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.
Despite the fact that I can be a snarky depressive, it has been remarked by fellow filmmakers over the years that I am rather a cheerful soul. One guy even said I had a ‘Mickey Mouse’ cheerfulness about life. He meant it as a backhanded compliment, I think, because cheerfulness don’t pay the bills, do it.
His veiled point was that I am an optimist. Because when you’re depressive, being anything other than optimistic is a fatal wander down the wrong country lane, if truth be told. But we live and learn. Those close to me will know that the main thing I enjoy moaning and being negative about is negative moaners. After years of being like that myself in my twenties, I’m totally allergic to it now.
Look, a pretty picture I took today. Very keen to see Spring this year… Anyway…
Filmmaking. Optimism and filmmaking, that’s what this blog is about. When we at MilesTone semi-seriously decided to start making films, a few years ago, we had the lofty goal of making one feature and showing it to our mates at the local cinema. Afterwards, I don’t know what we expected to happen but we knew it wouldn’t be a Robert Rodriguez-style storming of Hollywood.
That myth, the ‘I’ll make a feature when I’m 23 (or at least 26 like what Orson Welles did with that Kane film) and it’ll get shown in a major festival and I’ll be off on my film career’ is a persistent one; both ridiculously ambitious and unlikely AND YET strangely more possible now that anyone can make a film. But I’ll come to that.
The main reason it’s unlikely is because MOST filmmakers (and I’m excluding Spielberg, Lucas, Tarantino, Edgar Wright and Rodriguez) aren’t born knowing what they want to do or how to do it, and it takes them a long time to learn how filmmaking works, and more importantly HOW NOT TO SUCK AT IT. I wasn’t an early bloomer in that regard and I of course envy those who are.
Most people’s early efforts are something like this but less hilarious (and this has ended up making Tommy Wiseau a bit of cash, so you never know):
But an important thing I’ve learned is that slow progress, rather than attempting to be some kind of teenage genius (which again I wasn’t), is probably a good approach for most filmmakers; learning technique at the same time as you’re learning about marketing and that kind of stuff.
The films I’ve made have only really progressed in scale and style (I hope) because of the vomitously talented people I’ve surrounded myself with and the things I’ve learned by trial and error.
Bottom line: I know there’s a spark of heartfelt entertainment at the centre of everything we make and a desire to make people laugh and cry, so that we’re always proud of the final film and how hard we worked to make it. Real ‘laughs round the campfire’ type moments. Oh how we’ve comically wiped tears from our eyes…
(THINK that’s the context of this photo)
The reason I bring up filmmaking careers a lot lately is because we’re in the process of learning so much about what it takes to have one. The first time someone asks you to write a script for them feels magical. The first time you charge someone for your screenwriting services is a bit special and then when you start getting paid to make a feature, you can start to see how this whole ‘career’ thing might work.
(This entire documentary should be mandatory viewing for every filmmaker.)
The next step, one which we’re taking with Amber, Whoops! and the Zomblogalypse movie, is to learn what to do with a finished film. Because the most important thing I would advise anyone on concerning making a film is FINISH IT. Finish that screenplay, finish that edit, finish that post production. And while you’re doing that, learn how the indie film market works. Meet Producers. Pitch stuff. Chat. Pick up hints and tips.
This blog about how to maintain an indie film career and this clip more eloquently explain what I’m talking about:
If I had the experience to teach a filmmaking course, I wouldn’t teach all that ‘Long Shot, Mid Shot’ stuff first, I would teach people to learn how to write, draft and finish a screenplay – one that had something to say – and then send them out with a cheap camera to film it. And then I’d make them finish the edit and deliver the film to SOMEONE, be it a tutor or a festival or a Producer or a bunch of mates. And then I’d tell them to take that experience and move on, make something else but do it better. And so forth.
I know a lot of talented young (and some older) filmmakers and I’m genuinely excited to see what we all come up with over the next few years. We’re ALL still learning and I hope that sense of development and improvement never ends. It’s not about who gets there first or who does better than the rest (although we’re a naturally competitive lot), it’s about sharing and improving skills, building film careers AND ENJOYING THE JOURNEY.
