Monday, September 30, 2019

Hokum - Filming Day 1 and 2


Hokum - Day 1 Filming

Last Thursday we kicked off Hokum with some tricky, 'risky' shots - not because of the shots themselves, but because of the production design and location. Thankfully, a look at the dailies proved to be a success. Now, the trick will be incorporating it into the movie and seeing how it looks and feels. 

It was a great night and a chance for those who weren't involved in this shoot, but in later scenes, to come along, show support and generally get a feel for what Hokum is trying to achieve.

Hokum – Day 2 Filming

The outside shoot. Always a real challenge, especially as we move into autumn in England. An early start with a few new introductions, but thankfully, preparation and previous meet ups/discussions meant that any awkward exchanges and uncertainty had already been dispensed with.  It turned out to be a brilliant day’s filming which had its fair share of jeopardy, beautifully mitigated by the spirit, determination and ‘fun’ of all involved. It’s amazing how much is accomplished by having a sense of humour about things and enduring (and hopefully imbuing) a kind of stoic calm. Of course, things can be fraught; tension rises but experience teaches you to stick to the plan and not to lose focus and control. I think we all did that and it hasn’t always happened on recent shoots. I have felt responsible for ‘dropping the ball’ in that respect. So, a definite improvement.  Sure, a few raised voices and ‘colourful’ language happened, but nobody died. Well, somebody did… 

Massive thanks to Hannah Hargraves for stepping up to the challenge and giving her all to a part, which to all intents and purposes is thankless (to play and certainly helpless), but critical.  

A constant frustration was the momentum which kept getting lost due to the weather, failing equipment, dead batteries and aerial activity. It was an intense scene to shoot and to continually stop / start and go through the gears is a real challenge which the actors thankfully worked through. Much praise goes to Jim Low (as usual) and Peter James. Special thanks goes to Ryan Clarke (our sound recordist) for some fabulous impromptu stunt work in a field which wasn’t forgiving, and didn’t provide us with the most accommodating filmic experience. Even the tripods could have done with wellies! Our newcomers, Benjamin Clarke (production assistant) was a real benefit to the team, and his enthusiasm and willingness to muck in, along with our fabulous make up artist, Annmarie Malley, made a tough day much easier. 

The attitude on set was remarkable, considering what was being thrown at us. Undiminished we ploughed through with a sense of purpose and humour. Although standard conventions were dropped for haste during the latter stages, there was always a good sense of resilience and control. A nice discipline to the preparation and my vision. So far, it looks like what I wanted to capture has been achieved. Perhaps not exactly how I imagined it, but then again, it never is and a judicial edit should lift it all. 

Big thanks to Korky Films stalwarts Damien Trent and Mark Hancock. The end of day debrief descended into hilarity (or was it hysterics?) as we concentrated less on any issues we’d encountered and more on our own idiosyncrasies and peccadilloes. What happens in Binley Woods, stays in Binley Woods… This was a good sign, as although problems existed, the general consensus was a sense of achievement. For sure, the honest appraisal of shortcomings (perceived or real) and humility shown at this ‘inquest’ only helps if you strive to improve. It’s a small team and it’s indie filmmaking. Even the most accomplished professionals could suffer in such circumstances; it’s not easy, filmmaking. It’s a battle. But today, we won and it’s prudent to ensure criticism (of self and from others) is contextualised and given some appreciative perspective. There must always be respect in the team and a willingness to support. An understanding of everything that’s being done and the magnitude of what’s being attempted. I think everybody accepts that this movie is not an easy win. 

So, onwards we go, picking up next weekend. We all need a break. The cast and crew worked hard for a solid 12 hours and gave it their all. Apart from anything else, we’ll have memories of a fun day with lots of laughs and lots of perseverance. We have momentum. Promising. Well done team.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Hokum Filming Begins and Other News


A lot of work and activity has occurred on Hokum, which is due to begin filming over 7 days, spread across three months, from today.

So far, three sets have been built out of raw materials and I am excited to see what can be created for the screen and if they work.

This is a big undertaking and as the project has gained momentum I, along with the cast and crew have been getting more and more excited. It’s tiring, so everyone’s enthusiasm has really helped on those days when I’d rather just stop, relax and do something less stressful. I’m hoping it’ll all be worth it and we have a great movie.

For now, we just need the weather to be kind, as our earlier shots all take place in exterior locations – just in time for the change in weather!

In other news, we have had a raft of festivals accept our movies The Cold Caller, Waxworks Owner Fumes at Closure and Switch. A Sort of Burial, which is, by my own admission a disappointment, was a runner-up in the Best Screenplay category at the Out of the Can Film Festival. This further proves that the writing and story was sound, but it was just the technical aspects which were lacking. Anyway, there’s no pint dwelling. Hopefully, lessons have now been learned and Hokum can be a much better, more technically accomplished movie.

