Category Archives: Emmi

2017 Review

So here we are at the end of 2017, what a year it’s been – not easy but busy at least!

The big achievement this year was finally getting our short film Emmi out there. This has been quite a ride: we have been selected at 28 film festivals, winning best film at two festivals, being finalists at two, being semi-finalist at two more with a further ten or so nominations.

Emmi Poster October 2017

What is particularly nice is that both of our main performers (Amy Harris and Natalie Martins) have both received multiple nominations for their acting (Natalie winning one of hers at the Gold Movie Awards). In particular it’s been interesting visiting film festivals, hearing reactions to the film, meeting lots of interesting people and watching other films along the way. I’ve seen some really good films but one especially stands out: The Silent Child (just found out it has made the Oscar shortlist, truly deserved), if you get the chance to see it is really worth it!

All the jet setting around has been somewhat at the expense of creativity and this is the area I look to rectify in 2018. I look back to find that prior to this month, I’ve only composed four pieces. One of them was was a quick temp score for this:

Over the last week I’ve already equaled my output from the past 11 months. At the bottom of this post is one of these tunes which was composed one afternoon. This tune was inspired by my children and their mixture of excitement, sleeplessness, incessant badgering and sense of wonder in the run up to Christmas. Speaking of family, it’s been quite a tough year all in all. One of the highlights however has been the introduction of this little fella (great to have another boy roaming the house with me).

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the tune below (let me know if you like it) and hope to have more to share over the next year. Wishing all of you the very best for 2018, let’s make this a good one!!

London Rolling Film Festival

It was a fantastic pleasure to attend the London Rolling Film Festival this Sunday. There were a number of things I particularly liked when we applied:

1. It was a film festival run by women.
2. It was in based in London and it looked really vibrant. Also had great reviews on FilmFreeway (will leave mine shortly).
3. The film is only screened if the filmmaker or filmmakers are in attendance. The filmmaker also has an opportunity to talk a bit about their project.
4. Unlike many other film festivals – it was free to attend the event.

I must confess I was secretly holding out for this one (it was on my festival planner highlighted in orange – translation: “this festival looks great!”). We had a couple of rejections just before the notification date, I can’t deny my excitement when I learned we had made the official selections. Yay! 🙂 After enthusiastically posting on social media my Godfather contacted me to say he’d like to come along (offering to treat me to dinner afterwards).

Unfortunately things got off to a rocky start! I set off with plenty of time but was greeted on the railway bridge by someone informing me that the trains were cancelled in both directions. The timetable display offered modest hope for two minutes before announcing that train was delayed. A quick check revealed delays of up to 90 minutes. Not good! Thankfully I was early enough to intercept Susie (Emmi’s writer/producer) who very kindly offered to pick me up and drive us to Hillingdon. After what seemed like an age on the Piccadilly line we finally made it to Leicester Square (half an hour later than originally intended)!

We arrived at the Phoenix Theatre Club venue and had our photo taken as we walked in. It was fairly quiet at this point.

Nice and quiet (for now)

I spotted Laura Jones across the room (Laura had helped on the project from the very beginning – turning her hand to anything – scheduling, sound recording, catering, cat wrangling – she did it all! Her cat Marley features in the film). I was excited that both Laura and her partner would get to experience the film for the first time with a larger audience.

Host Ellie Torrez kicked things off and invited all of the directors up to the front to describe their films in three words. I believe I went for “dark and depressing” – probably could have come up with something more creative – but this sets audience expectations. Ellie then explained the format (there would be two awards: “Jury” and “Audience”) and the judges were introduced. A quick summary of what played:

The Fox1. The Fox (dir. Henry Scriven)
An affluent West London neighbourhood is being terrorised by a violent thief once thought to be a vigilante. On a quiet summer’s night, despite the large police presence, the wanted thief stalks the streets in search of an opportunity. But the open door he finds will only lead him deeper into the darkness. What a wonderful way to start! The film builds intensity, offering a brief moment of humour before cranking up the tension again. You can watch the film on Henry’s website here.

Health Kick2. Health Kick (dir. Dipak Patel)
Two health fanatics working in the same office try to out-do each other, but it’s not long before things get out of hand! This comedy was the shortest of all the films played, enjoyed this one also!

