Sunday, 18 December 2011

Die Hard With an Audience...

It's time for me to pick my six numbers I think - this week I've 'won' two separate 'contests' and the undeniable fact is that 'you must be IN it to win it'.

A little effort, that's all it took to be selected as 'best letter to santa' - a polite request and a kind thought for others... And there only being ONE other entry, well that helps!
But that's the point, if you don't even throw your hat into the ring, you have absolutely ZERO chance of a favourable result.

That brings us round to the Die Hard themed Christmas Party; a beautifully conceived audience participation event held in a 'high rise office block in LA'.

The terrorists just took over - but who will save us!??

What we knew for sure was that the film would be shown, there would be an 80's disco afterwards and the audience were invited to come in dance dress - and that there would be a prize for best costume...

A prize you say?

Related to something I do for a living?

...and one of my all time favourite films..?


Obviously I chose to go as the lead character, John McClane; bruce willis in a dirty vest... Too easy?

It's the attention to detail that I relish; me and Hans Gruber...

It's relatively easy to pick up a White vest and it's not a prize winning activity to splash a little fake blood and dirt over it... So how does one go that extra mile?

Barefoot? Yes, although there was a stipulation that the audience must wear shoes (we later found this was partly because they'd dressed the set with fake broken glass - lovely eye for detail these guys!)

Writing on his arm? Of course...
Wrist watch, right arm, watch face on inside of wrist; check

A 9mm Beretta. I don't usually 'do' guns but times, they are a-changing...

Not bad for a hunk of MDF

The skull-in-top-hat tattoo - goes unnoticed by most people...

But I told you already - I'm a fan. I've studied this before on many an occasion, for pleasure and for work.

I used to sculpt a range of collectable figurines called 'The Turds' - here's 'DRIES HARD'

And that hair is pretty iconic. For the past decade, Bruce Willis has pretty much played Bruce Willis: bald-headed tough guy. But 25 years ago he had a fantastically receding hairline with a swept-back spike.

My hairline is the exact opposite of what it needs to be. Moreover, I wasn't going to chop it back for one party as it was the 'floppy hair' that landed me the extras work on Song For Marion.

I decided to make a rubber hairpiece - that worked really well and wasn't as sweaty as you may think.

Good work starts with great reference

Needs a littlemore work!

If you look really close, you might be able to see the join

This look was complimented by my health-and-safety-compliant RUBBER FEET SHOE COVERS!

What a hit! Just a few details left - the tattoo for one... But hang on; the party starts in six hours, I'm on my own till then, I need a tattoo on my left arm... And I'm LEFT HANDED!?!

Time for a little lateral thinking...

 My first thought was to cast my arm and make a rubber copy. Too long. I decided to paint layers of flesh coloured latex onto my arm, build up a thickness which I could then peel off, draw on the tattoo and reapply.

This REALLY hurt when I pulled it off!
That worked, although it took every spare minute up until the last one!

I attended the event with prop and costume maker Sean collins and had arranged to meet film maker Andrew Coates, of Duffel Films, at the event.

The setup was excellent: huge prints of the LA skyline adorned the Walls, along with fake stone and water features, all in keeping with the look in the film. The music playing was 'Ode to Joy', heard throughout the film itself and waitresses handed out champagne and party food. Nakatomi Corporation stickers and signage adorned every wall but subtly, really selling the atmosphere.

We met up with one of the organisers pretty soon after we arrived and I showed him my pics from the real 'Nakatomi Tower' in LA, the Fox Plaza building on the Avenue of the Stars. He quizzed my knowledge of the film and wished us well for the party. Lovely bloke Hal.

And then nothing happened. We stood around mingling, waiting for the film to start but there being little sign that it would... It was all a ruse to wrong-foot us, for sure enough, a bunch of 'international terrorists' burst into the room and ushered us at gunpoint into the cinema room!

