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Film Producing in Wales

Posts Tagged ‘Screen Academy Wales

My Camera, It Doesn’t Know How To Lie

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Here’s the new trailer from SSAW – Skillset Screen Academy Wales, edited by Ewan Jones-Morris.  It’s compiled of films made with the support of the Screen Academy between 2007 and 2009.  There’s lots of footage from 17 included, check it out.

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Written by Matthew Redd

December 17, 2009 at 12:50 pm

What’s It Like Then, Spain?

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I’m back in Wales, having completed the Marketing & Distribution 2009 course at the Media Business School in Spain. The week was a lot like being in Cannes – early starts, late nights, a fair bit of alcohol and a lot of talk about the film business. To say I enjoyed myself would be an understatement, and in many ways I didn’t want it to end.

The quality of the speakers on the course really was incredible. As well as this gentleman, there were other speakers from the studios and top indie distributors from around Europe, and marketing experts from agencies. There was also one of UCI/Odeon’s bosses and a frankly hilarious bloke from a Spanish TV station. Screen Academy Wales do a great job in putting on masterclasses with industry speakers, but this was a whole new level – not least because of the intensive nature of the sessions.

Meeting the other participants was more than just a bit of networking – everyone was very friendly and a lot of fun to be with, and at times I felt like I was hanging out with old friends. It’s easy to enjoy yourself eating out in a place like this.

The View from the Restaurant

They also have a good range of after dinner spirits to send you over the edge. Not off the balcony, thankfully.

I completed the programme by making a presentation of my own marketing and distribution plan for Ang Lee’s new film. I will be keeping an eye on how it does at the UK box office, just to see if Focus Features hit the figures I projected in reality.

Now I have to take my new found knowledge and apply it to my own career. Thanks again to Skillset for the funding, and to the people behind the course for making it such a great experience from start to finish.

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.

Paying Peanuts, But Getting Mwnci

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The line up for the films in competition at Cannes was announced today. I don’t think I’ll make it to Cannes this year – I was lucky enough to have my two previous trips paid for, the first after winning a pitch competition at the Screen Academy and then last year’s trip paid by CYFLE as part of my film traineeship. I never took too much notice of the films in competition in honesty – I was more interested in checking out the market, the pavilions and the various events that go on. Anyway, this year’s competition sees entries from respected Europeans including Pedro and Ken, and also the latest from Quentin – let’s hope it’s a return to form after the miserable Death Proof, which had only one scene that I’d consider vintage Tarantino. The full list of competition films is out there if you google.

Next week, I’ll be at Mwnci in Cardiff for the online edit and grade of my short film ’17’, a revenge tale set in a tough South Wales neighbourhood. Time has flown – we actually shot the film in September 2007, but the week following the shoot was my first week as a CYFLE trainee, and I’ve worked solidly since, so getting the time to finish the film has been difficult. Jamie (the writer/director) moved to London soon after the offline edit (he’s currently working on this), and we didn’t actually have the money raised to finish the film until August 2008, thanks to a bursary from the Screen Academy Wales. Kate @ Mwnci has shown us a great amount of support and I’m truly grateful.

We did have time to complete the sound mix late last year, thanks to a great deal from Curig Huws at Streetlevel Studios. I can’t recommend Curig’s services for your audio post-production highly enough, he’s more than happy to advise you on what you might need and how to make your budget work for you. If you’ve got a short in the works, give him a ring.

So, this time next week, I should have the short completed in glorious HD. Then we hit the festivals – we’re too late for Cannes now, but there’s lots more coming up.

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