Summer" script writing update 28/4/2010...

The last few days of writing has seen me get up to page 22. That sounds quite respectable, but it's been a struggle for some of it. Just as I thought I was getting my groove back - feeling the mojo working - I plunged into a cavern of slow typing, pondering, and creative malaise.

Then today I cracked out a nice four pages, which afforded me the opportunity to finally start stretching my legs back into this script writing malarkey, and to let the characters speak for themselves (i.e. I play the scene in my head like a movie and then I write down whatever they happen to do or say).

I'm sure part of the malaise and creative struggle over the last few days has been down to adhering closely to the detailed script layout I put together for the entire script (11 pages of script layout, and 6 pages of character information - which summarised pages and pages of notes and even a bunch of questionnaire responses). The layout has the structure and framework for everything to fit into, but it's almost entirely free of dialogue ... what's more, it of course doesn't have the unforeseen avenues of dialogue that you stumble across when writing. Sometimes your characters want to say or do something that you hadn't thought of before - and it is in this respect that today's writing session went better than the last couple of sessions. I was still working within the framework of the bullet-point-heavy layout, but I was getting to explore between the lines more.

I'm also sure that when I go back over what I've written, I'll be able to insert the 'between the layout lines' stuff, as well as trim and hone what's already written. The layout was a good way to get the whole thing put together in brief so I could overview the whole thing, but while it affords you good things on that front, it can pose a problem when it comes the time to translate from a essay-like point-by-point layout into a script that flows free replete with dialogue of the dramatic and humorous varieties.

Anyway, before I ramble on any longer, these few days of getting into the script writing groove have proved somewhat tumultuous, but this time I think I'm starting to find my groove.

Flavours of the Month: April 2010...

Continuing on from the end of March, I finished off the DVD for Tremors: The Series - it was an enjoyable show, if a bit under-funded, and you do miss Burt Gummer in the last couple of episodes (presumably off filming Tremors 4 at the time), but yeah - it's a fun show for the Tremors franchise fans.

In full-on Tremors mode I toured through the four movies again - the original is a classic with perfect pacing and brilliant lines of dialogue, the second is a riotous action-packed romp, the third is weak on the production front but affords us plenty of quality Burt Gummer fun and returns us to Perfection all these years later. Tremors 4, meanwhile, was a flick I didn't like at all the first time around, but six years later giving it a second chance I do like it. It is a bit of a let down in some respects, but the production value is great (and kicks the ass of Tremors 3 in that respect) and on its own terms it's actually pretty good. I do hope that Tremors 5 does happen ... I'm eagerly awaiting a new slice of Burt Gummer action!

Other viewing experiences this month have included The Mist (ruddy good monster movie Stephen King adaptation, which has gotten me in the mood for Alan Wake, oddly enough, and The Walking Dead, which is being brought to us by Darabont) ... then Funny People (enjoyed it more on its own terms this time around, and the DVD is plenty enjoyable), then Poultrygeist (gory Troma fun - although from the making-of I'm still astonished they're this disorganised and prone to production-haulting bickering after 35 years of filmmaking) ... *gasps for air* ... and then, plucked from my DVD shelf and blown-free of dust, the Soderbergh movie Full Frontal, and all-over-the-place Japanese zombie movie Wild Zero.

I watched Full Frontal as part of my film degree when we were discussing the Dogme 95 Manifesto (we also watched Festen), and Soderbergh's flick while initially slow to get going, and only vaguely living up to the Dogme 95 mindset, is actually quite an intriguing movie. The first twenty minutes bored the pants off me, but then I found myself getting quite into it ... so it was fun to have a bit of a nostalgia trip back to 2002/2003.