3. 5476 Miles (dir. Terry Thomas)
The only animation in the festival line-up. Admire the amount of effort Terry put in to this paper cut-out animation. The tune by his brother Nigel was also rather lovely. Another fine effort and a nice change of style – you can it watch here:

4. The Inuring (dir. James Hughes)
Time for something much darker! A bullied teenage girl finally confronts her sister to drag their fractured past out into the light. I must confess I’ve been wanting to see this short for a while (it’s having an amazing run on the festival scene). It seemed like the nearest companion to our film (ie. bleak teenage drama with a female cast). The high point here is Emily Haigh’s astonishing performance. I spoke with Emily during the breaks and I’ll be rooting for her at Southampton International Film Festival (we are both playing there in October).

We had reached the half way mark and I noticed my Godfather standing at the back with a crowd of others. Wow, actually there was quite a crowd now and all the seats had been taken!

After a catch-up chat/drink (note to self: eat something next time!), we returned for the second half.

Remember point 3 in my list above? The makers of next film didn’t turn up  so their film wasn’t played!

Emmi-Portrait5. Emmi
We were next. Ellie gave us an amazingly generous introduction stating she had seen the film three times now and that the film still retains all of its power – such an amazing compliment (thanks Ellie)! The film played and (as is usually the case) you could almost hear a pin drop by the end. Ellie asked Susie and I a couple of questions afterward. I can’t really recall what was said, but seem to recall talking about the power of suggestion, “less being more” and that the film asked difficult questions but provided no easy answers.

Elephant in the Room6. The Elephant in the Room (dir. Mark Singer & Jamie Terry)
After the double bitter pill of ‘Emmi’ and ‘The Inuring” together, this comedy provided a welcome lift (it was about as different from Emmi as you could possibly get). A young couple attending a house-viewing might be getting more than they bargained on. The real standout here was actress Louise Green (and “Tyrone” – this is an in-joke to anyone who was present at the screening).

7. Another Home (dir. Khanh Dang Xuan)
Finishing up was this lovely reflective piece. The film explores the meaning of home through the encounter between a young girl who recently moved to London and a young British man. It is a story about the uncertain and disorienting nature of living far from home, about love, loss and hope. It finally asks – how hard is it to let go and move on when all you feel is loss? In terms of cinematography this was my favourite (filmed on a Sony A7S II camera, proving not everything has to be shot on RED or Alexa).  The film’s producer/writer Quynh Nga (Anna) Vu also came over from France especially so the film could be played. A beautiful way to end the official selections.

The judges were now deliberating for the Jury award and the audience had their chance to vote. Both winners would receive a one year subscription to iPitch (and the Audience award would also receive a small cash prize)! I decided not to vote as it felt terribly unsporting (everyone said I was crazy not to vote for my own film!). I still couldn’t bring myself to do this, so I put some money into the Rolling Film Festival Guinness hat instead to say thanks (this felt far more appropriate). Two things went through my mind at this point:

1. I was really enjoying it, this was fun! The venue was full to capacity and there was wonderful buzz in the air. Like most festivals you had a number of filmmakers showcasing their films (indeed this was a rule here), however the majority of creative people I spoke with didn’t have a film playing in the line-up. There were also lots of genuine audience members. This mix can perhaps be attributed to the fact that there was no entry charge.
2. This was also the first festival where I can honestly say I really enjoyed every single film and any one of them was a worthy winner!

Susie went off to see the “out of competition” film in the VIP area, I confess I was chatting too much and missed this. This was followed by something called “Feature Corner” – a Q&A with Director and Producers on the main stage. The feature in question was “Winters Ridge” which I’ll try to catch in the cinema when it is given a limited release next year. This film gets brownie points for filming in both Lynton and Lynmouth (I am a Devonian after-all)! Here is a behind the scenes featurette on the film:

Next up was “Pitch corner” where three projects had five minutes to pitch to their project to the audience (one feature and two web-series’). All three had sizzle reels to sell it to the audience. I felt for everyone who did this, pitching is brutal! I hope all of them found some of the support they needed during the festival.

Finally it was time for the awards part and judges came up on stage to announce their decision. My Godfather (somewhat mischievously) set my expectations exactly where they should be: “It’s apples and oranges – they are all so different, not sure how they will decide. I’d probably go for The Fox! I’m not sure I saw many audience votes for Emmi!”. I thought: “fair enough, at least we walk away with one fan who sat through the film three times!”

Host Ellie popped a bit of fun at the judges for all being male at a female run festival (fair point) – Barry got a free pass though for “flying the LGBT flag”. It was apparent that they struggling a bit with the decision – each judge had their favourite – but in the end only one could win. They gave the Jury award to the first film played “The Fox”. Congratulations to Henry, well deserved!

