A couple of weeks ago some friends and I participated in a 48 hour film competition (the London 48 hour film project) where we had to write, film, edit and score a short film (between 4 and 7 minutes long) and physically submit it in just 48 hours! Each of the teams were given two genres which we could choose from (ours was Drama or ‘Animal film’) – we decided to go with drama. There were also some prerequisites that every team had to include, these were:
– A Prop (Headphones)
– A Character (Henry/Helen Flemming, a Connoisseur)
– A Line (“Don’t feel that you have to reply”)
Even with a cast of 3 and crew of 5 it was an incredibly challenging 48 hours but an immense learning experience. For the music, half of it was scored because we had filmed a second of footage and the remainder was scored during the editing process. We managed to hand it in on time with 33 minutes to spare! All of the films had a screening in a cinema in central London along with the other entries and it was really awesome to see the fruits of our manic and sleepless weekend on the big screen. At the awards ceremony we were given the award for “best use of prop” and also nominated for “best sound” which was awesome!
All in all we were really pleased with what we managed to put together in such a short space of time and I’m sure the next time we try something like this we can use all the lessons learned to submit something even more ambitious!
The film is available to watch on YouTube now – check it out!
I made another video of me playing some piano improvisation and also me playing a piece of stock music I wrote a couple of years ago (it’s a little faster and in a different key, but still the same piece!). I recorded this on my Panasonic GH4 and Rode NTG2 via Zoom H4N. I also used this as an opportunity to dive into Da Vinci Resolve to colour correct the videos (with the help of my wife who is infinitely better than I am at it!) – hope you enjoy!
I made another short film and it’s out in the wild! It’s presented in the style of a children’s bedtime story and is about a rubber duck who leaves his bathtub homeland to go and live in the ‘big wide pond’ with the real ducks. The video is embedded into this post to watch below. This one I filmed with the help of my good friend James all in the space of one day in early April 2016 and it’s the first short film (of many, I hope!) that I made on my Panasonic GH4 with Samyang cine lenses. There’s a couple of pictures below of when we were filming (courtesy of James).
In my ongoing quest to continually improve with these short films, this one has more of a narrative base than I’ve made in the past. The finished film is very close to the script that I wrote – although we had to improvise on the day for a couple of shots as the ducks were not as ravenous for bread as I initially anticipated!
The narration is performed by the very talented Shane Morris who I worked with via voices.com. I fully recommend voices.com for anyone looking for voiceovers for their project – It was a quick, easy and pleasant experience and I’ll definitely be using the site again in the future. My wife Lucy also did a wonderful job of providing the cover art for the film.
I have bigger plans for more short films this year; with human actors, spoken dialogue and a wide variety of more ambitious stories and shots. I’m having such a great time writing, planning, filming, editing and composing for these short films – especially when friends who are helping me along the way bring as much boundless enthusiasm as I have to these little projects. It’s really awesome and I have high hopes for what the future is going to bring for more of these short films down the line.
Also as I have said before, as I work through every project (even this 5 minute short about a rubber duck whose name is essentially a pun), it gives me a deeper respect of how each component of filmmaking are a distinct art form in their own right and how even the smallest of projects have such a considerable amount of hard work, preparation and tenacity put into them. Thanks for watching!
It’s been almost 6 months since my last blog post so I wanted to write a quick summary on my year so far and what’s going on with me in the upcoming months; not because of the waves of people online demanding to know what I’m up to, but more just writing it as a kind of mental cleansing exercise for myself. Hopefully I won’t fall into the pitfall of starting to just write and write (well intentioned) posts about my creative endeavors instead of actually just doing them!
The big thing personally this year is that I got married! It was the best day of my life and I was really glad to be able to create original music for my wife Lucy to walk down the aisle to. Had the most awesome honeymoon in the Maldives and took (quite literally) hundreds of videos on my phone, GoPro and GH4. I’m hoping that I have enough footage of sunsets, vistas, underwater snorkeling along reefs and various crustacean creatures to use in a couple of short films and/or music-accompanying videos. I also managed to film a dream sequence (of sorts) for a little short film I’m working on featuring the happy chap in the picture below. That particular short film has more of a narrative than I have worked on previously so I’m looking forwarding to working on that over the next few weeks!
I’m also really excited to be working on a number of video game sountracks both with Kuchalu as well as other independent game developers. Watch this space for more info as these progress.
Tomorrow’s Arrival (our dev team Kuchalu’s sci-fi resource management game) is still in progress; it’s been about a year since my update on the game below and since then the scope of the game has been expanded, the aesthetic has developed, the team has grown considerably and our timelines for development have grown accordingly too so that we have a solid amount of time for us all to do the best job we can do. In addition to writing the soundtrack I’m also working on writing the dialogue and narrative elements of the game too. Really exciting stuff!
Aside from everything above I am also continuing to dedicate time to work on short film screenplays alongside my first feature spec script. I’ve been working on the feature spec for just under a year and I’m hoping to have a first draft ready in the next couple of months.
So there we are – that’s what I’m up to for now! Short films, video game soundtracks and screenplays. Hoping 2016 is going to continue to be an enjoyable and productive year. Thanks for reading!
Well, this one I technically filmed back in August before Writer’s Block and I spent the weeks following on the post production. I wanted to make something where I could continue to practice lighting, angles, editing, scoring et al and also make something entertaining to watch too. For practical reason I set it in my home (the next one I make I may actually venture outside!) and made it about something which on the surface is a bit mundane but something that people love talking about (especially in the UK) – making a cup of tea 🙂 Having recently become aquainted (and enamoured) with the works of Charlie Chaplin, Tea Time is inspired by the silent film era of the early 20th century.
