Sunday, July 21, 2019

Movie Slate - Update

Exciting times... We are very pleased to announce that three projects will shortly begin pre-production.
One, is very dependent on a substantial budget and I, along with Leah Solmaz of Luna Kaynak productions (who will produce the movie), will shortly be applying for funding. We already have some very talented people attached to the project. The movie is called Wake-Up Call.
Hokum - An exciting, mythical drama within a seedy underworld. A stylish offering with great opportunities for extravagant production design and wardrobe. A unique concept and potentially (most likely) one of Korky Films’ longest movies yet, at around 12-15 minutes. A lot of work has been involved in refining the script and everyone connected is excited for this one.
From Beer to Alternity – Odd. Surrealistic but grounded with a nice hook; a comedic denouement. Watch out for potential acting turns from me and Damien Trent
It is early days and there are no filming dates set. Tentative discussions have occurred and some decisions have been made on casting, but as of now, it's green light for go.
I hope you like the Hokum early teaser promo, which is NOT the official poster but will shortly be circulated for casting calls and early promo items.
The 'From Beer to Alternity' teaser promo will serve the same purpose and will get an official poster once things 'take off.'
The Wake-Up Call poster is locked and will form part of our press pack and funding applications.
Wish us luck and please, feel free to let us know what you think.

Stay tuned!

Friday, July 19, 2019

2019 - An Update. Happy Birthday and New Projects


Tomorrow is my birthday (20th July) and so, by way of a celebration, I will give birth to a new era of personal filmmaking activity.

This year, up to July, I have already completed four movies with one being an animation. In my last blog post I expressed misgivings about how they ‘went’.  Maybe I’m my harshest critic; maybe I should relax a little, I don't know. Filmmaking is often synonymous with anguish and stress. That’s not to say it isn’t fun, it most definitely is. However, the pay-off should be rewarding or at least feel so! But on recent movies, it has been difficult and I've been left thinking that much needs to improve. I've certainly been frustrated and I definitely need to feel better about the finished film. Even before a well-earned break, which took me to Greece and then across the East Coast and Midwest of the US, I was already well aware of the issues with my recent productions. Oddly, for a break, I managed to write two new treatment ideas and edit two ‘big’ short films.

Anyway, by way of correction, I have discussed these issues with my filmmaking cohorts and we are all equally agreed on a way forward. Perhaps there’s no real point in elaborating too much on specifics, but apart from the lack of any funding (which I guess everyone has to deal with and will undoubtedly continue), several things have been addressed. Now it’s just a case of putting them into action…

So, what's next?

I have 15 short film scripts. Ridiculous, really… Some I favour more than others. Some are easier to make (in theory). I am prolific and writing excites me… Thinking visually excites me... So, finishing a film should film me with the same, if not more, excitement. I have discussed these ideas and scripts with my production team and they are excited about certain scripts too, so naturally these are the ones which have got he ‘green light’.

Scripts I’ve written…
  


Scripts we’ve decide on…

Hokum – Mythical drama within a seedy underworld. A stylish offering with great opportunities for extravagant production design and wardrobe. A unique concept and potentially (most likely) one of Korky Films’ longest movies yet, at around 12-15 minutes. 

From Beer to Alternity – Odd. Surrealistic but grounded with a nice hook; a comedic denouement. This could mark my return to acting… Jeez!

These choices don’t mean the others aren’t any good, it’s just that practicalities – of all kinds – need to be objectively discussed in accordance with those excitement levels. Put it this way, it’s no good getting overly excited about that bike you’ve asked for as a Christmas present, when dad’s lost his job and mum doesn’t work. An adjustment of what’s practical and fits ‘right now’ needs to occur. Scripts need to be developed further and workshopped. What can’t be achieved today might be achievable later. We’re in a period of adjustment and steep learning. So, what is required right now is something compelling, potentially great and highly achievable, within the confines of budget and crew availability. There also needs to be some confidence restored. We need to get back in the groove. What’s great is that the ‘team’ all feel the need to get right ‘back on that horse.’ 

Here’s hoping I can actually start to feel some accomplishment with my work going forward.

Saddle up… 

In other news, Wake-Up Call which definitely needs a decent budget to have any chance of getting made, is now very close to being submitted for funding. We shall see. An application will be made on 5th August.

Stay tuned!

