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Film Producing in Wales

Archive for the ‘Meeting People’ Category

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

Ruthlessly Extreme, Relentlessly Upsetting

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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

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

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

You Gotta Go There To Come Back

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I arrived in Berlin a day later than planned. With both Severn bridges closed on Friday, I took the train to Bristol and then a taxi to the airport, as the bus wasn’t running because of the snow. I was sat in the bar when my flight’s status changed from ‘delayed indefinitely’ to ‘cancelled’. A refund was promised, with no alternative flights available. Back to Cardiff via bus and train.

The next day, we caught the lunchtime flight from East Midlands airport over to Berlin and arrived there mid-afternoon, having already missed a meeting with a sales agent, the screening of the only film I planned to see, and meeting up with that film’s director. Sorting out the accreditation was easy, despite my debit card being declined. My inclusion on the list of attendees finally justified.


The market at Berlin is a much more compact version of Cannes. It all takes place in two buildings, and I get the impression that there are a lot fewer people there without business to do. I’ve wandered around Cannes without a real agenda and just taken in the atmosphere, but there didn’t seem to be anyone doing that in Berlin. Turning up here without any meetings or contacts would be a waste of time and money.

Despite missing a day, we had just enough time to do what we needed to do. We met a few sales agents, pitched Avoiding Christian Bale and showed the trailer and some scenes to interested parties. We also met up with the people behind Raindance, and had some advice from the Head of Production at Screen Yorkshire, who happened to be sat next to me on the flight out. From what we were told, I’m hopeful that ACB will have a good run in festivals and has a decent chance of finding an audience in the UK and abroad.

Even though we’re being told independent film is in crisis in terms of both finance and distribution, there seemed to be a lot of business going on in Berlin. Sales agents were more than happy to tell us about the sales they were making, some people were prepared to talk figures and I learned a lot more about what makes a film ‘sellable’. There are people out there to buy your film if you can get it made.

I missed out on both parties that we blagged invites to because of arriving late and leaving quite early, and I left Vivien in Berlin, catching the train back out to the airport late on Monday. My flight to Bristol was delayed, and it seemed like every other passenger on the flight was an extra from Skins returning from a school trip. We were airborne quickly enough, and twenty minutes before we were due to land, the captain announced that because of the snow on the runway at Bristol, we would be redirected… to Cardiff.

A quick taxi ride and I was in bed within an hour of getting off the plane. Einfach klasse.