Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Atomos Shogun Firmware Update 6.2

It's on the download page at

Shogun 6.2 release notes.

FID: 060406200207

- 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.


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. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Camera choices in 2014 - That eternal question - Which camera to buy?

It's that time again when i'm starting to look at the current camera market and decide what to shoot my next feature on.  As a lot of you know, i work pretty much independently with finance from private investors so it's good for everyone involved if i keep the costs low.  Budget isn't my only consideration though... I shoot a wide range of projects from shorts to features and music promos and sometimes i'm working alone, so i don't want anything that i could only use with a crew... it's important i can operate on my own if i need to.  Then there's the whole issue of owning a camera rather than just renting per project. I do too many little projects that only make financial sense if i don't have to factor in hire costs and the logistics involved with that. I already have a good selection of glass and grip equipment, so not owning a camera doesn't make much sense at this stage.

The next consideration is resolution and dynamic range. 4K shooting for an HD edit makes a lot of sense for me at the moment, and the dynamic range of some of the new cameras is probably more important than that.

So, with the array of new choices, my shortlist has come down to this:

The Lumix GH4 coupled with the Atomos Shogun. - Small, neat and very capable - and cheap.

The Sony A7S coupled with the Atomos Shogun. Again, small, neat, capable and stunning low light performance - slightly hampered by some severe rolling shutter issues.

The BMD URSA. The footage looks stunning, but the weight and size of it puts me off. Great price though. Concerns over the fixed pattern noise seen on the Production Camera too...

The Sony FS7 - This looks amazing, but i'd still partner it with the Shogun to get the convenient workflow and 4K Pro Res capability. Amazing for the money, but still £8K.

The Sony FS700 - Still a beast of a camera with great slow-mo and coupled with the Shogun, a really capable 4K option.

Ultimately, i'll be swayed quite a lot by whichever one feels best. It's mad to decide on a camera on specs alone... there's no substitute for actually playing with one, holding it and using it and seeing how it actually works for you in the real world.

What cameras have i owned up until now? The list isn't huge, but it goes something like this:

Sony DSR200  -This was good at the time.
Sony VX1000  - Very similar to the DSR200...small size made it useful for in-car shooting.
JVC GY-DV500 - A huge beast of a camera. I had the Fujinon asymmetrical zoom lens which was great.
Panasonic AG-DVX100 - A major step up from the previous cams... proper 24p and cine-look profiles.
Canon 550D - my first DSLR and first step in to HD. A great camera. I still use it.
Contour Roam 3 - Great form factor, but not a great performer. Didn't last long.
Go Pro Hero 3 - The defacto action cam. I still use it a lot and will buy the Hero 4 asap.
Sony NEX-FS100 - My current camera. Stunning low-light performance and a great workhorse.

Along the way i also used The Canon XL1S, The Sony Z1 and the EX1,  the 5D Mk2, the Lumix GH2 and more recently, the RED Epic and Canon C300...but i never owned these cameras.

At the end of the day, a camera is just a tool.... i'll get the one that does the best job for the least money and try not to get too carried away with specs.  As i've said before, no one ever asks what a good film was shot on - it really doesn't matter.

Right now we're spoilt. There's a huge array of really excellent cameras and recorders and there's really no excuse to not get out there and shoot something.

One thing i do know though, whichever camera i end up getting next, i'll be sticking with the Atomos way of working. I love my Ninja and Samurai Blades... they make shooting so much more convenient. So, an Atomos Shogun is the future for me...and i think it will be the same for a lot of people moving up to 4K shooting.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

SONY FS7 Lands...

Sony have drop-kicked the competition out of the game again....this time with the launch of the FS7 - a 4K beast at a ridiculously low price point of around $8000.

Anyone looking at the URSA, the AJA CION, the Canon C300 or C500 now has a dilemma... this camera pretty much wipes the floor with all of them in one way or another. Nice job Sony.

