New Updated Showreel

My 2 minute showreel has been finely honed down to 1 minute especially for those busy employers for whom I need to make a fast and favourable first impression so here it is.

Intro from Mr King: (Henry  Douthwaite) “Rise and shine!”
Viktor (Steve Mace) “Who the ‘heck’ are you?”

For readers enjoying a leisurely break and able to watch the full two minute showreel, I offer up a little more detail below.

The showreel opens with a clip from Mr King (which was shown at the Cannes film festival last year) leading to an introduction to me. We are then launched into clips from a few short films of various genres.

Lunchtime

Filmed as a visual narrative, I wrote this gentle comedy as a tribute to Charlie Chaplin and Sergio Leone. I also directed the shoot and edited ‘in camera’ which means that it had to be shot in sequence (the unedited version was then given a grade by tutors and I later edited the film fully in my own time). The Chaplin tributes were filmed in colour, then later edited to black and white; the Leone shots were also colour-edited to have a more ‘western’ feel (those clips are not featured in the 1 minute showreel shown above – see the full 2 minute showreel).

Mr King

As First Assistant Director I was also responsible for casting, and the three main actors were first class in this gritty film of high stakes and violent criminals. I was tasked with rewriting the dialogue throughout the script to make it flow better.

Do Not Open

A noir/suspense visual narrative exercise. I was particularly pleased with my shadow shot in this clip. It was conceived, written and shot as an homage to Alfred Hitchcock. I wanted to see if I could achieve the feeling of suspense in a short, two-minute film.

Regret

I wrote and directed Regret, based on an idea I had a couple of years before. It was an unusual project for me as it contained no trace of comedy. Excellent acting from Marie and Lucy and the finished project was well received by my peers.

Followed

Another visual narrative, written and directed by a fellow student who asked me to be his cameraman & cinematographer. My favourite shot here is the brief glimpse of a menacing figure through the doorway – did you notice him?

Regret, Mr King and Lunchtime

I just enjoyed the way this closing trio of clips sums up the mix of genres in a few seconds. I hope you’ve enjoyed watching. Do leave a comment, preferably nice!

Fin.

 

 

Short Films from London to Cannes

Here at last! I bring you a selection of trailers for short films at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, two of which I worked on.


Obsessively Optimistic


Run From The French


Unreal Estate


Mr King


Just for Fun – Vote for your Favourite…

Mr King & the ‘Festival de Cannes’

Our short film, Mr King, has been accepted for a catalogue entry at Festival Corner at the Cannes Film Festival, as can be seen in the header image, above.

From an original script by Ron Zlatkin, the film was directed by Thomas Draviczki and co-stars Steve Mace, Henry Douthwaite (in the title role) and Mateo Rufino Cano. As First Assistant Director (1stAD), I was responsible for casting.

I noticed that the theme composition has been uploaded by Flórián Siró so here it is for you to enjoy.

à bientôt!

LFA Showcase at the BFI

2016 London Film Academy Showcase at the British Film Institute, Southbank, London.

The format of the afternoon/evening is to sit in the plush velvety red seats and watch (in this case, 11) short films, written and created by students during the latter part of their film making course. This is followed by graduate presentations and a reception.

The reception is an oportunity to meet with others from all corners of the film industry – writers, actors, producers, etc., established as well as those, like us, who are just starting our careers.

As I’ll be working on a short film project in the new year, this illustrious gathering was a chance to sound out potential cast and crew plus meet up again with actor Henry Douthwaite (Mr. King) and comedian Tommy Rowson, (up-coming tour dates) plus many others who currently don’t have links to include here.


Review of films from the 2016 showcase.

On the night, the film with most votes was Unreal Estate, which I worked on and this may have tainted my viewpoint as the plot twist was not a fresh surprise. Great concept, though, written by Charlie Park.

Rather than review all 11 films, I’ll be selective. Mr. King (obviously) was my favourite non-comedy. And of the comedies… my award for top spot was shared jointly by Obsessively Optimistic (starring Timothy O’Hara and Andrea Vallis) and Run From The French (starring Diljohn Singh and Pat Brackenbury), both wrtten by Ilona Mitrecey.


Merry Christmas & all the best for the coming year!

Just when you think it’s all over…

Hooray, Hurrah… school’s out!!! As we attended our final day at the London Film Academy, I was invited back to develop one of my scripts and produce a short film of “Waiting for Tamara“, together with Ron Zlatkin as director.

