Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Journeys Middle

You may be wondering what I am going to be talking about with such an ambiguous and frankly quite odd blog title. Well, it relates to my current filmmaking project. It's in it's middle basically. And filmmaking with what I'll be talking about exclusively today.
I haven't had the time this last week to source a new track of the week for all of you who tune in for that, so I am sorry for alienating you all this week.
But to my fellow filmmakers and the die hard fans of my work, this week should be of interest for you.

I'll be talking about the state of my project and linking a couple of short films that I've watched recently, and explain why I watched them and such.

So my project, Phoenix. Phoenix is a short film about a married couple in their thirties who are constantly at each others throats over anything. Until one day Bob, the husband, discovers the scandalous secret of his wife's affair.
It's a comedy drama and is the most light hearted fun piece that I have done to date, so I'm pretty excited to shoot it!

I've just confirmed my actors as well, which is great! I've had an epic struggle with casting the lead actor in this film for some unknown reason. I've had plenty people apply, some who didn't fit the bill and some who did. After doing video interviews (I can't afford a face to face interview room yet), I narrowed my choices down and chatted more to each actor. The process went great, and three times I thought I had my Bob. Until they turned around and said they couldn't make it, didn't realise it was in Cardiff (despite one of my initial questions and statements being 'I'm shooting in Cardiff, is that okay?'
Finally I have my Bob though, after much more hunting around I have to say.
Casting the leading actress was equally tough because not many people applied. I have found the perfect actress for the role and cast her though.
I did have plenty of people wanting to play the maid...a five second role. I had some fairly epic application letters sent in, more life stories than I needed to know and more vanity about the hardships some people had been threw. I was sure I'd specified it was basically a walk on role...

Anyway, it's all cast now, which is great. I have my kit sorted as well which is great news! The film will be shot digitally on a Sony FS700. A fantastic digital camera capable of 4k and of shooting at 240fps which will be used a fair amount in this film! The film will be lit with Dedolights and a Kinoflow bank - two fantastic brands of film lighting. I definitely recommend them! And we'll be recording audio onto a Tascam DR60D, a unit made for filmmakers and not adapted to the purpose.

This last week has been mental for me. Making sure I have all the shots in my list locked down, getting my storyboards done (I'm a terrible drawer so this is a painful process) and making sure my crew are all prepared. It's still not all finished and it will be a sprint to the finish line I reckon! But I like to believe it is all a part of the process. Many great filmmakers are still tweaking on the set!

As the short films I watched, I was looking for films to inspire me for the soundtrack. I wanted to see how other great short films used soundtracks, or if they used them at all. I did find that they are used sparingly, as in a feature film really. That the use of good sound effects seems to be more important generally.
The two films I will link are fantastic, they truly inspired me and motivated me to make a brilliant film.
They are both beautifully made, one a live action, one an animation. Both feel tragic and haunting as well. I genuinely teared up in the animation one, and that never happens!
So here they are, I  hope you enjoy them!





That's all for this week folks. Next weeks post may be delayed as I will have just finished shooting Phoenix, so be patient with me please!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Subtarranean Pipe Travel...Say What

I'm taking the mood a bit more sci-fi this week. I realised I haven't talked about the new Doctor Who (spoilers for those who still don't know), so I'll be discussing that. I'll link you a new track I like, as always. And finally talking about a new form of travel...that may or may not happen because of politics...
You'll also notice I've given up highlight in red...I never knew why I was doing it to be honest.

So here's the track. It feels new and fresh. Like something I haven't heard before. Which is great, I love a new sound, who doesn't! When you find something that's different to everything else you listen to or know is mainstream, but is close enough to mainstream that it isn't a massive stretch to like or is just an artsy piece. It's not artsy, believe me.
Anyway. It's a band called Go Periscope. The name reminds me of Ok Go, which feels a bit weird. The periscope bit obviously doesn't...but still. Maybe it was intentional, maybe I'm just being pedantic and weird. The track is called Wait For You. It features gorgeous sounding instruments, sweet vocals, fresh lyrics that don't come across as the same old cr*p and glorious ups and downs. Frankly, I really like it.

