Location recce: SVEN-GUNNAR

I am happy to announce that the rural short horror film SVEN-GUNNAR (IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10515598/?ref_=nm_flmg_wr_2) is in production! Pre-production is mostly done now and the shoot is next week. More details to be announced on the film soon.

And yesterday we did our location recce for the film and so I got to spend the day in beautiful Hälsingland and hang out with Director Darwin Reina and lead actor Jonny Vikeväkorva Johansson (IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm10780320/?ref_=ttfc_fc_wr2) – and to meet the inspiration for the name of the movie in person. Although I don’t fear that the actual production might kill me, the mosquitos might.

The purpose of the trip, was to check the location – to plan which parts of the area to use for which scene and to do a preliminary run through of the blocking, but also while filming (sans lights) to gauge how doable the shoot will be, and to try and pre-empt any production issues that may arise e.g. such as needing antihistamines and the strongest repellent known to man etc 🙂 . But also for running through what you’ve scripted, to try and make it work in a run-through, to see if it has the desired effect.

The countryside was indeed beautiful in the sunny weather, as we passed a large lake and fields full of wild flowers and crops and many forested areas. And the main location is situated on a substantial and attractive period property (from the 1800s) – thanks very much to Jonny’s father-in-law and Mother for the use of their house. It was impressive and more than what we needed. As was the land all around it. We then found a forest location nearby at another relative’s house (where I was rapidly feasted upon by flying vampires) and later viewed some potential vintage cars for the film, and found a picturesque field behind that other property that could be perfect for the film too. It was great and the fact that his parents fed and watered us, let us have the run of the place and also helped us secure other important items was a huge help. Meanwhile Darwin took us through his ideas for the shots and we rehearsed / blocked out a few scenes.

It wasn’t all good. I think I’ve counted around 11 bites – all within a 20 minute stint in the forest. But may have missed a few. Thanks to the shingles, I am now allergic to such bites, whereas I never really was prior to last year. Dammit. But I will come more prepared next time. Top tip: don’t wear shorts and t-shirts just because it’s hot.

I am sure that there will be snags and challenges – especially with casting. But so far, as production has begun, things are looking good for this horror short. And we can’t wait to share more with you asap.

I’m just not looking forward to my next tussle with those mozzies….

Sometimes you need to step away…

Sometimes you just have to step away from the computer. 

Seriously. I will explain:

On Sunday, I’d worked hard creating a layered graphic in GIMP (the free graphics tool), and imported a .PSD file into FCP X – my video editing programme – to edit the end title card of the teaser trailer – the bit that just says ‘coming soon’….. It was a copy of the intro title card, with some slightly different wording. Exactly the same as the Intro Title card in design / no settings changed. 

I imported it into FCP X and it came out blank. All the layers were black. There was no visible workable data. Even changing the file name and reimporting or trawling GIMP and FCP message boards didn’t help. In the end I just gave up.

I sat before the same computer this afternoon, and I was planning to recreate the same title card, to find a workaround, but figure that before I do that I will give it one last go. And… It worked first.f@cking.time! WTF!

I’m kind of Hapgry… or Angpy… not sure what is the best combination of the two emotions in one word. Happy that it now works, but angry that something that should have worked first time did not and all that has changed is that I have not had time to tackle it again since Sunday!

But if you want to know why editing can take so damn long some times, hopefully the above clears a few things up. But maybe life was just telling me to step the hell away for a bit and do something else for a while.

If you google the issue – in the past it seems that this was caused by people doing 16-bit graphics, and changing to 8-bit fixed it. And of course previous FCP X updates addressed this issue with PSD files not displaying correctly. But what do we do when FPC X doesn’t play well with perfectly good files? What do we do when a reboot won’t fix it? What do we do when we’re up against an urgent edit timeline and nothing logical seems to fix it? – Personally I don’t like those stakes. But it’s something that should be considered if you’re ever working with layered graphic files in your edit.

Anyway, now the edit of MR CLEAN can continue…..