Exciting times.

Stay tuned.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Hokum - Donnie

Hokum officially begins filming on 23rd, although the first major scene is due to be filmed on the 26th. A tricky scene which will involve a lot of creativity and strong sound design to successfully depict the unfurling chaos and establish the movie’s main characters. From this date we are filming in order, initially, and a lot of useful character exposition will be delivered entirely by their actions in this opening scene. A great weight is being placed on the actors and I am confident I have the right mix of talent to successfully deliver the script and really convey the story. However, the first scene was never the original opening, but the story was developed, quite significantly and has benefitted from a useful back story which will take us the original starting point. Now that was an opening! So, including this scene, whilst still impactful and stark, means it must step up and hit like a sledgehammer. There will be decisions and options, and many will be made at the edit. As it stands, I have a script and a movie which is powerful, linear and unrelenting in its use of symbolism, chaos and violence, but things may be switched around. I still have the option to use the original opener and all of this excites me.

On the 23rd, it’s all the fun of the fair, with a local fair coming to town for 10 days. The script originally had a fairground location, however, the reality of securing such a location and getting it to fit into everyone’s schedule was looking unlikely, until discussions with the council and an understanding of opportunities was properly realised. It’s detail like this which will elevate the story and imagery, as I’ve struggled with these elements in previous productions.

There is no doubt that this whole world and the characters who inhabit it could be used in a feature. The script is already long, probably too long for a short intended for festivals and will run for approximately 22 to 25 minutes. However, this is a time of risks and rising to the challenge.

I met with Jim Low (Donnie) last week and his enthusiasm for the movie and his character imbues a sense of safety and galvanises confidence. I am sure I have the right man for the job, despite some slight consternation from others. Jim, ‘little big man’; a Scot, hailing from Dundee, has a seen a lot and is aware of the personal trappings, frustrations and unrelenting anger that Donnie experiences. He will draw upon his own experiences; people he’s known and will fully inhabit the character. I have no doubt about his capabilities and Jim was my only Donnie, right from the get-go.

The movie focusses heavily on the Major Arcana (Tarot) as part of its mythical conceit, with ‘The Fool’s journey’ being a loose template for Donnie’s chaotic machinations. The Fool clearly being Donnie’s card. I am creating Major Arcana Tarot cards especially for the movie, all of which will be showcased as part of the final production. It really has become a useful and quite often a coincidental template. Each character will have his/her own ‘card’ and the Major Arcana serves as a useful thread to hang everything on. 

Essentially, although there could conceivably be two or three protagonists in this movie, the story is, in my opinion, effectively Donnie’s. An interesting character from which to base the whole premise, perhaps. He has no redeeming qualities and if he’s been coloured correctly, he will be despised by audiences.

I have wrestled with my mixture and potentially meddling combination of distinctive folklore. Tarot, Native American Indian beliefs, demons, shamanism and apparitions all feature. This is truly a creative risk, not least of all as the movie is ostensibly set in England and obviously, not all the imagery present is of Anglo origin.

Invariably, this could be confusing and, in many respects, I don’t fear the reaction. I make things which have an oneiric vibe and can feel slightly off kilter, so it serves. All of this is highly deliberate. This, if worked well, will convey a memorable and intriguing world, which has the capacity to make the viewer feel uneasy and slightly uncomfortable. Conventions are being displaced but in a distinctly atypical way. This is part of my own excitement with it all.

Donnie’s wardrobe is important. All wardrobe is important. Wardrobe and production design is important to me and I have taken great time and considerable expense (out of my own pocket – this movie has no external funding) to pull it together. Again, much of this will undoubtedly be subliminal; barely noticeable, but I’ll know it’s there and an audience would miss it if it wasn’t. This movie needs bold, but decidedly understated sets, and this is what it will have. I am creating all of this myself. It’s a big responsibility. The scenery and setting is an additional character and a major one. That sense of foreboding will be supplied by the walls around each character. We also have a lot of woods. That feeling of being lost in the forest; tangled branches; simulacra in trees. All perfect for Hokum.

Because I think a lot of this production might be taken for granted, despite the massive undertaking, I will attempt (along with everything else!) to document the process of Hokum. Everything created will be showcased on the official website as a kind of ‘Making of…’; a BTS.

It’s begun and it’s about to catch fire.

Here is Donnie’s promo, played by Jim Low.

I will also be updating the official website here

Thursday, August 29, 2019

A Sort of Burial review and where I'm currently at...