We were treated to a welcome speech in the style of Alan Rickman as 'terrorists' waved plastic guns at us! (On a side note: a John McClane lookalike ducked into a side room as it all kicked off, although that 'story thread' seemed to go nowhere)

REALLY scary terrorists!

The film started and it was clear the majority of people felt comfortable enough to treat it like a screening with friends in their living room, rather that at a cinema. Silence was out. As too was sitting still.

Beer, toilet, cheers as Hans shoots the slimeball charater, beer, toilet, cheer as the baddie has his knees shot out...BEER... TOILET... AAAAAAAARGHHHHH!!!!!!!

Ok, maybe I was a little naive thinking I'd just watch the film but I didn't expect to sit on the busiest row in the house!

At the end of the film, we all sang along to 'Let it Snow' and the winner of the 'best costume' was announced...

And the winner was...

Drumroll please...

Oh it was only flipping ME!!!
Another t-shirt for my Die Hard collection

Yes! The prize was a Nakatomi Plaza tshirt but for me it wasn't about the prize - it was about the WIN!

The after-film disco was packed with 80's classics and Die Hard samples!

These guys thought of everything - they even threw out Twinkies to the crowd!

I've had a few knocks this year and I need to relish every good thing that comes my way; I'm happy to start small, every strong building relies in good foundations. I'm rebuilding my confidence; I'm getting there. Next month well find out if Distraction Jackson can beat the world, then in March my Regent Cinema film will compete against who knows what else at the RTS Awards - it's a big year ahead and I'm going into it guns blazing!

Yippee Ki-yay Mother F*ckers!!!

Merry Christmas!!!!

Here's a link to Press Play Festival website:

Here's a link to the BA Entertainment Design Crafts course at Cleveland College of Art and Design - come on board and I can teach you everything I know:

Here's a couple of links to 'Dries Hard' - I wasn't kidding about this!?!:

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Distraction Jackson Voting Open

Follow this link, sign up and vote for Distraction Jackson:

It takes a few moments to register but was otherwise pretty harmless.

It would be a great start to 2012 to win this international competiton.

Fingers crossed!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

You've Got To Be In It To Win It - And that includes the North Sea in December!

Well it took three months but I finally got my surf on...

surfing has been my one constant in life for the past twenty years, ever since I first watched Point Break in 1991.

A lot has happened in that time, lives have dramatically changed, the end of the world is nigh... But if we do make it through 2012, which coincidentaly I watched at the Regent cinema
Redcar exactly two years ago today,we have the remake Point Break to look forward to.

Times have changed. Now I'm a film maker too.
Why should I sit back and let the remake just happen?

This time I want to get involved.
Last Saturday I wrote to seven of the producers, writers and executive producers to wish then well and let them know I'm behind them all the way.

The echoes have not come back yet but I have great faith that they will: I feel that for the past two or three years that 'doors' have opening wide for me - and occasionally slamming shut in my face - but I like to think it's all part of a grand masterplan; at this point I'll just offer up thanks to all the people and situations that brought me to this point in life and say that I am looking forward to whatever the next full moon brings!

Here's a few pics from my photo album from when I visited the actual filming locations of Point Break last year - I told you I was a fan! And thanks to you Jen for recording moments from my holiday of a lifetime:

The next few are from saltburn today - it was cold but there were plenty of us out... And I bet we all have Point Break in our top five list of movies!

Here's a link to Point Break (1991):

Here's a link to Point Break (2013):

Here's a link to my Regent Redcar promotional film:

Here's a link to magic seaweed, where I get all my surfing information from:

Here's a link to a Moon Phase calendar I regularly use:

Here's a link to Surfers Against Sewage who are an environmental campaign group with a mission to rid the UK coastline of sewage:

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Another Film Challenge on the horizon

Hot on the heels of the news that Distraction Jackson has made it to the last fifteen entrants 'IN THE WORLD', James Harris has his eyes on another prize: The 2 Days Laughter Short Film Competition 2012:

In it's fifth year, the competiton looks strong. But am I scared? Heavens no. James and the Heavy Petting team of Mark, Tim and Jayne are kick-ass funny and I can usually get a laugh - with the right audience.

