short film

Bob

When setting myself the task of writing multiple films for Cardiff Mini Film Festival, I formulated many of my ideas, not by thinking of a social issue I’d like to tackle or a theme I’d like to convey, as has often been my method in the past, but by picturing a striking image and then forming the plot and the theme around that. It’s a method I plan to employ regularly from now on as it produced great results; showing memorable imagery is equally as important to a film’s success as meaningful substance. Bob (script) was one such film for which I used this method. Another was Goldfish, which originated from the image of a man staring into a goldfish bowl. The image Bob originated from was that of a grown man on a park bench, holding a red balloon. Once I had this image, it led to questions such as why would a grown man carry a balloon, and what could this symbolise? The themes of insecurity,  benevolence, and release developed from this.

Synopsis

Bob carries his red balloon everywhere he goes, even though it prevents him joining in and causes him to be teased. But is it the balloon he needs to let go of, or something else?

Additional: Since my original post, Bob has won Short Film Sharer’s film of the month! Please join the Short Film Sharer group to watch and share quality short films!

Tell Me About It, Sam

Tell Me About It, Sam (script) was inspired by a real-life incident, in which I met a man who seemed to know me and preceded to have a long conversation with me about his personal life even though I hadn’t a clue who he was. I thought it was an ideal concept for a comedy film for Cardiff Mini Film Festival as it could take place in a single location – on a bench – and provided the opportunity for a punchline/twist ending. I felt the best method of filming would be a three camera set up, covering the action from all angles so we could run through the whole script in one take. To do this, I would require actors who could learn all their lines; a skill surprisingly lacking in actors solely working in film. Therefore, I cast two experienced theatre actors who I had seen perform multiple times, and who had displayed impressive skill as a comedy double act.

Synopsis

Out of the blue, Sam turns counsellor to an old friend with relationship problems, or at least he thinks he’s an old friend, but for the life of him, he can’t remember his name!

Additional: Since my original post, Tell Me About It, Sam has been nominated for best Comedy at Cardiff Mini Film Festival 2017.

Goldfish

Inspired to produce something simple to suit Cardiff Mini Film Festival’s criteria, I wrote Goldfish; a script based around the protagonist’s confined environment. It illustrates how you can miss out on life by not breaking from routine; paralleling the life of the protagonist stuck in his tiny flat with that of his goldfish. Although the premise was simple, I felt the production would benefit from some expert lighting and colour grading to further highlight these parallels and enhance the slightly surreal tone. For this purpose, I brought onboard Steven Owen, whose lighting served Bamboo House so well, and his associate Jack Longley. Both proved invaluable.

Synopsis

Huw lives a life of routine, never leaving the familiar environment of his flat. In an odd break from tradition, it’s up to his pet goldfish, Gil, to put an end to his static lifestyle.

Additional: Since my original post, Goldfish has been nominated in the One Minute Wonder category at Cardiff Mini Film Festival 2017 and selected for Loch Ness Film Festival 2017.

The Prophet

The Prophet (script) was inspired by an old proverb I came across on the internet:

“The man said to the Prophet, ‘give me advice’. The Prophet said, ‘do not get angry’. The man asked repeatedly, and the Prophet answered each time, ‘do not get angry'”.

I found the proverb amusing as the man persistently questions the Prophet even though he’s already given his answer, seeming like he’s attempting to aggravate him and get him to contradict himself. This was the basis for the film. I also incorporated subtext about the irrationality of having an unquestionable text and the hypocrisy of religious violence.

Synopsis

A modern-day prophet has some sage advice for an inquisitive young man, but he’s not about to take it without question.

Additional: Since my original post, The Prophet has won the One Minute Wonder category at Cardiff Mini Film Festival 2017.

 

Bamboo House

Bamboo House is a script I completed over a year ago. I initially entered a shorter, less Welsh centric version to Jameson First Shot, but was unsuccessful. The brief was to write about the great and/or unexpected things that can happen when you fear less and invite life in. I found out about the competition not long before the deadline and only had a week to prepare. I adapted the script from a premise I’d come up with a few weeks before, which meant that the protagonist was quite a bit older than the intended lead, Maggie Gyllenhaal. I thought this could be easily achievable with a bit of makeup, but I have a feeling this, along with some of the locations and shots, may have been over-ambitious and put the judges off, as judging by previous winners, they were looking for maximum simplicity.

I later entered a version very close to the one available here to It’s My Shout. I was unfamiliar with the competition when I saw it advertised on the BBC Writers Room; the brief stating they wanted scripts with scope for budding actors of ‘all ages’. When I later checked the It’s My Shout website, it stated they wanted scripts with scope for as many budding ‘young’ actors as possible. By this time, the deadline was upon me, and my script had just one young supporting character. Again, I was unsuccessful.

I was not discouraged by my failure, in fact, it not only motivated me to enter as many competitions as possible in future (including the two mentioned – making greater efforts to fulfil the brief) but to film the script myself! It was the success of my previous film, Total Investigation Television, that really got the Bamboo House project rolling. Total Investigation Television was nominated for best Short Fiction at Cardiff Mini Film Festival 2016, and it was there that I met Boyd Clack and Kirsten Jones, who were hosting the awards ceremony. After pitching the script to them, they wished to be involved in the project. With actors of their calibre and reputation onboard, there was no question that Bamboo House would be filmed!

From extensive storyboarding, securing the perfect locations and shooting test footage, to enlisting trusted crew I’d worked with in the past and fresh talent with expert skills, I made every effort to make sure Bamboo House was the very best film it could be. I leave it to you, the audience, to judge if I achieved my goal.