Now on to the audience award. Susie and I were convinced that either “The Inuring” or “The Fox” were going to walk away with this. “And the winner is… Emmi”. Took me a moment to process it! Hang on – that’s our film? Susie and I looked at each other completely stunned! After a moment we then hugged! I’ve never seen Susie lost for words – but this was perhaps as close as it would get. The emotion was immense so I hugged her again! We also invited Laura up to join in the moment.

Audience Choice Award #LRFF8
Can’t remember a word of what we said, but I really hope we were able to convey our shock and how much this moment meant to us. Clearly we didn’t do this for the money because we walked back to our seats without taking the winnings! 🙂

I still hadn’t eaten – but had a couple more celebration drinks (oops)! It seemed I was getting business cards left, right and centre. It was especially nice to learn that Emmi was affecting some of the male members in the audience (generally we thought Emmi would resonate with women more). All of the “officially selected” filmmakers were invited into the VIP area to record a few short interviews on Facebook Live. You can see us all talking here (Emmi begins around 7 minutes in):

In between interviews we chatted to one of the judges at this year’s Fish Eye Festival  (thanks for selecting us – really looking forward to playing there next month) and to “The Fox” winner Henry about the difficulty of establishing the correct tone. After a final bit of mingling and some last-minute selfies – we all went off in our different directions!

I don't do Selfies well!

It’s only fair to say a huge thank-you to Alida at this point for all of the co-ordination. She has put a tremendous amount of effort into running this festival behind the scenes (not lost on me, I’ve been a conference manager – this would have been a colossal amount of work). Stefania – you also deserve a shout-out for all your help too. Last but by no means least – Ellie you were a lovely and gracious host/interviewer, always keeping things lively. You really did champion our film during the festival and we appreciate that so much! I hope you will all stay in touch!

Topping off the whole surreal evening was a lovely meal at Chelsea Arts Club with my Godfather and his family. It wasn’t until coming home on the train the following morning that everything started to sink in (exhausted, really proud of the whole Emmi team and profoundly grateful to the audience for picking our challenging little film).

Thank you so much Rolling Film Festival!

Right, back to reality…

Strange Days

It’s been a surreal week or so!

Emmi has been selected for three more festivals (exciting):

Emmi Award OnirosPerhaps our biggest news is that we won the award for “Best Drama” at the Oniros International Film Awards. We’ve been focusing on getting the film in front of  an audience rather than winning awards, so this came as a genuinely lovely surprise (thanks Oniros)!

We were also thrilled that Oniros recognised Amy Harris’ performance in the film (so both Amy and Natalie Martins have now received nominations for Best Actress!).

We also screened at two festivals.

On Saturday we played at the Women Texas Film Festival which  sadly we were unable to attend (pleased Emmi featured in the “Strong Female Characters” category). If anyone went to this we’d love to hear more about how things went down!

We also played at the London-based New Renaissance Film Festival in Shoreditch two days before on the Thursday. Susie (on holiday) was unable to come but Alex (Emmi’s runner) and Kevin (Emmi’s post-production sound engineer) provided some moral support (thanks guys). In a curious quirk of fate, Adam (Emmi’s production designer) was also having his stag do in Shoreditch during the same weekend as the festival (Alex was acting as “Best Man”). Coming to the screening would allow him a chance to scout the area in advance. After a reasonably smooth journey from Oxford to London we arrived at Liverpool street and walked to the venue taking in a few of the sights along the way.

Shoreditch SkylineShoreditch Artwork

The venue for the screenings was a lovely chilled out cafe/bar/cinema called The Close-Up Cinema– an absolute treasure trove for film aficionados.

Close-Up Cinema

The cinema itself was an intimate place with around 30-40 seats. The screening had around 25-30 members in attendance. Below is a list of films which played during our block (apologies if I missed one, I feel like I’m missing one):

This Swiss film (translation: Emergency) started the block off with a bang. Set in an emergency call-centre, a misunderstanding leads to an unexpected result. Short and snappy – I really liked it! For more details and the film’s trailer, visit here.

The Immaculate Misconception
Sinead is underage, pregnant and a virgin who lives with her grandparents (stick with this!). Her grandmother, a pious Catholic and the matriarch of the dysfunctional O’Reilly family, will stop at nothing to get the birth proclaimed immaculate. At 25 minutes this was the longest film of the session but the film flew by. It deftly balances drama with light-hearted moments and features exceptional performances from Orliath Feenan, Niall Cusack and Helena Bereen as the O’Reilly family. Michael Geoghegan’s film was originally intended as a feature film but sadly the film’s co-writer Simon Riley died before this could be realised. The film is dedicated to Simon and it seems a very fitting tribute indeed. For more information, read Michael’s Interview.