Monday, July 1, 2019

2019... The Story So Far


Back in October of last year I posted a very reflective update about my filmmaking ‘journey’ and the frustrations I experienced. Now, halfway through the following year, five films have since been produced and released, with four of them being made in 2019. Two are animations, three are live action. Undoubtedly, my hunger and desire to produce great movies continues unabated. However, my frustrations and a growing sense of disappointment hasn’t diminished, unfortunately. In fact, in many respects, it’s been exacerbated.  

My writing, which is my source of income, continues to develop and new ideas flourish. I am so prolific that I have to consciously ‘turn off the tap’ to stop further ideas from arising. I have never struggled for ideas and I rarely suffer, if at all, with a lack of confidence or belief when putting the pen to the page. That’s not to say I think my writing is fantastic and everything I produce is amazing. The point is, I rarely suffer with self-doubt and a feeling of despair once something is finished. However, words are easy to edit and the ideas articulated are easily refined, rewritten or simply removed. So, the process is considerably easier than the actual process of filmmaking. 

I know I’m not alone in experiencing ‘issues’ when filmmaking and the best laid plans invariably change and/or are compromised due to circumstances often beyond a filmmaker’s control. That is to be expected and, in many respects, can be exciting to a degree. It does actually make the process ‘fun’, in a masochistic way. Conversely, all kinds of glorious quirks and unexpected things occur organically and add to a movie’s individual ‘magic’ during its production. All of that is good, of course, however there is plenty which can go wrong; destructively wrong, and unfortunately, I’ve experienced this a lot in the last three live action productions. 

Animation is a different proposition and comes with its own amount of issues and pitfalls. Most obvious is that I’m not really an animator; not in the purist sense. The difference, and this is the main reason why I sometimes revert to the medium, is that with animation I usually have total control over the whole process and can oversee all aspects (as individual pieces) to create the final movie. However, this is not ideal. Coincidentally, my true filmmaking ‘voice’ is articulated far more readily and easily through my animations. Essentially, as I’ve always said, this is usually because I am not hampered or restricted by the confines of budget and location. There are other reasons, I guess, but anyway… Sometimes, I just really enjoy my own company. I've always been a bit of a loner.

So, live action… A conundrum. I love to direct; however, I am not a technical director who does and even wants to be involved in handling cameras or lenses, but I sometimes have to. That said, I always have a strong vision and a definite appreciation of the aesthetic I wish to convey. Furthermore, as I trained as an actor (and have been a performer) I enjoy working with actors to craft the movie and honing performances in a way I imagined. I like to think I have some real qualities here. 

The trouble is, and it is entirely my fault and is probably endemic with indie filmmaking, is that I take on too much responsibility, which ultimately dilutes my ability to concentrate properly on what my real focus is (or indeed should be). Now, I’m sure I’m not alone in performing this juggling act and I must concede that many others are probably a lot more adept at it than me. I don’t know. There is great reliance on your collaborators when producing films and so much can go wrong. Therefore, getting everyone to dance to your tune, in a way you imagined and want it, is the real trick to directing. So far, regrettably, I believe I have failed. I am highly organised and take time to prepare my movies – working with the director of photography to produce shot lists etc. and working with composers to create the score. I immerse myself in the creative process of the film. I am confident that I do this well. However, things that are clearly lacking are a proper, recognised producer to oversee the production and a First AD to assist, so that I’m not ultimately pulling everything together and running several jobs. So often, plans go ‘off piste’. Again, I appreciate this is symptomatic of independent filmmaking. 

However, I am often surprised and, in many ways embarrassed, when I watch the credits roll on other filmmaker’s films and see a long list of contributors, whereas on mine there are usually a handful. We do well, undoubtedly. That’s a positive – clearly! This is small-time and we have success. I fund these movies entirely from my own earnings. The flip side is that so much more could be achieved with more assistance (and obviously, bigger budgets to afford that). 

Anyway, it is again, with renewed impetus and a lot of lessons learned, that I’m dusting myself down and forging ahead on new projects. Inquests have occurred; decisions have been made and so, with a little less naivete and a bit more help, we go again.  

Thanks must go to everyone who has given their precious time and skill to work on the movies produced so far, but clearly I must ‘step up my game’. The movies produced are now ‘out there’ but with serious misgivings and ‘issues’ in abundance. This really annoys, frustrates and depletes me, quite honestly. I take full responsibility though, as I have put myself forward as both director and producer of these films. This must change. 

Unfortunately, since my October post, some of the same problems have been allowed to occur. That is truly unforgiveable. I can accept that not everyone will like my stuff, in terms of the story and style. In many respects, I don’t care. However, to have movies with so many technical failings is hard to take. 

