Friday, 24 December 2010

Guest Reviewer Spot - Coming Soon!

One of the Writers Block regulars, Mark Harrison - a.k.a. 'The Mad Prophet' - has asked a few of us to take part in his radio show by providing a review of our favourite films.

Not surprisingly to anyone who knows me, I have chosen Point Break, a film I will never tire of and the current 'audio-visual wallpaper' in my room as I plough through all things Christmassy, such as film school coursework and learning lines for the upcoming 'live' project with the second year FdA students.

The piece will be recorded in the new year and broadcast some time after that - watch this space for more details.

Mark's film reviews can be viewed at the following link:

Mark also writes for 'The Den Of Geek', check it out:

Friday, 10 December 2010

Small magazines are called 'zines' it seems

Tonight was the launch of the second zine co-written by Writers Block regular Tim Marshall and collaborators John Chadwick and michael Hann.
The event featured live music and poetry readings along with film screenings and a fashion show... And I provided the spotlights!?!

Tim was like the 'man of the match' the other night at the concept film event - he's incredibly talented and a terribly nice bloke all round.
If you ask me, I'd say he's wasted teaching at a primary school and thoroughly deserves any and all good fortune that should find him.

Here's a link for the event:

A Day For The Diary

Congratulations to Jennifer Nelson for landing her first role in a feature film today!!!
Jennifer has worked with me on a number of occasions, including in the multi-award winning 'The Woman Who Loved A Tree', as the lead in my micro-short 'Letting Go' and as the severed head in our student reinterpretation of a scene from 'Under Suspicion' - follow this link to check out Jen's professional profile on Spotlight.

Well done Jen, what a big day! I hope to see you in Hollywood soon!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

It's Christmas, by Dickens

Here we are then, representatives of Christmas' Past, Present and Future...
It is one year since I first attended a concept film night; twelve months ago was the Joseph Tan memorial special. Joe, who sadly passed away in 2009, was highly influential in my decision to become a film maker, not just work on films. Joe touched a lot of lives with his gorecartoon films and i have the pleasure of attending my film studies classes with one of his finest actors, a certain craig Samson. We remember you Joe.
This years' concept film night was supposed to have a Christmas theme but only a few films, two in fact, were explicitly relevant.
The night was hosted by Writers Block, once again a positive and enthusiastic performance by Laura Degnan and a late arriving James Harris.

In a surprise entry to the night, our 48 hour film festival entry 'the Woman Who Loved a Tree' was played and Laura invited a few of us up to share a story or two with the audience. I think this put me in good stead with them and allowed me to easily chat with other film makers from the night.
I introduced myself to David Cave, director of 'Day of the Broken Dolls' and it emerged that we knew a lot of the same people from our days growing up in Middlesbrough in the 90s, to attending CCAD as students and now knowing the same Newcastle based film makers - take a bow Dawn, John, Andy and Jimmy!

I feel like I've been on the right path for a year now, so, rather than say the future starts here, I'll leave it as the future CONTINUES here.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Marc's Shark

Following my recent meeting with 'Colin' director, Marc Price, I have been asked to create a shark hand puppet for his next film, to be shot in Cornwall, in the new year.
In preparation for this, I had a Jaws movie marathon yesterday, to see what can be done if you're Steven Speilberg or if you have Hollywood money.
Since neither of these apply to me, I can only hope the results work within the given shot and don't embarrass me or Marc too much..!

Didn't wanna be a cowboy anyway!

The CCAD film and tv production live project finalised casting the other week and sadly and despite my best efforts, the cowboy role went to someone else...
But they do recognise talent when they see it, so I was offered, and I've accepted, the part of Buck Turbine, self styled secret agent and representative of the 'Action' film genre.
I've now read my bit of script, and a few pages either side,and I mist say it's not quite what I was expecting...
Well be having rehearsals soon (last weeks were cancelled due to the venue being closed thanks to extreme weather conditions)and I hope I can throw a little extra into the character and maybe learn a little bit about him myself.

Simulated live tv. Did it last year, doing it this year. Hope I don't have to make up another FOUR minutes this time!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Generations, Legacy, The Legend Continues...

I had a wonderful time tonight at Bang!, catching up with old friends and watching new films. What I hadn't realised was that Luke's son, Jordan, and partner, Rebecca, were so heavily involved in his film. Vader: A Rise and Fall was very similar to 'The Woman Who Loved A Tree' with it's mockumentary approach, which is always (in my limited experience) a crowd pleaser.
Other notable films from the night included 'Red Arrow' and 'Sis', the latter of which was both fun and tough to watch in equal measure.
It's nearly three am and we've just finished watching 'Night of the Demon' on telly and discussing the past, present and future of film making in the world today.
Luke has been writing a few comedy scripts and has asked me to play a part in 'BatSmith' and 'The Not-So Professionals' - I can do that, where do I sign?
I had a great night tonight and I'm looking forward to spending more time with these characters from my former life on Nottingham.