Doctor Who. Who would have ever guessed it would be who they chose!!! WHAT!

SPOILERS FROM HERE!

So. Peter Capaldi is the new Doctor. Effing this and effing that. It'll be a nice change. Eccleston was depressed. Tennant was crazy and obsessed over by fan girls. Smith was basically a child in a 900 year old body. Capaldi is obviously the oldest actor in the new series. And I think he will be fantastic. He's a brilliant actor, has played various characters. Has the nod of being a guest star in Doctor Who before. And he can play serious. At a point in the show where it has become to ridiculous, basically throwing away any decent plot and suspension of disbelief, it's just went, 'Hmm, well it's supposed to be kids show, let's just make it super fun and simple and rubbish, they won't notice...who cares about the millions of adult fans we have, we're rich anyway!'. So bringing Capaldi in is obviously going to be turning point for the show. Now don't get me wrong, it'll still be fun, Capaldi can be fun and humorous, but he can actually do serious, angry, believable character stuff.
It'll have to be a lot darker. Especially with the end revealing the Doctor who finished the Time War, it's building up to the darkest moment of the Doctor's existence. Capaldi is a brilliant choice for this reveal, to spar verbally with John Hurt. It'll be epic!
Now just to get rid of what's her face, the new companion. She's crap. Capaldi will hopefully tell her to 'f*ck off* and just kick her into a black hole or a sun or something.
I'm fairly excited to say the least for what I hope will mark a change in the show.

Whilst we're waiting for the change, anyone care to take a ride with me in an underground pipe, hurtling us at 700 miles per hour? It'll be a quick ride, possible dangerous, maybe expensive. But different. Definitely different!
If you're not sure what I'm getting at, I'll explain. Basically, a man, a physicist even, has proposed and designed a new system of travel. it's underground, in a pipe, and travels at 700 miles per hour. Get the gist now? Great. The system works by using 'pods' in a vacuumed pipe. I mean vacuum as in perfectly airtight, like a sleeping bag when you first get it. This vacuum helps to propel the 'pod' along the underground pipe to the destination. It sounds amazing. And with it being so quick it won't take much time to get anywhere. It'd be underground so no one can complain about it being an eye sore. It's thinking of the world of tomorrow.
Except for politicians. They're not so much thinkers of the world of tomorrow. From reading a couple of articles on the subject, most speculate the project will never happen because of politics. Politicians want something in return for allowing someone to build beneath their 'territory'. Stupid really.
I'll never get to be equally terrified and excited by getting in a 'pod' to be fired like a rocket at stupid miles per hour. All because we still exist in a tit for tat individual world, rather than let's help each other out and make things easier kind of world.
I wonder what else has been thrown aside because of politics?
To read more either google 'hyperloop transport' or go here; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/13/hyperloop-poltics_n_3751539.html

That's it for now. Sorry it was late this week.

Toodles.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Old Devil

This last week was a fantastic one. I can't say why, it just felt like a great week. So, I'm plugging a friends band...they're awesome by the way. I'll be talking about some filmmaking and talking about writing.

So first up, the band. They're a Newcastle upon Tyne three piece acoustic folk band - John Dalziel, Laura Alexa Jackets and David Vincent Fitzgerald. Laura is the lead vocals, which are fantastic. She has an unbelievable voice. They're folk sound is refreshing and very bouncy, I love listening to them.
The song I'm linking is 'Old Devil' from they're EP 'Siren'. It's a beautifully catchy track with David joining his vocals with Laura's, and the two compliment each other perfectly. I see big things for them.

I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I do.

