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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Quick thought

All of the traditional (film1.0) cinema industry is about NOT letting you see a film. The marketing is relentless of course. So they lure you in, make you want to watch it and then hold you ransom. "This is a great film, its the greatest film. But you can only see it in this building, and then only on that format. And if you live over there then you can't see it at all, tough!"

I'm hoping that film2.0 is the opposite. Its about getting you on board with the film. Its about giving you the film and hoping you'll love it so much that YOU become the distributor to your friends. "This is a great film, you decide if its the greatest. See it how you want, when you want. We're so proud of it that we just want you to see it and we won't even charge"

Is that really all that crazy?

Image from here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New ideas from behind the camera

Slawomir Idziak was the director of photography (DoP) of Black Hawk Down, Gattaca, King Arthur and the new Harry Potter directed by my old mentor David Yates. He also had a working relationship with Krzysztof Kieslowski for 20 years, peaking at their work on Three Colours: Blue. Here are 7 challenges from him...

One: Script layout is stupid. He has been working for 40 years. Half of the life of talkies. And its never changed. Its stupid. Change it. When I said this I was shot down on the blog - but he's famous so its okay!
Two: You don't need a monitor. If you do need a monitor - get a bigger one. Little 9 inch Sony thing - what's the point?
Three: DoP must work with the writer and the director to create the shooting script. That way you get a visual story, not a dialogue story.
Four: In Poland the DoP is the first person a director calls when he starts the project. Why isn't that true in Hollywood / the UK?
Five: Stop shooting so much. Multi-cameras, all the angles - just in case. What? Don't you know what you're doing?
Six: Technical changes are unimportant to any discussion on cinematography.
Seven: Art Director, DoP and Production Designer. Get these people working together and they can take 50% of the effort off the director's shoulders.

I hope I've managed to capture the directness, bluntness and passion behind his talk.

Image taken from here.
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Sunday, February 25, 2007

New thoughts from Gael Garcia Bernal

You would know Gael Garcia Bernal as playing Ernesto 'Che' Guevara in The Motorcycle Diaries directed by Walter Salles or perhaps as the headstrong nephew in the mexican portion of Babel.

Here are some of his thoughts (paraphrased and chopped up)...

On rehearsal: Many takes is better. It acts to build up a musculature memory.
On the global film industry: If we are truly a global film industry then we should expect to see local languages and local dialects more and more. The romans didn't have an american accent.
On CGI: It makes you a shadow puppet
On pitching: If we all agree film is a journey then how can you say 'My film is about.. and it will...'. He described his new film by starting with 'So far it's about...'
The importance of film: Film is about crossing boundaries and understanding other people, to see and feel what they see and feel. That is why it is more important than ever that we do this.
On advice: The only way, is your way.

Image taken from the official talent campus site. You can read their account of the interview here.
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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

People who love Circumference - episode 3

Nicholas sent Archie this message:

Hi Archie
thx for being my frd!
hope u and chloe are doing great!
say hi to her as well :D
love to see the film of you guys! sounds good!
anyway, hope u like my music too :)

Keep in touch!
Take care

Nicholas Lai

Archie replied to tell him he would have to watch the film to find out how he and Chloe got along. But in the meantime you can check out Nicholas' music on his MySpace.

Archie now has 5000 friends!

Guy Maddin the mad man!

Quick quote from Guy Maddin.

It's a crowded market, very crowded. So be bold, go for broke, make a noise. If you fail then people will at least think you are mad - and as a madman you you'll get more room on the sidewalk.

Image taken from here.
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

New ideas from Iain Smith

Iain is a top producer for a multitude of films including Cold Mountain, 7 Years in Tibet and my favorite film of 2006, "Children of Men" AND my second favorite, "The Fountain" - what a legend. And here is his advice...

On starting a film: find out who is in charge. It may be the director, it may not be. It doesn't matter but someone needs to be in charge and everyone needs to agree on who that person is.

On working with directors: a director must trust a producer to make things happen. But also trust him to say no.

On the role of a producer: to represent the audience, to say 'I don't understand why you are doing this' or 'what does that all mean?'. But also to bind the crew and production staff together in a spirit of collaboration rather than confrontation - to be the "stitches in a wound".

On film: Cinema has a broad spectrum of approaches, uses and ideas. We tend to use a ridiculously narrow band of them.

On Children of Men: For that raw documentary feel don't cut until an action has happened. Let an explosion occur just off camera. A 'real' cameraman will not know it's about to happen. The amazing long single shots in the film are in fact 4 shots joined up and are sometimes filmed in several locations.

