Archive for May, 2010

New short project

Friday, May 28th, 2010

In the next couple of weeks I shall be going into production on a 2 minute short for the Virgin Media Shorts 2010 competition which draws to a close at the end of June. Bit of a tight deadline to adhere to but they’re only after 2 minutes so I’m confident we can deliver our final film by then!

The script, entitled “Brian the Bear”, has been written by Chris Marshfield and was actually done as part of his university course 2 years ago. The existing draft is a little longer than the run-time requires and also not PG-rated as competition rules demand, so we’ll probably cut two versions and keep one for other festival submissions.

When it’s finished and uploaded to the Virgin site I’ll be sure to add a link here for people to watch – if you like it, please vote for us as well!

I’m also looking to shoot another, longer short in July. More details on that soon!

The pack

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

A copy of what was given to investors to take away with them on Tuesday:

Read the first draft of “Thieves” yesterday, was very happy with it. Made a few small changes with Chris and will have a script meeting with Lightworx on it next week. Once we have a draft we’re all happy with we’ll be getting it out to agents to see if we can drum up some actor interest.

It’s here…..

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Quite ill today, which is rubbish…. what’s hopefully not rubbish though is this, which arrived last night in my inbox:

Nothing like sitting down with a nice cup of tea and a freshly printed script! I’m off to read it now – can’t wait!

Although I think it was Ernest Hemingway that said the first draft of anything is shit? Well, what does he know…..

The pitch!

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Well – yesterday was certainly a first for me. Along with Jonathan Brown and Andrew Dymond from Lightworx Media, I travelled up to London to deliver a pitch to a room full of investors, to try and persuade them to hopefully cough up some dosh to put behind my next feature project “Thieves.”

I was pretty nervous but think I held it together okay during the actual presentation – reactions seemed to be positive and we had some nice feedback ( some positive, as well as some constructive critiscism, which was to be expected and quite welcome, given it was our first go). Interestingly one of the organisers of the event actually turned around and announced an interest in investing himself after we finished, which is good! Obviously though we never expected to have anyone commit to anything on the day, they’ll all want to go away and think about it/consult with their advisors etc…. so it’ll be at least a week or so before we hear whether anyone actually wants to get behind the project. Fingers crossed, but as always I’ll believe it when the money’s in the bank! Either way it was a good experience to go through – firstly seeing whether or not I could condense the plot of “Thieves” into an exciting pitch, without it just sounding like a generic action movie!

I can’t promise I did that successfully, but hopefully I sounded competent enough to impress at least a couple of them.

Watch this space…..

Nothing like it

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Had a fantastic script meeting on “Thieves” with writer Chris Marshfield last night, just bouncing ideas back and forth for hours. I swear towards the end we were jumping up and down in my flat like kids pumped up on sugar! I love this part of the process – when you can just spitball without having to worry about any of the budget or time constraints that come later. Well, I say that, obviously all that has to be at the back of your mind – you can’t just say “I know, and then the building explodes!” because you know at the end of the day you won’t be able to do that, but you know what I mean! I can’t remember who said it but someone once described pre and post as the best and most creative parts of a production, the shoot is just the hassle in between and I think that’s really true on most films.

Anyway, we’ve come up with, dare I say it, some really cool ideas and I hope you all like it when the film comes into fruition – I’m sure it’ll change a lot again between now and release and who knows – maybe all of those ideas will be distant memories by then, but it’s an exciting time nonetheless and only continues to affirm for me how much I bloody love film-making.

First draft’s due in end of the week! Get writing Chris!

The Crooked arm!

Friday, May 14th, 2010

It may be a way off yet but my close friend and talented artist/editor Sam Weeks is already hard at work on concept art and designs for my upcoming sci-fi project “The Crooked Man”, which should hopefully be rolling into production early next year. The film has been written by sci-fi novelist Simon R. Green, who is currently on his second draft of the script.

This arm and more importantly the “thing” that’s attached to it will play a key role in the film, but as for what exactly it is and where it comes from – you’ll have to wait and see!

“The Crooked Man” will be my first foray into working with heavy VFX elements so I’m a little nervous about it, but also excited by the challenge. As much as possible we’re going to try to do things practically, so for real on set with the aid of SFX make-up and prosthetics, rather than with computer animation. As much as you can do all that stuff with computers now, I think audiences are so savvy to it that if you don’t have the budget and computing power of someone like Industrial Light & Magic, then you’re not going to blow them away. Plus I don’t think you can ever quite beat the look and feel of doing something like this for real, such as with “Alien” and the incredible model work in John Carpenter’s “The Thing.”

