You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2010.

What makes a film “British” or “American”? Recently sparked up this debate over kickass, someone commented on the spelling of “ass” and the difference between American and British and then people saying the movie isn’t British. But the Director Matthew Vaughn is British, he’s also an autuer with directing British Gangster flick Layer Cake, as well as producing a large number of British set and toned films (lock stock, snatch, Harry Brown, etc.

Then again the production company for kickass are American, and the film’s set in America with mainly American actors and a few British ones. Release date might also play a part with the films release in the UK 20 days before the US release.

Look at the Dark knight though, some say it’s an American film even though the director’s British

Sherlock Holmes even though that has a British setting and British director is backed by a list of US production companies, so even though it’s “British” some people will see it as more American.

Then again, Alexander Mackendrick who’s the big name nationality film maker, born in the US but from Scottish decent and grew up in Scotland.. He’s a British film maker making American films some people say.. Or British films until he went to Hollywood.

To be honest I have no idea what makes a film “British” or what makes a film “American” because the debate about everything is so awash with who’s in what company, where it’s set, the mood and the tone.

Some people may say it boils down to the FEELING of a film, US films have a very distinct feeling as aposed to British films which have a different atmosphere… Then again, Slumdog Millionare, is completely British, Danny Boyle British director, and all production companies are British but it’s set in India and has a very LARGER THAN LIFE, American style feel to it, this is the reason people associate Slumdog with Hollywood even though it has NOTHING to do with the US at all.

Likewise Black Hawk Down which some people call an American propaganda film making the Americans out to be the best and kicking ass, but directed by Ridley Scott who is British and made with 2 US companies and 1 British one.

A university did ask me if I’m British or Scottish and asked me how I view myself but what kind of a question is that, especially in film making when there is no real distinct nationality between film or if there is I have no idea what it is since it’s not the director, not the production companies, not the setting or the feeling.

Then again people contradict themselves, if Michael Bay an obviously American style director, directed a British tone movie people would still say it’s American or some may say Americans should make American films, British should make British films and not try and imitate because imitation doesn’t work… it obviously does because of the massive list of directors adapting styles. So if Matthew Vaughn can make an American film, Michael Bay can make a British one

My work is much more “American” something my tutor criticized me for, I should be more British but there is no definitive film making nationality so having this little film war weather it’s American or British is weird… European cinema on the other hand is set aside by style but even some French style films still have a little touch of American going in to them.

So yeah, I think the only thing DEFINITIVE enough to judge a films nationality by is that of the director…

not setting because settings change, not tone, mood or atmosphere because they differ and it’s narrow minded for film to stick to one medium (British being gritty, US being larger than life) not judging a nationality by production company either because they vary depending on a number of things…

So because it makes the most sense I would say the film shares the same nationality as the auteur (the director) – ergo, Kick Ass is British

But that’s my opinion which doesn’t count for much considering other people would argue tone.. but you can’t make a good argument out of tone because of films I just mentioned, blackhawk, slumdog, etc.. The only thing that stands firm is the directors nationality


Script, budgets, locations, casting, props, meetings, equipment and the list goes on.. so got my Recon script about snipers that I’m rewriting some dialogue, just contacted all my actors and people involved with production scheduling meetings.

Couple of things this week has in store besides a massive amount of meetings, got about 3 meetings this week, if not more.. but my budget also came through £985 budget for my film. Hey if you want it to look good you got to be willing to spend the cash.

So equipment, although I’ve already spent £3k on equipment so far I’m dishing out £400, likewise props and costume I’m guessing will take up £300 – 400 that’s pretty much of it all gone..

