Posts Tagged ‘short film’

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!

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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!

things are looking up …

27, September 2009

Right, so it’s a bit of laundry list but bear with me …

TJ’s new job

TJ has scored a new job in a newly set up development unit at BBC Wordwide. That’s right, she is now officially working for the government. I expect it won’t be long before she’s doing a 38 hour week, counting down the days til her long service leave and working in an office with a “please don’t abuse our staff” sign on the door!

Seriously though, she’s very excited about the job and it means that for the next twelve months we have some security. She had a great time heading up development in the digital unit at Fremantlemedia but we always said that coming to London was about taking advantage of opportunities that we couldn’t get back in Australia and this is the perfect example of one such opportunity.

little luxuries

As a result of TJ’s good fortune we can finally lash out on some little luxuries – temporary blinds from BlindInABox (it’s been probably ten years since we’ve slept in complete dark and God we’ve missed it); a multi-region DVD player courtesy of eBay (the Love Films subscription comes next); plus a casserole dish and stainless wok for some slow cooked wintery meals. It may not sound earth shattering but trust me these little things will make a big difference in our life.

writing

I’ve recently found a second writer’s group called Script Tank and it’s exactly the kind of group I’ve been looking for. It compliments The London Comedy Writers group perfectly as it is more focused on theatre, feature film and TV drama and has a strong membership base of professional and semi-pro writers, such as myself.

On the writing front I’m still working up some short material as well as several TV pilot scripts. When these scripts are ready I’ll have them read and critiqued at both these groups to help in my redrafting and polishing process. Getting a decent reading is vital – it allows you to hear now a script really sounds and to figure out what’s working and what isn’t. At the moment I’m confident that I should be well on the way to hitting my goal of completing three new original pieces of work this year.

work

Coming off the back of working on Freak, I recently took on a small paid gig Production Managing a short film (Unrequited Love) for writer/director Jade Syed-Bokhari of White Fire Films. We shot out at Black Park (near Pinewood Studios) under a beautiful old oak tree with Max Irons (Jeremy Irons son) on what turned out to be a perfect day. Sounds impressive? Well let me assure you filmmaking isn’t all glamour, a big part of my day was spent at the end of a pole waving a branch to create picturesque shadows in shot.

It turned out to be a great experience as I got to apply my eight odd years of experience to the job and got to draw on some people and resources that I acquired from working on Freak, which meant that things ran smoothly and we got everything in the can in under ten hours.

networking

Over the past couple of months I’ve been to several film and TV networking nights – there’s always something desperate and dateless about these events. Two thirds of the people are guarantee to be actors and composers while the other third is likely to be people looking to meet someone who can give them a gig. So it’s a lot of people all looking from the same thing … from each other! Not the best recipe for success. Despite this, I have to say though that I did meet some interesting people who hopefully I can keep in touch with and work with at a later date.

moving forward

I’m now hoping to take on some more paid short film production managing/producing gigs to get some money in and also to keep building my network. The more gigs like this I do the more I will learn and the larger my network will grow – which can only be a good thing, both in terms of leading to some full-time paid work and also when I’m ready to start shooting some of my own material. That’s the plan anyway, Ill let you know how I go.

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brainstorming

11, August 2009

Following up on my previous post about the current projects I’m working on – yesterday Lawrence and I got together to brainstorm the interrogation scene that we plan to workshop together into a showreel piece ( to showcase his acting and my writing) and then eventually shoot.

We started off with the basic premise of two men in a basement/bunker with a table and two chairs. We talked about our characters, the situation that brought them together, threw around ideas, discussed themes, explored motivation – bouncing things ’round to see what sticked.

We ended up settling on an idea that Lawrie threw out there at the start but I wasn’t necessarily so keen on. What made me change my mind was that we hit upon a theme that linked everything together. Suddenly I could “see” it and it all fell into place. Later I realised this is what we were looking for all along – a hook that set up a compelling situation and connected the characters to the story and theme in a dynamic way. Without this hook we would have been left with just another interrogation scene featuring two guys in a room.

I also found myself reacting at one stage to something Lawrence suggested and thinking “That’s such a Lawrie idea!” I wasn’t so keen on it or I should say, it wasn’t my take on the point of view of one of the characters. I admit, this was completely my own prejudice at work here. Again later though I realised this difference in opinion could be used when developing the scene because it could help create a real sense of tension between the characters.

-*-*-

So, what did I learn out of this?

For the most part brainstorming is just about throwing around ideas until you find something that resonates with you and what you want to say. It’s not about finding the right idea, it’s just about finding something that works for you. And when working with two or more people this is vital. If everyone isn’t on board then you’re always going to double guessing yourselves or at odds with each other.

Find a hook or a theme that’s central to your characters and the story. It will give you the thematic backbone that will underpin your story and give you a clear direction to go in – reminding you what to include and more importantly what not to.

And lastly, when working with a writing/creative partner a difference of opinion can be very useful – especially if you can bring it to life through your characters. Do this and then suddenly your characters will start making a stand for what they believe in and arguing their own unique point of view. It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong, it just matters if it feels authentic. You’ll get some great dimensional characterisation out of it plus the opportunity to hash out an opinion that you the writer feel passionate about without having to resort to exposition.

