I’ve been mulling this list over for the past couple of weeks but finally I’ve settled on ten films that really affected me in one way or another this year. There is a bit of a mixture this year but I think this reflects the best of this years cinema.
10. Berberian Sound Studio
I had no idea what to expect from this film other than it kept popping up in Twitter and Facebook from friends saying that it was a must see. I came out of the cinema not really knowing what to think to be honest but the film stayed with me for a few days afterwards and sometimes that’s as good a barometer as any. Toby Jones gives a fantastic performance in the lead role and he is generally excellent in anything he is in. It’s quite hard to describe succinctly what the film is about and for me it is better if you know less about it before going in. Also for you sound design junkies this is a must!
I’d been looking forward to Looper for over a year or so after I read about the film being shot and heard what the synopsis was. I generally like any film that involves time travel, multiple realities and such so was pretty excited. The film generally lived up to my hopes but I probably enjoyed it better on a second viewing when my expectations weren’t so high.
8. Sound Of My Voice
I managed to catch this film at one of only a few screenings in the UK and I’m glad that I did. If I enjoy time travel films then I also love watching films based around cults for some reason. I didn’t know much about the film going in other than it was based around a couple who join a cult and I think it helped not knowing anything. That is the way I generally like to watch films so telling the whole story in the trailer is a bit of a crime to me!
7. The Imposter
Just watch this film and don’t even watch the trailer…
6. A Royal Affair
I went to watch this Danish film when there seemed to be a bit of a barren spell of good films on at the cinema and I was really glad that I did. I can’t quite put my finger on why I liked it so much but it was just really well put together. Great story, superb acting, lovely cinematography, etc! Mmmm… I didn’t select the screengrab from the trailer below.
5. Your Sister’s Sister
This film is mostly at this place due to Rosemarie DeWitt’s performance as I found her really compelling to watch and although I had seen her in supporting roles before this was the first time that I really noticed her. The film on the whole is good but her performance elevated it to great for me.
Although this list is the top 10 films I seen in the cinema in 2012, probably the best film I actually watched was on DVD and it was ‘Kill List’ by Ben Wheatley right at the beginning of the year. This is his next film and although completely different in tone you can tell that it is coming from the same director. Personally I think he is one of the most exciting new directors in the UK and I’m looking forward to what’s coming next.
3. Searching For Sugarman
The second documentary of the top 10 and one for me which dragged for the first twenty minutes or so before bursting into life. I’d challenge anyone to not shed a tear at a certain part during the film.
2. The Raid
This was a very close second but it’s definitely the most fun and entertaining film on the list. It’s a martial arts film with some of the most amazing fight sequences you will ever see. During the screening I went to it was probably the only time where an audience collectively held their breath for a fight scene and collectively sighed and clapped when the fight scene was over. If you like action films then don’t miss this!
In case you aren’t convinced by the normal trailer then here is a little bonus for you. This is a claymation version of the raid with cat’s instead of people. Watch this whatever you do!
1. Martha Marcy May Marlene
It’s quite hard to have a top film where you don’t really want to say too much about it before someone watches it. All I’ll say is that I seen the poster for the film and decided to go and watch it based on that and it blew me away. It left me with a strange unease and I couldn’t get the film out of my head for a few days afterwards. Just watch it and let me know what you think!
I’ve tried to keep a record of all the films I watched in the cinema in 2012 on Letterboxd so if you are interested you can have a look here: Bryan’s letterboxd account
Would love to hear your thoughts on your top films of 2012 and any on here that you disagree with!
I have written a top films list for the past couple of years and this year is no different. I know there is still a few days left in the year but I am not planning on watching any new films over the next few days. There are also quite a few films that are on other lists that I haven’t managed to watch yet but I think the list is a good selection of what I felt were the films that had the biggest impact on me. They are in reverse order starting with….
In at number ten is a treat for all the family… oh wait.. its the end of the world seen through the mind of Lars Von Trier. This film made me feel uncomfortable during the film and also afterwards which is probably a strange thing to say about a top film of the year but that is why we go to the cinema, to be affected by whatever we are watching. Probably not a film that I would put on just to escape for a bit. I think its power came in the sum of all its parts added up. There are some films that you watch and certain scenes really hook you in and grab you and I don’t think that Melancholia does this but instead it has an overall force that affected me. Much like the inevitability of the planet Melancholia in the film.