I finished off Assassin's Creed 2, which was ruddy good fun ... aside from a few niggles - including all those annoying NPCs carrying boxes, or playing guitars and getting in your way, or that your Villa chest can only carry about 55,000 florins but I can lug about 650,000+ just fine on my person ... silly, silly, silly. However, as I said, aside from a few dodgy little things here and there (including some small, but undercooked gameplay mechanics or the odd mission - such as "CTF"), it was a ruddy fun game - and a breath of fresh air into my sandbox gaming, being that you're yomping around 15th Century Italy.

Naturally, being a Brit, there's also been a lot of General Election based chit-chat, and I've found myself exhausted by it all quite quickly (as have friends of mine who are interested in politics - cue endless and fruitless political arguments between us all, which we all decided were more annoying than anything productive - best to remain friends, you know?) ... anyway, I've found myself utterly turned off by BBC News and Sky News - their obsession with the three leaders and nothing else (*ahem* what about the hundreds of constituencies and local issues up and down the nation?!) ... indeed, Sky News' coverage of their hosted debate was ludicrous and nothing short of masturbatory ... ... the "meeja narrative" has also been extremely evident in the last couple of weeks. How about reporting FACTS, rather than the opinions of the 24 hour news channels? The constant re-framing (or "spinning") of what's actually going on - into some warped, non-sensical hodge-podge of time wasting - has been a total turn off. As such I'm sticking with newspapers and blogs, because 24 hours news is (mostly) just pathetic and self-involved (and it has been for a very long time).

Finally, I got to check out In The Shadow of the Moon on telly the other day, and it was a really compelling examination of how mankind got to the moon, and the men who took us all there. Fascinating stuff. If only mankind still did things as boundary-pushing as that these days...

Monday 26 April 2010

The "next script" has begun!

Yesterday I started writing my next script, and I've got a decent working title for it as well - "Summer" - although I had previously been referring to it as "Valeters" in my own mind for a long time. You see I initially had the seed of the idea during the summer of 2003 when I worked at a local garage as a service washer & valeter, and I intended to write a script about my experiences afterwards - but, not only would the original idea have essentially been a rip-off of Clerks, I simply didn't have the time or creative energy to write it back then, as I was getting into my second year of university.

Fast forward six years, to about six months ago, and while still working on drafts 2.1-3.1 of "Zero", I had the idea to resurrect the idea of "Valeters" (as I'd always referred to that list of notes tucked away since 2003), but use what I'd already established as a background to something else. That something else was ... or rather is ... my meditation on 21st century manhood, an idea I've slowly been mulling over in my head for the last few years.

Anyway, fast forward to yesterday, and after a lot of brainstorming, note writing, script laying out and character breakdowns, I started the new script - now titled "Summer" (a working title).

As is par for the course, the first writing session is always slow-going with short, sporadic bursts of typing - after which point (of getting about two-and-a-half pages written) you suddenly feel quite let down by the whole idea you've been working on for however long, but then you have to remember how good you felt about the script layout and lead character, and get cracking on a second session in front of Final Draft.

I had only intended to tidy up some of the dialogue I'd written in that first session, to try and find a little bit of mojo, but I ended up not only doing that, but barging out another three pages. Indeed, I'm close to re-discovering my script writing groove, and I now feel good about "Summer" all over again. As is usually the case in many things in life, the first step is always the most unsure.

More updates on the writing process as-and-when.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Gaia & Genesis review...

Check out a review (that I've just come across) for Gaia & Genesis via this link:

Ethics Online now has a YouTube Channel...

Scoot yourselves over to to have a gander.

All the films available on the DVDs for War & Peace, Sex & Ethics, and Gaia & Genesis now have clips up on YouTube, differing from the clips available to view at

You'll also see that I've linked to the above YouTube Channel in my links section over there on the right among the other links.

Thursday 15 April 2010

Just War (2010)…

This is an educational film about warfare, from Augustine and Aquinas to Afghanistan and Iraq, covering the history and development of Just War Theory as well as its implications for armed conflict today. I used my experience shooting and editing (especially the latter in this instance) previous educational films extensively on this project, learning from past mistakes or things I’d like to change, both in terms of the edit itself, and how I edit.