Spending this amount of money is EXTREMELY HARD! unbelievably so! You have no idea how much it pains me to spend £900 within a few days, especially when the money has just gone in to my bank acount… :*(((((

So call sheets something I’m working on, who’s doing what, when and where.. Scheduling everything, probably one of the most important things, I’m meeting with actors, going over lines, and blocking, scene mood and reaction. Fine tuning the storyboard and adding in shots, planning my visual FX

but the big one and the PAIN of everything to come FILMING ON AN ISLAND… A small sucluded island off the coast of Edinburgh, Cramond island, have to wait for the tide to go down to get there… filming then wait for the tide to go down to get back..

the reason I chose this island beside the fact it is secluded.. Military bunkers… but it also means I have to rewrite the script since I’ll have no acess to cars, also means I might need to bring lights and a generator which means walking across a mile with all this equipment could be a massive strain. Then again Michael Bay did film in the desert with his crew walking over massive sand dunes in blazing heat carrying 10x heavier equipment.. This is film making and got to do this kind of thing.

It’s my biggest project yet and as time winds down to the shoot week everything becomes more intense but I have no doubt it will all be worth it in the end.

Something I’ve been pondering over for a long time and after seeing recent advances in computer game technology and stories (TOM CLANCY – SPLINTER CELL) I think it’s pretty inevitable I’ll be filming something of this kind of genre in the future.

Got to give praise to the Splinter Cell franchise, the story that unfolds over a large series of games that started in 2002 and the story line’s turned personal. It’s a great step for gaming series and one that makes Sam Fisher possibly the strongest computer game character evers created.

Splinter Cell Double Agent being one of the best games I’ve ever played, also giving the feeling and intensity of a movie it did lead me to come up with stealth movie ideas at the time about car thieves. The story for conviction now has taken a larger than life kind of feel and Sam Fisher turning in to some kind of one man army, which is exactly the sort of thing I really enjoy.

I do get a lot of game inspiration probably just as much as from movies. Inspiration for my movie “Recon” about a sniper and a spotter was heavily inspired by Battle Field Bad Company 2… well the whole recon part was, and the fact that Sniping is a type of soldier everyone seems to love.

Also inspiration from Modern Warfare 2… Although I’ve lost complete respect for IW because of their greed I did like the idea of not actually seeing one characters face and that character being niether good nor bad… Leading for some interesting character development. Well that was me but from MW2 I did borrow the idea of never seeing the snipers face, taken from character in MW2 “Ghost”

The main idea behind the Sniper character is that you don’t know him and you don’t feel any empathy.. You don’t like him because he’s heartless but you do like him because he’s efficient. There’s something about not showing the characters face and only showing his eyes that’s good. When the character does decide to f*** orders and go in, you enjoy it… because through the script he obeys the rules making him heartless, you don’t like him.

I’ve talking about this character development before, not liking a cool character but loving it when he comes together with the good guy.

Anyhoo, getting a little side tracked but I do have plans for a stealth action thriller

Talking about some directors being bitches of the companies they work for. Disney for example with their Disney Digital 3D which is a 2D – 3D conversion in a lot of their films.

It’s something I’ve talked about a lot, it’s why I thought the 3D in Alice in Wonderland sucked, I’ve also shot in 2D and converted to 3D and it ONLY works well if you have prepared 3D shots, you can use green screen and CGI like Alice in Wonderland, but it just looks like a series of windows layers in z-space, it’s ugly.. The 2D – 3D shots also have to be shot in a certain way and through this you get gimmicks (objects needlessly flying at the screen and people running in z space)

2D basically becomes an illusion of cinema 3D… Cinema 3D is an illusion itself so it’s ridiculously gimmicky to have 2D in 3D clothing.

If you film like that you really sacrifice the quality of a film and it’s something I’m heavily criticizing Tim Burton of doing. I don’t think Tim Burton’s a bitch director because 3D was probably his idea (I hope) but I think it was a really bad move to make AIW 3D, especially with 2D conversion. It just doesn’t work, things have to be filmed in 3D to look 3D there’s actually a lot you learn when you shoot in 3D, James Cameron knows this which is why his 3D is astounding, he did help develop the technology so…

“I shoot complicated stuff, I put real elements into action scenes and honestly, I am not sold right now on the conversion process…. Right now, it looks like fake 3-D, with layers that are very apparent. You go to the screening room, you are hoping to be thrilled, and you’re thinking, huh, this kind of sucks. People can say what they want about my movies, but they are technically precise, and if this isn’t going to be excellent, I don’t want to do it. And it is my choice…. I’m used to having the A-team working on my films, and I’m going to hand it over to the D-team, have it shipped to India and hope for the best? This conversion process is always going to be inferior to shooting in real 3-D. Studios might be willing to sacrifice the look and use the gimmick to make $3 more a ticket, but I’m not.” – Michael Bay

Some people may not like Bay but he’s absolutely right.