New movies have been written with the aim of keeping things entirely manageable and controllable, so that my work can be crafted as close to my desired intention and vision as possible. Ultimately, I aim to get my ‘true voice’ heard. We’re not quite there yet, but strides will be made. 

All I can say is, I’ll be back after a much-deserved break and the new movies will be great. They must be…

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Movie News

Preparation continues for A Sort of Burial with final tests being conducted at the weekend. We can only hope for weather like we've had this Easter break to help us. Shooting begins on Sunday 5th May. The cast and crew are excited and (nearly) ready.

Switch has gone a little quiet but there's been so much activity elsewhere that preparation for this has had to take a back seat. I am, unfortunately, guilty of taking on too much. However, this year, I did start out with a strong, ambitious plan to really achieve and push my movie making endeavours forward. I'm not broken yet and, nearly five months in, I'm still full of enthusiasm so, so far so good! Besides, Switch was pretty much already set when we had to postpone due to location issues at the easier, proposed shooting date. We're all set for June though still.

Now, onto more exciting movie news. Wake-Up Call, another passion project which has struggled for funding has now been rejuvenated with a fresh plan. We're still after funding, however, the project has now got a dedicated producer on board - Leah Solmaz of newly formed Luna Kaynak Productions. Early discussions are promising and Leah is putting a solid plan together to secure funding and gather a first-rate team to ensure the movie gets made. Our first production meeting, after some promising discussions and exchanges, will happen at the weekend. It is entirely possible that this film could begin shooting in 2019.



Happenstance, a short comedy I wrote is still very much on the slate of possible productions, but again, it is an ambitious project which will need a recognisable and significant budget to do it justice.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

March Wins

A while away from the blog but lots to report. 

So, a quarter of the way into the year and two new movies, a live-action horror The Cold Caller and an animation, Waxworks Owner Fumes at Closure, have been completed and are now on their way to festivals for consideration.

The Cold Caller has now been shown at the Profundis Film festival in Salford and will screen in Berlin later this month. It also has a screening on Friday 10th May at the Sunderland Shorts Film Festival, as part of an evening of horror films. It should be good!

Waxworks Owner Fumes at Closure was a real pleasure to put together. It was voiced by the talents of Martyn Luke, Stuart Walker, Louise Gale and me. It is an interesting mix of satire, stupidity, and nonsense, with a strong emphasis on a unique, visual aesthetic. Here’s hoping it’ll do well.  Because of its very ‘Britishness’ it has been limited to UK showings as a lot of the references will not travel well. 
In amongst all that hoopla and ballyhoo was a nice award win at the Midlands Movies 2019 awards. 


 

I picked up Best Animated Film for Return from the Moon, which was a real surprise but very welcome. It was a great night and it was good to be in the company of such talented filmmakers and creatives from across the region in a well-run and fun evening.

And so, what next? Due to location issues we had to postpone our March filming date for Switch, a humorous con movie, but a new date has been set with a great location secured. However, before that, in May, we are due to film the black-comedy, A Sort of Burial, which boasts a strong ensemble cast of Marian ‘Mazzy’ Elizabeth, Martyn Luke, Harrington Day and Mark Hancock. We are really looking forward to this one and I’m hoping it’ll prove to be a success on the festival circuit, with audiences enjoying it around the world.

 
 
In other news, I am now actively looking for a Producer to help get my movie Wake Up Call produced and, hopefully, funded. This will mark a real move towards producing a short film which will clearly demonstrate my true artistic ‘voice’. However, lots to do and achieve before then and it might never happen, unfortunately.

Stay tuned!

Friday, March 1, 2019

Midlands Movies Awards 2019

Korky Films will be present at the Midlands Movies Awards 2019 on Saturday 2nd March 2019.

We are up for four awards, but regardless of the outcome, we're thrilled to be included amongst the region's top filmmaking talent. It should be a great night.


Project Updates and Website Re-design

A new animation, Waxworks Owner Fumes at Closure is now well underway and some great voice-work has been completed by Martyn Luke, Stuart Walker and Louise Gale.
Work will stop for a short while why I turn my main focus to Switch, a new live-action comedy which is due to be filmed mid-March. Again, there is some great acting talent involved and we're hopeful that the story and performances will be a hit.

When it falls off the back of a van, there are no guarantees. A local con-artist tries his luck with a clever scam.

Also planned for late Spring is another short, A Sort of Burial. A live-action comedy which is in pre-production and casting decisions still have to be finalised.

