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Film Producing in Wales

Archive for January 2009

Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage

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I’ve applied to take part in the Engage programme for 2009, it’s like an EAVE for recent graduates, which brings together writers, directors and producers from all over Europe to learn through masterclasses and case studies. I wanted to apply last year, but wasn’t sure if I could get time off from the Cyfle scheme to go if I was selected, plus I didn’t know if I could afford to go either. Luckily, the SSAW are offering bursaries to two students/graduates who might be selected this year, so if I do get selected, some of the costs will be covered. It’s already heavily subsidised, but as it takes place in Dublin, Edinburgh, Tallinn and Helsinki then the travel costs will mount up, in addition to the course fees.

Vivien took part in the Engage course last year, as did Vesa Kuosmanen, who was 1st AD on Avoiding Christian Bale. They both got a lot out of the programme, and if I do get selected, then I hope to meet a lot of people and develop a project I have been working on. The project itself is a drama/thriller inspired by some of the places I visited when on tour with Captain Everything! in 2004, but it’s pretty much just a concept and there’s no writer on board as yet.

I had to submit the project proposal as well as the usual info about myself and a ‘personal motivation letter’. I toyed with adding the sentence “I’d particularly like to go to Tallinn because the women in Estonia are amongst the finest looking in the world”, but these letters aren’t really the place for glib, semi-chauvinistic statements, no matter how truthful they may be.

The sort of support and guidance that this scheme offers is pretty much invaluable, so fingers crossed I’ll get in. I’ve seen the scheme advertised in Screen International this year, and so I would guess the competition will be fierce, but you never know, they might see the potential in my proposal and my application will get through. The deadline has passed, so I’d imagine their sifting through the piles of paper right now.

Wish me luck.

Written by Matthew Redd

January 29, 2009 at 7:15 am

Ich Bin Ein Berliner

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I’ll be heading over to Germany in the first weekend of February for a few days at the Berlin Film Festival*. I’m hoping to meet a lot of new people and see a few people I’ve already met when I’m out there, and it’s another great opportunity to learn more about the industry and raise awareness of the projects that we’re developing at Tornado. I’ve been to Berlin a few times as a tourist and when on tour with bands, and it’s a great city to visit, so I’m looking forward to it. Vivien will be there as well, so I’m sure we’ll be talking about Avoiding Christian Bale with a lot of people, and we plan to take a few scenes with us on DVD to start the sales drive.

If you’re over there yourself, drop me an email.

Following on from this post, the Oscar nominations were obviously announced this week and I’m shocked to see no nomination for Michael Sheen. There’ll be riots on the streets of Port Talbot.

Have a great weekend.

*Notice to Would-be Burglars: I have an extensive CCTV setup running in conjunction with a comprehensive alarm system in my flat. No point even trying.

Welsh Students in Meeting Deadline Shocker

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Despite a reputation for being lazy drunkards, at least a small percentage of the student population in Cardiff have been hard at work writing about the film industry in Wales, and Cardiff specifically, recently. Take a look at these two articles –

Capturing Cardiff by Matt Tozer features interviews with Antony, Karl Francis and serial concept pitcher Iwan Benneyworth.

Melanie Hall’s Lights, Camera, Cardiff! discusses the recent Soundtrack festival and ‘Valleywood‘, and includes interviews with Penny Skuse from the Wales Screen Commission, the Film Agency’s Keith Potter and the delightful star of Avoiding Christian Bale, Amy Morgan. A choice quote from myself also makes it onto the page.

Both articles are worth reading – the post-graduate journalism course at Cardiff has a great reputation and these articles show why.

Regular readers will be glad to know that Role Models is definitely worth watching if you’re a fan of the current wave of American comedy led by Judd Apatow and others.

Holding Back The Tears

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According to The Western Mail, a performance poet from Cardiff has described the omission of Michael Sheen from the BAFTA nominations “another example of anti-Welsh bias”. Michael’s been nominated for three different awards in the past, but is yet to win – whether he cares about it or not, I have no idea. I haven’t seen Frost/Nixon as yet, and to be honest, I think I’ll give it a miss and see Role Models instead. Hopefully that doesn’t make me anti-Welsh.

