The rewrite – the breakup

To rewrite
In a cinema near you in 2012 (yeah – keep dreaming)

This is what it looked like (because it has changed now), a part of the break up scene in my feature, a scene I have been struggling with for a while. I think I nailed it now but let’s hear what Sam says next weekend. The list with things to fix in the script is still quite long and it is going to be a weekend of hard work again.

I have found a cafe close to Piccadilly which seems to be suitable to become a cafe for the girl in the cafe – until I find something better. It is far from as cool as the New Piccadilly but in stead of staying angry and sad about the loss of that place I have decided to move on and use this one, until something better pops up. The tea is OK, and they have proper seats and tables to write at.

See that pink pen? I bought it a week or two ago because I liked the colour. I started to use it to mark stuff in my script and was so pleased with the visibility of the pink colour in between the black text that I more or less raced back to the shop and bought a whole stock of those pens. I simply need a pink pen to make notes in a script now and I realize that that might sound completely bonkers to you but I guess every writer has his or her specific tics.

In about an hour from now we have a meeting with a special effects company in Soho. They are profs and their show reel is amazing and normally they only do paid work. However they did like our 60 seconds script a lot and invited us over for a meeting to decide if they are going to help us out with some special effects and maybe some animation. We are not counting on anything – but cross your fingers for us. If they say yes – the special effects in our film are going to be incredible. If they say no we have a plan B. It’s always good to have a plan B.

Enjoy your weekend.

I love pancakes

I love pancakes
I love pancakes

I really do. Those ones have been indulged in Big Daddy’s in New York, a fantastic 60’s style cafe close to Union scare. And no I couldn’t help myself with the maple syrup indeed. This was my breakfast.

Yesterday night we have cut a first rough (very rough!) edit of our 60 seconds action feature film. And I have to say: it looks great. Or rather: it looks exactly like we imagined those scenes and as a whole the story works. For us that is, let’s hope it will work for you out there too – a lot is happening in those 60 seconds! I went home at 1.10am, sat in an empty bus on my way home and am still tired. We have hired a composer who is doing his best to deliver a cracking soundtrack, and we have still hope to find a special effects/animator too.

We shot some green screen sequences which is going to look amazing and generally, we are quite pleased with how it looks at the moment. Mind you, we haven’t even done any serious editing yet.

The good thing for us, but not for you, is that the deadline for the competition has moved from the 18th of January to the 11th of February. This means that we actually can have our life back for a short while, but it also means that you have to be a bit more patient.

So tonight we take the night off, I can chill on my sofa doing nothing and I will actually have time to work on my feature script this weekend. This is all good. And on Friday Dan in real Life will have it’s premiere, so guess what I will be doing on Saturday and Sunday too.

I will try to scan in the rest of the Love Actually cards tonight!

PS I love all the new gravatars popping up here!

PS2: Sorry for the enormous amount of posts about film making and this short lately. But there is not much else going on at the moment! (which is great for me, but maybe a bit boring for you)

PS3 There is no one compared with you.

Shooting day II – what a day

We did it. We shot all the insane scenes we wanted to shoot. We have been incredibly lucky with our actors as they were all very motivated, patient (when things took a bit longer than expected), talented and up for it and it has been a very busy couple of days. We now take 48 hours off, to let the dust settle a bit and to catch up on a lack of sleep. Then we will start the edit.

It has been an amazing couple of days, a roller coaster with little sleep and long days, but it has been so much fun and a learning experience too. Shooting on a no-budget forced us to be very inventive and creative but we didn’t want the film to look cheap and home made and I think we succeeded quite well in that.

Would we do it like this again? Well we might do a 60 second movie again but probably not one with such a short deadline (18th of January!), as it really wears you out rather quickly to have long days like this. Watching the rushes on the screen quickly makes you forget how tired you are though, as did the “It was such a pleasure to work with you girls” from one of the very experienced senior (he’s on imdb!) actors and our male lead wants to be in my rom-com feature, so generally everybody was happy and had a great time.