Out of all the educational films I’ve put together, I feel this is my best work to date (at the time of writing). I improved my editing style, use of Non-Linear Editing software, and – as always – took care to edit tight from the get-go. I dislike cobbling things together and then doing extensive re-working – I always do a tight edit from the out-set, because if you can see how something should appear on screen straight away, why waste time getting there?

Past educational films I’ve worked on have been praised for their visual style (in addition to content), which has proved engaging to teachers, students, and festival audiences alike – and so with Just War I continued to explore new ways of making the film look (and even sound) striking. I’m very pleased with how the final product has turned out – a film that, for me personally, pushed me to further enhance my editing and organisational skills. The final film is informative, visually and aurally exciting, and sports an efficient pace.

Hereford’s Got Talent (2010)…

This was a charity talent show – inspired by the likes of Britain’s Got Talent, and The X-Factor – with the DVD creation & sale side of things handled by The Naked Creative (, who got in contact with me to do a ‘single camera shoot & edit’ job on the project.

Designed to be straight forward coverage of the evening’s events (a range of budding rock bands, dancers and singers from local primary and secondary schools), the project still presented its own challenges. Being a single camera shoot it is imperative that you maintain smooth camerawork throughout – quite simply because you cannot cut away to another viewpoint in the edit – but you can’t just set the camera on a tripod and film a flat shot for an hour. You’ve got to smoothly add movement and a range of shots to the camerawork as the performance takes place.

Ideally you’d have two cameras (or even three if you wanted to indulge yourself) to cover everything, but projects like this are never a walk in the park and rarely provide filmmaking luxury. Fortunately over the years I have gained valuable experience at a variety of these kind of events, that allows me to react in the moment (with little-to-no prior preparation) as unexpected things happen – and provide smooth, visually attractive coverage throughout.

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Out-takes Reel for T.I.D.O.Z.M. now online!

I meant to upload this video the week after I uploaded The Inevitable Decomposition of Zombie Man, but I got side-tracked with other projects ... anyway, it's online now.

Check it out here:

"Background information, out-takes and 'unseen details' reel for the third film in the "I Am Zombie Man" series of shorts. Featuring off-cuts, deleted footage and bloopers.

Make liberal use of your pause button for the 'unseen details' section, which features alternate anti-Zombie Man fliers, the on-screen Zombie Man Movie script & tax form, as well as other bits and pieces."

Sunday 11 April 2010

Kick Ass...

I've been slacking off a bit on the movie musing front of late, but then again the cinema-going has been a bit slack of late, what with it being a surprisingly sporadic start to the year film wise. That said, despite the on-off nature of our cine-trips so far this year, there have been a number of gems - and Kick Ass has certainly kicked off the summer season early with a bang.

Gleefully grown up in its approach, it never stops having fun, cherry-picking from genre heavy weights such as Spider-Man out of respect on one hand and parody on the other. Surrounded by a 'moral panic' storm-in-a-teacup (mainly because of Chloe Moretz's part as Hit Girl), it's not as gory or mouthy as you might have thought from the "rabble rabble" approach of some killjoys in the tablod 'meeja'.

Mind you, there's a gut-load of violence and a mouth-ful of bad language on offer ... Peter Parker's achey-breaky-heart for Mary-Jane this is not ... it's ruder than that. It's a balls-out-swinging-in-the-breeze kind of a flick, a riotously entertaining experience which is quite simply a bloody good fun time to be had.

