One of my more fascinating Christmas presents from my father-outlaw Steve Parry was a mysterious film canister containing…
Well that was the mystery. Steve found it at in an old junk shop and discovered it had been found in an attic.
Now, thanks to Graham Relton at the Yorkshire Film Archive, it’s no longer a mystery. My actual dad, an ex-film editor, had expressed concern that if the film dated back further than about 1950, it may contain silver nitrate and possibly explode.
I could see the headlines: ‘YFA destroyed by obscure French film and obscure York filmmaker‘…
So… we gathered this chilly morning to open the box – which thankfully didn’t explode – and find out what was inside. The answer was more intriguing than I’d hoped.
Turns out these are some 16mm rushes from a 1983 experimental feature called Ghost Dance, directed in France by British director Ken McMullen. The film features Robbie Coltrane and Red Dwarf‘s Robert Llewellyn, although neither are featured in the rushes found in the can.
Instead, we ran through some long shots of a French actress – presumably Pascale Ogier, who tragically died of a heart attack the year after Ghost Dance was released, and a day before her 26th birthday. The cinematographer, Peter Harvey, also died, last year in fact. The last thing he shot was Stephen Fry’s ‘Planet Word’, his career having been packed with documentary work.
Graham, unraveling the mystery…
Me, using a Steenbeck for the first time in 20 years…
The only close up shots are of a very young, beautiful, wistful-looking Leonie Mellinger, thankfully still going strong today.
These are the things inspiration is made of: an obscure can of film, 30 years old, opened by another filmmaker who was nine years old when this film came out.
I think I’ll be inspired by this for a long time to come, and I certainly hope I can get in touch with some of the cast and crew.
Here’s a clip from the actual film, which I now must seek out!
UPDATE: Here’s a little chat I had with Leonie Mellinger on Twitter this afternoon (Feb 3rd)…
…and Robert Llewellyn shortly afterwards (read this one bottom to top):
I’ve also heard from an academic and critic who’s hopefully going to get in touch with the director. Let’s hope the story continues…
5th Feb: Here’s an update on One&Other’s site: http://www.oneandother.com/features/92-dancing-with-ghosts-the-mystery-film-reel-that-unveils-a-30-year-old-story
Clearly we’re all biding our time until we can go out and buy one of these babies…
In the meantime, we might as well get on with some filmmaking stuff. I shall try and get through this blog post without using the word ‘excited’ (that one doesn’t count) as it tends to be a word I overuse. Yes, we are that word, but we’re indie filmmakers and therefore the ‘E’ word is a pretty important one ; without it, we’d be terrified half the time.
It’s only a week into the new year but we’ve already had some fun and fascinating meetings with various filmmaker folk and discussed everything under the sun.
Best chat of the year so far has to be from our Producer, Steve, who told a great anecdote about Stanley Kubrick & a burger in a limo, and summed up the indie filmmaking experience with the very astute observation that, ‘Indie filmmakers are usually so stressed, skint and exhausted by the time filming happens, it’s a case of, ‘Who needs rehearsals, let’s do a quick line reading then three takes and move on,’ which I have to say is often the case.
Not so, then, for our future movies.
First off, the Zomblogalypse movie script, which we’ve now been developing for over 18 months, is in great shape. Our first script meeting of the year was productive and encouraging, as we carefully pick our way towards submitting a polished draft to the money people.
We benefitted greatly from a cast read-through a few months ago, followed by a few more meetings then a couple of weeks off for festive madness, and we all returned fresh and fighting fit to make sure there was no chaff… among the wheat. Thankfully, our now eagle-eyed ruthlessness means we can spot a weak line or plot hole and pick it off like the ailing straggler it is. Some films warrant a long script development, and Zomblog is one of those beasts.
We’re attending some meetings this month that could help York’s filmmakers this year and in the future. We’re tentatively starting to sketch out our return to Cannes in May. We’re in talks with a few York-based companies about some new projects that could generate jobs and stimulate industry.
That’s all a bit vague but we hope over the coming months we’ll be able to reveal more. We are planning for 2014 to be a very big year, and not just for us. It’s a key year, an important one in which we’re throwing everything we can at the wall and attempting to get a hell of a lot going, not simply making a feature film every now and then but making sure the foundations of our filmmaking castle are strong and not, you know, quicksandy.
I would say we’re excited but… damn. I’ll leave the last word to life guru Ron Swanson.
In 2012 we could, had we the foresight of the Tenth Doctor in his dying moments, have predicted of ourselves in 2013: ‘I bet you’re gonna have a really great year.’
Indeed, we’re celebrating a successful 2013 and steeling ourselves for 2014, which we also think is going to be pretty great.
One thing that’s been continually brought to our attention this year, other than just how much will and stamina are required to make film projects happen, is the amount of support and help we’ve had, yet again.
