Crowdfunding & Recent Inspirations

We're 19 days into our crowdfunding campaign for Wash Club. There's been insanely busy days and there's been nail-bitingly slow ones too - but I'm pleased to say that we've had at least one pledge every single day of the campaign so far. We've just had our 73rd pledge and raised £1772 from the crowd. Combined with our funding from Creative England and BFI.Network that's a total of £6,772 so far!

Crowdfunder.co.uk/washclub - 1st May 2016

Crowdfunder.co.uk/washclub - 1st May 2016

Whilst we've been plugging social media feeds with updates, thank you's and personalised drawings, we've also been hard at work in the background, developing the script, our ideas and our creative team.

As much for my own records as anything else, I've put together a short list of some recent influences and ideas that have caught my attention online.

"Toilet Paper" by Chad Thompson may seem like a world away from Wash Club, but as the short builds there's some really interesting use of montage to tell the story. The film uses similar visual cues repeatedly - framing characters and action in similar ways in different contexts to propel the plot and create humour. Reminds me of the work of Edgar Wright. It's a surreal, strange little piece that's well worth your time - even if it doesn't really make any sense whatsoever. 

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I stumbled across this track on Spotify while I was putting together a mix tape for Wash Club. I find that making a music playlist for a film project is a great way of getting into the zone of a project quickly. You can work on something so long you forget what it is that made you fall in love with it in the first place. Music is a shortcut back to that first impression. 

http://www.takeawayscenes.com

Recently discovered Takeaway Scenes - an anonymous performance project where filmmakers across the globe produce single take scenes that follow a strict set of guidelines. Perhaps the most significant of which is that nobody is credited for their work. In a world where every creative is competing for the next job, not crediting yourself for a lot of hard work seems counter-intuitive, and yet this collection comprises of some of the best short films I've seen in a while. 

Channel Criswell is a great resource for in-depth film analysis. This essay on Her caught my interest because of the way in which the characters needs and desires are applied to the cinematography and visual identity of the film. Theodore is often seen isolated, disconnected from his environment (the city) through the use of shallow focus. As the character becomes more self-aware, his environment starts to come back into focus.

Are You A Member Of Wash Club?

Wash Club is a short film about how an aspiring journalist accidentally becomes the ringleader of a death cult. Based on a true story.

For those of you who might not know already, I am involved in a short film project that has received backing from iShorts 3 via Creative England and BFI.Network. This is the result of a lot of planning, production meetings, pitches and laundrette visits. 

 

I first heard about Wash Club on BBC Radio 4's Short Cuts Podcast, where poet and playwright Ross Sutherland had a spoken word piece explaining how he accidentally formed a secret society. The story had me gripped immediately and I knew it would make a great short film, so I did a little research and reached out to Ross. This was in May 2015.

Wash Club Podcast

We were both aware of iShorts and spent a good few months having meetings and exchanging emails, talking about how we could adapt this story into a film format. When the application rolled around in October 2015, we pooled all of our resources together and submitted the treatment. 

Our Producer Lauren Parker and Director Of Photography Karl Poyzer were both on board from Day 1. We've done several music videos and short film projects together and were eager to take this next step as a team. Lauren was already successful last year with her Kickstarter campaign for Lab Rats - a short body horror which attracted a lot of attention and went on to feature at several festivals.

Lab Rats Kickstarter Page

We finally heard back from iShorts in December and by January we were having a meeting with Jessica Loveland and Peter Parker, discussing what we hoped to achieve with Wash Club. By February we were notified that our pitch had been successful from over 300 applications and that we'd been awarded £5,000 in production support.

crowdfunder video.00_11_20_19.Still007.jpg

Creative England's support doesn't end with the money. Since then we've been involved in several development workshops and seminars from industry professionals which has proven invaluable. Pavel Jech, author of "The Seven Minute Screenplay" flew over from Prague just to give a lecture on story. We also had Bafta Nominated Director Dan Elliott come and give practical, insightful advice on his approach.

The next step in securing our funding is through crowdfunding. This is something that I've always been reluctant to do as a film maker - mostly because of the fear of rejection and failure that comes with putting yourself out there, cap in hand and asking for donations. It was never going to be easy, but I had the help of a truly inspiring team and I'm pleased to say that we've already raised nearly 1k in just 7 days from 32 backers whom I'm eternally grateful to.

This is just the beginning - we've still got a long way to go but I'm confident that we can do it. The original Wash Club happened because it was a story that grabbed peoples attention. It was the crowd that made it a reality. Now, 17 years later, we are asking the crowd to do the same thing again. 

Our Crowdfunding Page

Are you a member of Wash Club?

#youarenotyourlaundry

Adem - SURROUNDED

How we found the perfect song for a music video concept, a year after I wrote the pitch.

"Surrounded" by Adem is the story of a suicidal man who is pulled from the brink by a random act of kindness.

Commissioned Via Radar Music Videos.

