Thursday, January 31, 2008


I handed in my notice yesterday. This means I will work out a month at this job then have exactly a month pre-production. To say it's terrifying wuold be a massive understatement.

The reason I chose yesterday was that one of our major investors agreed to underwrite us up to our shoot budget. While they want us to find the money elsewhere (which I'm confident we can), they will make up whatever shortfall if they have to. So effectively we're go. Even typing that frightens me.

Music rehearsals on tuesday, and a few songs coming together for the band to play. It looks like the Velvet's style is the way to go, but still need to right something that can be their single. I'm planning to make a CD with about half a dozen songs for all involved to make sure we all know what we're aiming for, then we can happily rip them off with impunity.

It really is very odd looking round the office thinking that in four weeks time I'll be gone (as will my very nice salary), but there's not a decent reason in the world not to do this. Have to factor in that my hangover may be a factor in all this as well, but then it usually is.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ups and downs

Had one hoped for investor have to pull out today due to his tax bill being higher than expected. It's a shame, and he was very keen to do it, but these things happen. This afternoon we had a meeting with another potential investor, another keen one, but still needs some persuading. Has promised to let us know by the end of the week.

So what this morning was 20K is now only a possible half that, but then, just when you start wondering where the rest of the money is ever going to come from, we get a double whammy. First up a mini studio who are dealing with our Sales Agent have expressed an interest, and secondly, a city contact through our composer, a man who we had heard was very interested in film but was proving elusive, has come through and is apparently very keen.

So more scripts and proposals have been sent off, I still haven't resigned from work, but whereas early evening it was half empty, now it's half full again.

Tomorrow I'm off to the studio with the two composers to see what we can come up. Expect to return deaf and hopefully humming our new hit.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Meetings with musicians

Had dinner last night with the famous rock star who is putting some money into the film. Very nice evening, he said most complimentary things about the script and told us funny stories about being on tour. Glad to say he 'gets' the feel and mood of the script right away. He's also going to ask the rest of his band if they want to invest, which would be excellent. He also offered us the use of some of their songs for our soundtrack, which is a great offer, but I fear it will somewhat unbalance the soundtrack. If all the other songs are indie cover versions and we suddenly use a massive big famous song it defeats the object of using the small cover versions, so we politely declined his very kind offer. We may, of course, change our minds.

Also contacted my friend in Glasgow to get him to contact some of the bands there whose music we want to use. For some reason Glasgow is home to a certain brand of indie music that would fit perfectly with the mood of our film. Fingers crossed some of them say yes. Have also arranged to meet another potential investor next Monday afternoon, so fingers crossed we can talk him into saying yes. I think I need another 25K to be able to resign from work.

Finally, have arranged to meet Mike Eley and our possible 1st AD this Thursday to discuss formats. General feeling is moving back towards 16mm, purely on a practical level to make sure we get everything we need in the can. Think we may save 35mm for the next film, if any of us live that long.

Monday, January 21, 2008

16 vs 35

Very early on we made the decision to shoot on film rather than HD. Although we'd had a very positive experience working with HD on the short, it was felt that film had several advantages. First, it just looks better, bleaching out in a different way. The differences may be minimal, but they're there. They just feel different to each other. Secondly, there's something about having film on set that makes everyone react differently. Knowing that each take is burning film and so costing more adds, I find, to a level of seriousness. Finally, we felt that to keep with the indie sensibility of the band, the film should be on film, it's what the characters would want (if that doesn't sound too wanky).

With our budget we thought we cuold afford, at a push, to shoot 16mm. Camera hire has come right down, and film stock is now very cheap indeed. And London to Brighton shot on 16mm. But the other day Mike Eley, the DoP, mentioned the possibility of shooting on 35mm. It wuold certainly look better (how can it not), but it will also have not only cost implications, but workflow ones. To put it simply, it will look better but we'll get less takes.

So that's the decision we have to make this week, and I really have no idea which way to go.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Good news form the world of high finance, we've secured some investment form the meeting we had last week. This puts us at about 60% raised, and with about another 30K still considering investing. Plus someone else has come forward with another possible source for a mojor chunk. With any luck with should be well over 75% soon, at which point we can properly move into pre production. This will mean I can leave work, and Sue can start casting proper.

Had a meeting with Location Manager extraordinairre Jethro, friend of Nick Burton (who is writing the music). I arrived with some scribbled notes about the locations, he arrived with a detailed breakdown and a collection of photos for suggestions and general moods, all of which were excellent. He's a big music fan, and it really shows as he right away got the look we need for all the locations. Very pleased to have him on board.

Well, will be pleased to have him on board in ten days time when he gets back from filming the African cup of nations, which he has somehow landed himself some work on, the jammy bastard.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Men with money

Had a very good meeting on Friday with a hedge fund manager. Considering I have no real idea what a hedge fund is it all seemed to go smoothly. He was a very nice man, asked many good questions and seemed to understand where we were coming form. He also seems fairly sure he can raise 60% of our budget. Should this happen it will be a ownderful thing as it means a) we're nearly there and b) I can resign from full time work and start on pre prod.

