Friday, July 17, 2015

Coming soon....

We're gearing up for the PARADOX shoot in September...  so there's new gear i'll be reviewing soon..

The CAME-TV Mini 2...



And the ROTOLIGHT NEO lighting package...






...and the SHAPE Atomos Shogun Cage bundle...


Friday, June 5, 2015

Paradox - A New Web Series - We Need Sponsors and Advertisers



This summer, we're shooting the pilot and then two further episodes of a new series called 'Paradox'. Its the story of a time traveller who arrives in 2015 but the process has left him with no memory of who he is, why he's here or when he is from.  Rescued by a random stranger, he begins to piece together the puzzle to find out the answers.  His time machine is clearly ahead of current technology, but it's suspiciously littered with components that date from the past, not the future.  Our protagonist is not left wondering for long as his past (or future) begins to catch up with him.

EDIT>>  Some people have been asking what the 'journey' is for the main character... what is he trying to achieve overall throughout the series. Well, i didn't really want to give too much away, but i guess it's ok and if it helps get it made!  So the protagonist discovers he travelled from the past leaving his 10 year old daughter wondering what happened to her Dad.  For reasons i won't divulge, he can't find a way to get back to her... this is what he is trying to do... this is his ultimate goal. Along the way, he has to avoid countless agencies and organisations from around the world who are trying to steal his technology.

Using the latest in cinematography techniques such as stabilising gimbals, 4K acquisition and low light shooting, we are able to work quickly and efficiently.  We are also writing only key dialogue and then work-shopping or 'ad-libbing' a lot on location.  Talking of locations, we have some fantastic settings for this series which are very much out of the ordinary... 

We are teaming up with various companies to bring this production to life. We have sponsors for most of the key elements, but we are looking for more.

These are the areas we are looking for help with in the form of gear donations/sponsorship:

Digital Storage - SSDs and HDDs for the footage and back-ups.

Lighting - Portable LED lighting solutions for night exteriors.

Handheld Stabilising Gimbal - We want to avoid time consuming track/dolly and jib set-ups.

Lenses - We'd love to shoot anamorphic... 

Audio - Location recorder, radio mics...  windjammers...

Catering - It's a small crew and cast, but we've got to eat/drink. 

Accommodation - A hotel chain tie-in would be very handy.

Car product placement - Our characters travel in a car a lot...  anyone want to lend us one?

Watch product placement - This story is about time. We need a cool looking watch for our hero.


Why would potential sponsors get involved?

We're going to be putting brand advertising at the start of each episode. A short combined ad that says something along the lines of 'This series is brought to you by - ....' and then a flurry of trade marks and possibly some longer explanations of what each sponsor does and how they can benefit you.  This ads won't be like YouTube ads that can be skipped, they will be part of the opening of the episode.

There will be press coverage of the project in broadcast/film publications.

We will also be tweeting regularly from the set and from the post production suite about what we're using and will post web banners etc from each sponsor on the official website.

We are planning on this being a gritty, adult orientated series, with a particular slant towards Sci-Fi fans. That's a huge market... 

Initially, the series will debut online for free. The first 6 episodes will be available on YouTube at no cost to the viewer.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Atomos Shogun - more good news!



Atomos Announce Action Add-on's for Shogun

Just announced today,  Atomos have created a range of add on accessories designed to make the popular 4K Shogun monitor recorder even more battle ready in the field. The new accessories, together bundled as the Shogun Action Pack, include;

Shogun Armor Case. A custom bumper which gives extra protection to the recorder/monitor from knocks and scratches.
Matte LCD protection panel which reduces reflections protects against scratches and diffuses light eliminating polarization. 
Lightweight and durable travel case. The perfect size for a camera bag in cases when you need to travel light.
Custom fit Shogun sun hood (available in yellow or black) which maintains LCD clarity even in bright sunlight 


Available to purchase separately or together as the Action Pack, Atomos are also sweetening the deal by offering the $240 Action Pack for free to users who purchase and register the full accessory version of the Shogun during the month of June. 