Laughter is great for healing. Come January, the world is usually all partied out after Christmas, so the chance to inject a little humour into the world is a very welcome one.

More news as it breaks.

Sunday Best trailer online

Writer/Director Clive Tonge's new film trailer is up on vimeo - and it's looking good! Here's a link:

Here's a synopsis of the film in Clive's own words:

"A woman's thighbone has been found by police, the latest victim of brutal serial killer 'The Bone Stripper'.

When a stranger covered in blood arrives unexpectedly at Gladys and Albert's house, like good Samaritans, they invite him in.

But the Lord God moves in mysterious ways and, when all three end up wearing their Sunday best, His deadly word is final."

My involvement on this was slight, but sort of made it into the trailer... I worked with Tanya and Tina to create a skull-bash-in-able candlestick prop, which would look very much like the one seen at 35-6 seconds... I suspect that's the actual candlestick mind, as it's not stoving in anyone's skull.

I have previously acted with Clive in a sixty-second horror film, along with Jen Nelson and Sean Collins. Although I was apparently killed, it was offscreen and therefore I like to think there's an ambiguity as to whether or not I in fact took the axe off the madman and killed HIM with it. Clive was unavailable for comment.

Clive will be coming to Cleveland College of Art and Design in January to give a talk to students about the film making process. He previously visited the Entertainment Design Crafts students earlier this year and was brought back by popular demand.


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Distraction Jackson on the shortlist of the Top Fifteen entries - In The WORLD!

Great news just broke from James Harris: Distraction Jackson has carved through the 124 entries to earn it's place on the shortlist for the top fifteen contenders... And we're the ONLY UK entry!!!

Here's what we know:


The results are in! Our first round judges have completed their voting which determined the 15 finalists for the 2011 National Film Challenge. There are so many great films this year, many more than just 15. In total, 124 films were finished by the deadline and are eligible for awards.

This is really the most difficult part because there are always more disappointed filmmakers than happy ones. We know how much time and energy went into the creation of your film and what the sting of rejection feels like, but remember, it is really just non-selection. Please keep in mind, film selection is subjective and what the judges have selected only represent a small number of the many quality films we received. We want you to know that many of the films were rated highly and it is a narrow distinction between being a finalist and missing the cut. So if you’re not on this list, keep your head up and keep making films.

All finalists will go to a second round of judges who will determine the Grand Prize Winner. These 15 films will also be posted on our website (in the next week or so) for Audience Award voting. The Grand Prize Winner will receive $1,000 and the Audience Award Winner will receive $500. Both films will screen with the 48HFP City Winners at the Taos Shortz Film Festival next March.

Here are the finalists (in alphabetical order by film name):

A Slow Night in Vegas by ASH
Genre: Dark Comedy
Las Vegas, NV

Blush by ISO Pictures
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Reno, NV

Click. Flash. by Trifecta / HeatStroke
Genre: Fantasy
Albuquerque, NM

Death Bed by MDHS Productions
Genre: Dark Comedy
Los Angeles, CA

Distraction Jackson by Heavy Petting
Genre: Mockumentary
Middlesbrough, UK

Elixir by Tadaa Team
Genre: Fantasy
Beijing, China

Good Morning, Mrs. Tucker by Unrendered Productions
Genre: Romance
Denver, CO

Melody by Too Many Cooks
Genre: Horror
Des Moines, IA

Portal by Thumbcat
Genre: Horror
St. Louis, MO

Recycled by The JLIB Film Crew
Genre: Dark Comedy
Tom's River, NJ

Run by Mutaintuta Productions
Genre: Film de Femme
Rome, Italy

Serious Stuff for the Runners by Jo-Jo the Dog Films & Tokem
Genre: Period Piece
Tornio, Finland

The Labyrinth by Clockwork
Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Rome, Italy

The Night Rider by Street Cheese
Genre: Detective/Cop
New York, New York

Genre: Period Piece
Rome, Italy

I will be in touch about when audience voting opens and how long it will run.