Alistair is late for the funeral and Carla is annoyed. Her loyal, family friend is gone. The Vicar is starting the service and Harry the fencer has a job to do. This is the story of Basil’s final send off.

In amongst all of this, I will be updating the Korky Films website completely with a total overhaul.

Stay tuned!

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Cold Caller - Release, Midlands Movies Awards and Switch

The final edit, sound mix and grade was completed on The Cold Caller at the end of January and on 25th January 2019 it was officially released. It has now been submitted to various, hand-picked festivals for consideration and I have a few other ‘competitions’ to put it forward to. Exciting times!

Again, big thanks to all involved. We are very pleased with the movie and hope it gets in front of many appreciative audiences. More updates will occur on social media and on this blog, as and when notifications are received.

Midlands Movies Awards

I am extremely pleased and proud to announce that both Scarecrow and Return from the Moon have been nominated for awards at the annual Midlands Movie Awards. Last year, the award ceremony became a ‘physical’ event after being held online previously (in 2017). Luckily, I won Best Animation in 2018 for ninetofive. This year’s nominations are:

Best Animation – Return from the Moon

Best Visual Effects – Return from the Moon

Best Short – Scarecrow

Best Wardrobe – Scarecrow (Lee Charlish, Meg Charlish and Jenny McDonald)


It gives me a great buzz knowing that my mum is part of the awards consideration. Her stitching and crafting of the scarecrow's mask really helped the production and to forge the desired look for the eponymous character.

Michael Sales of Midlands Movies does a great job in championing efforts of local filmmakers, cast and crew, and whatever the result, we are sure to have a great and memorable night.

The awards take place at Hansom Hall, Leicester on Saturday 2nd March. Again, updates on the evening will appear on social media and on this blog.

Switch

I can now finally reveal details of my next project. It is a short comedy movie - Switch, with an expected runtime of just over two minutes. It is a two-hander which has now been cast and the crew have been assembled for a shooting date mid-March. Updates will appear on social media and here, and I will design a poster for promotional purposes soon. Stay tuned!

Keep following and if you do read this blog, spread the word.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Cold Caller - It's a Wrap

On January 6th 2019 The Cold Caller was filmed. A great deal of preparation, lasting around three months, occurred prior to that date and it’s a good feeling to know it’s ‘in the can’, so to speak, or more accurately but less romantically, ‘on the cards’. 

The shoot was typically tough (and cold!) and took much longer than expected. Make-up, which was extremely important for this movie, took about two and a half hours for just two characters. We started at 9:30 in the morning and our small cast and crew were done at 9:45 the same evening. A long day! 
 

 
Thankfully, there was an abundance of enthusiasm and patience, and there was plenty of fun and laughter, which always makes for a good set and shoot. 

The whole things was shot in my garage which had been stripped of its ‘useful’ contents and replaced with a selection of weird and macabre items to depict the lair of a psychopath; seemingly with a history for murdering young women. It’s an oddly enjoyable thing to scour charity shops and ask people for anything old, creepy and rusted. As usual, doll’s heads featured prominently and there is much to give a clear indication, from the get-go, that we’re in a very dark, evil place. I make no apologies for borrowing many of the more common horror tropes. It is entirely deliberate and designed to show the audience that we are very much in the midst of a grim situation and things will get ugly, pretty damn quickly! As the piece will have an expected runtime between 90 seconds and just under three minutes, it was crucial to let the scene setting be the exposition.
 
 

The film opens with a young female victim (typically!), played wonderfully by Marian Elizabeth (Mazzy) strapped to a chair and unconscious. Yep, we’ve seen it a hundred times before and we know it’s never a good place to be, and so it begins! I can’t thank Mazzy enough for travelling from London to Coventry, to effectively be strapped into a chair (in what is effectively a stranger’s garage) and be covered in blood, gunk and all kinds of stuff and nonsense, while being surrounded by more strangers in the blistering cold! Thankfully, she was well looked after, and I’d love to work with her again. We had lots of conversations beforehand, of course, and I’d discussed what was required over a period of months, but even so, it was a wonderful leap of faith by her and really appreciated. It is important, as a director (and producer!) to ensure everybody is looked after, respected, appreciated and fed! I shall not mention the sudden depletion of Custard Creams ever again!

A huge debt of gratitude also goes to Mark Hancock, The Psychopath, whose enthusiasm (quite frighteningly!) and humour made working with him a joy. A local filmmaker himself, Mark agreed to the role after we’d met at the Encounters Film Festival, back in September. Again, developing the look and feel of the character, albeit stereotypical in many respects, was an important step in getting him in the mindset for the crazed world in which he was to inhabit. We developed some useful traits and an annoying hearing aid. This serves, without apology, as a useful device to legitimise his inability to track ‘The Victim’s’ movement and to compensate for any potential sound issues which will invariably occur when filming in a suburban garage!
 