Others Like You (ALTRE)

Ester is a woman who has a strong longing to get pregnant. Following a surgical procedure by Greta – her family doctor and long-standing friend – she is diagnosed as sterile. Ester’s original desire thus becomes a growing obsession, and she embarks on a series of one-night stands hoping for a miracle. After a casual encounter, she shows early signs of a pregnancy and a positive test result restores her hope of becoming a mother. When Greta, herself barren, learns of Ester’s pregnancy, events take an unexpected turn. This Italian film contained some stunning cinematography and a wonderful atmosphere, although I must confess the story wasn’t always the easiest to follow (although it is memorable). Kevin particularly liked this one because he knew some of the locations where it was filmed.


It was clear that a theme was emerging, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to find that Emmi was next in line! Shameless trailer plug:

98 Street Playland
Reeka, a recovering drug user, seeks out her ex-boyfriend in order to save his life and their relationship. Much like Emmi in our film, Reeka isn’t a character who elicits too much sympathy (despite trying hard to escape the circumstances she finds herself in). The performances in the film are good across the board, in particularly Daniella Alma as Reeka. I do recall thinking that the look of this short film felt like a David Fincher movie and there was some excellent and evocative use of colour grading. By the end I found myself strangely detached from the story and the ending beach shot was particular jarring (no doubt the intention).


At the end of the films Michael Geoghegan and I did a short Q&A. I can’t honestly remember much of what I said (hopefully I didn’t come over too nervous/dull). I did hear a few audience members talking about Emmi afterwards which was lovely. After a quick drink at the bar Kevin and I went in to watch the next block of films and Alex went off on his Stag-do recce. The films played during the next block were:


William Stack is a former child actor who went off the rails just prior to his teenage years. After a shocking fall from grace and now an adult he is attempting a comeback. However before he can do this he will need to face the demons of his past. This was in many ways was the “Hollywood” entry in the bunch. It features Whoopie Goldberg and was executive-produced by James Franco. Glossy, very well produced if a little predictable in story terms.

One in a Million

Kevin is an orphan and autistic teenager living in the South East. Kevin obsesses about becoming a millionaire and escaping the shackles of his seaside hometown. This was the most emotional film I watched at the festival (I live with an autistic family). The film is impeccably shot in black and white, I recall the opening scenes being particularly atmospheric. The greatest asset of the film is Eddie Chamberlain as the protagonist Kevin (a real standout – glad I got to opportunity to chat with him during the festival). Christopher Laws is also extremely effective in his scenes as Kevin’s odious and bullying foster-brother Leo. The only real criticism I can throw at the film is whilst the other supporting roles are well-played, they seem less developed – as a result they don’t always ring true (Charly’s sudden attraction to Kevin and the utter naivety of the foster mum spring to mind as examples – but perhaps these aspects were lost in the editing process). With that aside, this was stirring stuff and director Patrick Ireland is definitely a talent to watch out for in the future. To find out more watch an interview with Patrick here.

Seeing Him

When Sophie and her younger lover James find their relationship being challenged they are forced to confront a truth they have both been hiding from. I must confess I was curious to see this being as it was made by Chris Jones (whose masterclass I attended a few years back). As expected this was polished with a strong performance from Vanessa Bailey as Sophie. Vanessa also wrote the screenplay, so I hope we will get to see her step behind the camera and direct at some point in the future!

Food First

Food first, then morals! A comedy about two couples in a stylish Berlin Tapas restaurant. The initial light conversation starts to intensify and tension increases as each dish is served. Many of the films shown thus far had a serious tone, so this was a welcome change (and the most entertaining film I watched). The performances were great, for me the real gem was listening to the off-screen chefs gossiping about the couples to shots of “food porn” which wouldn’t be out-of-place in an advert for M&S. The good news is that you can watch the film online here:

This animation is based on a Turkish legend: Mankurt is a mindless slave who has had his memory erased after being tortured. This profound animation had clear parallels with events currently happening in the world and served as director Ermina Takenova’s graduation project. The project took her eight months to make.

I Just Disappeared Into You

This music video was directed and performed by Roxana Vilk. It was shot in Scotland and Iran, the dance/film explores our relationship to nature and the nature of movement. In Iran dancing for women is banned, so the video explores contrasts the movements of dancer/choreographer Skye Reynolds, with the movements of an anonymous actress in Iran. Sections of the dance/film are also made up of thousands of still images woven together, exploring new ways capturing elements of the choreography and the ‘energy’ of the dance. The video was hypnotic and it somewhat reminded me of Goldfrapp (albeit more mellow and jazz inspired) – really liked the track also! To find out more read the festival interview with Roxana.


