Archive | April 2010

Morrison’s Birthday Party Wins Best Short Drama award!!

Here’s some great news. A short “Morrison’s Birthday Party”, has been awarded Best Short Drama from the New York International Film Festival!! I was a co-writer and the Assistant Director for the film and here’s a quick piece on the filming:

The Chronicle of Morrison’s

It was 9:45pm when Trevor Hughes said, “That’s a wrap. Congratulations everyone”

Trevor was at his sister’s house. In conversation, Trevor’s sister mentioned that in little over a week’s time, she would be joining her family on holiday. Ever thoughtful, Trevor saw the opportunity to have a gathering of friends, a party you might say. His first idea was to have a screening of the period drama ‘Babbage’ and what better place, as this had been the location of the film set. However, it was mid summer, a chance to use the lovely garden which, unfortunately would be an unlikely venue for a film screening. The cogs kept turning. Perhaps there was an opportunity to do some filming. Maybe a little short film with a party afterwards? This was the thought that Trevor mulled over, as he began his long trek back home (About 50 yards!) and no sooner had he closed the front door behind him and then he had his epiphany.

Soon after, Trevor phoned director Claire Barker and she was to hear familiar words that would invoke a mixture of emotions. Usually those of fear and panic, mixed with excitement and joy. “I have an idea”. So the idea was born. Shoot a feature film in one night. Now admittedly, on the surface, this sounds like madness. Throw a party and shoot it at the same time. Don’t use a script, film it in the Frame on Frame ‘Zogma’ style. Not using a script, just provide plot points and a basic premise and then let the actors run with it. Film it with multiple cameras, shooting at multiple angles simultaneously, essentially producing a live movie. More importantly, make sure everyone enjoyed themselves, by providing the them with food and even alcohol. I mean it was a party after all. Oh yes! Plan and shoot the film in 9 days.

At this stage, to the reader, madness may not seem like a strong enough word!

Having bounced ideas around with Claire, Trevor sent out invitations to friends, colleagues and actors alike, to attend ‘Morrison’s Birthday Party’ and be a part of shooting a feature film in one night. Trevor awaited the responses and they came in thick and fast over the following couple of days. The party would go ahead.

With cameras, cast and crew on board, all that was left was to confirm the plot, the characters and the running order, in the 3 days that were left. As Claire had agreed to star in the film, her character playing a pivotal role, Trevor wanted her to be on an even playing field as the other leads. So he decided to invite Steve Payne and Eamon Wyse to join him to complete the plot lines, character profiles and character relationships. They were not alone in the creative process however, as each of the actors had given their own input to their characters and Trevor, Steve and Eamon would use as many of the ideas as they could, as the moulded the storyline. After 3 hours of brainstorming, it was complete.

The following day, Trevor sent the cast and crew a character list, with some background to each one, along with a call sheet and running order. However, some of the plot points would be held back until the story unfolded. With one day until filming, 8 days since the idea’s inception, ‘Morrison’s Birthday Party’ was ready to roll.

‘England, my England’ D.H. Lawrence had once wrote and our England did not disappoint. As expected with a plan to shoot outdoors, it rained. Having gathered everyone at the location for 6pm, the cast and crew stood and watched the rain fall on the party table.  Just as Trevor, his DOP Daniel Russell and his 1st AD Eamon Wyse were giving everything another check, Richard Hoult, who had worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey, French Lieutenant’s Woman, and Portrait of a Lady, amongst others and had kindly accepted Trevor’s invitation to attend, approached the group. “It’s stopped raining”, he said and the filming began.

2 hours, confrontations, shocks, partying, drinking, kissing, music, a go-go dancer, a fire dancer and a martial arts demonstration later, oh and a cake (Never forget the cake!) and the final scene was shot. The party had come to an end, or at least that party, as the cast and crew stayed until the early hours to celebrate. After just 9 days of preparation and 2 hours filming, using 6 cameras, dancing around each other as if they were in a an excited and sometimes stressful ballet, it was ‘in the can’.

Looking back, was it indeed madness? I’m sure if you asked anyone involved, the answer would be no. Either that, or they’d all have to admit that they were as mad as the idea seemed to be! Would they want to do it again? Considering the number of ‘When’s the next one?’ and ‘Can’t wait to work with you again’ that Trevor received afterwards, I’d say they would.

So congratulations to a fantastic cast and crew for creating a little bit of history. A feature film, planned in just 9 days and shot in 2 hours, live. It has to be some sort of record, right? On the night of July 31st 2008, it was 9:45pm when Trevor Hughes said, “That’s a wrap. Congratulations everyone” and it was done.

Read more about the project here: http://www.frameonframe.co.uk/page15/page15.html

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3330633/

Attacking the web series

A couple of years ago, Johan and I worked together for the first time, on a 48 hour horror film challenge. We had worked on some ideas, after being given our title and theme, but that was put aside as we decided to use a completely different idea, that we improvised. That became ‘Mason’ and we’re now looking at extending out the idea. At first, it was going to be a 30 minute mockumentary, however, we’ve decided to kick it off this year, as a web series.

There have a been a few successful web series, over the last year or two, none more so, than the Whedon created “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog”, starring Nathan Fillion, Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day. The latter has since gone on to create a web series of her own “The Guild”, which is now it’s 3rd season. Both of these are extremely entertaining and are well worth watching, especially if you’re interested in making strides in the web series arena. Take a look at http://www.watchtheguild.com and http://doctorhorrible.net – it’s worth while.

Back to ‘Mason’! We’ll be getting things moving on this in May and will be looking at bringing back the original cast members of Gareth Cooper and Sandy Jarvis and we’re looking forward to getting cracking on it.

The poster below was for the original short, called “Before Night Falls”.

I’ll be keeping the updates coming, as Johan and I (In5anity Productions) progress on the multiple projects we have going at the moment.

What is the English Language Tax?

On the 1st April, a new tax was announced…Okay, it wasn’t. A couple of weeks ago, Trevor Hughes (Frame on Frame) approached me, about being a part of a project that he was planning for April Fools Day. The idea came from the popularity of the short clip, starring Bill Nighy, for the Robin Hood Tax and in addition, Trevor had been thinking a bit about a tax on language misuse. You can read a little more about the general idea here: http://www.frameonframe.co.uk

So having written his take, Trevor sent his script across and I made a few tweaks, additions and changes and we were set. As support for the clip, Trevor spoke to presswire about having a press release sent out and they decided to come on board. The press release is below and is also online here: http://www.presswire.com/releases/Tax_to_be_placed_on_misuse_of_English_language/501 and is sitting nicely at the top of the business and finance section.

Press Release:

The United Kingdom Home Office has proposed a new ‘English Language Tax’ aimed at tourists and foreign workers, with the intention of raising £4.5 billion during the scheme’s first 12 months.

A Home Office spokesman explained: ”An electronic chip will be issued at passport control and fitted to all incoming non-UK visitors. The chip will monitor any misuse of the English Language and a small tax will be levied on each mispronounced word.”

An exclusive interview about the new scheme with Jennifer Selhurst, Home Office Minister for Social Cohesion, can be viewed here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHxlL7T00P8

Having put his contact details at the end of the press release, Trevor had a fair bit of contact from other countries. One Korean reader, was pretty upset about this new tax and phoned Trevor to complain! Aside from that, Trevor’s had some good feedback on the clip and all-in-all, it was a quite successful little joke.

Stay tuned for more about further collaborations with Trevor.