Here's the blurb from Sony's site:

  • Ergonomic grip design and adjustable arm and Viewfinder system

    The PXW-FS7 grip, designed for easy handling and operability, is the result of exhaustive consultation with videographers and cinematographers, as well as the production of various prototypes. The shape supports long periods of camera use and flexibly accommodates subtle differences among various users' gripping styles. The angle of the grip can be easily adjusted with the press of a button. In addition to a zoom button and Rec Start/Stop, the grip also has several programmable buttons that can be customized for easy access to any other functions such as the expanded focus function. The length of the arm section of the PXW-FS7 can be adjusted just by turning a knob. Another knob at the joint makes it easy to adjust the angle of the camera. So a user can choose a comfortable style that suits his or her physique and shooting position.
  • Easy settings during one-man operation

    The Peaking and Zebra function buttons and contrast knob are positioned on the side of the PXW-FS7 viewfinder for easy adjustment of focus, contrast and exposure. Also, by turning a single knob, the position of the finder can be set, allowing for degrees of freedom. The viewfinder system is designed that even people with a dominant left eye can use it comfortably.
  • Dust-proof, drip-proof design for use even in harsh environments

    The body of the PXW-FS7 is constructed to withstand tough conditions, with buttons, dials and other parts specially sealed to prevent dust and water spray from entering. Also, the air passageways from the cooling fan are separated from the interior of the camera.
  • Built-in Multi-Interface (MI) Shoe

    The PXW-FS7 is equipped with a Multi-Interface (MI) Shoe that supports connection to wireless microphone packages such as the UWP-D11 or UWP-D12 (sold separately). When connected to the shoe, the HVL-LBPC light (optional) can be turned on or off from the camera, and power and audio connections are provided to the UWP-D11 or UWP-D12 without cables.
  • Equipped with high-sensitivity 4K Super 35mm Exmor CMOS sensor

    The PXW-FS7 is equipped with a Super 35mm CMOS image sensor with approximately 11.6 million total pixels (4352 x 2662) and 8.9 million effective pixels. The high image readout speed of the image sensor allows the PXW-FS7 to support 4K motion-picture shooting and Super Slow Motion. The sensor also realizes a high sensitivity of ISO2000 and a wide dynamic range of 14 stops. Thanks to its full-pixel readout capability without pixel binning and sophisticated camera processing, jaggies and moire. are minimized.
  • Internal recording in 4K* resolution up to 60fps

    The PXW-FS7 supports internal recording at 4K resolution as well as a wide range of frame rates (59.94P, 50P, 29.97P, 25P and 23.98P). When viewed on a 4K monitor, footage shot in 4K is reproduced so clearly down to the finest details that it gives a viewer the illusion of actually being within the scene. When viewed on a Full HD monitor, 4K footage boasts even higher resolution than footage shot in Full HD.

    * QFHD 3840 x 2160 resolution from launch. 4096 x 2160 resolution with firmware update, early 2015.
  • Super Slow Motion continuous recording is possible

    The PXW-FS7 offers continuous recording at Full HD image quality and a frame rate of up to 180 fps. This makes it possible to attain up to 7.5x Super Slow Motion when played back at 23.98 fps. Furthermore, support for unlimited shooting at Super Slow Motion means no more mistimed shots leading to extra takes. It also lets you pick out footage at exactly the point that you want.
  • α Mount System for a wide selection of lenses and E-mount that is suitable for movie shooting

    The PXW-FS7 incorporates the α Mount System, with an E-mount lens mount. This is especially useful for motion-picture shooting because the system supports power driven silent auto focus, iris control, power zoom and more, as well as SteadyShot image stabilization and other functions. Moreover, the E-mount system's short flange-back distance (the distance from the lens-mounting surface to the image sensor) enables use of A-mount lenses via LA-EA4 lens adaptor, as well as various other lenses via third-party adaptors. The E-mount system thereby makes it possible to take advantage of a wealth of lens resources suitable for creative, versatile video expression.
  • Supports various formats, including XAVC Intra and Long GOP

    The PXW-FS7 supports two formats, XAVC and MPEG-2 HD 422, which can be selected to suit the application. Two XAVC compression systems (Intra and Long GOP) are provided through an H.264AVC codec. Intra supports recording with 4:2:2 10-bit sampling for 4K and Full HD, as well as a high bit rate of up to 600 Mbps. In Long GOP, image quality and recording time are balanced to allow Full HD recording in 1080/50P with 4:2:2 10-bit sampling at only 50 Mbps, making this format suitable for longer duration shooting. Support is also provided for the MPEG2 HD 422 recording format, which is mainly used at broadcast stations. Supported formats and bit rates are indicated below.
  • Support for S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log3, SGamut3/S-Log3 and other log curves*

