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It’s been an important and productive year that’s for sure.
I thought I’d share highlights of 2011 with you. The high’s, the low’s and some of the bits in between. Hope you find it interesting, and I hope some of it inspires you – if you’re looking for inspiration!
The start of the year and the focus was on editing Love Like Hers. A short S16mm film that I wrote, produced and directed. There were major delays as my editor (Mark Talbot-Butler) was incredibly busy with other projects, including spending several months in L.A. I ended up having to finish off the edit myself, not quite the way I’d envisaged this working.
It was also the month in which I put my event management skills to the test by setting up a new annual event for my Dad at his 50s Rock N Roll diner in my hometown of Morley. The Karaoke Factor ended up being a huge success for Bertie’s Diner with a sell out crowd attending the grand final. Dad was over the moon and that made everything worth while.
With Love Like Hers in post-production, it was time to turn my attention to the next major short film project, ‘P.I.‘ This is going to be my serious attempt at winning an Oscar. I’m working with award winning script editor Danny Stack on this project, Danny has been somewhat of a writing mentor over the last year or so. My writing skills have developed lots under his guidance.
I spent over a week on jury service, seeing the inside of a courtroom once and only for a few short hours. We moved in to a lovely big old house with space on the top floor for my office. I hate packing boxes!
I’d finally cut together the teaser trailer for Love Like Hers (see above video). The film has had a huge amount of support during the previous 12 months or so, and so it was fantastic to finally get to show people some of the film. The response was amazing, the feedback has been incredibly positive. Always a good sign.
This was also the month in which an edit of Love Like Hers was ready to screen to an audience for the first time. This test screening was probably the most difficult experience of my professional life. I invited six people over to the house to watch the film and then give feedback. This was an invaluable moment in the development of the edit. The feedback was positive. They got the story, they really liked the film. However, there were just a few bits of feedback that lead to some minor changes in the next edit of the film.
I was also asked to make a documentary on famous fine artist Paul Normansell (see above video). All shot on the Canon 5D with most of it taking place at the Mal Maison hotel in Leeds City Centre. This guys’ paintings are worth £30k+ per piece. The ten minute documentary was well received with more filming planned for 2012. It was also fun to use the Canon 5D again, one of my favourite cameras.
It was time to freshen up my website. A whole new look and lots more behind the scenes stuff. So I moved the whole site from Blogger over to WordPress, added several more pages and a fresh new design with Elegant Themes for WordPress.
We had some great news for Love Like Hers. Universal Sound offered to do the Foley work on the film, for free! These guys have worked on films like Quantum of Solace, Chronicles of Narnia and Hellboy II to name a few. So, we were very excited at this news.
This month also saw the return of The Live Filmmaker’s TV Show on my Livestream channel. A place where I’d share everything I was going through as a filmmaker, we’d have live guests on the show and the chatroom was a hive of activity with other filmmaker’s from around the World. We had some amazing guests on the show, from directors and writers to filmmaker’s and founders of film festivals. The show originally started back in 2009, and yes, it was the first of its kind at the time.
The Canon 5D was often in my possession with all the corporate work I had on. So, often I’d take it out to play. I enjoy photography and so decided to take some pictures with it and also a little experimental video called ‘House’ (see above video).
There was plenty more work on developing what was to be my next major short film project, ‘P.I.’ It’s not quite hitting the mark yet, finding the true heart of the story I’m trying to tell is proving hard work as it’s quite a complex story idea. Momentum is building however and major developments are taking place.
I shot a gospel music video (see above video). A singer from down south wanted me to make a video for him and so we found a cool location very close to where I live for the shoot. Again, shot on the Canon 5D and in one day.
I celebrated my 35th birthday. No plans of growing up just yet.
This was the month in which I decided I needed to get out there and write, produce and direct another short film, before ‘P.I.’ Something simple, a one day, one location, one actor, no budget type affair. And so, ‘Host‘ was born. I wrote the script in just a few days. The script then lay and wait for the right moment.
Love Like Hers was still motoring along in post-production, I’d signed off the soundtrack to the film, composed by the incredibly talented Niklas Aman. Niklas followed this up by chatting to Mike Aiten (Dubbing Mixer) and discussing getting the appropriate files over for the sound mix etc.
I was also very honoured to be sent the new Sony F3 high end HD camera to play with for a week. Sent by Marlin PR/Sony. I decided to shoot three major video projects during my 7 days with the camera. A music video, a behind the scenes documentary at a live concert event and a load of random shots taken at various locations throughout the week. And then blog about my experiences with this amazing camera. Below are two of the videos I shot with the camera.
