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Monday, June 28, 2010

Poster Quotes!

Thanks to everyone for watching Slán over the weekend, I appreciate you taking the time out and I really appreciate your comments. So much so I thought I would share then here!

"...so powerful Frank. I have to say I shed a few tears. It definitely represents and illustrates something that is happening in Ireland right now..." Justina Cowley.

"...enjoyed every secound of it..." John Black.

"One word.. brilliant! more words... Totally reflects an increasingly growing and worrying element of society, and also documents how within a generation things have changed so much. Great work Frank, you are someone this town should be very proud of." Keith Byrne.

"...sharp acting, cinematography & writing! "Progress is a speeding train, Pat..." "I'd rather walk, thank you." Beautifully written, well-told story. (Excellent music selection as well.)" Christine Reynolds.

"...once again a poignant story told with such heart." Rachel McEeaneny.

"...truly great!" Laurie Leech.

"Fantastic work. Great character study and commentary on changing times. As relevant here in the States and I imagine around the world." Robert Zappia.

"Watched your film twice this morning; listened to the closing credits, like, 15 times. Seriously, brother, awesome." John Burton.


"Rubbish!.......is not a word i would use to describe it." Rob Kearney.

Maybe I should put them on the poster!!! Thanks Guys, very much appreciated.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Addressing Some Issues.


The screening of Slán agus Beannacht over the weekend raised a couple of interesting points since going live yesterday. One, the loss of a more traditional ways of doing things and the loss of one on one human interaction. Also the portrayal of teens as being dangerous thugs.

I'll address the first point first. It's weird to say, only being in my 30s, but I look back on my childhood as a completely different era. Makes me sound old but that was before the advent of the internet, mobile phones, electronic telephone service and the home computer to a large extent. It was a simpler time, where imagination was our play toy and the world outside, the fields and the forests was where we let it run wild... not a computer console and the worn out carpet in front of the TV! I clearly remember the day my childhood changed forever and I was set on my path. It was the summer of 89 and my best friend got a second hand Commodore 64.

I remember calling to his house one Saturday morning thinking we were going to set off on our day long adventure out the old tracks to a forrest some miles away as per usual, but it was not to be. He was loading a game he wanted to play. And as we sat for what seemed hours in his small shaded room, north facing with the sun cascading down some distance away, waiting for this tape to load, I got bored and decided to head off on my own. I didn't realise then but I would be making that journey on my own from then on, as one by one my childhood friends would succumb to the radioactive green glow of digitized computer graphics and the soft blip-blop of supposed alien space craft laser beams. Computer games stole my childhood adventures, and that's probably why I have never played them, not to this day.

I'm a slight contradiction though. I do actually love modern computers. I love my iMac and love what it has enabled my to do and how it has empowered me as a filmmaker. I love programs like photoshop, final cut and final draft. I love gadgets, I own a blackberry and I will get the iPhone 4 and possibly, hopefully, the next generation of the iPad and more then likely, whatever new iMac is on the way!

But I still like the old traditions, I like the one on one Human way of doing things. In our endeavour to make thinks more convenient we've become more complication and alienated and we've fogotten whats most important, human connection. In large part 140 was a continuation of this idea. I wanted to break the barrier the internet provides and make people reconnect and use the internet as a tool, almost against itself, to do that.

I miss Bosco (my rent collector) calling to the door to collect the rent. I miss chatting with him for 5 minutes before he moves on. I hate HATE calling eircom (or whatever company) to fix a problem and being sent in circles for 20 minutes before I get to talk to someone who inevitably puts me on hold. I miss the old glass countered sweet shop, I miss the leather smelling shoes shop with boxes pilled to the ceiling, I miss the barbers on the second floor with the old man reading the newspaper and the radio playing some diddly-i tune, I miss the cattle walking through town and the random shops down crocked cobble stone alleys, I miss the small dusty book shop and the cafe that served tea and coffee, and just tea and coffee. I guess it's a longing for simpler times in a world that seems to have over complicated itself.

When Bosco was taken off the streets after 35 years, on a route that had him see 500 people a week, and put behind a desk to sit in front of a computer until retirement, I was sad for him and I mourned the passing of an age. This film was a dedication to that age, and to Bosco. You'll see that the film is for Sheila. Sheila was my Grandmother, who died two years ago this month. I live in her house now. Bosco would have collected rent from her for the 35 year she lived in this house, and I'm kind of glad she didn't live to see his passing. the final nail in the coffin for that generation, now gone.

The other issue raised was how youth is portrayed in the film. A marauding teen gang stalk the rent collectors and the film opens with a beating and a mugging. I suppose what this gang symbolises is what's modern, and how there is a general distain by the new for the old, and how it pushes aside the old without care and consideration. Traditions are lost. Respect is not even considered.

