Monday, June 29, 2009

Your Knowledge Required!

A very quick peek above the parapet from me today, as I have a question to ask - 'tis one I have wondered for a long time, but finding the answer has now become paramount.

A little background to my confusion: when I worked for BBC Scotland one of my favourite times was working with Comedy Development & Production, with my most enjoyable but toughest experience being "Rab C Nesbitt". These many series were obviously written in full dialect having been originally aimed at an entirely indigenous audience demographic.

So my learned friends, in general terms...local dialect in screenplays: good or bad? Win or Fail? Or personal preference?

If you are another writer, director, producer, exec, script reader, script editor, story outliner, scheduler, head of programming, or just plain know the answer, please leave a comment below or tweet me on Twitter. I'll be checking back in later in the day.

Thanks in advance.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Looking Back to Go Forward

Hello little ones - what's been happening around here, then? I've tried my best to keep peeking in on you all, but it has proven a bit difficult. Anyhow, here I am albeit for a little bit.

I've come over all reflective during the last week (the thought variety, not the mirroring type) whilst trying to tie up loose ends on various things that have been left all untidy in the far corners of Tenacious Towers North Wing. That's where I tend to pop bits and pieces, y'see - the 'to be confirmed / continued / finished / burned / useless exes' - that kind of thing, and every now and again I have to remove the dust sheets, sift through and tidy up. Because I have been fairly busy of late, ["Hark!" I hear you cry. "I had no idea - you should have said..!" ;0P ] I had to sit down and go back to January no less, in order to clear the decks for the next six months. I had so much shredding to do as a result, but it was fun to go through the last half year in draft form. But where, in God's name, has this year gone, I ask you? In a strange way, I don't feel as though I have achieved much at all, but to tell you the truth, I suppose I have now definitely started laying foundations for the way ahead.

The year started on a real high, having had my short, "Perfect", selected for development by Screen East for Digital Shorts. Although we went through the highs and lows together, my Little Miss Perfect insisted on not behaving herself and caused a lot of headaches and heartache, before falling at Becher's Brook and bailing out of the process. Disappointing as it was at the time, it was actually a blessing in disguise, as following fast on the heels of that news was the early development of my 360 degree cross platform programme outline, "Tweet the Dice", and "#twitstunt", the first snippet of filming for the feature documentary side of the same project. Now at a stage where I can start putting the final pieces of the project puzzle together and getting it 'out there', it's been a fascinating research process so far and I'm looking forward to the next step - I am sure we'll chat more about it at another point.

Before I had even finished the final title graphic for "#twitstunt" I had two short films chomping at the bit and went straight into preproduction on "Runner" and "Hostile" with the aim to shoot two shorts in two days. What I essentially wanted to do though, was shoot for four films in two days: a very short cut for Virgin Media Shorts and a looser cut of around five mins for each film. I planned my production days accordingly and we all pushed through the shot lists and schedules like lightning - a totally brilliant couple of days from what had developed into an amazing month in general. With the short versions of both films complete and in competition, and the long assemblies teetering on their edit, I have been enjoying the fun of writing again and two feature treatments have now gone out to find a home this week, one stateside and one closer to home, so I hope something comes of at least one.

On assessing people, places and events over the same period, quite a lot has been and gone too. One best boy buddy upped and left for the heat of Australia, whereas another just upped and left this mortal coil forever, which was really tough. From the sublime to the ridiculous, the untimely departure of my i-Phone made me realise that no-one actually uses their phone for just plain conversation anymore - we all seem to text, IM or email each other - and due to that fact, unless I've been at my 'puter, I have hardly communicated with anyone over the last fortnight. It's very odd. On the up side, I've been on various filmmaking courses and talks to brush up on old skills and learn new ones; attended the excellent "The Story Engine" in Darlington (more on that here); plus I've also gotten to know a ludicrous amount of new folks since January - some of whom have become very special and trustworthy friends already. Then of course, there's The Kid. He turned two a couple of weeks ago and upon being put up to the 'big boys' class at nursery, led a mini revolution up the slide with his girlfriend, causing them to be separated for influencing all the three-year olds to run riot. That's my boy. He also knows which are my films now too - which is very cool. "Hostile" seems to be his favourite at the moment because the bass in the surround mix nearly blows up Tenacious Towers, but I think he actually prefers battering his drum kit along to the music from "Runner". And oh, how I love that...

