I am a single father and I’m gonna let you in on a little secret…I’m Batman!
Where to begin? Its been practically two years since my last post. I’ve clearly been busy with personal and professional ‘things’. I joined a meetup group called lets make a scene last year and participated in a number of fun short films, I even got to act in a couple of them, granted I was typecast as ‘Thug #1’ but I liked it and made plenty of friends along the way. Some have gone on to make some amazing shorts, others realised that filmmaking wasn’t for them. We all got something out of it. Thank you Mandana for running a tight ship!
The group was on hiatus for a short while but has now started back up with a new leader at the helm, I haven’t attended any sessions yet but I hope to do so soon. You can check out the group here: http://www.meetup.com/LetsMakeASceneLondon/
Or have a look at our past films on vimeo: https://vimeo.com/groups/266496/videos/136675324
I also had a small part in a Tinder related short from the West London Film Group, it felt good to act again. I produced a short comedy written by Chris Waller: Counsellor(s) a few weeks back which is now in the editing stage (set photos embedded). I cannot wait to share that one with the world, Chris is very talented and I look forward to reading his future scripts. The team got along very well and we all hope to work together again soon. Thank you Chris, Richard, Ranmal, Tugba, Ed & Ed for a great shoot!
A la prochaine, les amies…
I wrote this post 3 years ago but never got round to publishing it, I found the draft while going through my music folder. I find my writing style to have been a little juvenile and passive aggressive at the time but I thought best to post this as it was written then without any corrections. Please note that some of the figures below are now out of date.
“I’m writting this piece so I can express my bewilderment as to the general public’s ignorance in regards to modern videogames and the people who play them.
As a proud console owner, I sometimes feel that adult gamers are often the subject of ridicule due to their purportedly childish hobby. Those jokes often come from people who haven’t touched a console since they were what? 12?!
Lets start with a couple of facts about the gaming industry:
- The commercial videogame industry has been around for close to 40 years.
- The global industry is worth £35+ billion pounds.
- The industry directly provides 32000 jobs in the US alone and a lot more in peripheral companies.
The industry has yearly trade shows like TGS and E3 where gaming journalists (yes these are journalists that report on games similar to those that report on films).
The ‘playstation generation’ as we are sometimes referred to, has grown up in parallel with the growth and maturity of the games industry. I started in the late 80s playing on my dad’s Amstrad PC. Graphics weren’t much but gameplay was solid on games like Bruce Lee’s Enter The Dragon. I moved up to the Atari console which had many more games and then onto the MegaDrive where I was introduced to Street Fighter. When the 16-bit era started, SOnic the hedgehog and other staples of the videogame industry were born. The games were targeted to gamers under 18 as they likely were the only generation that had grown up playing the earlier videogames, therefore it was assumed that only they would be interested in the industry.
Lets not forget though that the games were being developed by adults for big companies and those adults had probably not played many if any video games during their youth simply because they didnt exist at the time. Mortal Kombat was released in arcades and afterwards ported onto consoles. MK was definitely not a kids’ game and featured violence and gore in a very surreal way but this gave us gamers an insight into the future of gaming as we journeyed into adult life. As violence became mainstream thanks to movie franchises like lethal weapon, Terminator, Die Hard, Predator, it became acceptable to have violence in videogames as long as they were properly labelled. This was another phase of videogames maturing with the gamers and the society around them.
A few years later came the Playstation, fathered by Ken Kuturagi. The console was groundbreaking in terms of technical ability giving developers the possibility to build interactive 3D worlds for gamers to do battle in. Videogame realism further improved giving opportunities for games to try and emulate the special effects found in movies. The improved memory capabilities of Compact discs also allowed for better story telling in games. As gamers were getting older and more educated, their tastes were changing and growing progressively. They didnt just want to shoot monsters, they wanted a reason to shoot the monsters, they wanted to know their character’s backstory so they can relate to them. They wanted believable enemies so they could understand why they had to shoot them. The playstation has sold 102 million units worldwide since its release.
Gamers and developers of every calibre embraced the console and the industry giving rise to developers who would specialise in certain genres of games, some would specialise on a specific franchise and others on specific gamer age groups.
The original amstrad PC gamers were now in their early 20s and going into the employement world (to which many a gamer was to be lost and never recovered). Those who did stick to the hobby, used their hard earned cash to purchase consoles and games. With the advent of the internet, gamer communities were created around forums, people sharing walkthroughs, writing reviews and creating mods for PC games. The advent of the Playstation also brought in better FMV (full motion video) support, CD music and VCD playback, bringing games a tad closer to the movie entertainment industry. Games now had intricate plots, characterisations, voice acting, drama (see: Metal Gear Solid).