On the future: the film industry follows the music industry. There they have seen a massive rise in the power of the genre. Customers are happy to be RnB people or Emo people. Distribution methods such as LoveFilm or NetFlix means that you can have 'Horror' people or 'World Cinema' people. And producers will become experts in one genre and only supply for that one genre.

Image taken from the official talent campus site.
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Monday, February 19, 2007

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sophia Myles in 'good girl' shocker!

Back from Berlin - but I'll be posting up more special-guest new ideas over the next week.

Despite my outrageously poor performance in getting a ticket for Hallam Foe all was not lost. A chance encounter at Berlin airport with lead actress Sophia Myles filled in the gaps - and made this week-old blog entry already out of date! It was a good Berlin for her and the gang and their distribution company, Independent, made some good sales. I had already caught up with Sarah Goodwin, their marketing manager, and asked about her opinion of Colin's 'Hallam Foe' blog - is it good for business or irrelevant? Her opinion is "it can't hurt". So not a massive, ringing endorsement of the new world. She also said they had NO strategy for digital distribution and didn't know what they would do. My guess is she may be playing her cards close to her chest or maybe they are as confused as some of the other people I met. Best quote of the week was from a swiss filmmaker; "Yeah, but the whole internet thing will disappear in 5 years".

Anyway, the point of this story is that Sophia made me feel better. She confessed she left the post-screening party at midnight. Phew, good. Now I don't feel so bad only staying out only until 1 while UK networking legends like Rob Brown stayed out until 4! So thanks Sophia.

Extra storydust airport moment. A little girl had her pink toy suitcase searched by the security people. This included undressing her dolly. Massively symbolic - but in a way that I can't yet figure out.

Note to self: Is there a role to be a digital distribution consultant for film makers? If so would that make me a sales agent? And doesn't self distribution have to be done by yourself by definition?

Image taken from HF blog.
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Friday, February 16, 2007

Always the music

Went to a great lecture by Oscar winning composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek. Ask my composer friend Lee Miller who did the music for Circumference and I'm sure he'll tell you how poor my musical communication is. In fact I often swan about the place confessing to not even liking music - which always causes a scene.

Jan had been working with 3 new composers (including Titas, a graduate from Bournemouth)over here with an experiment. They had to rescore a scene from Finding Neverland that Jan did the score for originally. All 3 were so different and changed the mood so much I think I need to rethink my approach.

The good news is that ALL the composers believe that an indepth knowledge of music is not needed. Just a willingness to work together. And they were all intrigued by the method I used on WaterMelon where Dave Purse composed the score before the film.

So I'm in the right direction - just need to do it a bit more.

Image taken from here.
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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Fitting in

I've been handing out a little card over the last few days. In fact I've handed out 100 of them.

Today I saw a wet, soggy one on a grey Berlin pavement along with all the other film flyers.

I have arrived my friends.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

New ideas from good ol' John Waters

John Waters - love him or hate him at least you know what you're going to get. The guy has a personal brand. The brand may be odd, but its consistent. After 40 years in the biz here is John's advice on how to go your own way, make some noise and get heavy:

One: Get a back up career. If you want to tell your own stories in your own way then it's a hard life. So you probably need to do something else. That something else should be film related, but another source of cash. John has been a film critic for example.
Two: If you can't be expensive then be controversial. John frequently used his bad reviews on his publicity material and told an anecdote of when not only he got arrested but also his entire audience!
Three:Find your own way. He still struggles to get funding. And his way may not be your way, just as his stories are probably not our stories. You need to find your own unique way to get funding.

Obviously thinking about our own special way of funding and marketing Circumference I asked him a question about how important it is for film makers to be creative with their marketing as well as their story. We think of these ideas as new, but of course John Waters has been doing this for years.

He was one of the first to 'four wall' his films - that is to dry hire a theatre and then screen his own film and keep the ticket price. He has had actors dressed up handing out flyers. He's got into the neighborhoods and put up cheap posters. All these are good ideas. And I guess the internet can be the new playground for this kind of thinking. Its just a bigger neighborhood.

Image taken from here.
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Monday, February 12, 2007

New ideas from Walter Salles

Walter Salles is the director of Central Station and Motorcycle Diaries. Here are his new ideas (in no particular order) that he wanted to share...