“One of the advantages of having sold over 15,000 Shogun units is that we have passionate end users telling us what they need” said Jeromy Young CEO of Atomos.  “The Action Pack accessories are a direct result of Shogun users reaching out to tell us what they want, and of course we listen and act” 

The Atomos Shogun Action Pack is available now to registered purchases up to 30th June 2015, see www.atomos.com/shogun for details.

About the Atomos Shogun

The latest 4K cameras are arming the Pro Video world with amazing sensors, but falling short when it comes to Recording & Monitoring capability. Shogun completes the solution for professionals, combining advanced Record, Play, Monitor and Edit capability that can be added to existing cameras. Shogun delivers 422 10-bit ProRes and DNxHR/DNxHD for Apple and Avid workflows, a 7” 1920 x 1200 IPS 320ppi monitor with an advanced suite of setup tools (3D LUTs, 2:1/1:1 zoom, focus assist, vectorscope, false color and more), XLR audio monitoring with 48V phantom power, playback capability on screen or out to a larger TV and editing capability on the fly with cut in/out points and favourite/reject tagging.

SJV - This is why i love Atomos...  they listen to the end user and impliment the best ideas into their products and accessories.  If only all gear manufacturers were like this...


Monday, June 1, 2015

Writing a Series as opposed to a Movie


I've been working on writing a Sci-Fi series (Paradox) and it's been really interesting to get my head around the differences of writing a feature script and writing a bunch of episodes of an on-going series.

Obviously, with a feature you have a couple of hours at the most to introduce your characters, your world, get the story told and get out again...  it's a tough gig sometimes to get the audience to like or even just know your characters in such a short amount of screen time.

With a series, you have much longer to develop things, but probably shorter to get the audience hooked enough to come back for more.  Setting up a story that can spread over a series or even a number of seasons to keep the audience interested is tricky and it's important you have your key elements in place.

What do i mean by key elements? Take any well-known TV series.... and there will be a 'thing' the cast have to 'do' in each episode...   In The A-Team, the guys had to help someone out with a bully. This usually involved building a mental DIY tank or something similar and then Murdock would steal a helicopter and Face would chat up the nearest attractive woman... Hannibal would smoke cigars and BA would drink milk and complain about having to get on a plane.  This happened every episode for many years. In The X Files Mulder and Scully would turn up to investigate something weird and then there would be occasional references to the on-going back story of Mulder's missing sister and the mysterious smoking man. Each episode would usually tie it's own loose ends, but leave enough un-answered bigger questions to join the episodes together. Modern series like Breaking Bad may seem to work differently, but really it's a series of small stories that join together with the overriding story of Walter's cancer prognosis and secret life as Heisenberg.

So you need regular characters with goals that can be strived for over a series or five...and then you need regular, smaller problems that be overcome in an episode or two.  The main cast shouldn't be too big and recurring secondary characters are good. The pilot episode should set the tone... the 'big thing' that needs solving should happen and then the 'team' or main character should solve a smaller problem that sets him/her/them on a path that can stretch out for the foreseeable future... never quite getting to the point where they resolve the big problem, but appearing to grow and learn all the time as the series progresses.

In a practical sense, the writing process is pretty similar to how i approach features. I start with Wunderlist. (the app on my phone) I add ideas to the list while i dream up the story. These ideas are simple things like:


  • Opening sequence showing design/build of machine
  • Time travels to present from past
  • Age difference
  • Daughter left behind
  • Amnesia problem
  • Woman rescues him in ep1
  • He remembers more as ep1 moves forward
  • Each episode he is looking for way home
  • He visits daughter - can't stay
  • Meets friends who are 17 yrs older now
  • Need to constantly move established.




So with a few notes on my phone i have the very basic ideas. At this stage i start a new project in Scrivener.  Scrivener is piece of software that allows you to keep all your research notes and screenplay work inside one app. I use it to start fleshing things out. I use the corkboard and index cards to start writing scene ideas down. Then i use the character description section to start getting the characters fleshed out. It's good to come up with some backstory so you know what their motives are and how they are likely to react in different situations... it makes writing for them much easier. 


