A little about me
Why do i love films? It’s not from my Mum though i can tell you that. I’ve tried countless times to watch a film with her, but it always ends in her falling asleep. No seriously, that isn’t a joke. Her entire film list she has stayed awake through: Dirty Dancing, The Full Monty, Gone With The Wind, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Railway Children. Admittedly it’s not the most impressive resume of films (besides The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas which is an excellent film… touche mum).
So no, it’s not from my Mum, perhaps it’s my Dad?
My Dad in his youth was in fact a part of a BBC young film-makers competition winner and went on to make a film for the BBC, which is all i ever hear about whenever film-making is in conversation, ‘… I won the competition for doing a film about a boy drowning, but telling the audience he had drowned by showing a ‘Careful Deep Water’ sign, with it going from sun to rain to snow’. Although i’ve never actually seen this film, i take my Dads word for it. Yes it’s from my dad, he’s always watching films, talking about films, suggesting ideas for films. He took me to my first film, Space Jam when i was 5 at the old cinema in town, (I say old because it’s not been there since i was … well about 5 really it shut down shortly after my visit.) It was since then i wanted to watch anything and everything to learn more about the cinematic world.
First Film – The Matrix
I was a part of my first film around the age of 11/12 with my cousins Chris and Luke, as well as our good friend Vernon. We all loved the matrix, and decided to make a matrix spoof up at Cavendish playing fields. We experimented with different shooting sequences, punching replays and had the most fun you can imagine! I don’t know where this video is, but i can only imagine it to be amazing. Of course all of the editing to the film involved stopping the camera at the right time and pressing record at the right time so… draw your own conclusions on how how good it actually is. I realise the title to this paragraph may have misled you to believe i was on the set of the Matrix, and for that i apologise.
Second Film – The Matrix … Again.
Not content on making one Matrix spoof film i took it upon myself to organise another Matrix film which was to be made. This time, it would be better. This time we would make a great Matrix spoof. We had Vernon, Alex and this time Mitch was going to act in it… All after school of course so costume was never great. Again recorded on to the camera in a way which was also edited on their too, i remember their being a sequence of me shouting ‘Who is it?’ with Vernon replying ‘John Smith’, and we couldn’t rewind and record over it at the specific point and ended up with 4 versions of the who is it? shouting, due to retakes because of giggling and laughing of course. This was my first real project i was in charge of filming and i loved every minute of it. The ‘money’ shot of the entire production was a fight sequence which was held in town. We chose outside the post office because there is a good footfall of people, as well as a phone booth next to us for the eventual pick up of the phone to get out of the matrix! So, we went down on the Sunday morning in the glorious sun and begin planning out the sequence. As a few takes were filmed, what we didn’t realise is that there were crowds gathering right behind us, and a lot of attention was at us. We though this was fantastic and kept filming as many fighting bits as possible (note: When i say fighting i mean fake sequences and no real punches were ever thrown, we were slightly wimpy granted). After a while we hear a band in the distance, and notice a band is marching up the road? This was a perfect opportunity to add production value to the film! So we had the most amazing fight sequence with this amazing backdrop which looked (at the time) fantastic. We later realised it was Remembrance Sunday, and perhaps not the respectful thing we could’ve done, at the time of finding out we felt terrible, but has now turned in to a nice little anecdote.
Ultimate Stick Fighting Championship (USFC)
In year 8or9 we decided we wanted to make more fighting videos. Now I don’t know where our obsession for this genre came from, but we couldn’t get enough of it at the time. We made a video called ‘Ultimate Stick Fighting’ which involved, as you can imagine… Us in the woods fighting with sticks. I played an evil french man (with long blonde hair) against Vernon ‘the mean Chinese man’, with Alex Wood as the typically good English guy, we had mock story lines and different levels of the competition as well as co-ordinated fight sequences which was incredibly fun. But alas these videos are on an old computer some place, at least i think, and unfortunately can’t find it! Around this period of time we made a tonne of little films, one included the Blair Witch project which was 1 shot, in fact most of the stuff around this time was one shot, (a way of getting around the editing on the camera..) involving me holding the camera and running down a pathway with my 2 friends following, i turn around once to see them both, turn around again to see 1, and finally turn around to see no one, i then turn the camera on myself say how scared i am, and turn the camera around looking at our friend Tom who was wearing some normal clothes, looking like a regular 12 year old boy with his arms out like a ‘demon’. It wasn’t scary in any way shape or form, but it was entertaining nevertheless.
My first Youtube video appeared about year 10/11.. ish or some time in there, I was massively in to online gaming at this time (cool i know) and didnt really make films. I got in to making miming videos, about 5 in total (i believe this was the start of my miming for my end of days craze
It’s amassed 2044 views to date, which is amazing considering what it actually is. Needless to say upon this video being released only a day passed before everybody at school had seen it… And i went from being a pretty cool to the most uncool kid in the school. Awesome!
Eventually in 6th form i took Film Studies as an option module. I used to watch films because they were fun and helped with escapism, like with a book or a game you can immerse yourself in a film for one and a half hours (or so..) and not worry about what team we are position the manager was going to put me in on the Sunday. I was taught what a shot type was, (an extreme close up was always my favourite because of the word extreme, until i was told about an extreme long shot, and then i didn’t have a favourite shot type anymore) what a contiguity edit was, what a tracking shot was and it was at this moment i realised i had been watching films with my eyes shut. I learnt to read films, became cine-literate, being able to tell what was going to happen due to a lingering shot on the dropped book. This excited me.