-*-*-

Come back here for more updates on our progress and feel free to leave a comment with your own take on brainstorming and what you’ve gotten out of it.

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current projects

7, August 2009

I’ve added a new section to the left listing the current projects that I’m working on. Feel free to check it out.

I’ve been developing two sketches, House Cat and The End Is Nigh, for a little while now and they’re pretty much done. I’ve been fortunately enough to have several mates who are smarter and funnier than me read through them and give me feedback. I’ve also been doing several readings/workshops with my mate/actor Lawrence and via the London Comedy Writers group. Coming from a drama background I love nothing better than hashing something out with another writer or a couple of actors and have been very grateful for all the feedback and help I’ve received. Thanks everyone.

I’ve also been working a very silly sci-fi comedy piece called Planet Strange. I have NO idea what form it’s going to finally take (i.e. television, theatre, web series, radio) or what the overall theme is but it amuses me immensely every time I work on it so at this stage I’m just going to keep chipping away. Usually I’m much more structured in my writing so I’m kinda enjoying working a bit more organically. And quite frankly I don’t want to jinx it, especially while I’m having so much for with it.

The other thing that I have just started on is a small web series idea about a British guy and Dutch girl living together in their small studio flat in London. Why British and Dutch characters? They’re both alien to each other, which helps heighten the comedy of the sexes thing. They also bring with them strong personal and cultural perspectives and prejudices, which is great material for comedy. And it’s a pairing I haven’t seen a lot of. At the end of the day I just find it plain funny and can see the wealth of material that can be mined from it.

Like most writer’s say, the characters aren’t really based on anyone I know but there are certain real life situations and observations that I’m drawing on as inspiration or dropping the characters into to create the stories for the series. That’s the advantage of having two strongly defined characters, you know they’ll react when throw them into something and if they do that then half your work is done.

Like I said, I’ll keep you all updated about my progress.

Cheers.

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upcoming uk script deadlines

4, August 2009

If you’re like me, while you’ve got one eye on your latest script you’ve got the other on upcoming play and screenplay submission deadlines.

For the most part these opportunities are great motivators to get something completed and out in the world. But they can also seriously mess you up, especially if you find yourself at the last minute desperately trying to shoe-horn your latest script (that’s only a 2nd draft and is riddled with serious character flaws) into some sort of shape that resembles the submission guidelines. I’ve done this. One too many times. And it never turns out well.

My solution, know what deadlines are coming up nice and early, that way you can pick and choose which ones suits you and your writing. Granted, this can also lead to procrastinating or being overwhelmed by too many options and if this is the case then you’re just going to have to wait until your undiscovered genius is … um … discovered … somehow.

Anyhoo, for the rest of us we just have to bite the bullet send off our babies to the slaughter. So with this mixed metaphor in mind, I thought I would list the sites that I currently use to track upcoming submission deadlines. If you know of any others, please feel free to share.

BBC Writers Room

http://www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom/opportunity/

SCRIPT

http://www.scriptonline.net/home_news.html

The London Comedy Writers

http://www.londoncomedywriters.com/opportunities/main.html

Some other deadlines that may not be on these lists are:

The Sitcom Trials

http://sitcomtrials.co.uk/

Sitcom Saturday

http://www.sitcomsaturday.org.uk/

Sequel to Cannes Film Script Competition

http://www.prequel.biz/ (as reported by Lucy at Write Here, Write Now)

The Liverpool International One-Act Play Festival

http://www.writenowfestival.co.uk/

There you go, now you’ve got no excuse, get writing.

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danny stack & the twitter short film fund

2, June 2009

For those not in the know, Danny Stack is a UK screenwriter, well-regarded blogger and short filmmaker. He recently shot a short, Origin, (which I blogged about here a while ago) that was partly funded by his blog / twitter followers and fans. Now he’s putting out the word again for post production/completion funding to get his short the rest of the way:

The Twitter Short Film Fund was born! Of course, I know there are plenty of other short film funding schemes worthy of your contribution but I thought £5 wasn’t an unreasonable sum to request especially as you get the booklet ‘Get Your Movie Made’ which lists the contact details & personnel of the leading UK film companies.

If you’d like some of that action, simply pledge your £5 to dstack30 at hotmail . com and I’ll only collect the money once I reach the Twitter target of £1,000. £1,000 is only a fifth of the money I need to complete the film but it will go a LONG way in helping me get across the financial finish line. If you’d like to contribute more than £5 (the £50 Associate Producer, £25 Special Thanks and £10 Thanks options are still open), then email me for the details.

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advanced arts network meeting

30, May 2009

Last night I was invited along to an Advance Arts Networking meeting. Advance is a global network of Australian ex-pats who are living abroad. It features “chapters” across many different industries, not just the arts, and operates as a means for Aussies to network and also to sing their praises to the global community. The meeting I attended was dedicated towards Australians working in the Arts in London.