I had the idea for this music video about a year ago whilst working on another project. I could see it in my head. I knew it would work, but I didn't have a track. It was shortlisted in one form or another a handful of times but ultimately ended up gathering digital dust in the corner of my desktop. I say this because it's too easy to get disheartened and loose faith in your own work - but just because it doesn't work for one person, doesn't mean it wont work for another. 

As soon as I heard Adem's track on Radar, I realised I had found a track that not only worked for the video, but enhanced it. I pitched the same day the brief went up, which is something I never do, but suddenly there was an energy in the idea again, a new angle to a concept I thought I already had down.

The piece was originally inspired by the classic video for "Just" by Radiohead and the famous image of the Burmese Monk from RATM debut album. I remember seeing that picture for the first time - the state of mind you would have to reach in order to do that to yourself - it's mind-boggling - I literally couldn't imagine a worse way to go - which I guess is the point. 

People go about their everyday lives in a bubble - we are always moving from one thing to the next. Whether that person next to you is having the worst day of their life or not never really factors in - but sometimes it does - sometimes the bubble pops and you are confronted with a diversion from the norm. When the businessman pours petrol all over himself for the first time, he is bursting that bubble - and not just his own.

There's a rule about having things happen in threes that I attribute to Robert Rodriguez - in which you show the same action three times, but each time you see it, there is a progression. The first time the petrol pours it's an act of destruction, but the second time, it's an act of salvation - by the third - it's already a parody of itself. I think I was weary of it being too melodramatic so I was keen to add in surreal beats of humour here and there.

About two years ago, Karl and I shot a music video for Kilter feat. Youth - which was basically two people kissing in slow motion at sunset. That was our first music video together, and for all it's faults, is still one of our favourites. From a cinematic perspective, we loved the idea of really amplifying a small moment into something more dramatic. This video felt like pushing that idea to the next level - adding layers and more moving parts - building on the foundations of what we've done before.

Three Girl Rhumba - MINNIE DRIVER

How we shot a music video in a single day with an actress from a hit TV show for £800.

Minnie Driver is the debut single for Three Girl Rhumba. Starring Lucy Carless (Mattie, Channel 4's Humans) the video is a nostalgic narrative about the trials and tribulations of an intimate friendship.

Commissioned Via Radar Music Videos 2015.

This video was something of a minor miracle. The music was fantastic, but the budget was set at £500 and I knew it would be tough to do the track justice for that price. That said, I decided to send the band a short statement and few examples of my work. There was no pitch per-se, it was more of an introduction.

Tom Thurgood (lead singer) works in film production himself and was impressed by what our team had achieved previously. He reached out and was willing to put in an extra £300 on the condition that I could pool our team together for a narrative video. Narrative is always going to be tough on a tight budget, but Tom had connections to the Television Workshop and was keen to help us cast a strong actor in the lead role.

I went back to the drawing board and produced a loose story/character structure that I felt suited the nature of the track. I knew that so long as we could get a good cast together we would create something worthwhile. My previous few videos had been planned to the smallest detail and it felt like it was time to try something more loose and improvised. After all, if production can be summed up in one word, then it's collaboration.

Lucy Carless had just come off the back of a successful stint on Humans and happened to be a big fan of Three Girl Rhumba. Tom reached out to her and she was keen to come on board. On top of Lucy, I had a mental shortlist of local talent who I'd been wanting to work with for some time, so we made a few calls and within a matter of days our cast were locked in place.

In order to make it work, we had to find dozens of locations within a small footprint. In total we did three separate location recces, building up a catalogue of stills and maps of varied and interesting spots. Combing this info with sunrise and sunset times, we were able to know exactly where we were going to be when the sun was at a certain height. After all, why hire in lights when you can use the biggest one in our solar system for free?

Karl Poyzer (Our DoP) and I had been talking about shooting on anamorphic lenses for some time. We loved the composition of 2:35:1 but always felt like we were 'cheating' a little by cropping in on 16:9 lenses so we made a creative decision early on to get hold of a set of Lomo's for the shoot. 

The shoot itself happened to fall on the same day as a major marathon and pretty much every main road in or out of the city was closed for the day. Lauren Parker (Our Producer) had to meticulously plan every single journey in advance so that we wouldn't get trapped by any of the closures. Despite this, we were still hit by a traffic jam that cost us 2 hours of light and to top it off our AD got a flat tyre during a location move.

The pressure of having to pull off several set ups in a single day actually led to more creative freedom . I told the cast that I wanted them to lead us and not to think about the camera at all. They stayed in character pretty much the whole day and we dropped in and out, grabbing moments as they happened. Almost every shot in the video is a 1st take and if nothing else, it's a testament to the quality of performance our cast achieved.

 If I came away from this video with anything it's that the less you set in stone, the more freedom people have to be creative. It was nerve-wracking going into a shoot without a shot list, but it was also liberating. Everyone on board the project gave 100% and I was humbled to be surrounded by such a talented bunch of people. Oh, and also, always feed people well. We spent 1/8th our budget on catering. A well fed crew are a happy crew!