Thursday, 17 January 2013

Cold - The Post Production Road to Perdition

Where to begin? That's usually the most pertinent question relating to a story, or script, and after the first few paragraphs it generally flows. Maybe. Hopefully the same with this blog then.
This journey on having 'Cold' as a completed film is nearing it's initial end. I place emphasis on the word 'initial'. With film being what it is, and the collapse of HMV is a case in point, distribution is akin to the task Bilbo had in getting rid of that pesky ring, (although my thoughts being that he should just have flown on one of giant eagles and dropped it off like a Fedex package may negate that analogy as in that case I should just put 'Cold' out on youtube thus foregoing the whole journey), it means that it may be a while before the film is actually available to be seen.

Now any projected timeline may be completely incorrect, although I would use my horror film 'The Inside' as a recent example, which was a significant reason in my placing of small shorts online whenever possible. That film was shot in 2009, and due to various issues in completing post and then getting distribution etc, will only now be released this March, almost 2 years later then I had initially wanted, and expected it to, although whether it will still go ahead as planned without HMV now will be an interesting question. This should not happen with 'Cold', as it is an entirely different beast, a different genre, different film, and I am a different film maker, but just as a comparison to how long things can take to kick off after a film is actually finished it is worth mentioning.

The first stages of 'Cold' were obviously the script, which was a relatively painless affair, as I was writing it with Tom in mind, and then when I got various other actors who I had worked to come on board I was able to re-evaluate certain characters and extend aspects of the story. People such as Liam Carney, Charlotte Atkinson, Yare Jegbefume, Melia Kreiling and of course Jack Reynor, meant that we could discuss the characters and bring more colour in at various points. Then of course there is Helen Pearson, who will be seen in a very different role to anything she has played before, and she is quite remarkable. The cast then, is very strong, and the acting impeccable, and hopefully thus very marketable with such young and upcoming actors there. However one never knows in film.

One of the hardest things in film making is to not make a constant retrospective analysis of what could have been done differently. The film was shot in barely 15 days, with the first block of 8 and a bit days done back to back, and we had barely any sleep. The second block in Dublin was much easier but was still equally intense. Part of the problems inherent in this is that there is no time to reflect on scenes and footage and very little rehearsal time to explore different elements of scenes, and also very limited time to explore other aspects of the storyline and maybe create fall back options. Thankfully that hasn't really been a problem, but there was very little prep time and I had a limited window to shoot with certain people, myself and Tom included as we both worked within days either side of shooting on Cold (Black Sails, and After Hours), so while this was my first film with any sort of budget, however limited, (and irrespective of the amount raised, you would be surprised at how quickly money gets eaten up once you have it), there was still that massive indie manner of film making. This is still indie film making of the highest order, only with a hugely talented cast, and a ridiculously super crew.

As it stands, Vicky Tooms, who I am very lucky to have found and who has such a love of film and a passion for this project, has spent the last 2months cutting the film from just bare rushes, syncing up the sound, and then cutting it together into a initial 3 hour cut. This wasn't a typical assembly whereby scenes are just a few shots to show the rough story, Vicky had cut all the scenes with much of the right pacing and sound so that even as a 3hour story it was a watchable film. Although being as long as the Hobbit may have been a little taxing....those self indulgent close ups between lines do get a little much eventually. So from a 3 hour initial cut, we worked on it over the last few weeks and got a first cut at under 2 hours. This was hard, there is nothing worse than cutting out scenes, and characters that you love, but unfortunately that is what I have had to do, cut out almost a straight 10 minute sequence which had so much work put into it, but simply didn't add enough to the story to justify it, and when it came down to getting the pacing correct, it had to go. I will put additional endings on a dvd when it is eventually released, and all the deleted scenes and explanation of these strands, but for now there is no choice but to remove them. As an example, I had to remove two of my favourite scenes between myself and Tom Hopper, simply because they slow the story down, and are not needed in the overall context, the same with a lovely scene with myself and Jack Reynor. As stand only scenes they are great, but at the wrong place they can take away from the story rather than add to it. So from this first cut, we had a little test screening and have now cut it down to just over 90 odd minutes, which is the target time, optimal from a viewing point of view, and hopefully with enough space to continue with the original style.

