Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Arts Journal

Here is the pilot of The Arts Journal. Shot on location in Trim and Dublin, the pilot was written by Rita Marie Lawlor and directed by myself. We're leaving the pilot online for 24 hours for anyone who missed the midweek screenings. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Awakening Moron

The hardest thing in any production that does not have a budget is managing to bring together a number of talented people within a time frame that makes a shoot a steady affair as opposed to a long drawn out process that might endanger the life being sucked out of the material.
Originally I had intended on shooting the Booker's World web-series over three days. After talking to more experienced people than me, five now seems like a more realistic goal.
I've been working on breaking down the 50-page script and trying to gauge shooting dates around busy schedules and it now seems the latter part of June is a more realistic goal than the early part.
Producing is a necessary evil at the moment, but it makes me think more and more how it might be impacting on the directing end of things. Anyone who's ever produced anything in Ireland, be it a CD, a film or a theater production will know the days sometimes make their way into dreamland and switching off when involved in pre-production is nothing but a nice idea.

The main cast has a meeting last Sunday week and we read through the script. It's almost there. Everyone is anxious to get going with it. I hopefully will have remaining cast and crew lined up towards the end of the week and those shooting days sorted out.

This week the Arts Journal has a series of screenings. Last night The Pint Bar on Eden Quay played host to a cast and crew screening. Slight glitch with the projection which didn't do justice to the visual work but it seemed to go down well.
Tonight we show in Kiely's Bar in Trim, a chance to thank John Kiely who supported the cast and crew throughout the three day shoot last year. And tomorrow The Underground Cinema play host to it on their monthly program.

I used to spend a lot of time on a Film-making forum over the years. I don't contribute much to it any longer as, if I'm honest, any would-be or wannabe filmmaker in Ireland would quickly run a mile given the level of hostility there at times. The critic and the filmmaker doing work without budgets were mainly scorned which I always felt was counter-productive to what the forum was set up to do. It may have changed since.
These days I take an interest in other filmmakers in Ireland, talented guys who struggle and struggle just to get lift off on anything while development money is given from the taxpayers purse for projects that never see the light of day.
Then, like an awakening moron it came to me that all that lark was just the same way Ireland is run. 100k for ten minute shorts? I'd love to know what filmmakers like Jason Mehlhorn, Terry McMahon or Frank Kelly would do with that sort of money. These are filmmakers I look up to because they do it outside that safety net of support available to all filmmakers, but only granted to a few.

I strongly believe film-making in Ireland needs a new approach, a more radical one where enterprise is forefront of it as a new funding model, where we take the tax-payer leg up out of the equation or use that to build a more inclusive film-making culture in the country.
Funding of the Arts is very important to any culture, but in lean times that money needs to go further and there has to be something to show for it. When the re-mit is make the country look good, then the work is false. Art in my own opinion should not be shackled by going against its own grain. Like the country itself, film-making needs a new fix. Many frown on the digital/Internet age, preferring to bask in the past. There's always room for sentimentality and an honouring of where we've been, but being the evolution beings we are, its maybe time to move on, play a little catch up, or heaven forbid, even show the way at times.

I think all involved in the web-series are happy to roll with this first one as a collaboration and hopefully play around with a few things that might swing a budget or two our way in the future. Without them or a new approach by the powers that be it's just going to be the same-old, same-old. Opportunity is nothing if missed. But it's even worse if it's not given to you at all.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Booker's World - Cast

With The Arts Journal now completed it is time to concentrate on something different and all going to plan, the Booker's World web series will be shot in the first two weeks of June over two weekends.
With over 50 pages of script to be shot it will be a tough ask, but if an extra day is needed we will find it from somewhere. I think it is manageable after blocking off the scenes earlier today. The series will be shot entirely in Trim and Kildalkey.
I have now cast most of the principal character and considering the budget is a big fat zero at the time of writing, I can only say I must be pretty damn lucky with who I have managed to secure the talents of so far.
I'm really hoping that this initial web series will be the launching pad required when it comes to securing budgets for future projects and turn this into a paying gig at long last. It seems like a long apprenticeship, but I guess they are that by their nature. Gaining experience can only be got by working with the best you can find, and on this one i think as a writer/director it's a great step up to take. You kind of feel with the state of the country at the moment, it's now or never. With so few opportunities about, maybe it's time to make a few for ourselves. Trying to get those ideas taken seriously is an altogether different story. I've had dealings lately with people and it seems the pursuit of artistic work in many fields is frowned upon outside artistic circles. With a country in crisis, that's the wrong way to be thinking. But we'll keep trying anyway.

The title role of Don Booker will be played by the multi-credited, Brian Fortune. I was supposed to work with Brian on I Wish some time back, so to be able to have him along on this is great.
Meath actor, Gerry Shanahan, another actor I was supposed to work with before has agreed to come on board as 'Flash' Simpson.

Johnny Elliott, who I worked with on The Arts Journal is having a run of success with Terry McMahon's Charlie Casanova at the moment. The Indie Irish flick, shot for under a grand, is whipping up a storm on the International film festival circuit at the moment despite having little or no support from our relevant film bodies. Johnny will play Sonny Strange.

Meath-based actor and Impersonator Ray Reilly has just finished shooting a TV pilot with Tobar Productions and is working on his new stand-up show. Ray will be playing the director from hell, Dan Donavan.

Also added to the cast in the past week are Vivienne Connelly, Liam Heffron, and Andrea McCaffrey.

I hope to add to the cast by the end of this week and source somewhat locally. This will be the third project I have shot in Trim over the past three years and some local people have helped along the way. It would be nice to shoot my first full length feature in my hometown. I guess time will tell.

Blog been a bit ignored this year as I finished off work on my first book. If you have more of an interest on the background of what's going on with these characters and books, I update my writing blog regularly here.

You will find links to character bio's and a link to a free download of Sonny Strange, who features with Don Booker as together with a little help from a few friends along the way strike out to make opportunity for themselves. More to follow soon...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Arts Journal Completion

It has taken longer than anticipated, but The Arts Journal is now finished. Screening dates in Dublin and Trim will be announced in the coming days.

You can view a brief teaser here.

We will then put together a press pack and author some DVD's for all the cast and crew who gave their time up to work on the pilot. Then it's off to production companies who may have a little more clout than us at this stage.

A special thanks to John King & Monica Tivda for their work on the edit and to Jason Mehlhorn for his time and effort in the sound department and also to Padraig Conaty for his great camerawork.
It's difficult putting things together on a shoe-string and we are very grateful to John Kiely for the shoe-string that allowed us to complete the pilot. Hopefully someone, somewhere, will see some potential and we can all get a pay-day from it sometime soon.

Screening dates will follow in a day or so.