An update – MR CLEAN, ZOMBIE MINTS and more

I posted that last update – the review of 2018, mainly because, no matter how embarrassing some of that baloney is, it throws some interest new light on what’s happened since or rather what was (and is) going on in the background on the filmmaking side and I thought it would be good for me to do a catch up on my creative goals.

Also, this is not an attack. This is a journal of my creative endeavours and I am just needing to explain what is going on and why it has happened. Please do not hold any ill will here. We’re all human, and all fallible and I for one and far from perfect.

And this is a cursed post. I’ve tried around 20 times to get this damn blog to post this text…

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50K Nanowrimo2014 target achieved – what Next?

So – as of yesterday at 11:11pm I managed to hit my #nanowrimo2014 of 50,000 words just half way through the month! This has never happened to me before – considering the last time I did Nanowrimo I did exceed my target, but with only a few days to spare.

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 23.13.58

 

I was both ecstatic when it happened, but also feeling all kinds of strange feelings, elation, mixed with despair (‘What would I do with myself now?’) and also heightened by a large weight having been removed from my shoulders. So I tweeted:

Then I made sure my baby was backed up (on my hard drive, USB stick, to Drop Box and to One Drive – paranoid? Who me?) and went out for a walk in the brisk Stockholm night air, to calm down, and do some thinking as I wandered the almost abandoned night streets. I had two questions to answer – how had I felt the process had gone and what to do next?

So how had I managed to complete the challenge so quickly?

This is the first Nanowrimo – or the first time during any writing project! – that I have planned in advance. I am a classic pantser. I have tried planning / outlining and structuring before and never completed it. Usually I get distracted quicker than a dog at a fire hydrant museum and after a few dedicated hours of effort I drift off and find myself starting to write. But this time I was relatively steadfast and forced myself to spend a good month and a half planning (I’ll explain more about the process I’m using later). I didn’t complete the planning in time, but I did manage to at least set up a separate scrivening scene for every idea or scene I wanted to cover in my novel. I also managed to assign meta data in Scrivener to every scene – so I could use the status of the files to find out which ones needed working on, if I decided not to work in a linear fashion and jump around – and I knew which characters were in which scene and what time of day the scene took place, in case I wanted to kill characters or merge scenes or basically move things around. I would know at a glance if my ideas would work. I would also be able to easily filter based on specific criteria and jump to any scene I wanted.

The main thing that helped me – but I also found to be a creativity limiting factor – was having a feature film script already prepared previously. I had basically taken a script and taken the scene information and used that as the basis for my planning. So in most cases I had a good idea of what the scene was about and where it should go. Here’s an extract from the first page of the script:

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.30.44

(I will explain more about the process of taking a script back into Scrivener – from Final Draft – and breaking it down for adaptation purposes, in another later post)

So, with that level of detail you’d think it would be a breeze right?  Well I found that when my fingers wanted to dance across the keys and I wanted to write the scene in a fresh creative way, I’d often be trapped into a mindset where often all I could see was the original scene in my head. It was tough sometimes, when my energy levels were lower, to be able to see the way it should flow from a novel view point, maybe to see the scene from a character’s perspective, rather than the viewer’s perspective – which after all is how a script is written. The script is far from perfect. In fact I had wanted to do a complete rewrite on important sections of the plot to fix it – because I realised later in the process, that I had started to rewrite, making brutal changes to the plot and not finished the job or tidied up after myself by leaving detailed notes about where my mind was at the time. So there are massive chunks that conflict with previous scenes or that were just plain missing! But the real positive I found for me, when I felt like I was really writing and in that creative flow, was when whole new scenes would flow from my fingers and onto the page, or I’d see the scene in greater and fresher detail, and I’d wonder how I’d missed key details when I was writing the scenes of the original script!

