Make It Happen

Film Producing in Wales

Archive for April 2009

Paying Peanuts, But Getting Mwnci

leave a comment »

The line up for the films in competition at Cannes was announced today. I don’t think I’ll make it to Cannes this year – I was lucky enough to have my two previous trips paid for, the first after winning a pitch competition at the Screen Academy and then last year’s trip paid by CYFLE as part of my film traineeship. I never took too much notice of the films in competition in honesty – I was more interested in checking out the market, the pavilions and the various events that go on. Anyway, this year’s competition sees entries from respected Europeans including Pedro and Ken, and also the latest from Quentin – let’s hope it’s a return to form after the miserable Death Proof, which had only one scene that I’d consider vintage Tarantino. The full list of competition films is out there if you google.

Next week, I’ll be at Mwnci in Cardiff for the online edit and grade of my short film ’17’, a revenge tale set in a tough South Wales neighbourhood. Time has flown – we actually shot the film in September 2007, but the week following the shoot was my first week as a CYFLE trainee, and I’ve worked solidly since, so getting the time to finish the film has been difficult. Jamie (the writer/director) moved to London soon after the offline edit (he’s currently working on this), and we didn’t actually have the money raised to finish the film until August 2008, thanks to a bursary from the Screen Academy Wales. Kate @ Mwnci has shown us a great amount of support and I’m truly grateful.

We did have time to complete the sound mix late last year, thanks to a great deal from Curig Huws at Streetlevel Studios. I can’t recommend Curig’s services for your audio post-production highly enough, he’s more than happy to advise you on what you might need and how to make your budget work for you. If you’ve got a short in the works, give him a ring.

So, this time next week, I should have the short completed in glorious HD. Then we hit the festivals – we’re too late for Cannes now, but there’s lots more coming up.

The Pilot Could Take Us Anywhere We Want

with one comment

img_0492

Thanks to those of you who have said nice things to me regarding my acting. Shooting it wasn’t actually as much fun as I expected it to be – the people who do this sort of thing for real certainly have a unique talent, it’s really hard work. For our parody, the director Paul would give me a word, e.g. ‘holistic’, or a direction, like telling the director/vision mixer (I don’t know how they crew these things) that we’re going to change camera, and then I would just have to make up the words as we went along. I think I’ll try and stay off screen in the future, and leave the idea of a web series based on the character in a locked drawer.

Speaking of web series, the internet is now being used to pilot ideas cheaply, and it’s worth looking into if you’ve got ideas that you can shoot yourself. Before many television drama and comedy series are commissioned, a pilot will be shot and often broadcast in order to gauge if the series will work, and if it has an audience. It’s quite a different process in the UK compared with the USA, where Pilot Season is an annual event – this article is old, but it explains how it works over there. Now though, shooting digitally and broadcasting online, a low-budget web series is a great way to pilot an idea off your own back. An example is Svengali, written by Dean Cavanagh and starring Welsh actor Jonathan Lewis Owen. Have a look at the episodes – the format is very simple and easily shot on a microbudget. The writing and the performances have to sell the idea – there’s no production value (aside from celebrity cameos) to hide behind here.

If you’re interested in what makes a good pilot, it’s worth starting by looking at the script. Thanks to a link found on John August’s blog (coincidentally, check out John’s web series pilot The Remants), you can find a huge library of scripts for US pilots (some successful, and some not) by clicking here. There’s pilots for The Wire, Alias, and also the Heroes pilot, directed by David Semel.

Derek is definitely not going to end up in a pilot. Honest.

Why Are You Trashing My Scene?

with one comment

As anticipated, the forthcoming London Olympics will have an effect on the British film industry РScreen International is reporting that the UK Film Council is facing a $33m (£22m) cut in lottery funding over the next five years. In Wales, the Film Agency has already had a 21% cut in funding, attributed to various factors, including the London Olympics and declining sales of lottery tickets, as previously reported in Screen.

But it’s Easter, and instead of doom and gloom, here’s an egg-related piece of footage to cheer you up. I’m not an actor, and to prove it I even have an ‘E’ grade at A level Drama (though the highest grade anyone in my class received was a ‘D’ and the teacher mysteriously ‘retired’ that summer), but for some unknown reason, I was the first choice to play Derek Entwhistle, host of the Armchair Shopping Network, in Avoiding Christian Bale.

Paul has uploaded some of the footage, much of which will make it into the final cut of the film, displayed on a televsion screen in the background of a couple of scenes.

Watch it here. Feel free to laugh with me, or at me. Happy Easter.

Written by Matthew Redd

April 9, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Ruthlessly Extreme, Relentlessly Upsetting

leave a comment »

As promised in an earlier post, here are the details of the final free masterclass being held in the Atrium later this month. Some of the guests as yet to be confirmed, but definitely amongst them will be James Watkins, writer/director of the British horror/thriller (?) Eden Lake (not the James Watkins who used to play trumpet and incite football violence onstage with Shootin’ Goon). No, this James Watkins is a film professional and also had a hand in the screenplay for My Little Eye, the Hollywood debut for Wales’ talisman director Marc Evans.

Eden Lake was produced by the recent Oscar winner Christian Colson, alongside Richard Holmes, who has himself lectured at the Screen Academy previously. Hopefully, Richard will have time to return for this masterclass as he’s well worth listening to. Like the two previous events, the masterclass will be preceded the night before by a screening of the film, which received positive reviews. I’d imagine it will do well on DVD though, and it’s available to rent now.

This all happens on Fri 24th/Sat 25th April in the Atrium, Cardiff. More info should soon be online here.

Written by Matthew Redd

April 3, 2009 at 3:58 pm