9. It’s Kind of a Funny Story
Slightly more light hearted we have a teenager who spends a few days in a mental health ward after contemplating suicide. (note to self… maybe that’s where I should be with these film choices). In reality it is a lot more light hearted and its the sweet moments that won me over along with the sadness that comes from some of the older patients in the ward. I wasn’t really expecting anything from this film to be honest and it surprised me and left me with a nice feeling.
8. Black Swan
Again similar to Melancholia in that when I watched it I can remember not really knowing how I felt about the film but it stuck with me for a few days afterwards and not many films do that for me. In a way it reminded me of Aronosky’s Requiem for a Dream with the way it was shot and put together. If you analyse the story it seems relatively straight forward but he puts it together in such a way to bring a sense of dread and unease which really affected me as a viewer.
Continuing the sombre tone of this top ten we have Beginners which is based around a young man dealing with his dad revealing he has cancer and that he is gay. In some ways it covers some of the same ground as It’s Kind of a Funny Story but in a more serious, grown up drama type of way. Again its the sweet moments fused with the sad situation that hit home for me.
I found this documentary really gripping and moving. I have watched F1 on and off for a while but I don’t think that really has anything to do with liking the film. Ayrton Senna was a really inspirational person and the film is put together really well with excerpts from interviews and races during his career.
Probably on quite a few top film lists this year and I think it deserves to be. I liked it because it was unique and unusual how it didn’t pander to the audience and it just sucked me right in. I do think it was carried along by Gosling’s performance but it’s easy to say that as the whole film centres around him.
4. 13 Assassins
A fun film at last! Well the most fun film on this list. With all your big hollywood action films this year and the last few years I think someone should make whoever made them sit down and watch this film. I am a bit of a fan of Japanese cinema in general and this has to be one of the best Samurai films I have seen. There is a 40 minute battle scene at the end and somehow it still leave you wanting more.
3. The King’s Speech
It feels strange to have The King’s Speech on the list as in my head this feels like a film of last year rather than this year but I watched it in January. I think everything that could be said has already been said on this film and for me it worked well and left me with a little lump in my throat during the ending so whats not to like.
I have swapped Tyrannosaur from the number 1 spot to number 2 countless times but unfortunately I setted on leaving it at number two. I may have already said this but watching Tyrannosaur is like being hit in the stomach with a sledgehammer. I can remember having my day all planned out and first on the list was watching this film but I ended up staggering out of the cinema and going on a bit of a wander. It is a very raw film and although very violent doesn’t judge it’s characters or hold them up as beacons for us to behold. Instead it feels that we are allowed to witness them first hand and make our own judgement. I always think of the scene in Donnie Darko where the annoying teacher is asking Donnie to draw an x on the line of good and evil and he loses it and tells her that it isn’t as simple as that. I feel the same way in trying to sum up my thoughts on the characters and the film. It’s just beyond my reach to be able to explain that in words, all I know was that I was hit with a sledgehammer.
1. Blue Valentine
If I could have made any film this year (other than Booked Out!) I would like to have made Blue Valentine. Following on my sad and sweet theme this has to be the saddest and sweetest film of the year! Well maybe not the saddest but you get what I mean, it had the mixture just right. The getting together scenes are just wonderful nuggets of film-making and it has my favourite scene of any this year where Gosling plays Williams the song on his uke. Check out the trailer below which features that scene (with a few bits and pieces cut into it but you will get the point). The broken parts of the film work well as they don’t explain the whole story and leave it up to me as the viewer to decide my point of view and interpretation of events.
So there you have it for another year… did I miss anything? are any of these your worst films of the year? The things with lists are that it’s very personal to me so I am bound to not have the same list as you but I like putting it together. Hopefully next year Booked Out will make it onto someones 2012 top film list. Probably a bit cheeky to be on mine!
This blog is for Catherine Jezequel and anyone else interested in where we shot the feature film Booked Out. I have collated together all our locations and shown you what they looked like before and after we got there. For those of you that want the exact locations I have also included them on a handy Google Map.
Before I get onto describing the locations I must say a huge thanks to Martin Walker and James Player who found all of these venues for me, without them we would have been filming in a car park.
Fancy Dress Party Venue
Location: Grange St. Pauls Hotel
The fancy dress party was shot in the basement of a hotel near St. Pauls cathedral. The hotel were actually turning it into a nightclub so it was a building site when we found it and the building site was perfect for our warehouse style party. Actually when we arrived to shot the scene they had done a little bit too much building and we have to make it look more like a building site before shooting. We shot the fancy dress scene in one long and hectic day. I can’t imagine going back there now as it will be turned in a fancy nightclub.
