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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

You know - thingy

A handy find from John August for all writers. You know when you can't quite think of the word - but you know what it means.

Well go to the reverse dictionary and all will be okay.

Still from WaterMelon with Cristian Solimeno.
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Monday, January 30, 2006

Get heavy!

Here's a new idea that explains how I feel about communicating your ideas, selling your ideas and how blogs fit into the whole thing!

It is based on the idea of how large objects in space bend and distort the universe around them - as Einstein outlined. But stay with me on this.

Imagine you are at the centre of your world. A dot on a large flat surface. The people that you need to meet (producers, distributors, colleagues, funders etc) are dotted across this flat surface. But being busy people they are always on the move.

One way to touch or influence all these people (and tell them about your great ideas) is for you to dash about at high speed trying to hit these moving targets. Tricky.

Another way is to let them come to you. You stay in the centre and you create such an influence on the world around you that you put a dent into this formly flat surface. (see above diagram) Now those little dots dashing about are actually draw towards you as they move. They fall into your gravitational field. Even if they don't actually hit you then at least they can feel your influence.

The task therefore is to increase your mass, to make your gravitional field stronger - as strong as you can. Eventually of course, if your continue doing this, the size of the field has to increase. So then more people can see you, more people are attracted to you.

How do you increase your mass? Well this is the challenge going forward. Blogs, talks, good work, Cannes, networking... all these things. Sitting at home and putting your ideas, scripts and films into the bottom drawer doesn't increase it!

Go for it - get heavy!

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Thursday, January 26, 2006


Remember that? I love the film 'Matinee' for the loving portrayal of the film distributors of the 1950s. Its a fictional film but based on anecdotes from the time. Okay, so some of the techniques were a bit iffy. The Tingler was shown in cinemas kitted out with a special system to give low level electric shocks to the audience.

So a bit of a laugh. But why am I on about it? This year will be the year of the new distribution models. So if you can watch a film at the cinema or cozy at home on a DVD on the same day what will you do? What will the cinema be offering new? In marketing terms what is their USP?

In whatever form it will be based on showmanship. Making a film an event. A room showing a film on a big screen is no longer enough.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Silent Hill

Is this a taste of Hollywood trying to get closer to the audience (one of my key themes).

For Silent Hill the audience has been asked to design the poster. As its an existing idea (being a PS2 game) the audience is already clued into the logo and style so no big briefing session is needed. The audience that can't use Photoshop still gets an input by voting here.

Sounds like a good idea. The film itself seems true to the game so this method must help the core audience stay on board. Not sure we need a film version at all - but thats another matter.

Final question: How much further could this idea go. Ask the audience to do some casting from audition tapes? Help with the script?

Monday, January 23, 2006


In the blink of an eye. That is all it takes to look at a webpage and decide if it is what you are looking for - on a superficial level obviously. Check out this article for more. Here is a quick extract:

The lasting effect of first impressions is known to psychologists as the 'halo effect': if you can snare people with an attractive design, they are more likely to overlook other minor faults with the site, and may rate its actual content (such as this article, for example) more favourably.

What does that mean for on-line film distribution? I guess it means that you have to lay out the theme of your film in the first 30 seconds - rather than 10 minutes.

Still from Consecration.
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A plug for doctors

Not literally as my 'oh so humourous' picture would indicate. Instead a quick plug for Danny Stack - a good blogger and fellow Bournemouth writer. He has two episodes of 'Doctors' on BBC1 this week.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sounds like...

Today's new idea for film makers is not in fact Lionel Blair. It is about 'sound'. This new idea was fed to me by Professor Susan Hayward at Exeter University when I was there last week as a guest lecturer.

One student is doing a lot of work on ambient or background sound. Now I've done a lot of work with sound. For WaterMelon sound designer Gary Hayton started work on the sound before the shoot so we could capture the shots needed to accompany his innovative sounds. He also took on the challenge of creating all the sound for Hope which, as an animation, has no sync recorded sound of course.

But this student is asking us to think even deeper. To think about atmos sound. What does a city sound like? Does one city sound like another? How does that sound affect the film and how we feel? If this seems like an exaggeration of the importance of this element of film making my reply would be - you wouldn't so quickly dismiss these questions if they were about light. We all agree that the mood of the light (the visual setting) radically alters the film. But I'm as guilty as anyone of not always saying the same thing for the background sound (the audible setting).

