RIP, Terry Jones

I came across this article: What Does a Producer Do? which reminded me of the Question song from Tom Wilson (Comedian/Actor who played Biff Tannen, BttF) – in particular, his reply to the question at 1minute+08seconds.

And this month, Monty Python’s Terry Jones died. He is credited as Producer of the 1996-1998 TV Series, Blazing Dragons (26 episodes that I’ve yet to see). However, he was more prolific as a Director, Writer and Actor across a number of genres which include documentaries as well as TV series and comedy sketches (Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Ripping Yarns, The Two Ronnies, etc.) and films/screenplays.

Brian’s Mum” was the Director and a co-writer of The Life of Brian“He’s not the Messiah…” as well as The Holy Grail (movie and video game), Erik the Viking and others. Terry Jones also wrote the screenplay for Labyrinth which was Directed by Jim Henson and starring David Bowie.

Finally, here’s an insight into the Holy Grail film outtakes with commentary by Terry Jones, RIP:

 

Films & Live Events Round-up!

OK, so I mentioned RTX (Rooster Teeth) London but haven’t told you about some of the other events visited this year; a mixed variety:

  • Harry Hill (Hitchin, Mostly Comedy)
  • Sally Phillips (London, TV Pilot)
  • Bananas (London, Improv.)
  • Motown (London, Musical)

Last year I saw Jack Dee at Doggett & Ephgrave’s ‘Mostly Comedy’ Club and this year I went to see Harry Hill trying out new material for a forthcoming tour. It was moved to a larger venue and I think it lost something for that. Great to have the Comedy Club facility not far from home. though.

I’ve been to a couple of TV pilots that haven’t really been good enough to air and, despite Sally Phillips, this was one of them. They’re free so I can’t complain. It’s much better to go to recordings of established shows, though, such as HIGNFY and Not Going Out.

“Banana Bunch Presents Bananas On The Run – A Comedy Improvisation Show” at the Museum of Comedy was – erm – interesting. Three women performing improv with audience participation, therefore each show is different – could be funny sometimes and less so at other times. Sort-of like Whose Line Is It Anyway, which I saw at the Edinburgh Fringe last year.

The Motown Musical was excellent! I never knew much about the record label, just thought it was a genre of music, and it was great to advance my education by watching this show. I was sitting on the end of a row near the front, so when ‘Diana Ross’ came into the audience, I was initially approached to sing with her. As possibly the only person in the whole audience who did not know the song “Reach out and Touch Somebody’s Hand”, I had to decline!

Films / DVDs

Before and after my trip to Bruges (or Brugge as it is called by the people who live in that part of Belgium and my friends in The Netherlands) I re-watched the Martin McDonagh film, In Bruges. If you haven’t watched it, I thoroughly recommend you do – and Seven Psychopaths – they are two of my favourite films. Warning: lots of violence, swearing and humour.

Bruges/Brugge is charming but not huge therefore it was easy to recognise places from the film. It transpired that the hotel I stayed in was about 30 paces from one of the scenes.

bruges-canal.jpg

More recently, I’ve been in a Superhero frame of mind and watched/re-watched films from both Marvel and DC, including Deadpool 2, Thor Ragnarok, Infinity War, Wonder Woman, Batman v Superman, Justice League (to name just a few).

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.

 

 

A Year

I’ve just switched to the new ‘easier’ WordPress user interface.

I’m covering a few topics here so feel free to skip to the bits you’re interested in:

RTX

Two full days of organised chaos! Very interesting; some of the mini-events that Sam (a friend from primary school – no, stop what you’re thinking! He’s not attending primary school now, we are the same age) and I most enjoyed were the podcasts and Let’s Plays.

Comedy

There’s an old-style comedy club ‘Mostly Comedy‘ in the town where I lived during my teenage years. It’s been growing in popularity since then, mainly due to the sheer hard work of comedy duo Doggett and Ephgrave. They’ve been attracting well-known comedians, such as (take a deep breath): Reginald D Hunter, Mark Watson, Hal Cruttenden, Arthur Smith, Ardal O’Hanlon, Rory Bremner, Aisling Bea, Nish Kumar, Stewart Lee, Henning Wehn, Norman Lovett and Hattie Hayridge (both played Holly in Red Dwarf), Sean Hughes (tragically recently deceased, R.I.P.) and, two years ago, the late Paul Daniels with Debbie McGee… to name but a few!