I've been really busy recently with making a promo film for a local church group. They got in touch with me about some volunteer work for them and I jumped at the chance. It was great to get back behind the camera and do some work for someone else. It was an interesting project and I'm proud to have it on my CV.
They have a guest speaker coming down in September, a man who was an aide to Bill Clinton when he was President. So he's a pretty big deal apparently. They wanted a video that they could show in Sunday service and put around the church centre to attract more people to the event. They had a script, interviewees and locations in place. My job was to film it, edit it and deliver it.
The shoot was over two days in four different locations. I had to battle the sun, the shade, a confusing estate and a dodgy sound recorder. The sound recorder was the most difficult thing. It had a dodgy connection (I found out afterwards) so some of the sound hadn't recorded. I had to match up and edit the sound from the DSLR...not the best sounding thing. But I made it work and the church were very happy with it.
The edit process was painless. We sat down together and put a list together of how they wanted the piece to look and then left me to it. Very little bureaucratic involvement. I would put an edit together, send them it and they'd give me feedback. This went on a few times until they were happy and I sent them a copy in HD.
It was a fun project, and a great start back into filmmaking after my hiatus for awhile.



I've been looking a lot at screenplays recently, trying to improve my technique and see how the pros do it. I'm trying to craft my own feature film script over the next few months. A kids film about a young boy who discovers giants are living in the forest behind his house, and the adventures and troubles he has with them. It's a fun, adventure film.
So naturally I've been looking at the Goonies, and the BFG. Both are classic films and something I think I can learn a lot from. I'd never considered reading scripts before this to be honest, but it's something that I'm really enjoying. I can see how the characters and plot develop on paper, how the scenes are wrote. What the writer said and did, and how this translated onto the screen. It's fascinating stuff, really!

As well as a feature film, what I have been thinking a lot about recently is writing my own short stories, spin offs of Doctor Who about another Timelord who escaped the tragic events of the Time War. A man who travels around the universe having adventures and cares little for visiting Earth or seeing the Doctor. I'll be posting them online as I write them so everyone can read them and enjoy them or slate them. I'd prefer the former if that's okay. If anyone has ideas for possible plots or monsters send me them in an email: simonthomaslinsley@icloud.com

Well, that's it from me this week. I have to go back to resting my jelly like legs after a ridiculous workout and continue planning out a short film I'm shooting at the end of this month. I hope to have more details for you about that project next Sunday.

Ta ra!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Dreaming

I haven't posted in awhile so for all of my die hard fans who can barely get through the week without this post to keep you sane and cheery, I do apologise sincerely. My excuses are as such;

- I've been busy
- I didn't have time
- I slept alot
- And I've been organising a short film and celebrating my pop's fiftieth!

My dad, Keith, was FIFTY this weekend just gone, so I'm dedicating this post to him and wishing him all the best in his twilight years. May they be filled with many games of tennis and plenty of trips to the pub.

I'll be talking about my track of the week, some inspirational filmmaking and giving a review of The Wolverine.

I'll start with my track of the week. And this will probably be my track of the next few months until I ruin it for myself with too many replays. It's a fantastic pop track with very catchy lyrics and beautiful upbeat sounds. All I can imagine when listening to it is an epic water balloon fight between the kids of two warring families, involving a giant tree house and finishing with a gigantic water balloon falling on the 'evil' family of kids.
So here it is.

Smallpools are an LA based band and have just released their EP, so pick it up! Hopefully they will bring their awesome sound to the UK soon!

I literally just watched this piece of inspired filmmaking. It's fantastic. The camera work is beautifully simple with elegant visuals and the acting is just spot on. The actors look like they are having loads of fun which is always what you want. I won't ruin for you the stars of the video but they are well known, and you will be loving watching them have so much fun where they could clearly just let go.
It's a music video for Mumford & Sons - Hopeless Wanderer, and it's just inspired.

It's Directed by Sam Jones, a veteran music video Director (http://www.rsafilms.com/company/rsa-usa/music-videos/director/sam-jones). He's done videos for Mumford & Sons before, as well the Foo Fighters and Sonos, as well as films for McDonalds and Skype. With videos like his I feel the world is a slightly better place and I'll be keeping an eye out for more of his stuff and trying to learn from it.

