Archive for the 'WatchReadListenClick' Category

what is your evil plan?

22, April 2011

As many of you know, this year I’m on a mission to stop waiting for permission, play to my strength and get things done. As part of this I wanted to share with you what helped inspire this decision, it’s a little book called Ignore Everybody by Hugh Macleod:


A self-described ex-advertising hack, Macleod reinvented his career over the course of ten years by carving out a niche market for himself drawing and selling cartoons drawn on the back of business cards.  As he explains in his book this took a lot of hard work, trusting his gut and ignoring everybody:

The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you. When I first started with the cartoon-on-back-of-bizcard format, people thought I was nuts. Why wasn’t I trying to do something more easy for markets to digest i.e. cutey-pie greeting cards or whatever?

Ignore Everybody – Hugh Macleod

His book offers up 37 tips that includes such musings as “The idea doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be yours”, “Keep your day job” “Selling out is harder than it looks” and “The best way to get approval is not to need it.”

I don’t know about you but all this really struck a core with me. So you can imagine how happy I was when for my birthday the girl got me Macleod’s follow up book Evil Plans:


Everybody needs an EVIL PLAN. Everybody needs that crazy, out-there idea that allows them to ACTUALLY start doing something they love, doing something that matters. Everybody needs an EVIL PLAN that gets them the hell out of the Rat Race, away from lousy bosses, away from boring, dead-end jobs that they hate. Life is short.

Evil Plans – Hugh Macleod

For me Evil Plans couldn’t have come at a better time. Macleod’s inspirational words, practical advice and fierce independence has been instrumental in helping me to stay the course on my projects. If you’re looking to do the same then I recommend you give Macleod’s books a try. I’ve got my evil plan, what’s yours?

broken by freek van haagen

6, April 2011

Freek Van Haagen, the animator working with me on New Eden, recently had his short film Broken featured on Vimeo.

It’s a haunting dramatic tale and has already hit 50k+ views. Freek is an incredibly talented fellow and I feel very lucky to be working with him at the moment. Enjoy!

a podcast for every occasion

30, January 2011

My number one companion as I tube, bus and elbow my way through the streets of London is my iPod and the number one thing I listen to lately has been podcasts, so much so that I’ve now got one for every occasion.

My absolute favourite at the moment is Chicago Public Radio’s This American Life, hosted by Ira Glass. Every week he brings you a variety of stories on a theme that is for the most part journalism but told with a storytellers’ sensibilities. Covering everything from global issues to stories exploring people’s inner lives, every episode is always a treat.

If I want a definite pick me up after a long day or at the start of one than there’s nothing better than NPR’s Monkey See Pop Culture Happy Hour. But if I’m looking for something more thoughtful and to dive into a world of ideas, science and philosophy I turn to Radio Lab.

When I want to geek out I go to shows like Epic Fu or A Comicbook Orange to get my fix. And for a more considered examination of the latest in the world of modern American culture I tune into NPR’s Culturetopia podcast.

The Onion News Network always tickles my funny bone, as does BBC Radio 4’s Comedy of Week and BBC Radio 5’s 7 Day Sunday. And for mindless adolescent humour Adult Swim UK’s podcast floats my boat every time.

Ever since my Amstrad and first electronics kit I’ve loved videos games and anything to do with tech. I’ve since retired my joystick and soldering iron but keep up with the latest in both fields thanks to ABC TV’s Good Game and The Guardian’s Tech Weekly.

For the latest goss, insider interviews or analyst on the television and film industry in the UK I hit up The Guardian’s Media Talk, and KCRW’s The Business for the same stateside.

There is a great UK/US pairing of podcasts on writing that is always great for when I need some inspiration, UK Scriptwriters by Danny Stack and Tim Clague and Sam and Jim Go To Hollywood by well, Sam and Jim!

If I have more than an hour to kill and up for a dense discussion on the craft of scriptwriting I delve into Creative Screenwriting Magazine or Film London’s Microwave podcast to hear interviews and discussion on indie filmmaking in the UK.

And finally my guilty pleasure up until recently has been Kevin Smith’s Red State Of The Union podcast about the making of his latest horror flick, Red State. Kevin Smith is still as crude as ever but I tell you that dude can talk under water and is nothing if not entertaining.

Now that it has finished up I’m on the hunt for something new to fill its place. I’d love to find a UK equilavent to This American Life or Radio Lab, so if you hear of anything let me know. And if there’s anything else you think I should be listening to you know where to find me.