Here is just one of the many things that happened:

In the middle of London (WC1) we had to shoot a short scene which implicated the following:

  • shooting on the streets of London (not allowed without permission and we didn’t have one)
  • parking the car (which was a part of the scene) on the pavement (definitely not allowed!)
  • in front of the car on the pavement a bed with a man and a woman in it, the man being bare breasted (don’t know if that’s allowed, but at lot of people (women!) who passed found it very amusing, because he was a very handsome guy (we know how to cast)) and the woman scarcely dressed. And big up to our actors because it was a clear but freezingly cold day!

Do know that there are CCTV camera’s everywhere in London.

And it didn’t take long before a police car stopped to find out what the hell we were doing and if those two people in bed had any clothes on. In other words, were we shooting an X rated movie or what? The police man was not the only person who asked us that question, lots of men seemed to be amused to stumble upon a scarcely dressed beautiful woman in bed on the pavement in the centre of London.

So in a desperate attempt to save our set I tried to explain the whole setup to this police officer.

Guess what he said.

Short film – Shoot day I

I was home at 10.30pm. Yay! That means that I can get a close to normal night sleep.

We were all very tired today, which was noticable in the lack of laughter outbursts, but maybe that was for the better, having the actors around. And things went very well. It was clear weather, cold but with sunshine which was perfect.

It’s pure magic to see a pencil drawing we made a bit more than a week ago come to life in front of you. It makes all the hard work worth while, and it makes you forget how tired you really am. The actors were amazing, they all delivered great performances and we have been very lucky getting them on board.

There are some fantastic scenes (I think) and sometimes it’s a pity we only have 60 seconds to show it in. The good thing is that we are learning a lot which can all be used on any possible next projects.

I will take some still pictures tomorrow and if the actors are OK with it – will post some of them here. I am sure you can see which film we are making, and why!

Time for bed. Call time tomorrow: 8am. Location: Toothing Bec.

A last (long) day of shooting.

New Years day in London

Trabi on Tower Bridge – Click for the whole picture

I bet you spend your New Year’s day relaxed. Visiting family and friends maybe, or sleep longer after a party yesterday.

Mine was a bit different. If you are tired following the 60 seconds action feature story, come back later.

A list of what we have done on the first day of the year:

  • If you want to film in London (outside on the street) you need permission. Getting permissions is a long process that involves filling out forms and a lot of patience. So we dropped it. We took our camera and filmed one of the most secured building in London without any permission but with fear that soon a police officer would tap us on our shoulder. It didn’t happen and we were genuinely relieved.
  • I crossed the Thames over the Tower Bridge in a blue trabant (check how the blue colour of the Trabi matches the blue of the bridge!). That – was so cool. Oh, the Trabi’s name is Alice, and I am not making that up.
  • We did some camera tests in Brick Lane.
  • We needed to check if the shots we invented in the script actually work and were possible to film, and as we don’t have any actors available just yet, we shot most of the scenes with ourselves pretending to act. It looks so stupid and daft that we might make a Dumb and dumber version of our film too. It has been incredible fun though.
  • We got 26 responses on our quest of finding a composer. I guess our soundtrack is pretty likely to be made.
  • We got no responses on our quest of finding an animator though, which is a bit worrying. But let’s see.
  • Making a film with someone you absolutely click with is still hard work, but it is tremendous fun too. I need to refill after having lost lots of tears caused by hysterical laughter.
  • I really need a holiday soon.
  • And I could do this full time. No doubt about that.

Dan is back in my real life

London is wonderful at the moment as Dan is looking at me from a lot of tube stations and that brings back really good memories. Not only from this wonderful film, but also from my time in New York where I saw it.