Think about your favourite film and some of the sounds within it. It is indeed a forgotten art. Or at the least an art that we often dismiss as a routine task. "Hey, slap some atmos over that!".

In your next film bring sound to the fore!

extra note: You can now do a PhD in Film by Practice (as opposed to just theory or studies) at Exeter. If anyone fancies becoming a doctor of film and pushing the artform to the edge then get on down there.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Talking about structure

Tomorrow is my talk at Exeter University that I mentioned before. Here's the agenda:

* What is your film really about? What do you want to say?
* Your outline
* Your story plan - ways of doing a story map
* Your treatment - what does a good one look like
* Your script - the graft
* Doing rewrites - managing change
* Ending up on - pitching your story

I'm sure we'll have a good discussion. But the more I talk about these things the more I'm convinced that this is only half the story. The other half, the forgotten half, is about sales. Its about getting your ideas out there. And the first stage of that is pitching and talking with confidence. Those skills are always forgotten about.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

New channels

This post is about new channels. Not new channels on the television. But new channels for films and for audiences to see films. The local Future Shorts event went well again. A low turn out for them (about 120) but this would still be a good 'mainstream' cinema turn out for a Monday night.

This is a new channel for film makers and the audience. And one that has at its heart the idea of bringing them closer together. This idea is something I talked about a long time ago. I'm glad to see it happening.

If we only rely on cinemas and television for films then we have an 'hour glass' situation. There is a bottle neck due to economics. Its not due to audience and not to number of screens. But due to the economics of running those screens. The result is that the particles (the films) can't get through quick enough.

What is the opposite way? This is best summed up by the Sony Bravia advert. Here the particles are free. They are colourful and they are coming your way any way they can. Watch out!

Foot note: Glad to see a 'No CGI' policy on the Bravia advert. Watch it in full here

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Don't forget to check out this unique 'apprentice' scheme from Working Title. They have a good reputation of supporting new talent and partly funded Eight a few years ago.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Tonight - 10 Seconds in Bournemouth

Tonight - 10 Seconds is part of the line up at Future Shorts in Bournemouth. Hope to see you there! Full info...


Location: Twisters Comedy Club - Albert Road, Bournemouth, BH1 1BZ, South West

Contact: Luke,, 07837 959153,

FUTURE SHORTS, the largest short film exhibitor in Europe, returns to Twisters Comedy Club in Bournemouth on Monday 16th January with one of the strongest collections of films so far. We are also delighted to be presenting the best of local filmmaking in addition to the regular screening.

With a focus on diversity and quality FUTURE SHORTS will never compromise its goal to source stimulating and rewarding World Cinema. Highlights this month include the moving and gritty documentary ‘Dimmer’ from Talmage Cooley, the hilariously horrifying 'Oh My God' from John Bryant in the US, a story of friendship and miscommunication in 'On a Train' from France and many more. See and feel different cinema.

For the full January programme, please visit:

In addition to the FUTURE SHORTS programme, we are proud to present the best in local filmmaking. Filmmakers will be onhand to introduce their films and those confirmed to be in attendance include:

Tim Clague - 10 SECONDS
Kieron Maguire, Carly Wilden, Nic Beard - TOMORROW AWOKE TOO SOON
Clive Hillsdon, Richard Sand - CAT AND DUCK
James Parrish - PLEASE FIND ME
Erica Brugman - REGARDEZ
Plus more to be confirmed!

Monday 16th January, Doors 8pm, Films 9pm
Twisters Comedy Club, Albert Road, Bournemouth:
Tickets £6/£5 Concessions
Tickets available on the door
For more information, contact or call (07837) 959153

Friday, January 13, 2006


As you know I also do a lot of work creating materials for financial companies on how they improve sales. I sometimes use these techniques when I am pitching. I'm pleased to see that money is invested in helping writers create scripts, treatments and other pre-production material. But is this wasted if it isn't followed up by helping writers and directors in promoting their work. By giving them the skills to confidently articulate their ideas and how they see it working. I've written a short proposal on this, with the help of Shaune, while we were in Ireland and I'll get it out to SkillSet / Film Council as soon as I can. Here's an extract.