Through Rain or Sleet or Hail or Snow...

Toward the Hollywood dream I will go!

Britain was hit by an early winter this week and most organisations recommended only essential journeys should be undertaken. Well I wanted to support my old friend as his short film is debuted at the Nottingham Broadway Bang! Film Festival tonight and, so far at least, nothing has stood in my way.
The event kicks off in a couple of hours so I'm off to get changed and prepare for another hard round of networking opportunity.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

He's not the cowboy, he's a very secret agent..!

Late news:
I was offered the role of the action film representative in the CCAD second years' live project, as opposed to the cowboy I was shooting for.
It's a James Bond-esque role and I'm already working on a few accents.

In other news:
The role of JC was cruelly snatched away by fate as a different script appears to have won the opportunity to be filmed.
There's always next year I suppose!

Next up:
Bang! Film festival in Nottingham.

Monday, 22 November 2010

BANG! Nottingham short film festival this weekend coming - and I'm going!

An old friend (and ex-boss) of mine from Nottingham will be showing his first film at a festival being held at the Broadway independent cinema this weekend.
We met back in 2003 and struck it off immediately thanks to our shared interest in films and film making. We spent many a long evening planning to take over Hollywood but work always came first and the dream was parked up.
Cut to: 2009 and we both, and independently, revisited our first love of entertainment.
I am proud to be visiting Luke at this event, he has been very supportive of me in my studies and recent performances and we are looking to collaborate on an action comedy project within the next few months.

Check it out:

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Leeds film festival: result

It's not what you know, it's who you know...
I arranged to meet an actor friend of mine at the venue, Jennifer Nelson; she had been at a casting session earlier in the day, which went well it seems.
Colin director Marc Price was at the event - as a judge it turns out, and he has become a good friend with Jennifer Nelson, following a film making event at the Writers Block in Middlesbrough. He invited us for drinks and we ended up in the same bar as the judges and the director of The Dead, Howard ford, his brother Jon, Imran the musician and the film's star, Rob Freeman.

Howard was very generous with his time and gave us lots of advice on breaking into the business; Rob was fantastic company, telling anecdotes of his time on the film and life in general and Marc Price was as down to earth as ever, such a lovely person to know - and hopefully work with, but that's a story for another day...

Here's some links to the film and beyond:

Leeds International Film Festival - The Dead

In a last minute decision, I have come down to Leeds to see the northern premier of 'The Dead'!
There's writers, directors and actors here tonight, so let's see what happens.

Friday, 12 November 2010

The Tournament 3!?!

Writers Block are tonight having a special screening of The Tournament with special guest speaker Nick Rowntree introducing and holding a Q&A afterwards.

Writers Block are the most solid thing to happen to films in Middlesbrough in the last 12 months, I sincerely wish them all the very best for the future.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Another weekend, another film challenge...

Writers Block, bless 'em, single-handedly creating the film scene in Middlesbrough these days, held a 4 hour film challenge this afternoon.
I wanted a break from the production design and opted to e an actor only this time. Competition was strong - BBC favourite Bill Fellows was in one of the groups but that instilled a level of professionalism not seen in such quick events.
Fortune favours the brave and once again it shone down on my group... The filming location was right around the corner from my parents' home and I was able to borrow some fantastic costume and props.
We filmed a documentary about a shark in a local park lake - I played the grizzled hunter, pitted in a battle of wits against the beastie.
We finished filming with time to spare but technology thwarted us and we missed the deadline.
As it happened, only 2 groups made it and we were the third ones finished, so it's kind of like winning the bronze medal, right?
It was a great day and everyone played well.
Right now we're all in the pub having a victory roll burger and a pint.
Back to the world tomorrow...

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Cement Factory screening, Peg Powler Gallery

Just received word that a short film that I acted in recently is being shown on Thursday night in Stockton.
I planned my role meticulously, researching cement production and growing an excellent beard (I try and do a new and different beard for every character role I play) - tattoos were drawn on in permanent marker but even still were thought out so as to best build my character.
Co-directed by AJ Garrett, there wasn't a strict script for us to learn, just a series of ideas that had to play out withinthe given scene. This led to some wicked improvs, especially by the genius James Harris.
Filming day was a lot of fun and it was only after we had wrapped that AJ told us that it wasn't meant to be a comedy... Oops!
Not a comedy you say? My character had a dark secret that involved a cement mixing machine, self pleasurement and homicidal tendencies...
Huh, typecast again!

I Wanna Be A Cowboy!


CCAD TV and Film acting auditions tonight...

And here's my new theme tune:

Saturday, 30 October 2010

You can't win them all, Mum!

In a week of local film premieres, I have failed both big and small...

