Monday, 31 December 2012

Scene 40: Happy New Year 2013!

I thought, since this post would be the 40th I've written, and since we're gliding into a whole new this evening, I'd celebrate with a glance back at the previous year, and a look forward to the next.

It's been pretty amazing for Britain, with the Olympics and the Jubilee, both of which were broadcast across the nation, and I guess for me too -  I started this blog earlier this year, I worked at an Odeon, I went to two Second Light Lab events, wrote for an online magazine, entered a couple of script competitions and I got a position in an independent film company again. 

However, its now next year I am most excited about, as I have all sorts of ideas and plans for next year and some may work, some may not.

I am definitely going to shoot my short science-fiction film - so watch this space! - but I also want to start up a webseries, which is going to be a bigger challenge. I've seen the candidates for the Streamy Awards, and they are amazing! If you haven't heard of the Streamy Awards yet, they are the awards for internet based TV, and this is only their third year running.

I'd also like to improve this blog over the next year, start doing regular reviews of films and articles on the roles in the industry, give it more structure, rather than the randomness that its so far been. So, if you have any suggestions please leave a comment! 

But enough about me...

Here is a great mash-up video of, if not all, then alot of trailers from films of 2012, beautifully edited together. Enjoy!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Scene 39: The Critic, A Cartoon Review

It's fascinating where a single memory, or a thought, can take you. 

Years ago I saw a Simpsons episode a character from another animated show, outside of the Simpson's universe, crosses over into the world of Springfield. I had never seen this other animated show, or heard of it, so I don't think I paid much attention to the character at the time. 

Then a few days ago, for some reason, I remembered that character again  - he had been a fictional film critic. This intrigued me. I promptly searched the internet, and I found what wanted - the episode had been A Star is Burns, the character was Jay Sherman and the show was The Critic. 

Still intrigued I then went and watched The Critic. This wasn't particularly difficult since there were only  two series, plus a clutch of webisodes much later on in 2000-2001. 

The show is set in New York  and centres around Jay Sherman, voiced by Jon Lovitz, an overweight, balding, film critic in New York, who pans nearly all the movies he reviews. In the first series he also doesn't have much luck with women either. The supporting cast include his billionaire boss Duke, his make-up lady Doris, his parents, his sister Margo, his ex-wife, son and his Australian actor friend Jeremy. 

The episodes generally deal with Jay's relationships with his friends, family and women, and the struggle he has with his boss over the ratings for his show, Coming Attractions - Jay is not very popular with the viewers because he thinks every movie stinks, which is in fact, one of his catchphrases. 

The show was created and produced by Al Jean and Mike Reiss, with producer James L. Brooks who owns Gracie Films, in the early 90's - and yes, those names may look familiar because they have all been involved with The Simpsons, and there was fact actually some controversy over The Critic/Simpsons crossover episode, which Matt Groening apparently complained was just an advert for show, which had just moved to FOX.

Now, I have been trying not to compare to The Critic to The Simpsons, because even though it has a lot of links Springfield it is a totally different show.

However, the Simpsons is the biggest mainstream cartoon and I was introduced to The Critic through the same said cartoon, so perhaps its not to unsurprising, if I end up comparing Jay Sherman to Homer Simpson.  After all they are similar - fat, balding, attention seeking, useless at times, but also think Jay Sherman shares alot of qualities with another Simpsons character - Lisa Simpson.

Yep, Lisa. Why? Because Jay Sherman is often, like Lisa, the voice of integrity and reason in a world of stupidity. For example, in the episode Uneasy Rider where Jay quits his job rather than promote a chewing tobacco, pointing out to his boss that his audience includes children.  In other cartoons, including Family Guy and American Dad, the protagonist might have spent the whole episode realising that they should quit - Jay does in five seconds. 

Not to say that he doesn't put up with promotions for cigarettes and beer in his show in other episodes, but he does so unwilling. Much like Lisa, he can also be sensitive, considerate, insightful and sometimes unselfish. Jay generally wants to make the world better, though mainly in the film department.  

