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Film Producing in Wales

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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

My, What a Gripping Life You Do Lead

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Not much point talking Oscars, as everyone has said everything that needs saying by now. Obviously, well done to Christian Colson and everyone involved in the success of his film.

I’ve been a bit slack on the blog front recently, though not as slack as Freeth, who incidentally has just posted his monthly update. I want to try and post more opinion and less ‘diary’ type entries on this blog, and will make an effort to do so – I’m trying to find the balance really. As per usual, it’s been another busy week, but I have found the time to test out another social networking tool – twitter. I’m not sure how useful it will be for me as yet, but feel free to let me know what you think as I haven’t really sussed it out.

Things are really getting going with the musical, and we’re currently looking for locations as one location will be pivotal to the story, while the workshops are continuing and the casting process is on the way. We’ve brought in Steven Harris, a choreographer from London with a lot of West End & touring experience, and he’s been putting the kids through their paces. Those who don’t make it into the production should have benefited a lot from working with Steve.

My application for the Engage programme was rejected. I asked for feedback and got no response. They’re either very busy, or avid blog readers who have me pegged as a male chauvinist pig.

I’ve also been tidying up some paperwork on Avoiding Christian Bale, whilst the rough cut is being reviewed ready for the next stage.

I’m hoping to bring some news of the short film I shot with ‘award-winning director’ Jamie Bolton back in september 2007, as it looks like we will be grading it in glorious HD soon. It will be fantastic to finally have the film finished and start submitting it to festivals – it’s been a long, drawn out process mostly due to my work commitments, and Jamie moving to London to work for Working Title. Of course, congratulations are due to Jamie and ACB director Paul Howard Allen, as the short film ‘Triple Word’ (they co-directed) won the Best Post Graduate Fiction award at this year’s Ffresh festival.

That’s my week in words.

Actress Wanted, Apply Within

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It’s been a busy week so far. Aside from wrestling with this program (only because of Vista compatibility issues), there’s been a lot to do, including script breakdowns, scheduling, and feedback meetings with writers.

There’s still a lot of work to do on Avoiding Christian Bale, and it’s amazing to see that we’ve had over 1,000 views of the trailer already, despite only really spreading the word to friends, colleagues and people involved with the production. Hopefully this will continue and we can build up a great buzz on the film.

The big thing this week for us at Tornado was the announcement of the open auditions for the role of ‘Janey’ in ‘Summertime’, the musical film that we plan to shoot in the summer. In the story, Janey is about to turn 30 and has three kids. The character that Neil has conjured up is the type I imagine many actresses would love to play – she has depth and personality, and faces real challenges throughout her journey. The starring role.

If you’re an actress who might fit the bill (or you know someone who might be), then sign up through the Tornado web site, and see the Facebook event here. Nia can organise your audition time. Don’t worry if you’ve never acted (or sung) in a film before – if you believe in your ability then we want to hear from you.

Lots of workshops/auditions over the weekend, so the work will continue on into next week.

Written by Matthew Redd

February 20, 2009 at 7:45 am

Location Location Location

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Day 11 of ‘Avoiding Christian Bale’, almost the end of week 2. Yesterday, we were slightly ahead of schedule, and so added a dolly shot which we spent a lot of the morning setting up and then shooting. I watched a few takes and was genuinely impressed with James and Gareth‘s performances, and with the shot itself. Well done to Nick and Keith.

Yesterday, Owain Gillard from the Wales Screen Commission paid a visit to the set. Owain and Penny at the Commission were very helpful whilst we were in prep, including organising recces to potential locations, introducing us to location owners and offering advice when we needed it. It was good to have Owain on set to see exactly how we’re shooting the film, as he’s been involved with the project from early on. Together with Vivien, we talked about how we put the whole thing together, and how we’ve saved money in certain places by writing a story around what we have, and what we can afford to buy.

Paul set himself the challenge of writing a feature-length script set in only two interior locations. Ultimately, locations are what cost you money when shooting. Not only because, for many locations, you’ll have to pay a fee to use them (blag what you can, because you never know), but because each new location brings a set of problems that will cost you $$$. Moving locations and crew takes time which isn’t spent on camera. You’ll need vehicles (which in turn need fuel) to move everyone & everything, and if you’re shooting outside, you’re at the mercy of the weather and sunlight. Time is money in a number of ways, and I’m sure you can think of plenty of others.

On the flipside, spectacular locations can ramp up the production values of any microbudget film, and can inspire original, creative stories. Some of these places won’t even cost you anything to use. If you’re looking for ideas or inspiration on your doorstep, just click here.

Our challenge is to tell an engaging story set in what are essentially two nondescript Cardiff homes. Sometime next year, you’ll be able to judge if we managed to do it.

Written by Matthew Redd

December 12, 2008 at 11:43 am

The End of the Beginning

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We’re in the final week of pre-production on ‘Avoiding Christian Bale’, the microbudget comedy that I’m co-producing alongside Vivien Muller-Rommel. I haven’t mentioned this in the blog before as I’m a strong believer in not jinxing things, but now it’s out there in the blogosphere.

It’s been a lot of work and long hours, but it’s a very exciting time to be working in this office. Everything is coming together and a lot is happening at once. Tomorrow, the small cast will be in the studio downstairs in rehearsals, various contracts should be finalised and a courier will deliver some crates of fizzy drinks from one of our kind sponsors. It’s all go.

The script was written by Paul Howard Allen, who is also directing. Paul has made a couple of shorts, including this and this, but ‘ACB’ is his first feature. It’s a big learning curve not just for Paul, but for everyone, and there’s definitely a good team spirit already. The film’s being produced through Vivien’s own company 33Story, with the support of Boomerang, but there’s a strong representation from Tornado, with Antony being the executive producer and Nia the script supervisor. See Nia’s blog post on the NFTS course she attended if that’s a job that interests you.

In case you’re wondering what the title is all about, it comes from the rhyming slang for failing university degrees that pops up in the script. The two male characters rhyme ‘fail’ with ‘Christian Bale’, and thus the title. In more Dark Knight star-related trivia, both Christian and I were born in the same quiet Welsh town.

We start shooting on Monday.

Written by Matthew Redd

November 25, 2008 at 4:10 pm