We have some great music from Chris Pemberton, whose musical score for Scarecrow really elevated that production. I can’t wait to get to the sound design on this once I have an assembly edit in place.

Then there’s Jessica Peck, who provided the make-up for the movie and did an absolutely stunning job. We couldn't have been more impressed with how both characters looked, especially ‘The Psychopath’. Working to my brief, she detailed so much nastiness in his look in a small space of time. She also provided welcome conversation and laughs to the actors and crew, during periods of downtime in filming.

 
Damien Trent and I assumed camera and sound responsibilities and much more! It really was a skeleton crew, as it realistically had to be. There are plenty of willing and talented people who could have been enlisted to help, but the tight nature of the set meant it would exacerbate the cabin fever and create as many problems as it solved. We had to grin and bear it all, basically. Continuity, clapper, set-ups, problem solving… So much more besides! However, we still remained focussed and in good spirits throughout, which helped. A good partnership which hopefully, at this stage, looks like it may have created something great.

The one downside of the day is that we didn’t capture a cast and crew photograph, which means I must work especially hard to get this movie made into something which will be shown far and wide. Then, hopefully, we can all meet up and get that final ‘shot’ of us all together!

And so, post-production begins. So far, so good. A quick scan of the footage means confidence is high and the desired aesthetic looks like it’s been achieved.

We shall literally see if all the hard work and preparation pays off. The Cold Caller will be finished soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 - A Productive and Fruitful Year

Much of the New Year’s plan for 2019 was outlined in my earlier post ‘Dumped is Dumped and a New Slate’ in October, which really was a springboard into a new raft of projects. Since then, work has been continuous and Return from the Moon, a 'hangover' from years ago, has now been finished and a great deal of pre-production work has occurred on The Cold Caller. This will be my first film of 2019, however, I’m hoping for several more.


Return from the Moon is an experimental animation and, typically, it allows for a more surreal expression to take place, rather than the linear narratives of my live-action efforts. Evidently a lot of people will hate it. I’m not entirely in love with it myself, but it did give me a chance to develop new techniques and understand different processes. In some way, it was a necessity to get it finished; an itch which needed to be scratched, using lots of old 'jumbled' material I'd created over the years.   
It is often a dilemma for me to consider whether such movies should be launched onto the festival circuit for public consumption, or simply confined to a draw, under the bed and padlocked, like a guilty secret. I have always said I’m not a purist when it comes to animation. I simply use it as a medium to tell stories which are more oneiric in nature and when a cast and crew simply aren’t available. However, in 2019, I aim to develop my animation skills and become more ‘traditionally’ accomplished. Filmmaking objective number 1.


2018 has been a year of learning; some of it good, some of it bad. There’s plenty to keep me inspired, however, there’s an awful amount which can really drag me down. It really is my intention to attend more festivals in 2019 and to discuss my movies with like-minded filmmakers and network. I see some fantastic short films and some great filmmakers. What is especially pleasing is that there is a wealth of super-talented filmmakers right on my doorstep, here in the Midlands, UK. But, with that said, the affecting negativity which can sometimes pervade on the independent filmmaking circuit is so stultifying, that I’m never far away from just simply saying ‘sod this’.  This is one of the annual feelings I must overcome (again!) to simply keep going! Filmmaking objective number 2. Essentially, I think it’s entirely important to say nice things about films you like and help other people if and when they’re struggling. It seems far easier for people to bitch and moan - always, or get ultra-competitive and petty. To me, that’s just plain daft… I believe that admiration and inspiration is the key to improvement. 

And so, 2019 begins and I have a full-slate of movies already up for consideration (as outlined previously) and the possibility of another crowdfunding campaign for Happenstance; a tidy little live-action comedy, which could also be made in the second part of the year. So far, early script reads have been more than promising!

MIKE and FREYA are both single, unlucky in love and drifting towards their 30s. Seeking counsel, they slowly unravel as their innermost fears, thoughts and desires are explored and recounted to a bewildered COUNSELLOR. Seeing beyond their blinkered future view, the counsellor offers more than they could have anticipated.

I aim to make 2019 a productive year.

So, Happy New Year to you. Let’s hope it’s a good one for us all. Keep filmmaking, keep creating and be kind!