Thursday, 25 February 2010

Embers is now published

Just a very short post today to announce that Embers is now available for your viewing pleasure!

Just click here to watch it.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Is this my fifteen minutes that Andy Warhol promised me?

Those of you who follow my blog will know that last October I was interviewed for a French TV programme called Tracks. The show is due to be aired tonight (I think) on a report about Machinima and the Atopic Festival in Paris.
I’ve not seen it myself yet, and I’ve had to go to some lengths to secure a recording of the show as it isn’t broadcast in the UK, and although it should be accessible online too I think it is limited to users in France.
I’m really looking forward to seeing this show, although I don’t speak a word of French, and I can’t remember much about what I said to them.
Still, if it turns out that I made a complete fool of myself then at least it will only be the French that think I’m an idiot. And as my French work colleagues will rush to point out, they already knew this!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Announcing my forthcoming movie...

Yes, it's nearing completion and will be published very, very soon!
For anyone that's watched my movies, you'll know that I've started to build a reputation for gloomy, depressing, and dark material. Clockwork - my most successful flick to date - is set in an alternate history where the UK has descended into a hopelessly bleak totalitarian society. Cloud Angel is set on board an airship, and not wishing to spoil it if you haven't watched it, let's just say it doesn't end well...
I decided this had to change.
So, my new movie is set in an fallout shelter after a nuclear strike. I know what you're thinking. "It doesn't sound very cheery". Well, that's because it's not. I think it's fair to say that I've been singularly unsuccessful in my mission to deliver a happy upbeat Disneyesque family film. Still, could've been worse. It could've been a musical.
This film is something of a departure for me though. It's the first time I've set a movie in the US. The reason for not doing this before was because I like to direct my voice actors in person, and they're all British. In the same way that American actors struggle to do British accents, I assume that British actors doing American accents will sound ridiculous (to Americans at any rate. I doubt Brits would notice.) Do American actors struggle with British accents? I think so*. Any time there's a computer game with one of the levels set in the UK it's always painfully obvious that the actor isn't a native. The worst example I can think of is a Tony Hawks game that the kids have on the Wii - the "English" girl is dressed in a Union flag T-shirt and speaks with an accent that alternates between Cockney, Yorkshire, and bizarrely Australian. I don't intend this to sound in any way xenophobic - my point is simply that films set in the UK require British actors, so I assume films set in the US will require American actors.
This presented something of a problem for me as there are any number of actors available online, but I needed people that could perform without my immediate direction. I'm happy to say I got some killer performances...
With this movie I struggled with the title. The film is about a young couple holed up in the basement of their house which they've converted into a fallout shelter. They've been there for months after the country descended into nuclear war, and as they're in a remote rural location well away from any major industrial or population centres they've managed to avoid any direct blast damage. The threat now is fallout, and they wonder if it is safe to go outside.
The original title was "Embers", as I saw these two characters as being like the embers of life - and it could go one of two ways, they either fade away and die, or are rekindled into life. Then, I changed the name to "The End". I wanted to drive home the seriousness of their predicament. Now, no one has ever described my work as subtle, but even I could see that "The End" was a bit melodramatic, so "Embers" was rekindled. (Did you see what I did there...?)
Anyway, it is tantalisingly close to being released, so watch this space!

*with the obvious exception of Johnny Depp. I don't know how or why, but he can get away with it.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Screening by Andover Film Club

On Monday 1st February I headed down to Andover for the screening of Clockwork. The Film Club had done a great job of turning the evening into a special event, which I hugely appreciated. They had issued a press release to announce that a "local filmaker" (i.e. me!) would be showcasing one of their animated movies.
The Film Club have their screenings at the Reel cinema, which is a modern multiplex. It's obvious that there's a great working relationship between the cinema and the club; in fact, the cinema had gone to great lengths to install a digital projector specifically for my movie (as opposed to the 35mm projectors used for the movies normally shown there).
As it was a special event, members and their guests were greeted in the foyer with glasses of champagne, (I made sure I guzzled one down in preparation for my little talk!)
While the audience were arriving I headed up to the projection room to meet the projectionist and to make sure everything was working OK. I've never been in a projection room before, and it was a sight to behold! I was fascinated by the film projectors - I instinctively knew that films are provided on huge reels but it's not until you see them sitting on these massive spools that you really understand how specialist this equipment is. In addition to the 35mm projectors, and the digital projector that was being used for my movie, they had a simply huge digital projector with integrated server (and cooling ducts disappearing into the ceiling). This was for Avatar of course - no wonder it looks so good on screen!
I then headed down to the auditorium to do a last minute check on the sound levels. The sound was crystal clear. In fact, there were some artifacts that I could hear which I know are in the movie but you're not normally aware of (mostly to do with the noise reduction filter for one of the voices). The sound reproduction was brilliant.
Then back to the foyer to quaff my fizz, then I followed the audience back to the auditorium. One of the committee members gave a short introduction, then I spoke for five or six minutes about machinima; what it is, origins, challenges, then a bit about Clockwork specifically; how long it took to make, where it has been shown, awards.
Then it was the screening itself.
The response was great. I think the audience genuinely enjoyed the movie, and later in the evening as everyone was filing out quite a few people stopped to say hello and tell me what they thought of the movie - they didn't have to do that!
All in all, the evening was a great success and I'm hoping I'll have the chance to show them more of my work in the future.
So, thanks Andover Film Club, it was an honour to be able to show Clockwork!