3D’s the next big thing anyway, the hype has kind of died down now but will probably raise again this summer. 2010 being the year of 3D home entertainment systems, 3D HD TVs and 3D bluray players, even 3D LCD TVs you don’t need glasses for. Panasonic and other camera companies developing “Twin Lenses” for filming in 3D at a lower price than buying 2 cameras.

If you’re going to do something do it right, I’ve messed around with 3D before, I’ll be doing it again in the near future but ONLY when it’s needed, like if I filmed a drama in 3D what would be the point in the 3D other than a gimmick? I have no idea (unless the locations the drama was set were stunningly beautiful)

Recently watched a video selling a DVD about how to sucseed in your interviews…

No idea how much they were selling it for… while the info given in the sample I watched was good info it was common sense… “be confident”, “don’t be negative about other employers or people you worked with”.

All this info I’ve heard before, even the product shot of the DVD includes titles like “negotiating salaries” the DVD will tell you never to mention a number, always wait for the interviewer to say a number first.. divert questions if he asks, do anything just as long as you don’t be the first to say a number..

I know this because ALL this info from this DVD comes directly out of something I’ve read in the past, something actually taught by my tutor… Although it’s all true, the information this DVD gives is available for FREE online. Can’t remember what the guys name is but there’s a buisness man that did publish all this stuff.

What really annoys me about this DVD is the info it gives is worded almost exactly the same.. they could have at least had a little play on words to atleast make it sound different. Instead of “be confident” (which is also probably one of the most obvious things) they could have said don’t be shy, don’t hold back.. Be fearless! Trust yourself, be self-sufficient, be positive.. which is my way of ripping it directly from the DVD.. it’s exactly the same, worded differently

I’m not saying the info on the DVD is bad, it’s fantastic information (from what I’ve seen) but a lot of it is common sense and a lot of what I saw was taught to me from another source (can’t remember what it’s called though)

I mean the main point here is look out for these Sheep in Wolf clothing… it’s good info, but it’s been compiled by a group of people that really just want to take money out of your pocket so it’s far from the best. I would actually tend to avoid DVDs… Books are far more sufficient and adequate to get you the info you need easily. I don’t think I’d be fooled in to thinking a DVD is better than a book.. ebook maybe better, but DVDs are very linear and they’re really just shallow with no real depth.. Chances are if this DVD was adapted in to a book it would fill up about 10 pages.. Where as proper books about this subject would give you over 100 pages of detailed explanations and examples.

Sometimes you get DVDs or audio CDs that accompany books, these are great because it provides you with a bonus.. just these DVDs claiming to give you knowledge are just shallow. They will give you so much less..

*This doesn’t just apply for interview techniques, perhaps the most I’ve seen and the biggest scams come in the form of fitness DVDs, the majority of the info is already online… the majority of the info is already in books, DVDs are a waste unless they’re a bonus

REALLY quick update here, wanted to leave a heads up about a book I’ve been reading.. Cinematic storytelling by Jennifer van Sijll.

Incase you aren’t in the know, Michael Wiese Production (film making books) has the best collection of film making books I have perhaps ever read. I’ve already piled through “Directing Actors” by Judith Weston.. I’ll cover that in a different post.

Today I shot through Cinematic Storytelling and it’s one of the most informative, easy to read film making books there is. Likewise, “Master Shots” by Christopher Kenworthy. You can get these books off amazon and they’re real keepers. I’m still going through Master shots so I’ll let you know how it turns out.

I love the ways these books have been designed, it tells you what you need to know, gives you all the right information and then gives you great detail of how the audience reacts to the story telling of film… for example how the audience may react to certain sound, types of sound, how the audience reacts to time, what shapes audience reacts positively and negativity towards.

