I Blame Star Wars
1977: I sat waiting patiently for the curtains to open. Two hours later I was convinced Star Wars was the best film ever made. Well, I was nine.
1994: After moving to Leeds, I discovered film festivals and independently made, zero budget, friends with a camera short films. Ever since then I have marvelled that with a good idea and determination somebody could not only make a film but actually get it in front of an audience. I had lots of ideas but I was lacking in the determination department.
2012: I sat one evening idly browsing and came across a word macro that let you format a script. I started to write and soon I had a script for a short film. Was it really that easy? Unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera, crew, actors or any idea what to do next, but I had a script. I saved it and moved the icon to the corner of the screen as a reminder.
2015: Raindance short film courses? Now, these looked interesting as they promised to teach you over five evenings in London how to actually make a film. I looked at the little icon of the script in the corner of the screen and thought now or never. For 5 Thursdays in a row, I jumped on the train to London at lunchtime and returned around 3 am the next morning. One guy got a round of applause for coming all the way from Cornwall for the course. I kept quiet, but I did learn the basics and to summarise, anybody can do this. I networked during the breaks and agreed to stay in contact. After all, these were the only aspiring filmmakers I knew. I registered a production company name and Obverse Films was born. Now I had a logo to go with the script, a basic outline of how to make a film and some like-minded friends.
[Check out Obverse Films Youtube Channel here].
2016: One of the London contacts got in touch. He wanted to spend a weekend making as many short films as possible but he didn’t have a camera so he supplied the cast, I supplied the camera and in two days we shot 7 short films, one from a script I wrote. I’ve since watched 6 on the big screen with audiences.
Over the next couple of years, I shot a lot more short films, did more courses, networked and found more local people, upgraded camera and eventually was asked to help make a feature film.
I pitched the concept at a Raindance Live Ammunition event and got an honourable mention. I said we wanted to make the film for £25,000. They said it wasn’t possible and that’s why we didn’t score higher. They were right as it actually cost closer to £30,000 but nobody actually got paid.
I supplied the camera and with 100 friends over 12 weekends we shot our first feature film with myself as a cinematographer. It’s planned to be the first of a trilogy.
“Remember Remember: Grace and Mercy” – Guy Fawkes leads a dedicated team of hunters in an epic battle for survival against a vampire infested aristocracy determined to seize the throne of 17th century England.
2018: I sat one evening watching Star Wars on my iPad. Normally it would have been a bigger screen but I was on a flight to Los Angeles for the 2018 American Film Market. Also on the iPad was the almost completed film and the best trailer we could make. It was time to pitch again. Over the next week I walked the halls until I finally had a contract for distribution and possible funding for the sequel. Quite a 50th birthday present.
The distributor had not intended to pick up a film still needing post-production but being American, they fell for the history, aristocracy, royalty and of course vampires. Historical accuracy I guess was not so important. In the networking meetings, I showed the trailer and the locals suggested production costs of anywhere from $500,000 to $2M so we didn’t do badly for the budget. Post-production has been a journey I wasn’t expecting and we lost a year to Covid but it’s finally finished.
2021: Remember Remember is up for sale at EFM at Berlinale and I have a short film doing the rounds of the film festivals. The Blue Candle is a prequel to The Colour of Everything, a feature I’m shooting from my own script hopefully this year.
Some day soon I’ll be sat patiently waiting for the curtains to open. It might not be the best film ever made but it will be the best film I made.
Until I make the next one.