Even though I promised myself I would, I haven't managed to get to see many shows so far this year, which is really rather rubbish - so that's something I need to start rectifying very soon. However, my summer of music started for real just last night, nose being tickled by Brandon Flowers' feathery jacket in Hyde Park. The Killers really were rather good and the evening was everything I liked an outdoor concert to be.

All this aside, I have to admit, I'm looking forward to a bit of 'me' time in the near future, and so after I complete a little bit of work in Spain very soon, I have decided to give myself a tad of a break in that very place, to refuel before the next wave of production starts in late July, when I will be once again, gearing up to sign cheques and shout 'action'.

So, have I laid my foundations for the right path? No idea, buddy. Only time will tell. I'm just really enjoying the ride.

Catch you soon.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Doing a Runner

Hello. Only me.

As promised, sweet ones, here's the link to "Runner" - my comedic homage to Seventies drama - also now uploaded to the Virgin Media Shorts competition.

"Hostile" and "Runner" quite frankly are as different as day and night and thus I fear I may be suffering from a split personality disorder when I write/direct. No surprising news there then.

Enjoy, comment and star rate on the Virgin Media site if the whim takes you.

I thank you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hostile - The short Short

I am pleased to say the short cut of "Hostile" is now up online at Virgin Media Shorts. Click on the link below to view, star rate & leave a comment if you wish.

I have dedicated it to all of you have lived (and worked) on the edge of genius and madness. That's 99.9% of the Tenacious readership dealt with then ;0)

"Runner" will be up online as soon as I'm happy with it and I'll update that news here too.

If you enjoy the films and would like to support one (or both), I will be announcing when the official voting is open if we get through to the next round.

I hope you enjoy them.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An Off-Topic Ode

We've had lots of fun, haven't we, you and I? But now I am torn and beside myself with upset at the realisation it's time to go our separate ways. I'm not sure how I will cope - or indeed if I will.

I don't mean to drag up the past, but in all honesty, you have had me wound round your sexy appeal for too long and only now have I finally plucked up the courage to tell you how much you have let me down at times.

When I have needed you the most, you have appeared cold, aloof, distant and totally switched off. You built me right up into the clouds with promises, hope and faith, then you took a big step backwards and watched me lose my balance. When I turned to you in my hours of need you have stayed at arm's distance and stared blankly at me, or not even bothered to communicate anything at all. You slipped into my life like a hot knife through butter and then before I knew it, you were always there - within grasp of my fingertips - but never wholly committed.

Then there have been the times when you've been my inspiration, my closest friend and my confidante; my cook, my thief and my lover. Remembering those times makes my head whirl with excitement and my heart burst with pride; it makes me smile so wide I feel my mouth may unravel. Wow! We've discovered a whole new way of living, you and I, and it is something I will carry on doing forever - only next time, it will be bigger and better - that I can guarantee. There will always be empty promises in life - I know that - but happiness in however small amounts, is something I feel I must grasp when I can.

But here I sit - lonely, empty and cut off - and now, in my view, since you flounced not-so-balletically across the kitchen floor this morning, and deposited a small shard of glass in my cheek, dearest i-Phone: you are a useless piece of shit.

I shall have to dust off Crackberry until your replacement enters my life. Thanks for the memories. You tw*t.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Hostile Thoughts

Yesterday saw me conducting a little off-the-cuff market research. "Hostile" is nearing completion and so I wanted to test it's PG/U viability on a minor - enter Subject S, who, you have to understand, is like something out of "Charlie and Lola".

As she watched the film, I gauged her reactions, most of which were accompanied with a screwed up nose. At the end of it, I asked her what she thought in general: "S'good. But it probably smells." she replied.  

"How do you know it smells?" I asked her, curious, as this is what I had hoped an adult may feel, let alone a child.  

"'Cos there's loads of yuk food lying around, and it's dirty. There probably isn't even proper toilet paper or anything." was Subject S's reply. Very astute, I thought.

"Were you scared at any point?" I probed, wary that the film is quite dark and could appear nightmare-like to a child.  

She shook her head. "No. I just thought she was sad. Why is she sleeping there?" she asked casually. I explained why she was there; Subject S said she understood, but looked a little confused.

"I think she sleeps there on her own, doesn't she?" she replied thoughtfully.  

"Yes, she does." I smiled. "Why do you say that?"

"I don't think her husband sleeps there as he probably sleeps in the next room - which is nice and tidy." At this point she became interested in other things and started to leave. 

"Well, kind of...but why did you think she was sad?" I asked, as Subject S neared the door. 