Had drinks with Mike Eley on Saturday where he expressed a desire to shoot 35mm. This obvioulsy made Simon the producer very happy indeed as it means we have to re-do the entire budget to see if this is possible. Fincers crossed it is. Film is a shrinking market, but I'm pleased to say it's still a competitive one, so let's see what deal Fuji can do us.

Monday morning and it's another meeting with the Sales Agent. Very positive, they have a few script notes they'd like us to think about, their deal for us is also outlined and it's pretty much what we would expect. The one (pleasant) surprise is that while still aiming to launch a trailer at Cannes they also plan to announce the film at Berlin next month. All in all it's very exciting, and makes it even harder to get back to work and start talking about edits on yet another corporate job.

Still, got an email from Brendan O'Hare, ex-teenage fanclub now promoter at the 13th note. Turns out John Hogarty from National Park (whose music I very much want to use) was in an early incarnation of Telstar Ponies, a band Brendan was also in, so have asked him to put in a good word for us. I knew those nights getting absolutely hammered with Mr O'Hare would come in handy.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Scrabbling about in the dirt

Through my father I had contact with a well known ex-producer. Sent him the proposal in the hope that he might be forthcoming with some investment (as much for a name as anything) but sadly received a 'no' from his PA today. It's understandable, but every (it's actually only the second) no seems like a mortal blow.
On the plus side I have a meeting with the man from the famous band a week Monday to tie up his investment, then a meeting with another private investor - provided by our composer - who seems keen and just needs closing (I hope).

The company who helped us out on our previous short have also put us in touch with a man who heads a group of investors. Fingers crossed they will step in and cover the short fall. We're desperate to stick to our mid march shoot dates so as to provide the sales agent with enough to launch at Cannes, but I have to keep reminding myself that even if we miss that the ball is rolling and we will get there eventually, it will just delay the final release. Right now everything about an early release is good, though, from the success of Once to the writers strike.

Meeting with sales agents is postponed until Monday at 11am as they have been struck down by this sickness that is getting everyone. It lasts 48 hours, so I know I'll get it at a weekend.

Bought a book on cinematography as it had excellent things to say on camera movement and lens choice. Found myself standing next to Paul Greengrass as I bought it. Wished I'd had the gumption to give him a proposal as well. Book is veh helpful, there's something about seeing film grammar written in fornt of you that makes you think more about it, and it's really helped with my notes on the shoot style. Most of all it's helped with me not shitting myself, which I do every so often when I think about directing a feature and leaving my job.

I'm planning to make all the office (work) shots lock offs, maybe with some tracking, but only small and very deliberate. To contrast this the rehearsal scenes will be hand held and fluid, allowing the camera to track and explore much more freely. However, as the rehearsals get more serious I'll hold the camera back more until at the end when it has stopped being fun and become just another job I'll shoot them all on a lock off just the same as the earlier office scenes.

Well, this is the intention. I await Mr Eley laughing it out of the production office and me having to think of something less obvious.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Oh and I forgot

The business plans that we had done turned out to be way too serious for our needs, so under advice form Alan Harris at Atlantic films, we produced a new version, more of a proposal, that was a mixture of text, photos, doodles and bits of script, to give an idea of oursleves, the film, the world it's set in as well as the business plan. It was all done beautifully as if it was the mess on top of someones desk by simon minter nineteenpoint (, but he hasn't put it up on his website yet so he must think it looks terrible. It has, however, gone down very well indeed with all the investors.

Also, though she may have been drunk and forgotten she said yes, famous indie photographer Alison Wonderland ( has agreed to do stills. We shook on it, Alison, there's no getting out of it now.

(smog by Alison Wonderland)

New year, new post

I'm determined to try and post more often on this thing. Not just because I've discovered that there are a couple of people reading it, but because I want to make sure I can look back and find out exactly when everything happened. Everything is already becoming a bit of a blur, and it's only going to get worse.

So, update so far. Budget still at in limbo, still waiting for a line producer to sign it off. Hope they're quick as we've already got some of the investment (esp one bit which is coming from a very well known band, but would never divulge exactly who the investors are). Also have a casting agent, Sue Jones, who cast Nil by Mouth, which is a film I love, if that's the right word. Have ideas about some of the cast, and will be offering roles to actors in next couple of weeks.

Most importantly we now have a sales agent, Moviehouse entertainment. We approached them because of their experience selling rock and roll documentaires worldwide, and are very glad they've come on board. Got another meeting with them on tuesday, so fingers crossed will have more of an idea then. Their plan is to release a trailer of the film at Cannes, which wuold be great, but means we've got to stick to a march / april shoot date. That's possible if we get the rest of the investment soon. It's looking good, but to be honest Christmas came at just the wrong time, taking out some of the momentum, and making people sluggish in the new year. Hopefully everyone will be back at work from Monday and we can get quicker replies from people.

Best of all will be the ability to resign from my job soon. The budget will pay simon and I for three months, one month pre, one month production and one month post. By then I'll either be dead, terrified, unemployable or any combination of the three. But at least I won't be making corporates anymore. The thought of making the film terrifies me on a regular basis, but I have to keep reminding myself it's just like making lots of short films all in one big go.

I'm hoping the drink will calm everything down.