A review of A Sort of Burial, which isn’t too bad, considering my misgivings about it. It has only been given a restricted festival run on the strength of my feelings about it. It was something different - a big learning curve on this movie. I think it’s important to share details of anything which doesn’t quite live up to expectations and use it as a fulcrum from which to attain higher goals. People only tend to see the successes – perceived or otherwise, but that, I guess, is largely because ‘people’ don’t tend to ‘air them in public’. I am grateful to anyone who watches the films I make, and especially to those who take further time to critique and review. 

Filmmaking is a lot of hard work and endeavour (for me at least!) and, with that, a lot can go wrong. I find it a massive challenge and not every aspect is entirely enjoyable. I alluded to a lot of the negative experiences and issues encountered on the ‘Burial’ in my recent blog posts and, unfortunately, these were still evident and, in some ways, exacerbated on Switch, which followed. So, I’m not surprised by the comments in Sam’s review about the technical side of things, which are fair and reasoned. In retrospect, those two movies were filmed too close together. The performances in both movies were fantastic, though – that should be stated emphatically. And I take full responsibility for ‘problems’ in other areas, even though I didn’t make it easy on myself by taking on and overseeing so much.

I’m always happy with the script, as I work tirelessly to shape, hone and check it before working it as a full-fledged movie. Fortunately, there is usually ample time an opportunity to do this. However, the technical execution of my movies has been a problem for several reasons. Hopefully, these have now been fully realised and will be addressed in future productions. Problems will always exist when filmmaking, it’s inherent and I know that. However, with an honest, objective understanding of pitfalls already experienced, previous shortcomings should now be properly mitigated.

Hokum is our next movie and it’s a big one which will rely heavily - not only on the script, but also the technical aspects. Expert technical execution will be seriously important as the movie will hinge on its look and feel a great deal. If people don’t like it because they simply don’t care for it, then that’s great and I’m entirely comfortable with that. It is not a movie which will appeal to everyone. My movies are very ‘eclectic.’ That said, if it’s disliked because of any technical failings, then it’ll be a massive shame and unforgiveable. Pressure is on.

The one thing I have enjoyed so far on Hokum is getting back to creating ‘art’, even though I’ve had to ‘undo’ my ‘style’ in order to create what is required effectively. I always enjoy the writing, which to me, is always the easiest part and I think we have a great script and a unique story.

I guess a lot hinges on this production, really. It’s a big gamble, but then that’s essentially the movie’s conceit – gambling on fortune; failing, being tormented by things both real and imaginary; life, death and re-birth. I hadn’t realised how prescient it all is, but yet again, the movie is about prescience as well.

And so, although I’m frustrated, I continue with fresh enthusiasm and high hopes. 


Stay tuned!

Monday, August 19, 2019

Hokum - Press Release


Hokum


Hokum, a new movie from Lee Charlish is currently in pre-production and scheduled for a late 2019 release.


The movie is an ambitious project which is being entirely self-funded by Lee, who will produce and direct his original screenplay. As with most other Lee Charlish projects, the setting and time is deliberately ambiguous, with great emphasis placed on creating ‘a world in which things seem out of place; awkward or decidedly unfamiliar’, leading to an oneiric and distinctly unsettling feel. This will be helped by the movie’s subject matter which involves the spiritual world, mysticism, tarot and demons; both real and imaginary.


The story has developed significantly and quickly since the early drafts, with new characters and situations organically presenting themselves; all in the confines of a non-existent budget. Lee says, “It has steadily evolved into something even bigger than the original premise which was larger than life already. Thankfully, despite having no discernible budget or funding, it has been written with an appreciation of what’s realistically achievable without compromising its unique style and premise.”  


There is a possibility of the movie being developed into a feature, as it has the scope, although as a short it is tight and packs a sufficient punch in its anticipated 18-minute run time. 


Tagline:

When you sell your soul for money, there’s always hell to pay.


Brief Synopsis:

Ash is tormented by demons and believes he must rid himself of the ‘blood money’, acquired through treachery and violence, to obtain redemption from the angered spirit world. Donnie, his violent and thuggish accomplice, is desperate to lay hands on the illicit cash and will stop at nothing to obtain it, even if he must sell his own soul.


Described as a - ‘Fantasy chiller with elements of the real, the ethereal and surreal’, it will start like a ‘haphazard howitzer and ratchet up to an unflinching end’. 


Lee says, “It’s a big project with lots to go at and there’s plenty which could go wrong. However, there’s been a real buzz and lots of engagement with local, exciting talent who have volunteered their services since seeing early promotional material or have answered casting calls.”  