One: Documentary should be closer to fiction and fiction should be closer to documentary. He has a technique to make a documentary as part of his research / pre-production stage. By exploring the issues himself, first hand AND on film he feels confident to make a drama. Maybe we don't need to invent everything from nothing? For example the first two people in Central Station are real people dictating real letters. It's the storydust idea taken one step further - to film dust!
Two: A challenge - can your film feature people who aren't normally seen in movies? Whole great masses of the population remain off-screen.
Three: You shouldn't know the ending when you start. The journey is the thing. This doesn't mean a free-for-all. In fact a great script is more important as it needs to be our guide to get back on track if we enjoy a detour. This attitude goes even further with the actors where he uses a technique I also use - learn it, then forget. Learn the lines, understand the lines - so you are free to forget them.
Bonus: Do you need a central character at all? His clip of The General Line by Eisenstein used a crowd montage to capture a mood. Could this work today?

Image taken from
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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Small world

Robert Ford gave me his business card. It has a cartoon by Hugh on the back of it.

That's this idea in action.

Top Trumps

Networking in Berlin update: I have now met everyone from the Estonian delegation.

I'm on a bit of a catch up here as I arrived a little late but in a way the Berlin Talent Campus is like a giant blog-meeting. Everyone is just wanting to talk about film techniques, cinema and new projects. Like the Scriptwriter's Life diagram I believe the right approach is balance. A balance between networking, learning and seeing some new and interesting films from around the world. We'll see if I manage to keep that up.

And, as you can tell by my poor quality, 90 degrees out picture - I woke up to find it was snowing.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Berlin and Hallam Foe

I'm in Berlin as from tomorrow so communication may be sporadic.

I'm keen to meet up with the Hallam Foe guys if I can. I met Colin Kennedy recently who was 2nd unit director and also runs the blog for the film. But I only met him because he was filming Hugh MacLeod's tour of the UK and Hugh is only a tour of the UK because he is promoting the new bottle of Stormhoek wine as it now features his cartoons.

What does this all mean? How did wine get linked to cartoons and then linked to the film industry? OR is it just the case that we must move out of our boxes and realise our passion and our skills are transferrable. Perhaps in the future we will divide people not by industry or job role but by approach.


I do not know Sophia Myles but she is in Hallam Foe - as is Jamie Bell who starred in Billy Elliot that was directed by Stephen Daldry who also directed my short script 'Eight'.
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Thursday, February 08, 2007

People who love Circumference - episode 2

Ted left a nice comment on Archie's Myspace page. His new low-budget superhero film called Hero Tomorrow looks interesting...

It's always a bit upsetting that Archie is more popular than me. He has 4000 friends now!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Circumference in the press

There is a great interview with yours truly written by Pervaiz Alam that is now up at

The website looks to bridge the EU and Indian film making industries and we're talking about how the Circumference idea could work over there.

The image of Aishwarya Rai is entirely unnecessary but does remind us that Cannes is coming!
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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A new idea for the third world?

I met up with Gia the other day. For those that don't know her she is a film blogger and presenter. She runs the blog for the new Danny Boyle sci-fi film Sunshine. Our conversation gave me two new ideas...

One: No borders
It has become incredibly difficult for Fox to manage exclusive deals on publicity around the Sunshine film. Perhaps too difficult. Maybe so difficult that their energy should be elsewhere. Okay, so its nice for MTV to show a trailer 2 days before anyone else. But if it takes an office full of people to keep an eye on it and make sure it happens at what point do you give up and make everything worldwide.

Two: The third world
This is an idea that comes from an author that Gia knows - I can't remember his name now. He makes his books free to anyone to download as a pdf in the West. But in the third world (where technology is not so widespread) he goes even further. There he allows anyone to print off the pdf AND profit from it. In essense it turns everyone with a printer into a salesman for his book. The goal is not profit for himself, but for getting in early in developing countries. Note to myself: Would this idea work for 'Circumference'?

Video Forum

Will be at the video forum show checking out the cameras. Myself and 'The Uncle' will be there on Weds 7th. If anyone else is there then lets meet.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Screening in Ealing

'Eight' and 'Hope' will be part of the MS Short Film Showcase on 22nd February. Go along and see some other great shorts and feel good about yourself as it's all for charity.

It's run by Cara Williams so email her if you have any questions.

2000 writers

2000 writer's have now downloaded the diagram.

Hits to the site are much more but I only count the people who actually take the time to download a copy.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

My favourite Straight8

At a pre-Berlin meeting a couple of days ago I met Nick Scott who directed this. It's perhaps my favourite Straight 8.

For those that don't know Straight 8 is a competition to make a film on super8 with no editing and no post. That's right! Watch this film and think about how you shoot it with no retakes and in the exact order you see it here.

(here is the link -