Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Quiet Man

All's quiet on the western front, at least on the surface it is, beneath things are bubbling.

Derelict is coming together. Script is going well, though still needs plenty of work. Still no location and still no money! But those will come. I'm hoping to get the script done in the next two weeks. Before Christmas anyway. I'm sure Christmas will be the usual distraction from work. Once it's over things will start heating up on Derelict as we head toward a March shoot.

Meantime I'm editing a short for Victoria Charters called Backstage. I'll get that finished next week. Interesting little short, shot for no money on a Canon 5D. It's about an actress preparing to go on stage.

Good news for 140. We were invited to screen at the 2011 Sedona International Film Festival and I was asked by the Ottawa University in Canada if they could include the film in their media class, which is quite a privilege.

Couple of other cool things I can't talk about at the moment... wouldn't be me if I wasn't keeping quiet about something. But hopefully I can talk more about it in the not too distant future!

Busy, and exciting times!

(Recent Article by the Drogheda Leader for Derelict, written by Ian Watter.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kickstarting my New Film

A very special day today! As today I am officially announcing my new film and launching two new pages.

I've been talking about it for a while, but I can now confidently say that my next film will be Derelict. A dark and violent crime thriller, it is about a gang of kidnappers who hold a bank managers family hostage in a derelict building. But they soon realise that they're not alone.

Allow me introduce the cast:

The Criminals:
Michael Bates as J.

Steve Gunn as Davey Boy.

Keith Ward as Tone.

Gerry Shanahan as Daniel.

The Family:
Elaine Reddy as Kate, the mother.

Andy Gallagher as Andrew, the son.

(Part of the father and Bank Manager yet to be cast.)

And as The Hooded Man:

I'm very excited to be working with all these actors. I've known of Andy for sometime, having auditioned him for Emily's Song about 5 or 6 years ago. I got to work with him briefly on Slán agus Beannacht but knew I wanted to do more, especially after seeing Thomas Hefferon's 'The Pool'.

I met Steve, Keith, Gerry, Elaine and Brian at the Ghoster reading, almost 2 years ago and I met Michael at the Iscariot reading last year. So I really have Camille Donegan to thank for setting up the readings and making the introductions... I should have hired her as my casting director! I was impressed with everyone and stayed in touch, knowing I'd find something we could do, or if not find something, create something!

The plan is to shoot at the end of March. I'm still working on the script and until recently I had the perfect location, but that fell through and I'm back on the hunt.

John Lawlor with shoot the film. I've worked with John a lot over the years on various projects, including Bill, For Short, but never done a narrative piece with him. John is a documentary filmmaker and I think his style and attitude is exactly right for this project and the unique way we're going to be approaching the shoot (more on that later.)

Now. As I mentioned, I am also launching two new pages today:

First up:

For every update you'll need about the film, the cast and the crew. Links to videos, pictures, press and behind the scenes footage and interviews when they come.

Next up:

Where we are aiming to raise €5000 ($6,950) toward the budget! I had great success with Kickstarter and 140, raising $2580! So I'm hoping on similar success here. The thing about Kickstarter is that you don't get a penny unless you raise everything! Bit scary, but a great incentive!!! So I really need people to get involved.

As mentioned below you can still go the pay pal route, but I know a lot of people don't use or like paypal and would prefer to make a direct transfer via credit card, Kickstarter allows you to do that and wont charge you anything. Everything is on hold until the full amount is reached. And you get some nice perks through kickstarter!

You may also notice that I have 38 days to raise these funds, the deadline landing on December 18th, which is actually my daughter's first birthday!

That is the plan. I'm excited about it. I think it's going to be good, something unique and quite special. And a good old fashioned crime thriller! I hope you'll follow along on the journey, as you have been so far! And if you can help, by all means do, have your name on the credits and be a part of this project for all time.

More news as it comes.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Cheeky Beggar!

I'd like to thank the Alison Comyn and the Drogheda Independent for picking up on my call for funding. Always a proud moment when the local paper show an interest in your work and are prepared to make room to help. Especially when it comes to begging... I mean funding raising! Crowdfunding to be precise.

You see, crowdfunding has been around for a while and is growing in popularity and acceptance all the time. Kevin Smith, director of Clerks, Dogma, Chasing Amy and more, looked at doing this for his new film, a horror called Red State. He was facing difficulty with funding, the studio weren't willing to back him (the studios are in a bit of a mess at the moment) so a fan on twitter suggested crowdfunding, a bunch more fans jumped in and offered help and he began seriously considering it and looking into setting up a website.

