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!
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.
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!
Recently I met The Choice production team to discuss our assembly edit. Most film-makers will tell you this is usually a bit depressing. Once the niceties were dispensed with, I started to get information back from the crew about what worked and what didn’t. I set about correcting things enthusiastically. Feeling good, I went to the Guerilla Filmmaker’s Masterclass and got chatting to some of the editors. More feedback:”The opening doesn’t work”, “The ending doesn’t work”, “Needs even faster pacing”. Most of it was candid and invaluable advice, with only a few subjective comments.
I went back to the edit suite for a seismic shake-up.
I started to play around with the structure. Out went most of my favourite shots including the beloved single take (pacing). The context of the story was changing. I even removed an entire scene. All in all – a pretty brutal experience! Strangely it now feels streamlined and I’m happier. I’ve also just reached my goal: getting the runtime under ten minutes. Who knows – it might not be too much longer before I can focus on the next set of post-production headaches: sound fixing and colour grading.
Despite my best intentions (and claims) that I will never edit another film I’ve directed I’m back at it again. Unfortunately the original editor (being in a similar situation to me) didn’t have time to devote to the project. It’s now been about half a year since we filmed The Choice. To be fair, I should have chased harder. On the other-hand, it’s been several months and I’ve now dropped a lot of the baggage swimming around in my head during the production phase. In fact, I’ve rekindled my love of editing (at last I can see the forest for the trees).
The semi-frustrating part is that I’ve had to start right from the beginning again (would have been easier if Adobe Premiere was more accommodating with different versions – it seemingly supports Final Cut better than its own software). I began with what I believed would be the hardest scene to edit (it came together reasonably painlessly). As is so often the case with editing a couple of the seemingly innocuous scenes caused more grief. I’m now on the cusp of having an assembly edit (around 16 minutes).
I won’t delve into editing specifics for now but I will revise my original claim. I’m not going to edit another film I’ve directed unless I’ve given it a reasonable “cooling-off” period so I can look with fresh eyes.
Well sadly there just wasn’t enough interest in the Christmas song (thanks to those who did vote however). In place of this – I’ll share the teaser I previously mentioned on Day 18. It’s only rough but features some new music and I hope you enjoy the very first glimpse into the project. Meanwhile I’d love to know what you think, so please feel free to leave a comment below. And with that, I wish you all a very merry and peaceful Christmas!
First teaser for The Choice
Almost there now. I hope you’ve all made your Christmas lists.
Just one more sleep to go, I hope you’ve been good!
There is something very cinematic about a subway, not that I would ever look forward to filming in one.
By October we had picked the subway location we liked and worked with Film Oxford and the city council to secure it. The good news was it was near to our main base, reasonably quiet and generally one of the safer environments we might have used (helped by the fact we shot it early on a dreary Sunday morning). The bad news was it was still pretty grim (if only you could have had “smell-0-vision”).
Ultimately it provided us with some pretty moody and menacing footage. In fact I think my favourite shot of the film was filmed here (even if it did need a fair bit of rehearsal and some pretty meticulous timing).