Once i've got all the scenes for an episode on the index cards, i generally transfer them all to handwritten post-it notes which i stick on a big piece of foam-board. I edit and re-arrange the scenes many times until i feel it's flowing the right way. At this stage i usually begin to stick pictures of possible locations and props etc onto the board to create a 'mood board'. I have tried software for this, but i find a real board so much more useful and it's great to have it on the wall the whole time to keep me in the right frame of mind when working on the screenplay.  Finally, i use MovieDraft to write the screenplay itself. I have tried Final Draft and the screen writing section of Scrivener but i find MovieDraft to be much easier to work with.  We're planning on ad-libbing a lot of this series, but i'm writing the pilot and the first episode so we all know how the characters act and talk and it will set the tone for future episodes. 






I'm looking forward to shooting this as it'll be a different discipline from shooting a feature. Technically, it'll be similar, although we are planning on a mostly two-camera shoot, which i haven't done a huge amount of in drama, so that will be a challenge with lighting and blocking requiring more thought.

Anyone looking for the link to the previous blog about the project as a whole and our search for sponsors, click here: http://www.seanjvincent.com/2015/05/paradox-looking-for-sponsors.html


Thursday, May 14, 2015

PARADOX - Looking for Sponsors



This summer, we're shooting the pilot and then two further episodes of a new series called 'Paradox'. Its the story of a time traveller who arrives in 2015 but the process has left him with no memory of who he is, why he's here or when he is from.  Rescued by a random stranger, he begins to piece together the puzzle to find out the answers.  His time machine is clearly ahead of current technology, but it's suspiciously littered with components that date from the past, not the future.  Our protagonist is not left wondering for long as his past (or future) begins to catch up with him.

EDIT>>  Some people have been asking what the 'journey' is for the main character... what is he trying to achieve overall throughout the series. Well, i didn't really want to give too much away, but i guess it's ok and if it helps get it made!  So the protagonist discovers he travelled from the past leaving his 10 year old daughter wondering what happened to her Dad.  For reasons i won't divulge, he can't find a way to get back to her... this is what he is trying to do... this is his ultimate goal. Along the way, he has to avoid countless agencies and organisations from around the world who are trying to steal his technology.

Using the latest in cinematography techniques such as stabilising gimbals, 4K acquisition and low light shooting, we are able to work quickly and efficiently.  We are also writing only key dialogue and then work-shopping or 'ad-libbing' a lot on location.  Talking of locations, we have some fantastic settings for this series which are very much out of the ordinary... 

We are teaming up with various companies to bring this production to life. We have sponsors for most of the key elements, but we are looking for more.

These are the areas we are looking for help with in the form of gear donations/sponsorship:

Digital Storage - SSDs and HDDs for the footage and back-ups.

Lighting - Portable LED lighting solutions for night exteriors.

Handheld Stabilising Gimbal - We want to avoid time consuming track/dolly and jib set-ups.

Lenses - We'd love to shoot anamorphic... 

Audio - Location recorder, radio mics...  windjammers...

Catering - It's a small crew and cast, but we've got to eat/drink. 

Accommodation - A hotel chain tie-in would be very handy.

Car product placement - Our characters travel in a car a lot...  anyone want to lend us one?

Watch product placement - This story is about time. We need a cool looking watch for our hero.


Why would potential sponsors get involved?

We're going to be putting brand advertising at the start of each episode. A short combined ad that says something along the lines of 'This series is brought to you by - ....' and then a flurry of trade marks and possibly some longer explanations of what each sponsor does and how they can benefit you.  This ads won't be like YouTube ads that can be skipped, they will be part of the opening of the episode.

There will be press coverage of the project in broadcast/film publications.

We will also be tweeting regularly from the set and from the post production suite about what we're using and will post web banners etc from each sponsor on the official website.

We are planning on this being a gritty, adult orientated series, with a particular slant towards Sci-Fi fans. That's a huge market... 

Initially, the series will debut online for free. The first 6 episodes will be available on YouTube at no cost to the viewer.  




