ZOMBIE CHRISTMAS

zombiechristmas

Another amazing poster by Jake for my video for Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler’s Christmas single Zombie Christmas!

THE WANDERERS – UPDATE

Hey guys, there’s been a lot of speculation and rumour in the press over the last few days about the film and especially the involvement of some of the musicians.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to give everyone a quick update and explain some of the finer details at this stage.

The original music to be performed by The Wanderers in the film has been written by Tim Wheeler (Ash), Emmy The Great (Austenland) and Graham Coxon (Blur). Tim and Emma have written the music and lyrics with Tim producing the songs. I approached Graham to write the lead guitar parts on the tracks and we are working on these at the moment.

The whole thing is a collaboration between three musicians whom I admire greatly and who have been incredibly generous with their time and talent. I consciously approached these people as I have a clear idea of what I want the band to sound like.

We’ve talked about this in depth and the mixture of Tim’s production and song writing ability alongside Emma’s witty, charming and at times affecting approach to the material and Graham’s unique guitar work is a dream combination for me. Having heard the initial demos of the tracks, I’m ridiculously excited to hear the finished articles and begin rehearsals with The Wanderers.

With the above in mind it’s particularly important that everyone is recognised for their role within the film’s original music. Contrary to reports, Graham is not writing the songs on his own and no deals have been signed on the music side as yet. Currently we are firming up financing and preparing to shoot within the year.

Aside from this, Bill Milner is attached to play the lead in the film and we will announce further casting shortly.

Here’s all I can tell you about the story at the moment:

Britain. Summer holidays. 1996. We follow JONNY BOWEN (16) as he encounters relationships and sex for the first time and his band The Wanderers as they strive to become the next big Brit Pop sensation.

There are a number of other exciting developments on production, casting and the music side of things but I can’t say anymore at the moment I’m afraid.

Thanks to everyone that has been so passionate and supportive about this project from day one and I can’t wait for you all to see and hear what we’re up to!

The Wanderers is being produced by Michael Berliner and 2AM Films and is being supported by the BFI.

THE WANDERERS

I’ve been quiet on the blog front recently as I’ve been working tirelessly on my upcoming debut feature film The Wanderers which I’m incredibly proud to announce over on the 2AM website.

There’s also a photo of me leaning on a chair if you’re into that sort of thing. *UPDATE* The photo has been taken down. It could only last so long. I shouldn’t ever have my photo taken.

I’m really excited about the project and it’s been an incredible experience so far. The film will follow on from my shorts Mixtape and Disco and is a non-conventional Brit pop musical set in 1996.

Stay tuned for more goss!

L x

JESS//JIM POSTER BY JAKE SNELLIN

MAKING JESS//JIM (in 24 hours)

At the beginning of September I was asked by my agent if I might be interested in making a short film in 24 hours. Initially I was worried because it was immediately before flying out to shoot the Cloud Control video (below) and I didn’t want to take on too much in such a short space of time. Then more details started to filter through. Production would be overseen by Kevin Spacey, the film would be shot by Danny Cohen B.S.C and would also feature Toby Kebbell. It was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse.

There was absolutely no prep allowed so a few days after I got the call I turned up at a hotel in Waterloo and met Alice Birch, our brilliant writer and Michelle Craig, a good friend of mine and producer on this project. After a whistle stop tour of Waterloo courtesy of Mr Spacey, we then met with several actors from Old Vic New Voices, all of whom were told to bring a special item and to reveal a special skill. We then had to build these characteristics or props into the script.

We had four hours to think of an idea and write the script. Luckily me and Alice were on the same page from the start. We both wanted to do something simple, humorous and touching and having already seen the actors, we had a springboard to write characters quickly. We decided on the idea of two people that feel slightly lost in a big city but are able to connect in some way. We wanted to make a film about friendship primarily.

