Category Archives: Spare Change

Day 19: Spare Change

Christmas is a time of giving. I’ve already done my bit for a few local charities this month. Earlier in the week I read this story.  Heartwarming stuff indeed! And not entirely dissimilar to a little film we did last year. Just in case you haven’t actually seen it yet – here it is!


Changing Your Tune

One of the more contentious creative decisions making Spare Change has been the soundtrack accompanying the end credits. Thoughts were:

i) No Sound, just silence.
ii) Some simple sound effects of the city sleeping.
iii) Music, perhaps something atmospheric or upbeat such as an urban or dance track.

We tried all of these. The first was outright dull. The second worked okay but felt cold to us. So we focused on the third option. Continue reading

VM Shorts help

Dearest blog-readers,
Firstly a BIG thank-you for both reading and supporting this site, we hope you will continue to do this in the future. Our Spare Change team could do with some of your greatly appreciated support right now.
As you may or may not know, we entered Virgin Media Shorts this year. You can view our film Spare Change at:
The way VMshorts works is that 12 videos are picked to go through to the next stage of the competition and one additional film is picked (this is the one which has the most twitter support). It would be fantastic if you could all take a moment from your busy lives to view/vote/promote the film with a tweet along the lines of:
Please watch and vote for Spare Change by @andycarslaw and @scriptpunk.  #VMshortsvote
Of course you could also use the #VMshortsvote hashtag along with the film’s title and the twitter handle @andycarslaw to tell us what you thought of the film so we can discuss in more detail. I will respond to pretty much every tweet in some form! Plus every tweet will count towards our social total which will help to get the film noticed. One of the reasons for using the @andycarslaw handle is because there is also another entry called Spare Change – although this is quite a bit different.
If you can also “Like” and “Share” via the VM Shorts link above – that is also massively appreciated. I’m happy to say we already have just under 70 likes (as of writing this).  The “popularity contest” ends on Sunday 28th July, so any tweets made after this period will no longer be counted.
Whilst it would be nice to make the final twelve films on merit, there are around 850 entires showcasing an amazing array of talent (although many were made by film-makers who had access to bigger resources and budgets than us). A vote for us is a vote for the underdog! 🙂
You can find out further information about the film/cast/crew on our Spare Change website at:
Last but not least – we really hope you enjoy the film and a HUGE thank-you in advance for your support to get us this far!

Spare changes

The Spare change website is now live, please feel free to drop by – if nothing else to appreciate the team involved and look at some of the “behind the scenes” photos by the lovely Vivacious Mel and the erratic photographer. There is still much work to be done, but this is hopefully a good starting point.


The site is at:

Being as homelessness is on the increase, I am hoping to use the film to raise some funds for homeless charities who have been hit by the current economic climate. Meanwhile I would be absolutely thrilled if you could start following our new Sparechangeuk twitter feed and pass the word on!

Many thanks indeed!

Two for One

I suspect most of you don’t have the time or patience to listen to my musical posts being as life is so hectic. Even so, I’ve been noodling around on the keyboard recently so I will share two very different tracks with you.

Firstly, is the Spare Change underscore – which I covered in detail here. This is an odd one as it probably doesn’t sit very well as a stand-alone track. It does work in the context of the film however.

Next up – something completely different, a track I did off the back of my last blog post. I tried to blend some modern sounds (hopefully in a reasonably subtle manner) with something more traditional to reflect romantic thoughts of yesteryear. I’ve already dedicated a track to my children,  so this one is especially for my lovely wife who shares all of life’s ups and downs with me, Happy Anniversary Mrs Chaos! x


You know the score

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.

Sound in Premiere

All of this was terrific fun! Now comes what I suspect is the less fun part – which is layering it all together.

Cancer Hair and Eastern Edge

The next large-scale project on the horizon is called Cancer Hair (title subject to change). This is another collaboration with Gail Hackston (who will make her directorial debut).

Cancer Hair on FernyFilms

The project is best described as an “unromantic comedy”. What attracts me to the project is the fact it is much more uplifting and positive than the title might  suggest. Rarely do we see what happens after “the battle is won” and the survivor is attempting to return to normality (which is the point of Cancer Hair). All of this has resonance being as my own mother has been survived through both breast/cervical cancer in the past – she is a truly inspirational woman!

We are filming the story in Gail’s local borough Redbridge which lead us to apply to Eastern Edge – who fund short films. They have shortlisted us alongside five other projects. Only one project can win the award however. I’ve attended some training sessions which I found pretty inspirational for several reasons:

1. It was interesting meeting the other groups who are also competing for the fund. Although technically in competition, it’s always good to networking with other film-makers. There is usually plenty of fun banter.

2. The Eastern Edge guys themselves are hyper-enthusiastic!

3. It’s been great seeing people who have been awarded in the past and hear about their projects. These were Kate Sullivan for Walking tall, Mark Downes for Stop and Ida Akesson for Moments and The Holiday. I had already met Ida at the Guerilla Filmmaker’s Masterclass. All three were wonderful inspiration!

Tomorrow we go and pitch the project to a panel at Film London. Wish us luck, and I’ll keep you posted on how things played out in due course.

Meanwhile, if you are film-maker that lives in the Redbridge area – it is well worth considering putting in a future application with Eastern Edge.