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Film Producing in Wales

Archive for the ‘Meeting People’ Category

There’s No Such Thing As A Free Launch

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Just in time for the Berlin Film Festival, we’ve launched the new web site for Avoiding Christian Bale. There you can see a trailer for the film, have a look at it and let us know what you think.

Christian Bale himself has obviously been in the news this week. This remix is quickly becoming more and more popular. Please don’t click these links if you’re offended by bad language, as Mr Bale hasn’t shown a great deal of restraint here.

Will be in Berlin on Friday. We have a few meetings booked, at least one film to see, and hopefully a few drinks with friends old and new.


Written by Matthew Redd

February 5, 2009 at 8:00 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.

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

Jesus is Coming, Look Busy

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As Jesus’ birthday gets closer, we’re into the last week of principal photography of Avoiding Christian Bale. Our production designers Ben and Hollie have been carefully collecting and storing props and art from the shoot in case we need to re-shoot anything later on. Hopefully we won’t.

Hide from an A list actor with this handy prop

Hide from an A list actor with this handy prop

The time has gone by pretty quickly, as has the whole of 2008 for me. This time last year, I was finishing work on a Welsh language Christmas film called Rhestr Nadolig Wil, as a trainee on the Cyfle film scheme. It was my first placement on the scheme and it seems like a heck of a long time ago now. I’ve learned a lot about the industry since then, not just about how to do your job, but also about the politics that envelop it all. The old adage of ‘it’s not what you know…’ is what everyone gets told when you start out, and there’s an element of truth to it. If people don’t know you, how can they give you a job? Or fund your film? Or recommend you to someone else who might do either for you?

Networking is vital, but nothing is more vital than working hard when you do get yourself into the position where you might impress someone. People will notice if you work hard, turn up on time and treat other people with respect. They’ll also notice if you don’t do those things, and you don’t want anyone to remember you because of that. You can make up for a lack of knowledge with commitment and motivation.

When I was training, there were times when I felt like I had nothing to do, so I would try and find things to get on with, or (if I thought it appropriate) ask other people about their job and what they were doing. I learned a lot that way. I also learned a lot by listening to all the other phone calls that came into the production offices I was in. Sometimes I was expected to know what other people had said in conversations I wasn’t involved in, so you have permission to eavesdrop.

You’ll sometimes make mistakes. Try and learn from them, and learn from other people’s mistakes while you’re at it. That will save you a lot of time in the long run.

Cyfle have launched a new film scheme, which started this month. Well done to all the new entrants to the industry who’ve been selected for it, and good luck for the future.

Tonight, I’ll be in Cineworld for the screening of Rhestr Nadolig Wil before it airs on S4C. The latest in Boom Films’ Micro Movies series, it was produced by Jon Williams, and directed by Daf Wyn, who has actually written some Batman comics. I should put some sort of Christian Bale/Dark Knight type gag here to tie it all up, but sadly nothing springs to mind.

Written by Matthew Redd

December 16, 2008 at 10:47 am

No Sacrifice, No Victory

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We’re into week 2 – today the editor starts cutting from the first batch of tapes, so we can get an idea of how it’s all looking. There’s not much scope in the schedule to go back and re-shoot any scenes, but editing this way is going to give us some sort of perspective of how it’s all turning out.

This post isn’t about ‘Avoiding Christian Bale’, however. I want to say congratulations to Mr Keith Lynch. Keith is a fellow graduate of the Film course at Aberystwyth, and this weekend he and his team won The Big Pitch, an almost X Factor style competition to win funding and support to shoot a microbudget feature. This means that Keith and the boys are now financed to shoot their psychological thriller Different Shades of Graham.

I have a lot of respect for Keith as he’s always working hard shooting films, writing scripts or making music videos. I believe that good luck comes to those who work hard, and he deserves this. I also tip him to be the next Michael Bay, as he has a penchant for action blockbusters and event movies, and the ambition and drive to make it happen for himself. You read it here first.

