I've been postponing updating this blog for too long now with the result that there's a lot to tell you about!
First up, there is an evening of machinima being screened at Phoenix Square in Leicester next Thursday (18 March). The event is being hosted by Dr. Tracy Harwood of De Montford University, and Chantal Harvey who is the organiser of the Mamachinima festival. Clockwork is on the programme, and I'll be going along.
Next, as you may be aware I've started contacting various Film Societies to see if they're interested in screening any of my animations, following a very successful screening at Andover. The great news is that I now have positive replies from both Bracknell and Winchester Film Societies!
On Thursday 20th May Winchester Film Society will host a screening of shorts, including Clockwork. I'll be there to introduce it and to take questions.
Then, on Tuesday 13 July it's along to Bracknell Film Society who will also show Clockwork, and once again I'll introduce and take questions.
On the whole I have to say I'm really pleased with the number of "real world" screenings - I'd always believed that machinima shouldn't be limited to an online audience, so it's great that these opportunities are there. And for any directors out there who are contemplating contacting their local film society then my advice is: Stop Contemplating And Just Do It!
Next up: my television debut on French TV show Tracks... my appearance was short and sweet, and I looked suitably "animated". I'm looking for a online version that I can link to, so watch this space.
Another appearance in the media that was a real surprise for me was in last Saturday's Times newspaper. The "Sitegeist" column was about online animation software, and of course Moviestorm gets a mention, along with Clockwork.
So what of my latest movie Embers? Well, the response has been great. Comments about the look and feel have been consistently positive (apart from odd comment that said the bicycle in the basement gets too much prominence*). The ending however has really divided people! Some people like it, other's see what it was trying to do but feel that the pace of the movie was disrupted by it, while others absolutely hate the ending!
And this might surprise you, but if I was a viewer of this movie and not the director then I too would dislike the ending because it's not at all within my comfort zone, and this type of ending always seems like a cop-out to me whenever I see it used. However, I set out with clear personal challenge to myself with this movie - I didn't want to "play it safe", and regardless of how you feel about the ending in terms of story-telling, I still think it looks good. So, although I didn't follow my instinct for the narrative, I don't think I compromised any visual quality. It's like a vegetarian chef trying to cook the Christmas Turkey - I gave it my best shot, and I'm OK with the final result, even if it's not to my taste.
Another plus point; the ending surprised people, especially the ones who know me personally, and I love a twist in the tale!
Embers has already won a Storm Award from the Storm Hour on TMOA Radio. I think it is also a worthy successor to Clockwork as far as material for future cinema/film society screenings. I say this because at a little over 12 minutes long it's just the right size to add on to a main feature with an introduction. Cloud Angel at 20 minutes is probably a bit too long for that purpose (although I'd love to see Cloud Angel on the big screen - it would look amazing!)
*Oh yeah, the bike. This is one of the most interesting props I think I've ever used. I found it in Google 3Dwarehouse. The only modification I made to it was to tilt it over so that it leans against the bookcase rather than magically stand upright on its own. Originally, I stuck it on the set intending to find a place for it later (just like in real life I guess!) and discovered that it created some great shapes for some of the shots I was framing. That gave me an incentive to keep it where I'd placed it.