Sisak is set in a bustling Mumbai local train, where a romance develops between two men who are poles apart. This Indian film addresses the fact that homosexuality is still a big taboo in the country and it conveys the story without a single line of dialogue (no mean feat). Whilst I think the film might have benefited from a slightly shorter run-time (20 minutes), I think it conveys an important message to the outside world who are probably largely ignorant. The film has been touted as India’s first LGBTQ film (Sisak is an Urdu word, which refers to “the sob that’s stuck in the throat”).

Even though I only attended two of the blocks, this was an absolutely fantastic experience. In hindsight one thing became apparent: our film clearly had a far smaller budget than the other films shown, most of which were shot on high-end cameras such as the Arri Alexa. It made me feel happy to think we could punch our weight alongside films with significantly higher production values (hopefully a testament to the story and performances in Emmi).

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the other festival days. It was time to swap the film festival experience for an entirely different set of festivities which included zorb football, table-tennis bars, pizza restaurants and culminated in a 90’s theme night. Can’t say I achieved much sleep on Saturday but after a spot of Sunday brunch I was feeling slightly re-energized. This was just as well as it was the festival awards ceremony during the afternoon and I was going with Susie (now back from her hols) and Alex (who probably needed a break after all the organising).

Emmi was nominated for three awards: Best Social Realism Film, Best Story and Best Actress (Natalie). Realistically I wasn’t expecting us to walk away with any of these awards  – it’s just lovely to be considered as a nominee and it would be a great opportunity to hob-nob with other filmmakers and have fun!

We were greeted by afternoon tea and prosecco. During this time I chatted with a music video maker from Birmingham called Andy Rutter (watch his winning Ultrasound video here), bumped into to Michael Geoghegan again and went over to speak with Chris Jones, Vanessa Bailey and her partner. It was quite surreal chatting with Chris who is the person who coached me with the majority of my film-making skills (and it helped to reaffirm how far I have come over the past couple of years).

After the reception we entered the cinema for the main awards ceremony which was hosted by actress Fleur Keith. The full list of nominees and winners are available here. Whilst we didn’t win any of our nominations (as predicted), we were awarded an “honorable mention”.

After this ceremony we retired for a couple of photos and drinks.

Emmi - Susie, Andy, Jan and Massimo Emmi Honourable mention award

Just before leaving the ceremony host Fleur came across to congratulate us on Emmi, it turns out she was one of the audience members attending the screening (thanks Fleur, really appreciated!). I was now caught somewhere between pure adrenaline and complete exhaustion, time for us to head back to Oxford. A huge thank-you to both Jan + Massimo who made us feel so welcome at the festival, we hope to return soon with a future project!

A weekend away with Emmi in Cardiff

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for our film Emmi! On Saturday 24th June we played at two film festivals (Oakville in Canada and Cardiff). We also held a local screening in Oxford last weekend. I’ll cover more on the latter in separate post, for now I’ll concentrate on the film festival weekend.

Unfortunately we weren’t able to make the Oakville Film Festival (based just outside of Toronto). Susie and I recorded a message for the festival to play before the film (I now appreciate how much I hate talking to a camera – like talking into an answering machine only worse!).

Oops - what I've said now?

Oops – what’s he said now?

Susie and I both made it to the Cardiff festival however (not only would this be our first film festival experience, it would also be our first in Cardiff). You can read Susie’s take on the whole experience here. Susie was 30mins away but already had other plans for much of the weekend, so I was flying solo for the most part. My train (with incorrectly issued ticket) arrived a little later than planned. Almost immediately I started wandering in the wrong direction (typical) but thankfully it didn’t take too long to find my bearings. It was immediately apparent that Cardiff was fun, diverse and vibrant.

Walking around Cardiff
I managed to find my hotel (Park Plaza), check in and freshen up. I lucked out with the bed – absolute luxury!

Plaza Bed

After unpacking, I received a text from Susie and went to meet her at the train station. We then proceeded to Kongs to collect our festival passes. Kongs is a retro-arcade bar fill with old favourites such as Donkey Kong, Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat and Outrun 2 (had no idea they made a sequel!) as well as having Blue Moon on keg – nice!


Our screening was part of the “Fiction Part 2” session and was located around the corner in a venue called 10 feet tall (presumably because the building is tall and thin). When we arrived on the top floor we found that the whole place had been decorated like a big top, it looked great!