There was a very sad farewell for the Live Filmmaker’s TV Show. After 26 episodes, many live guests and 300,000+ viewer minutes the curtain finally came down on the show. It was taking up too much time every month to produce the show, I needed that time back to help develop film projects. So, something had to give. The last show was broadcast on August 30th. You can still see some of the previous shows here.
It was time to get ‘Host’ ready for filming in October. I had the screenplay ready to go. Originally, Lee Boardman was going to play the main part, but unfortunately he couldn’t do it as he was whisked away by the BBC to film Death in Paradise. Luckily for me, Lee recommended his good friend Raffaello Degrutolla and we were good to go.
Then, even more great news. Philip Bloom wanted to read the script as he was interested in getting involved. He loved the script and suggested we shoot it on his new RED EPIC camera, this was incredible news!! For me, this was another big name attached to the project, and a very talented one at that.
I sold the first camera I ever bought on ebay this month. The Canon XL1 that I bought from my good friend Dave Armstrong some years ago. It was sad to say goodbye, but I needed the money!
I finally got round to editing and releasing my Sony F3 video, titled ‘Light In Life’ (see above video). The feedback to this video was incredible, I’m really very proud of what I achieved with this video – considering I’m not a professional cinematographer. Sony also loved the video and featured it on their Facebook page – bonus!
This was to be a crazy busy month as we were shooting ‘Host’ on the 15th. So much to do! The pressure was on. I had to get my hands dirty with production design and build my own boarded up windows props. See picture.
Filming on ‘Host’ went incredibly well, in fact we ended up putting a live camera in the room from which we were filming and broadcast it live on my Livestream channel. You could literally tune in and watch us make this film, surely a first!
We had major technical issues with the RED EPIC, this quickly became a rather hot topic of discussion in the camera World. Check out my blog post on the whole issue.
I did my bit for charity in this month, shaving off the beard for Movember and raising £100 for Prostate Cancer Charity. I became quite attached to the moustash.
The second part of the Love Like Hers behind the scenes video was released online (see above video). With some never before seen footage.
Sony Europe asked me to present at this years BVE North event in Manchester which was a great honour. They wanted me to chat about my week with the Sony F3.
I hosted several Christmas lights roadshows for Wakefield Council, something I do every year and dates back to my days working on the radio. I do still enjoy these types of gigs, it’s something a little different.
I launched a new service from my video production business called Home Video Moments.
The teaser trailer for ‘Host’ was launched online and was getting people very excited about the film. See below:
‘Host’ is almost ready for its first test screening after two main edits of the film. Very happy with the way in which this film is shaping up. I’ve already started work on the Host movie poster and press pack ready for the film festival circuit in early 2012.
The next short film project is announced, a short mystery/sci-fi film called ‘That Day’. I’ll be writing, producing and directing. Philip Bloom will once again DP. We’ll be filming in Feb. The first draft of the screenplay has been finished, good progress so far. However, lots of pressure on to get this ready for filming in Feb.
Love Like hers found a new home for colour grading. We were let down by the previous company and this led to major delays, but luckily for us ADBS in Roundhay came to our rescue. Chris Taylor has been working on the VFX in the film and has done an amazing job! We’re so close to finishing this film.
In other news – I added more pages of interest on this website, my Dad’s diner appeared on The Young Apprentice and ‘That Day’ Facebook page is launched.
Heart on my sleeve time. This has been, by far, the most financially challenging year of my adult life. Just managing to keep my head above water as I chase that dream of making films, big corporate projects etc. I own a video production business which does its best at paying the bills and putting food on the table. The second half of the year has been somewhat of a challenge with business being a little on the quiet side. This can be quite stressful and not something you’ll often see me talk about online. It’s a very hard job running a business on your own, on top of all the other stuff.
No matter how tough the challenges get, not matter how high the hurdles, it’s important to never lose sight of the ambition or ignore the enthusiasm and passion to get where we want to be. In the meantime, you do the best with what you have with the resources available. You treat people with respect and do anything you can to help others. Stop moaning about not having enough money to make your films. In this day and age, there is no excuse for not getting out there and making stuff happen! If you can’t do that, seriously think about your career options.
Life is tough and making those ambitious dreams come true, comes at a price. Hard work and a lot of stress and self doubt!
Happy New Year and best wishes for 2012. For me, this has to be the year that major things happen. Watch this space.