NOTE: Non-finalists are still eligible for some awards such as Best Use of Elements, special effects, etc.

Congratulations to all of the finalists! And to all of the other filmmakers who finished their films by the deadline – a heroic feat in and of itself.

Kat Touschner & Doug Whyte
Film Challenge Producers"

Oh I do hope we win, it'll make the pub quiz seem like chickenfeed! (and that felt just right on the night!)

Best of luck everyone; I'll post a link to the film when it's officially up for voting; stay tuned.

'Ho-Ho-Ho' said John, 'Now I have a machine gun!'

Christmas is fast approaching, the goose is getting fat, shopping centres are moderately busy and it's time to watch all the best Christmas themed movies, such as 'It's a Wonderful Life', 'Jingle All the Way', 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' and 'DIE HARD'.

And this year, to make it that much better, Press Play and Tyneside Cinema are holding a Die Hard themed party; watch the film, then run around dressed as John McClane, ably played by Bruce Willis in four films since 1988: (

Here's a link to the event:

Oh, and here's some holiday snaps from last year when Jen and I visited Fox Plaza whilst on a sight-seeing tour of West Coast USA... and yes, maybe I did deliberately take the costume with me..!

"We'll put the fireball in later..."

Too awesome to fit in my viewfinder

Shoes? Never!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Sound It Out - In Stockton

Last year at Leeds International Film Festival we met Writer/Director Steven Sheil - a judge on the film competition panel. He told us then about a film his wife Jeanie Finlay had made, that would one day be screened near us at The Arc, in Stockton.

Well that day has arrived; there's three showings this month and I hope to meet up with Jeanie on the night to congratulate her on her accomplishment and all the great reviews she's had.

Steven won't be at the screening mind, as he's 'working hard' in Indonesia, shooting a new horror film. It's a hard life!

Here's a link to the event:

Ho Ho, said 'John Noble' - and NOT because it's Christmas!

A rich and varied skillset is essential for getting work these days and thank goodness I learned to juggle back at college...

I've just been cast as a clown in a CCAD Creative Film and Moving Image Production student film.

As far as I can tell, I just dress like a clown and juggle for a minute or so.

John Noble: Clown.

I cry myself to sleep every night..!

Good work Lee, both for photography and makeup...
And well done ME for all that juggling!

I've always a fan of Caesar Romero's Joker

Dumped into the toilets to remove my own makeup... This was after five minutes of scrubbing too!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Super 8: Full Tilt..!

We're off the blocks and going strong.

Onto location three and lost out daylight...

Then we lost one of the lights...

Then I accidently shot one second of my chest whilst moving the tripod...

Oh, and I took a chunk of skin off Craig's finger.

And dropped a curtain pole on his head.

We smashed a bulb...

And left my home in a disgraceful state..!

It's a wrap! Job done. All in a days work...

Test day: 4 hours
On the day: 9 hours!!!

Good luck Jo, I hope we're in the running!

two cameras per shot - and LOTS of light!

Somewhere, if you look really hard, you will see the risk assessment for this shot!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Up for an Oscar?

My contribution may have been limited but I'd like to think a necessary cog in the wheel to convince Hollywood's finest to consider 'our' little film worthy of an Oscar nod...

According to tne Northern Film and Media newsletter:

Monday 07th November, 2011
Variety is reporting that the Weinstein Co. is on the verge of agreeing a deal to distribute the Northern Film & Media/Northstar Ventures’ funded A Song for Marion in the US.

Here's the full story link:

Good luck to them I say...Now where's my crew screening invitation..?