The person in the film is my brother Ryan, who did a great job and was very patient whilst I filmed the various angles of the copious amounts of tea that we made (and initially drank a lot of before we made ourselves sick of it). The filming took up a whole afternoon which whittled down to just under 2 mins running time for the finished film itself. Hope you enjoy!
I had a few hours free one afternoon recently and I decided to spend some time playing around on my piano. I ended up recording some of the improvisation from the hour or so I was playing (mostly chilled out, meloncholy piano) – so I’ve mixed some of the recording and combined it into one long YouTube video for anyone to have on as background music while they work or relax etc.
Recorded on my Zoom H4N. In addition to YouTube (below) it’s also available to listen to on SoundCloud – hope you enjoy listening!
Lately I’ve been trying to branch out in my creative endeavours and have started to take an active interest in the world of filmmaking. It’s such a multi-discinplinary artform that the idea of working on a combination of writing, filming and audio into one project felt like a really interesting challenge. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on terminology, technology and the general creative process and I’ve discovered a world of appreciation for things such as screenwriting, lighting, filming, acting, editing, sound effects, scoring and even the more commercial aspects like budgeting, distributing and marketing. Films touch upon so many of the creative and commercial outlets that exist and I have realised (and am still continuing to realise) all of the things that I’ve taken for granted when I sit down to a watch a film (or TV Show, Web-series etc). The more I read, listen and experiment, the more I come to realise that any one of the components making up a given film are a discrete and complex artform in their own right.
My other half came across this short film competition to produce a short film that had to be no longer than a minute and also revolve around the theme of ‘a bad day at the office’. I decided to give it a go and after throwing around some initial ideas, I thought it would be interesting (and practical!) to make the film from a perspective of a freelance composer; whose office would be at home and a ‘bad day’ would be something like not having the motivation or inclination to produce any music – plus I’d be able to make use of my piano! I also happened to be going hiking with a friend in the Exmoor countryside so I tried using that to my advantage by featuring it in a dream sequence of sorts (a friend of mine who I was hiking with happened to take the below picture as I was working on the film – it’s a little self-serving of me but a nice pic either way!).
The actual filming itself was done on my iPhone 5S with Moondog Lab’s Anamorphic adapter. I know phones don’t have all the bells and whistles of an actual purpose built camera, but as I’m new to all of this I figured that the actual framing, lighting, story and sound are the most important foundations of making a film, regardless of the actual devices used.
Taking the various Exmoor parts into account, I ended up shooting for around 3 hours (with my other half Lucy helping on the indoor scenes) and then spent another 2 or 3 hours editing, colour grading and adding sound. The fact that it had to be no longer than a minute was an interesting challenge for me too as I was forced to try and make every moment relevant to the story.
I’m pleased with the finished outcome and even though it didn’t make the final picks (the ones which did are some really well made, interesting takes on the theme) I am still really happy with finishing it and making something that I felt also fit the spirit of the competition well. I’ve already filmed my next short film (with the help of my brother), inspired by the silent movie era which i’m currently scoring and hoping to be done with in the next few weeks!
Writer’s Block is available to watch below. Hope you enjoy, thanks for reading!
Here is a video of me playing a piece of music that I learned back when I was a kid. Wearing a suit and making it black & white was an in joke of sorts (allegedly adding a touch of ‘class’ to my previous video). I also made use of lighting and editing together multiple takes (close ups of my fingers etc) this time around too!
I recently aquired some filming equipment for a short film I’ve written and am going to fim/write the music for (in addition to wanting a great microphone for piano recordings). It arrived yesterday so I took the opportunity to use them to record me improvising on the piano. This is recorded using a Zoom H4N for audio as well as Moondog Lab’s anamorphic adapter for iPhone 5S. I also got a steadicam smoothee for the short film I’m working on (which I didn’t use for the below video as it was just me in the room!) – watch this space for more info.
It’s been almost exactly a year since I participated in a team game jam which we entered as ‘team Kuchalu’. It was a fun and awesome experience that over the course of the months that followed culminated in the formation of a UK based indie dev start up (albeit a tiny one!) releasing an iOS game and our first Steam title.
Kuchalu’s next major project is going to be Tomorrow’s Arrival. The game (which is still in it’s early stages) is a first-person resource simulator integrated with sandbox gameplay elements. The player must build and develop a custom station by collecting drops sent from Earth containing parts such as oxygen tanks, solar panels, generators, structural extenders and more; all designed to enable the player to survive, with the ultimate objective being to create a fully autonomous and self-sufficient environment for a human colony – a final attempt to save humanity from a dying Earth.
We got Greenlit in just 12 days this time which is obviously great news! The majority of my contributions will again be in the form of writing the soundtrack (though I will also try my hand at writing some of the game’s narrative/dialogue too). It’s certainly the most ambitious project we have made to date and for that reason it’s got a significantly longer development schedule than anything we have worked on before (like Into Blue Valley, my brother is the sole developer this time so has one hell of task ahead of him!).
I’m really excited to begin working on the soundtrack. I will undoubtably be using EastWest libraries such as Stormdrum 2 which has some fantastic electronic, glitchy sounding percussion sounds (some of which can be heard in the trailer music below). Mixing those sounds with choir, orchestral and piano libraries makes for some really interesting sounds which I’m going to incorporate together to make a varied and rich soundtrack. Watch this space for updates on how the soundtrack is progressing in the months to come!
Some music used in the Steam Greenlight trailer is below – enjoy!