The latter elements of a game were created not just because the technology allowed for it but also due to the demand from older gamers for…well ‘older gamer oriented games’. We wanted stories that would rival the ones we read/watch on television, special effects that would rival Sci-fi blockbusters and characters/worlds that would be easily recognisable as a brand just like other parts of our life was similarly branded: NIKE, NISSAN, SONY, NOKIA etc.
Gaming was always part of pop culture but it has now become even more prominent and dare I say …mainstream.
If you’re curious about this hobby, please ask a friend who has a console to help you play one of their favorite games and ask them why they like it so much. You never know, you may have a hidden talent at a particular game!
How long does it take to edit this bloody thing? Our main edit has been completed for just under a year now. In order to fully realise our vision, we wanted to add some animated transitions between the scenes to add a bit more originality to the episode. The preferred method being rotoscoping, check out the Keanu Reeves and Robert Downey Jr film ‘A Scanner Darkly’ for an example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4E9zMVocnys.
Rotoscoping on a budget is a right pain in the **** in that it takes a lot of manual effort to produce just one frame (there are 24 frames in a second of video). So for a five second transition, you need 115 frames and if it takes half an hour per frame, it would take roughly two whole days of work to produce 5 seconds of footage.
It took us a whopping 6 months to find someone who was interested in working that hard on a lo/no pay basis and the reason why they came on board is that they thought the PFZ story is one worth telling.
You can see our animator’s blog here: http://denisantanasblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/last-project-of-year.html
The talented Deni Santana has spent the majority of December working on our transitions, half of them are done and she is currently working on the other half. Thank to Deni’s dedication and creative flair, we have also asked her to be involved in creating the Title Sequence once the transitions are done. Deni is juggling our work among other paid work, check out her blog for more on her current projects.
To be frank, it sucks to have a great piece like PFZ in hand and not be able to share it with the world ASAP, sucks to have to spend so much time on post production, it is downright depressing when i think that we finished shooting this in 2012 and its still not out in 2014. But it will be done, we won’t give up.
I would like to thank everyone who has worked on this and is currently working on this on top of their full time job and family responsibilities, your help is really appreciated.
PFZ will be worth the wait.
I haven’t seen silence of the Lambs, in fact the only film I’ve seen Anthony Hopkins in is Thor. I’d heard of his legendary acting chops but hadn’t seen him in action. As for Helen Mirren, I’d seen RED, National Treasure, heard samples of her voice work but nothing of substance. I’d like to think that my being unfamiliar with the actors’ past performances gave me the ability to enjoy the film without thinking of them as actors but rather as the characters they portrayed.
Come to think of it, I haven’t actually seen Psycho, which is the backdrop on which this story is played out. We’re introduced to Hitchcock unceremoniously as he is coming down from the high of his latest release North by Northwest. He seems in equal parts a bumbling fool, an intellectual and a mischievous child.
I found myself distracted by the details put into the sets and costumes of the golden era of film. Studios were at the forefront of the economy, raking in the cash and creating jobs but film was still a risky business and studios rarely took chances even back then.
Hitchcock and Vera appear to live a nice cushty life in their mansion but we get a sense of unease in the marriage as Vera appears to be quietly suffering in the background but of what? The film misdirects us constantly when it comes to Vera, showing her as alternating between the stand that hitchcock constantly leans on to keep him going and as an adventurous free spirit who is always only a moment away from packing her bags and leaving for good.
Helen Mirren manages to convince us that Vera was as multi-faceted as her husband, and in a way, she was much more ‘real’ than the larger than life Hitchcock character. Vera was unwavering in her support for her husband but he was always too busy fussing over his leading ladies, fighting the censors, bargaining with studio execs to ever notice how essential Vera was to his accomplishments.
Hitchcock, ever stubborn, takes on the studio system when they refuse to finance psycho, he uses his mansion (re-mortgage or some other term that I don’t understand) to finance the film and he still manages to spend time ogling at buxom blondes. All the while noticing that his wife is drifting but he still chooses to focus on his film.
This is a biophical story after all therefore the audience wouldn’t be faulted for expecting a dull tale but the filmmaker manages to make the private side of the protagonist’s life just as exciting and thrilling as the bombastic scenes set on a film set (pun not intended) or within production/censorship offices. There are a few wink & nod moments but they’re done amusingly enough so as not to induce cringing.
Watching this made me want to go and purchase a Hitchcock boxset to see what all the fuss is about when it comes to his films.
Verdict: Watch it in cinemas if you’re into any aspect of filmmaking (acting/directing/writing/producing), otherwise rent it.