Upcoming shows this year with Katy Brand, Arthur Smith, Phil Wang and Jack Dee, are sold out. Tickets for Jack Dee went on sale at 9 a.m. Thursday and were gone in 14 minutes! (I was lucky – got mine at 9.08 a.m.)*&**
*Not so lucky, it’s been cancelled 😦
**Oh wait! It’s back on again, yay! 🙂

Jobs Update

Dreams are for those who sleep… a line from a 1970 song.

My dreams of having riches, fame and adulation handed to me on a plate are on hold as I struggle to get a single interview for any of the jobs I’ve applied for. £30,000+ spent on higher education is clearly a scam but ranting isn’t going to help me in my quest.

I’ve now applied for several jobs where I match at least 80% of the criteria. I haven’t yet been invited for a single interview. In fact, apart from some automated replies, I haven’t even heard from any of the companies or agencies I’ve contacted***. This is the real world, people.
***Update: I had one rejection letter two days after publishing this post – maybe they read it?

So… Where do we go from here? Which is the way that’s clear? (Another song from the ’70s, Def Leppard released their cover version in 2006).

Summary of experience, skills, etc. – film, gaming, media.
Hire me!

I can write and edit scripts and I can shoot and edit film shorts but I do it best in a small team of people with complementary skills. My major focus during five years of higher education was studying films then making films. I learned that specialising in one small element of filmmaking (e.g. focus puller, gaffer, best boy) wasn’t for me. I liked scriptwriting and editing, enjoyed analysing films and video editing (I invested in Final Cut Pro, as recommended on the courses and used by leading film makers, yet all but one of the jobs I’ve considered applying for have required Adobe Premiere Pro experience). This is an interesting link about the ‘best video editing software’.

As a gaming enthusiast, I can evaluate video games and share my opinions via written articles and social media.

My part-time, ad-hoc job has been assisting with ‘internet presence’ for small businesses. Various tasks have included blogging, photography and video shoots, social media posts, updating website content and some graphic design.

I don’t drive therefore I’ve been looking for jobs in London or the towns I can access by train (anywhere north from Kings Cross, though maybe Edinburgh’s a bit far for a daily commute – and I’d have to earn a lot of money just to cover the train ticket). I’m also willing to relocate if it’s part of the package – Edinburgh, Paris, New York, etc.

Looking forward to hearing from all those employers, directors and producers who follow my blog… Ciao!

The 70th Edinburgh Festival Fringe – Comedy

Just returned from the Edinburgh Fringe followed by a couple of days relaxing/writing in the Scottish Highlands (Wetlands!)

In Edinburgh, Robert Webb (of Mitchell & Webb) hurried across the road in front of our car; last time, it was Tim Vine who hastened past. We spent a few minutes in a café, just a few centimetres from Seann Walsh; last time it was Sam Lloyd and the Blanks (Ted from Scrubs and his band).

We had pre-booked tickets for “Whose Line Is It Anyway” with Clive Anderson and a pot luck of guests. In case you’re not familiar with the show, it began in the UK in the 1980s and ran until around 1999 – and is still current in the USA. Its format is ‘improv’ with the audience making suggestions of styles, themes, etc. for the comedy guests to perform within the set criteria. That evening, we saw Greg Proops, Mike McShane, Phill Jupitus & Ruth Bratt (ShowStoppers).

We also went along to one of the free* gigs at The Laughing Horse to see Jimmy McGhie who was recommended to us by a New Zealand stand-up comedian giving out leaflets. A clip from seven years ago  is below – the style of comedy is the same but the routine is, naturally, delivered from a  more mature comedian:

* free, including street acts, are officially free but donations are expected. Imagine if you or a friend can’t get a break and you scrape together some money to buy a pitch, travel to Edinburgh, sleep and eat somewhere… in order to entertain an audience and showcase your comedic talent. Wouldn’t it be great to break even at the very least?

I’m always sad to leave Edinburgh and moving on to the beautiful countryside was a complete contrast. Despite a really slow internet connection, I managed to work on some writing projects.