By the time the 4 hours were up we had a pretty good structure, strong characterisation and some nice pieces of dialogue. Aside from this I really wanted Toby to play a kind of stoner flatmate character as I hadn’t seen him do that much comedy and I knew he was capable of it.  We worked in one of the special props to add to this (an enormous courgette).

After the writing process and casting the actors, we then went straight to a production meeting at a restaurant across the road. It was here I got to meet Danny (DOP) for the first time, only an hour or so before we started shooting. We talked about keeping things achievable and lightweight in the beginning to give us more time later on. Choices like keeping dressing times to a minimum and keeping the camera handheld and portable were things that enabled us to focus on performances and getting stuff shot quickly as any time we lost we’d have to also lose in the edit later on.

We then headed to the location and started shooting, Michelle and Elliot (Production Manager) had managed to get a great house location at extremely short notice. A lot of the rooms were already dressed in a really interesting way which made life much easier in terms of shooting quickly and efficiently. After the interior/exterior stuff here, we headed over to the Southbank to shoot another scene before returning to the residential street where we started; to catch dusk. At around 7am me and Michelle jumped in a cab to go see Johnny Rayner (Editor) who had begun working on the synced rushes.

The fatigue was starting to set in a bit, especially as at the beginning of the process I’d been quite ill with the flu. Bizarrely though, as the night went on and with a plethora of remedies coursing through my body, I started to feel better and better. By the time we’d started cutting I was totally excited and adrenalised. Thanks to everyone on twitter who suggested remedies that morning.

After some time we were told that the 24 hours was up and we’d literally just laid down the last shot in the sequence. To speed things up and help Johnny out I’d designed the title cards separately as we went along so they were ready straight away but it was still a huge challenge to get the film into shape.

Despite working quickly, we still had to jump in another cab with the film to get it to the Old Vic on time for the premiere. In the end we got there and the film was received with laughs and cheers and applause which was a surreal but lovely feeling to experience after being severely sleep deprived and exhausted.

After the manic pandemonium of those 24 hours we subsequently graded the film and it is finally out for all to see over on my website.

A  monumental thank you to Michelle Craig, Johnny Rayner, Speade, Alice Birch, Edwin Metternich, Framestore, Kevin Spacey, Blair Mowat, Danny Cohen and his stellar team, The Old Vic, all the cast and crew and everyone else that worked on making this happen in 24 short hours.

MAKING DEATH CLOUD

I’ve just finished a new video for Cloud Control, which you can see here. There are some spoilers below so beware homies.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to get in touch with Cloud Control’s management. I’d been listening to their album Bliss Release constantly and had a bunch of ideas for videos. Amazingly the timing was perfect as they were calling for pitches for the band’s next single, Death Cloud, so I sent them my reel and they kindly invited me to pitch on the video.

That weekend I went to Reading and saw the band play live, I had to deliver the treatment on the bank holiday Monday so I wanted to make sure I understood what they were about. Live they were incredible: amazing, soaring, intricate harmonies and psychedelic guitar lines mixed in with a folky sort of sound.

I found out from the label that they were down for a more narrative focused video and I’d had an idea for Death Cloud, so the moment I got back from Reading I set to work on writing.

Two days later I had word from the label that the band were up for it and that was great news. We had about 3.5K to play with and the idea was pretty ambitious for that money. I’d concentrated on the tone of the track, it reminded me of dusty 70′s tour vans and denim. Layered on top of that was the idea of the Death Cloud itself and the more supernatural elements, which I wanted to treat in quite an ambiguous way. Plus the label and the band were totally behind us the whole way which was so refreshing and allowed us to do our thing.

Aside from the location which was, essentially, a barren desert, there was a prosthetic creature to be designed and built. Add to that the fact that we had around 2 weeks total to deliver the video and we knew that we had to pull favours and call on people to get involved for free and just for the opportunity to make something (hopefully) interesting. Luckily the people that worked on this were absolutely brilliant, so giving and generous with their time and really passionate about the project, I’m very grateful to everyone for working so hard on it.

