Wednesday, 26 August 2009

It's all over with.

That's it. The end of the E4 Esting competition. Well, not really. Today was the closing date for entries, and a mixed bag they are too. There are some good ones, both idea wise and technically, and some terrible ones, again ideas and technically. This year however the contest isn't just a popularity contest. The 200 odd videos will be judged and whittled down to a minuscule 15, then a second stage to the competition is started where each finalist is tasked to create a treatment or storyboard. These are then judged to reveal the final winner.

This implies that technical achievement is not necessarily needed for your video and a good idea can get you through to stage 2.

Fingers crossed then. I need another task to keep my already overflowing brain busy.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

A second weekend of AWESOME-NESS. Day Three

Day Three. The final day of the festival and check out day at Dark Water hotel. I'd survived.

There was a winding down feeling on this day and not so many Q&A's for the films. Also the schedule was catching up with me so I was tired. I'd also only had an ice cream for my dinner the night before.

We checked out of the hotel but Deckard must have got Jens as she was nowhere. Instead was a woman, who I'm sure didn't actually work there, especially as she asked us for a rating of our stay, maybe she knew about the Dark Water stains. Anyway, under pressure we gave a good rating. She didn't make a note of this, maybe she was just interested. Maybe she knew something we didn't. We handed over the key and left the Dark Water room to take its next victim.

Breakfast time once again. No one joined us today so we took the time to fill out the feedback questionnaires. First on the bill was Dogs of Chinatown. This film had some of the same people in from Contour, which was shown at last years festival. The fights were good, but it suffered from the criminal element. It's hard to feel sympathy for criminals. also there was a good visual style at the beginning, which returned at the end, but was lost in the middle. Still, it entertained with fighting.

Following this was The Assessment. A horror film, similar to Severance. It also starred the awesomely named Keith Blaser. Anyway, it was a bit dragged out, with a lot of moaning of what to do in the middle by the characters. There was a good lake death towards the end, but it's nothing special.

The Bodyguard: A New Beginning was up next, a film by Chee Keong Cheung. Filmed in both Hong Kong and London, once again it had good fights, especially a good chase scene through a shopping mall. It does suffer from the sympathetic criminal though. Rival triad bosses going after each others daughters for revenge of some kind. I didn't quite follow the reasoning behind it, but you stopped caring. Action was good though, and the Hong Kong setting gave the film a higher visual dynamic. Chee gave a Q&A after the film with actor/fighter Mark Strange which was interesting, especially the stories surrounding Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa.

We then said our goodbyes before attending the final film, Underground, again by Chee Keong Cheung. This is basically a tournament film. And that's it. A string of fights, good fights but towards the end you didn't really care. And that's about it. It stars Danny John-Jules as a shady businessman type and Mark Strange as a homeless fighter. It could have done with a more developed storyline between the fighters, but the choreography was good.

And then we ran away in order to get our train home. So we began the long drawn out wait for trains. Sunday travel is never good. But eventually we made out connections and arrived safe and sound, back in reality of day to day life.

In summary it really was an awesome weekend. Great films and cool Q&As. It was disappointing that the attendance wasn't larger. I'm not sure why the turnout wasn't greater, you;d think the guest speakers would have got some attention. I just can't help thinking that Swindon isn't the best place for a film festival. However, I'm glad I attended, as I said at the beginning of this three post adventure I doubt it will be topped in the near future.

Now I really should get back to making music videos and stuff.

Monday, 17 August 2009

A second weekend of AWESOME-NESS. Day Two

Day Two -

After watching a bizarre kids program (in which one character gave another a moustache as a present) whilst we woke and got ready, we set off for breakfast at the festival. We sat and ate when who should come over and join us but Uwe Boll. Awesome.

We talked about films and the state of the world, and the state of films in the world, until it was time for the first screening of the day, Side Effx. This film has problems. It was followed with a Q&A by the director, who was brought on to edit the film into something watchable after the first director was let go. He was aware of the problems with the film, mainly due to the pacing. It was a good try, but did suffer from random corridor wanderings. Good fights though, and wire work.

This was followed by The Disappeared. Described as an urban ghost story it didn't fail to deliver. There were a couple of creepy moments but towards the end it fell into run of the mill story telling, getting a little predictable. Still, I felt it was well shot and acted.

After this was the Star Hyke series preview and cast Q&A. Star Hyke is an independent comedy, drama, sci-fi series with obvious comparisons to Red Dwarf and Hyperdrive. It kind of stands on its own, the CGI is well done and Jeremy Bulloch (of Boba Fett fame) is awesome as the ships doctor, providing most of the laughs. However, we were shown episodes 4 & 5 so it was a little hard to follow having missed half of the series. Brother Chris has seen the whole series and did say that it's best to see the first three in one block in order to grasp the concept. I'd still watch it when it airs on TV though, and think it would probably get better as the series goes on. The Q&A afterwards was cool, with cast keeping things lighthearted, and of course the awesome Jeremy Bulloch.