The Academy offered to provide support in terms of equipment and facilities and suggested that some of their current students would be willing to volunteer as crew members as it’s a great opportunity for them. We are now working on finding a budget to cover other costs, such as location, cast and general expenses during the shoot.


Shout-out to Agents, Actors and Angels…
If you are able to support this project by donating your time or funding, please contact me by leaving a comment (comments are not public unless I approve them so you can leave your details). The deadline is approximately end of 2016 as we hope to start shooting in January.


I still have to assemble a few cuts from the films I’ve contributed to whilst attending the LFA and will be editing them into a new showreel of my recent work, reflecting various skills I’ve acquired in writing, directing and editing.

Meanwhile, the London Showcase will be held in November at the British Film Institute (BFI), where those of us who have passed will be presented with our diplomas. I achieved three merits, including scriptwriting and directing.

Onwards and Upwards!

The Art of Editing

The cutting room floor” is one of those phrases that is mostly out-dated in this digital age. Editing is possibly the most significant area where digital has had an impact. Imagine working with reels of photographic images and physically cutting and joining them – no wonder it took so long after shooting a film for it to reach the cinemas.

Usually working with the Director, an Editor’s role is to create the final film. It involves watching hours of video to select the various cuts to edit together, ensuring that the dialogue fits, adding seamless layers of background sounds, selecting music, etc., and the story has to be well-paced within the targeted running time. The Coen Brothers like to ‘own’ a film in the sense that they will write, direct and edit it themselves so that the end result is exactly what they wanted to achieve.


I am currently working with digital film editing software. In many cases, actual photographic film is still shot and archived but the traditional and digital processes require different skills.

I’ve been assigned ‘second edit’ twice recently, which is probably more fun than the role of main editor, as you can try some less conventional ideas with the storyline and sound. The results have met with approval from my peers but the academy rules that second edit is merely an exercise that doesn’t see the light of day so you will just have to take my word for it that my cuts were awesome!

When I was completing an edit of a terrible short film that shall remain nameless, our MasterClass Tutor for post-production sound, Colin Miller, was complimentary about my work. You can check his credentials on IMDB and the BFI website. I enjoyed chatting to him later about the films he’d worked on and the people he’s met over the many years he’s been working in the film industry. It was the highlight of my day.


The above image features a few of the films Colin Miller has worked on plus a couple of people he’s worked with.

The Casting Couch

I am now an experienced Casting Director – and it’s nowhere near as glamorous as it seemed to be in the heyday of Hollywood!

Having been showered with praise for the amazing casting on Mr King, I was appointed Casting Director for 3 films being made simultaneously. This taught me so much – but not in the way I expected.

First, I’ll recap on the casting process for Mr. King:

  • I posted details of the project on Spotlight and checked this and emails regularly for actors to indicate their interest and make contact;
  • I did a quick visual check and shortlisted actors with showreels;
  • if there were not enough suitable candidates with showreels, I searched the actor’s bio for relevant experience;
  • I shortlisted the actors and passed the list to the Director for discussion.

Depending on the Director’s feedback/discussions, actors may be asked to attend an audition or provide a reading of a few lines from the script. Eventually, there will be face-to-face auditions and maybe call-backs, then the selected actors will be offered the roles.

For short films with a tight budget, it isn’t unusual to rehearse with the actors for an hour before filming starts.


Considerable effort went into watching showreels, reviewing each bio and corresponding with applicants to ensure that the most suitable actors were short-listed for the roles, resulting in a high quality performance from the whole cast and crew.

By contrast, trying to apply the same quality guidelines across three films with three separate production teams was an eye-opener. I’ll admit that I wasn’t prepared for varying disciplines within each team.

I posted the projects on Spotlight for all three short films, spent several hours shortlisting the actors and then…


Team 1: On the day I was due to submit the shortlist, the production team sent me their shortlist of actors to contact, which someone else – possibly the 1st AD as it is often part of their remit – had prepared.

Team 2: Similarly, two of us were shortlisting actors. There were some additional issues on this project caused by missed communications and available turnaround time.

Clearly, the team roles were not so clearly defined as I had assumed as, for two of the films, there were at least two people working independently on the same task.

Team 3: I had worked closely and successfully with the 1st AD on a previous project. We understood each of our responsibilities and kept each other informed of our actions. Casting throughout pre-production on this project worked efficiently and effectively.


