Friday, 27 November 2009


It's amazing to have finally moved after waiting out the year in a house I didn't want to be in, and seeing my new place gradually take shape. So it's an escape from sights like this, the end of Citizen Kane:

God it's bizarre, packaging all your stuff into boxes. We've essentially lost a month, in moving house, of working on CrimeFighters, but the new house is everything I hoped it would be, complete with new bedroom, and very importantly, work area:

So I've started on the short film script for Paul to direct next year, and remembering how much I love the writing process...

...not to mention the editing process as we get the rest of the CrimeFighters footage captured and arranged. Still some random shots to get here and there, but the hard work of shooting is done.

So now, Tony and I actually live in the same house, and next year Hannah will be visiting, at which point you should all quake in fear for the zombie apocalypse. Or at least, Zomblog Season 3. Because one or both are coming...

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Silently working...

...on designing a funding pack for MilesTone Productions, and have already had some potential investment interest. It's a start... also moving house, so once I'm installed it'll be blog central, with CrimeFighters editing, Zomblog planning and general noses-to-the-grindstone-ness.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Reality Bites

One of the hardest things about being an indie filmmaker, apart from making films for little to no money, is the bits when you're not filming.

My first couple of shifts back at the cinema this last week have been dotted with delightful little moments, like someone I hadn't seen for a couple years coming in and saying, 'Oh, still shuffling popcorn eh?' When I cheerfully nodded they asked what I'd been up to, and I told them I'd been making a feature film and a web series, to which they replied, 'Oh, you're still making that film?'

Now, I didn't have the energy to say, 'Actually that film was 2 years ago, and since then we've made a cult web series with the most awesome fans and I've just spent the last year prepping and making a kick-ass professional feature film that comes out in January and hopefully will take us to the next level as filmmakers'. So I just said 'Nah, different one' and watched them walk away with their 2 kids in tow.

First of all, I get it. To non-filmmakers it may seem like I spend my life always filming filming filming and never having any money, working at the cinema and staying in the same place. But I know that there's a plan, a very slow trajectory that we're all hoping 2010 will see rise more steadily. Whereas some of the people I went to school with are getting married and having kids and company cars, that's what they want with their lives. I want to be a film director, and this is the first time in my life that I can say that I am, and I'm following the dream I've had from when I was 12. What I didn't realise is how hard it would be in its various ways, but also how rewarding and amazing.

And I keep having to remind myself, as I'm shuffling popcorn, of what we have ahead to look forward to: CrimeFighters theatrical release, Zomblog Season 3 and the movie. I just have to stay focused, and convince myself - and my mum - that it'll all be worth it one day.

So screw you, reality. This is me, this is what I'm here for, even though you may try to remind me of 'my place' from time to time.

Friday, 6 November 2009

The 'York Film Collective'/MilesTone Productions

Early last year I suggested to my filmmaking buddies that we should organise ourselves from several disparate small film companies into a collective organisation, with the intention of making some really big film projects that took us to the next level of being filmmakers. Whatever 'the next level' meant but it kind of made sense. To me anyway. It was hard to explain quite what I meant actually, until now.

Previously, between us, we'd made a bunch of accomplished short films, music videos and a feature and were doing pretty well at being filmmakers that got things made and screened. But gradually, from making BandWagons to the Hum-drum shorts, a sense of personal frustration began to build, a sense of impatience at having only tiny little snippets of success at small film festivals and not really feeling like I was progressing towards what I always thought filmmaking was about or what I wanted out of it. We needed to go larger.

Watching a great documentary about American Zoetrope, the early but failed company formed by Lucas, Coppola et al, was a turning point as I realised that when filmmakers get together, magic can happen. So out of that came the 'York Film Collective' idea. And now finally, with MilesTone Productions, comes a version of the Film Collective Idea. We now have a collective of writers, actors, directors, producers, editors, special effects wizards, make-up... uhh, witches, composers and artists. When you list them all, you suddenly realise that we're a pretty awesome company.

So what's missing? Well, it's green, it's vulgar, it's... not bogies, no. It's money.

And that brings me to a major new initiative we're embarking on. And it's one of those 'There's never been a better time to invest' type deals. Thing is, there really HASN'T been a better time to invest in our small-but-perfectly-formed film company, and here's why.

- We've just made an awesome feature film for £6000, which is about a sixteenth of what most SHORT films are made for, and we now need to spend money on t-shirts, badges and some other merchandise so we can earn some money to take CrimeFighters to cinemas around the country. It will cost. We have nothing.