As it happened funding came from elsewhere, but he was not adverse to the idea. Of course the internet bloggers got hold of the wrong end of the stick and in sweeping, generalising and condemning statements branded him a "beggar". Not really a nice thing to be called when you're just trying to do your best with what's available to you. And if what's available is good will and generosity, you're going to consider it.

I have no doubt he would have raised the money. Smith has a loyal following of fans who love his movies. So why not ask them, why not get them involved and make them part of something they love?! It's a direct connection for the fans and something they will always have. Forever they'll be able to say they helped their favourite filmmaker get his film made.

If you go to websites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo you will see creative types pitching their projects for your donation. Things like book publication, art shows, albums recordings, photography trips and films. As The New York Times said "Kickstarter has become an unexpected influence on Indie culture, a new model for a D.I.Y generation".

It's working, because people have always supported those who are out there doing things, making a difference and creating something positive. It's inspiring, and it feels good to give a lift, to say "I like what you're doing, I want to help." I do it myself when I can, and I must admit, I love clicking that donate button, because I know what it feels like to receive. It's overwhelmingly humbling.

I raised $2,500 for 140 earlier this year. That money went toward festival entry fees, DVDs, screening tapes, postage, t-shirts, posters and postcards... a bunch of stuff to help get the film into the world. The people who donated were inspired by the idea and just wanted to support it and help me get it out. I put a year and half of my life into 140 and it's always difficult, as an independent filmmaker, on your own, trying to get something made. But even more so, after it's made, getting it out into the world. Because while you might be able to make a film for next to nothing, it's near impossible to promote it with no money, and that's important. Because what's the point of making a film if you don't show it to people?! There is no point!

I've funded all my films this way. 140 was the first time I used the internet to do it, and I'm continuing that with Derelict. But on Emily's Song I raised funding from donations from friends and family. Bill, For Short was no-budget, but time was donated by friends. Slán agus Beannacht the same, donations from friends and family and strangers, I held a fundraiser in McHughs, and again, friends gave their time to help: Jason Byrne, Robbie Bonham, Paddy McArdle and the external Sounds guys all pitched in to help me, for free! It's good will, and I'll be honest, I wouldn't be where I am today without good will, and I'm eternally grateful for it.

In saying that though I've always matched what I've received. I don't want you to think I'm walking around with my hat out and a cheeky grin and wink, paying what I have and pocketing the rest! I wont be making a penny from this and I wont have a wage either. I'd make sure everyone else involved was paid before I was, and even then any spare cash isn't spare, there's a whole bunch of stuff I can spend money on before it gets near me! And I will spend it on that stuff, because I want the film to be the best it can be.

At the moment I'm broke. I have no money. I'm in debt. Now I'm not saying that so you'll feel sorry for me! I mention it because I want to be transparent about this, because if I'm asking for your help and for your money, which I'm sure you have alot better things to be doing with, I want you to know I'm putting as much of my own in, if not more. Every time I make a film I spend thousands of my own money... usually personal loans from the credit union which I've been paying back for years!

On Emily's Song the budget was about €20,000, we raise about €2,500 from donations, I put about €6,000 in and Thomas Kennedy and his wife Tina put the rest in. Bill, for short, a couple of hundred euro (I should make more of those!) Slán agus Beannacht, €1000 raised, I put €1,250 in. 140 €2500 raised through kickstarter, so far I've put about the same, if not a bit more in, and I'm still spending on that one. And please don't tell my wife, but I have no doubt I'll be visiting the credit union before Derelict begins... that's if they let me in!!!

But I believe as an artist you should make that kind of sacrifice. I believe in what I do. I love what I do. And I think if you believe in something that much you should be willing to make those sacrifices. But sometimes it's not enough, the means just aren't there. I have tried going to the Irish Film Board, a government agency set up to help emerging filmmakers. I've approached them for help with almost every script I've written. But I've had no success there, so I just stopped asking. It hasn't deterred me from making the films I want to make though. I just have to be a little more creative in how I go about it. But sometimes I need help.

As artists have down through the centuries. Great artists, musicians, scientists, politicians have all needed patrons, people who were inspired by their work, wanted to see it come to fruition and had the means and desire to make that happen and were willing to do so. We may not have the great works of art we have now, the discoveries in science, the great leaders through time if it were not for the people who believed in them and stood behind them, holding them up, propelling them forward so others could feel the inspiration they too felt.