We’re very proud and grateful to everyone who’s been a part of MilesTone Films’ success this year; everyone who’s helped us when we’ve needed them, from Executive Producers to IndieGoGo contributors and all our cast and crew who came back to the fold after we’d all drifted off to work on our other projects. Because you all believed in us, we continue to believe in ourselves.
So, twelve months, twelve photos that capture the mood. This time next year, who knows what those photos will be.
Here are this year’s. Click to enlarge.
Up to more bloody antics filming the Zomblogalypse Cannes-paign – April
Taking part in the Proudly In York event – April
Richard Dreyfuss hosting a seaside screening of Jaws – May
Our online output this year was mainly geared around promoting Whoops! and Zomblogalypse:
Returning from a film festival is always a pleasantly baffling experience; bit of a comedown and a sense of ‘did that just happen?’ and ‘what exactly comes next?’ as well as buzzing like a very excited sugar-filled child.
Whoops! was a sellout at Raindance and we couldn’t be happier about that. The audience laughed in all the right places – and in some places we didn’t expect – and many of them came up to us afterwards to congratulate us.
Photo by Vicky Parry
We got to do a very fun Q&A afterwards and that was the most giddy part. Talking to people who’ve just enjoyed something you spent two years working on is nothing less than immensely gratifying.
Photo by James Arden
And so onto the ‘What’s next?’ part.
Concerning Whoops!, we’re waiting to see if the film has been accepted into any of the other dozen or so film festivals to which we’ve submitted it, and are fielding interest from distributors who could take the film further. We’d like to see Whoops! in cinemas, on discs and VOD and eventually on TV. That’s what we’re aiming for, and we have high hopes. Hiiiiiigh hopes.
Then there’s the small matter of another completed film we have in the MilesTone vaults, Amber, which is currently seeking festivals and representation. More on that soon but suffice to say, WE’RE ON IT.
Artwork by Roi Pardo
The Zomblogalypse movie is heavily into the script development/rehearsal stage as we work out the very best dialogue, situations and action scenes for the film. It’s also in the tentative early pre-production phase, as locations and logistics are worked out for when we put the movie on its feet.
And then there’s the issue of our next film. Daaaaan Daaaan DAAAAAAAAA…
‘Did they really just say there’s going to be a Whoops! 2?!’
Tony and I have various scripts and ideas that we’re in the tremblingly early stages of discussing. A couple are written, a couple need writing, a couple need a good arm-wrestling match or two to decide whether they live or die.
Apart from Zomblog, there are no firm plans other than to make sure that the next movie we make is even bigger, bolder and ballsier than anything we’ve made before.
Our little brains are buzzing, post-Raindance, and we’re working out things like if we can fit a production in before Zomblog, after Zomblog, or during… no, that would be madness. OR WOULD IT?! Yes it would, that’s totally not going to happen.
It’s funny though; after all the pain and poverty and panic attacks of making one feature, the urge to get going on another one kicks in. It’s like a drug. It’s like some of Heisenberg’s blue meth… but we’ll leave before we spoil something…
The response has been a mixture of recognition among some, and curiosity among others, as to what getting into Raindance actually means. There are a lot of film festivals flying about and, other than the red carpets and the fuss, it’s not always clear what they represent.
In the case of Raindance, it’s the one every independent filmmaker wants to get into because Raindance truly does champion the independents. One look at the list of films shows an eclectic slice of drama, comedy and experimentation from largely unknown filmmakers such as ourselves, given the chance to screen their work to a wider audience.
On the other hand, it’s just awesomely cool.
Raindance equals Tarantino, Ben Wheatley, a London premiere and the coolest people pimping your film to the World. It equals an independent voice, the recognition of burgeoning talent and a pleasing lack of corporate-led nonsense. This is is a festival for people who love films; a celebration of new voices, styles and stories rather than empty, cynical pomp and back-slapping.
The fact that Julian Assange is on this year’s jury should give you some idea of the radicalism that Raindance prides itself on.
We’re honoured to be included in this year’s festival and are keen to see what the Raindance laurels bring us. For us, getting into Raindance is a very welcome point of pride, satisfaction and relief after working on Whoops! for two long years.
Rose Clements, you done well.
…is one of those things filmmakers are supposed to have in spades.
Since I’m not really a patient person, I’ve developed this thing I call ‘deferred giddiness’ when it comes to making films. It’s when you have really exciting things happening but you can’t really tell many people, or if you can, you can’t really do much about the exciting things. Yet.
Partly this is the nature of the process: you have a great idea, the idea needs developing. You write a treatment, the treatment needs to become a script. You finish the script, the script needs lots of drafts. You start filming, the film takes several intense weeks to shoot. You finish the film, the film needs editing. You finish the edit, the edit needs tweaking.
And then re-tweaking.