    The PXW-FS7 supports such log gamma curves as S-Gamut3. Cine/S-Log3 and S-Gamut3/S-Log3. Due to the fact that 18% grey is set at a bright level, S-Log3 is noted for delivering a wider dynamic range than the 1300% achieved by S-log2 incorporated in cameras such as the NEX-FS700, a difference equal to 1.5 stops. The log gamma itself is close to Cineon log, so colour correction is easier to perform and it is possible to achieve cinematic expression with the look of film. In addition, compared to the colour gamut of S-Gamut3. Cine, which is geared toward reproducing the wide colour gamut of DCI-P2 colour space used in digital cinema, the colour gamut of S-Gamut3 is geared toward the reproduction of almost all actual colours, and is thereby suitable for archival purposes.

    * Support for SLog2, requires firmware update, early 2015.
  • Extension Unit XDCA-FS7 for shooting support

    Extension Unit XDCA-FS7 can be connected directly to the PXW-FS7K to enable the use of functions that support the operator's shooting style or workflow, including Apple ProRes 422* recording to an XQD card in the camera.

    * Firmware update, early 2015.
  • Built-in ND filter unit

    ND filters for adjusting the amount of light are provided in a built-in ND filter unit. This allows shooting to be done with a shallow depth of field without having to stop down the iris, even under bright conditions. The settings are Clear, 1/4 (2eV), 1/16 (4eV) and 1/64 (6eV).
  • Two XQD media slots support simultaneous and relay recording

    The PXW-FS7 has two XQD card slots that enable simultaneous and relay recording. During relay recording, when one medium becomes full, recording continues automatically to the other media. During simultaneous recording, not only can the same footage be recorded on both channels at the same time, but also one channel can be used for random shooting while the other is being used for continuous recording as backup.
  • RAW output for external 4K/2K RAW recording*

    The FXW-FS7’s FS RAW Interface that can be connected to an HXR-IFR5 interface unit and RAW AXS-R5 recorder to enable external 4K/2K RAW recording. The interface also allows the use of compatible third-party external recorders. Full HD footage shot with the unit is time code-synchronized to allow offline editing of the content.

    * Requires XDCA-FS7 Extension Unit.
  • Support for multi-camera shooting*

    Precise timecode synchronization provided by Genlock and Timecode In/Out functions in the XDCA-FS7 Extension Unit enable multi-camera operations.

    * Requires XDCA-FS7 Extension Unit.
  • Catalyst Browse software from Sony

    Free clip management tool for both PC & Mac that supports all Sony professional formats.
    Review footage on location, add metadata and review colour corrections.
    Seamless upgrade to advanced Catalyst Prepare media preparation tool.

Friday, July 25, 2014


Sorry i haven't added much new content lately, but as anyone who knows me will be aware. this time of year is crazily busy for me. I'm touring a lot and i also have to fit some downtime and holidays in too.... but, there is a lot going on behind the scenes, so here's a run down of what's happening...

Firstly, we're planning a re-shoot for one of the key scenes in '7 CASES'. Why? Well, we've had some great feedback on the film and already had some distribution offers, but after letting it 'sit' for a while so that we could get to know it better, we have decided that one scene in particular needs to be better and there's no reason why we can't re-shoot. So, in September, we are shooting for another day or two to make it as good as it can be.

Secondly, we're deep in preparations for the next feature 'HINDSIGHT'. We have hired a Production Designer and we're using Leoni Kibbey again for the casting. We're also in talks with CG artists and DPs. I'm re-writing a big chunk of the script at the moment as we made a big creative decision about the main character that meant we had to go back and fix a quite a few scenes... it'll all be worth it in the end.

Lastly, i'm in preparations for another big US tour this summer. I'm doing FOH mixing for both Howard Jones and Tom Bailey of The Thompson Twins for the Retro Futura Tour all over the USA.... we'll be visiting New York, Chicago, LA, San Diego, San Francisco, Tempe, Boston, Philadelphia, Lincoln, Toronto (Canada, obviously), Cleveland and plenty more...  would be great to see you all there.

One more thing.... i just found out that i'm going back to Japan in November, so i thought i post this that i shot last time i was there. Hopefully, i'll take a GH4 and an A7S next time...

