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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Nelson Nutmeg DVD in ASDA - physically exciting - but what's the future for film?



So as you can, my debut feature film is now on the shelves of Asda. Exciting times. In the cheeky video I popped in with co-director and co-writer Danny Stack to bag us a copy.

This clip was filmed on the day of the DVD release. But by this point in time the movie had already been out on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and Sky Store for a couple of weeks. Here's some thoughts and conclusions from this experience.

One: People are excited about a DVD
People prefer a DVD probably because they can touch it and hold it. Certainly, as far as our experience is concerned, our fans (and cast and crew) were more thrilled about this release than the digital release. Perhaps because it also felt more 'real' and 'day to day'. The DVD is exclusive to Asda. Asda is somewhere they may go on a regular basis. So the film isn't something that is separate to their normal world, happening only in oddball film land. It's at their local store, next to 'proper' DVDs from Disney.

Two: As a film maker, you can build more marketing interest around a DVD.
The funky little video above gained a lot of views on Facebook. I was going to say more views than we got for the equivalent clips we did for the digital release. But actually - we didn't really have any of those. Why? Because there isn't something you can really film for a digital release. A DVD, by being tangible, can be used as a prop for all kinds of marketing effort.

Three: It can sell out
One of the downsides, compared to digital releases, is that a physical item needs shelf space and stock. So it can therefore, also sell out and be unavailable. As our movie has a lot of local support it sold out very quickly in our area and so there were empty shelves with some people not being able to buy it.

Four: The future
Any kind of physical release will become more and more uncommon in the future if trends continue as they are - and I see no reason why trends would change. For most people a DVD is a burden, not a treat. They need a DVD player for starters and to sit at home. With a digital release they can watch on their phone on the beach, at the park, in the car, on the train, in bed etc etc. And on many different devices. A challenge for film makers is therefore what physical items they can create to both sell and build content around. Special editions etc.

Business links
Distribution via Evolutionary Films
DVD via Gilt Edge Media

Monday, May 15, 2017

Podcast Episode 61: TV writer, Martin Day




Is there a career ladder that writers can move up on anymore? It used to be that you would start on regular 'soaps' and then move into ongoing drama and then onto your own shows. Is that even possible anymore? Experienced TV writer and WGGB rep for the South West, Martin Day, talks about his own career. It's had ups and downs of course, but most interestingly, what has changed most has been the actual business of TV writing.

In my classic way, I was a bit controversial and confrontational in my thoughts, in order that we properly explore the issue. My concern is that the BBC, through various schemes, still tries to offer a way in for new writers. But does the BBC actually directly hire enough writers to be able to offer any kind of follow up. Clearly a stamp of approval from getting on a BBC is a great thing to have, something we still aspire to. But do they actually produce enough in house drama content anymore that they can claim to be able to facilitate a career ladder to climb?

It was a very interesting conversation. And it made me more confident that ever that the advice of 'growing yourself as a writer' and 'doing it your way' is sensible and prudent for any writer.

You can see more about Martin at www.martinday.co.uk and find him on twitter - @sirdigbychicken

Monday, March 20, 2017

Podcast Episode 60: Documentaries, with Joe Martin


This episode we talk to Joe Martin about something a bit different - documentaries. Although Joe's latest film (Us and Them) is fiction he has previously created many documentaries, including the doc feature "Keep Quiet" about far right politician Csanád Szeged.

Us and Them was at SXSW recently. Here's a review.

So he is ideally placed to talk about drama-docs and the increase use of story consultants within the doc world. Is it a good development that adds clarity or a bad trend that creates formulaic content.

His IMBD = http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5630563/

Thursday, March 02, 2017

3 act, 9 act? Consider the sequence approach



Sometimes, as writers, we can get a bit obsessed about different structures. But the sequence approach is slightly different. Not all writers know about it however, hence this post. I'm a big fan.

It is different because it comes at the issue of structure from another point of view. It simply states that a story is made up of sequences that are 10-15 minute in length - and that those sequences are like mini pieces of drama in themselves, perhaps with a mini 3-act inside them. So one film may have 8 sequences, while another longer film could have 12.

The sequence approach can be a useful style of structure, especially for ‘road movie’ style narratives or character pieces. But actually you see it a lot in action movies too or thrillers - where each sequence features a different method to overcome the villain for example.

If you focus on ensuring that the sequence you are writing is exciting and fulfilling - and that each sequence is emotionally different to the one before and after it - you can really engage the audience. You can keep them along for the ever-changing emotional journey.

It can also be a useful tool for those with a lot of experience writing shorts or TV episodes who are daunted by a feature. Shorts are usually single sequences. So this approach allows you to see that writing a feature made of 7 sequences is no more scary than writing 7 short scripts.