Now, I'm no Mozart, Obviously! But maybe I can make something that entertains and connects with people, and do it in Drogheda. I think I've done a pretty good job so far. My three short films, and now 140, have allowed me to show my hometown of Drogheda on the big screen at prestigious film festivals all around the world. So I want to keep making films here, in my hometown, because I love Drogheda and why not make feature films here? It's a great town! And I'm proud to represent it around the world as a filmmaker. So if you want to help me do that by all means click the yellow button on your right and be one of those people who stand behind something they believe in and give good work the support it needs to live.


Monday, November 01, 2010

Large, Disused and Unavailable... No, not me!

I've mentioned, without much detail, that I'm working on a new film (planned shoot at the end of January) called 'Derelict'. It's set in one location over one night. It's mostly cast, mostly crewed and had, up until this morning, the location. I was informed today that now I cannot use that location.

The Perfect place, exactly what I was looking for, in fact it was so ideal that when I visited it for the first I wondered if I hadn't been there before and forgotten, it was so close to what I had written in the script. I thought, "This is just the best luck!"

Now, two months later, I'm told that due to "Health & Safety" issues, it is unsafe to film there. Honestly seemed fine to me, but what do I know, I'm not a health & safety expert. So, I'm up a creak without a paddle with 3 months before shooting. Bit of a headache, but I'm sure something will along. Maybe even better than I'd hoped for, who knows.

I am looking forward to it. As I finish the script and the story and structure solidify in my mind and I talk to actors about it I find I'm getting more more excited about it. I think it's going to be good, something really unique and fun to do and hopefully, no, I'm sure, fun to watch!

So I'm hoping some of you will make donations to help with production. Anything from €1 to €1,000,000 (no seriously, a million would be great!!! and seriously, €1 would too, it all goes somewhere - if 50 of you give €1 each that's tapes bought for the whole shoot!)

This film has no backing, no studios, financiers, arts agencies or government appointed film bodies are involved, I'm doing it off my own back. So if you want to be involved, help get the film made and have an Associate Producer credit on the end of the film (as well as an exclusive invite to an online Premiere before anyone else has seen the film) then click 'Donate' to your right and enter whatever amount you feel you can afford (you could even buy a credit for the film fan in your life as a christmas present?!)

If you're not a 'paypal' kind of person, and many aren't, click 'Drop Me A Line' to email me and we'll figure something else out. Or you could just buy a 140 DVD, same as above, click donate and enter €15.99 with your address and I'll send one out to you. All money goes toward this new film.

Late addition: American Film Website have picked up on my call for donations! Check it out here.

The Lord takes with one hand and gives with the other.
(I don't know if that's a real quote from anything, but...)

Two nights ago I dreamed a short film, well, it was more like a scene from a film. As I awoke and lay in half slumber, threads of the dream still hung and I was able to form a structure around this dream. As I awoke I began to wonder if this story I had half dreamed half made in waking slumber was actually worth hanging onto, as clarity dawned I found it was and I had to quickly employ some dream remembering techniques to hang onto it. Like word association, names, faces, tone and telling the story over and over the more I woke and then most importantly, telling the dream to my still sleeping wife as she lay beside mumbling something to the effect of: "Why are you waking me, it's Sunday..."

I spent the morning writing this dream down in script form and from it came a new short script, 23 pages long, called "The Quarry" which I'm actually quite happy with. It tells the story of two people in love, who've lost each other, we never find out how or why, but the find each other again when they both think it's too late. It just takes on last leap of faith to bring them back together.

This is the third script I've dreamed, "The Hollow Tree" was the first. That one was quite dream like and a bit mad! The second was "Angelina" a magical romantic story set in Paris. And now this. It's a funny thing, unexpected when it happens, but always thrilling and a joy to be handed a full story as a gift from my subconscious. It's as if my brain is a writer all on it's own and occasionally sends stories my way, just to see what I think. I must very critical though, if so far I've only accepted three!

I don't know what I'll do with it. I suppose it's doable. Would require money though. Most of it is straight forward character based drama, but there are two major stunts in it. And it would have to look beautiful, no low-budget digitally shot over the weekend crap here. Time. Effort. Quality. It would have to be a portfolio piece for all involved.

Anyway, we'll see.

Well, gotta go. Have to find a large disused building that someone will let me shoot in, and bloody quickly! Wish me luck!