Then was the "dinner break" a long gap between films in order to get something to eat, so of course we just ended up chatting with friends. It was good to hear some industry speak and see how easy/difficult it is to get films released these days. So no food was had. Whoops.

The penultimate screening of Saturday was The Passage, directed by Mark Heller and written by and starring Neil Jackson, who attended the screening for the following Q&A. This film surprised me. It does have a slow build up as you get to know the characters, but does deliver towards the end. When it was introduced, Neil Jackson explained it was based on true events, so I thought it would just be him wandering around Morocco. Which does happen to a degree, but let's just say, if all of it was true, he wouldn't have been able to introduce the film. Neil then held a Q&A which was awesome, especially as I asked a decent, Creative Screenwriting style question about treatments and such. If you didn't know, Neil has been in a bunch of stuff including the Blade TV series and more recently Push and this was his first produced screenplay. He seemed to love writing and said in a way he used that to get into acting in the first place. Anyway, it was really interesting talk and he's a nice guy.

I then attended the final screening of the day, Mark of the Devil., directed by Michael Armstrong, who also attended for the Q&A. This is a film from 1970, starring Udo Kier and Herbert Lom about witch-finders. As with Witchfinder General, it's not really a horror but I feel always comes across more like an educational video but just a little bit nastier. It was also described as an early example of "torture-porn", a concept taken to extremes with the likes of Hostel and the umpteen thousand Saw sequels. Mark of the Devil is ok. Not a brilliant film but it still made me squirm in places, plus it was good to see something from a different era on the bill. The following Q&A was excellent. Again, Michael Armstrong is a director form a completely different time of filmmaking and due to this questions were few. He was a friendly guy and did have a passion for films, even if he was a little tipsy at the time. He also mentioned the original Haunting as one of the scariest films made, a point I definitely agreed with.

It was time to leave and find Brother Chris, who had left to seek his fortune. I said my goodbyes to friends and to Neil and Michael and left. Meeting up with Chris in a shouty Italian restaurant we left for the hotel. Once there we took pleasure in the Ice Cream vending machine once again, I'd yet to have any dinner so a mint magnum would have to do. Excellent.

-Today I also bought a book called "I Am Batman" which was awesome. I'll give a little excerpt:
My name is Bruce Wayne.
My home is Gotham City.
I live in a big apartment.
I own a boat and a plane.

I have nice clothes.
I have a fast car.
And I have lots of other fancy toys and gadgets.

The Joker is a tricky foe.
His jokes are never funny.
Sometimes they hurt people.

Fighting crime is not easy.
But my gear and gadgets help make it all possible.
I am not just Bruce Wayne.
I am Batman!


A second weekend of AWESOME-NESS. Day One

These days it's getting pretty hard to beat the awesome-ness of past events. This past weekend is so high up on the scale I doubt it will ever be knocked off the list.

Last weekend Brother Chris and I attended the Phantasmagoria Film Festival held in Swindon. A great showcase of independent genre films from horror to martial arts. For us this was just the beginning.

Day One -

We took a train. So far so good, then found our lodgings in the form of the Travelodge. Then the weirdness began. I'm convinced that the girl checking us in was called Jens. Which just conjures up images of Blade Runner-esqe androids. So we took our key, gave warning to keep away from any Harrison Ford looking types, and made out way up to the room. Brother Chris settled in easy enough. I on the other hand was disturbed by the freaky Dark Water-esqe drip stains on the wall, just above my bed. I did not want to be dragged away in the middle of the night by a long haired Japanese ghost girl.

For the time being I managed to suppress my fear and we left for the festival. Well, sort of. We left on the hunt for dinner, where we passed a pub. At which point we stopped as Uwe Boll was inside with two people. We decided to go in, find something to eat and stare at him. Instead, we went in, Chris recognised one of the people so we went over and joined them. Having a drink with Uwe Boll. Awesome.

We later left for the Arts Centre for the first film of the first day, Gnaw. A good horror film. It was a little predictable at times but the effects and acting were good enough. After a brief Q&A with director Gregory Mandry. We had a time for a quick drink before the last film of the evening. In this time I was introduced to Julian Richards, director of The Last Horror Movie and Darklands as he'd met Brother Chris before. We then went in to see Uwe Boll's film Rampage. It's a brilliant film. Well shot and edited. Uwe Boll comes under a lot of bad press because of his video game movies, which aren't that great but as he pointed out, still sell a hell of a lot more than his regular films, which are always better. Rampage should definitely be checked out though, and Brendan Fletcher is quite convincing as the young guy whose is tipped over the edge to go on the titular rampage.

So a great first day. Now we really needed to get some food, and head back to the Dark Water room. After an encounter with take away food we got excited by the Ice Cream machine in the travelodge, with the the futuristic method in which fridge opened and suckers gripped the ice cream to dispense out of the front of the machine. We were still in Blade Runner territory. Thanks to that machine, and watching the end of The Howling, I could ignore the evil water stains and went to sleep, ready for the next full day of films.

