Sunday, 25 March 2007

PC V Mock

This week Rob and I did a little bit of video work. Rob came up with an idea for parodying the "PC V Mac" adverts that Apple are running (an example one from YouTube below).

We did our filming at my house, in the lounge, using a home made green screen (made out of a 4m length of green fabric that I picked up at lunch time for £4).

We shot it on Rob's Sony FX1 and edited it using Premier Pro v2. Rob is currently finishing up the edit and when he has, I'll post up the end result.

All in all, it took 2-3 hours to set-up and shoot. We had initial problems with lighting. My lounge is pretty dark, lit by small spotlights that are in dire need of replacing. The lights we had were too powerful for the room and we couldnt find anything to reflect them off, so we ended up using a single desk light and having to do a fair amound of adjustment in post. I'll get Rob to post up some before and after shots and you can see how well Premier Pro 2 handles it.

We took turns behind and in-front of the camera. In the end result, we appear to be stood side by side and to be of equal height, when in fact we were filmed separately and I am about 6 inches taller.

It was good fun to do and hopefully the end result is fun too.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Rock promo - Mcqueen

About a month ago I went up to sunny, windy Nottingham to help out on a music vid shoot for a company I know called TheFireFactory. Turned out the band was Mcqueen, an all female rock act from Brighton. If one thing can be said about this lot, THEY ROCK!!
My duties on the day included everything from helping build the set, rigging the lights and then being responsible for the special effects. Well, i say special effects, what i really mean is swinging a light about and pointing a big fan at scantily clad rock chix in a sub-zero derelict warehouse. I know, hard job, but somebody had to do it ;-) All in all a great day's experience, especially it was good to see how to shoot on film as well!

The vid is now released, the album and single in the shops ( yes i have bought it - A++)

Click here to see the youtube version

Kudos to the DOP, Nathan Sheppard and Jake & Tom @

Sunday, 18 March 2007

What's been going on

Saw Rob and Sam in Love Puke on friday. Was really impressed. It was very funny, I was laughing from start to finish (for all the right reasons!).

At the after show party, Rob talked a couple of the guys who did the lighting (very well) into joining us on the short film. We also had a chat to one of the guys in the play, who we thought would be able to play Henry. He was happy to signed up. So we now have our cast.

Now the play is over we can get this thing done. Next step is sorting out locations.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Lessons from hypnosis

Just thought I'd post up a filmmaking/screenwriting lesson I picked up from my time training in hypnosis. Yep, I'm qualified as a hypnotist.

One of the key ideas behind hypnosis is that you have a conscious mind and a non-conscious (otherwise known as a subconscious) mind.

The conscious part is the part that you use when you are analysing, planning, talking to people, etc. The non-conscious part is the home of your memories, urges and reactions, e.g. if someone throws a tennis ball to you and you automatically catch it. That's the non-conscious mind at work. Also, if you are feeling a bit down and get the urge to eat doughnuts, thats the non-conscious mind at work again.

Basically, the non-conscious mind is a very clever pattern matcher. The popular book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell explains this very well, so give that a look if you want to learn more about the way the non-conscious mind works.

Throughout your life you have had seen things, heard things, touched things and felt emotions. The non-conscious mind links together experiences with emotions. That is why you can notice yourself re-feeling a past moment when you see a photograph of it or you hear someone speak in a certain tone of voice. The experience has been associated with the feeeling.
Basically, the non-conscious mind is very tuned in to associations.

What has this got to do with screenwriting or filmmaking? Well, whenever we write a script, the person reading it is reading it as two people. They are reading it with their conscious mind and also with their non-conscious mind. Each person is effectively two people. Unless a story appeals to both these "people" it will fail.
Have you ever seen a film that was kinda good but was missing something? Chances are, it only appealed to one of your "viewers", either the conscious (plot, character actions, drama) or the non-conscious (emotional, thematic).

In order to work, a script or film has to appeal to both. One way to appeal more to the non-conscious is through the use of metaphor, motif and symbolism. The non-conscious is highly tuned into these forms of association. The best kind of metaphor or symbol is one that is missed by the conscious mind, e.g. use of subtle visual symbolism within a scene. If it is too overt it will be noticed and then is in conscious awareness and will not have as great a non-conscious effect.
, symbols and metaphors.

Opening Night

"Love Puke", the delightfully sounding play, that Rob (and my fiance Sam) are in, opens tonight.

