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WHAT A YEAR!

Almost a year ago I started this Blog because I had just interviewed for the post of Resident Tutor at Bath Spa University where I was to be studying for my MA. The post included accommodation on campus and I was dithering about giving up my home and my jobs and all that entailed.

Well, almost one year later, and here I am packing up to leave campus having lived here since September. I am now jobless and homeless but the happiest I have been in almost two decades. It was definitely the right decision and what a year it’s been.

Moved to campus.

Wrote my first stage play.

   Shattered my ankle.

Lost a locum position because of this.

Stopped smoking.

Went tee-total.                      

Joined two dating sites.

Went on one rubbish date.

       Read a tonne of books.

Wrote a first draft of my feature-length supernatural coming of age thriller.

Became a short horror film reviewer for Ghost Town Records.

Got my first paid writing job on a short film script.

Wrote 16 short film scripts.

Wrote 2 short plays.

Found some amazing film people on Talent Circle & Shooting People.

Shot & edited my first short.

Wrote & shot my 2nd short film.

Passed all my modules.

On course for a first.                                                                                    

Failed to find a second job.

Used up ALL my emergency overdraft.

Wow.

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Back To Uni

 

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DEAD STILETTOS

Here’s my first completed short film. Shot and edited between shoot days for ‘Paranoia’ this was created for Film4s ‘ Scene Stealers’ competition.

“We are looking for you to take an iconic Film4 moment from our list of selected films and put your own individual stamp on it. The judges will be looking for entries that do this in the most original and creative way encapsulating the Film4 ethos and celebrating some of its finest moments with a fresh, inventive approach. Make your own version of that scene with as much flair, invention and creativity as you can. You can use snippets of dialogue from the scene, but again, re-imagining the moment to stand out from the crowd is what we’re after.”

I chose to re-imagine the confrontation and LSD scenes from Shane Meadows’ excellent film ‘Dead Man’s Shoes.’ 

It took three hours to film with a Sony PD175 camera, a boom mike and sunlight. I used two reflectors on the actresses’ faces under the arch scene and have learned that a white dress is not great in bright sunlight if you haven’t a clue about white balance!

Sound was really tricky, we were delayed by a lot of airplanes and helicopters – it was the first sunny day in over a week!

Final Cut is HUGE but I had a great manual and some help with leveling out the sound in post.

My cast were incredible and huge thanks to the multi-talented Edd Lane for creating a perfect piece of music for me in less than 24 hours after I asked. It makes the film!

For some reason the end titles won’t screen on YouTube – I have posted on a forum so we’ll see if I get a response. I’ve submitted to Film4, haven’t had confirmation yet and am worried that the swearing might be construed as ‘offensive’. Fingers crossed it’s not!

  This was a great learning experience for me and I’m dead chuffed with the result!

http://youtu.be/xMwBSQL7G6E

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Short Film

 

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STILLS FROM MY FIRST SHOOT: “PARANOIA”

IN THE HAIR & MAKE-UP TRAILER

DRESSED SET

THE SCRIPT

THE END IS NIGH

HOME MADE LIGHTING!

IT’S ALL TOO MUCH!

JACKIE CLAPS

MORE MAKE-UP

THE END

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Short Film

 

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MY FIRST DAY FILMING!

So my first day ever behind a camera is done!

Phew. It took a lot of bloody organising I can tell you. I’ve been trying to crew it and film since April this year. And how did it go? I hear you shout. Not bad, not bad. The baddest bit was the sound dude’s rumbly tum. Five takes and a snack later and I sent him out of the room! But I’m so glad he was there. Thank you lovely Alan Deacon – take a bow.

Alan responded to a Talent Circle crew shout-out and his area of expertise is actually post-production sound but he kindly offered to come and set up the boom and levels and everything sound-wise and I was very glad for his presence and knowledge and look forward to his work after the edit.

I would also say that doing the directing, lighting, camera, sound, art direction, props and make-up is too much.

I found it difficult to actually focus on my actress and felt pressured and rushed. Thankfully, Ffion Evans is a very talented young lady and I felt enough confidence in her to move on swiftly.  I had also done an awful lot of pre-production preparation. This was reiterated over and over in every book or article I read about making low budget shorts and although it meant another huge chunk of time out of my MA work it was definitely worth it.

I want a producer. This is the main big lesson I have come away with. A producer I can forge a great relationship with and work on the next couple of shorts and then onto a feature.

Will I continue directing? Well, I haven’t watched the rushes back yet because I have a huge academic deadline looming and the next day’s shoot for this film, Paranoia, isn’t until 31st July so I won’t be editing until sometime in August. I’ll let you know then.

Meanwhile I’ve got another shoot booked this Tuesday to reimagine a scene for Film 4’s Scene Stealers  competition. I transcribed the scene last night and am looking forward to a couple of hours rehearsing and shooting with some fabulous young actresses. We’re spinning a classic gangster’s scene on its head and will be shooting outdoors with two cameras. Should be fun.

Audition Day

Thanks must go to my wonderfully quirky classmate Jackie Pasco, a fellow scriptwriter who today did a sterling job as the clapper loader, and Edd Lane my stills photographer. Looking forward to putting some pics from the shoot up soon. Watch this space!

I’m now off to write a feature length screenplay.

In a week.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2012 in Short Film

 

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COCAINE CHICKEN

Last night I met up with some film makers from Bath who had responded to my shout outs for crew and collaboration on Shooting People and Talent Circle. Five showed up and we were a really mixed bag of ages and experience and had a brilliant evening. Everyone is really keen to be involved so I’m finally going ahead. Yay! They are mainly all free all the time too which is just perfect and one of them is another woman and she is going to be my right hand man and has just come off making her own first short film so has lots of advice and handy hints.