If I wand a definite pick me after a long day, or the start of one, than there’s nothing better than NPR’s Monkey See Pop Culture Happy Hour.

radio sketch comedy samples

24, January 2011

Late last year I recorded three audio comedy samples to add to my portfolio and you can now find them under the sample radio sketches page on my blog and also here on AudioBoo.

I’ve had them kicking around my hard drive for a while now and after a year of being half way through several different projects for one reason or another I just wanted to put something out there that I could say was finished.

I put them together with the help of some talented actor mates (Lawrence, Jo and Jonathan) and found an equally talented and enthusiastic sound engineer/designer (Billy), all of who were keen for some fresh radio samples to add to their reels.

I had a ball working with the actors and in the edit and look forward to doing it again. It was a great learning experience and in the end delivered a solid result that everyone can be proud of.

-*-*-

Now that the radio samples are done and dusted I thought it was worthwhile reflecting on the process and what I learnt.

don’t scrimp on recording time

Because of scheduling constraints we had one three-hour session to record four sketches. This turned out to be just enough but if I was to do it again I would have budgeted a little extra time or would have dropped one of the sketches. Often by the third and fourth take the actors where really starting to fire on all cylinders. If we had a couple of extra takes I think we could have given both them and me just a little bit more opportunity to play with the material.

pick-ups

I did a few pick-ups with a couple of the actors after our initial recording session to have another go at several moments and it helped immensely. I have to say though that the best and most nature performances that we got was during our first recording session when things just clicked. I think that’s because so much of the magic of comedy is in the timing and chemistry between the actors.

The other thing with pick-ups is that it can take a considerable amount of time in the edit to listen to and then place them. This eats into your editing time, which could be better spent working on the sound design. As the old saying goes, yes you can “fix it in post” but it’s always better to nail it on the day.

painting a world with sound

With only audio available as your storytelling tool it goes without saying that it is vitally important to be able to paint the world of your story with sound.  I found that often it was less about creating a complex design with layer upon layer of sound and instead about finding the right sounds and and then the right moments to use them. The sound design has to not only add to the world of the story but also help move the narrative forward.

Because the sound design played such an integral part to making House Cat work, Billy created 90% of the sound effects and foley from scratch, including recording Lawrence’s stellar turn as the kitten. By comparison 3am only required minimal sound design work and then just needed to stay out of Jonathan and Jo’s way because the sketch hangs entirely on their performance.

real sounds are always best

Billy did a great job recording the foley tracks and sound effects for the sketches. We discovered during the process that nine times out of ten recording the real thing always produced the best result.

One example of this was the banging on the sink basin in House Cat. We recorded numerous takes of a small steel basin that we brought into the booth but it never quite worked. Later we discovered a nice big steel basin in an artist’s studio next door. So the next day Billy stretched a microphone and cable out and around and got exactly what we needed.

It can be easy to think that you can create anything in post production but as I’m sure any foley artist will tell you, more often than not, nothing beats the real thing.

make what you’ve got work

At some point I think during any editing process whether it be film, TV or radio you have to let go of the idealised vision of what you hoped for and embrace what you’ve got. Sometimes you find little gems that deliver something so far and above what you imagined. Other times you have to bite the bullet and just do your best to make what you’ve got work.

The end to 3am underwent some last minute editing because what we originally had dragged it out too much and didn’t add anything to the sketch. Even though what we now have isn’t as punchy as I would have liked to go out with I think it’s always better to get out early rather than overstay your welcome.

I’m not worried though because this is not the last you’ll see of this style of writing from me and not the last time I’ll get to play with these types of characters.

kill your babies

As I mentioned above, there was a fourth sketch that we recorded during our initial session. Once we got it into the edit and listened back to it though I soon realised it just didn’t work. It wasn’t written well for radio, was too long and put my actors in a situation where they weren’t at their best – completely my fault, not theirs. So rather than trying to persist with it I decided to shelve it. Sometimes you can make something work with a tweak here or there but sometimes you just have to be decisive and kill your babies as they say.

-*-*-

As I said, you can check out the samples on my blog or over on AudioBoo where you can share it on Facebook and Twitter and feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.

Roger & Val, Him & Her, Tessa & Adam

6, September 2010

For those wondering, yes Tessa & Adam is still going ahead. I’m in the process of finishing up writing episodes but have been side-tracked with some other opportunities and pitches I’ve had come my way, so I’ve been bashing away furiously on them.

A couple of new UK television comedies have popped up lately investigating the intimate nature of relationships that play in the same sandpit as Tessa & Adam and are worth mentioning.

Roger and Val Have Just Got In – A new Dawn French comedy vehicle with her playing off Alfred Molina. Very English, very bittersweet, very real – all in a good way.