And re-tweaking. And so on until everyone’s happy, or something approaching happy.
And even then, after the months of post-production, of sound editing, picture grading, special effects work, music scoring and agonising over every detail, even then when you bite the creative bullet and sign off your film, you have to wait some more; wait for a festival to accept the film, wait to announce the film getting into the festival, wait to get a sales deal, wait wait wait.
Waiting is one of the reasons you have to learn to love the process; to enjoy the view from the summit you’ve climbed rather than staring wistfully at the next mountain.
Right now we’re waiting for the finalisation of the digital effects shots in Whoops! which are more complicated (and larger in file size) than it’s possible to explain; waiting to see if Whoops! has been accepted into some film festivals to which we’ve submitted it; waiting for our previous film Amber to pick up a sales agent and also get into some festivals; working on and waiting for the Zomblogalypse movie script to be just right (currently working on a Draft 11) and for several big, exciting developments to kick into gear on that project…
Waiting, waiting, waiting.
You kind of go into this state of perma-wait where there isn’t much in the way of catharsis. I’m beginning to understand why filmmakers make such a fuss of red carpet events; quite apart from the back-slapping, it must be nice to sit back for a night and enjoy the spoils of your months of hard work, far from the long months of obsessing over every little detail.
On which note, time to be a little more patient…
Patience, T Man…
Thanks to the financial support of 150 people – and the moral support of countless more – we went to Cannes, we did some deals, we return with an international sales agent for the Zomblogalypse movie (or movies) and some potential deals for Whoops! and Amber. We are happy.
Cannes is a great experience but despite the glitz and swagger that you may associate with the name, it’s really just a (mostly) sunny place to talk to people and make friends and deals that could shape your film career.
So without further (we didn’t get into the press screening of Much) Ado (About Nothing), here are ten things I noticed while I was out there.
1. It’s vital to learn all aspects of the film industry. Whether you’re creative or business-minded, the bigger picture – and your place in it – is essential to understand.
2. Thanks to the Digital Film Library, I have a newfound love of short films. So many ideas and styles and it’s inspiring to dip into over two thousand films and try to select about one percent of them that you might enjoy. The ones with the best-written blurbs and eye-catching posters stood out the most. It’s a good lesson in marketing for filmmakers everywhere.
3. Cannes has its share of loud, obnoxious, swaggering people but we noticed it’s mostly the quiet ones doing the deals. The best ones played it down.
4. My boredom threshold for parties is approximately one hour. Free booze, however, is nice.
5. Panamanian filmmakers are much more welcoming and friendly than British ones. Plus you get free hats.
6. Some people will genuinely wish you well and share in the joy of your journey. Treasure those people.
7. Being 20 feet away from Marion Cotillard with no-one in between you is a lot more exciting when you realise the day after who it was.
8. Always be nice. Get on with people and forge new working friendships.
9. Believe in your work, be realistic and find the best deal. Compromise but don’t sell out, have a solid grasp of what you’re selling and pick the most fitting people to work with, people who share your vision.
10. Never give up. Even if you start small, think big and work hard. Amaze yourself, worry less about amazing others.
So that was our Cannes 2013. Coming soon: deals, news and a new phase of filmmaking in York. You can catch up with our adventures in Cannes over at One&Other where we blogged the hell out of the whole experience.
We attended an event by new initiative Proudly In York last night.
I’m very wary of backslapping/networking events in general as there are too many of them but this is the exact opposite; full and enthusiastic support from the local community, a chance to meet other creatives and celebrate the diversity and ambition of the arts and culture of York and its people as we look toward the future.
A few of us gave speeches and I was one of them. I wanted to express how important a sense of community has been to us in our filmmaking.
Here’s that speech. I meant every word and I’m excited about what the future may bring:
We started making films when we were kids and thankfully, that spark of excitement has never gone away. Filmmakers are often asked, ‘Why don’t you go to London?’ in order to get a film career going. We’ve known people who have gone there and either been absorbed into corporate work, been generally overwhelmed or come back because they didn’t get the support or sense of community that you get in somewhere like York. Rather than seeing this as not being able to hack it in the big city, I’ve always seen it as trying to develop York as a filmmaking city rather than run away from it because it was ‘a bit quiet.’
There’s much talk in small towns about being a big fish in a small pond and I’ve always hated that expression; that’s not a reason to stay in York and is a very cynical outlook, as if we all want to be megastars or something, idolised by the ‘little people.’ What Proudly and One & Other represent is the evolution of the idea of community; it’s not even ‘Yorkshire pride’ which is another phrase I’m uncomfortable with. It’s about a particular place and the people who happen to live in it or are drawn to it, the people who try and evolve the arts and culture of that place… and this is just about the most exciting time to live here.