To be fair of course, the show isn't perfect. The stories, like any show, can be a bit hit and miss - and one episode even ended, annoyingly, without properly resolving a storyline. 

The fact that it was done in the early 90's does show too, from time to time - for example in a gag about Princess Diana. 

Also, if you are not American some of the cultural and political jokes may go over your head, more so than in current American cartoons - I am British, so I don't know who Milton Berle is, and whether its funny or not if he acts like a ninja. 

Nonetheless, I think it is an enjoyable cartoon which has a good mix of intelligent humour, silliness and slap-stick - and its I think its theme song by Hans Zimmer is  wonderful, especially the second series version. 

So it is rather a shame that The Critic was cancelled so early on. Though the series is on DVD now, and I hear that it has become something of a cult programme - so gone, but not forgotten at least!  To find out more about the series, check out this website: The Critic - starring Jon Lovitz.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Scene 38: Doctor Who and the Christmas Round Up

Ah, Christmas, and the annual Christmas television - the Christmas specials, the 'classic' Christmas films and the Queen's Speech, which this year  is in 3D, for some reason. 

So, here's my brief round up of some of the Christmas specials - those one-off episodes of popular television series centred around the Christmas holiday itself.

As usual the BBC has a Doctor Who Christmas special, which is - I think for the second time in the reboot's history - acting as a bridge for the series into the New Year. 

It's interesting to note that the last two specials have both been inspired by Christmassy stories - A Christmas Carol and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - and wonder if it'll turn out that the coming special gives a nod to another literary classic this year. Though so far the trailer does not seem to suggest it - though the Doctor in a top hat does remind one of the Madder Hatter somewhat. These specials can be a bit hit and miss, and I wasn't to keen on last year's. However this year looks like it might be rather good - with deliciously creepy looking snowmen and the addition of Richard E. Grant and Ian McKellan doing some voice-acting. 

There's also going to be plenty of period drama from Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife and The Making of a Lady.

There's plenty for young children as well, with the sequel to The Snowman - The Snowman and The Snow Dog on Channel 4 on Christmas Eve. Whilst on Christmas Day, there is the animation Room on the Broom on the BBC, which features a whole host of voice talent that adults will enjoy recognising - including Gillian Anderson, Simon Pegg and Sally Hawkins. 

Well that's a quick look at what's on telly, for more Christmas listings and reviews, check out the Radio Times site.

Merry Christmas Everyone! 

Monday, 17 December 2012

Scene 37: A Quick Note, and a Short Film

So, this is post is a little late -  as I usually post on Sunday's - but I've been really distracted and busy the last few days, and of course Christmas is coming up!

Anyway, exciting and sad news. I sent a script into First Light Movies as part of a pilot grant with a group of filmmakers, but we sadly did not get the funding.

However, I have decided that I am going to do the film anyway. Its a short of course, in fact its short film I pitched at the Second Light Producer's Lab a few months ago, and I wrote it with the idea of making it on almost no budget.

I remember a lecturer at the Producer's Lab telling us how about a web series that was meant to be nearly no budget, had actually cost about about £1,000 pounds to make!

Now I know in real terms - when we're talking about budgets for films like The Hobbit or Cloud Atlas, or epic television shows like Battlestar Galactica and True Blood - that £1,000 is amazing cheap. However, I was still really surprised - a £1,000 is not no-budget! 

My goal, at least at the moment, is to produce stuff to a high standard on barely any budget. Which I suppose at this stage in my career, I can. Because I know people who are trying, like me, to break in and who may own better equipment or have different skills, but are happy to go in for free so they can gain a credit for their developing CV. 

Also the advent of YouTube has allowed lots of people to create lots of cheap but creative media. That's another subject I want to explore in a post, web series and online series - but that's for another day.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Scene 36: Into the Wonder of Radio

It is a truth universally acknowledged - if you don't mind me borrowing from Austen here - that one anyone interested in being in the media, is in need of a portfolio. 

So recently I have been browsing the web for screenwriting competitions, as winning a competition is going to look good on the old CV, as well as hopefully give me the opportunity to get one of my ideas made. However, I have not just been limiting myself to screenwriting competitions. I am going to enter Stones & Stories, a competition looking for ideas for a fifteen minute radio play, which ends on the 10th of December - so I am working to writing and re-writing this weekend! Which brings me to the main point of this entry, and that's radio. 