It is showing at Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Maidenhead (

I'll be going along to see it on Friday (and hopefully sneak in to the after show party, ha ha).

Thursday, 8 March 2007

...and another review of the script

I'm a member of writing site WriteWords ( and Zoetrope virtual studio ( Both these sites let you submit short screenplay scripts, that you have written, for review. I am also a member of TriggerStreet, where you can also submit a script for review but only a full length one (you can also submit short films for review there too).

Here is a review I received, for the "Hit me baby" script, from Zoetrope member Daniel William Hesford.

"Very funny script, with a massive amount of cinematice potential. To be honest, the narrative opens in what seems to be quite a cliched and overtly pretentious style yet this is all set up for what is to come and the payoff is more than satisfying.

In fact, the narrative confounds expectations several times; the struggling couple turn into the employee/employer, the sombre, resigned assassination turns into a wacky retirement party. The changes of direction work well and are handled ably enough that there is little sense of discontinuity.

Dialogue is good - I would like to see more work in terms of emphasising the tone at each juncture; the narrative skips from dour romantic drama, to malevolence-laden tension, to sad inveitability to joviality. Maybe there is more to be drawn out here?

Characterisation is slightly thin although the personalities are well-drawn and recognizable and since there is a story to be getting on with, perhaps too much development would be distracting.

In all, the joke works extremely well; laugh out loud funny at the end. Hope these points are helpful - if anything, I think the piece could be longer!"

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Scripts first review

Here is the first review I received of the script. The reviewer is Julie Balloo, a site expert from the Write words writers web site:

"Hi Richard,

I really enjoyed reading this short. It's very visual and each twist and turn is a joy to uncover. It might be nice to inject some faux romance at the top, just to give it even more depth. Obviously at the beginning we're thinking he's going to dump her so it would be interesting to have a are they/aren't they subtext which is then totally blown away. I thought that line as he climbs the stairs - 'I told her I was leaving but only on my terms' sorry about the paraphrasing, I can't cut and paste for some reason, is a bit wordy. It just jarred and took me away from the mounting tension. Loved the ending, very clever. I was left wondering though if Jim wouldn't perhaps have a little nudge or wink line to Henry suggesting that he knew Henry couldn't hurt him. I might be completely on the wrong track, so let me know."

I'm really happy with this. If anyone reading out there has their own comments/review of the script (good or bad) then please post it as a comment.

Monday, 5 March 2007

A man with a gun......

Good news!

Went to see a show on Saturday night ( Noises Off, put on by the Maidenhead Players - a super high quality production which had me in tears!!! ) and i happened to be sitting next to Drew, an actor who I have a lot of respect for. Anyway, I mentioned the Film to him, and he's interested in getting involved! As a big bonus point, he has a small armoury of replica handguns, including a full working rep of a Beretta 92F, which I think will suit Henry down to the ground.

Another piece fits the puzzle ;-)

Now, back to learning my lines.......

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Some good books

I had a little look through my book shelf last night, looking for something to read before going to bed. I thought I'd just write up a super quick review from a few of my favourites.


Story - Robert McKee

The classic book on screen writing. This was one of the first screenwriting books I ever got and has to be one of my favourites. If you get the chance to go to one of Robert McKee's seminars, go. He is very entertaining, says what he thinks and it made for an entertaining and information packed few days.

Anyway, back to the book. Well, in it he gives a good explanation of what makes a good story. He talks about structure and planning and its importance (ever written 40 pages and then hit a brick wall or got to the end of the screen play and found out that you've got the soggiest act 2 in history? Thats where McKee says structure would help). He also discusses the concept of the controlling idea/theme of a screenplay and how that should shape the whole piece.

All in all a good read.

Save the cat

I only recently got this book. I like it for its humourous non-academic tone and different take on screenwriting. If you're only interested in writing for experimental or fringe films then you'll probably not like it, as it is very main stream focussed. I liked the "rules for screenwriting", with rules like "Pope in the pool" and "Double mumbo jumbo", you can't go wrong.

Film making:

Developing Digital Short films

One of the things I liked most about this book was the discussions on theme and colour composition.

There are several chapters that discuss in some detail the use of visual motifs, theme development and how they give your film that extra level of punch.


Directing Actors

Directing actors does exactly what it says on the tin. It tells you how to get the best performance from your actors. I found it a great help, with the steps to take, to go from script to blocking and staging. Also, it gives a number of easy ways, to help your actors find different levels within a scene. Well worth a look.