For more information or to get involved, email us at  sean@one10films.com





Wednesday, May 6, 2015

New Features... free for the Atomos Shogun

Another reason to love the guys at Atomos... constant free updates. Check out this huge list of fantastic new features for the Shogun.  If only all manufacturers were so generous with adding so much functionality without stinging your wallet constantly...











Saturday, April 25, 2015

4K Footage Testing in Hitchin



I went up to Windmill Hill in Hitchin with my daughter, Scarlett on Thursday evening to shoot some lens tests at sunset. We're very lucky in Hitchin to get some amazing views just before dusk and it seemed a perfect time to test a couple of lens options on my GH4 / Shogun rig.



I was testing a vintage Miranda 70-210mm zoom with a Vivanco wide angle adapter on the end.... this long lens is brought back to a relatively wide shot by the adapter, but you get some very wacky optical weirdness which i really like. I then tried the adapter on the Lumix 14-42 for some really wide shots and then on a 28mm Zeiss.  Combined with a 0.9ND filter in my mattebox for most of the shots, i was pretty happy with how they performed. I've got a project coming up that requires quite a lot of shooting into the sun at sunset, so this was really useful.



I've played with the footage in FCPX... adding some extra touches and a more 'sunset-ish' grade.

Editing 4K in FCPX is pretty cool using the proxies for most of it and then switching to the full size files for the export and checking the grade.

S

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

NAB - The 4k Revolution is here... but does it matter?



So NAB, the yearly scramble to launch the most exciting/ground-breaking camera or related bit of hardware is over again for another year. What happened?  We got more cameras.. lots more... mostly 4K... and a lot of wide dynamic range and clever colour technology. Highlights include multiple new cameras from BMC - my favourite of which is the URSA mini...  it's got a switchable shutter on the sensor. Yep, that's right... switchable from rolling to global! Madness. And it shoots 4K with 15 stops of DR for £2.5k.... two-and-a-half-grand (not £25k) That is a reminder right there of how far things have come. For what it's worth, Canon launched the C300 Mk2, Panasonic released the DVX200 (a 4k update of the popular DVX100 - which was SD) and Canon also gave us the XC-10 - a fixed lens 4k DSLR type thing.

Am i sounding cynical? Bored even? That's because we're spoilt so much with cameras at the moment that it almost doesn't matter which one we use.  We're so used to stunning resolution and colour rendition that we moan when a camera doesn't do one thing we want it to...  i think it's a given now that each model of cinema camera isn't going to please all of us. (but the URSA Mini is pretty damn close to pleasing a lot of people)

So what's there to get excited about if cameras are blasé now? Now it's time we started looking at the areas we should have been looking at anyway before shallow depth of field and cheap HD took our eyes off the ball. Glass - lenses...  vital and oh so obvious when you use the wrong one.  I can tell when someone has used the popular Canon 24-70L lens on a super35mm sensor...  it's such an over-used lens in indie films. It's a great lens, sure, but it's got a 'look' that is as recognisable as a Magic Bullet preset.  But there's some amazing lenses out there if you know where to look. I've long been a fan of vintage lenses for their unique look and characteristic feel. It's very dull when everyone just hires a set of Cookes or Primos as soon as they get to shoot on an Alexa...  i'd love to see that camera paired with some quirky vintage lenses for a change.

Anyway, i'm still having fun with my GH4 and Atomos Shogun package. The 24p 4K files from the Shogun are truly fantastic and i'm still learning how my lenses interact best with this set-up. One thing i will say though - the 96fps slow-motion from the GH4 really doesn't grade very well. I had to shoot some recently for a promo shoot and the post production was quite tricky.  A much better bet is to shoot at 50fps at a decent bit rate and capture on the Shogun and then use twixtor or optical flow.

Oh, and we finally did a deal with Revolver USA to handle distribution for 7 CASES in the USA and Canada....  it's being released in June.  We're in pre-production on our next movie right now...and scarily, we might be shooting two movies this year!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Atomos Shogun Firmware Update 6.2

It's on the download page at www.atomos.com




Shogun 6.2 release notes.