The Wolverine. It had only to beat the spectacularly rubbish Origins: Wolverine film, so going into it I wasn't keeping my expectations high. To my surprise, it was a brilliant piece of filmmaking. Marvel just know how to do superhero films properly, unlike DC who have only managed Batman properly, but it took them countless remakes and a cheesy TV series to get there.
The Wolverine looks at Logan having to deal with his immortality leading him to watch everyone he loves die, and become an outcast and loner. The opening is a bleak and rainy affair showing us how far Logan has fallen, and it works. I felt bad for the guy, and I barely get emotional in films, but I truly felt for him.
Throughout the film we're treated to flashbacks of Logan's time as a POW in Japan, which sets up his need to go back to Japan after saving a soldiers life. It feels natural and believable (as far as Superhero films can be), and it has heart to it. He's trying not to be a monster, while everyone around him only sees him as a monster.
Alongside these flashbacks we're treated to images to Jean Grey chatting to Logan in his mind. They're pretty annoying, and so is she. This is the tenuous link to X-Men 3. I'll leave it at that.
The film has strong characters, believable relationships and motivations, and spectacular fight scenes with a dramatic climax and the Wolverine being bested easily. The film is a constant struggle for Logan and we see his having to change and adapt.
It's highly entertaining and certainly smashes the Origins film, while the post-credit scene teases us with a big X-Men film to come. I'm excited!

Hopefully next week I will be back to posting regularly. Until then, have a fantastic week.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Reward

This week I'll be looking more at films and filmmaking. I still have a weekly tune though, so don't worry about missing out that.

I've been looking at short films a lot recently as I'm writing my own and trying to put all the pieces together to film it, as well putting ideas together for a feature film.
I scanned the internet and watched hundreds of short films, I do this weekly to be honest. There's a lot of crap out there, but occasionally you come across something of such amazement that you can't turn away from it and it just inspires you.
This short film does just that. It's called 'The Reward', it's Danish, and it's animated. It's adventure film about two unlikely heroes. Without further ado, here it is.

I'm hoping that you've now watched the film and got as caught up in it as I did! How amazing would an adventure like that be?! It's kind of like travelling, seeing the unknown, experience different places, having to improvise and work with someone else to get the best of it. Without a friend it wouldn't be as good.
What's more remarkable about the film is it's lack of dialogue, it holds your attention with pure visuals, which is what film is all about, it is a visual format. So many films now focus on the dialogue to explain everything (I'm talking largely about Hollywood films), rather than show it. They seem to have a theory that viewers are stupid, and need a verbal explanation rather than crafting something magnificent with just an image.
This film has inspired me into two things. One; to make an adventure feature film. And two; to travel and have an amazing time doing it.

The tune I have this week is by Ellery James Robert. It's a hypnotic track that makes me reflect on life. It has a raw power to it through the light and airy sounds mixed with the rougher vocals, making for a beautiful track.

This week has been so hot and stuffy, that I haven't actually had much time for anything that wasn't based outside so I'm ending this post short.

'Til next week!


Sunday, 30 June 2013

So Many Books, So Little Time

Having just moved house I am now in the midst of deciding where everything is going. Not only that, I have a partner to help me, since I am for the first time sharing a room. With a girl. Eeek.
Help is probably the wrong word. Jointly decide is more appropriate.
With this in mind, we have to decide where my growing collection of books can be placed. I don't think under the bed is respectful enough. Sitting in their packing box isn't exactly practical, or nice to look at.
I'm left with buying a small book shelf for the foot of the bed (that was given a pretty sour look from my partner) or perhaps installing some shelves in the groove next to my side of the bed. It would be my first time installing shelves so it should be interesting if that course is taken. I am getting into the handy man spirit, which has never particularly been me, but I am feeling a rather manly vibe about myself recently. Which is great! Getting the urge to go buy a hammer and a drill.

Anyway. You may have guessed this post will focus a lot on books. First up, I'll give you a tune to listen to. This week I'm sending you a track that Coca Cola have picked up for their commercials. Youngblood Hawke don't just have an awesome name, they have a damn good tune to! It's a pretty unique sound with a Christmassy pop edge to it. I could well imagine it had a Christmas influence. It's catchy and very summery too. Have a listen.