She rolled her eyes skyward and tutted. "Because she knows she'll need to tidy up before bedtime. Look at the state of her room - I wouldn't want that job!" And off she flounced.

I can't wait to hear what she says about "Runner".

Friday, June 05, 2009

Reflective Shadows

Hello my little pack of voyeurs

The week has been full of real ups and downs - you know the kind of thing? I usually earmark it as post-shoot crash week: it's when I [try to] relax a bit, ease off fifth gear and then suddenly feel a general fight of optimism vs despondency about the future.

I have been holed up in an edit suite for the majority of the week and although we're making headway with the edits of "Hostile" and "Runner", I am an impatient kinda girl and want it all done and finished yesterday. Still, never mind, we're getting there - although the 2 minute 20 second limit and PG/U certification for Virgin Media Shorts has thrown quite a few issues for me to battle with - especially with regard to "Hostile". But one thing is for sure: there really is so much beautiful footage for both films, I will definitely be completing two edits for each.

Then I sit there, staring at the edit screen wondering if these are the films I set out to make? Yes, they are totally - and that's good - but will they appeal to anyone? I have no idea. It's a weird place to be, but I am not making films for any reason except to stretch myself, download some artistic visions to make room for fresh ones, ease my insatiable creative hunger and also, because a few years back, I committed to a 180 degree career change to behind the camera. 

Having spent 17 years in front of the camera (yes, I was a mere child...), I also spent my 'fallow periods' working in costume design, art depts, indie production, BBC production contracts, PA-ing to various Producers and assisting various Directors, Exec Assistant in PR, Marketing and HR - as well as the obligatory waitressing and bar work. None of this I regret, as it has given me an in-depth background knowledge of "business", what everyone is 'doing' and more importantly, what they should be doing in any given situation: it also means I do not suffer fools gladly. But does all that make me a good filmmaker? Again, no idea, and that's the honest truth. So far, the noises about the rough edits have been positive but that's no guarantee of anything; on the other hand, if I am just trying to satisfy my artistic integrity, then why am I bothered about success? Well, actually I'm not, but like most people, I have bills and a boring mundanity to upkeep, and would like to up the income levels from what I love doing the most: and that, my learned colleagues, is telling stories - in a literary and visual sense.

So, here I am, a shiny new and updated CV in hand and my eye on the market. I don't have a gob-droppingly amazing showreel or a long list of credits to my name as a writer, director and/or producer, but I do have a small neat package plus vision, drive, commitment and - hopefully - ability. Over the last month or so, my quest has taken me to Spain and back where I have had meetings about a fairly long term contract that may or may not materialize, and on the slightly less hot but just as sunny (kind of) and far more local side, I am looking forward to meetings regarding the development of one of my feature pitches and a drama-documentary for TV. As usual, lots of ifs and buts, however, opportunities all the same.

Hand on heart, I can say I have had the best time so far this year and one way or another, it has already proven to be a real turning point for me. Juggling this, plus my [nearly] two year old boy has been a tough test, but I've come out the other side unscathed. The boy also seems pretty grounded I am glad to say, although he keeps looking for "Hostile" & "Runner" Production Designer, Jess Alexander, under the spare bed, which is a little bit of a worry as I don't recall her hiding there in particular. I'm sure it's all down to the sharing of "In The Night Garden" stickers over the breakfast table.

I really look forward to unearthing the secrets currently clutched closely to the breast of the next six months of 2009.

Ever onwards.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Story So Far

A little taster of Mark Spencer's beautiful stills from the shoots last you will see, two very different days. Thanks to all again.


"Runner" - Cast
Alan McKenna - Josh
Mary Healey - Viv
Mari Gordon- Price - Edie
Morgan Deare - Shopkeeper


"Hostile" - Cast
Annette Ross - Charlotte

Crew - "Runner" & "Hostile"
Director of Photography - Neil Oseman
Camera Assistant - Colin Smith ("Hostile"); Max Welch ("Runner")
Production Designer - Jess Alexander
Design Assistant - Alison Bowman 
Props Assistants - Callina Pearson, Molly Lardner
Stills Photographer - Mark Spencer
Make Up, Prosthetics Artist & Wardrobe Continuity - Lucy 'Darkness' King
Spark - Max Welch
Sound Recordist/Boom Op - Sophie Shelton
Production Co-Ordinator - Peter Getkahn
Production Lawyer - Sam Terry
Editor - Neil Douek
Music - Neil Douek
Writer, Director & Producer - Lara Greenway