I recently sat down with Goolshun Belut, one of the founders of the Old Mauritia facebook community page. We were shooting ideas back and forth regarding the variety of posts on the Old Mauritia page.
I felt that it needed more multimedia content to compound the amount of news links that were being posted. My favorite idea to come out of this discussion was that of producing short videos to hype up the community page. Creating a bunch of memes inspired by mauritian culture was also a strong contender.
Incidentally, two, as yet, unnamed members of Old Mauritia produced a short vidéo titled ‘Bus Beaters’. The latter is a transliteration of the ‘Battere Bis’ expression used in Mauritian Creole to signify ‘scroungers’.
They had unintentionally amalgamated the video and meme idea. Here it is:
Right, so how do you follow that up? I suppose you could attend a Sega Festival and then sing (shout) at the top of your lungs: http://en-gb.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152679912785385&set=vb.349501278499910&type=3&theater
We are very close to a working cut of the pilot episode, with cutaways being worked in for good measure. While we’re dying to show you the episode, there is still the not so small matter of color correction.
Fingers & toes crossed, watch this space!
“So. Phat Fyterz. I had the phone call last week from Zaeem being told I had just been cast as the lead character of Allie in the Pilot of Phat Fyterz, the new TV series.
My auditions were filmed by my friend on her iphone in some rather interesting locations (a secret door through the disabled toilets that leads into the pipe and storage room) so I was quite impressed my acting managed to be good enough to overcome the weird location and iphone camera.
After a colder than it looked rehearsal in front of the London Eye last Sunday, today we went to London Bridge to hang about in front of a shop and look like we were generally up to no good (again, definitely colder than expected).
I got to tell a man off for eating too many bananas (in the short time we were there I saw him eating 3 – that’s just too many bananas for anyone and who knows how many more he’d eaten before I saw him) Allie stole booze from a poor bespectacled man and also had a piggy back race and won, and I generally ran around trying not to freeze.
After a warming drink in a pub afterwards we sorted out all the shoot dates and watched the Wakefield Wildcats (my home town team) lose a rugby match really badly and also introduced Mo who plays Toby to the wonderful warming drink that is Baileys.
My fingers are really crossed that we get some of that beautiful sunshine back into our lives for the next outside shoot dates. Can you tell I don’t like being cold?!
Bring on the next scenes!-Sam”
It was a great fun, however I personally was very close to killing Z as it was VERY cold on some of those days, just as London got used to the glorious warmth and sunshine! Have you ever been so cold you just wanted to cry?? lol
I have to give it to our amazing cast, regardless of the weather, powered through the wind and rolled with the punches! (punches being the random bouts of gust which were swiftly met with a collective oooh… or oooww…) One of our actresses even had to jog around the block a few times just to keep herself warm! That’s definitely the spirit right there! Despite the very uncomfortable weather conditions and lack of layers – they were all extremely professional and got on with the job.
We had a couple of dodgy stares from passers by, to be expected though right? One curious cyclist even shouted ‘What are you doing!’ either in a concerned tone, or baffled one, could not quite tell, but after an explanation eventually got bored and wandered off into the wilderness that is London Bridge.
Don’t go away, more blog posts to come 🙂
This is the first of half a dozen guest posts by members of our cast. We were looking for an actress to play the main character’s mum. It had to be someone who could display the strength required to bring up a child as a lone parent and also the nurturing and affectionate side that reminds us all of our own mum. We found Julia’s showreel on youtube and proceeded to invite her for an audition, the rest, as they say, is history – Zaeem
“I have always enjoyed acting and in my younger days was involved with Desborough Players an amateur dramatics society and was in productions for them.
Later in life when my children were older I again started to do amdram at Farnworth Little Theatre and played Sue in Abigail’s Party , the woman in Elegy for a Lady and Stella in House Guest. At the same time I was doing extras work and an evening course in acting at college. I decided I wanted to make acting my profession and to this end I did a BA (Hons) degree in Performing Arts at the University of Salford gaining a 2:1. Of the 200 students on the Performing arts courses we auditioned and 20 were chosen to perform in the showcase at The Royal Exchange Theatre. I played the role of The Sex Worker from The Vagina monologues and also the mother in a duologue in Looking After Tom.
I finished my degree course in 2009 and have since acted in corporate films, music videos, short independent films and performed in a fringe production of The Importance of Being Earnest playing Miss Prism.
I am very much enjoying filming the pilot for PhatFyterz. I love the idea of exploring the subjects of mental health/parenthood/coming of age in the world we live in today. Mental Health is an area that isn’t often portrayed accurately in the media and I believe Zaeem has an important message to put across. I am proud to be one of the actors involved in this project and hope it does well.”