So now you have some lovely noise to accompany you, let's begin.
I find it quite to sad to hear that books are being replaced with electronic reading devices. That many kids will grow up and have only read something from a screen. Only smelt the overheating PC fan or been distracted by a pop up ad.
They will never know the smell of a brand new book, the feel of it's crisp pages. Flicking between the page you're reading and the map drawn in the front of the book. Buying a second hand book decades old and feeling the nostalgia of owning something that someone else loved like you do, for it to still have a place in the world and be yours to look after.
Unlike a PC, a book isn't replaced with a latest edition every year (I am talking about fiction books by the way). No matter how long you hold on to it, that story will never change, the pages will not need new RAM to read it.

I do understand and see the place for something like the Kindle, but I loathe to see it taking over the place of the paperback book. And with recent news about Apple trying to fix the e-book market prices and pay Amazon for it, so that they can control the e-music prices, it just seems like a place for more wrong doing. Plenty of crap can be written and potentially bought by people online, without a thought to whether or not it is good. If an author's work is meant to be out there, a publisher somewhere will pick it up and know what to do with it. Otherwise they burn it and we're all spared the 50 Shades copy cats that frankly can't improve 50 Shades. Nothing can improve 50 Shades. It's just that crap.

I'd recommend picking up the Game of Thrones series (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Song-Ice-Fire-Volumes/dp/0007477155/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372596473&sr=1-2&keywords=game+of+thrones) for some good erotic reading...and fighting, and politics, and general medieval fun. I bought the first in the series from a used book store, which made me happy, and haven't been able to put it down since. I found I am really gripped with the book even though I've watched the series on TV so know pretty much what will be happening, but as usual the book expands so much more on the Game of Thrones world.
Still, I would have liked a copy that fitted with my other new copies in the series...

This isn't going to be a long post as I'm still unpacking and this post has been my break, so my final piece is a link to some creative bookshelves. I love that people have been imaginative with how they store their books. I hope to one day own a house with a library room, stacked with a books and needing a rolling ladder to reach them.
Have a look at these creative folks; http://sobadsogood.com/2013/01/20/18-insanely-cool-creative-bookshelves-youll-wish-you-had/

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Is It A Bird? Is It A Plane? No It's Superman! Falling...

This week I'll be reviewing Man of Steel, sharing a roaring new tune I came across and sharing some design work I came across involving animals.

Firstly, the tune. Something to get you involved and laid back. The artist is called Dornik, from London, and he's been likened to Michael Jackson with his frankly outstanding vocals and pop sounding track.
Have a listen and you'll see what I mean.


It's a very mellow summer tune. It's very easy to just lay back and zone out listening to this guys voice. He's entrancing and certainly knows how to capture people. Imagine this guy live? If he can put on a show half as fantastic as Michael Jackson was supposed to have put on (I'm not old enough to have seen him live) then it would be one hell of a show to be at.
I'm by no means a great music reviewer but I hope you grasp where I'm coming from with this tune. It's poppy, but not 1D poppy, good poppy. It's fresh. It's a fantastic tune with a great set of sounds. Ultimately it's refreshing to hear a poppy/r&b'y tune that isn't manufactured and sh*t.

On to the Man of Steel (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0770828/). As you may grasp from this posts title, I did not like Man of Steel. I went in with great expectations. A new approach to Superman, Snyder and Nolan attached. Sounds like a great build up. Henry Cavill looked the part. I went to the cinema wearing my Superman converse, attesting to my love of Superman (http://www.schuh.co.uk/mens-dark-grey-converse-all-star-print-dc-comics-hi/3421427770/).
With Nolan involved I was thinking a dark and grittier Superman. Something with great characters and a superb story that sets everything in motion for further films (already planned), and a brilliant origin story. Nolan did it with Batman so surely he could tackle Superman. Snyder has proven himself to adept with action pieces (300) but has since flopped (Sucker Punch), but I can see that his style could fit with Superman and the powers he has and the villains he could face.