Big In Japan from Sean J Vincent on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Atomos Shogun and Ninja Star

Jeromy from Atomos has done a really good little video with the chaps over at Cinema5D to explain what the Shogun and Ninja Star are all about... I thought i'd post it here too:

NAB 2014 - Atomos Shogun gets the 4K out of Sony's A7s from cinema5D on Vimeo.

Can't wait to get my hands on the Star for aerial shoots and the Shogun for shooting my future projects with a combination of the GH4 and A7S....

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Opinions are like...well, arseholes... We've all got them, and they all stink.

The micro-budget horror i made in 2011 finally got released in the USA this week. Hurrah...  open the champagne...get me a beer....  or maybe not. You see, when you put something artistic out into the world, people develop an opinion on it and thanks to the internet, they tend to spout it.. usually on blogs like this one!  There are several different leagues of film reviewers:

There's the professional - usually working for a specific publication or TV channel. These guys and girls only review the high profile releases and usually have a good background in film and reviewing techniques to draw on. This means the reviews, however good or bad, are informative and balanced.

Then there's the internet blogger - These come in 2 categories..

1) The film website warrior - Probably has a pretty good readership and the online community will read some of these reviews and possibly take notice of them.

2) The home keyboard warrior - These are often students or people sat at home reviewing films late at night for their own ends. They usually have tiny readerships on their blogs and enjoy the anonymity that the internet gives them.

Finally, there's Joe Bloggs... the punter (or sometimes not). He (or she) is just a regular guy who likes the sound of his own voice. If he sees a film he doesn't like, he gets straight online and shouts about it.

Now, we all have to take criticism, it's part of the job... you can't expect everyone to like your work, and sometimes you just get it wrong and don't please anywhere near enough people... it happens.  I've watched plenty of films that thought they were a steaming pile of turd.... but i'd never write that on a review site. Why? Because maybe it's just not aimed at me? Maybe it's taken some poor filmmaker 3 years to complete and they don't need that kind of comment? At the end of the day, these harsh reviews and comments are self serving to the authors who pen (type) them.

I think it's something all indie film makers need to get used to. It's very much like growing up in public. It's like a musician releasing his first demo tapes to the world before he's had the world class producers work on them and turn him/her into something special.  Can we do anything to combat these bad reviews? Well, i think the first thing to do is take them with a pinch of salt, but also listen to them. They may be badly written and often show a lack of intelligence, but they also show someone's opinion.... it is only one person's opinion, but it might be worth listening. Maybe they have a point? Maybe the script could have been tighter? (of course it could) Maybe the acting should have been better (of course..) maybe you should have spent more money on the FX (that would be nice).... it's all valid - to a point. Would they have preferred you to give up and not finish? In some cases... yes, i think they would.

We all know we're working on budgets that don't allow us to shine very easily... each project is a learning experience. You could always use a pseudonym until you think you're ready. Personally, i'll suck it up... it's good to deal with it head on and try to learn from it.

Just remember this, if you wrote a review of the blogger's writing ability or even of their blog site, they'd probably come off pretty bad...  but that's not what you do. It serves you no purpose. Let the haters hate and hide behind their keyboards - You just have to dust yourself off and move on. Making films is hard, hard work.... but it's a damn sight more fulfilling than me.

One last thing. It's hard to create anything.. it's even harder to find an audience for it... but if you do, and some people feel the need to put you down for it. Fuck them... i can critiscise anyone or anything whenever i want... it's easy and it doesn't take much skill... but i'd rather be making something. I suggest you do the same.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

At what price fame?

Quite a few of our projects are at an important stage right now...  it's interesting being at various stages in the 'movie cycle' all at the same time..

The Addicted (The Clinic) is due out on the 14th June in the US and 4th August in the UK.

7 Cases is currently under offer from several distributors and sales agents.

Hindsight is moving forward nicely... we've began to find crew and we're starting the casting very soon. We've found some investment and now we're finalising the money side of things.

A lot of distributors have been in touch recently...especially since Cannes, and it's interesting to hear their different views on this business. Some, think that the film itself isn't too important - for them it's all about the artwork, the trailer and the marketability of it. These guys tend to shift small numbers in the supermarkets and if a return of £30k is enough to make your business work, then fair enough. It's not a sustainable model for a director though. These films sold on the artwork alone often mislead the purchaser and then don't deliver the expected movie experience. There are exceptions in this sector of the market, but it's not a good way to go if you're planning on making a career.