And honestly – wouldn’t you fall in love with the cute eyes of Steve Carell (though they are not as cute as you know who’s – don’t get any wrong ideas here) on this poster? I’ll say it one more time – go see this film. It’s the film you have been looking for (in vain) over the Christmas time, a true feel good movie. And I just know, that from the 11th of January (release date in the UK) I will see it an obsessive amount of times. Just so you are prepared. To be surprised.

The last couple of days have been mental.
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Hello I am still here

Storyboarding, tea, coffee and a cake
Storyboarding, a film in the making

But I am too busy to write! Busy with film making that is, so good busy.

A short sum up of the past couple of days:

While in the middle of serving a Christmas dinner to close to 200 people, the fire alarm went off in the centre. There was no fire, but it wasn’t great timing.

Metropolitan Chief Inspector Dan was really very nice!

I finished my shifts, and am now enjoying some free days.

Or free is maybe not the right word.
Today I spent 12 hours in a row (OK we had a quick let’s-grab-a-bite-to-eat hour or so) working on our upcoming short and I am learning so much about the film making process.

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All you need is

I posted another song from the Love Actually soundtrack in this post. I love this version and was shocked to read that Lynden David Hall, who also performed the song in the film, died in 2006 of cancer at the age of 31.


Today’s card (I am not cheating, they do come one per day!) is called “Love and Jazz Actually“. It’s again a completely different card and I really like it.

I was happy to hear that the first girl has arrived safely at her destination. Royal Mail did a great job, despite the Christmas business – it arrived in one day (in the UK that is).

And there is good news on the “Make a short in December” project.
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Watch our movie: Persuaded

Our short short (which really is very short!), which is called Persuaded and which is made for the Sky Greenshoot competition is now viewable online. The Sky Greenshoot competition is a competition where you have to make a one minute short film on the theme of Global Warming.

You can watch Persuaded here. (be sure to turn on the sounds, because the background music has been carefully selected!)

This is one of the first things we have made so don’t shoot us immediately, we are learning as we go along!

It’s everywhere I go

So if you really love Christmas

It’s the week of unusual encounters with people I have never met before. Unusual encounters are good.

I am about to go for a tea near Notting Hill Gate tube station with someone who is as, ehrm, how to put this, who likes Bill Nighy. A lot. Like I do. We have been chatting and emailing a lot, today she is in London so we have to go for tea and behave like teenagers for a while. I like that, it keeps me young.

Yesterday was a great day for unusual encounters too. I met 5 wonderful people, 1 Irish man and 4 Brits, and we talked about my plan to “go and make a short in December”. I tried to explain them what my idea was – to start from scratch and to collaborate on the project and just go and do it. The groups is very mixed, 3 men and 3 women, and we have all possible talents in the group: actor, editor, several camera operators and therefore access to several cameras. We only needed an idea. It took us about 10 minutes and we were off in space.

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Have a great one

Birthday Bill

I want to be just as silly as him when I am 58.
Handsome. Funny. Intelligent. What a man.
Happy Birthday to Bill.

And happy birthday to Jill, who also has her birthday today, and who chose to celebrate it in London. We drank tea (the milky way) yesterday and it was a pleasure to meet her. It is funny to meet bloggers in real life, you read each others blogs, you already know quite some things about each other and conversation is easy. We walked from Notting Hill to Leicester Square, talked a lot, we waved at Big Bill and it was good. Happy Birthday to Jill.

I am at home today, waiting for my new laptop to arrive. Somehow Dell is a bit annoying as they didn’t really want to deliver it on another delivery address. It doesn’t matter, I have some things I need to take care of here, so while listening to the soundtrack of Love Actually (which is a joy) I take care of some things on my todo list.

Tomorrow I have a first meeting with 2-3 people who like to make a short film in December. I am exited and I really hope we get to make something.

While listening to the soundtrack of Love Actually, this song came by:

Sound no longer available.

I have seen the film a million times and know this song is popping up somewhere in the film (it’s a beautiful song), but I can’t picture the scene.