More on this project as it happens!

Congratulations Chris!

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

If you haven’t already seen on the news page, my writing partner Chris Marshfield, along with the rest of his cast and crew on the movie, were recently the proud winners of “Best Student Film” at the first British Independent Film Festival, held at the Pier Theatre in Bournemouth.

Here he is (on the left), with Finnish director Erik Kentta, after receiving the award. The film “Brennan’s Sacrament” was Chris’ final year graduation film at Newport University where he studied Film & Video. The film is set in the near future and tells the story of Ray Brennan – an imprisoned political activist who plunges himself into a desperate fight to overthrow a religiously perverted prison manager and gain his freedom. Sounds like your average student film right?

Congratulations to Chris and everyone who worked on the film!

More info on the film can be found at it’s iMdb page here: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1517635/

ITV Workshop

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

For any aspiring young film-makers out there based in or around Bristol, or further afield if you’re happy to travel, I can thoroughly recommend the ITV Production Skills Workshop, held at the ITV West Studios in Bristol. It’s a 2 hour session that takes place on a Monday evening for a 10 week term (so can easily be fitted in around work or any other courses you might be doing), teaching you all aspects of film-making from operating camera, to lighting, editing, script-writing and more. The course is taught by short film-maker Paul Dudbridge who is extremely talented and knowledgeable about the practical side of making films.

The course is a great way to learn and hone new skills, as well as meet some like-minded people! I actually got some of my first jobs through the workshop – and it also because of them that I met the production company with whom I am currently raising finance for my features!

Their site for more details is: www.itvworkshop.co.uk

They also have a drama workshop so are a great way to hook up with actors for your projects!

To check out some of tutor Paul Dudbridge’s work, go to: www.hanoverpictures.co.uk

Release

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

I have to quickly plug Christian and Darren’s new film (the creators of “SHANK”) which they wrote and directed together for DVD and festival distribution this year.

It is called “Release” and stars SAG award winner Daniel Brocklebank (“The Hole”, “Shakespeare in Love”). I highly recommend the film and encourage you all to watch it when you can. No DVD release date as of yet, but there will be one soon, probably around the end of the year. However, you might be able to catch it at a festival screening near you if you’re lucky – for more info and trailers go to www.release-movie.co.uk.

They’ve successfully pulled off their tricky second album, now it’s my turn! Yikes!

May 2010

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Hello all and welcome to my blog!

This is the first time I’ve done one of these so I hope it’s of some interest to someone. As I’m currently attempting to start up a career as a young director I thought I’d post about my experiences here, not only to shamelessly plug what I’m working on at the time, but also to share my trials and tribulations with other aspiring film-makers as I navigate the minefield that is low-budget film-making. Will I succeed or completely crash and burn? Stay tuned to find out!

You’ll see from the home-page that I already work as a freelance editor and camera-man (sorry, operator – sexist!), whilst I attempt to set up my own films in the hopes of one day directing full-time. I tend to develop these with my long-time writing partner Chris Marshfield, who I’ve known since secondary school and whom I first began making shorts with. Thus far, the projects we have produced together have been under the pseudonym of CBA Productions, about which you can find out more by going to our other site: www.cbaproductions.co.uk.

In 2008, I had my first real success to speak of, when I was given the chance to direct “SHANK”, a low-budget, feature length coming of age drama set in Bristol, written & produced by Christian Martin and Darren Flaxstone. I have to say a huge thank-you to both of them for giving me such an amazing opportunity so early into my career, and for their constant support and encouragement throughout the production and beyond. Since the film’s premiere in Melbourne at their annual Lesbian & Gay Film Festival early last year, I have been absolutely blown away by the success “SHANK” has had, and how audiences have reacted to it around the world. It is currently on DVD in the UK and US, as well as a number of other territories, and continues to find legs on the festival circuit – in fact, it is about to go on a tour of South America! Crazy, for a film that was shot nearly two years ago now – and all of this is down to the hard work of Christian, constantly and tirelessly pushing the film to new audiences and markets. I have learnt a lot from both he and Darren, particularly how strategic marketing can decide a film’s fate – it’s not enough to just make a film and put it out there – in those first few months it’s up to you to make sure the right people see it and then eventually if it goes down well word of mouth should do the rest for you, but you absolutely have to keep pushing and pushing to get it seen. Get it to festivals, critics, distributors and know how to sell it to these people as well – something I am still learning myself – because there’s a lot out there. Don’t be put off if it is ignored or put down by some, if you have confidence in your film and believe in what you’ve made (and you must do otherwise you wouldn’t have made it!) then just keep at it and it should hopefully pay off. There’s a lot of straight to DVD crap out there that people still buy so if they can do it…! 