Imagine if shed lost

Imagine if she'd lost

It’s awards season in the film world. The Oscar nominations are announced soon, and unfortunately Karl Francis’ latest film didn’t make it into the most recent shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Film award. Surprisingly, neither did Gomorrah.

As we know, the voting and nominations in all of these events are hugely influenced by the politics of the various factions within the industry, and of course the internal politics of the organisation hosting the ceremony. The Golden Globes (still weirdly described as “a barometer for potential Oscar contenders” despite rarely picking the same winners) was torn apart by Nikki Finke in her blog, where she described the event as “a completely meaningless awards show by a scandal-riddled organization”. Half the Oscars seem to go to whoever ran the best campaign and it’s been that for a long time.

That said, I look forward to any nominations for awards that I might receive in the future, regardless of who is dishing them out. Hopefully being a Welshman won’t stand in my way.

Written by Matthew Redd

January 16, 2009 at 4:56 pm

It’s Not What You Know

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On the last day of shooting Avoiding Christian Bale, I was chatting to James, the lead actor while making myself useless on the set. James is from a small town just outside North London, and coincidentally I have a few friends who live in the area, people I met when I was an idealistic and wide-eyed punk rocker. We started talking music, and it emerged that we actually had a lot of mutual friends. Not only that, but James’ brother was the drummer in My Dad Joe, a lightning fast skatepunk band.

When I ran a record label, I released My Dad Joe’s debut album (not altogether successfully for a number of reasons). I’d never met James before and I’m pretty sure his brother had left the band before the album was recorded, but I met him a few times at gigs in London, Cardiff and in other venues around the UK’s toilet circuit. Considering I only released 11 records in total, I thought this was quite a coincidence.

A couple of the guys from My Dad Joe went on to form Gallows after the band split up, and Gallows seem to be pretty popular at the moment. One of them left the new band before it all kicked off for them though. I have a feeling that I was at Gallows’ first ever gig, in a youth centre-type place in Watford. My memory isn’t great though, and so that might not be true.

People, or at least the media, in Wales are very keen on latching onto any minor connection that a celebrity has with the country and then claiming the celebrity as their own. I’m not claiming My Dad Joe, or Gallows, for Wales of course. But well done to this Bangor University graduate for winning some film award.

In other Welsh film news, Matt Freeth has started a blog. Let’s hope he updates it more often than Hooperman.

Written by Matthew Redd

January 13, 2009 at 12:22 pm

New Year’s Revolution

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Back in the office after the Christmas break. I now have an A4 length ‘To Do List’ to contend with, but it feels good to look at all the possibilities for 2009.

2008 was a varied year for me, and I learned a lot. I started off the year a third of the way through my Cyfle traineeship, and started working at the Wales Screen Commission. Before long, I was working on Caerdydd at Fiction Factory (I wrote the English language text on the Caerdydd site among other things), then Herio’r Ddraig at Calon and on the Pleasure Park short for It’s My Shout. I also had a few weeks on a feature called ‘Ours’ with Steve Sullivan, which was frankly a disaster for me. Hopefully it wasn’t so bad for everyone else who was working on it.

I also managed another trip out to Cannes and some office work at Boom Films before completing my traineeship and taking a full-time job here at Tornado. December was spent shooting Avoiding Christian Bale (web site coming soon), my first film in a producer’s role. When I was sat in the Screen Commission pixellating dogs’ heads, I didn’t think I’d be able to say that by the end of the year.

My only real disappointment of the year was not meeting Scarlett Johansson, and of course Cardiff City losing in the FA Cup final.

My single resolution for the new year is to try and learn as much in ’09 as I did in ’08. I’m not entirely sure that it really counts as a resolution. I’m not going to bother with a crash diet or anything like that.

2009 is the year of the digital revolution. We’ll be shooting a feature on our new camera over the summer, and we’ve got lots of other plans which will be announced soon if everything works out well. Post on ‘ACB’ is already in full swing, workshops for the musical are about to start and we’ve got fingers, pies, irons and fires coming out of our ears.  Now there’s a cocktail of metaphors.

Happy New Year. Have a great 2009.