This picture is of the room in its state when we scouted it. There was lots of wires hanging out the roof as you will see but when we returned they had all been fixed up.
This is a picture of the actual party. You can see where we tried to recreate the lots of wires thing on the roof. Big thanks to all the extras that came along and dressed up that day.
Swing Dancing Venue
Location: Grange Wellington Hotel
We didn’t shoot the whole film in hotels, don’t worry, although the Grange were really nice and the benefit of shooting in a hotel is that they are used to managing large groups of people so for the days that we had a lot of extra’s they were ideal to look after us.
For the swing dancing I wanted a room that was like an old church hall or a local dance class that is intimate. When we had secured the fancy dress venue they told us about this hotel which has a small chapel attached to it. So we went down and had a look and it had the intimacy of a church hall but also had some nice quirky details that would make it stand out.
We had two days to shoot this scene and the luxury of two cameras as well. We definitely had lots more footage of this scene compared to another other on the shoot. It was also my 30th birthday when we shot this scene and a strange Booked Out fact is that me, Rollo and Gabriela all share the same birthday and I made sure that we were all on set that day. Not time off for celebrating!
This is what it looks like when they hire it out to businesses who use it as a meeting room.
This is what it looks like when you get rid of all those chairs, add about 50 swing dancers and a film crew!
Location: St. Pancras International Train Station
One thing London does have is lots of lovely old train stations and my particular favourite has to be St. Pancras so Martin had the job of convincing them to let us film there. This was the first shot of the film and we were allowed about 40 minutes in the station really early on a Sunday morning. The shots came out lovely with the sun beaming down through the glass roof.
This picture is of some of the crew at the end of a day’s worth of recce-ing locations.
This is a shot from the finished film and you can see the rays of light shining down through the roof.
Location: Southbank (outside Tate Modern and beside the Millenium Bridge)
I always imagined this scene on the Southbank of the Thames and have walked this route a number of times. I actually wanted it slightly further up the river just outside the BFI building where there is a canopy of trees which go alongside the walkway but we couldn’t get permission to shoot there unfortunately. Where we did shoot was funny as you had the tate modern behind us but its such a large building that we couldn’t get it in shot, especially when shooting in a 2.39:1 ratio.
(I think that if you don’t get aspect ratio jokes or haven’t been to the Southbank you should skip this section!)
We did our one and only steadicam shot here and again only had a couple of hours to shoot the scene so there was a lot of pressure on everyone to make it work. Its fun looking back now but at the time there was that moment where it was touch and go as to whether we could get the shots before being thrown out. Also the number of tourists behind us got quite large as well so lots to deal with.
The following are two similarish images taken from the scout and then on set.
Location: Rough Trade East
I have always been a big fan of Rough Trade Records and independent record shops in general. It would probably take a couple of blogs to go through all the record shops that we looked at but I chose this one as I had personally been there and experienced it myself as a customer and that held sway over me. It was a short scene in here so we literally got here with about 30 minutes till wrap and shot the scene. We had to keep asking the shop manager to turn off his music between each take. They were really keen on switching the music back on as soon as we finished each one for some reason.
This picture is taken on the scout and we shot where the guy with the brown jacket is standing and over on the left by the desk.
This is near enough where the brown jacket man was standing. Thats the lovely James Payton of Harry Potter fame who helped us out with a little cameo as the record shop worker.
Location: Josephs Bookstore
Similar to the record stores in some ways that there are lots of little cool independent book stores in London and Martin trapsed around to quite a few of them for me. This was my clear favourite and also had the added benefit of being owned by a lovely Jewish man which meant that he closed the shop on a Saturday normally so we didn’t have to arrange for him to close the store especially for us. It also had the benefit of being connected to a cafe next door that we used for the cafe scene (see below).
We had a day at the cafe and book store, shooting the cafe scene in the morning before it opened and then moving into the book store after that.
This is me and Martin on the recce of the store and if you look up on the left you can see the entrance to the cafe.
This is Mirren and Gabriela from the film. Must point out the Jason novel that Gabriela is reading… if you like graphic novels then you should check out the Jason ones… he’s Norweigan if I remember write and has some wickedly funny and inventive stories.
Location: Cafe Also
As described above this is the cafe that was right next door to the book store.
This picture is of our 1st A.D. Tom Mulberge who I think was pretending to be one of the characters in this scene. If you look at the left hand side you can side the route in the book store.