I contacted them all using my writing name MJ Hermanny and without exception, they all thought I was a man, even after I emailed them the little detail that I would be wearing a checked trilby with a huge feather stuck in it – they just thought I would be a flamboyant man! Hilarious. I wonder how many would have turned up if they thought I’d been female. The shock on a couple of the older, more experienced film maker’s faces amused me greatly. They all stayed though.

I plan to shoot a found footage short which is currently in an anonymous competition so I can’t name it yet but it should be ‘easy’ to film and I wrote it specifically to be something that could be made with a very small cast and crew.

Today I will meet with a member of staff to sort out all the insurance and risk assessment issues with using non-students – thankfully, the fact that I’m also a member of staff means that there isn’t too much red tape to deal with. I can’t wait to set up the auditions.

This week I’ve managed to write 30 pages of my new feature script, 2 x 2 page short scripts around the theme of love for the London Screenwriter’s Festival competition. A 7 page short for Script Fest competition, I’m in the middle of a 15 minute play for a competition in response to a book called The Jilted Generation which I happened to have read and I must get my paid 10 page script first draft out by Sunday. And my essay – I have to write 3000 words on the marketing strategy I will employ for my final script and the essay must contain interviews from industry professionals and their advice. So, today I plan to email several writers, a script editor, a producer and a sales agent. I also need to find a manager to get in touch with – if anyone knows of one please give me shout!

I’ve seen tonnes of films recently but just can’t seem to find the time to review them. The two that I can’t recommend highly enough are Dead Man’s Shoes by Shane Meadows – I kept putting this off and putting it off, thinking it would be really violent and it has violence in it but it is unbelievably moving. It’s a great moral tale and the performances, especially Toby Kebbell (Rocknrolla) in his first film role, are just fantastic. I thoroughly enjoyed This Is England some time ago too when I didn’t think I would.

The other knock-out film which I just can not get out of my head and which had scenes in it that I found very difficult to watch is Tyrannosaur by Paddy Considine (star of Dead Man’s Shoes). It moved me more than any film has ever moved me and I felt emotions that were uncomfortable and shed tears for characters who had done reprehensible things. Unbelievably excellent script and extraordinary performances from Peter Mullan and Olivia Coleman.

Mirrormask – all images of this film look amazing but on screen they just look low budget.

I also watched a very strange film written by Neil Gaiman called MirrorMask. It’s kind of experimental I guess, a fantasy film on a low British budget with the Jim Henson Company involved. Very odd. I don’t think I liked it very much.

I’ve also just read a fantastic book called Phallic Panic: Film, Horror and the Primal Uncanny by Barbara Creed- all about psychology and film monsters. I’m on the lookout now for the companion piece called Monstrous Feminine. Horror in film still fascinates me even though it rarely scares me and it is still the most popular genre.

Right, I must go and do filmy stuff – I’m hoping that now that I’ve got far too much to do I’ll actually get loads more done as I’ll have to focus more – instead of wondering how I’ll work on one thing all day, I’ll be charging around like a cocaine chicken getting ten things done at once. We shall see. 

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Back To Uni

 

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I’M A PROFESSIONAL SCREENWRITER!

 

I’m a pro!

Today I got paid £100 upfront for rewriting a ten page short film script. I am now a professional screenwriter!! It feels so damned good, I’ve had the most ridiculous grin on my face all day. I applied for the job on Wednesday morning with a couple of my sample short scripts and received an email at 7pm offering me the work and the cheque and contract arrived today. Rock on!

I’m also one of eight writers on a feature length film made up of eight short films on mental health for new production company Red Dress Productions. 

http://www.reddressproductions.co.uk/

They seem very professional and once they secure funding for the project I should get paid. Mental health is something I’m very interested in so I’m really looking forward to working on this and can’t wait for the first meeting. I seriously hope this pans out properly.

I also recently landed a film reviewing job on a new website. Its aim is to promote short films, in particular those in the horror genre, and new film makers. The site is still being built but you can have a look around to see what they’re up to. http://www.ghosttownrec.com/

It will work like a record label, hence their name, and will take on the best new shorts as ‘New Signings’ and create ‘Albums’ of certain directors. There is also a ‘Classics’ section which is what I’m currently reviewing for. It’s great fun. I’m loving all the movies and spending more time on there than I probably should be with all my other stuff going on but I feel I’m learning loads from watching these.

I’m reviewing for free at present in the hope that the site will take off, which I think it will as there is currently nothing like it and the web is saturated with short films from new directors looking for exposure.

 

William Blake’s Urizen

The MA is going well, into the final leg now, so getting stuck into my final script and essay. Loving my research at the moment, getting easily sidetracked by all those fantastic books in the library. Whenever I’m in there this little voice in my head says “so many books, so little time” and I get this image of an old man with a long white beard just sitting there reading and he’s been there forever, reading and reading.

I’m on top of my time management issues for the moment and treating the library as my office, getting myself in there from 9-5 and as most of the students have left campus and exams are over, it’s my own private office and I LOVE IT!

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Back To Uni

 

BACK ON TRACK

Having been unable to entice students to work as crew on my horror short I had just about given up on it and sent an email out to the interested actresses informing them it would have to be postponed. I copied in my course director and had a response from her almost straight away and she has sent the script out – silly me, didn’t think of that – and I now have four experienced students very keen to help out once they’ve finished their current short films in a couple of weeks. Result!

I also discovered they have a Steadicam and dolly tracks. How cool is that, there was me thinking I was going to have to use my granny wagon.

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Short Film

 
 
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