Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Birthday Party!

My memory is a bit vague, but I think the project is 4 years old today (give or take a day). I can't recall the date, but it all really began one evening on the M5 (southbound, somewhere south of Taunton). Realising how beautifully simple the story is, and how it could be shot easily for little money, and also in a style that I could really call my own (a first!) were the deciding things.

Of course, none of us could have realised at the time that, although it was a relatively smooth shoot, post-production would drag on and on and on. And on. And on. Until you forget why you started working on it in the first place, and decide that you really should be doing something else with your life. But then have second thoughts about that as well, and then confusion sets in. And it generally doesn't plan to move out any time soon.

One of the few things that's kept me going over the past year is knowing that other films are in the same boat. Hearing of films that have been in post for 2 or 3 years has not been uncommon. Peter Strickland's Katalin Varga is a good case in point, and a good example of what can be achieved completely outside of the system, provided you're prepared to stick at it for years, rather than months, if that's what it's going to take to get it finished and out there. (For my money, Katalin Varga is easily the best 'British' film of the year. Another link about how the film got made here.)

So I would like to wish you all a happy new year, especially to those of you who are still in post yourselves. We may, Elder Gods willing, have Folie finished soon. (But how long is soon?)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

J. U. O. F.

That's 'Join Us On Facebook' - as the saying goes, rather than something rude. (Can you rearrange the letters, kids?) Yes, Folie now has its own FB group, where you can see a few clips and stills.

Go here and sign up.

Although, given the nature of the story, perhaps we really should put on a page on Bebo...

(And the nature of the story will become central to our marketing campaign - i.e. how much do we give away? "Oh Michael, I'm telling you the plot." - Kenny Everett (as Cupid Stunt)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Waiting for the (new) Man (or Woman)

Owing to various circumstances, most of which are beyond our control, we are now looking for a fresh pair of hands/ears/Mac to complete the sound mix on Folie. If you have ProTools and live in Edinburgh, get in touch!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Put Money in Thy Purse

One of the routes one has to take making a film with a very small budget is that one frequently has to use friends and friends of friends to fill certain crew roles. (In the case of Folie, I also had friends in the cast, but that would be a disservice to their professionalism; they are also professional actors and I wanted to work with them again after an earlier collaboration.) The advantage of this is that they are usually willing to work for much less than the going rate - which is nothing other than the tried and tested 'Corman Method', in which the great Roger Corman used to say 'get students, they're cheap'. This has mainly paid off with Folie, and we have gotten this far with our rather limited funds, but no film is ever made without unexpected problems arising.

Hence the current post. Most of the postproduction team have been brought onto the project by my co-producer, and they have done a great job so far. It's exciting to see the final layers being added to the film, in particular the subtleties of the soundtrack. We're adding a lot of non-diegetic sound (look it up on Wikipedia, kids), and I hope that we can also add a few sequences where there is almost no sound at all. (The Italian gangster film Gomorrah uses episodes of near silence to great effect, as did Edgar Reitz in Heimat II.) I've always had a silence fetish, and I hope this will be in evidence in Folie. But, as with all such budgetarily challenged projects, people have to go off and earn money on real jobs. Heck, I've even done it myself and am looking for paying jobs as I write. So we are at a standstill once more whilst a key player in the operation does properly paying work, and I am left waiting and sending emails which rarely receive a reply. It's a bit like making a film with Lord Lucan. But, if you're going this route to make a film, then it's something you have to live with, and get through. I don't want to begrudge anyone the right to earn some cash. Speaking of such things, the film itself needs cash...

Perhaps we should rechristen this not the Corman Method, but the Orson Method, as a homage to the great man's production techniques. I'm thinking in particular of the Othello shoot, in which, when the money ran out, cast and crew were left stranded in hotels whilst Orson went off to act in other people's films. It took him four years to make the film. I can recommend Michael MacLiammoir's Put Money in thy Purse, which is a great book about the making of the film. He was Iago to Welles's Moor, and therefore had firsthand experience of what it's like to make a film piecemeal. At least they were holed up in decent hotels. But as a motto, Put Money in Thy Purse both explains the current impasse on Folie, and also sums up the need for me to raise some more money to get the film finished. Like the Lord Our God, I will no doubt be paying for the rest of Folie myself, as investors seem to have gone bankrupt. Or joined Lord Lucan in darkest Africa...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The End is Nigh!

I don't want to make any definite statement at the moment, but it seems that we are now finally very close to finishing, after a rather long period of postproduciton, one that could be safely described as a fucking nightmare. (What film isn't, though?) A cast and crew screening will probably take place at some point before the end of the year, although it's a bit early at the moment to start thinking about anything as organised as a festival strategy...

Monday, October 05, 2009

And the News Is...

Well, there isn't any. Still trying to get the final mixing sessions set up, without a great deal of success so far. We could easily have the film finished by Christmas, but it all depends on what - if anything - we can get done either this month or next. It's extremely frustrating to have gotten so far only to have the film still unfinished, especially when festivals are starting to show an interest in it. Memo to self: give up filmmaking as soon as possible...