What Proudly stands for, I think, is looking around and noticing & appreciating the immense talent, skill and industry that exists in York. In filmmaking terms, it was very important for us to break out of that provincial ‘small pond’ view and start getting our films into international festivals but remaining very much a part of the York film community and encouraging new filmmaking talent, so that film students leaving Uni don’t graduate asking, ‘So… what the hell do I do now?’ York is a very attractive city for filmmakers, not just aesthetically but for ease of filming and friendliness of locals.
MilesTone Films have two features coming out this year, both made in York, and we’re off to Cannes in May to prep for another – also to be filmed in York and which we hope will bring money and industry into the city – and it’s largely due to York people and York talent that the industry has sat up and started taking notice of our little town.
We want to evolve the York filmmaking scene so that the industry can thrive and grow. It’s not about taking all the gold and buggering off to Hollywood, it’s about bringing something back to a community that has nurtured and supported us and many others. It’s a privilege to be here, now, in this town amongst such creative people, and we thank Proudly for recognising and bringing together all this talent and representing the true meaning of community.
Hello! This is a very special blog entry that’s also a plea for support like you’ve never given before.
Actually that’s not true; you’ve all given maximum support over the years and that’s why we’re at this stage: MAKING THE ZOMBLOGALYPSE MOVIE!
I can’t tell you how excited I am and what a dream this is, but I’ll try, without sounding like an Oscar recipient.
Making this film represents a lot of things: The culmination of years of toil to get the kind of recognition and budgets we need to make films in the way we want but with the degree of independence and ferocity of spirit that we greatly treasure; to make the kind of big, funny, exciting films that we grew up loving; to give our friends and colleagues in the York Film Community the film work they deserve after years of working on low and no-budget films… and so many other things.
The film will create money and industry in York & Yorkshire, something that we sorely need in these troubled times. There may not be a real zombie apocalypse but we shall fight with the Dunkirk spirit to make sure the future is bright, not bleak and mouldy!
For me personally, the Zomblogalypse movie is something for which we planted the seed almost five years ago: a big, bold, British, balls-out slice of entertainment that encapsulates the spirit of three friends with a comically bleak world view: we may all be going to Hell in a shopping trolley, but by GUM we’re going to have fun doing it!
We have started making this film for no money: writing the script, filming a funding campaign, starting talks with the crew. We aim to continue making the film with your help and your money – for which there are many treats including being in the film and coming to the premiere – then going to Cannes to do the deals necessary to get this film into production.
If you’re from York, this film is going to be a fun and exciting part of our lives for the next year and we hope you feel the same way. If you’re from outside York, we aim to serve you up a sparkling piece of cinema you’ll never forget.
PLEASE HELP in any way that you can and become part of filmmaking history:
- SHARE the above banner/change your Facebook image for the month…
- DONATE as much as you can in exchange for some truly fun perks… (click that link to see our IndieGoGo campaign including a new episode, concept art, videos and tons of fun stuff)
- RECOMMEND the series at ZOMBLOGALYPSE.COM to your friends, family, cousins, enemies and pets…
- SHARE, PIMP, TWEET and WHORE the Zomblog movie around the internet like you’ve never whored before!
We’re truly grateful for every sliver of help, money and support you can throw our way, and we’ll repay you by throwing ourselves into this film to make it a huge, cinematic experience you’ll never forget. This means a lot to us, hopefully something to you, and even more perhaps to York and the indie filmmaking community.
Post production on a feature film looks something like this.
And that’s in the later stages. It’s a lot of leisurely weeks of co-ordinating the various departments of editing, sound, music, picture grading and so forth.
It’s all far from the panic of shooting the film and haemorrhaging money, blood and energy but it’s not without its stresses and strains. At this point the cast and crew (and money) have long since left the production… and everyone else starts asking when the film is coming out.
A feature usually takes at least six months of post production, especially if there are only a few unpaid or underpaid people carrying it out. Even if you’re a fast editor, there are the inevitable rough screenings, tweaks, meetings, more tweaks and file sharing galore.
With Whoops! there are also some FX shots that involve painstaking CGI and image correction. You know, that thing with the wireframes that looks really boring in Making Ofs but its essential to ‘rescue’ shots or add elements that you didn’t or couldn’t film.
We have another couple of months of this process and it involves all of the above: lists, phone calls, email and Dropbox. Pretty amazing that filmmakers can send files whooshing about in cyberspace when they used to have to courier cans of film across the country/World. One of our guys is working from Miami Beach, which is less glamourous than it sounds.
The list of stuff to do grows ever shorter. The film is now being finished from the comfort of our own offices and bedrooms. It’s so important at this vital stage to remain focused and not lose momentum. Eyes on the prize, the summit, whatever you want to call it.
We may have been working on the film now for about 18 months but our enthusiasm for it has never dwindled. The reward for all this work is a film we can be proud of.
Now, back to that list…