A quick synopsis; Clark Kent is a wandering worker trying to figure out his place in life and find out who he is. He has to take on the mantle of Superman and reveal himself to the world when General Zod comes to Earth seeking him out. But is Earth ready for Superman?

Sounds pretty great so far. Zod is an obvious villain to start with. He's on equal ability with Superman, almost, and is well known in the Superman universe. It makes a simple opening to the Superman universe for people not familiar with his story, which is pretty much what Warner want: to introduce more people to his story and make money.

The film opens on Krypton and gives us the lowdown of Superman being born, his parents, General Zod being a bad guy and how he ends up on Earth. There's also some Krypton history and pointless scenic shots of Krypton. The planet is about to blow up and Snyder is showing us scenic shots of the planet? I have no attachment to the people of that world, I haven't even met Superman so why am I seeing this? I will never see it again either...
From this start I was already let down and beginning to think I wasn't going to see something good.

Following this we're introduced to Superman all grown up, but not yet Superman. He's a worker on a boat and is saved from a falling fishing net by another crew member. But then we see him as Superman, saving people on a burning oil rig. And he looks epic. It sets him up as a man with morals, a man who only wants to save people. And Henry Cavill certainly looks like he could be Superman. He's beefy. Really beefy. But not bodybuilder, pure muscle, no fat beefy. The beefy that looks natural, like Superman would be. This makes me believe in the character. Finally.

After this though there are numerous flashbacks to Superman growing up with his Earth parents, being different to other kids, being bullied, crying, his dad telling him life lessons and Lois Lane being involved in every single scene. Literally. I'm not sure how she would get to any of the places she did. It wouldn't be possible and breaks the believability of that world for me. I know it's not 'realistic' because it's Superman, he can fly etc. But for a film to work it needs to be a world you believe is real, and since it's based in our modern world, you'd think they'd follow the same set of rules? Apparently not.

None of the characters have any kind of depth or emotion to them. It seems they were just given lines and then read them. It's the same with the story. For me it didn't fit neatly. It jumped all over the place, events happened very quickly and people adapted to them the same day. They even learnt how to defeat the bad guys in the same day. And this was possible due someone explicity giving a character the answer...they didn't figure it out or struggle. They were just told 'do this and you win'.
For me films are visual, it's a show don't tell medium. If I wanted to be told, I'd read.
This kind of blatant, lazy storytelling ruins it for me. They have Nolan attached for crying out loud, the man reinvented Batman and set he fails with this. It comes across more like he was named to sell the film.

There is a final fight where the villain tries to succeed once more, as expected. But once again I was let down by the fight. It should be a clash of titans, two super beings are of equal powers and strength. They can beat each other all over and do things we couldn't imagine. What I was treated to instead was what felt like a massive set piece being destroyed just because it could be, with action that was hard to follow and a twirling camera trying to replicate flying. It played out like a fighting game, they hit, you hit, they hit, you hit. And so on. Even the climax in the finale wasn't a struggle of emotions or physicality. It just happened and I felt nothing for it. By this point I was already sorely disappointed.

For what could have been the biggest film this year with a character that everybody has at least heard of, it did no better than Superman: Returns or other Superman films. Maybe it's the curse of Superman. maybe he's just to un-Earthly to tackle and take to the big screen. At least we all have Smallville to fall back on. We can take refuge in that solid series.

Now my final topic. Animal design work. http://www.visualnews.com/2011/04/05/intricately-patterned-animal-illustrations/ Taking a look at the designs found on that link is refreshing. All the work is done by Iain Macarthur, a seemingly very talent designer. His intricate animal drawings are superb and a wonder to behold. I couldn't help but try and select one as a tattoo. My favourite piece is the Skull towards the bottom.
I'd love to get into the minds of such designers and see how they work and where they draw inspiration. For more of Iain's work go to http://www.behance.net/iainmac. He's available as a freelance illustrator and is UK based.

Until the next time, ta ra.