Radio, though I often overlook it, is really a wonderful medium for a writer, because it can allow you to do pretty much anything - and on a much lower budget than TV and film. Two good examples of this freedom are two of my favourite radio shows, The Goon Show and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. 

The Goon Show in particular actually benefits from the fact it is not visual. In one episode for example, Neddie describes how sees a beautiful veiled woman, who goes up to - only to discover it Eccles in disguise! This is much easier, much more surprising on the radio as the audience is unable to see veiled woman. On TV the surprise might be given away by the masculinity of the body underneath the woman's clothing. 

You can also do hundreds of things on radio that would look unrealistic or use up a lot of budget on television - such as Ford turning into a penguin in The Hitchhikers Guide, or The Goons being able to defy physics when Neddie lets Eccles stand on his shoulders, and then pulls Neddie up onto his. 

That's not to say that radio shows have not been converted to the screen. The Hitchhiker's Guide of course was, and the effects were very good - except perhaps for Zaphod's second head. 

The other thing I like about radio, and this again is apparent in my two examples, is its use of wordplay. Though that should not be surprising as dialogue is really what has to tell the story - along with some carefully chosen ambiance and sound effects of course. 

I suppose in short, what I am trying to say is, to all those writers out there - television and film isn't the only medium, and the radio gives a writer an amazing freedom in terms of budget and scope of story. You can write about any place, any time, any person dead or alive and all you needs is the sounds and the voices.  For another example of this check out Old Harry's Game, a sitcom about the Devil - it is actually a radio show, but some clever and talented person has done a stop-motion for it. 

Anyway, please tell me if you agree. Do you think radio gives you more freedom, story wise? What about animation, is that the same? 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Scene 35: Five Scriptwriting Tips

Scriptwriting, its a tough business trying to write forty-five to ninety pages, depending on whether its film or television, of something that's good - or even brilliant.  

Then there's so much to consider - character, the whole structure, dialogue, scene structure, story arcs, the meaning behind it all!  So, I thought today I'd share a few bits of advice on scriptwriting that I think are useful. 

First though, here's a quick little re-fresher from the American Film Institute that describes what a script is and how to format it, hosted by Sean Astin from Lord of the Rings. 

1] Write it and finish it!

Whilst doing some research for this, I came across Joss Whedon's Top Ten Writing Tips and the first one on the list was - finish the script. 

Although I don't think this is technically advice it is something that's worth repeating. As sitting down  and starting, and then finishing a script can be difficult. 

2]  Write Three Pages a Day

This is a nice idea for making sure you finish that script, bit by bit, and one I have always liked - though not yet managed to stick too.

It's a simple plan - you sit down and write three pages of script a day, no matter what. The three pages don't have to great either - you can go back and revise it later - and if you can write more, that's great, but make sure you stick to the minimum. 

By doing this you should end up with thirty pages of script in ten days. So by the end of a month, you could have a first draft of a script. 

3] Show don't tell

This is a classic rule for screenwriting. It's important for two reasons. First of all television and film are visual mediums. Secondly, it also helps reduce the need for unnecessary dialogue and to much explaining. 

A great example of  this I found in a book describes  a scene between a girl about to leave home to be with her boyfriend, and her older brother who's trying to stop her. The writer wants to get across the idea that the girl is just a child really, and doesn't know what she's doing.   

So, in the first example of the scene the brother and sister argue and the brother tells her quite obviously - "You're just a kid. You're not old enough to understand." - sort of dialogue, which takes up a lot of the page. 

The second example, using the rule of showing not telling, shows the brother arguing with his sister in her bedroom - but this time the script describes the room, the soft toys on the shelves, the band posters on the wall and the old Barbie suitcase the girl packs her clothes in. All this tells us straight away that this girl is still just a kid, without her brother having to say it out loud. 

I've attempted to do this in one of my scripts. I have a character who's into history. How do I get this across? Have him reading historical novels and history books of course! 

