Make It Happen

Film Producing in Wales

Archive for May 2009

Five Completely Unrelated Pieces of Information

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I haven’t had time to update this week, and as of tomorrow I’ll be offline for a while, so here’s a short post to keep the blog awake.

  • Screenwriters take note – if you have a feature screenplay, you’ve got a few days before the deadline of Final Draft’s Big Break contest, and if you have a TV script, then there’s a few weeks to polish it before the Peter Ustinov deadline.
  • Hollywood is awash with superhero films at the moment, but here‘s a trailer for one you won’t be seeing in cinemas, or anywhere else for that matter.  Digital is making anything possible.
  • From Hollywood to Wales, for Shannen Doherty at least.  Good luck to the Welsh filmmakers behind this – this project has been around for a while and it looks like it’s getting off the ground.
  • The Film Agency for Wales is still looking for applications to co-finance a short film scheme in Wales.  They have £50k on offer – I don’t know if they’ve had (m)any tenders, but let’s hope so, as Wales needs more than just It’s My Shout for short film directors to find their voice.

I’ll be back next week.

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The Lady From Swansea

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Sunday night saw the BAFTA Cymru awards ceremony (full list of winners is here), and the Special Award for for oustanding contribution for film, television and new media was presented to Margaret John.  As I’ve previously mentioned, Margaret appeared in my short film 17.  I approached Margaret having never met her or even spoken to her before, and asked her to play the role of Gwen, the grandmother who has been beaten up in a vicious mugging in the film. I can remember how much of a boost it was to myself and Jamie when she said yes.  Pre-production was hectic and rushed, and knowing Margaret was on board gave us both a huge lift.

A still from the set of 17 by Garfield Richards – Margaret and Chris Conway together, an image that doesn’t appear in the film itself.  Congratulations, Margaret, and thank you.

Christopher Conway & Margaret JohnOh yeah, the title was an attempt at a pun on the Orson Welles’ Rita Hayworth film The Lady From Shanghai, which is apparently being remade by Wong Kar Wai.  I suppose it was marginally less obscure than some of my other titles.

Written by Matthew Redd

May 20, 2009 at 7:47 am

What’s Wrong With Your Scars, Sarah?

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A quick advert for a film event in Cardiff that’s worth buying a ticket for. There’s going to be two screenings of Summer Scars, the fourth and latest feature film from Julian Richards at Chapter next month. There’s some more details and a link to buy tickets online here.

Julian is a widely respected filmmaker originally from Newport, who now also runs the quickly growing sales agency Jinga Films, and so has a wealth of experience and knowledge of the world of low budget film and how to survive in it. Both screenings will be accompanied by a Q&A so you can pitch your questions to Julian.

As an added bonus, the screening will also feature the short film Gone Fishing by Chris Jones of Living Spirit Pictures, well known as one of the authors of the Guerilla Filmmakers series of books. I believe that Chris will also be taking part in the Q&A, so there will be two filmmakers who know the British microbudget world inside out for you to quiz. This is a must attend event if you want to learn about the craft.

I’ve nothing to add, other than Summer Scars features the acting talent of Christopher Conway, who was our lead in 17. Here’s one of Garfield Richards‘ promo shots of Chris for 17.

Christopher Conway

Written by Matthew Redd

May 13, 2009 at 7:45 am

If We Knew What We Were Doing, It Wouldn’t Be Called Research

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Back with Avoiding Christian Bale, and we held our third and (most likely) final test screening this week – I definitely think it’s a better cut than the one we had at the previous screening. Bosses from Boomerang were there, which was a little nerve wracking as it was the first time they’d seen the film, and as they’re the ones who put the money into it, we want them to be happy with it. Vivien will soon be moving to Spain to take part in the Media Business School’s Mega Plus programme, so I’ll be running things at this end for a while on the film, but the majority of the work behind the scenes is done now. Distribution-wise, we’ve had interest from sales agents and distributors, but until we complete the film there’s not much more to do there.

ACBstill

As with previous screenings, the majority of people we chose to attend the screening were members of our target audience – people aged 18-30 who have graduated from university or are still studying. People aged between 15 and 34 make up 59% of the cinema audience in the UK (some info on this is here), and fairly recent research suggests that 37% of people aged between 25 and 34 in the UK have graduated from university. This suggests to me that an awful lot of cinema goers in the UK can relate to the student experience, and seeing as our film is firmly entrenched in that culture, we should have a market to aim for.

What this also leads to me wonder is why we don’t have a thriving ‘college movie’ genre in this country. Despite being pretty hard to watch, the 2007 British comedy I Want Candy actually grossed £730,452 theatrically in the UK after opening on 250 screens, so there’s a recent example of the genre working successfully here. So why don’t we have more of these films being produced here?

You Just Can’t Stay Seventeen Forever

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17promo1

’17’ is finished. The short film that I shot back in September 2007 has now been completed, and I’m about to run off a load of DVDs to send out to the cast & crew, along with my thanks for their patience. I’m sure a lot of them had written off the prospects of seeing this film a long time ago.

The online & grade in Mwnci went as smoothly as I could have hoped, unfortunately Jamie couldn’t make it and so I took Matt with me. There were a lot of problems of our own making, ranging from missing footage to incorrect timecode (and everything in between), but Al did a fantastic job with the grade – the film now looks as bleak as its dramatic content. It’s a tough film to watch, but hopefully for the right reasons. There’s kids getting up to some pretty nasty things, it’s no American Graffiti.

There’s obviously things in the film that I would change, but considering we completed it nineteen months after we shot it, I’m very happy with the final result. A lot of the plot is based around happy slapping, and while we’ve lost an element of topicality as these days it’s knife crime that occupies British youth, it’s still a relevant parable on the cycle of violence that asks questions about today’s society.

The picture is of Christopher Conway, the lead in the film, taken by our stills photographer Garfield Richards. Chris did a fantastic job alongside Sean Bridgeman, Erin Richards and other great young actors we met at Atsli Casting. There’s also a strong performance from Gavin & Stacey’s Margaret John, in a role that’s in huge contrast to her recent TV comedy appearances, opposite Cardiff theatre legend Michael Kelligan, both of whom were an absolute pleasure to work with.

Some stills from the film soon. I’m off to copy some DVDs and finish typing in the information into shortfilmdepot.