Let’s not have another Cannes where the UK talent sits in the UK Pavilion moaning to each other and hoping that someone will just happen to want to hear about their ‘quirky little script’ that they ‘cobbled together’ on some days when they weren’t doing their ‘proper real job’. Your great script is useless if you can’t communicate why it is great. And how many writers do you know that would feel okay to end a meeting with ‘When shall I call you for an answer?’ or ‘Do you have any scripts that you need help rewriting?’ or ‘I’m really keen to tell you about some of the other skills I have’.

Obviously let you know how we get on. And no doubt some tips will make their way onto here.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Irish Life

The Irish Life project was a success! Its great to see people enjoying the film making process and making it a part of their life, whatever their career. The democratisation of the medium must be a good thing surely. I saw here a reflection of the Landcrab style and a microcosm of what the industry could be like. People going out, making the films they want to make and then showing them. But with that extra stage. That extra stage that I always talk about on here. The extra stage of talking about the films and discussing them. The film is only the start of the process. The audience are the only ones who can finish it! For those that say that this is a pipedream I can only say that you have to want to make it happen. Irish Life, and who is more business minded than them, believed that it was worth taking 30 of their top guys off the road for this event. That this time spend is valuable time. We could have done the films seperatly and then compiled them on a DVD. But they understand that audience / film maker discussion is vital.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Ah, tis yourself

I'm over in Ireland at the moment. I'm running an event for Irish Life. During their conference the delegates are challenged to make a short film about the year ahead. Myself and Shaune Fradley are helping them do this. So we'll be covering a little bit about writing, storyboarding and shooting. They shoot straight onto DVD-RW with a Sony camera so they move the clips around afterwards. Total time for them is 3 hours - so a good fun challenge. In the evening there is an screening with a couple of awards in the Landcrab style. I think this just goes to show that the language of film is now spoken by everybody.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The New World

Cinema. We often forget what cinema is. Because we are overwhelmed by the flicks, the movies, the blockbuster. The New World is cinema. It changes how you feel and how you think. What else is there?

The Contemplate guys laughed at my idea that the internet is rubbish because it makes us uniform. Well Terrence Malik proves this to be true. By steering away from the film world 'soup' he remains a solid chunk. I cannot understand his film making and editing. Why? Because it doesn't follow 'the rules'. You don't know how exciting that is! Malik requires no nod to the camera, no wry knowing, no excuses.

His film is great. I urge you to see it. It will stay in your mind for a long time.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Cock and Bull

I can't recommend "Cock and Bull Story" enough. Its a fantastic genre-breaking film directed by Michael Winterbottom and adapted by Frank Cottrell Boyce from the novel Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne. Its full on post-modern with multiple devices happening at once. For anyone interested in new structures its a must. I only hope that I can get Circumference half as good. Its a shame they didn't follow it up by keeping the release of the film equally modern. Its a normal distribution 1.0 method for them I'm afraid!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year recap

Let's look back over the year!

  • The re-write of the 1946 script which was a new challenge - how do you keep the charm whilst you update it.
  • Hope - the animation got great feedback at the Landcrab screening and we just need to finish that off.
  • 10 Seconds - after a year of worldwide screenings this film will now start to be laid to rest and put on-line
  • Circumference - this new script is on top of my to-do pile after it was well recieved at most pitches at Cannes.
  • The 365 films idea - we launched Quartz Shorts as a low key pilot to test the technology and methodology. We are on top of that now.

  • New distribution - since I started this blog new distribution ideas have gone from nowhere to be the big thing next year. So my challenge is to think ahead again. As ever I've got something up my sleeve so you've got that to look forward to.
  • Gravity - at Marton House I've been working a new model to help salesmen. Its called the gravity model. The idea is based on Einstein's view of space time where large objects warp the space around them. So to have more impact around you you need to increase your mass - make yourself more visible. More on this idea to come.
  • Story Structure - my belief in planning first has increased. But my rigidity to sticking exactly to the plan has decreased. What does that mean?

    For next year
  • Just one important change. My own time discipline. Blogs, festivals, writing, TV 2.0 ideas, getting work - these all take time and I need to be better at slicing them into work slivers and eating them (too much christmas turkey invaded that analogy I think!).

See you around.

Still from Wimborne Road - not from last year but it never got a mention.