And work was also a factor – this was the first year that work was not absolutely insane for me. I am between main gigs, looking for work contracts as a freelancer, and purely through scheduling issues with certain projects starting, I found myself with a window to devote almost entirely to Nanowrimo. I’d have to spend a few hours each day on work related stuff for the most part, with only the odd insanely demanding day, but mostly I was able to force myself to focus on the novel – in between conversations with my partner, trying to keep fit, housework and cooking, and socialising. And I did have to force myself – especially when having to deal with my insomnia or illness. It’s not fun writing when your heart isn’t in it and you feel like crap and you can barely think straight. in fact I did have a few days of terrible performance; but never a day when I didn’t write a single word! When you read all those inspirational articles on writing you find that the one central and great truth is that writing is a [mental] muscle. You have to work it hard, flex it and get it used to hard work. it has to be developed. Then, when you have to dig deep inside for a small grain of something, to put onto a page in your moment of need, things like ‘writer’s block’ rarely are a genuine blockage.

In fact, I hope that such effort can be maintained. I hope that I can plan more. I hope that I can force myself to write each day – as I’ve done – to continue to develop that muscle activity.

So what will I do next?

I was almost toying with writing a second novel, over the rest of Nanowrimo, to see how far I could get with more pantsing. lol As I do love writing and I’m not short of other ideas. But I think that I will continue with this novel – I still have more to write. I’m guessing around 10K more. But I am still in the end of a slightly bloated Act Two, so there is definitely more work to be done.

Once that is done – i still have various planning activities to do – like finish constructing the maps of my locations, finish defining my characters – their backstory, timelines and motivations – so that I can really nail these details when I next come to work on the rewrite / second draft. Those activities will definitely keep me busy.

For anyone else still in this journey with me – stay strong! You’re awesome! I’ve already seen three people fall by the way side, unable to see the challenge through. The fact that you’ re doing this is great. There were plenty of times when I wanted to give up on this foolhardy quest. Of course I’d much rather be drinking and going to parties, than sitting staring at a screen, or cursing my neighbours for having a party when I very much needed sleep after a tough writing day. Or having nice dreams instead of the blood-soaked visions of torture that bled through from the page into my subconscious in the rare moments when I did sleep. There were days when I hated what I was writing and wanted to jump onto another idea, or do anything else, like scrub an oven, rather than stare at a page – even with knowing for the most part what I was to write! Keep at it people!

For me, I’m going for another walk, then I’m going to get comfortable and I am going to get me another 2.5K under my belt before the end of the day. If I don’t, something bad is going to happen. I know this because my harsh taskmaster of a brain tells me this. He says that if you want to open door no.2 you’ll get a nasty surprise. Go through door no. 1 and don’t be foolish. I think I’ll take his advice. I can hear the claws on the other side of door no.2 and I don’t fancy meeting what’s on the other side.

 

 

JUGGERNAUT – A novel by Adam Baker – review

I first became aware of Adam Baker’s writing when searching from some holiday reading. Shopping sites remember our preferences, and sometimes they’re even correct – sometimes – and this time when searching for post apocalyptic pandemic / zombie fiction it presented OUTPOST to me. At the time of purchase there were only a few reviews. Although the reviewers were divided, the positive reviews filled me with hope that I would find a new PONTYPOOL or 28 DAYS LATER between the covers. It wasn’t until I was sequestered in by the pool, in the shade, so pale that I appeared to be in black and white compared to the other resort guests, and opened the cover of the book, that I realised I was in for a skilfully crafted and incredibly addictive joyride. Outpost

OUTPOST was an unforgiving tale of Arctic desperation, and ever pervading dread: seen through the eyes of a suicidal overweight priest and the crew of a defunct oil rig; watching the world submit to a global pandemic which turns its victims into a 21st century version of the living dead. Every page was either filled with the slow dread of eventual starvation, submitting to the elements and the bite of the infected, or I was captivated by the survivors’ Maguyver-esque attempts to turn the tables on fate.

I couldn’t wait to tweet about it as soon as I finished it – being a social media-addicted saddo (hence the blog) – and tell people that they need to grab a copy at once. That’s how I eventually came to own a pre-publication copy of JUGGERNAUT; a sort of prequel, if you will. Adam Baker read my tweets. We then corresponded. And when Adam later announced that he had written a new tale, I jumped at the chance to get my greasy paws on it. And I’m glad that I did… (forgive any spoilers!)

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