4] Formatting, grammar and spelling 

This is really two pieces of advice I've thrown in together, but both are important if you want to make your script clear and easy to read. 

First, checking grammar and spelling is an obvious one. It can be easy to forget to do this, for example I was a few minutes from a script competition deadline, sent off the script - and then remembered I had not re-read it, so I did not know if there was any redundant words or spelling mishaps the spell check had missed. 

Second, make sure you use the right format. There are different formats of script for different types of medium - television, radio and film. To find out what they are, go to Formatting your Script at the BBC Writersroom. 

5] Read your script out loud

This is a tip from an article called Screenwriting Tips from a Screenplay Contest Judge, written by Gordy Hoffman, who runs an American screenplay competition. 

His explains that dialouge can sound fine in your head, but as soon as you hear it out loud, you may feel like jumping in front of a bus - his analogy.  So he suggests you either read your script out loud by ourself, or get your friends to read it.

I once wrote a short radio piece for a community/university station, which had a line that sounded fine in my head,  but sounded like an innuendeo when read out - as my friend kindly pointed out to me. 

So in future I intend to get my friends to read my scripts, as it sounds like good fun as well as a good re-writing exercise. 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Scene 34: Edith Head, and Other Roles in Film

I have been writing this blog on and off for nearly nine months now, and it occurs to me that, when looking at film, I have mainly mentioned directors. 

Which is fine, after all directors are normally the main creative force behind a film. However, I thought it would be interesting, and only fair, to look at all the other fields too -such as SFX, lighting, camera crew, set design, costume etc. 

So as an experiment, I have done a quick search for 'famous film costume designers' and immediately I have come across Edith Head, who won eight Oscars for costume design. 

The films she won Oscars for includes The Sting (1973) and two Audrey Hepburn films, Sabrina (1954) and Roman Holiday (1953). She was also nominated for Best Costume Design along with Hubert de Givenchy for another Audrey Hepburn film, Funny Face (1957), but it seems they lost - to who, I'll have to find out! 

To see Edith Head in her element, check out the short piece below, where she talks about  process of designing costumes for Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday:

Edith Head is very famous for her designs, but I somehow have seemed to miss her, even though I loved the costumes in Audrey Hepburn's films. I was also rather amused to discover on IMDb trivia that Edith Head was the inspiration for Edna Mode in Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles (2004) - that's why looked familiar! 

Yet I never thought to look up who made those dresses, and have missed out on learning more about the wider film industry. So, in future, expect to find me writing about more than just the director, writer and actor roles in film and television. 

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Scene 33: Grand Hotel, the Spanish Downton

First of all, let me say, that I have never seen Downton Abbey. I have heard the criticisms and I have heard the praise, but I honestly never bothered to actually sit and watch it proper. So even though Grand Hotel has been dubbed 'the Spanish Downton Abbey' I can't really compare it.

I was just really intrigued, when I saw Grand Hotel's main characters Alicia and Julio, in the Radio Times next to their Downton counterparts Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley. They looked so much more interesting than our stiff-upper lip English characters. So,  this evening I watched the first episode on Sky Arts 2. 

So what is it all about? Well, the plot mainly revolves around Julio  (the 'j' is pronounced as a 'h' in Spanish ) and his search for his missing sister, Cristina, who was a maid at the hotel and obviously knew some secret about the hotel owner, Dona Theresa. 

Arriving at the hotel, he is told she was fired as a thief, and not believing it, pretends to be a new waiter - as you do - so he can question the staff and sneak into Cristina's room. This leads him to having to pose as a guest at hotel, so he can talk to another guest, and meeting Alicia. 

Alicia, is one of Dona Theresa's three children, along with her drunk useless brother, and her well-married pregnant sister, who accidentally gets thrown down a flight of stairs.

Alicia has problems too. It looks like she's going to have to marry the manager of the hotel, Diego, on her mother's insistence, because apparently Diego knows of her father's past sins and could ruin them - just a quick note, her father died suddenly and unexpectedly, which makes me think it'll turn out he was murdered, you heard it here first! 