This is taken from the film and I love the way the image bends with the blinds in the background.
Location: Hampstead Cemetry
I scouted this location myself as part of a day of reshoots that we did for the film and it was a bit strange to be honest. Going around different cemetry’s with a camera and taking pictures just made me feel a bit weird. Especially when there are others around visiting graves. I went once on my own and then I made Sam came with me next time and he is in the picture below.
This picture is when we were on set and I still felt a bit weird that day too but with something like permission for 40 minutes to shoot the scene it quickly focused my attention.
Location: Southwark Park
There are two park locations in the film and this one has the wonderful title of Park 1 which in reality was Southwark Park. We needed a park with a nice momument type feature and we chose this because it has a lovely bandstand and also because it was reasonably close to the Southbank where we had to be before this. The shots we got of this park were really lovely and all the different shades of green came out really nicely.
I can remember we got here late after shooting at the southbank and everyone was a bit frazzled but everything we shot at the park just seemed to come out really easily and before you knew it the energy was back and everything was exciting again. Sometimes it really does feel like a day on set equals a weeks worth of emotions.
This picture shows the bandstand that we chose the park for and also a bench that you will have seen Jacqueline sit at if you have taken the time to look through the booked out photos on facebook.
This is Rollo beside a little water fountain. I remember we were focused on the bandstand but we then needed a none bandstand area for Rollo’s scene and we stumbled across this lovely little feature. As I said above, everything just fitted into place that day.
Location: Hampstead Heath
More of a heath than a park as the name suggests. I have walked here quite a bit and I reckon most people in London will have been at this spot at one point in time. In the pictures below they are pointing down a hill but if the camera was to turn over to the right you can see out all over London. Pretty sure a few other films have filmed here too… answers on a postcard.
Location: Golders Green Bus Station
Mainly chosen due to its proximity to the cemetry but also because it isn’t a huge bus station but isn’t too small either. Known as the medium bus station to the locals who frequent it. When I scouted the bus station it was full of buses and you could hardly get a shot without at least half a dozen buses in view but when we got there there was hardly any so we had to work hard to give it that busy bus station vibe.
I don’t have a still from the film for the bus station scene so you will have to wait for that but here is the one I took during the scout.
Location: Regents Canal Bridge No. 13
This was actually a stunt double bridge as the bridge I actually chose turned out to be inside London Zoo. This was part of the reshoot and I scouted it myself so can’t even blame anyone else for that fopaux. There are some lovely bridges along the Regents canal if you ever fancy a walk along the river. I also remember Jordan being particularly fascinated by the canal boats that were going by as he wanted to get them in shot all the time.
This picture shows the bridge we shot on plus my original chosen bridge which happened to be in the zoo in the background.
And here is Claire modelling the bridge so beautifully.
Location: My old flat
This is the only location that I have no pictures of and its where I used to live. We used this as part of the reshoot day that I talked about earlier so what is more indie film-making than using your own flat. I was living in a small studio flat at the time and basically everything I owned was lying outside when we filmed these scenes.
Location: Glamourize, St. Albans
Just a fleeting visit to this one which was close to our main flats location. Nothing more to say really that the following picture doesn’t do itself.
There are no pictures of the filmed parts of the hairdressers but here is a picture of Rollo sitting outside it.
Art Supplies Shop
Location: Coral Press Ltd, St. Albans
Not really an art supplies shop but one of those shops that does a bit of everything. Art Supplies, Stationary, Printing, Signs, etc, etc. We didn’t film it but they had a cool basement storage room with loads and loads of boxes that was like something out of Delicatessen but thing it only would have fitted one person at a time.
Here is the shop with and without Kris Abrahams who plays Norman in Booked Out.
Location: Ace Art, Hatfield
This was a slightly surreal little find. It was like an art supplies warehouse on an industrial estate which held art classes in an upstairs room. Again another location with frightfully little time to shoot the scene we had but we got it done. I don’t have a picture for this place before we got there but here is Rollo and Mirren on set.
Location: Lichfield Court, Richmond
You would think that we would just get one blocks of flats and shoot it all there but no, not when you can go to different locations to get the perfect look for each part of the flats and create your own flat monster. The exteriors were all shot in Richmond on a single day. I don’t have any pictures from the scout on this and think that we probably picked it based on looking at photo’s on Martin’s laptop. The picture below shows you the nice grand style entrance which was the main reason that we picked it.