I know that Keith and co. enjoy a beer and I’m looking forward to buying a round when I see them next. Good luck Keith, David, Si and Brad with the film – I can’t wait to see it.

Back to work, it’s mad here.

Written by Matthew Redd

December 8, 2008 at 3:55 pm

Pitch Perfect

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When I was studying for my MA, the Screen Academy ran a pitching competition with three equal first prizes of an all expenses paid trip to the Cannes Film Festival. Entrants were required to pitch a film idea to an industry panel and also explain why they felt they would benefit from the experience of going to Cannes. The second part didn’t seem like it would be too difficult – the first part, though, would be the nerve-wracking bit.

Pitching, like networking, is one of those necessary evils of the creative industries, and as writer or producer, you’ll find yourself pitching ideas to various people a lot of the time. The good news, though, is that you can learn to do it. Here’s a few things I’d consider to be words of wisdom that I’ve had passed on to me.

There’s no Winner and Loser

If you’re in a meeting with someone who is taking the time to listen to your pitch, it’s either win/win or lose/lose. You’re not competing against each other. The person listening to your pitch is most likely going to want to like your project just as much as you do – nobody wants to waste their time. Be confident and enthusiastic and have belief in your project, because they’re going to want to believe in it, too.

Know Your Audience

Who are you pitching to? What do they want from your meeting with them? What sort of projects are they interested in? If you do your research, you hopefully won’t be wasting their time, or yours. Tailoring your pitch for the situation is essential, but be true to your story/project. Pitching something that you think your audience wants (instead of what your project really is) might lead to problems if a relationship develops around the project.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it definitely makes progress. You’re only going to get better at it if you do it, so pitch your projects whenever you get the chance, as long as you think it’s appropriate.

I’m no expert on pitching. This bloke is, though, and google is your friend.

So what about the competition? Well, I pitched ‘Bangkok Jigsaw’, a thriller about a Welsh lawyer who flies to Thailand to investigate the murder of his backpacker daughter. With hindsight, I’m amazed I didn’t get tongue-tied and call the film ‘Bangkok Chickboy’, which seems to roll off the tongue quite easily. I wasn’t deterred by the fact that I’d made up the plot the night before, and tried to be as confident as I could.

The idea seemed to impress this nice man and this lovely lady, and a few weeks later I was on a plane headed for France with a wallet full of business cards and a brain full of big ideas.

Written by Matthew Redd

November 14, 2008 at 2:10 pm

Just Do It

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Yesterday, I met David Semel, a producer and director working in Hollywood. I was with four other aspiring producers and writers, and together we spent close to three hours talking about David’s work, our own work and the industry. It’s not often that someone who has directed episodes of Beverly Hills 90210, Buffy, and the pilot of Heroes is sat opposite you, and I tried to make the most of the opportunity.

Sometimes, I think that when I meet people like this, or attend courses or events, something is going to strike me like a bolt of lightning and I’m suddenly going to realise how my career is going to pan out. Of course, this hasn’t happened (yet), but there’s one piece of advice that I always seem to hear.

“Just do it.”

David was telling us about a group of filmmakers who are out there, doing it. We talked about the changes in technology – both the digital versus film debate and the future of distribution and television drama formats. We listened to the casting choices behind ‘Heroes’, how agents package projects and the TV drama pitching quagmire. We discussed Welsh identity, the language and Wales on film. As always, the importance of networking (and how hard it can be to do) was high on the agenda.

While meeting David was enjoyable and even inspiring, there was no bolt of lightning. You can read as many books, attend as many courses and meet as many people working in the industry as you can, but ultimately, you just have to do it. Write screenplays, shoot films, edit footage. There’s no excuse anymore – a basic camera setup and home computer editing suite has never been more affordable. Learn your trade and hone your talent.

Possibly the most important thing that David said was that “good work will shine through”. Get out there and do some good work. Just do it.

Written by Matthew Redd

November 4, 2008 at 1:15 pm