Long story short, the episode ends with Alicia allowing Julio to stay and investigate for the next month, even though he tricked her into thinking he was a guest. Oh yes, and just before the credits a dead prostitute is found in the grounds of hotel. The same one who had who had been hanging around with the Alicia's drunk brother.  Somehow I doubt that turned plot twist has turned up in Downton yet...

Meanwhile, the production values of the show are excellent. The hotel is as grand as its name, especially the exterior, and of course the cast are in lovely period costume. The only thing that rather surprised me was the dull skies in the exterior scenes. I had assumed that the whole thing would be set in blazing Spanish sunshine, but the tone is more of a slightly gloomy British day. Perhaps it's because its on the coast?

Nonetheless, I shall keeping Grand Hotel series linked on my television, and for those of you also interested in knowing more, here is a link to the trailer: Grand Hotel, Sky Arts 2 and 
you can also get the lowdown on the characters at the Radio Times online.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Scene 32: Horror Films, After Halloween

Was it just me or was the TV schedule last Halloween pretty pathetic  All we really had to chose from was the Halloween version of Come Dine With Me and a documentary on Frankenstein - neither of which I watched. The best thing about the Halloween in fact for me, was Mark Gatiss returning with another brilliant documentary about horror films. 

Mark Gatiss did a three-part documentary called A History of Horror a year or two ago, which covered horror films in Hollywood and Britain, that I had really enjoyed. I found the programme was a fascinating watch, especially from a filmmakers perspective, and a very good introduction to the genre.  So, I was very happy when I discovered he had done another documentary, Horror Europa, about European horror films. 

The BBC has then proceeded to broadcast a couple of the films mentioned in the documentary - The Devil's Backbone (2001) by director Guillermo del Toro and The Bird with The Crystal Plumage (1970) by Dario Argento. Though not on Halloween of course. Which is ashamed since Horror Europa was broadcast on the 29th October, and it would have been a nice touch to have the horror films of the documentary shown on the most appropriate night of the year! 

Anyway, so last week I saw The Devil's Backbone, which tells the tale of boy sent to an orphanage during the Spanish Civil War, who discovers their is a ghost in the building . It is an excellent film, which uses poetry and poetic language beautifully - but in my opinion not very scary.

I think this is because, partly,  I saw the ghost as only one layer of a slightly bigger, more complex human drama happening in the film. But also because during Horror Europa, Mark Gatiss commented on how the ghost was a 'tragic presence' - which made me feel the ghost was something to feel sad for, rather than be scared of. 

As for The Bird with The Crystal Plumage, I intend to watch that today! In the meantime, I have stumbled across this useful video of Mark Gatiss demonstrating how to make edible, horror movie style fake blood. An important skill surely all horror filmmakers should have? 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Scene 31: Five Fictional Women Scientists from TV

Yesterday was Ada Lovelace Day, is an annual event to raise awareness of women in the sciences. This includes engineers, technologists, scientists and mathematicians. 

To celebrate I have done a short list of some fictional female scientists from TV, that have hopefully been an inspiration to girls and guys who've watched the shows.

The list is in no particular order, and covers a range of genres, though generally I have ended up picking characters I am familiar with and that are in science fiction. I have also decided to stick to characters where it has been made clear that they are scientists or have degrees within the shows - for example, I have not included T'Pol from Enterprise even though she was the Science Officer, as it is unclear which science she works in.  

I have also included links other articles on the web, mostly Wiki entries, about the listed characters professions, and the different sciences. 

1] Colonel Sam Carter - Stargate series

Sam Carter was a theoretical astrophysicist, pilot and engineer, and one of the most intelligent female characters across the whole Stargate series. She was part of the original team along with Dr Jackson, Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c. 

2]  Dr Liz Shaw - Doctor Who

Liz Shaw was a scientist from Cambridge University who was recruited by UNIT. An expert on meteorites  with degrees in medicine and physics, she assisted the Third Doctor whilst he was at UNIT until she resigned to continue her own research. 

3] Abby Sciuto - NCIS

Abby is a Forensic Specialist working at NCIS. A kind, cheerful Goth, she is an expert in DNA analysis, ballistics and digital forensics.

