Category Archives: Film Making

Anything to do with my Film Making

New Blog Started.

Over the last week I’ve been working on setting up a new blog to record the next chapter in my life. While I’m still very much in a holding pattern at the moment, and everything is feeling a little static, it felt like a good time to at least start the blog and begin to look forward.

I’m hoping with this new blog that I can create something that I’ve enjoyed as much as writing this one and hopefully be able to expand on more topics and show off more work. While this blog has changed a little over the year it’s been up the new one allows for more scope and expansion.

I intend to keep this one going and hopefully still update it often but if I have cross over posts I’ll more than likely put them on the new one as that’s more where my long-term blogging future lies.

I love this blog, it’s been the first time I’ve really had success in keeping a blog regularly updated and read, but now feels like the right time to divide my attention to something bigger. Come the end of my latest renewal at the end of the year I will see where the two lie and whether its better to just run the one or keep both going.

For the moment please check out and follow my new blog. Have links to all the social media on there as well as some work up on YouTube which by the end of the year should contain a hell of a lot more.

kettleontravels.com

Thanks

Stephen

 

 

Film Books

Not to long ago I wrote a blog about my DVD collection and how I intend to get rid of most of it. Well apparently I’m going through a phrase as now I’m looking at my film books in the same way.

While nowhere near as large as my DVD collection I think I have a pretty good collection of film books. Tons of script writing books from Syd Field, Robert Mckee and others including my personal favourite Christopher Vogler The Writer’s Journey through to the ones I got for university like Film Art and Old Hollywood books. Have different genre books like Nazi Cinema, Gender studies in French New wave, Hong Kong cinema and actual scripts.  Alongside this there are books on editing, cinematography, storyboarding, different directors and books on directing. I’ve pretty much brought a book for everything and have read plenty of them a few times over.

But recently I haven’t really touched them. I got rid of about 30 once and kept only the ones I really needed (Around 100) but not sure how much I really do need them now. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with them because actually a lot of them are fantastic books. It’s just, I’ve read them. I find myself skimming through them every now and then to find a particular subject but then when I do further research online I’ll find the same thing again, or better still have discussions on Twitter about the subject.

There’s a few I pick up more than others still, so I’ll keep them for the moment, but in all likelihood I’ll try to get them on iBook if I need them.

I loved my film books. Much like my DVD collection it felt like something that made me serious about movies. In a sense I guess that’s kind of right, but more important is the knowledge I’ve gained from them rather than having them. They feel kinda wasted on my book shelf now. If I sell or donate them someone else could learn what I have from them. That’s not to say I still can’t learn from them, of course I can, but I’m not really a beginner anymore. I don’t need a lot of the step by step stuff and for troubleshooting I turn to the internet or have conversations.

I’ve spent the last few years complaining about how small  the film book section have got in bookshops so part of me feels hypercritical writing this blog about getting rid of my film books, but I just don’t read them anymore. If I could transfer them all to digital copies I would. Again I know people in my life that would hate me saying that, and I feel a little dirty saying it myself as I still love the physical form of books, but I have got used to reading on my iPad and find it more convenient.  Where I just need them for reference now rather than a whole read it just feels practical especially with the bookmarking options.

I think I’ve just reached a point in my life where I don’t really need stuff at the moment. That I spend most of my time using my MacBook, camera and phone to create and research. If I could transfer my books and films onto there as an exchange for the physical copy I would. Right or wrong, it’s just how I felt at the moment.

So like the DVD’s the books have taught me a lot, entertained me and massively increased my knowledge. But I think for the vast majority, it’s someone else’s turn to enjoy them.

 

Stephen.

(After writing this blog I put a few on Amazon to sell. Think this link should take you too them if interested)  Steve5by5 Amazon

Making Worlds Greatest Zombie Hunter: Part Two (Inc Series)

(First part here)

As I’ve touched upon before in a previous blog (That’s been deleted) pre-production and production didn’t really go to plan.

I advertised for the lead role on Shooting People and got a pretty positive response. Auditioned several actors via Skype and met a few local ones for meetings as well. Narrowed the list down to three people and went with the more experienced who I have to say was fantastic.

Unfortunately things didn’t work out there. After several long delays because of other project he was working on things just kind of fell apart. I won’t go into much detail but it was clear at this point that he wasn’t what I wanted and I’m sure he felt the same about me.

So that wasn’t great.

While all this was happening several different locations fell through and my co producer had to pull out due to personal reasons. Which just left me with a completed script and not much more.

I contacted another choice on my short list and he was very keen for the role. I’d known him through him working with someone else I knew a few years back and was glad I was able to give him a chance. He was the most enthusiastic and I was really looking forward to working with him. (and will work with him plenty more in the future).

So actor sorted.

Knew I was going to shoot on the iPod so that was sorted as well, but then I probably made a bad choice. I decided to shoot it at my house.

Initially we planned to shoot it in a cellar or a shed or something that we could turn into a den and the location would evolve over time along with his outfit and his outlook. Was all going to be a line of development that worked alongside each other… I really should have stuck with that. It just made sense and was something I could build on. Could start out pretty sparse and end up looking like Dr Horrible.