Some good examples of this structure, for me, are films such as:
“Falling Down” - each stop on Michael Douglas' journey is a sequence
“Fandango” - the stages of our heroes' 1960s road trip

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Light leak wipe - in cool hues - 4K - free download

Here is my latest 4K light leak - or actually a set of 6 in one download!! As ever, available for free (and also you can watch it it in 2160p / UHD on YouTube) via Creative Commons, details below.

I collect all my light leaks on a special page where there are MORE FREE DOWNLOADS, so bookmark it. So far, they have been downloaded well over 400,000 times! And used in TV shows on NatGeo, Discovery and BBC1. As well as in many trailers and indie films.

This new one has a set of six different light leak wipes, all with a cool colour or cyan hue. This makes them great for hi tech or sciencey vibes!

All six are slightly different in style, but max out at pure white allowing for a transition or cut to occur underneath. I include all 6 in one download so that you can use them at different points in your edit without repeating the exact same effect over and over.






If, in your edit package, you then alter the speed of the clips or reverse them you can create even more different looks.

Download here (149MB) - http://www.mediafire.com/file/syoxizc1z3wtm7d/4K-Light_Streak_Wipe_Cool.mp4

If you are using these clips for a commercial project with a budget then get in touch. I make the leaks free for non-commercial use (short films etc). Creative Commons details on the main page.

If HD leaks are of interest to you (under the same conditions) then I have loads here.

If you want to do me a favour because of all this cool stuff - that would be great too. Cheers. A few suggestions...


If you are super kind and get something out of using these then please donate a small amount via the button below...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Podcast Episode 59: Pete & Nat - Treehouse Digital.



This episode of podcast myself and Danny rock up to interview Peter Stanley-Ward and Natalie Conway from Treehouse Digital. We've known them for ages. I've known them for even longer than that. As Pete mentions, we first met when he came along to an evening class I was running at the local college. Going to writing classes, or starting your own class or group (one was started at Treehouse Digital this week!) is always a good idea. Just to meet other people you find a shared vision with.

Pete and Nat are unusual in that they are a couple of writers who are also an actual couple! They made their way into the creative industries via a low budget horror feature called Small Town Folk which they used both a self-funded training course AND a calling card.

Fast forward a few years and they launched a production company which does paid gigs as well as making fantastic shorts like Litterbugs. We like them as they do kids entertainment too, so we get to have a good industry gossip with them and share tips and leads. And then lent us their room for an audition for our next top secret project ;)

How did they do it? Who helped? What lessons have they learned? We asked them!

Is it better to make a feature and learn that way than go to Uni? And we compare our self / crowd funded movie with their one funded via Creative England - which way is better?

Fun fact: Pete filmed some of our behind the scenes footage on Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg?



LINKS FEATURED:
Treehouse Digital: http://www.treehousedigital.com
Litterbugs (their short): http://www.litterbugsthemovie.com

Monday, December 19, 2016

SAINT NICKED - the Christmas short film 2016




Every year I make a seasonal short film (see the others here). The challenge remains the same - make a fun little movie as a "Christmas card" using whatever is at hand. It is more original than a card that you will throw away after twelve days - and more fun to make too.

So in this year's film...
A young girl sets out to capture Santa in order to "have a word" about this so-called naughty / nice list! And it was filmed ALL IN ONE TAKE! Crackers!

So how did we pull it off? Well, I know kids are great actors and also are fantastic at learning lines. So I wanted to push that idea to its very limit with a four minute monologue. Myself and fellow Nutmegger Danny Stack went through a few drafts of the script, moving between more sentimental ideas and more crazy slapstick ones, finally ending up in between.

We held auditions, with help of Pete and Nat, and met some awesome young actors. Izzy came out on top in terms of line-learning skills and her ideas for bringing in physical bits of business. Now, where to film it?

Luckily the crazy cats at Treehouse Digital (fresh from their hit kids short film Litterbugs) had a set kicking around in their studio. It needed a little adapting so Tom went off to the park and came back with half a bush we could put up in the set window - a bit of talc later and hey presto - its winter dudes.

Colin from Divercol had his tracking spare and didn't mind pushing a dolly up and down it a few dozen times. So it became clear we could do it all in a single moving take with a bit of practise. Shot on the Ursa mini with a 50mm Xeen lens with Radi operating and doing the lighting and big Chris on focus duties. Mark Wellman on sound who owed us a favour - or we owe him one, or something. First AD Steve was on hand as ever to keep us moving along.

There was a quick grade and music added to finish it off and there we are. We made this. All in 4K wonder - for your new tele! Enjoy! Not bad for a day's work. And remember, we all made it as an excuse to wish you a Merry Christmas.


LINKS TO YE MERRY GENTLEMEN...

Nelson Nutmeg Pictures = http://www.nelsonnutmegpictures.com
Litterbugs short film = http://www.litterbugsthemovie.com
Treehouse Digital = http://www.treehousedigital.com
Divercol = http://www.divercol.co.uk