4] Zoe Heriot - Doctor Who

Zoe was a scientist on board Space Station W3 when she met the Second Doctor. She is an astrophysicist, and a first class astrometricist with a degree in pure mathematics and a photographic memory. 

5] Dr Amy Farrah Fowler - The Big Bang Theory

Amy is a neuroscientist, who does research into addiction. She was introduced to show as a dating website match found by Raj and Leonard for Sheldon, who she is very similar too. The actress who plays her, Mayim Bialik, actually has a real Ph.D in neuroscience.

For more inspiration check out this video of some young female scientists and engineers showing off their projects in America. 

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Scene 30: Animated Movies, You Know, For Teens!

Whilst browsing through Empire this evening - looking for inspiration for tonight's blog post, as all I have been watching recently is How I Met Your Mother (he still hasn't met her yet...). I came across a trailer for an autobiographical film of Graham Chapman, which I think is set to be released in 2013. What makes it so unusual though and interesting though, is that the film is animated, by 14 different animation studios in fact! 

Because, lets be honest, it is not often that an animated film comes out solely aimed at adults. True, over the last few years CGI films have managed to appeal everyone with successes such as Toy Story (1995), Ice Age (2002), WALL-E (2008) and Monsters Inc. (2001).  As have some stop-motion films, such as Wallace and Gromit and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) and Chicken Run (2000). 

However, an animated film, aimed solely at an adult audience is a rare thing indeed. After all, when is the last time you saw a Disney film with a 15 certificate? Exactly. 

There are only two films, off the top of my head, that I think of can be considered as more for adults. First of all is The Simpsons Movie (2007). Now, technically that is a family movie, but The Simpsons does lean much more to the adult audience in its use of humour and issues. Quite a lot of the stuff in The Simpsons will go over kids heads. 

The second, is the indie movie Sita Sings the Blues (2008). A beautiful film, completely animated by one woman, it would probably be best appreciated by adults. 

Of course, I don't think these can be the only films. So out of curiosity I decided to do a quick search and see what others I could find. What I found was a top twenty list that reminded me how many excellent animated films there were out there for adults. I couldn't believe I had forgotten them, especially some of my most favourite films, Persepolis (2007) and Yellow Submarine (1968)! 

Check out the full list of 20 Great Animated Movies for Adults here and please comment and tell me your favourite grown-up animated films. 

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Scene 29: Amy and Rory's, and the Series, End

So, the Doctor Who finale was yesterday, the last big bang - excuse the Doctor Who reference -  before it returns at Christmas. 

Except...did this series seem a bit, unsatisfactory?

Maybe its because I didn't really get in to this series this year, or because, as a fan, I've become all to familiar with the format and my passion for the show is lagging a bit.

However, I am not the only one to feel that the last series wasn't the best, and in some ways its not surprising. Shoving the series back to September meant people used to the April scheduling had to wait several months, and then they've gone and shortened the series.

I originally though they'd shortened it to only six episodes, which was annoying enough, given that we usually get twelve to thirteen. Only to find that actually it's been shorted to five. The sixth is the Christmas special.  

Meanwhile the episodes themselves have been a bit more hit and miss than usual. The  twist in episode was very, very good - no doubt about that! But for a classic Whovian like myself, the representation of the Daleks felt a little off - the Daleks, asking the Doctor for help? Then there was the killing of the villain in Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, which seemed slightly off, especially when the next episode was all a debate about how far the Doctor should go!

And then we have a finale episode. Possibly the weakest out of all them in my opinion, mostly because it was pretty obvious, once I knew that the last episode involved the Weeping Angels, that Amy and Rory were going to be sent back in time by the angels, and that was how they'd leave the Doctor. True, I fell for the Amy and Rory jumping off the building thing for a moment, but in the end, I was right and the angels got them, and got them good. 

The idea of New York, and all the statues, and the angel babies were all very good, but parts of the episode got a bit over melodramatic for me. 