This increased involvement and ‘help’ will address the failures of earlier efforts by lightening the load somewhat and creating less restrictive timescales. I’m thankful that everyone attached to the project has fully embraced the need to take our time and film over several, carefully planned days, including the actors. I’m also appreciative of the offers of help and that the cast and crew are working for free and/or for significantly reduced rates because of their excitement and dedication and to the project. 


Attached early on were Korky Films stalwarts Adrian Annis and Jim Low, who are described by Lee as the “superlative dream team”. “These guys are immense and really carry a scene. What’s important is that they completely get my style and the vibe I try to create and immerse themselves wholeheartedly into the mouth of madness! They are also both great fun without ego, which is important.”


Adrian Annis, a Cambridge/London based actor, has an impressive CV in both film (feature and shorts) and TV. He will play Shepherd, the Shaman. Full of intrigue, mysticism and danger, the enigmatic Shepherd is enlisted to offer counsel and a helping-hand to Donnie when he encounters a difficult situation.


Jim Low, a diminutive Scot known as ‘little big man’ by Lee, is a commanding presence on the screen, which is important as the movie’s ‘baddie’ - Donnie. Although there’s a few to choose from in this story, as most are blighted or afflicted in some way or another. Jim describes the script as, ‘Great, creepy and ultra-violent.’


Recruited via Facebook casting calls are Elaine Ward, from Birmingham but now residing in Warwickshire, who will assume the role of The Clairvoyant and Peter James from Leicester who will take the role of the ‘troubled’ Ash. Elaine has been in her own short film, Tea for Two which premiered at the Birmingham Film Festival in 2018. She has appeared in other short films and many stage productions. Peter started his acting journey with the Blaby Drama Group starring in a number of plays; before he went on to join Whetstone Drama Group. He has been actively involved with the Leicester based filmmaking group, Seven Five Productions, and has been in several productions. One of his own films was screened at The Short Cinema Film Festival. Elaine says of her part in Hokum: “I’m so excited to be playing The Clairvoyant and I can’t wait to get my teeth into creating her character. Mysterious, intriguing, otherworldly and slightly sinister, what’s not to love?”


Completing the cast are Alex Kapila from Stratford-Upon-Avon as Fortune, the drug-addled acolyte of Shepherd and Hannah Hargraves from Leamington Spa, as The Hostage. She appears at the start of the movie in a frenetic and explosive start and in later scenes with Ash.


Crew members attached include Damien Trent as the Director of Photography. A filmmaker in his own right, he has worked with Lee on the short films – Scarecrow, The Cold Caller, A Sort of Burial and Switch. He will be assisted by Mark Hancock on camera. Mark has completed his first experimental short this year and he too has been involved on previous Korky Films movies – The Cold Caller, A Sort of Burial and Switch. Ryan Clarke will be the movie’s sound recordist. All are Midlands based and all come from Coventry.


Chris Pemberton returns to score the movie. A role which Lee describes as being “pivotal to accent the whole movie.” Lee is a long-time admirer of Chris’s compositions after he has provided the music to each of Lee’s last four live-action films. Chris is an accomplished keyboard player who has toured and worked as a session player for many, well-known performers. 


Joining Korky Films’ crew will be Lewis Clements of Elsy Pictures who will assist Lee as First AD. Lewis lives in Solihull and is a graduate of the BA (Hons) Creative Arts degree at Oxford Brookes University. He has written several films and has also directed and even acted in local films. Benjamin Clarke, from Coventry, is currently a filmmaking student at Solent Southampton University, studying film and he will be a Production Assistant.


The movie will benefit from local Make-Up Artists. The MUAs will create a lot of the movie’s “nastiness” and will assist with the practical effects utilised throughout. 

To fulfil the movie’s ambitions, Lee’s vision will incorporate extensive production design elements and wardrobe to adorn the unique characters contained within the story. This will take time but will be a fun experience. It is likely that individual ‘sets’ will be purposefully built for each interior scene and ‘striked’ before another set (and scene) is built and filmed.


Lee says, “The visuals will be lavish and extensive, and in some cases, extreme, vibrant and yet grungy. It will be uncompromising and visceral. There are violent elements which will probably make audiences uncomfortable, but they are completely beholden to the story nonetheless and never gratuitous.”


“Whether we can successfully pull it off is yet to be seen, but I’m excited and confident with all attached so far. There will be a powerhouse effort to get his made and in a way which does the story and script justice.”


The movie will be ‘art heavy’ and incorporate lots of interesting artistic flourishes which will accent the quirky and unique feel. It will include an abundance of mystical symbolism and draws upon myths and folklore to weave a compelling narrative.


The official Hokum movie website is here - https://leecharlish.wixsite.com/hokum It is a work in progress and will be updated with new content as the movie develops.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Hokum

Pre-production has officially begun...

#Hokum

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!