FID: 060406200207

Features:
- New feature! Added ability to load 3D LUTs. Load Cube files on SSD (refer Shogun FAQ for file compatibility details) and access via the new Display Options button on the home screen.
- New feature! Record and play back using Avid DNxHD (HD) and DNxHR (4K)*.
- New feature! Downscale 4K input to 1080p (matching frame rate) on the loop out port. Access the setting via the input menu page.
- New feature! Playback now displays a preview frame of the selected clip in the file browser.
- Separate analog gain settings for left and right channels now available via the new audio options page. Enable Mic +48V to use Shotgun and Lavalier Mics that require Phantom Power to operate.
- Larger audio meters for easier visibility of ballistic levels.

Bug Fixes:
- Corrected direction of manual gamma setting.
- Improved drive compatibility.
- Take number is correctly reset after disk format.

*DNxHR requires AVID Media Composer 8.3.1 or later.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Blade Runner - Final Cut at BFI in April

I love Blade Runner... a predictable perspective maybe, but it's just a work of cinematic art in my opinion. Here's the new BFI trailer and cool little analysis i found on Vimeo.  Enjoy.





Analysis of Blade Runner from Steven Benedict on Vimeo.



Monday, February 23, 2015

10 Reasons to love the Arri Alexa Mini

Arri have just announced the Alexa Mini... a dream come true for many cinematographers. But what is it about the Alexa Mini that people are going to sell their kids to get one for..???


  • That Alexa look in a smaller form factor. MoVi anyone??
  • It starts at $32000...  but rental houses will be stocking up i reckon.
  • Wifi Control combined with lightweight construction... perfect for in-car shots.
  • Switchable 4:3/16:9 sensor... so 4:3 is perfect for anamorphic shooting.
  • Internal 4K Pro Res? Yep... and 200fps in HD.
  • Super 35mm sensor.
  • Interchangeable lens mounts.  PL, EF or B4.
  • Built-in motorised ND Filters... no need for screw-on or mattebox for exterior MoVi shots.
  • 14+ Stops of dynamic range.
  • Can import custom LUTS.

Do i want one? Of course... but it's a rental item really at that price.  I'm hoping to have a closer look at BVE tomorrow.  It's interesting that Arri are really cleaning up in cinematography at the moment... just check out what all the Oscar nominated movies were shot on... mostly Alexa. They're certainly giving RED a major beating at the moment. 






Saturday, February 7, 2015

GH4 & Atomos Shogun Overview...

Finally got around to putting something together on the GH4 and Shogun. Both very awesome bits of kit... but the Shogun has to take the crown for the best new piece of cinema tech for me.  However, the GH4 is truly fantastic for the price. I didn't mention the dynamic range in the video. I'm not sure how big it is in 10bit 4:2:2 4K mode, but it looks huge. I'd guess around 12 stops.




Excuse all the shots of household running water... the weather was crap on the day i was going out to shoot slow-mo stuff so i ended up shooting around my flat instead.

I'm not overly impressed with the GH4 Cage i've been using, so if anyone has any suggestions of a better one, preferably with some side handles, let me know.

Look out for a more detailed look at both the GH4 and Atomos Shogun working together in Digital FilmMaker magazine in the coming months..




Friday, January 23, 2015

My Favourite Gear of 2014...

2014 was another busy year for me. I shot some very tricky pick-ups for 7 CASES, several music promos and a couple of corporate jobs. I was also often out of the country on tour with various music acts in my day-job as a sound engineer...

But, what filming gear has been in my rig in 2014 and why?

Much like previous years, Atomos featured highly in my kit. I've used both the Ninja Blade and Samurai Blade a lot. I've also been using the Atomos Connect to go from SDI to HDMI.. very useful. I can't recommend the Atomos gear highly enough. It's well built, well spec'ed and just makes life so much easier than messing around with SD cards and other awkwardness like dreadful codecs.