Main Flat Interiors
Location: Cunningham Avenue, Hatfield
The bulk of the film was filmed in a single flat in Hatfield. We redressed the flat three times to make it look like Ailidh, Mrs Nicholls and Jacquelines individual flat as well as filming in the stairwells and generally being a nuisance to everyone who lived there who seemed pretty relaxed about the whole thing given that we were there for three weeks.
This picture shows Mrs Nicholls version of the flat from the film. The window in the background is actually a kitchen which you see in Jacquelines flat. We went for a warm and cosy granny flat for Mrs Nicholls with all the nick-nacks that she would have collected.
Then you have a complete contrast with the warm and vibrant Ailidh’s flat. Behind Ailidh in the picture is a large painting that is covering the kitchen from before. We actually couldn’t make the canvas big enough to fit the gap and then be able to get it into the flat so the artist (Kimi Baek) came to the flat and painted it in the flat and then it had to be dismantled when we were finished with the room.
I must say a big thanks to Sara Ranieri and her team who did the set design on these three flats. Each one of them looked amazing!
The last picture is of Jacquelines flat which was bare and empty in comparison to the other two. I couldn’t find a picture of the kitchen with the actors in which is annoying but you will see it in the finished film.
Flat Interiors 2
Location: Barrington Court, Muswell Hill
As well as shooting the main rooms above we also shot in a kitchen in another flat for Mrs Nicholls kitchen, just to keep up the fun puzzle of trying to make all these locations look like the same place!
If you see the picture below, the original kitchen was pretty nasty with a horrible yellow colour. I think after filming they wanted us to reinstate that horrible colour again. I think they thought it was brightening the room up but they must have been mad.
We transformed it into Mrs Nicholl’s green and added her old school tea making equipment which made it a hundred times better. Here is Mirren making some tea.
So there you go. I hope that was interesting for some of you. If you have any questions about this then feel free to add them to the films Facebook page and I will do my best to answer them.
Its been a long time since I wrote Booked Out (coming up for 3 years) and over the last month or so I have started to write a new project. I know what your thinking… but when is Booked Out coming out. Its a bit of a broken record story on that front at the moment. There are a number of things that we are working on but nothing concrete to share and I don’t like saying we might be doing this or we might me doing that. So instead I thought I would describe how it feels to be writing again… sorry!
It is a strange thought when you think “I can write about anything in the world so why I am writing this?”. Most of the time I don’t really know the answer but that nagging doubt has crept in over the last couple of days as I ponder whether the first 20 pages of this film cut the mustard. Pretty sure they do or at least they do for a first draft but just being a little too critical of late. So what is this film and why am I writing it…
I don’t want to say too much as it still feels like my baby and I’m not giving it anyway that easily but… its a coming of age sci-fi story about a boy who finds an Alien Rover. Something like this… but an alien version…
Its set on earth though so feels more like a coming of age, losing your teenage marbles type of film rather than overtly sci-fi. I have always been a bit of a fan of sci-fi but not really all the fantasy stuff but more the kind that involves science or science concepts. I also did a Maths degree so I kind of like a bit of geeky science theory.
I’ve been thinking of writing again for a while and feel like I’ve started a little process that has been bourne out of writing Booked Out and going through all the different phases – editing, soundtrack, filming, etc. So here is what I do and then I’ll tell you what I’ve learned and how I am trying to incorporate that.
My writing process
Start by making lots of lists! Basically I have lots of notes of little ideas that I have recorded for too long now and I went through all my old notebooks and collated them into a list. Then I noted a list of films that I love. It helps to stare at your DVD collection for a while when doing this. Next up I did the same with film genres. From this I dreamt up more high level film ideas until I had a decent list. About half the way through this process I came up with the sci-fi idea and couldn’t stop thinking about it for the rest of the time so by the end there wasn’t really a need to have a selection as one was already nagging me to get started.
During these initial stages I seem to be fixated on a couple of random images that somehow help to crystalise the idea in my head. I think its important to me at least to have these as they help set the film in context. One of these is the image of the boy running through long yellow grass but the image being filmed in a way that it looks very red in some sort of homage to Mars. Another is that he fixes old radio’s (remember when people fixed things instead of buying a replacement?) which gives the side-effect of having the idea of the noise of static being a constant tension in his life. I also like the idea that he is someone who likes to take things apart, investigate them, understand them and then he can put them together to fix them. This being some sort of metaphor for what goes on in the film although its there in the background rather than being obvious to the viewer.