Friday, 14 August 2009

I do not regret the things I have done, but those I did not do.

So I'm off to Phantasmagoria this weekend. Well, in about an hour to be exact. There's stuff going on there, some films, some guest a bunch of stuff. You can check the website out here. It should be a good weekend.

As I said I'm just killing time before I go. I've not got the time to do any music video work and I've already packed so I'm just killing time.

Speaking of the music video. I made the first set. Sort of. It exists so in theory I can start filming. It is however not yet painted and really needs another few layers of paper to strengthen it up but it looks good.

What else is there...oh yeah the estings competition ends in the next couple of weeks. If you haven't seen my entry this year check it out here. It's not a popularity contest this time around however give it a "Yay" if you like it, there's no harm in that.

And that's about all there is today. And I've got to go.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

A whole bunch of junk...

Just a random update today. Last weekend, as mentioned briefly on Brother Chris' blog we had friends over and took part in an almighty film night. See the poster below.

The night began in the early evening with Clifford. Now this film was a bit pants. The bizarre concept basically didn't hold us interested for the whole film. It is quite bizarre, due to the main fact, as mentioned before, that Clifford is played by Martin Short who at the time of filming was 40 years old. YES THAT'S A 40 YEAR OLD MAN PLAYING A 10 YEAR OLD BOY. This and the fact that it's only available on Region 1 DVD or Xbox Live Marketplace adds the bizarre nature of the film. So what began well, became tiresome.

We followed this with Collision Course. This is the super team-up of former Tonight Show host Jay Leno and Mr Myagi himself, Pat Morita. Why this was thought to be a good idea, at any stage I don't know. It was pretty hard to understand either actor with Pat Morita's few English words, and Jay Leno's squeaky accented voice didn't help matters. However things blew up, towards the end there were some collisions and it all peaked with a deadly serious ending with some Karate from Mr Myagi. So things were building quite well for the real headliner, SHAKMA.

Shakma is not without its faults, but was everything I expected it to be. There was a crazy baboon going mental at doors, and a lot of death. There was way too much walking around empty corridors, and as the building was empty, and they spent a lot of time in stair wells, you couldn't help but wonder why they didn't just leave. Anyway, they didn't so they died. There's a lesson in there somewhere. Basically that's all I have to say. The trailer delivered.

Finally, as a wind down film we watched Skinned Deep. This was strange. On the one hand it was terrible. Acting was bad, film quality was bad and the plot wasn't that great either. On the other hand though it did have a good consistent design to it. The bad guys/creatures were all cool and there was enough to hold our interest. The highlight was definitely Warwick Davis as Plates. A guy who throws plates at people. He even had a random monologue half way through as to why he enjoyed his past-time. Bizarre indeed.

So a pretty successful event was had. Whether we'll be able to hold another film night in the future is debatable, our credibility may have been seriously reduced.

In other happenings, I'm slowly building up to filming the music video. I'm collecting stuff to make the "set" and I need to work on one of the characters a little more to get that Tenniel look. I hope to start filming next week.

Finally as I thought I had nothing to blog about I saw this video for the game WET on Xbox 360 and PS3. I've posted the trailer below. I think it looks pretty cool I like the pseudo Grind house style. I think it could be a fun game to play. That's if I ever get through the long pile of existing game I already have.

WET Game trailer

Finally completed Half Life 2 Episodes 1 and 2. I can't decide which one I preferred. I liked the extension element of Ep1, where as Ep2 is more like a new game. Once again it ends with a cliff hanger building up the Half Life story and world. I am looking forward to Ep3, if it even exists, which I'm sure it must.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

A bunch of stuff.

I've started to post but realised I don't have much to report. We're slowly approaching the weekend, which brings with it the most ultimate of film nights ever to be witnessed. Brother Chris and I are keeping a veil of mystery over proceedings and have yet to reveal the full list to those attending. That is apart from Shakma.

As the headlining act, Shakma is the keystone in the whole lineup. However the remaining films are headliners in their own right. It's going to be awesome.

In animatia based news work on the music video is progressing well. I'm planning on getting started sometime next week, with only a few things left to develop over the next few days. Once I get started however I know things are going to change when I come across unforeseen problems, but I'm embracing this fact as I don't think anything is set in stone just yet. So yeah, I'm meeting with the band next week and from there it starts.

Saying this, I haven't got much time for any long term room disruption due to the fact that I'm attending the Phantasmagoria film festival in Swindon. You can check the website here. They have a great line up of films and a few special guests, it's looking to be a very interesting weekend.

Finally, I've just updated he Congo Review site once again. It's been a good few months since last time, a few films have been added. I'll try to keep it more regular from now on but I can't promise anything. Check it out here.