After using the GenusTech GoPro Cage extensively, i tested out their Mini-Jib, PV Matte Box and Bravo Follow Focus. The Mini-Jib is incredibly useful. I've used it on almost every shoot this year. It's light, well built and folds into a tiny little bag you carry on your back. The Matte Box is similarly well built. It's sturdy, the filter trays are very well machined and it's very easy to connect to your various lenses with their selection of lens ring adapters.  (nothing bugs me more than seeing people using a matte box on a shoot, but leaving a huge light-leaking gap between the lens and the matte box... completely pointless!

The Bravo Follow Focus is the best i've used at this price. It's simply stunning. No play at all and the best, most solid and easily adjustable, mounting system. I also really love the adjustable 'end stops' to make racking focus really easy.



It's a real testament to GenusTech that all their gear that i've been using hasn't suffered any breaks at all. I quite often put my gear through some pretty tough times and lesser gear has let me down often in the past.

Finally, i've been massively impressed with the Manfrotto  504HD video head. It's very well built and allows me to achieve some very smooth pans and tilts while keep my rig rock solid when i need it to.




Next time...   i've made the move to 4K for 2015. A complete run down of my Lumix GH4 and Atomos Shogun rig.

Monday, January 12, 2015

10 Things you should know about financing an indie film...



It's that time again. We're putting together the finance for our next feature film project and i'm navigating the choppy waters of raising money for what is basically an artistic project, albeit one that makes a profit. (hopefully!)

I've talked before about how i feel about public funding from the likes of the BFI or other such bodies.  It can be worth a try, but i'd seriously doubt you'll get far unless you tick the multitude of tick boxes they require and know the right people on the inside to even get a serious consideration. I'm not saying it's rigged...  but it's not a level playing field either.

I've always preferred private investment and i'm much happier being entirely upfront with anyone wanting to invest in an independent film.  People wealthy enough to want to invest in independent film, generally aren't only in it for the money. They are buying into the business as a whole... the opportunity to be a part of something that not many people get to do.  We always aim to make a profit, but the harsh reality of this business is that generating a profit can be tough and even when it goes to plan, it can take a long time before the profits trickle through. That being said, the more uncertainties you remove from the project, the better the chances of success. It's undeniable that having a 'name' in the lead role will generate more interest in the film which will probably lead to a much better sales & distribution deal or maybe a high profile festival screening... and the catch 22 is that a 'name' will enable you to find finance more easily.

We're just making in-roads into the financing for HINDSIGHT...  so here's my tips before you go looking for cash for your next project:

  1. Finish the script first! No one is interested in financing a film you haven't finished writing yet.
  2. Put together a package including mood boards, synopsis and casting ideas and put it together with your screenplay in an easy to email PDF.
  3. Have a team assembled. Collate their CVs and make it part of the package for potential investors to see.
  4. Get your lead role actor attached first. This is tough without finance in place, but possible if your script is good enough. A big name will attract other big names as well as finance.
  5. Put a business plan together. Even if it's quite basic, show that you understand how the money works in this business and in relation to your film specifically.
  6. Plan your budget realistically. Can you really feed your cast and crew for a month on a grand? Do your sums, then do them again...don't forget to factor in absolutely everything. Bear in mind that your mates might be happy to live on pizza and basic meals, but any professionals you hire may not. Find out.
  7. Have you budgeted for insurance? If you're working with large sums of other people's money, you will need to insure against issues that might stop or delay you finishing the project.
  8. If you decide to go down the crowd funding route, you are liable to pay tax on the amount you raise. This is counted as taxable income. Too many people forget this. If you do use crowd funding, keep your crowd funders informed. I've contributed to several films which never got made and i never heard a thing about them ever again. Clearly, that puts me off doing it again.
  9. Come up with an equity plan for your investors and stick to it. Be completely upfront about how long it is likely to take to recoup.
  10. If everything goes to plan and you raise your budget, hire an accountant to administer it unless you have one in your team already.



We've got the script, we've got the rest of package and we're approaching the dream team of actors we'd like to cast in the hope that they will sign up to be part of this so we can make it happen.  I'll update soon on how it's all going.

