Make It Happen

Film Producing in Wales

Archive for March 2009

Your Weakness is Disgusting to Me

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We held a test screening of Avoiding Christian Bale last Friday night – the second we’ve had. It’s really interesting watching the film with an audience, and as it’s a comedy, waiting to see what sort of laughs the jokes get is one of the most interesting parts. Ultimately, though, we’re holding the screenings to identify weaknesses in how the story unfolds, and solve any plot problems that might arise. We’ve learned a lot about what sort of film we have from doing this. So far, I think it’s charming and funny, and definitely a Welsh/British version of the popular American indie cinema championed by festivals like Sundance and Slamdance. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, and it’s still a work in progress, but I reckon we’re on our way.

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Making a low/no budget comedy is a real challenge, but it can be a stepping stone to much bigger things for a writer/director. April 24th sees the UK release of Observe & Report, the second feature from Jody Hill, and the follow up to The Foot Fist Way. ‘Foot Fist’ was made in a similar way to ACB, though they’re two very different films, but it’s encouraging to see the cult status that film attained (as it’s certainly not to everyone’s taste and I think it has its flaws) and how Hill’s career is taking off. It obviously helps that he’s now mates with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.

Back in Blighty but still with comedy, the second series of The Inbetweeners starts on E4 on Thursday night. I recently re-watched the first series, and it was actually much funnier the second time around, and I’m looking forward to the new series. It’s a puerile ‘American Pie’ style sitcom set in a secondary school, and it’s both very well written and well cast. Lead actor Simon Bird also has a future in stand up – check out this series, as we can still do sitcom in Britain.

Finally, congratulations to the good people of Fiction Factory Films, as their series Y Pris has won Best Drama at the Celtic Media Festival.

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It’s a Hard Way to Earn an Easy Living

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If you’ve written a feature length screenplay and need some feedback to help you write the next draft, you’re in the right place.  I’m now offering script reports to writers for a very reasonable (some might say cheap) price.  All the information you might need is on my Script Reading Services page, and you can also email me with any other questions.

The masterclass on Abraham’s Point was really interesting.  The film’s writer/director, Wyndham Price, was extremely honest and open with everything, and many of the things he said really hit home with me.  He’s passionate about what he does, and it’s hard not to admire his persistance and dedication to film – he spoke about everything from struggling to make a living to his own self-doubt and personal frustration.  The panel discussions weren’t without humour either, mostly thanks to the chair Ed Thomas and also Wyndham’s own fondness for using expletives to illustrate a point.

The ‘hard way to earn an easy living’ line is often used in poker circles to describe the life of the professional gambler, but you can apply it to anyone trying to maintain a career in the ‘creative industries’, particularly film, as to many people outside of the industry, the media looks glamorous and not really ‘real work’ (and sometimes they might be right).  It ties in nicely with the old ‘time is money’ cliche as well, because in order to find the time to write or shoot short films, you’re probably going to have to work a day job and your spare time becomes so valuable because of its limitations.

If you’re an aspiring writer, you also need time to develop your own style, to mature as a writer and thus ‘find your voice’.  I wrote a screenplay when I was 18 – the only one I’ve ever written (it’s not very good, as you might imagine).  I think you need to live some life in order to have something to say, and at 18, I didn’t know an awful lot about anything.  Sometimes I doubt I know much about anything now, and it was reassuring to hear at the masterclass that I’m not the only one who feels that way.  In an industry that is so hard to break into, you need to do it because you love it, persevere and keep believing in yourself.  It might take a long time, so be prepared and be pro-active.

There should be another session with filmmakers in April, I’ll post details here when they’ve been announced.

West is Best

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The Western Mail is reporting that “Pembrokeshire could star in last Harry Potter film”,  which might be the sort of breakthrough performance the county needs to establish itself among the A-list of Welsh actors.  In other film news vaguely linked to West Wales, the SSAW are running a free ‘masterclass’ this weekend with many of the people behind Abraham’s Point, a film in which Mackenzie Crook, of ‘The Office’ fame, travels from London to West Wales in the company of a clock.  I’m yet to see the film, so I’m glad that the masterclass will be preceded by a screening of the film itself this Friday night.  It all takes place in the Atrium in Cardiff, more information is here if you’re interested in going.

We held a test screening of Avoiding Christian Bale last weekend.  The results are being analysed and there will be a new cut of the film completed in the coming weeks.

As expected, there hasn’t been much movement on the job front as yet, but it’s early days.  A relocation to West Wales is not on the agenda.

Written by Matthew Redd

March 18, 2009 at 11:25 am

To Perform Like Linford…

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… You’ve got to think like Linford, as the old television commercial used to say.  I’ve been updating the CV and emailing & ringing around friends and former colleagues.  Oh, and applying for a couple of jobs.  Hopefully something will come up sooner rather than later.

A couple of articles worth reading here, particularly if you’re a screenwriter.  The first is titled Is Breaking Into Hollywood So Tough? and it’s by Doug Chamberlin.  Doug gives us an interesting perspective on what aspiring professional screenwriters might be going through when considering the odds of success in Hollywood.   If you need to put a positive spin on any situation that you might be in, Doug is the man to do it for you.  Timely for me.

The second article is definitely worth reading if you’re a fan of Indiana Jones, or interested in the screenwriting process within Hollywood.   Titled The Raiders Story Conference, it’s a commentary from a popular blog on a transcript from a meeting that’s recently surfaced on the internet.  I haven’t read the transcript yet (and I’m not sure how safe the link to it is, to be honest,), but I’ve been reading the extracts and the notes on the extracts from the blogger, and it’s fascinating.  The thought processes behind the story and characters in Raiders are all here – it’s brilliant.

I am also optimistic for City’s playoff (or even automatic promotion) chances – if there’s one example of a positive mental attitude out there, it’s this man.  Bluebirds.

Written by Matthew Redd

March 10, 2009 at 5:51 pm

Your Friend Is Quite A Mercenary

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I had an unexpected phone call on Tuesday morning – it turns out Tornado is letting me go. It was the employer/employee version of the old ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ speech.

So I’m now available for hire. In terms of Film/TV work, I’ve worked in a few different office roles during production, and I’m willing to do any of those. I’ve also trained in script development and can offer script reports at a reasonable rate, and ultimately a development job would suit me. I’m not sure which companies in Wales even have development departments, if any. I’m happy to send my CV out if you’d like to see it, just email me.

Obviously, I’m still developing my own film projects, but none are at the stage of applying for development funding as yet, so I’m going to have to pay the bills somehow, and welcome the experience of working on different projects with new people.

Obviously I won’t be contributing to the Tornado blog once I’ve left the company, but I’m going to keep this blog going.

Written by Matthew Redd

March 5, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Posted in Film Industry

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Mining Wales for New Film Talent

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Tornado Films has launched The Coalface Slate, which is designed to put us in touch with new Welsh writers and directors who want to make their first feature film. We’re planning to develop a slate of projects that can be shot in Wales on low budgets, so if you’re a writer with a project, or a director looking for one, then visit the web site for more information on how to get involved.

Written by Matthew Redd

March 2, 2009 at 1:14 pm