Now for the shameless plug – if you haven’t seen “SHANK” and you would like to (and let’s be honest, why wouldn’t you?) it’s available now from Amazon, Play and all good DVD retailers! By the way, this is not to be confused with another “SHANK” (2010) that was released in cinemas this year, set in a near future London. Ours is the better one. Lol, no I’m kidding – I haven’t seen the other one so I can’t possibly comment…. why not buy both and make up your own minds?

Anyway, so what have I been doing since “SHANK” and will all my blog posts be this long? The answer to the latter is ‘no’. Just thought as this is my first one it would be nice to give you a bit of back-story. Feel free to check out some of the other pages on this site if you’re bored, perhaps you can read this in chunks, or just go elsewhere. (Like cbaproductions.co.uk, or shank-movie.co.uk, or amazon to buy “SHANK”, it’s up to you).

So, as for the former question, I did attempt recently to get myself an agent off the back of “SHANK”, sending screeners and the usual C.V. stuff to a few agencies in London, but most simply told me they weren’t taking anyone new on at the moment, which is fair enough. I did have interest from one who liked the film, but I think they want to wait to see what I do next before they make a decision. So, back to the question – what am I doing next?

Well, you’ll see on the news page that I’m currently developing a feature project entitled “Thieves”, which we hope to shoot later this year. Chris and I spent a lot of time developing feature projects in 2009, but we found the battle and search for investors not only time consuming but also extremely difficult and frustrating. They’re interested, then they’re not – or they don’t want to commit just now, or you can never get them locked into a face-to-face meeting…. I actually think in some ways its easier to make a film for nothing. If you have access to the kit you can just pick up the camera and go do it without all the waiting around.

Thus far we’d been working with a local production company in my hometown of Bristol to raise the finance, and I realised that with everything we had access to between us, why not start developing something that can be made on a much lower budget, but still sell to a market in order to hopefully make a return, and just get on with it whilst we wait for investment on the larger projects to come in?

And so, “Thieves” was born. Now this won’t be made for nothing either, but as I said for a much smaller budget that we know we can get. Chris is about a week away from delivering the first draft and we hope to be able to shoot in August, so it’s an exciting, but also nerve-wracking time at the moment. I also have a short I am currently developing so that’s potentially a second project for me this year, to be made either before or after “Thieves”. Of course I will be keeping you up to date on casting, development and production of all those projects here, so if you want to track our progress then check back here regularly for more info!

I can’t wait to get started, though I’ve been working, I’ve not directed since “SHANK”, and prior to that I usually had a project on the go each year, so the directing part of my brain is screaming to get going on a new film!

I’ll just end by saying that if you want to make films, start now. Get a camera, grab some friends and go do it and keep doing it. You will learn something on every project you work on, even if its your own and you think you don’t know anything. Show it to other people and get their feedback – does the story make sense? What works, what doesn’t work? Watch films you like closely – look at the techniques they use that are successful and think about why. Then, with each film, you can get more ambitious, they can be longer – you can put out a casting call for professional actors instead of your friends, you can strive for more ambitious locations – even if you haven’t got money to spend you’ll be surprised what a polite phone-call to the right person can do for you. The worst thing they’ll say is no. So try somewhere else. There are a lot of sites and email lists like shootingpeople.co.uk and talentcircle where you can find cast and crew to work with, people who are just as keen to get something made and to find someone with whom they can collaborate regularly in future.

By the way, I’m not claiming to be any kind of authority on how to get into the industry, be a director or anything like that, I’m just speaking from my own personal experiences – I myself have a lot to learn!

That’s enough bullsh*t from me for now, thanks for reading and speak to you again soon!

Simon Pearce Blog

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Here’s where to come for all the latest news on where Simon is, what he’s doing – and what he is shooting! Through this blog he’ll be keeping us updated on everything from the trials and tribulations of getting a film made, trying to make it as a young director, fighting for work as a freelancer, as well as keeping us abreast of all the news and information related to his latest production.

Check back regularly for updates.

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