The Big Top
Unfortunately the Comedy section was playing down the road at the same time, which was no doubt a busier session. The biggest surprise came when a former colleague of mine (having just moved to Cardiff) turned up just before our film played. Nice to have some additional moral support. Afterwards we found a nice bar and had a catch up before all heading our separate ways. I decided to grab some food at Wagamama before returning back to the hotel.

I originally planned to attend “Moon Dogs” and “Twisted Tales” during the evening at Jacobs Market but to be honest I was quite exhausted and the bed was far too comfy. I also factored in the thought of wandering around a strange city on my own in the dark having just watched a bunch of adult horror shorts. I phoned the family to says hi before running myself a lovely relaxing bath (with no children invading – bliss). I also spotted Casino Royale was on – perfect! I made it to about 10pm before sleeping (with no kids invading – bliss). This is very early for me being as I rarely get to sleep before 1am normally. Unfortunately I woke at 4.30am and didn’t get back to sleep properly. At 7am I decided to give up trying, get up, shower and enjoy a nice hearty breakfast. As a child I was always told “never eat too much before swimming or you’ll sink”, I decided to check out the pool facilities anyway. The pool was lovely and I managed to get in about 40 lengths before more people started to arrive.

Plaza Pool
I decided to retire to the steam room (which I had all to myself). After what was now my third shower of the morning, I decided to take a short wander around before checking out of the hotel.

The Plaza is based in the castle quarter almost right next to the Castle itself. As you can see the Welsh are quite patriotic!

Welsh Flags

The castle itself cost money to visit, so I just browsed the outskirts.

Cardiff Castle

I have to say I loved the animals carved on the castle walls.

Animal stonework
I walked around some nearby parks/gardens before returning back to the centre, it struck me that there were two things were in great abundance here: shopping arcades and Greggs bakeries (these were everywhere).

Shopping Arcades

There were also a numerous statues. Initially I chuckled at a guilty seagull on the head of Aneurin Bevan (Welsh Labour Party politician and chief architect of the National Health Service) before noticing a more poignant message about the Grenfell Tower disaster at the base.


After a spot of people watching over lunch, I decided to head down St Mary’s Street to see the Stadium and the river Taff. On the way I bumped into a wonderful mechanical clock.

Clock and Stadium
I was starting to get a bit concerned that I hadn’t seen any welsh dragons other than on flags, but thankfully I found this one on my way back to the hotel.

There be Dragons
The rest of the day I immersed myself in the festival watching the Female Director session and the remaining two fiction sessions. All of these took place in the Old Market Tavern. These seemed more popular than our session, hope to cover a bit about the films I watched in another blog post.

Just before the end of the final session, I rushed off to quickly grab some tea before crossing the river to the Tramshed (unsurprisingly a former tram depot) where the festival awards were being held. I was also planning to catch up with Susie again. Upon arrival I was greeted to live music and some familiar faces who I’d met earlier in the day. Shortly after this Susie arrived.

And the Band Played On
Even though we had the excitement of seeing our film in the nominations for best fictional film, it came as no great surprise to me that we didn’t win it (Susie was perhaps a little more disappointed). The reality was that there were almost 40 films in this category competing for a single accolade! Even so, this was a most enjoyable way to end the festival. After all of the awards were done and dusted we went back to the car and began to navigate our way back. The trip took a couple of hours, but it was lovely just chating on the way home. We had completed our first ever film festival. Now we just had the small matter of a film screening to organise.

Emmi Screenings

We’ve had a short run of success with Emmi recently, the film will be playing at three screenings over the next few weeks (highlighted below on the off chance you might like to attend):

24th June – Willson Oakville Film Festival

For our friends in Canada, we will be playing at 9.30pm alongside the Australian feature film ‘Broke’. We are sad we won’t be there in person but we plan to have a special message before the film screens. Visit here to book tickets.

24th June – Cardiff Mini Film Festival

We will be the last film screened at the ‘Fiction Part 2’ section at The Big Top on Saturday afternoon (I suspect the film will screen between 5-5:30pm). Susie and I also plan to attend the festival, so if you see us or come along please say “hi”. If you plan to attend the whole festival, we can get reduced rate festival passes (get in contact for details). For more information at the Festival – visit here.

1st July – Ultimate Picture Palace, OXford

Susie and I are holding a special (and free) local screening at 2.30pm. This will be followed by a short discussion and hopefully a few outtakes. Seats are limited so make sure you sign up on our Eventbrite page if you plan to come along.