So with these thoughts and a random idea I then try to create an outline of the film. I’ve heard this called a lot of different things and I can never tell if people mean the same thing or not but essentially for me it means a list of bullet points that describe the story. Some points may be really high level and others might be detailed. I don’t really mind at this stage as long as I can work out the broad points of the story. Around this I usually try and brain storm other things at the same time which help to make the outline better.
These have included:
- Question and answers about the characters. (age, music they like, first kiss, food they like, do they care about their appearance, etc). Anything that rings a bell.
- The characters specific goals in life, moments they have been let down. I feel this and the last point are different. One gives me a general idea of who they are whereas this one tells me what drives them through every moment of their life.
- Random ideas about the film or an area I am stuck on. (i.e. I know that I want the character to feel let down by another character so lets make a list of things that could make them feel let down)
- List films and books that feel like they are connected in some way.
- Watch those films and write a list (did I mention I like lists) of things that the film did well, things the film didn’t do well and what similarities there are with my idea.
- Make music lists. The boy is 15 years old so I am making a playlist of music I listened to when I was fifteen. Its also set in the 80′s so I have created an 80′s playlist too.
Some of these are more like procastination than writing but in my head they help. At this stage I had a rough outline so next step was to let a few people read and comment on it. Its a weird time as I really want to save some readers for the first draft of the script but I really want feedback before writing 100 pages. I decided to send it to a couple of people. One being the DoP of Booked Out who I trust to give constructive feedback and I know that he will be able to give good comments on the script even though he has read the outline.
I then took the outline and rewrote it a couple of times. It then felt like it needed a few more rewrites but I couldn’t help myself so for the past couple of weeks I have been writing the script which has made me get even deeper inside the characters so I am not sure if I jumped too early or not but there you go.
I tend to go with the idea of “keep writing the script and don’t look over scenes that you have wrote so far or you will never get past the first ten pages”. I also tend to not be too fussy about dialogue either in the first draft. The characters are a bit direct but I know that getting the story in the right format is the main thing then I can finesse that later on.
I wrote about this before I think but I also like going to different places to write and especially like getting out of the flat (or more away from the computer) to do the thinking up parts. I would recommend Yumchaa in Camden if you are looking for a writing den. I’m the one with the beard and a notebook if you come along.
Writing differently from Booked Out
There are probably lots of lessons that I have learned that I can’t put into words as I just feel like I have a better grasp of what I want to do, what I need to do it and what will and won’t work on the road there…. but… I thought I would try and describe a few things that I have noticed in particular.
- Try and make every scene as dramatic as possible. Might sound simple but even with simple scenes you can add little moments of tension in.
- Use actions by the characters to try and show their feelings instead of words. Kind of your show and don’t tell but focused on the characters actions in particular.
- Ensure the transition between scenes flow well and won’t jar.
- Establish everything up front in an interesting way but ensure the audience understand the needs of all the characters.
Not my best list ever but mind has started to slow down with all the talk of lists.
If you follow the Booked Out Facebook Page you will have probably seen this but I appeared in Mark West’s (one of the Booked Out composers) music video for his band The Lost Cavalry. I was chosen because I was the only person who had a beard like a frozen arctic DJ. It was quite fun doing some “acting” but think I prefer to being behind the camera. Take a look and let me know what you think
Back to the grindstone…
Ok, blogging time is up and scripting time is about to begin again. Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any writing tips I can incorporate!
Hi everyone… thought I better write a blog before it gets much longer since the last one…. but what to talk about…. Seen as I haven’t really blogged for about nine months I was puzzling over what to cover, majority of that time on Booked Out has been on editing, sound design and colour grading. There is loads to say on these topics but a lot of it is really hard to talk about without the context of seeing the film. Imagine listening to a DVD commentary track without ever having watched the film… it would be horrible.
So instead I have decided to talk about the process of finding the tracks that we used on the soundtrack of the film which hopefully will be an amusing and insightful topic.
Tracks from the shoot
There were a few scenes that needed music played on set so we played some tracks during filming and only one of these made it all the way through into the finished film. The biggest issue was our swing dancing scene as all the cast and extras needed music to dance to and with our rush to shoot the film we didn’t have the music cleared in time before the film started shooting so we took a big risk that we would shoot the film with music that we knew we would have to replace. In the end we had five swing tracks in the film and we were lucky enough to be able to clear the track “Jump Session” by “Slim and Slam” which unfortunately there is no link to online so I can’t share that track with you… you will have to wait for the film to hear it!
