Make It Happen

Film Producing in Wales

Posts Tagged ‘microbudget

Love is a Doing Word

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Another new microbudget scheme has been launched, this time just over the border.  iFeatures, a partnership between  South West Screen and BBC Films,  is looking for projects  that  have  a Bristolian vibe and can be made for around £300k.  The web site is actually very informative and is definitely one of the most comprehensive I’ve seen for a scheme like this – but somehow I missed the roadshow in Cardiff when it came around.  I actually have a couple of projects that could really work for this, so I’ll be putting an application together for 85 Films.

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Written by Matthew Redd

November 4, 2009 at 7:45 pm

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?

The Pilot Could Take Us Anywhere We Want

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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.

New Year’s Revolution

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Back in the office after the Christmas break. I now have an A4 length ‘To Do List’ to contend with, but it feels good to look at all the possibilities for 2009.

2008 was a varied year for me, and I learned a lot. I started off the year a third of the way through my Cyfle traineeship, and started working at the Wales Screen Commission. Before long, I was working on Caerdydd at Fiction Factory (I wrote the English language text on the Caerdydd site among other things), then Herio’r Ddraig at Calon and on the Pleasure Park short for It’s My Shout. I also had a few weeks on a feature called ‘Ours’ with Steve Sullivan, which was frankly a disaster for me. Hopefully it wasn’t so bad for everyone else who was working on it.

I also managed another trip out to Cannes and some office work at Boom Films before completing my traineeship and taking a full-time job here at Tornado. December was spent shooting Avoiding Christian Bale (web site coming soon), my first film in a producer’s role. When I was sat in the Screen Commission pixellating dogs’ heads, I didn’t think I’d be able to say that by the end of the year.

My only real disappointment of the year was not meeting Scarlett Johansson, and of course Cardiff City losing in the FA Cup final.

My single resolution for the new year is to try and learn as much in ’09 as I did in ’08. I’m not entirely sure that it really counts as a resolution. I’m not going to bother with a crash diet or anything like that.

2009 is the year of the digital revolution. We’ll be shooting a feature on our new camera over the summer, and we’ve got lots of other plans which will be announced soon if everything works out well. Post on ‘ACB’ is already in full swing, workshops for the musical are about to start and we’ve got fingers, pies, irons and fires coming out of our ears.  Now there’s a cocktail of metaphors.

Happy New Year. Have a great 2009.

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

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