Emmi Screening Invite

Real Stories at Lo-No Pop-Up Cinema

We experienced some success last weekend when Emmi was selected by two film festivals (one in Belgium, one in London). Whilst browsing festivals over Easter, I spotted something called ‘Lo-No Pop-Up Cinema’ in London looking for ‘real stories’ to shown. Being as Emmi is inspired by a real story we decided we should give it a go – I’m glad we did!

Susie and I set off to London for the event (wrestling rush hour traffic, underground cancellations, problematic ticket barriers – arriving with 5 minutes to spare). When we arrived we were greeted by Ashley Jackson the festival organiser. There were seven films in the line-up (we were programmed to be the last film before the interval).

Lo-No Pop-Up Cinema postcard

The quality of the films shown were great, it’s nice to think that our rather personal little film might be considered alongside some of these. Let’s go over them one by one:

Grandmas Big Schlep:
Hannah finds out that Grandma wasn’t actually Jewish and can’t be buried next to Grandpa as planned. She must go on her journey with her sister Rivkah to make things right before it’s too late.

Although this was the longest film of the evening (20 minutes), it was also the most uplifting. The time bristled by and there was a lovely warmth and humour to the film. Both of the girls put in great performances and the whole thing had a polished and lavish feel. Nice to see it was made by a female team also.


An Experimental drama about a young homeless woman who spends her days chasing a feeling.

From the longest film shown to the shortest, I found this particularly interesting to contrast against our homeless short film “Spare Change”. A couple of minor details were lacking authenticity (indeed the same is true of Spare Change), but I liked the overall message of the film. It was also interesting that it was shot in “Portrait” rather than traditional Widescreen which helped give the “Girl” a sense of isolation and a different perspective.


Marcus, a boy on the brink of adulthood struggles to decide where his loyalties lie.

In some ways this gritty drama was a little similar in tone to our film, although the canvas felt slightly larger and the end result is more cinematic. There are two great performances in this short: the antagonist Dan (suitably loathsome) and the downs syndrome character Mary (who is the true standout of the film). Extremely well made and at a couple of points an excruciating, a testament to its power. I’d say this was my favourite film during the evening and again nice to a female team at the helm.


Keeping with the darker theme, we were next. We were pleased about being just before the interval as it gave us an opportunity to invite feedback. It was also a good opportunity to see the film on a different system (note to self: dial down the sound mix for future screenings). It was amusing to hear one audience member humming Emmi’s main theme at the end of the film.


Kitty’s Fortune
Based on Kitt Hart-Moxon’s first night in Auschwitz when Kitty encounters a palm-reading Gypsy who hones in on her lifeline. The film is a glimpse into a touching encounter between two people amidst the brutality of their surroundings.

On a technical level this was by far the most polished of the films shown, it was beautifully filmed. Yet despite the haunting performances/worthy subject matter, something didn’t quite click (not just me – Susie thought the same). We found the atmosphere in the first half extremely moving and well paced with a palpable sense of dread. This isn’t sustained after the initial gypsy encounter and the film felt like it needed a stronger ending. That said, this is still an impressive film, especially in terms of what was achieved for the budget.


A Six and Two Threes:
Two kids from different sides of the tracks meet when one goes in search of their father.

Again there was some very impressive cinematography in this piece. Some of the dialogue in the film was difficult to hear, but what I really liked was the authenticity of the film. The performers felt genuine and were around the right age. The two main performances were nicely handled and the younger kid in particular is a hoot. The language was also very crude, I was thinking Emmi would easily win the swear count until this film’s colourful language took things to the next level! Very well done and strangely touching.

At this point we had to leave to get back, but during the interval we caught up with the Writer/Producer (Ellie Gocher) and Director (Jimmy Dean) of the final film ‘Offside’. We spoke a bit about finding funding and what they had planned as their next project. They also told us that the film was online (so I’ll share it below).



Offside tells the story of 11 year old Kirsty who struggles to accept her looming femininity as she learns she will soon lose her position on the local boys football team.

Having now seen the film, I’d say that the film was slower paced than many of the other films shown during the evening, but the pacing was deliberate and the story works on multiple levels. The central performances felt genuine and authentic and it particularly resonated being as I’m father to a 10 year old daughter who also currently enjoys playing football. Of course being as the film is shared online you can make your own mind up!

The programme for evening can be downloaded here.

This was a great evening and I’d like to extend my thanks to Lo-No for selecting our film and making us feel welcome. We hope to return for the next project!