Some really important lessons here – nothing new but stuff that gets overlooked when your brain is overloaded with a number of things:

  • Consider how much time is required to do three jobs well, compared with one job, in the same timescale – is it manageable?
  • Efficient teamwork requires clearly defined responsibilities;
  • Communication is critical – don’t make assumptions!

& be a leader, not a boss.

RIP: Cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, 1913-2016.

One of my tutors cancelled a session because he was attending the funeral of someone he had worked with, cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, who shot over 80 films – from the Ealing Comedy classics to the Indiana Jones trilogy.

Douglas Slocombe was nominated for an Oscar three times – Travels with My Aunt (1972), Julia (1977) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – and for a BAFTA eight times, winning three of them. He also won the British Society of Cinematographers’ Award five times.

He first worked Stephen Spielberg involved filming the pickups for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), a job which led to further work, at the age of 68, on Raiders of the Lost Ark and then Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989, after which he retired at age 76.

In his earlier life, he was briefly arrested by the Nazis in 1938 for filming in Germany and in 1940 found himself literally under fire from the invading Luftwaffe when Germany invaded Poland – he managed to smuggle his footage out of the country by horse and cart.

In 2008,  Douglas Slocombe was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. He died on 22nd February, aged 103, following complications after a fall.

Read the full article at BFI

Which reminds me, my cousin’s great granddad was Ernie Smith, scenic artist, who I met when I was very young and he was very old. As his artist skills were always in demand, he wasn’t interested in accreditation as a means of ‘climbing the ladder’ therefore he is not credited with many of the films that he worked on. Below is a list of his film work from his later years (data from BFI & IMDB):

This frozen lake was created by Ernie Smith: “Superman making it rain” – we would have higher expectations of realistic data now but apparently it was amazing 40 years ago!

4-minute Film Project

Following on from the previous post (2-minute Film Project) where I mentioned this project, I’ll now go into more detail. The film is called “Mr King” and was filmed over a long weekend, from Saturday 5th to Monday 7th March, 2016.

The script was submitted by Ron Zlatkin (Dutch), then Tamas (Thomas) Draviczki (Hungarian) won the pitch to direct it. As 1stAD, I was responsible for casting and we advertised, via various channels, for actors to apply for one of the three main roles by submitting their CV and showreel. There were more than 40 applications which were shortlisted to ten, then those actors were provided with a page from the script and invited to audition for their chosen role.

The standard was high and the three actors who were offered and accepted were excellent! (Keep in touch, guys!) They are:

The script needed improvement. I was asked to edit the script and also added some dialogue (hopefully, I’ll be credited 🙂 )* and the shoot went very smoothly. I went straight from this film to working on two others… then a few days off to recharge!

Here’s an excerpt from the edited script:

VIKTOR
“I don’t care… I’m dead anyway
so… just get on with it.”

Viktor closes his eyes and leans back on the chair as he
accepts his fate. Mr King Pulls the trigger three times.

MR KING
“Well, credit where it’s due, you
are very dedicated to this guy. Or
is there more than one? Who are
they? The club owners? They run out
of money? Or maybe the associations
are jealous that I make more money
than they do? Guess I’ll never
know… Oh. Silly me. I forgot the
bullet. What am I like?”

Mr King and Carter laugh. Manuel only smiles.
Viktor looks at Mr King in shock.

Editing begins next week. As usual, as soon as we get the green light to publish, I’ll let you know.


*Unfortunately, I’ve been told that it’s not Academy policy  😦 so I remain uncredited again.

2-minute Film Project

It’s quite an intensive schedule at the LFA plus a gruelling daily commute of more than 3 hours, so news updates may be posted a little sporadically but here goes…

I previously posted an excerpt from a script entitled “Regret” which I’ve now directed as a two minute short film project at the LFA.

Pre-production, the script underwent a few refinements to keep the story within the targeted maximum running time. Shooting was completed in a day in December 2015, and the film was ‘released’ in January 2016. Co-starring two actors, Marie Everett and Lucy Pickles, everyone seemed satisfied with the final cut which was well received by fellow students on the course.

(Hi Marie & Lucy – I hope you enjoyed working with us.)

Next project, I’m going to be 1st Assistant Director on a 4-minute film, written by Ron Zlatkin and directed by Tamas Draviczki. More about that in the next post…