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.

 

 

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.

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…


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.

Filming: Misplaced

On the First day of filming, the crew met up to get the equipment and head to the filming location. Once we arrived at the location, I helped set up the equipment. We set up the camera and sound while looking over the script and storyboard a few times. One of us then left to meet our actors to show them the way to the location while the rest of us continued to set up.

Once both the actors arrived, the producer prepped them for filming and went over what they had to do. While this was going on, I checked the equipment, making sure everything worked and that you could see and hear what was being filmed. Once everyone was satisfied, we started filming.

The scenes we shot had a few sounds that we wanted to focus on. For example, we wanted the audience to be able to clearly hear the main character cracking eggs on the side of a bowl, or, in a different shot, the shells hitting the bin. The scene had a few things going on, so I needed to get the sound for the main character performing tasks and his voice.

The second day of filming; I met up with the crew on location before the actor arrived to set up and test the equipment for the scene. We shot the scene from multiple angles, hoping to edit them together. As my job was sound, I had to make sure we were able to hear the dialogue in the scene, a task that had a hurdle in the form of the wind. The microphone picked up the sound of the wind, so I had to make sure the actor’s voice was comprehendible.

On the Third day of filming, we all met on location. The scene had the main character walking past zombies as they groaned and ate a person, as well as the main character dropping his keys, all of which produced sounds I needed to capture, I also suggested a few camera angles.

On the fourth day we all met on location once again, we recorded the scenes in which the main character goes into his office to look for his keys as well as the epilogue in which we see that he has come to terms with his situation and adapted to it. In addition to setting up, I recorded sounds such as doors, footsteps, zombie groans, papers, I then went on to help edit the footage.

On the fifth day, I helped edit the footage and we-write a portion of the script for the actor to read as a voice over, which I then directed and recorded. In editing, I was influential in insisting on moving the prologue to the ending as I felt it made more narrative sense, I also came up with the style of the ending.

On the sixth day, I helped finish the editing process, adding in the voice over and some music and the credits while fine tuning what we already had.