It's also an impressive offering from Matthew Vaughn, who kicked Guy Ritchie's arse with Layer Cake ... but I never bothered with Stardust; it's not my bag ... Kick Ass is a big budget indie that scared the big name players who came begging once they saw the Comic-Con crowd lapping up the preview footage. Vaughn's direction has a confidence to it that is often lacking these days - the action sequences in the second half are particularly well put together. Perfectly paced in the editing room, perfectly shot on set, and presented with clear-cut direction, the wham-bam of the latter half can leave you unsure of how it's all going to turn out with curve balls galore (plot wise, visuals wise, editing wise), switching you from an audience-wide knowing-chuckle to audience-wide gasp of "ooh, ouch, ahh". Backed up with some choice cuts from the John Murphy music catalogue (tracks from 28 Days Later and Sunshine were put to utterly thrilling, skin-chilling use), the arse kicking of Kick Ass really does deliver.

To cut a long story short, and in-keeping with the no-nonsense approach of Kick Ass, the flick is a seriously fun time and I'll be hoping for a features packed, just-as-entertaining double disc DVD experience in a few months time.

The Hurt Locker...

On sale and after it did so well at the Oscars, I figured it was about time I caught up with the belle of this year's movie ball. I've not got an awful lot to say, but I dig it. There are parts of the second half where you begin to think "well that's just REALLY reckless" and you start to distance yourself, but this brief portion of the film lies sandwiched between tense and thrilling bomb defusal sequences. The drama and intensity of the situation these guys goes through is writ large thanks to Bigelow's assured direction and Boal's ballsy script.

In the hands of a male director, The Hurt Locker could have easily become a misguided melting pot of masculinity. Not to play-up the 'Bigelow being a woman' factor unnecessarily, but it's abundantly clear that Bigelow really understands the male psyche - far better than any man, I'd wager. Sometimes the best outlook on a situation can come from the outside, and so it is the case with The Hurt Locker's macho world of bomb disposal. It's a tough job that takes its toll and feeds on bravado, ego and measured risk ... the 'sanity in an insane world' thing.

As usual it'd be best to try and avoid or ignore the Oscars hooplah surrounding it to let the movie talk to you on its own terms (which was how I approached the devestatingly good Brokeback Mountain), because it's a flick really worthwhile seeing (and indeed the high point of the 'Iraq-tion' sub-genre ... I mean that as a compliment mind you, because yeah, movies about the current Iraq war go down like a lead balloon, but The Hurt Locker isn't about the war - that's incidental, it could be any warzone - this film is about the male leads and only about them. It's an incisive glimpse into the male mind in extreme circumstances, and that's what Bigelow does best.

Friday 9 April 2010

View a clip from "Just War" now...

There's a clip from the recently completed Just War up online now, so follow this link - - it's the second clip down.

The blurb for the film is - "From Augustine and Aquinas to Afghanistan and Iraq this film covers the history and development of Just War Theory and its implications for armed conflict today."

Monday 5 April 2010

TIDOZM responses...

As I've done for past projects, I figured I'd post some of the comments that have come back in response to The Inevitable Decomposition of Zombie Man.

"Technically I thought it was great, but I gotta say that I think the first two were a bit higher on the funny chart."

"It may not have as much humor as the first two, but ya gotta admit, the 'rot' scene (if you've seen it, you know what I mean) alone was worth the price of admission! ... Visually, I think this is the best ZM has ever looked."

"Wow! Your production standards have shot up! Some really good shots there. Nice and tight pace. And excellently inventive profanities."

"It was great! I think its finished the trilogy off nicely...for now!!"

"The angles, the music, the atmosphere. Everything feels perfect."

"Love this! Very nicely done! Some wonderful shots, well written, good score. Enjoyable little satire you got here, way to go guys."

I've you haven't seen it yet, or want to check it out again, follow the link and enjoy.

Thursday 1 April 2010

"Hereford's Got Talent" web clip...

Scoot yourself over here - - and click on the graphic for the show (bottom left - or via this link - to view a web clip of the winner's performance from the charity event which I filmed on Sunday evening at the Hereford Courtyard Theatre (I'll be editing it together in-full in the coming days).

I have to say all the performers on the night were all very brave to stand up in front of that audience on the main stage and do what they did, and the audience themselves certainly had a lot of fun that night - so all-in-all, very positive.