- Our web series Zomblogalypse has a small but loyal cult following, with new fans every day. To make Season 3, which is more ambitious and larger scale than the first two, we are going to need an effects budget. We also need printing costs to make the sell-through DVD as well as more tees and badges, and the graphic novel which are all out in 2010. These are things that will, we hope, make money, but we need to spend it to earn it. Again, we don't have it.

- The Zomblog movie. We're in the very, very early planning stages right now, but we want it to capitalise on the cult following of the show and the increased awareness we hope to gain during Season 3.

We're putting together a funding package that people can digest and decide if they want to help us, and this will materialise soon, but the basic premise is this:

- Any donation is welcome. Last year we received several small but very welcome donations from a dozen or so individuals who helped us buy some essential materials like tapes and t-shirts.

- For a donation of £100 you'll receive an Executive Producer credit on Zomblog Season 3. That means you'll see your name after every episode. And bask in the warmth of helping us into production.

There is more, but I'll wait until the funding pack comes out. There will be an online shop where you can buy the merchandise to own a piece of CrimeFighters or Zomblog, and a link where you can donate money to help us continue to make our films and series.

I think people who've already been involved in helping us make Zomblog and CrimeFighters have started to realise that we are all hardworking, ambitious filmmakers who are deadly serious about filmmaking and aren't going to go away anytime soon. Making films is long, hard, stressful work but well worth it for anyone involved. We hope that means you.

That's it. I hope this has been riveting reading for you all, and that if you believe in us and our flourishing film company, it may well be worth investing in us and the 'York Film Collective'. Thank you.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Winding Down

The best thing to do after finishing a big project is to celebrate and party, then the next day have a quiet few drinks and a meal. You can't just quit the craziness and the people cold turkey or you get all lonely and down in the dumps and start craving it again. From tomorrow my house will be empty of cast and crew and it'll be back to work and real life again.

Kind of.

Today was Adam's birthday and we went for a curry followed by some apple beer:

Yum. Adam, Anna and Tony discovered something...

...and then we all went back to Ad's to play Wii Mario Kart.

This is just the right way to come down gradually from the insanity of a film shoot. You don't want to suddenly be alone and bored, but you don't want much more stimulation because exhaustion is the overriding feeling at this stage. Thankfully I'm moving house in a week and that gives me something else to focus on.

I've inevitably started thinking about what I'm going to miss and not miss at all about making CrimeFighters, and here's what I'm NOT going to miss:

- Those little production problems, power points being a prime example.
- Worrying about the weather.
- Worrying about time running out.
- Having to think constantly about the scenes to come.
- Constant fatigue and never getting enough sleep.
- Mess, everywhere, and no time to clean it up, do my laundry or cook a decent meal.

What I AM going to miss is the cast and crew being around all the time, solving problems together (& suffering together), laughing and talking shit with everyone, seeing how all the departments work to make the film, and lots of other things I can't remember right now through the sense of relief.

Above all though, the sense of accomplishment and pride overrides everything, and despite how glad I am to have finished, and despite this being a tough ride, it was all totally worth it.


Today was the day I've been looking forward to for weeks, and it didn't disappoint. City Screen bar was the venue for the Season 2 Finale of Zomblogalypse, complete with bespoke pumpkins:

Thanks to Rob from the kitchen for these, they're awesome. By half ten there was a crowd of 70-80 people in the bar, baying for blood, and some of them covered in it:

This is Tom from the kitchen. Should we be worried? Actually, the kitchen staff really came through tonight, check out Elliot's Rorschach costume:

Thanks must also go to James for organising the event, and Kate, Neil and Arran for putting up with huge crowds of people wanting drinks in the last hour of their shift. Thank you guys.

And so, after some sound problems (we're low tech for god's sake) we screened the finale to a very appreciative crowd. It was really wonderful watching a new episode with a big crowd laughing at all the jokes and cheering at the gore, and it was just great to hear the big cheer at the surprise ending.

Afterwards we dithered about where to go, but everywhere was chock full, so some of us ended up going back to Dave and Sheena's:

Touching, eh. I mean, a touching sight, there was no actual, you know, touching. Everyone involved in Zomblog and CrimeFighters deserved tonight as a huge treat, a wind-down, and a big sigh of relief at all the hard work we've done this year. It's been the toughest and most rewarding year of my life, hands down. And what I think and hope is that we've paved the way for some incredible opportunites in 2010. Good times to come... :-D