Clearing old swing tracks was a bit of a challenge to be honest. The hardest part is trying to locate the owners as they didn’t have a nice database of artists back then containing who had signed up to what so there was a lot of chasing down avenues that revealed themselves to be dead ends. So out of the tracks used on set one made it all the way through… which I think is nice, makes it feel special.
Tracks from the edit
During the editing process there is a temporary soundtrack added to give a feel of the final film and to guide the song choices for clearance and these tracks for Booked Out came from myself and Faisel the editor.
The first one was a suggestion from me of an Iceland band called For A Minor Reflection that I had seen live at a festival in Brighton called the great escape. I remember watching them for the first time well as they were given a venue which essentially was a corner of a hotel basement and it was a really surreal environment to watch a gig…. but in someways I could have been anywhere as they were far and away the highlight of the festival for me. All their songs are instrumental tracks but they have their own sort of emotional quality that I find is really hard to describe. If you are in the right mood they will blow your mind… and I was in that mood that night. The track we got for the film is called “Dansi Dans” and on that night the two main guitarists in the band sat down their guitars and played this beautiful piano based track with the two of them sitting at the piano playing the keys together. It really is a uplifting but heartfelt track that brought a tear to my eye and I came away from the festival and back into the edit suite and immediately knew that I wanted that track for the film. We dropped it straight into the edit and it worked straight away.
In order to get the track for the film I went along to a later gig of theirs in London and went up to them after the show asking to use their track and telling them how great I thought they were. Luckily they couldn’t hear me that well so won’t have heard all my gushing but I managed to give them a Booked Out card and they got in touch soon after and the rest as they say is history.
The second track that made its way from the edit to the final film was suggested by the editor and ever since he showed me the scene with the song it felt like a poisoned chalice as we knew that song worked perfectly but it would be hard to get. The song is “Overpowered” by Roisin Murphy and I must admit that I am not a huge dance music fan but I know what I like and what I don’t like and Roisin’s music on her own and with Moloko is definitely my type of dance music. It is hard to describe without watching the scene but the track feels slightly unusual to me but also quite straight so it works really well with the scene. It was also cool to watch the Sound Designer Roland Heap playing around with the track in his cinema speaker set up. I think he was trying to blow out my eardrums with the bass at one point!
I was going to cover all the tracks in one blog but I got a bit carried away with my For A Minor Reflection reminiscing that I think its better to split it into two digestible chunks… Think Kill Bill or the Hobbit!
Thanks again for the feedback on the Booked Out Trailer and keep in touch!
This is my first blog in its new home “Bryan Makes Films” which used to be the Booked Out Diary. I decided to move it away from Booked Out so I could blog about other things as well as Booked Out and also to move it onto a blogging platform to take advantage of all the built in blog features rather than the old version which was essentially coded from scratch. I want to write about all the things that I released last Friday as part of the Booked Out Trailer Launch Day and let you know my thoughts on it all. It feels like I haven’t slept for weeks but was really great to finally put everything together.
You have probably all seen the trailer by not but if not then check it out below and let me know your thoughts
I have had some great feedback via email on facebook, twitter and YouTube which is great. There hasn’t been one negative comment (yet!). It felt like I was unveiling my baby to the world so there was a lot of trepidation to let it out there and once its out you can’t stop it.
Making the trailer was also an interesting experience… trying to condense a feature length film into 90 seconds is really hard work. I knew that I didn’t want it to be one of those trailers that give away the whole story and all the best bits as for me there it really devalues the film. It was also important to get across the tone of the film as well so that the audience get an idea of what it might be like to watch the film without giving the game away.
It would be great to hear your thoughts!
I had been wanting to give the website a makeover for quite some time and the trailer launch gave me the perfect opportunity. I made the decision to make the website an information site and to use facebook/twitter as a place to collaborate and talk with everyone interested in the film so in some ways we tightened up the amount of content on the website and added new areas to the facebook fan page. I will talk about the new facebook bits and pieces in a second but I just wanted to say thanks to Kimi Baek who did the graphic novel drawings that I used as part of the background collage for the site. Kimi did all of the artwork for Ailidh’s room in the film as well and I think you’ll agree that it has its own unique little feel to it.
In terms of new facebook we have the following new content:
- Lots of new production photographs – I finally got round to organising and cropping all the pictures we had from the shoot and decided to put them all into facebook albums. I think even the background shots give a sense of the film as well as the hard work and dedication that has went into making it.