Then there's the guys who want to compete with the big studio releases, but with much smaller budget releases. They don't have the same PR power and they often don't have the kind of films with a cast to generate much interest, but often they are far better movies made to a much higher standard. These people are hungry... they are good for a director looking to move forward.

Finally, there's the distributors who only have enough clout to get your movie out online...  iTunes, Netflix or sometimes only Amazon..  these guys usually don't have the influence or money to push your movie, so the marketing will probably be down to you. BUT - these guys are on the up. DVD is dying... it will be gone in a few short years and then physical distribution will be over... the online VOD and broadcast VOD providers will be running the show.

It's complicated trying to decide who to work with... but my advice is simple: Look at their catalogue... have you heard of their films? Are you aware of the company? Is their contract fair? Don't go signing away your intellectual property rights... and get an industry savvy lawyer to look at it - i've seen some ridiculous contracts from small distribution companies.

What are we looking for? We're not bottom feeders. We don't want to get involved in making films purely to get them on the supermarket shelf and make a fast buck.  We're here to make better and better films and get them to bigger and bigger audiences. Quality always wins through and sometimes that means saying no to offers that might initially appear to offer something you need.

Back to our next project 'HINDSIGHT', we're looking to talk to the following:

  • CG artists... anyone working in AE and Cinema 4D
  • Production Designers
  • Fight Co-Ordinators
Usual email address:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Addicted - US Release on 24th June

This is the US DVD cover artwork.
On the 24th June, Revolver are releasing the DVD and VOD versions of 'The Addicted' in the United States. It'll be really interesting to see how it does over there, especially being available in Walmart, which as many of you know, is a pretty huge retailer.

There is a new official FaceBook page for the film here:

I shot this back at the end of 2011 and it was the first time i'd used the Sony FS100 with the Atomos Ninja.  Amy Wilson was the Camera Op and Ian Holmes was the Gaffer and special FX guy. I spent a big chunk of 2012 working on the post production (as did Jon Atkinson) and this was the last feature i edited on FCP7.

I learnt a hell of a lot while making 'The Addicted', not just about film making, but also about writing and the whole process of sales and distribution. Being my second feature, i'd already had my fingers burnt on my previous project with some really bad writing and performances that no amount of amazing post production could fix. (all my fault)  With 'The Addicted', i felt i'd moved on significantly and addressed a lot of the issues i'd suffered from previously, but it was still very much a learning process.  However, sitting and watching the final edit was actually pretty cool and we're proud of what we achieved on a small budget and with a very small crew. The audience was watching through their fingers and jumping at all the right moments, so i guess we almost nailed it...

If you're in the USA, pick up a copy from Walmart as of the 24th June... or look out for it on iTunes and NetFlix.

UK and European release details to follow soon....

Monday, June 2, 2014

Moving on...

Cannes was fantastic...  you can read more about it in next month's Digital FilmMaker Magazine as i've done a piece on what happens in Cannes.  Since we got back i've been tinkering with the plans for the next feature, 'Hindsight'. Hopefully in the near future i'll have some news about the casting and the shoot.

On the 24th June 'The Addicted', the horror film i shot in 2011 is released by Revolver in the USA and Canada. It will be available on DVD in Walmart, on iTunes, Netflix and on TV all over the states soon too. Keep an eye out for it if you're in the US.

We've had some really interesting offers for 7 CASES and we're currently in talks with several people about where it will end up. We're not rushing into anything after lessons learnt in the past.

Tech-wise... i'm really looking forward to working with the Lumix GH4. But... i'm going to wait until the release of the Atomos Shogun. Until i can capture the full 10bit 4K in Pro Res, i'd rather wait.   Hopefully the GH4/Shogun combination will be fantastic and i'm hoping to put together a great little MoVi rig with them for the next film.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Cannes time...

As of this weekend, we're in Cannes at the film festival. If you would like to meet in Cannes, email me...

We're there to find international partners for both distribution and finance. We have 7 CASES finished and ready to screen and HINDSIGHT is in the planning stages - aiming for an autumn shoot.

Anyone wanting the lowdown on where to go and who to talk to in Cannes - join The Film Portal. Roy runs an awesome organisation and it's great to meet so many people this way.

See you on the Croisette!