Film festival submission

And so it has begins. I’ve never personally submitted to any film festivals before (even if I’ve worked on a number of films which have won awards). Honestly speaking, it can feel a little overwhelming and alien. There are so many festivals to chose from, so many pitfalls. Looking through some of the previous winners you might also be forgiven for wondering if your film is well be good enough. I know we are going to be competing against more technically accomplished films. On the other hand I truly believe our film Emmi has a compelling story with something interesting to say.

A common phrase heard in the film world is “make a list, start at the top and work down”, exactly my approach to festival submissions. Whether this is a good move remains to be seen (my suspicion is that you need to be within the “correct circles” to access to some of these festivals). Even so – if you don’t try, you’ll never get in! I’ve been using Film Freeway for submissions (seems to be the current standard for online submission). I’ve found it easy and intuitive to use.

Emmi on Film Freeway
During the past week or so we’ve submitted to a number of UK film festivals – most can be considered “top-tier” along with a couple which are more specific. I’d like to see how these earlier submissions go before getting too excitable.

I’ve already picked up that time is a huge consideration:

  • You need to send in applications in early. Costs go up over time and once applications reach a certain threshold – capacity is full and chances are you’ll be discarded even if you have one of the better entries.
  • You need to be patient. It takes ages for festival organisers to review literally thousands of online screeners!
  • Can you attend the festival dates, are there going to be any clashes?

There are also lots of rules and regulations which are specific to each festival.

Hopefully we can announce how things go as they develop. Meanwhile if anyone else reading this has any other festival tips that they would like to share, it would be fantastic if you are able to add these in the comments section below.

Finishing Emmi

It’s been a busy start to the year for our latest project Emmi but we have finally finished work on the film. The last slog is often the hardest!

In terms of finishing the film it’s been:

  • Music composing (I’ll no doubt expand more on this in a future post)
  • Special Effects (thanks to frequent collaborator Jim Gwilliam)
  • Creating titles
  • Colour Grading (thanks to Daniel Mac-Gregor Gill)
  • Sound Mixing (thanks to Oxford Audio Post Production who have given us a lovely 5.1 surround mix)
  • Creating a DCP (This is a new thing for me. Pleased to say that the digital projection file works – thanks to The Phoenix Picturehouse in Oxford for letting us test this).

Of course the work does not end here, we are currently developing material to help us promote the film – including:

  • The Trailer
  • The Poster
  • The Website

We also will need to work on Festival submissions. We’ll update you with these things in due course, but for now here is the first look at the Poster for the film:

Emmi Poster
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Deafening silence

You would be forgiven for thinking I’d left my blogging days long behind! I haven’t – it’s just been ridiculously busy! Now that certain milestones (or is that millstones) have cleared I am able to do some composing and film making once more.

We are in the final stages of completing our short film (this was rather shockingly filmed over two years ago). In October I met with Susie Stead (the writer/producer) and we gave ourselves a deadline of finishing the film “before the end of 2016”, the reality is I’d like it finished it even earlier.

This period of inactivity has been helpful in allowing us to reflect with a completely fresh perspective. The most significant change is we have renamed the title from “The Choice” to “Emmi” (the character which the film revolves around). We felt the original title no longer represented the film properly and we wanted something which was short and snappy!

Emmi Title

The film edit is locked but there are a number of post-production elements still to finish: visual tweaks, colour grading, sound. In terms of the sound we are working with Oxford Audio Post Production. They have worked on projects including the Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and the forthcoming Netflix “A Series of Unfortunate Events”.

The aim will be to take the film on the festival circuit in 2017, exciting times ahead!

Cutting a long story short

After a rather difficult 2015, I find myself entering 2016 with renewed vigor! It feels like I’ve achieved more in a month than during the whole of 2015. If I’ve adopted a mantra this year it would be: “make it happen but keep it simple”. Simplicity often appears graceful and effortless, but the reality is getting there is usually anything but.

After months (indeed a year) tinkering on the edit for our project Emmi, I was going around in circles. During a test screening to the crew – it was clear that the film wasn’t hitting the spot. We discussed it with as many people as we could which resulted in a mass of differing opinions. Time passed – work, Christmas and a distinctly average Bond film all got in the way.

Andrew Carslaw - Director of The Choice
During this downtime, I had a rare moment of clarity. The problem with the film was that it was trying to say and do too much. So away I went and pared everything down to its bare essence, the entire structure was overhauled and streamlined. Recently we re-screened the film and it is now getting the response I was looking for. This hasn’t been an quick or easy process, but I can say it has been an incredible learning experience. We now have a picture lock and it feels liberating to be moving forward again.

Expect to see some new project developments soon, watch this space!