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.
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.
So, the world hasn’t ended yet but there’s still time…
We hope not though, because although 2012 was the first year we haven’t filmed any Zomblogalypse since we began in 2008, it’s been Zomblog-heavy with the planning of the feature film. With our Producer, Steve Piper, taking the web series to Cannes to pitch the film version, things really started entering the big leagues for MilesTone Films.
We also filmed a music video for the wonderful Nine Black Alps, and additional scenes for our follow-up to CrimeFighters, Dogme-esque comedy drama Amber, to create a 70 rather than 60 minute feature from the improvised material.
2012 was also the year we had the most extraordinary time filming Whoops!, our most ambitious feature to date, with a fantastic cast and crew. You can watch Charlotte Boyle‘s EXCELLENT video blogs on the making of the film here and here.
Without further ado, here are 12 pictures that sum up our year of filmmaking. It’s been amazing. As for next year… that’s going to be amazing…er.
And as per tradition, here’s all the stuff we put online this year. Quite a lot of stuff, actually:
When you’re a filmmaker with little to no startup money, what better way to show investors the kind of film you plan to make than to put together a no-budget ‘trailer’ to give them an idea. It’s worked for us several times and as they say, pictures speak a thousand words.
If you’re proposing to make a film, there’s nothing like showing people a film about your film!
Our buddies at Glass Cannon Film have just put out this POC trailer for Frostbite, an action horror feature they want to make next year. As you can see, it’s a great mix of maritime adventure, thriller (or should we say chiller) and horror.
We can’t wait to see this go into production:
Here’s one of our favourite POC trailers: Neill Blomkamp’s original test film for District 9:
Although POC trailers, out of necessity, generally feature your actor mates rather than a final cast, and rough versions of special effects, music and cinematography, they serve as a cinematic ‘sketch’ of intent that can really help convince people how the film will work, as well as helping the filmmakers start thinking about how the film will look and sound.
A moving, speaking storyboard.
Here are proof of concept trailers for a couple of films we’d like to make in the future:
Comedy crime thriller A Simple Investigation:
Live action/anime apocalypse feature Journey’s End:
Fantasy comedy Bob The Great:
Depending on how the next few years go, we may make some or all of these films, we may adapt elements of them into other films.
One we did end up making was Whoops! in the summer of 2012. Here’s the POC for that:
…and here’s a snippet of what we ended up making:
In the meantime, if you’re a filmmaker planning a feature, we can highly recommend making your own Proof of Concept trailer. It’s a strong first step on a long journey.
Not entirely sure we’ll end up making this one though…
Well that was awesome.
I’m not going to write about how hard it is to make a feature or how awesome everyone in the crew was, because… actually I just did, but what I would like to say is that this was NOT the hardest filmmaking experience of my life BECAUSE of the amazing crew. Yes it was tiring and frustrating and maddening and everyone had a strop or two but all I kept hearing from everyone was how, despite the fatigue, they were all enjoying making the film and didn’t want it to end.
And that’s about the most wonderful thing you can hear as a Director: that everyone not just wants to stay on the film but that they’ll be at a loss when it’s all over. Because we create these weird little families of awesome people and then have to retreat to our separate lives.
It’s very gratifying that there are so many great memories associated with this shoot, already a sense of nostalgia and of wanting to be with our friends again.
And then there’s the film, which… we’ve never made a film to the degree where we were not just ‘happy’ with the shots we were getting, or the acting, or the collaboration, but STUNNED at the level of passion, professionalism and meticulous detail of the performances and production design.
I can easily attribute this to a key member of the crew; EVERYONE. There was not a single person on this production who didn’t put every ounce of effort they had into making the film, and then, muddied and bloodied and bruised, found the reserve to give it that bit extra.
As Woody Allen put it, ‘a fresh lorry load of compromise arrives on the set each day,’ but I didn’t feel we compromised a single shot with a ‘That’ll do’ attitude. We had to drop a few setups but what we got ended up being the most sparkling, satisfying footage we’ve ever committed to hard drive, and it’s a testament to every department, from Camera to Costume.
We’ll be editing Whoops! throughout September/October and as soon as we have stills/trailers/clips/other fun stuff available, we will put it into your face holes.
Congratulations to everyone who worked on and supported Whoops! and please consider helping us swell our post production coffers so we can make sure the film kicks several arses. Thank you.
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?