I was invited along by one of the organisers who saw my film, Domestic, up on Shooting People. I can’t tell you how nice it was to be surrounded by Australian voices and by people who say what they mean! It didn’t necessarily make me home sick but did remind we how we Aussies are different from the English (we’re not just their poor convict cousins) and that we have a real “can-do” spirit and drive (as opposed to the English “That’s not my job” mentality) that can see us thrive and succeed when given the chance.

After the meet we adjourn to a gallery to check out an Australian exhibition and spent our time bitching about the English and shared stories about our first experiences here in London. The one thing I found consistent amongst everyone was that they all were still loving life in London. Most had been here for 10-20 years and like me came over seeking bigger and better work opportunities. Everyone I met had whole-heartedly embraced the London lifestyle whilst managing to maintain their Australianess.

I’m happy to say that I can rack this up as another successful networking event (I met several film/TV/media types there) and I found it to be a wonderfully encouraging and positive experience. I’ve got some other new networking events to attend next week and I’m well on the way to getting some more writing done.

My short, Domestic, has climed up the leaderboard at Shooting People for the month of May, which is exciting. The bigger benefit though has been that it has connected me with some fellow indie London writers and filmmakers and led to the rash of invites to new networking events.

My digital project that I have been working on for a couple of years now has got some traction again. It’s still a while off before there is anything significant to report but it’s good to see that it’s still alive. Developing projects is like a life lesson in patience, something I’m not very good at!

Overall June is promising to be a good month and I look forward to keeping you all posted.

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london – 12 weeks & 5 days … times for something different

12, May 2009

It’s been over 12 weeks and still no job.

TJ and I have got my little studio flat right next to Euston Station (where we get gently rocked to sleep every night by the rumble of the tube), a new gym, some mates to hang out with (and get fed by when we need a pick-me-up) and even a couple of neighbourhood squirrels. All we need now is some jobs.

I’ve tried everything. I’ve applied for any job that I think I’m remotely qualified for. I’ve sent out emails cold to prospective employers.  I’ve registered with temp agencies far and wide. But at this point I’ve turned up nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s jobs to be had out there but there is also a heck of a lot of people out of work to compete with. For any particular job I apply for I can guarantee I’ll be up against anywhere between 50-150 people for the same position. So to say it’s competitive is an understatement.

Will things change?

I don’t know … strike that – things have got to change!

I can’t afford to go on like this for another two months. I’ve got to have something to show for this experience besides “giving it a go”.

It’s time to try something different.

* * * * * *

For the next couple of weeks I’m going to keep on forging ahead applying for jobs and following up leads but I’m also going to be focusing on the following three things –
(1)
networking: I’m going to seek out writer’s groups, industry events, courses; anything that will get me mingling with like-minded individuals. In the past the majority of my work has come from people I know, so it’s time to get to know some people in London.
(2) writing material that can get made: I’m going to focus on scripts that can be either realised as a piece of fringe theatre, a low budget web series or short film. By October I want to be able to say that I got something commissioned or produced here in the UK.

(3) finding collaborators and facilitators: I’m going to be looking for other writers/directors/producers/groups who I can collaborator with to get work made as well as dramaturgs/script doctors/mentors who can help me to develop my work. At this point I don’t feel like I can do this alone. I need help so it’s time to go out and find it.

At the end of these first two weeks I’m going to take stock of where I’m at and what I’ve achieved. If things are positive I’ll keep on forging ahead. This is as much for my own sanity and morale as it is about getting something done.

* * * * * *

Luckily I’ve already made some in-roads to achieving these goals.

Last week TJ, myself and our mate Lawrence, hired a DV instructor (big shout out Mike at DV Training) to give us a one-day training course on the Z1 DV camera, which is pretty much the industry standard for self-shooting producers/directors working in reality and factual television at the moment. We learnt more than I expected and I can now white balance, set audio levels, expose and focus with the best of them. We’re following it up this week by hiring a camera to mess around with for the day and to solidify what we learnt.

On Tuesday night I’m going along to a script reading held by the London Comedy Writers Group who regularly do readings of half-hour sitcoms, sketches etc submitted by its members. I’ve looked into several groups and these guys seem exactly like what I’ve been looking for – a tight group of pro’s and semi-pro’s who support each other in the development of their work.

The following week I’m going to check out a piece of fringe theatre, I Love You, Bro, at the Pleasance Threatre. It’s got rave reviews from it run at various festivals here and back in Australia and at 10 Pounds a ticket, I can’t really ask for more.

I’m also talking with my best mate and long time collaborator, Lawrence, about developing some stuff together. In the past when we’ve put our minds to it we’ve always managed to get something up but for the past eight/nine years we’ve been living in different parts of the world. So now that we’re finally together in the same city it’d be crazy not to take advantage of this opportunity to work together.

* * * * * *

I know this is another LONG entry but I’m planning on blogging more regularly from here on out and in shorter bit-size posts to debrief and keep everyone updated on my progress. Thanks for all your support and encouragement to date, it really does make a difference. I look forward to reporting back about hopefully some exciting times ahead.

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