On Thursday night at MIMA, Middlesbrough, I missed the showing of 'Shooting Time', a film by Jamie about his father , Ian, a local documentary photographer.
I made it in time for the Q&A session afterwards and saw the film the following day on DVD.
Biggest miss of the week was the regional big screen premier of 'The Tournament', a film written by ex-CCAD film student Nick Rowntree.
Local news confused me over the when's and where's of the event as it also 'premiered' in Leicester Square at the same time...
Maybe it's got a secret showing tonight, but I doubt it.

I found out about both of the events at quite short notice and had already committed my time to another project but it still feels like a lost opportunity.

Better luck next time Johnny!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Any excuse to dress up...

Today I took part in 'The Big Draw' art project for the Peg Powler gallery, and what a lot of fun it was too..!
I was performing as Sir John Conyers, local dragon slayer and was joined by Jennifer Nelson as Peg Powler herself. The highlight of the day was becoming 'living statues' in the shop window, more often than not scaring people when we moved; initial shock usually turns into a great big smile and we managed to interest a lot of children into taking part in the art workshopm inside.
So far, not very filmy, but another group of artists down the road had a pirate themed event on so we went to check it out. As it happened, we turned up during a script reading for a local film project and were invited to play a part in the production.
Through my work with Writers Block, I had vaguely heard of the company, 'Will Work For Food' but this was my first face to face meeting.
Curiously, the main pirate actor, Stewart, was taking part in the CCAD acting auditions last week - it's a really small world out there.
Did I mention I created my own knight outfit? Had a little help from the costume construction staff I work with every day, couldn't have done it without you Jane, thanks.

3D In Your Face, Bradford Media Museum

A seminar on the future of 3D in entertainment media, it's an easy one to write off as geek oriented and irrelevant but it was, without doubt, the most important event I've attended since SFX '96.

After a brief history of 3D cinema (first seen in the 1920's) we soon moved on to camera rigs and set ups, crew expertise and lighting considerations.
My question about production design was answered concisely by Richard Hill of Axis cameras, although I later thought of a pertinent follow up point but missed the opportunity to have it answered.
Ben X from Red Star CGI films gave the point of view of the virtual creative and bowed down to the real film makers and the massive rigs used. He said how CGI amusement shorts can cheat and push the eye further in their films, compared to a 90 min film.
A speaker from Framestore in London spoke of their experience working on Avatar and made some very interesting points about post production - namely that it takes twice as long and mist be pixel perfect due to the different view in each eye.
Other speakers discussed 3D TV and it seems like all practicioners have much more faith on cinema than TV.

I had a look around the film museum too, very good indeed, especially the IMAX viewing gallery.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

48 Hour Film Challenge - multi-award winners!

Today we set off to Newcastle with few expectations of winning bit we came away with all the biggies!
Best film, best director, best actress,best writer, audience choice award and honourable mentions for best music and best actor!

The whole team went up on stage to collect the best film prize and right now we're having a victory meal at Wagamama's... Bon appetite!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Living on the other side of the lens

Today I was offered two acting roles in quite different productions.
The first is to play a knight of local legend at a live event held by Peg Powler Galleries in Stockton. The second is an as yet unknown part in an upcoming short film challenge - 'Flip for Boro' in ascociation with Writers Block.
I have performed characters at a few live events over the years, twelve months ago I spent the night as a French artist...
Acting in front of the camera gives me the chance to study the way other directors work and allows me a way to improve my behind the camera techniques without the pressure to get the sound and picture just right.

Film making is fantastic fun!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

3D In Your Face, Bradford

Just about certain to attend the 3D Future of Film event at Bradford next Friday - anyone want to come along and split the petrol?

Here's a link to all the details:

It's gonna be an early start mind, setting off from Boro about 7am.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Saturday, 9 October 2010

48 hour film competition with Writers Block

I was just about to settle down and edit a teaser trailer for the Grand Scheme of Things movie project when the phone rang and Laura Degnan asked me to act in a short film she was making over the next few hours - in Newcastle!
We picked up fellow actors Jen and Tim and headed off up the A19 to meet Beth, the lead actor.
In the true spirit of small films, we each adopted roles behind the camera until our screen time. This involved sound recording, cable bashing, set dressing and asking the local youths to please be quiet while we get the shot - they did as well, for about thirty seconds!
None of us had any experience with the particular camera we were using but thanks to a recent tech/demo by Richard Popple, we managed to muddle through.
(at one point, we were going to use our trusty iPhones to google the instruction book - good old 3G!

Might do some pick up shots tomorrow but the project needs to be on someone's desk by 7pm tomorrow...
Good luck Laura and James!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Lights, Camera, Action!

This is it, day one of my film making blog, it all starts here...

In fairness, it started a good few years ago, probably Star Wars, but maybe The Black Hole or Superman.