But I shot in my house instead.

For me personally, the house just doesn’t work.  I like some of the shots and love the framing through the stairs but I could have got better elsewhere. Just felt very amateurish which is the vibe I was going for, but I think I shouldn’t have gone full amateur. It was sloppy.

By this point I just pointed the camera really. I gave some thought to the setting but not much. Spent some time with the lead to get what I want but the shoot was rushed and I knew it. Was shoot over a few hours across two days I believe but more could have been done.

The production had gone so wrong so many times that I had moved on by that point to another idea, honestly I should have shelved it and came back to it but with all the delays I just wanted it done.

I shouldn’t have treated it like that and never would again, but I can tell watching it back that my heart wasn’t 100% into it. Forget how much less I knew back then I can go back several years before that and watch shorts and 48 hour competition films I made that had a lot more going for them. I fucked up and I know it.

For me, it was a big learning experience though. The short film I shoot before that had technical problems with the sound being awful, but I learnt a lot working with a crew, this one I learnt a lot from the pre-production standpoint. Things go wrong, that’s just always going to happen and this experience made me realise that a lot more and toughened me up.

I love a chance one day to set things right and maybe make a much improved second season but have a lot on. If I ever do find myself pining to go back to it though I will, and like I said, this time my heart would definitely be in it.

Below is the complete season. All 11 episodes. It’s probably my worse work but I still like a lot of the script and plenty of the performance. Will always regret not using a better location but I did have zero money and was shooting on an iPod so maybe I’m being a little hard on myself. But still…..

 

Stephen

 

Making Worlds Greatest Zombie Hunter: Part One (Inc Scripts)

So back in 2013 I made a web show called “The Worlds Greatest Zombie Hunter” on my ipod. Was shot, edited, colour corrected and everything else all on the device. Which by the way is amazing to be able to do.

Getting the show shot wasn’t easy, I had zero budget and limited time, a couple of different locations fell through meaning I ended up shooting it in my house and had to change actors late on in the process (although that worked out well). All in all it really didn’t go to plan, but I learnt a lot.

But before I talk about that I’ll skip back to the beginning.

I can’t remember exactly how the idea came about for the show but know it was intially just a short (all my idea’s start as shorts it seems). I wanted something simple and easy to make that I could shoot for nothing and have some fun with.

The more I chatted about the show the more it became apparent that the idea could run longer than just a short (had several seasons in mind but that never really came to be… but still could).

So I got together with a fellow writer who I admired and we set about just writing as many idea’s as possible that we could come up with. The idea was to keep them all around 1-2 minutes long and they didn’t really have to follow suit. Could be seperate stories and then I’d see what fits at the end.

Must have written about 7-10 each and selected around 12 in total for season one. I edited the scripts a little to make them read the same(ish) as we have differing styles but kept the story and character within the script. Was very pleased with what we ended up with.

Eventually I had to drop one of the scripts because it was a little more expensive to shoot which still bothers me to this day as Gareth had written a great idea and I really wanted to use it. Just couldn’t figure out how. The irony now is I could probably get it done with no budget but at the time just didn’t have the skills.

So after some redrafts and tightening the season was ready. Probably took around 6 months on and off in total as we were both working on other things as well. But like I said, was pleased with what we had and had turned it more into a complete narrative at that point.

The lead character had changed a little as we found him a lot more in the writing process and had incoperated things from both our scripts to make him more complete. All of his history and backstory came from chatting about the scripts we’d written rather than our inital ideas for him.

So I felt ready to begin and began the short process of pre-production. Will talk more about that in the second part of this blog that will follow shortly but for the moment here are the scripts to the show if anyone is interested in taking a read.

(Sorry about it not being embeded, couldn’t work out how. But one day I will).

Worlds Greatest Zombie Hunter Scripts

 

Stephen

(I did have a previous post explaining a little about the making off the show but have taken it off in order to write this slightly more detailed one and to include the scripts in this part and the complete finished product in another)

 

 

 

 

Want to direct another MV

Really have a strong urge of late to direct a new music video. Is the time of year where the light outside looks awesome (when it’s not pitch black in the middle of the day) and want to take advantage of it. Feeling very creative and energised after a bit of a lean spell and almost finished a draft of my latest script so need something else to do while I take a week or two away from it before going back for the next draft.

Listening to more and more music and have loads of ideas running through my head. Have a few basic concepts I’d like to try but feeling open to any idea. Hasn’t helped that I’ve watched a few music documentaries of late and that’s got me in the mood too.

Am looking to direct a lot more come next year. Feel the work I’ve done behind the camera this year has been a vast improvement on before and really enjoying it. Feel comfortable with the camera in my hand and have worked hard on editing. The many many many many many hours spent on both seem to have allowed the technical stuff to catch up with what’s in my head and has given me the chance to better show my original vision.

Keep thinking about studying Music Video’s more but feel I’m getting a lot from just watching different ones from around the world. Got some real decent constructive feedback on the last one I made from an awesome band and that’s helped too. Am keen to have another crack. Want to learn on the job and have plenty of fun honing my skills while creating some work that I’m proud off.