Don't forget to read Digital FilmMaker Magazine every month to read my Q&A pages and check out all the really helpful articles elsewhere in the mag.

S

Friday, November 21, 2014

Atomos Shogun....shipping in a week!

The long awaited Atomos Shogun is shipping in one week...  i can't wait to play with the Shogun and see how it fares, teamed up with the GH4 and A7S.  4K recording with Atomos workflow and that awesome screen! I predict Atomos are going to be selling out of these very soon...



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Canon C100 Mk2


I'm not going to go into detail... there's more than enough on news sites out there, but Canon's new version of the C100 has to be the best bet if you don't need 4K, but you have a collection of EOS lenses.  Nice ergonomics, 50/60 fps slow mo, and a much better screen and viewfinder. The C100 always struck me as the best bargain of the EOS range, especially when you team it up with an Atomos Ninja Blade.. it'll give you the same results as the C300.  The Mk2 version has added internal recording of MP4 files at 35MBps too, so it's usable for some stuff as it stands. The extended iso range is interesting -  i wonder how it's low light performance will be affected?
  • 8.3MP Super 35mm CMOS sensor
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF and Face Detection AF
  • Dual Format AVCHD/MP4 recording up to 1080/60p
  • Built in Wi-Fi and remote control options - ipad control possibly?





Thursday, October 16, 2014

Failing on the way to winning...




I'm the first to admit that i'm learning as i go along. I have no training in film whatsoever. I made my first ever music promo about 10 years ago and then didn't pick up a camera again until 2007 when i decided very randomly to make a feature. With no experience and quite a lot of arrogance, i made a micro-budget feature. Bizarrely it got distribution after being available for free on YouTube for a year. It really was utterly awful... bad camerawork, bad lighting, woeful dialogue and and some truly laughable plot holes and acting...(mostly by me)  But... i learnt a lot.

At this stage, i started shooting more music promos and shorts. I realised i needed much more experience behind the camera and also operating the camera! Slowly, i started getting to grips with it.

Then, slightly foolishly, i made another feature. I thought i'd learnt enough to give it another go. But, i was too relaxed in my approach. The camerawork was better, but still not up to par. The editing was better, but still not right...the same goes for the script and the dodgy plot. But, again - i learnt so much.

Now, i could (and some say, should) have released this under a pseudonym, but i'm not scared to show my self-taught efforts... even if the reviews are sometimes painful to read.  I have no excuses for the sub-par end products. No one cares that i didn't spend much money or have an experienced crew, and why should they? I just need to be better.

The funny bit of all this to me is that i'm i'm a very experienced professional sound engineer who travels the world doing world class live mixes for some huge music artists... without blowing my own arse-trumpet - i'm really good at it...  i've been mixing professionally for nearly 25 years.  I see people trying to teach themselves my job and it's funny sometimes... some people just aren't cut out for it.  Am i one of those people, but in the film directing arena? Shiiiiit.... i hope not.

Since then, i've shot upwards of 14 music promos, several corporate promos and another feature...

Why another feature? Because it's the only way to learn. To learn screen writing, to learn direction, to learn good casting, to learn better camera work and editing....  all the music promos in the world don't teach you how to helm a feature. It's brutal. It's unforgiving and it's the only way i can progress.  I've seen features by some very experienced TV promo directors and they suck... it's not easy, no matter how much experience you have.

Is this one better? Yes. It's a quantum leap ahead of anything else i have done. Why? Because i honed it down to the necessary. I kept it simple, i kept it small and i cast people that genuinely 'pop' on camera....people who made me realise how much of directing is casting. It's fantastic to see my screenplay come to life and not want to hide behind my fingers while i'm watching it back.

What's next? Well... i've been busy on the post for 7 CASES most of this year. I'm proud of it and i think it's given me the confidence to ramp things up for my next feature.  Will the next one be perfect? Let's hope so! But in all honesty, it might take a while longer before BAFTA come knocking... i might never completely suss this game out... but i'm going to keep trying and if i can improve each time, you never know.  Like i've always said... just keep going.