Funny things happen when editing films, as they do when shooting them, in that they can come alive, or die depending, and elements that you were so certain of, no longer work. When a film is put together as a whole things can change. Thankfully so far it is following the vision I had when first trying to put it together last May/June. But you never know. On that note, if the film is completed within the next month or so, it will complete a remarkable turn around from less than 10 months of having a rough script to a finished film. Whether that is a commendable thing or not remains to be seen!

So, to continue, as I have most likely digressed at this point, once myself and Vicky have found a cut that we are satisfied with and we have had some opinions on it, so it's not just the two of us in our little cloud bubble land surrounded by marshmallows thinking it's magical and is an actual solid cut in reality, then we begin the sound mix. With a quite wonderful sound designer on board this is quite exciting as there is nothing more unpalatable than watching something that doesn't sound correct, it's simply tiring on the senses and impossible to watch. Which as an aside does make test screenings very hard as without the correct music, and sound design, and even the right colour grade, can make the film hard to view correctly as you have to be gentle with your opinions. Once all the above elements are in place, a very different film can emerge. To this end, the colour grade, being done in Dublin, is very exciting as it looks beautiful as it is, God Bless Eimear Ennis Graham my cinematographer, and then the music, with some sublime tracks by the Evora, and then a soundtrack score by the irrepressible Kevin Whyms, who's soundtrack for The Inside completely changed the mood and tone of that film, should really elevate it.

But you never know.

As it stands I am hoping to have a finished version, (lacking in a few things, but to all extents and purposes fine for initial viewing and festivals), by the middle or end of February, and then it is to the sky I shall look to see where we go next. It really is a 4, maybe even a 5 stage process, from the conception and writing, to the actual pre production and organisation, to the physical shooting, and then to the hard part, the post production, where the film either flourishes, or withers away and dies. Then, with a finished film, the marketing has to occur, the selling, the discovering of a sales and distribution agent. With Charlie Casanova, an interesting template for indie films, albeit an exception in many ways, the film took two years to get physically released in cinemas, as I shot that for Terry only a few weeks after shooting The Inside. But Charlie did it's festival run, and then, after garnering sufficient accolades and acclaim, it got a theatre run. So with Cold, it is unknown yet the route we will take. Most films have a certain element of distribution planned out and most of the time pre-sold, but with Cold this film has no big production or distribution company behind it, just an idea, some inspiration and very talented film makers.......

So that is where we are at.....I shall update anybody is interested, and I hope all you wonderful people who engaged in the Indiegogo appeal and ColdCon are a part of that elite group. I will be following up with many of the perks from that appeal, but as must be recognised, may of the perks, such as music and films etc cannot be given out until the film is actually released, with posters etc, we can do that, although it depends if people want to wait until an actual official poster and trailer is out there.....but until then don't worry, you will still be the first to find out what's going on....sure I have no idea what's going on at the moment so we are all in the same boat!

Much love.


PS: I haven't proof read this, so if it has spiralled off there is nothing that I can do about it.

Youth on a bus

It's been an obnoxiously long time since I blogged in any shape or form, and in the last few months I lost my way with certain writing too, getting very wrapped in finessing my film 'cold', and in American with NBC's 'after hours', which I may have been remiss in not writing about. So a proper updated 'cold' blog will be forthcoming, maybe today, but in the meantime I figured I'd restart my enthusiasm for e blogosphere with a poem, in the same vein as all the previous....and thus whet my appetite for the form of writing again.....


There's an energy to them,
A nervous
Swagger that feeds each, and
Makes everybody around
shrink into their seats
Like innocuous versions of themselves.

Each boy wears clothes too big 
That don't fit;
track suit bottoms down
Below the waist, jackets 
Hanging like pouches of
Fattened cotton,

That highlight his own motif,
Separating his 
Individuality from this conformity
Of being separate,
Which he wears with 
Showy, hopeful pride.

For some it's hair,
Clipped tight to the scalp,
Or a gaudy piercing
Through the lip or brow,
For others no more 
Than a ring on a finger.

But it's the pack mentality 
That concerns the plebs, not fashion.
The quick instinct
To follow the most virile
That has taken control
In that unquestioning moment,

Where nothing else comes into
Their thoughts but
Adherence to their group,
Dismissing circumstances like
Unhindered by consequence.

Yet underneath this bravado.
Below the thin veneer
That disguises their character,
Lies a desire for affection.
A yearning truth
Of humility and loyalty.

Brazen though this appears,
It's all a game.
A social ladder
That they clamber forth
On a daily basis
Searching for themselves.

As we all do.