Nonetheless, I am looking forward to seeing Richard E. Grant play the villain in the Christmas special and finding out if the next companion is going to be a Victorian or not - she's all a bit mysterious at the moment. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Scene 28: Return of the Blog

So, I haven't posted for a month and a half - but I am back, with a new view to be less  inconsistent with my posting, and an aim to write once a week on all the wonders of the film, radio and tv industry. 

Well I say wonders. Let's not be coy here, the media industry, and the film industry in particular, is difficult to break in to. Especially, according to a producer friend of mine, if you are in your early twenties. Which is partly why I knew I had to return to this blog, and start writing again - because in this industry you have to show what you can do. I like to think I can write, so here I am. Again. 

And I have lots of plans for blog posts - Halloween is coming up next month, so a short history of our very own home-grown Hammer Horror films seems appropriate, as well as perhaps a guide to the best movies to watch on Halloween for those who don't like serious or gory horror - such as the Saw franchise. 

I also recently been to an excellent  course, again run by First Light/Second Light, but this time in collaboration with the The Script Factory. It was an excellent course on screenwriting, with some great speakers - such as TV writer and director Michael Walker who had written an episode of Primeval and co-wrote Collision with Anthony Horowitz.

And going on the course has reminded me that I've picked up some useful tips, links and general knowledge about screenwriting over the last few years that are worth sharing with young writers, like myself, who may not have come across them - for example, and Talent Circle are two great sites to browse for media jobs/experience in the UK! - so I'll probably sit down and write out some of my favourite screenwriting tips and links. 

Then there's also all the classic films I have that I keep intending to watch, which I could review, for example The 400 Blows (1959) and The Stranger (1946). 

So in short, I have plenty of material to bore the internet with.

And again, I offer you the opportunity through these blog posts, to join me in learning more about film, TV and radio, and the world of the media. 

Monday, 9 July 2012

Scene 27: DVD that I Desire

I don't know if anyone does this, but I have a list of films I want to watch in my head. Some of the films I already own, and just haven't watched yet, like Roman Polanski's Macbeth, and some of them I don' have, but are generally accessible to me through the library or a DVD shop. Except for one. One film, that I really want to watch, I am finding really difficult to get - unless I pay £30 for it on DVD and get it shipped from Japan. 

I still haven't decided what I am going to do yet, but I shall tell you about this film and why I so want to watch it. However, to do so I am going have to start with something completely different - a song.

The song is called Iris, and its by the Goo Goo Dolls. It's a lovely song that was written for a film called City of Angels (1998) starring Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan, about a doctor and an angel who falls in love with her. 

The song made me aware of the film, which sounded interesting. So when instead I came across the film City of Angels was based on, Wings of Desire (1987), or The Sky Over Berlin if you want the original title, by Wim Wender, I decided to watch it  - and it was brilliant.

Wings of Desire is a German film, set in 80's Berlin, and the story is, again, that an angel falls for a human woman.  

It is a long film - it is two hours long, though I watched it over two nights - it's slow  and reflective in pace and is full of long periods of poetic dialogue, and its nearly all in German. So honestly, if you want something fast paced, with lots of explosions, go watch something else. 

Nonetheless, it is full of fantastic moments, ideas and characters. The angels in Berlin wander about in long coats, listening to people's thoughts, comforting them and recording little bits of wonder in their notebooks. Berlin is shot in black and white for the angels, and somehow this makes it look beautiful, even though the city is dirty and graffiti covered - its a realistic sort of beauty. 

There's also a really good storyline involving Peter Falk, who plays himself!

The whole film seems to me, to be about life and its little simple wonders, about how we can get lost in our own emotions and about the sadness of life as well - its hard to describe, without writing an essay, and I am already dangerously heading that way with this post! 

Anyway, the film was fantastic, I loved it, was inspired by it, and then at the very end the words "To Be Continued..." flashed up on screen.

I couldn't believe it! There was a sequel? It is one of the first times the idea of a film sequel actually made me feel excited, rather than apprehensive. 

The sequel is called Faraway, So Close! (1993) and I have being trying to find it ever since. Unfortunately it hasn't been easy to get hold of a reasonably priced DVD that works in this country. Hopefully, something will turn up...