Dawn French and Alfred Molina, two of the nation’s best loved actors, star in this new six-part series focusing on the everyday, seemingly trivial trials and tribulations faced by a middle-aged married couple. The bittersweet comedy looks at how they get on in the first half an hour after walking through their front door. Developed from an original idea by Dawn French, the series is written by Emma and Beth Kilcoyne (Dogtown).

In between the comic situations peppered throughout the episodes the series story arc is creeping in more and more, which is very tragic and heartbreaking, so it feels like it’s morphing into a drama more and more with each passing episode. You can read a BBC Comedy blog on it here.

Him & Her – A new young couple sitcom premiering tonight (Mon, 6th Sept) on BBC Three at 10:30pm:

Steve (Russell Tovey) and Becky (Sarah Solemani) are Him & Her – a young couple deeply in love, often in bed and rarely in employment. Content to commit days on end to little more than eating, drinking and lazing around the pair are happy just to exist, doing their best to avoid the world beyond their flat and only occasionally letting life find them at home to visitors. Written by Stefan Golaszewski, Him & Her is an anti-romantic comedy. It lifts the lid on love as it really is – warts and all with farts, bickering and toast.

I see Tessa & Adam as being a younger sexy version of Roger and Val and even Outnumbered to a degree, which I love, so I’m interested to seeing how Him & Her plays as I think we’re talking about some of the same things. Of course Tessa & Adam is web and Him & Her is television and there are other defining differences as well, so I’m not worried … not yet at least.

Anyhoo, that’s it, back to work!

amazing grace – bbc radio 4 drama

3, July 2010

As some of you may know I’ve recently been exploring opportunities in writing for radio. From what I’ve learnt thus far it seems to be a great way for newbie writers to cut their teeth, get a commission and generally learn about the practicalities of writing for production and a real audience.

I’m so pleased that the BBC have been keeping this medium alive because I recently came across a new radio mini-series on BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour called Amazing Grace that really captivated me:

When Grace’s Sudanese village is attacked, she scoops up her four young children and they flee, running for their lives.  Safety is within reach, and a truck full of displaced villagers lets her on board. She loads her two daughters on to the truck and turns to lift the boys up – but they aren’t there. And the truck must go. Grace must make any parent’s most feared decision. A choice that is no choice – to save the children she has with her or abandon them to look for the two who are left behind. This is the story of Grace – now living in the UK – and her battle to find and bring back her missing children.

you’ve got til the 5th of July to listen to the ep’s on iPlayer so please do go check it out.

And if like me you’re interested in the behind-the-scene stuff check out Michelle Litpon’s (writer) and Justine Potter’s (producer-Savvy Productions) blogs. Michelle has been kind enough to post up the scripts for the series and Justine has plenty of posts about the process as well as hints and tips on radio and transmedia production.

What I think Amazing Grace does well is tell a compelling story in short 15 minute episodes that does what any great narrative should do – it takes you into the story via the characters and opens you up to their world.

You should also listen to it for the music and sound design. Both paint such a vivid picture of the world of the story and transport you from Urban London to war-torn Sudan and back again with such easy. Hearing how much could be achieved and how rich it made the story has really opened my eyes/ears to the power of radio.

Being a fan of episodic storytelling I thought the 15 minute ep’s worked beautifully as well. The writer was able to skip any unnecessary transitions and pick up each new ep not necessarily at where the last one left off but at the next most compelling moment in the story.

So as a famous Aussie music reviewer is known for saying, do yourself a favour and go check it out.

newsjack returns and bbc three pilots online

28, May 2010

Over on the BBC Writersroom blog they’ve announced that the topical comedy radio show Newsjack is coming back to BBC 7 for a third series and their open submission policy still applies.

So if political satire, topical comedy and jokes inspired by the Dailymail are your bag then you now have somewhere to vent your comedic genius.

-*-*-

Also BBC Three is premièring their new TV pilots online:

You can watch the first of our three drama pilots, Pulse, now on the BBC Three blog.

This is your chance to be the first to watch exclusive online previews of the freshest new drama. Yes, that’s right, you’ll get the chance to see these brand new shows online a whole week before they even make it on to the telly. And that’s not all, we want you to let us know what you think of them by leaving your comments on the BBC Three blog.

Pulse, Dappers and Stanley Park are three bold, youthful dramas that show our continued support of original UK drama and our commitment to experimentation.

links for new media producers

3, May 2010

I came across this interview on NewTeeVee the other day, Five Questions With… The Guild’s Kim Evey, which I thought was worth sharing. Kim Evey is the producer of Felicia Day’s uber successful The Guild, so she’s someone worth listening to.