It’s been created in such a way that the information comes across extremely efficiently, you could skim through this book in a couple of hours and come out vastly more knowledgeable about film. It’s books like these that I study and revise until I know them back to front. Definitely reccomend this one

Not that I’m a criminal, talking about film and I film a lot of action… I’m an action person, usually means I use weapons… Cheap guns (as film makers know) come in the form of replicas or airsoft..

unfortunately in the UK we’re tight on gun control, even on toys.. it adds more bureautic red tape to an already dodgy area of film making.. having said that there are a few benefits to the VCR act..

Bad points obviously being that I can’t buy realistic looking guns, film does have a defence against the ban but the amount of tape I would have to go through just to qualify as a company so I could buy the weapons is ridiculous.

Luckily I’m able to buy weapons that are 50% bright colours, the good thing about this is that I work with VFX.. meaning in post production I can just change the colour of the gun to black. Problem for other student film makers that don’t have access or the knowledge of VFX that I have is they can’t… and by that they’re EXTREMELY limited by this act.

One thing that I’m strongly against is the limitation of other peoples work, and for the students that do want to create action films they’re severely limited to resources.

I’ve got after effects so I change the colour of the gun in post production, but even this is a pain in the ass… going through every single clip with the bright coloured weapon and changing the colour is a pain that takes up a lot of post production time and this costs more (provided you’re hiring facilities or freelance workers as many students do)

Still, I am glad I’m able to get a hold of replica weapons at all

A nice subject for film.. or any project in general I guess.. I always try and boost the scale of my projects and up the ante with everything I do.

I think a lot of film makers hold themselves back due to what they believe are “limitations” or when people say “you can’t do that” or someone tells you something isn’t possible… You have the right to prove them wrong… If they say something isn’t possible you should prove them wrong, there are a lot of film directors that feel this way.

You shouldn’t limit yourself, as soon as you become safe and don’t take risks with projects you can fall in to the category that is mediocrity and create a mediocre film. Student mediocrity is bad. If you look at the students in around Hollywood right now and the students with films and videos that REALLY impress the audiences, they are way above mediocrity because they challenge the thought of not being able to do something.

I started off setting the bar pretty high with my very first project which was a short film (Tried and True) with gun fights and 1,200fps video and visual FX.. Then I went to work with the MoD and Turner Estate helping them out with a video project which was great fun. Then on to my Stella Artois advert directing 15 actors inside a Church I hired out

Moving on to my final film now, recently because of my personal life and because of everything happening I wasn’t motivated at all, and I tried to push things off my plate and not do work. So I thought it would be a good idea if I toned it down a little and went with a quiet drama… Well now that I’m back in full swing I’ve put my drama script in a box for now and I’m working to increase the scale of my projects.

This time I want to increase the quality of writing and the quality of visuals, the real test for this film is to bring it up to broadcast quality. That’s my main goal, to have something that looks, feels and plays out like a real movie. I don’t want something that people would normally associate with student films.

Student films usually have bad locations and bad acting, bad framing.. bad locations come through using your house to film, or your friends house, bad acting comes from using your friends (unless they’re actors) but framing just comes from using wide lenses all the time. You should find actors, go out of your way to get great locations, and don’t spend £45 when you can spend £200 even if this is costing you in your social life the end result of your film will be so much better. Point being, don’t make life easy for yourself, just because you can make it easy doesn’t mean you should… You put in the extra hours of work for hiring proper locations, using proper actors and setting up the frame properly the film looks 10x better

You look at any of Will Smiths wisdom videos he will tell you the same thing, never think you can’t do something, once you decide you want to do something, it’s already done.

Trust me, not blowing smoke with this, I applied this scale during my first year and it managed to impress, and through my second year every project just gets better. Don’t think too much scale though, being a little critical of my inspiration here… Michael Bay loves scale but perhaps loves scale a bit too much… he loves scale so much that he manages to miss small details within a film that would give the film depth, this is why some of his films are critisized for being shallow..

GTA’s a good example, the scale of san andreas was massive but had bad details, Rockstar recognized this and created GTA IV, which was much smaller in size, but the amount of detail within the game was mind blowing, the scale of the detail rather than the volume of the game was what made it shine.