It’s about LOVING EACH OTHER, MAAAAAN. Okay I went too far. Shut up and make some films. And it doesn’t matter if you’re 23, 30 or bloody 45. Just get filming.
We are having the best. time. ever. Check out Charlotte Boyle’s ace Making Ofs thus far:
Whoops! will be the fourth feature film MilesTone Films has made in the last six years. If you count (and we do) our cult Zomblogalypse series, which also doubles as two features, that’s six in six years. We think that’s pretty good going.
With each film, we’ve done our best with the resources we had, learning a multitude of lessons along the way.
What was lacking from our first feature in terms of production values, we improved in our second with stunning cinematography leading to international festival and cinema releases (not to mention outselling Kick Ass 5 to 1 in its opening weekend in York). With our third feature, we threw the script out of the window (it had food on it) and improvised the whole film to create something funny, Dogme-esque and surprising which we shall be unleashing later this year.
Now with Whoops! we’re combining everything we’ve learned to create a film that can stand proudly beside any of next year’s theatrical releases. And hopefully be accepted as dark and funny entertainment in the vein of the best of British horror comedy. Horredy? Corror? Either way, we’re setting our sights high with this one.
We’ve already raised the bar by hiring a cast of brilliant TV & film actors rather than our (very talented) mates as on previous films. Some of the cast are known, some less so, all are complete stars. We’ve secured enough budget to make the film to an even higher standard than our previous work, shooting on RED MX, and we’ve collaborated on the script to an exacting degree.
One thing we’ve always relied on throughout our burgeoning film careers is the support of your good selves; our friends, fans and the kindness of strangers.
And here’s where you come in. We need YOUR HELP in finding the extra budget to take us through the latter stages of production on Whoops!.
Having cast, crewed and shot to the highest possible standards, we also want to digitally grade and professionally sound mix the film before submitting it to festivals worldwide. These are things we just haven’t been in a position to fully do before, due to the expense. But we want Whoops! to go far and wide and look nice and shiny when it does.
YOU can help Whoops! be all it can be by getting involved with our IndieGoGo page which is being slowly developed into a community that will list contributors, add perks such as set visits and goodies, and feature regular documentaries throughout production so you can see how the shoot is developing.
We hope you’ll join us in making Whoops! a truly stunning film that not only entertains, but represents York as the strong centre of filmmaking it is. Thank you all for reading.
Now where’s the script?
We decided recently that if we have any ideas for silly, quick films, we’ll leap on the opportunity and just make them for fun.
So here are two we made recently. One in response to that awful Phantom Menace 3D trailer for kids, and the other a dark, twisted idea I had. More to come in the year. Enjoy!
‘This means something. This is important…’ – Close Encounters of the Third Kind
40 of York’s filmmakers gathered earlier this week for a talk about the York filmmaking scene, as documented in this One & Other article.
The general consensus is that there is a phenomenal amount of talent in the city; a force of independent creatives capable of making award-winning festival features, cult web series, short films, music videos and stylish promos, without being mired in the bureaucracy, elitism and egotism that can occur in the film business.
Not only that, but the combined skills, business sense and ambition of the 100+ members of the York Filmmakers Coalition makes York a strong centre of independent filmmaking.
Viva la Revolución!
Right, we’ve made a decision.
Expect them all up soon for your enjoyment.
The future’s online innit! We’d still like it if you turned up to the cinema for our future films, but what’s past is prologue…
Here are two action shorts we made last year.
The first, Leaf, was devised by CrimeFighters stunt co-ordinator Chris Smith as a thundering extended fight sequence, and got a great crew together for the first time since making that vigilante epic to create something cool and violent with a wry sense of fun.
The second, Journey’s End, was made as part of Tony’s MA in Film Post Production and combines his love of anime, fighting and post apocalyptic wastelands.
We hope you enjoy them both. Please share them around with everyone you think would enjoy them.