Can you? (without having a look at the film!)

Story telling – a lesson learned

Big Bill on Leicester Square
Big Bill

Look who I ran into yesterday, on my way home from a weekend in screen writing class. I felt like my brain had been in the toaster for 2 days, was completely knackered, and needed some fresh air so I decided to walk a part of my journey home. I ended on Leicester Square where the yearly Christmas fun fair was in full flow, I suddenly remembered that I had seen him there last year, and yep, he was there again this year too, Big Bill. We had a little chat about the year that past and my brain felt a lot better when I walked on, on my way home.

About storytelling, there is an important rule in story telling:
Let your characters do things which the audience does not expect. Surprise them.

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Insert Bill’s face up

When you are hit by a writers block, you can always post a silly picture and pretend that the last drop of creativity has not been squeezed out of your brain. I don’t know where it went, my creativity, but it is not in my head at the moment.

And the above picture: New York – Howard Beach airtrain/Sub way station in New York. They are crazy, those Americans. On the other hand they probably think I am too. The queue behind me probably did, why is this girl taking a picture of this bloody machine? Because I had too.

From the short film front I have good news. I have a copy of my short (very short! – 1 minute only). It has been edited, and we added music to it, so it is now finished and ready for submission.

Yes I would love to show it, but can’t just yet, as the competition we are entering it into doesn’t allow it to be shown on other places before the competition submission period is over. So it won’t be before somewhere in January.

I hated the 1 minute clip I made on film school a year ago, but I am quite satisfied with this one. So now I have made 2 very short shorts, does that mean I can call myself a film maker, you think?

I will go out and catch some London sun. In the mean time – if there are any suggestions of things you want to have explored here, you know what to do. More podcasts? (then send me a list of questions) More drawings? More postcards? More questions? More Bill? More Pirates? More Silliness?

Oh, and one important thing: It’s World AIDS Day today.

Sneak preview

Sneak preview

We made a film. It is not finished yet, we need to edit it, but yesterday we were out in the beautiful weather London is offering us at the moment and I found myself directing actors, composing shots and generally feeling more at ease doing all this than I ever thought I would.

The actors couldn’t have been more perfect, they were great and so nice to work with.

We will edit it hopefully this week, and yes, yes, yes we will upload it as soon as it is finished. Overall it was a great experience.

I just got a mail from my film partner, and the rushes seem to look “promising”, which is good!

It is only a 60 seconds film, so nothing major, but it is something I seriously have contributed to. I meet a lot of people who say they want to make short films but never do it. We did it, and however the end result is going to be, I feel good about it.

I took the above picture yesterday. I know there isn’t that much to see, I do have some nice stills from the actors too, but I need to have a talk with them first to ask if it is OK to publish them.

And I can’t wait to make the next one.

The Meeting with The Actor

Not That Actor, but the actor who is going to be in our short. It was a joy to meet him as he turns out to be incredibly nice, very relaxed and laid back and very perfect for the role he is going to play (which is a posh distinguished City business man). He has a great voice too (very smooth and voicilicious) and a spot on English accent for this role.

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There are things to say

Coping Strategies was special and touching and I am happy I saw it. I saw the first of only 2 cinema screenings and the cinema was filled with people who either were connected to Yarrow or had been involved in the making of the film itself. The film (28 minutes) is about Shahid, a young man with learning disabilities, who breaks free from his doting mother for a new life of romance, independence and indulgence. Bill Nighy makes a short guest appearance as his social worker. The film was both funny, touching and surreal.
More about the short shoot and giving a presentation »

Casting: Finding Dan and June

The Girl Is Making A FilmIt wasn’t the first time I attended a casting, only this time I was there with a directors hat on to see if I could spot potential Dan and Junes (the two main characters) for my short film. This was not a casting session specially organized for my short, this was a casting for workshops on a film school, but I got the offer to join in, and so I did.

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