Reading this inspired me to share something else that I recently came across, New Mediacracy, from the team behind Epic-Fu. Zadi and Steve’s New Mediacracy podcasts run kinda long (usually over an hour) but it’s worth it to get the skinny directly from the web video luminaries they have on the show.

It also reminded me of Tim Street’s e-book “Ten Things You Should Do Before You Upload Your Video”. No matter what you think of Frenchmaid TV, Tim Street knows what he’s talking about when it comes to monetising online video and his e-book is a wonderfully simple blueprint for planning and distributing online videos.

Five Questions With… The Guild’s Kim Evey

1. What’s the one big issue/law/attitude/restriction that you think is holding back the industry?

For web series in particular I would like to see people stop thinking in terms of old media models for driving viewership. Old media would have tried to change the pilot episode of The Guild to increase the show’s marketing appeal to whatever demographic it deemed the most likely for success (probably 18-34 year old male gamers). New media is the opposite — it’s niche marketing that allows instant access to people who build their own communities based on common interests, often regardless of demographics rather than because of them.

New Mediacracy

New Mediacracy is a casual conversation in the form of an audio podcast about the world of web video featuring industry producers, directors, writers, and other content creators.

Tim Street |  eBooks10 things you should do before you upload your online video

©2009 Tim Street http://1TimStreet.com  Copyright holder is licensing this under the Creative Commons License.

If you are new to online video or just want to have a check list to run through to make sure you can get the most out of your videos take a look at this free eBook that explains 10 Things You Should Do Before You Upload Your Online Video.


For more information be sure to check out my blogroll for people who are also worth following.

reflections on ‘domestic’

12, April 2010

My short film, Domestic, is currently in the running for what will probably be its last film festival, the 3rd Babelgum Online Film Festival.

If you haven’t already, check it out and give it a Thumbs Up to vote. Winners great screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York (very cool!) and win cash prizes (even cooler!).

Seeing as this is Domestic’s last outing, I thought it might be fun to reflect on the shoot and share some memories of how the film came to be.

-*-*-

When I first proposed the idea to actors Lawrence and Patricia as a play for the Sydney Short & Sweet Theatre Festival I knew it was an ambitious project.

With scripts restricted to ten minutes, a tight turn around between each play and the real danger of being sliced and diced night after night, the demand on their skills as actors and fight combatants was enormous.

With Lawrence directing, their hard work paid off when we won the festival’s People’s Choice Award and fuelled by this success I recruited the director and DOP team of Katie and Marcus Hides to re-invent Domestic for film.

-*-*-

It was a fight all the way.

The first blow was finding a location.  Not surprisingly, there weren’t many contenders brave enough to allow a film crew to invade their home for round after round of dramatised domestic violence.

Luckily some mates came through for me but I don’t think they realised just what they got themselves in for. Neither did I.

Renovations were due to start in the house next door to our location the same day as our shoot.  I thought we were KO’d for sure but I mustered up my courage and before I knew it I was bribing our new neighbour to delay his long overdue renovations and even convinced him to “lend” us electricity in his absence!

From there we ducked and weaved our way through tearing up the owner’s lino with countless retakes of plate smashing …

snapping our saucepan Hero Prop, forcing Lawrence to hold it in place when we couldn’t fix or replace it …

and watching Lawrence get hit …

slammed …

and mashed in take after take!

There was plenty of fun times as well, like watching the guys stage this simple but effective trick shot (can you spot what’s missing in the middle shot?) …

watching them chreograph the baton and knife fight …

And seeing great shots like these come together in the edit.

-*-*-

As a writer/producer, my learning curve involved taking hit after hit and a lot of fancy footwork but I’m thankful for the experience and there are still lessons from this shoot that I carry with me today.

And I promise, no actors were harmed in the making of this film …

-*-*-

Remember, you’ve got until midnight, 18th April to vote for Domestic, so why not check it out again and give it your Thumbs Up so that it can go out on a high note with a final screening at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York!

your chance to vote for ‘Domestic’ in Babelgum Film Festival

9, April 2010

My action/comedy short film Domestic is in the running for yet another film festival – this time online at Babelgum.com – http://ow.ly/1wxH3

If you like it hit the Thumbs Up button to vote!

Winners get screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York (pretty cool!) and are up for cash prizes (even cooler!)

As some of you know, I’m currently planning to shoot a web series later this year, which follows a similar domestic/relationship theme, without the fisticuffs this time though BUT with 29% more banter!

Here’s your chance to find out where the germ of the idea for the series all began.

Thanks!