Paid job status update: haven’t heard from any of the jobs I applied for, not even a ‘no’ but I have found another half a dozen to pitch for…

 

Script Synopsis: Misplaced

The film begins with a black screen. We hear a voice-over (the protagonist, John) informing us that it is just a “normal Monday morning” and that his girlfriend is sick again, before it cuts to a shot of him preparing breakfast. Breakfast seems to be an inedible concoction and it becomes apparent that the character doesn’t know what he is doing and is unable to follow a recipe from the book in front of him.

John then begins searching for something – his glasses. The rest of the film then follows his quest to find his glasses, with the eventual realisation that a zombie outbreak has occurred.

The first shot of the film is a close up of John’s as he prepares his inedible meal. This tells the audience that he has no idea what he is doing due to the absurd collection of ingredients. The shot does well to show us his attempt at cooking, while also not showing his face, thus hiding the fact that he is not wearing glasses until he tells us that he is unsure of what he is doing.

He then starts to look for his glasses, checking his head before, for some reason, checking the cupboard and finally his glasses case. After a short search for his glasses, he heads to the bedroom to ask if his girlfriend has any idea where his glasses are. We get a brief shot of his girlfriend in bed, this shot establishes who he is talking to while also showing us the character and her situation. Upon asking his girlfriend where his glasses might be, he gets no real response but suddenly realises that he might have left them at his place of work.

We then cut to a shot of John walking to work. The shot feels unnecessarily shaky, but soon cuts to a different angle. John then stops to chat to his neighbor, Bob. It is immediately obvious to us that Bob is a zombie, but the near-sighted protagonist remains blissfully unaware as he starts a brief one-sided conversation before walking off. The scene sounds rather muffled due to the wind against the microphone, but all dialogue is still audible.

The next shot is a nice shot of John walking down an empty street, the sun behind him as there is a slight lens flare at the very end of the shot. The use of an empty street does well to establish that things are not as they should be. We then cut to a zombie as John walks past, not even aware of the undead right next to him. He continues walking as we zoom out and pan, an effective shot to keep John in view while also revealing the zombies he is unable to see.

We then cut to a shot of John coming out a lift in his office building as we hear the voice in the lift announce the floor. John walks out of the lift and out of shot as we cut to a door. We can clearly see that the door says “Pull” on it, however, due to his lack of glasses, John attempts to push the door first, unable to get through. It is noteworthy that, despite walking through this door everyday to get to work, John is still unaware of how to open it.

He then enters his office and slips on some paper on the floor. The mess of papers and collapsed chairs, in addition to the flickering lights give us the feeling that something bad has happened while also giving the scene a post-apocalyptic feel.

Once John regains himself, he looks around his desk for his glasses to no avail and heads home without checking the rest of his office. We then cut to outside. A wide shot of John on an empty road as he walks past a group of zombies feasting upon a body. John then drops his keys, the noise alerting the group as they get up to go after him. As the group slowly approaches, John feels around for his keys on the ground and, despite briefly touching them at one point, fails to find them quickly. He finally finds his keys, picks them up and moves on just before the zombies reach him, still unaware, apparently unable to hear the group.

We then cut to a disheartened John as he sits on his sofa in defeat. Once seated John realises that his glasses where there all along and puts them on, laughing at himself. As he leans back, we see his girlfriend. who has now turned into a Zombie. John then slowly turns to look at her as we suddenly cut to black and hear Johns horrified scream. This works to keep up suspense as we don’t know what happens to John, but also helps to save time, effort and money on a scene that would probably include some violence and blood.

We then cut to a shot of John walking around his place of work, a body on the floor reminds us of the trouble. There is some calm music in the background as John talks to us via voice over. We see him say hello to his boss (who is a zombie) and take his laptop. We then cut to black and white as John is walking down a hallway with a final voiceover saying that this was his quest for his glasses during the zombie apocalypse as he then raises his fist in the air in victory as the song quickly changes to a more upbeat song. The black and white of the last shot fits well with the voice over and background music and makes the sudden change to a more upbeat song a humorous surprise ending, making the out-of-place ending fit in quite nicely. The freeze frame ending plays homage to The Breakfast Club (1985, Dir. John Hughes) and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969, Dir. George Roy Hill).


The film can be viewed on the showreel page.