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!
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!
The past few months have been something of a transitional period and I’m now entering an exciting new phase. To mark this occasion (in case you didn’t already find this on the Ferny Films site), is a track which is still very me but a little different.
I guess it is best described as a glitchy-dance track with some B-Movie leanings (part inspired by 90’s hit Brainbug – nightmare). I hope you like it, and if you do – please let me know.
[Soundcloud Diggin’ dirt link]
I haven’t been composing a great deal recently because of high workload and the fact I needed to retire my trusty but now rather uncomfortable Goldring DR-100 headphones (held together by gaffer-tape). After some research I decided to go with Audio Technica ATH-M40fs headphones from Absolute Music because of their flat response. I wanted the ATH-M50 headphones, but couldn’t really justify the price. The Absolute Music customer service was fantastic and the headphones arrived very quickly. Enthusiasm was short-lived when I noticed they had the larger 6.35mm plug and not the 3.5mm mini-jack I was expecting (note to self: read the technical info next time). Therefore I had to wait for the appropriate adapter to arrive also.
This has now arrived – so it’s play-time! Early days, but I’m reasonably impressed with the headphones even if they still require additional burn in. I sat down and began to flutter away at my keyboard to form the makings of a new tune. I like where the new tune is heading, despite the fact it is unfinished. Afterwards I decided to revisited some stagnant “in progress” tunes and came across one with certain similarities.
The next day I tested both tunes on my harshest critics (the girls). The little one hated both tunes, the larger one loved them (at least they are consistent). What could be agreed upon was the newest composition was the better tune (my gut feeling also). Both are easy-listening ambient pieces. The new tune is slightly funkier, has a melody and sounds cleaner (perhaps because of the new headphones). The older track is less polished and mostly a series of chord progressions set to a beat (even if I do like it’s progressions around the 40 seconds mark). A lot of my compositional experimenting never gets to see the light of day. Therefore I might share more of these “undeveloped” tracks in the future, but for now I hope you enjoy this one (even if it is incompleted and likely to be retired like my old headphones):
Out with the old and in with the new!
Most of the films shown at Film Oxford’s monthly 10×10 meetings showcase documentaries/causes/charity work. This month had a fictional film in the mix called “After the Bombs”.
During this session I realised the following:
1. In film terms I prefer fictitious work over factual pieces. This is the polar opposite of how I generally feel about books.
2. In the 10×10 sessions people tend to be much more critical of fictional work. The audience are more forgiving towards documentary work (even if details are incorrect, an argument is one-sided or the quality of coverage/footage is poor).
I’ve faced problems focusing on my film-work over the past few months so have decided to simplify things. Rather than juggling multiple projects all at the same time I’m planning to consolidate my efforts on one project at a time. I will begin with Spare Change, a project which has been in limbo for too long. Adding additional focus to the mind is the fact I will plan to enter it for this year’s Virgin Media Shorts. In order to do this I need to resolve the following:
1. Some of the shots are under-exposed meaning some shots look too dark. Sadly the video compression (h.264) didn’t retain darker black areas particularly well. We shot most of the footage on location over one evening so our shooting ratio is extremely low. This means we do not have the luxury of alternative shots we can fall back on. Reshoots are sadly not going to be an option (much as I’d like to do them), so there needs to be some other way to address this problem. Plus the picture also needs grading. So if there are any after-effects or colour grading gurus out their listening who want a new challenge – please get in touch! 🙂
2. The whole thing needs to be edited down to 140 seconds to comply with the Virgin Media rules.
3. The sound needs finishing. If you recall, I threw all of the sound out and started from scratch. At the moment people are still gliding across the pavements.
After addressing the run-time (point 2), I turned my efforts towards the final point: sound. Initially I made a list of the sounds which were obviously missing (most of which were footsteps). The next part wasn’t originally planned, I composed a score for the film. This wasn’t strictly necessary but it was part designed to cover some of the missing sound. This is easily some of my most understated work – you barely notice it’s there. I wanted to create an ambient and slightly alien soundscape, so it is mostly synthetic/electronic (with the exception of some bowed cymbals). You could argue with the exception of two tonal moments that it is less scoring and more sound design. The interesting discovery I made whilst doing this was how much quicker I am able to work when I am also the director. This also follows exactly the same pattern as my previous directorial projects – presumably because by this point I understand the requirements inside-out.
With an underscore in place, I set about doing some additional foley work. I clearly could use better sound recording equipment, but one thing I did take away from this experience was how enjoyable this was! I paced up and down the street recording myself walking in various types of shoes and in different manners. The neighbours probably thought I was raving mad. I swung around the washing-line in the back garden as if I was holding on to a hand-rail. I cursed the fact I did this on a beautiful Spring morning when the birds kept interrupting with their twittering. I had some therapy by thumping against the sofa to get some solid-bass thud sounds.
All of this was terrific fun! Now comes what I suspect is the less fun part – which is layering it all together.
In a bitter-sweet mood. Children grow up so fast, arguable too fast these days – yet my daughters continue to delight and surprise me. Recently my eldest has been astounding me with her artwork and story-writing, the little one meanwhile is becoming more articulated, a little bit bigger every day and keeping herself amused with some brilliant creative self-play. I know I have been busy recently, but it feels as I looked away for about half a second and they had suddenly blossomed before my eyes.
Perhaps it is part the fact it is Spring-time now or perhaps I just blinked? The piano tune below is therefore dedicated to my beautiful children. You are my world, I hope you don’t have to grow up too fast.
Felt it was about time I composed a new track, so here we go! Hopefully got a strong soundtrack vibe still, but also has a few more electronic/grunge feeling elements which is my style at the moment (thanks to Spare Change editing). I tried to avoid a few of the usual glitch-style clichés with this, but that’s the kind of style I was going for.
As a side note, I’d like to thank Arsenic-poptarts for letting me use his excellent artwork as the cover for this on Soundcloud – it fits very nicely. Check him out, especially if you love eye artwork.
As a side note, I need to get the popularity of the Ferny Films Facebook page up, so if you could take a moment to “like” this page if you haven’t already – this would be massively appreciated. In return, you’ll get wind of the latest blog updates here, the occasional bit of banter and freebies. Cheers!