‘Everything in the mise-en-scene is there for a reason.’ Is what my teacher Mr Key would say. The film-maker is in control of everything, every minute detail you see on the picture is to be seen as being there on purpose, for meaning. Film-making is sounding fun, it sounds like something i want to do, want to perfect. Admittedly I had already under-taken a few projects outside of school which can be seen on the ‘Old Videos’ page. It wasn’t until my 6th form film i decided to try and make something funny, which would make people laugh. The film ‘Yogi’ is about a man who is in love with a yoghurt called Yogi, and when the yoghurt has been finished, it turns in to a mad rush to go to the shops before closing time. As ridiculous as it sounds, it achieved it’s goal of being funny, and in places hilarious! Although most shots didn’t link up, using horrible transitions to cover up bad film making, it was a new experience having full control of the camera, and the ability to edit it on a computer.
The Sony camcorder has washed out colours, poor sound quality and general poor video quality, however it doesn’t lessen the watch-ability or enjoyment of the video. Yes the ‘memories’ part of the video fades to white before going black and white, but so what, it looked cool at the time! This video actually got 29/30 at A level standard, which makes me believe A level film standard isn’t quite up to scratch with the University standard which would’ve failed me for making something so technically poor. Funny but poor. This short set the tone for most of my later projects as i’ve always had an interest in making people laugh using the medium of film.
University and Beyond
I then got the A levels to study Film Production Technology at Staffordshire University. At university, the first 2 years almost everything was a group project, with just a couple of projects on your own. In the group projects everybody has so many ideas, strong personality’s and little no experience in front of a camera. Unfortunately most of the university first year films haven’t made it to the internet, and I presume have been deleted. I say deleted because who would want to save them? They were really that poor, and not of University standard. The only one saved is the video i made as part of the multimedia assignment, which is the skills video. On top of that a website was created and using Adobe After Effects the video was edited too. Although not a lot of stuff survived from the early days, a lot of the TV studio does remain, as well as some other little bits and pieces which can be found on the University page.
At the start of my second year, we had just moved in to our new house, and me and 2 of my house-mates Jack and Jamie sat in my room listening to some songs. Jack began playing the guitar, and i would sing along and Jamie began drumming. These roles didnt change once, and about 4 hours in to the ‘airing’ we decided to film Jack on my phone because it was hilarious. Note how sweaty he is.
We laughed for hours at what we had just done and decided it’d be funny to take the mic out of the bands who were out there by making a small video of us miming to the songs without using any instruments. This was the start of the ‘air band’ End Of Days.
End Of Days took a while to start up, with the first 3 videos focusing on the miming aspect. It was when ‘The Middle’ was made more of an effort went in to making the video side of things. Although when we want to all be in shot most of the time, it becomes difficult when there is no cameraman. We worked around this well though using the fade to different positions at the start, and then cutting to different band members throughout. Although this is the least viewed video, it is probably the most under-appreciated as it was a step up from the bands previous work. Eventually after the last video to be made ‘Flavour Of The Weak’ the website i had created a year ago, http://www.endofdays.webeden.co.uk had a huge redesign, keeping all of the videos in one place, as well as keeping the pictures of the band in one place too, and although serves to only add to the humour, it actually is a highly visitable site. I was asked by somebody if we did t-shirts, ‘T-shirts, hmm, that sounds like such a good idea, i will have to look in to that’ I thought about it for a while whilst looking it up online, and eventually ended up making my own band t-shirt shop http://www.endofdays.spreadshirt.co.uk, which integrates with the website too!
More of End Of Days can be found on the End of Days web-page.
Having taken up golf at the Start of my final year at University I became more and more in to it. Now i’ve always been pretty sporty, but this was a whole new level of obsession, which culminated in a couple months of going to the golf course on a daily basis. It was then when i decided my Final Year Project was to be about golf. I don’t want to go over it too much here because there is a lot to talk about! But needless to say, one thing led to another and I ended up making a 26 minute golf video, which ran as a live broadcast. Although it focuses on Television, it doesn’t mean this is necessarily where i see myself in 10 years time, it was more to do with my passion for golf and wanting to create a fictional golf tournament which was serious.
Anyway, to cut a long story short I eventually worked on a load of different videos during my time at university, and since graduating have already filmed a 2 hour 20 minute dance performance at the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre, designed and produced 150 DVD’s, although i can’t put any of the content online because I do not have permission to do so. The project on the whole went well, besides the actual filming of it, as we did a 3 point multi-camera shoot, of which 2 weren’t correct (mine was though!!!). Because we set up earlier in the day, the lighting wasn’t the same as it was at night! Which made setting up in the day pointless. The main camera at the back was too over-exposed and most of the faces look too white, and the third camera on the right hand side of the theatre was too shaky. Handheld you ask? Yes there was no where on the right hand side in the entire theatre (besides strapping yourself to the roof) therefore Richard was crouched in the middle of the aisle, and unfortunately no footage survived the edit.
Other summer projects include:
- Making a ‘Welcome To Matlock’ informative video from the point of view of two 20 year old Men. This may or may not be comedic.
- A martial arts film, which is dubbed to match nothing of what is going on in the action. Again, this may or may not be a comedic video.