Monday, September 07, 2009

Funding Appeal - Only £1,000 Now Needed!

OK chaps, with few other ideas in my befuddled head about how to secure the measly £1,000 now needed to finish the film, I thought I would post here on the offchance a reader or readers of this blog might be going to the cashpoint this evening... Seriously, folks, we do need the cash to get it done as we're now finally very close to the end of the line.

We could have finished it a lot earlier, had we had the cash. In fact, I've worked out that so far this year, we have spent approximately 4 weeks working on Folie. The rest of the time has been spent waiting for money or downtime to use the necessary equipment (online suites etc). And of course the usual amount of worrying, cursing and setting the world to rights over a pink gin or two...

Drop me a line if you're able to help the Widow's Son...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mixing - In Progress

We started mixing at the end of June, and are now about halfway through. We've had another lay-off, although this one wasn't due to lack of funding, but due to the fact that our brilliant sound wizard, Hamish, went on holiday for two weeks, as did I myself. Louise and I spent a fortnight in Manhattan, never the most restful of places, schlepping around art galleries and applying copious amounts of foot cream to worn-down paws afterwards. We saw a great Chris Marker show and also had the unexpected pleasure of meeting the great documentary maker Albert Maysles. It was quite a trip, but I now need another holiday to get over it!

Now that we are all back in the UK, mixing will re-commence within the next week or so. It hopefully will be finished 'soon'. (I've given up announcing completion dates.) We are aiming to complete as soon as possible, as there is interest in the film, and it really is high time to get the beast out into the world.

In the meanwhile, our documentary about Scottish filmmaking genius Bill Douglas, Lanterna Magicka, has just been released on DVD. The film appears on disc 2 of the BFI's release of Comrades, Bill's legendary film about the Tolpuddle Martyrs. The disc has already had two very good reviews, which also give the thumbs up to our documentary. (See the Lanterna blog for more details.) Very nice to have such a positive response after three years' work. But the main reason for buying the DVD/Blu-Ray is, of course, Comrades. One of the greatest British films of all time, and something I have never really recovered from seeing. Yes - one of those films you can say changed your life. For the better, of course - as all good things do.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Beatles Rock

And this is the same rock the Beatles sat on, nearly 46 years later, taken yesterday after yet another depressing visit to the bank. Lack of money and absence: strange things.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Music History Part the Second

This is a bit OT, but as a Beatles fan and Weston historian, I thought I would post this link, which has plenty of Fabs-in-Weston photos, including one of those telescopes that you'll see in Folie... And if you scroll down, you'll see two home movie clips.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Location Burns Down

One of the locations we used in Folie has mysteriously burnt down. The Royal Pier Hotel in Weston-super-Mare, which appears at the end of the Chekhov scene, was gutted last night. It also appears in my short film Genius Loci, which was one of the episodes in Super-8 Cities. It's yet another Weston landmark to either be destroyed - as the Grand Pier was last summer, another fire - or let fall into decay - such as the nearby Birnbeck Pier, which is slowly falling into the sea. If Weston had a town council that had an ounce of imagination and moral fibre, these things wouldn't happen.

To go back to the fire at the Royal Pier Hotel, it sounds as though it was burnt down for the insurance, but the owners, who at one point were interested in investing in Folie, claim they don't have any insurance. The waters get murkier and murkier... It'll be interesting to see who they arrest.

The hotel is also part of music history: the gentlemen in the photo stayed at the Royal Pier Hotel when they played a week-long residency at the Odeon in Weston in 1963.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The End is Nigh!

No, I don't mean the end of the world is at hand, although I'm pleased to see that capitalism and (British) democracy are in dire straits. (And I'm a bit concerned about the bees disappearing... maybe they're leaving the planet like the dolphins did in Hitchhiker's.)

The news is, of course, that we are now in the home stretch on Folie. Sound mixing begins in Edinburgh on 22nd June. We have had a two month enforced lay-off, as the facility we have been using has been totally booked up and, as we're dependent on their downtime, had no option but to wait. This initially felt like one more delay - a delay too far, at that - but I've been so busy with the book and Cannes, that two months have gone by in a blur.

We hope to have the sound done by the end of June, and we'll then export back to tape in early July. I'm still hoping that it will all hang together. From what I've seen so far, it looks good, but, as Bresson once said, 'You will never know if the mountain range of efforts you are putting into your film will be worth it.' And if Bresson didn't know how his films would turn out, there's not much hope for anyone else...

And in the news for parrotts: I've just set up a new blog, which will detail other projects, although Folie updates will continue to be posted here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lanterna Magicka Trailer

A quick plug for our other film, Lanterna Magicka: Bill Douglas & the Secret History of Cinema. The film is being released on DVD next month, and the trailer is now online here and also here.

It's a relief to actually have something finished at last! Making two films at the same time is not recommended; making one is bad enough. I'm continually reminded of Noel Coward's line, 'Don't put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington.'