I can understand the point being made, that youth gets a bad rap in films. That may be the case, but I don't think it's a misrepresentation. I think, I know, that side of society exists. There are people out there who have no consideration, no only for old traditions, but anything. People who would stab you as soon as look at you. Steal from you without a moments hesitation. Even while making this film I had some strange encounters, things which never happen me. When I was scouting the park where Pat is attacked I heard a voice call out, "What are you fuckin doing?" I look around a saw three teens, two girls and a boy, 15/16 years-old, standing near the water drinking Budweiser, "I'll fuckin slap the head of ye" he went on to say. I shook my head and moved on.

I was tempted to continue the conversation in a less cordial manner, but I didn't see the point. This area had been in the newspapers recently because of kids with knives and air guns threatening and attacking people walking their dogs. So regardless of the fact that I was twice the age and size of the kid I didn't really want a knife in my side! Bear in mind too that this area is right beside my parents house, I grew up there, played there everyday as a kid, and now I'm being threatened in it.

Another incident happened when we were shooting the first scene where the teens attack Liam. We were in an area that again has been in the news for incidents like this. I thought we'd be safe going down there mid afternoon on a sunny day. But then some kids started to arrive, a bit annoyed that we were in there spot, but they moved on, great I thought, fair play to them, feeling a little guilty that I was portraying them in such a bad light... until they started throwing rocks at us, almost hitting us and the equipment, including a case of lenses worth ten grand!

The fact is that this is an element of society, it always has been and always will be. You just have to go back to films like Clockwork Orange, or even as far back as the slightly more naive The Wild Ones, or even Rebel Without a Cause. It's nothing new. It's rebellious youth raging against whatever they can. Unfortunately, perhaps more now, the level of violence has escalated and people are being badly beaten and sometimes stabbed. It's just a fact. I'm not going to shy away from it to spare feelings if that's what the story is about. And it is just one story about one incident, it's not suppose to be a representation of all teens, you have take the film on it's own terms.

Another fact is that this is actually based on true events. In my research I asked Bosco if he had ever been mugged and he said no, but a colleague of his had and been so badly beaten that he was left in intensive care, which is what sparked the decision to take the rent collectors off the streets.

I don't think all teens are like this, of course I don't, I work with them! I cast them in this film! And I think that shows that I do have respect for youth, but a creative, intelligent and constructive youth who put the energy into creating rather than destroying. I've worked with Shane and Eric twice now, they played the kids in Emily's Song and I loved working with them. I love their energy and creative spark. I hope to work with them again in the future and I hope to be able to work with other kids and teens in future projects because they bring so much positive energy and fun to set.

There is a moment in the film which offers some hope I think. When the teens run after mugging Pat, the camera catches Andy before he runs and we see his shock and regret. He plays a character who has fallen in with the wrong crowd and just gets caught up in the moment, never expecting it to end in such a violent manner. Which I think is often the case, while teens can be load, boisterous, sometimes intimidating, there not all bad, but in certain gangs, in certain situations it's one bad apple who can push things that little too far.

Well, I hope that clears a couple of things up. I really appreciate people watching and leaving comments on my facebook page. The film will be taken down tomorrow, so catch it while you can. Thanks.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Slán agus Beannacht Goes LIVE!


You know I figured I made a film, it's sitting on my computer and no one's watching it so I'm bloody-well going to show it!

I've been holding off because I still want to enter some festivals and hopefully find distribution and maybe make some sales for broadcast, but I also want people to see it. So I'm going to have my cake and eat it too. So I'll abide by the rules of most festivals and distribution deals and only have up for two days, this weekend, until Monday morning.

It will go live at 7pm... that in one hour! And be up until 11 AM monday morn. So if you want to catch it head on over to Vimeo http://vimeo.com/12871495 and enjoy. Do leave a comment and let me know what you thought, great thing about the internet that, you can be interactive with your audience. I'll be available to answer any questions you have or discuss any thoughts or be really ANGRY if you don't like it... nah, not really, I'm far too diplomatic!!!

Enjoy!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

IT'S ALIVE!

video
Courtesy of Shannon Mullins.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Done.

Well that only took two years!

Why did it take so long?! Lots of reason. We're not slow writers, honest! But we have limited time together to write. Thomas has a job a fair distance away and a wife and two kids! I have my own family now, though I didn't when we started this!

We first discussed this script when I was visiting my wife, then girlfriend in America on the trip when I asked her to marry me. We later got married got married. My grandmother died. And Thomas and I decided we would write Iscariot (then Night) together after a conversation at my grandmother's funeral. We got to writing it coming up to my wedding. I took a break for that obviously. Then in 2009 I shot a short films, Slán agus Beannacht and a feature Doc, 140! They kinda got in the way. Thomas went off to try and make an animated short based on a screenplay we had both written years earlier, to no avail. During this time I fell on one of the most difficult financial periods of my life, we had to close Pale Stone Productions after 4 years and my health was becoming effected. Also my wife became pregnant. We then had a baby! Things got a little better after that and we managed to get away for a vacation for the first time in two years, which also included the world premiere of my film!