Synopsis

Mair, recently bereaved, spends her lonely days in her empty flat. Her visits to Bamboo House, her local Chinese takeaway, her only departure from her introverted lifestyle. It is there she meets Griff, an eccentric man with an insatiable sense of fun. On a romantic day out, Griff encourages her to fear less and invite life in. But will Griff’s own fear that Mair is unable to move on from the loss of her loved one put an end to their happiness?

Additional: Since my original post, Bamboo House has been nominated for best Short Fiction at Cardiff Mini Film Festival 2017.

Career Plan 2016-2017

At the beginning of the year, I found myself in a much securer position than at the beginning of the previous year and with a clear objective for the year to come of prioritising the development of my own work over critiquing other people’s.

My main focus has been The Darning Needle, a 3x45min drama that I’ve submitted to the Wales Drama Award. It’s my best and most substantial work to date and the first full-length piece I’ve been satisfied with (although a writer is never truly satisfied and I’ll go back to it if required). I’m eagerly awaiting the results of the Wales Drama Award, and preparing other work to present to the judges if I’m successful, including an outline for another full-length piece and a Doctor Who episode! At some point after the results, I should be able to share some extracts from The Darning Needle and these other pieces. I’m hopeful for success, but failing any, I’ll have another chance to submit The Darning Needle to the BBC via their Script Room in December.

I’ve also been seeking success with writing in the short form. Last September, I set myself the target of writing three short films by January with an eye to film the most suitable as an eligible contender for competitions and festivals throughout the year. The first I finished was Nice Guy. I felt this was least suitable as it wasn’t up to the standard of the other two and its critique of internet culture would require the potentially long and costly development of a fake social network to avoid copyright. The second, Total Investigation Television, was the script I chose to film. It still provided a critique of internet culture but was far more easily realised; being shot in the style of the social experiment films it satirised. I was happy with its realisation, its production led to connections with some brilliant actors and organisations that I hope to work with again, and it’s also received some recognition! It’s due to be shown at Made in Roath Arts Festival on October 15th, and was nominated for Best Fiction at Cardiff Mini Film Festival 2016, but failed to win. The final script I wrote, and possibly the best of the three, was A Love Story at Lin’s Kitchen. I decided not to film it immediately as I wanted to submit it to a couple of competitions that offered the prize of having it produced by professionals. Sadly, like Total Investigation Television, it was not successful. I feel on all these occasions, I missed out due to my entries incompatibility with the criteria, so next year I’ll be preparing more suitable applicants.

A further unexpected achievement came through our nomination at Cardiff Mini Film Festival. During the networking after-party, I introduced myself to the award hosts, Boyd Clack and Kirsten Jones, and asked them if they’d be interested in starring in A Love Story at Lin’s Kitchen; now retitled, Bamboo House. They loved the script and agreed. Shooting commenced yesterday, and you can keep up to date by watching our video diary. Being my first film to feature professional actors, Bamboo House provides me with a great opportunity, as this will not only enhance the production but potentially draw greater attention to my work than ever before. It will be made public on YouTube in November and submitted to competitions and festivals thereafter; including those we missed deadlines for last year – Cardiff Independent Film Festival – and others that Total Investigation Television was not suitable for due to its limited visual scope. With professional actors onboard, impressive locations secured, and greater opportunity for sophisticated cinematography, Bamboo House should be my greatest production yet!

As well as instigating my own projects, I’ve played significant roles in other people’s. I helped out first-year film students at Cardiff and the Vale College, acting in one of their shorts. I also helped third year scriptwriting students at the University of South Wales, assisting at script development classes. It was here I met James Humphreys, a fruitful connection as I went on to perform in a live reading of his script, Ringland, and was later asked to act at and script edit his first ScriptDawg event, and time permitting I’ll be taking part in all future events. I’ve also been told by senior scriptwriting lecturer, Sian Summers, that she’ll inform me of any further opportunities to assist at the university, which I’m very hopeful to do as I feel my tutoring/script editing ability has been put to good use. Another project where these skills have been utilised is YouTube sitcom series, How Not To Be Single, created by James Musgrove. I helped James develop the script for episode one, taking an advisory position, and then went on to co-direct and film it. Episode two I wrote myself, working from a brief from James, and again I’ve been co-directing and filming. It will be released later this month, and we’re confident it will top episode one! With this huge increase in filming, I hope to produce a showreel very soon or even multiple ones, focusing individually on my acting, camerawork, and writing!

Despite all my filming and scriptwriting work, I’ve still found time for reviews and analyses of film and television. These include E.T., the Star Wars saga, all the X-Men universe films, Ghostbusters 2016, and the classic Doctor Who serial, The Ark. I was particularly proud of my X-Men and Doctor Who posts. The X-Men posts perfected the more light-hearted yet informative blogging style I’ve been trying to move towards after writing formal university essays for years. Next year sees the release of Spiderman: Homecoming, and I’d like to review the Spiderman franchise in a similar style, as well as the new Wolverine film so I can maintain my complete record. I was pleased to be able to debunk the negative and unfair fan opinion of The Ark, and I’m still hoping to produce many more Doctor Who posts in future. Critiquing at least one story from each Doctor is my next target, as well as an overview of all the Dalek stories with an accompanying video ranking my best to worst! I also plan to post about Star Wars: Rogue One this Christmas and Trainspotting and its sequel upon its release.

I’ve exceeded my objective as this has been by far my most productive year. I’ve produced my best work, made great connections and received recognition for my efforts. I feel my ability is still progressing at a rapid pace and I’m more focused and confident than ever. I’ve achieved more than I could’ve hoped for, but I feel now that I’m in such a strong position, next year will reap even greater rewards. Big success is just around the corner!