Recently applied to Edinburgh College of Art for a film course.. got a reply back for an applicants day and got to admit the email completely put me off what expectations I had of ECA.

Mainly the talk in the email about fierce competition and only the best people being selected, which I know isn’t true since I’ve heard some of the tutors at ECA don’t even know what colour correction is. My main problem is the email is trying to be intimidating and it came across as stuck up their own asses.. They are arty farty people so it’s pretty much what I expected, from students anyway.

Couple of major points that really threw me off “NO SHOWREELS” WWWWWWTF! Everyone knows showreels are a collection of that directors best work but ECA just wanted 1 short film.. showing them 1 short film is like showing 15% of your best work.. likewise the rest of my work lies in loads of other projects I’ve made and been involved in. No showreels means I wouldn’t be able to show case ANY visual FX or amazing camera work I’ve done for previous projects.

What ever reason they give (probably NOT ENOUGH TIME TO WATCH SHOWREELS) is completely outweighed by the fact they’re choice for applicants is selected from 1 short film that’s supposed to showcase all aspects of directing or whatever area you want to go in and it’s completely impossible to get a good idea of the students application without actually seeing his best work… so in short you would need a short film that shows off everything, so it’s pretty ignorant… If they don’t have time they should make the time, their choice could easily be swayed by a showreel.

As you can imagine the students of a university that love themselves are pretty stuck up. From what I hear the students love themselves and love their own ideas, kind of film students that “know everything about film” when they don’t actually know anything except from what they think of a film… Even if their opinion is to critisice everything new.. Narrowminded film makers that wont get to far because of the fact they are narrow minded and they do love themselves (see Uwe Boll) That’s actually a bit tight on Uwe Boll, I do like the guy but he does love himself and his films and that’s his biggest fall, he can’t criticize his own work and hates criticism.

Point being that this kind of pretentious know it all smart ass student really gets on my nerves and if I did go to ECA I would constantly be looking down on everyone and come across as an arrogant asshole just because I don’t like that kind of film maker. Ergo I wouldn’t enjoy myself at ECA (especially not if the tutors didn’t even know about something as basic as colour correction..) My tutor did try and back them up with the colour correction by calling me a geek and saying ECA are focused on arty than technical but colour correction is ridiculously basic I find it almost incomprehensible that they wouldn’t know what it is.

As good as ECA may or may not be, it came across to have a serious image problem and I hate that.. As arrogant as I am and as defence as I am about film I would actually go the opposite way of ECA and purposely go to another Uni and purposely create better films than the guys at ECA to rub then the wrong way. Because as much of an asshole as they came across to be, I bet I can be 10x the asshole… lol

In all seriousness I thrive on this kind of competition, I hate competition but I love competition against arrogant people and I would love to join a less known uni rather than the big uni that claims to be the best (Napier is hailed as number 1 film school in the UK by quite a few books and people all over the world) Napier aren’t arrogant though, they’re down to earth so I’m going to try get in to Napier university, they seem to have the whole thing on lockdown and they didn’t try to intimidate me, they didn’t come across as arrogant and they make the time for showreels even though they get loads of applicants.

Problem with blogs is there is technology that can detect key words and send alerts to people the blogs are about, chances are this post will pop up at ECA with alerts lol Which would normally make me uneasy since I hate criticising things, better to let guys know, feedback is helpful.. chances are ECA would shrug this off though given the attitude.. In my assholish attitude defence I have been watching a lot of Charlie Brooker so I feel the need to rage about something, ECA just got in my war path.

For these reasons and my personal preferences I’m not going to bother attending the applicant day, I’ll spend that 3 hours preparing my DVD and showreel for Napier


This DVD showreel is coming along a storm.. I’ve spent the last 8 hours creating an intro for my DVD and I’ve just finished creating my DVD interface.. well the first draft of my DVD interface.. check it out

I’m pretty happy with them so far.. keeping it simple, keeping it clean and good looking, I do have a lot of projects though so I might need a couple of pages for that



March 2010
« Feb   Apr »