We wrote during all of this, grabbing mornings and evenings when we could. And if you look at all the different drafts you might even see how all those things effected the writing. I know during my financial difficulties Thomas was also facing losing his job (which didn't happen thankfully) but the anxiety was there for both of us. That draft was very dark and violent. It's less so now, a bit more fun I think... well, actually - it's still pretty dark and violent!

We never thought about abandoning the script though. We were enjoying it. And I think we knew there was a good story there. We came a an impasse last year when I think we thought we had finished, but I think we just became stuck. We were ignoring major problems in the script. Issues with character development, holes in the plot and some major coincidences. With guidance and advice by some trusted friends and colleagues, Elliot Kotek, Paul Freany and Brendan McCarthy we were able to move forward with clarity. And I think this is a much better draft because of that.

After a reading at the Attic Studio and conversations with Brendan and Paul we began work on a Beat Sheet, something we had never done before but which prove invaluable. Immediately we were able to see where we were going wrong, where characters were repeating themselves, acting schizo, not participating, doing odd things, and all the plot holes, leaps of faith and coincidences came screaming out at us. We then spent 3 month writing a brand new beat sheet where we kept much of the story, restructered the events and brought many new elements and some new characters to the pot.

From that we began working on this draft. But even in the writing of this things changed. We didn't stick entirely to the beat sheet we had spent all that time working out. And I think by allowing ourselves to be creative and allow the characters to take shape more, things changed and it gave us much stronger draft. We're excited about it anyway!

So now the next steps is to get out into the world and into the hands of the right people who can help us make it the way we want to make it, helps us realise our vision. I'm not entirely sure how we're going to do that, but rest assured absolutely everything possible will be done to make it happen... watch this space.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Shadows


(Out of the Past: Nicholas Musaraca)

Welcome to my new-look blog! Thanks Blogger for you cool new designs! Things have been fairly quiet since I last posted, pretty much the same stuff going on, the big break hasn't happened yet!!! I just got the posters done for 140 and I've ordered postcards. I'm in the trying to get DVD duplications done but it's proving difficult, for some reason businesses in Ireland don't seem to want any business. I've been in touch with 3 companies in the last week and not one has returned my calls or emails! Whereas with a company in America I rang out of curiosity has fallen over backwards to give me all the information I need to get my business. I wish I could go with them but it's proving too expensive. Of course I would like to keep it local, but the locals don't seem to care! Frustrating!

Thomas and I are maybe 2 days away from finishing Iscariot. 2 years in the writing and we're coming close to the end! I'm sure there will be more development, and if we find a producer and get money to make it Im' sure the script will change again, but that's only natural. But for now, this is the draft we're sending out into the world to see if we can find that producer, find that money.

I'm really happy with it. We spent a long time and put a lot into it. And I've learned more about writing on this script, employing as many writing techniques as I could find to make it better. I honest don't think I'll ever be afforded the time we've had on this script again. But hopefully we wont have to take this long, hopefully we've learned enough that when the next one comes along we can apply all those new skills immediately and pump it out much faster. Hopefully we'll also be paid for it too and we can work on it full time! Not grabbing 2 hours here and there, mornings when possible, evenings when not! But we'll see. Maybe this script will tell us if we're good enough to actually make a career out of this, or if we're just fooling ourselves!

I think I've mentioned before that it's a dark action thriller, a throw-back to 1940s Hollywood film noir. And we want to shoot it that way. Our hopes for this project are to shoot it ourselves, to co-direct. To shoot it in a highly stylised and highly lit fashion and in black & white. If possible we've even talked about shooting in 1.37:1, or Academy. Which is the format film noir was shot in. It's unused now, everything is wide screen, but there is something special about 4:3, and something that lends itself to thrillers, particularly noir. It's smaller frame, so everything is forced to be closer. It creates a claustrophobic feeling. There's an oppression and buildings and rooms are allowed to rise higher, pressing down on the characters. Of course that'll probably never happen, it'll be a miracle if we get to shoot Black & White!

Most audiences, other then cinephiles, see Black & White as outdated, like VHS. They fail to see it as an extension of the art form. Another way of seeing and portraying things. They don't realise that some films could actually work better in Black & White, some stories are Black & White stories and perhaps they might actually enjoy them more if they saw them in Black & White because story would do a better job of communicated it's tone. What's so special about Black & White is that it creates a heightened reality that is purely and truly cinematic.

Look at the films of Nicholas Musaraca, cinematographer with RKO in the 40s who, with his lighting and shadows, largely influenced by German expressionism, shaped the look of the films that were to become known as film noir. This highly stylised look could only worked in Black & White and lends itself perfectly to the tones and themes of noir. This is the kind of thing we're after. I hope we can pull it off.