So here’s hoping I create a chance to shoot another in the not to distant future.

Stephen

My relationship to music while writing

Been listening to a lot of music again of late. Especially when writing. It’s something I’ve always flip-flopped between doing. I guess a lot of the time it depends on the project itself rather than my own process. I’d love to be one of those people who always listen to music while writing, I love the romance of that thought, but I don’t always find it practical.

Anything that’s a very dialogue heavy scene, or project, I never really listen to music while writing. I’ve tried it,  I want to be able to listen to music all the time, but it doesn’t work for me. I prefer to be able to have the conversations in my head and hear my characters. Work out the pace and rhythm of the conversation more naturally. Just struggle with these scenes if I’m listening to music. Breaks my concentration. Wish it didn’t, but the writing has to come first.

None dialogue scenes are where it’s at for me musically. But I tend to listen to something that reflects my mood at the time rather than the mood of the scene (not sure if that’s odd or not although my guess would be it is). I don’t look at music when I’m writing as something that I use to capture the vibe of the scene, or put together a playlist of songs that would fit the project, it’s more about me. How I feel.

I think I use it more to relax or entertainment myself. Keep my spirits high. Express how I’m feeling in my life rather than on the page. The two different arts don’t really mix together as one for me during the writing process. I can easily listen to some chilled out Dashboard Confessional song or something a little folky like Lil’ Ashes while writing some nasty horrific horror scene as much as I can listen to something like Pretty Reckless or Solemn while writing a quiet cute romantic scene. The horror I’m writing at the moment couldn’t be further from the Taiwanese Indie music playing though my headphones but represents my mood perfectly.

I enjoy a great score in a film or a fitting song and there are some soundtracks out there that I’ve listened too a lot, but for me its all about creating the right atmosphere and vibe when I’m writing. When it comes to the future and I’m making films (writing and directing) I often wonder whether I’d approach the writing the same way and use music for myself during the writing process or whether I will go a little more traditional and start thinking about the sound track early and listen to music that fits the scenes.

Either way, hope I get the chance to find out.

Stephen

 

As a side note have started a new YouTube review channel. Here’s the link: I Saw The Movie

 

Writing and Directing Short Films

Been working on a few short film scripts of late and has felt nice. When learning to write I’d write short films all the time and used to enjoy it, even directed a couple and had some play at festivals around the country. Was a great experience going to showings and seeing people enjoying my work up on the screen. Then after a failed short my attention turn to writing feature scripts, after all, that’s where I wanted to be.

I’ve been writing feature scripts and TV pilots for a while now. Have 4 feature scripts completed, another one close and have written countless drafts of others which I’m sure at some stage I’ll go back too (Two are very advanced and probably only one good draft away). Along with this I have 2 pilots ready and have written another ill-fated one a while back which I still love the concept but cringe anytime I read it and stop after the first act.

So shorts have kind of taken a back seat, but are always on my mind. Which is why of late it’s been really good to get back writing them. Writing The Moment a few years back and seeing it take off as part of London Screenwriters Festivals 50 Kisses Project really got me back in love with shorts especially after having some success with one I’d written just before that as well. Since then they’ve been part of my life again never more so than now.

I have a handful of shorts fully written and ready and another couple well on their way and am deciding really what to push forward with and direct. With my aim being to direct a no budget feature in the next few years shorts seem like a great way to get the necessary directing experience especially when I’m enjoying them so much at the moment.

The trouble I had back when I started features was that I’d done so much work on my shorts that they ended up becoming feature scripts or TV shows. Two of the four feature scripts I’ve completed  started life as shorts and the one i’ve almost finished started as a similar concept to the first short I directed. (Unseen short as was a practice shoot with City Eye). Alongside this one of the two pilots was also a short, one that I was very close to directing until I decided that the idea could be a lot bigger. So shorts where constantly being overshadowed by longer formats.

This seems to have changed recently. Now the shorts I’ve been writing have really been ideas more designed to be shorts than anything else. I’m sure I could work and expand the shorts a lot but there’s no real appeal in that when I already have such a long list of feature ideas anyway. Plus they work as shorts so why change that.. I think it’s something missing from my work in recent time and could help me a lot.

I like the idea of having a few shorts I’ve directed once again playing at festivals especially now that I have the feature script work to back it up. It seems like the short and longer format have both been part of my life for the last 10 years or more but have never really co-existed. Now seems to be the right time for that.

So whats the plan…

… The plan is to direct some of the short films I’ve written. To work with some of the people I used to work with and enjoy meeting and working with others. I have a few similar ideas where I might need to choose one or the other, and have a few idea’s that don’t really match the genre I’m working with in the longer format so will need to make some decisions there, but the idea of getting behind the camera and writing, directing and producing shorts gets me really excited.

Simply put, It’s something I feel I need to do for both my future, and something I greatly overlook at times, my present.

 

Stephen

 

(Have several older shorts on a separate page to my blog at the top of the page so feel free to check them out. Or here’s the link if the scroll up seems to far which I totally get after the last two weeks I’ve had)   Old Shorts