Saturday, April 25, 2009


The grading is done, and now sound mixing and design is the order of the day. I'm sure Bresson or Tarkovsky had insights about sound, but I don't have any of their writings to hand to have a look... (I'm sure B. said something like 'if it is all ear, give nothing to the image, and vice versa'. And T. certainly new a thing or two about great sound - just listen to the shepherdess's calls in The Sacrifice...)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Making the Grade

OK, pretty crap title for this post, but I haven't had a day off in weeks and am too tired to think of a better one. (What about Sir Michael? Sir Lew? Very Steep? Bottom?)

I watched a graded copy of the film last night, and can report that it's looking very good. A bit more wizardry needs to be applied to it - possibly making certain parts darker - but on the whole it really feels of a piece.

The pacing is also very good now - measured I think is the word I'm looking for. Some people might regard that as a polite way of saying slow, but then again these are probably people who are too stupid to watch Bela Tarr or Into Great Silence, and are not people I want watching my film. Let them have their sanitised Hollywood pap! Their tabloid newspapers! Their lives of quiet desperation and Tony Jacklin golf clubs! Off with their heads! Eugenics! Round them up!

Oh dear, I really must be tired. Better seek a darkened room, and go and lie down in it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Grading Started Today

Er.... that's about it. Should be finished by the end of next week, fingers crossed.

Still on the trail of a bit more dosh to tie things up, but apart from that, this final bit of the film is coming along nicely.

If anyone is interested in investing, please email me. We have a guaranteed theatrical release in North America, so investors should get a return on whatever they put in. (We shall of course be avoiding banks and their delightful CEOs like the plague. All money will be in bulging manila envelopes:-))

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Onlining, Grading & Finishing

On Friday we finished importing all the footage into the Avid online, which was a fairly painless process. It's actually also the first time I'd seen the film uncompressed, and can happily report that it looks very good, even without the grading. We also took a few things about - mainly cutaways that weren't working, but we also chopped out an entire scene and made some changes to the final scene. And a few things went back in: the cat (a superb feline performance), and two shots which have never been in any previous cut.

All that is left to do now is the grading, which will start next week, and then the mix. Hopefully we're still on course to get the film finished sometime in April, depending on how long the sound takes.

And, it probably goes without saying, I'm still looking for some final funding... And then, finally, it will be finished.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Last Post

On Thursday next week we start the final leg of post in Edinburgh. We have relocated to Scotland for financial reasons:-) And for the pubs. There's still not enough money to go round - or even to buy a round - but we're getting damn close to finally having the film finished at last (at least a year late, but let's gloss over that). One or two darlings that have survived until now may well go - as well as a scene which wasn't a darling (at least of mine), but has somehow become the runt of the litter, and will almost certainly go as well.

Until I have more to announce, please avail yourselves of a copy of Carl Dreyer's Vampyr, which I got as a Christmas present. It's one of the most unusual vampire movies ever made but, perhaps more notably, an amazing dream of a film.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lengthy Gestations and Other Matters

OK we are nearly done, thanks to the production team's tenacity, and my own. We still have a month's worth of work to do, but we are nearly there, at long last.

When postproduction stretches out to such unexpected lengths of time, it is natural to wonder why the hell you are doing this, and do you really want to keep doing it? In such moments, I've thought of those who have gone before. (No, I'm not talking about first world war vets, but filmmakers who spent inordinate amounts of time either on their first features, or getting their careers established.)

I think of Eric Rohmer, mainstay of the French New Wave, who missed the boat in 1959-62,and didn't get established until the late 60s with Six Moral Tales, which established his career finally when he was nearly 50.

David Lynch, who spent 7 years making Eraserhead(And that was 7 years shooting, as well as editing; Folie has had 30 days' shooting overall, but 20 months editing.)

Jacques Rivette, for Paris Nous Appartient, which took a year to film, a year to edit, and then another year to get a release.

Al Reinert, who spent TEN YEARS making the moon landing doc For All Mankind. (And that was ten years of hell, from what I've heard.)

And to cap it all is Emir Kusturica's teacher, who shot his first feature in 1976, and promptly died of a heart attack as soon as the shoot was done, so, we're not doing too badly. (Kusturica later helped get the film finished.)

It seems as though our hard work has paid off: people are already being affected by film, in particular the final half hour. That's good. That's what I want. I only hope the next one doesn't take as long....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Can you help the widow's son to the tune of five hundred nicker?

Some more cash has unexpectedly turned up, to our immense relief. We still need another £500, which hopefully will be drummed up somewhere. Maybe I can hang around certain pubs in Earl's Court...

Our other main project, Lanterna Magicka, is also approaching completion, and will actually probably be finished first. But to get both done within the next month or so will be a cause for celebration or, to quote Life of Brian, 'a great rubbing of parts'.

Let us hope that 2009 is the year of completions and new cycles. I must consult the charts and tables, especially the position of Uranus.It has certainly gotten off to a good start:-)