- New Cast and Crew pages – These are copies from the website but slotted into facebook. If anyone is bored then ask me how to do this as its a bit fiddly to make it look right. It always annoyed me that if you found the film on facebook that you wouldn’t have the same details as the website as you are forcing the audience to look at two different sites if they want to check out your film.
- Score - Mark West of the Lost Cavalry and Derek Yau put together a really cool score for the film and we decided to put it online for you all to listen to. Thanks to the guys for a great job and to Mark for preparing all the songs for the website. Sure they would love to know what you thought of them.
- Soundtrack - I spent about four months scouring the internet for music for the film and the results of this is a pretty exciting collection of tracks that you can watch YouTube videos for. I will talk about each one individually in the coming weeks but check them out.
- Wee pictures – The little images next to the links for these on facebook I came up with as well… its meant to be a smiley Polaroid pictures. This was done at about 3am one night when I thought it was a great idea and it stuck ever since.
So that only leaves this blog as the last piece of the puzzle. This is the part where I say I’m going to blog lots now and no one really believes me! I am hoping having the blog using blogging software will make it easier for me to write blogs and therefore for them to come out more often. Heres hoping!
The one question I get asked more than ever just now is when will the film come out and where will it be shown. We have submitted the film to a number of film festivals and will hopefully hear news soon from them. We are also in discussion with a few distributors about actually getting the film out there but these are still early days so I don’t imagine a release date will be set for a little bit but I am as keen as you are for the film to get out there but we need the right people to do that for us.
Personally I have started writing another film which is still forming in my head as you read this but I am hoping to write about this on this blog over the coming months.
Following in the tradition of my Top 5 films of 2009 I have made my decisions for this year. This years best films seem to feel a bit more blockbuster than last years for some reason. Not sure if my viewing habits have changed or not.
Ok, so here is my list starting at…
I went into watch Greenberg with high expectations as I had loved the director Noah Baumbachs previous films “The Squid and the Whale” and “Margot at the Wedding”. I can remember coming out the cinema a little disappointed if I am honest but then I think the film grew on me and I have watched it since and there are lots of lovely little moments in it that I love but passed me by on the first watch.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, you have Ben Stiller playing a serious part where he is basically trying to figure out what he wants from his life. I think the Ben Stiller not being the Ben Stiller that you are used to does take a little while to get over. Its the performance of his co-star Greta Gerwig that makes the film special for me.
Ben Stiller in Greenberg
Next up is a totally different film in the psychological horror film Heartless. This film is in my top 5 because of the performance by Jim Sturgess (which if you have been reading my blogs you will know I admire) but also because I wanted to have a British film in the list that took a few risks and tried to create a unique film. The film intrigued me throughout and I would recommend it!
3. The Social Network
I think that this is probably the best put together film of the year. When I review the storyline and think back then I am still amazed at how they made the story feel so intense and intriguing throughout the film because the actual story is a million miles away from being interesting (in my point of view!).
David Fincher just works his magic here again. I watched “The Game” just after watching The Social Network and that is probably one of the best films of all time. The Social Network is an almost perfect film that if you haven’t seen it then it should be on your must see xmas list!
Andrew Garfield and Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network
2. Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3… what can I say that hasn’t been said already about this and the other films in the series. I think that they just get everything so right all the time. Surely there must be someone at Pixar who makes wrong decisions!
They get the balance right between kids film and adult entertainment, graphics are brilliant as always, story moves along well and they even managed to get a cameo from Studio Ghibli animated legend Totoro.
Check Out Totoro in Toy Story 3
1. My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done
The last two films probably deserve the number one spot but they weren’t the film that stayed with me the most. I read a lot of reviews which totally savaged the film but for me it really hooked me in. Some of it is probably a bit over indulgent but you are watching a Herzog film after all. Its another horror film but more strange and weird without any real gratuity. It just makes you feel out of your comfort zone as if the world has titled an extra degree and you know something is off but can’t put your finger on it.
The one thing that makes the number one film of the year is the performance by Michael Shannon. He is just so intense for the whole film. The score and some of the camera shots are equally unsettling. David Lynch was the producer and hard to tell how much he was involved but you can feel his influence in a few areas of the film.
Would you have dinner with these guys?
That’s a wrap!
There you go. I think most people will disagree with me but if you do then lets discuss it on the Booked Out Facebook Page which will display this blog and where you can also become a fan of Booked Out.
I hope you all have a lovely xmas and hope to show you my finished film in the coming year!