Usual suspects Ollie, Johnny, James and Chris were joined by Rami our focus puller and our cast Sam Palladio and Alex Arnold who plays Rich in Skins (I’d run into Alex at Reading and written the part for him). Aside from this we had a crew of people working on our creature, who we nicknamed Jimmy, down at Lifecast.

I’d asked a friend of mine who works for John Schoonraad, prosthetics designer on X-Men, Rambo and many others, if they might be interested in making an old school creature ala Jim Henson or Stan Winston. Fortunately they liked the idea and agreed to help us out. Here is the initial concept of Jimmy as drawn by concept artist Jake Eaton:

There were several things I wanted to concentrate on with the creature, namely emotion in the eyes and expression, skin texture and an unconventional physicality (lack of reproductive organs or mouth).

Again Lifecast did an incredible job with a very limited budget as you can see here:

Eventually the latex was added:

Before finally being sprayed and set so it looked like this on camera:

So after Jimmy was finished, the six of us, me , Ollie (DOP), Chris (Producer), Rami (FP), Alex and Sam flew out to Spain for 2 days and were met by Tate, our fixer and general location manager who was absolutely invaluable. He showed us some great locations in Almeria which is where many of Leone’s westerns were shot as well as The Last Crusade. He also agreed to cameo in the video, which was great, look out for his shirtless appearance in the finished cut.

So after two days in the desert, shooting on two DSLRs (5D & 7D), with a tiny crew we had the video in the can. We flew back to the UK and began cutting immediately, over at Speade with the ever brilliant Johnny Rayner.

After a few days in the offline it was time to finish off last minute VFX and the grade, where again it was brilliant to work with individuals and companies that really went the extra mile for us. The idea with the grade was to push the tones and colours into more washed out and pale versions of what we shot. As well as upping the contrast and colour correcting various shots that were shot out of sequence. I wanted to go for a similar feel to the end of Se7en, quite yellow and dusty. This all added to the 70′s Rock idea I wanted to achieve visually.

Before:

After:

The wizard behind the grade was Framestore Colourist Edwin Metternich who happily worked with me through the night to get it done in time and did a fantastic job.

After we’d finished the grade, the film was done and I went home and slept for a day.

I’d just like to thank everyone involved again for their enthusiasm, talent and boundless energy in the sapping heat of the shoot and the unrelenting pressure of the deadline. I’d also like to thank Anna Kennedy, Ben Burdock, Luke Rafferty, Andrew McLintock, Feral Equipment, Panalux, Simon Paul, Speade, The Mill, Framestore, 2AM and Lifecast.

To see the video and a full list of credits go here.

To download the single for free go here.

SAYONARA

MAKING RED BRICKS

A couple of weeks ago, my breadbin and fellow director Martin Stirling sent me an email asking if I’d be interested in making a video for a new band called Young Rebel Set. He’d made their previous video for their single Measure of a Man and he thought I’d dig the track.

I had a listen and found the song really emotive and beautiful, I’d also had an idea knocking around for a while about two teenage runaways that spend their last night together at an abandoned building and it felt like a really good fit.

The band have been building a lot of buzz including being championed by Steve Lamacq and 6 Music as well as playing several festivals and touring the UK so I was really interested in working with them.

I went in to the label for an initial meeting and spoke to Matty (lead singer) on the phone. We talked through what the song meant to him and I went away and started to adapt and amend my initial idea to fit his lyrical ideas as well as in a general sense trying to capture the meaning of the song.

I knew I wanted to make something cinematic and narrative based and the band and label were really cool with that. In fact they really put their trust in me and let me get on with it which was brilliant.

There wasn’t much money involved and in the end we shot the video for £1300, we pulled a ton of favours with help from 2AM as well as everyone that worked on the video for free. We cast two young actors, Florence Bell and Sean Hart through Curtis Brown and started making preparations for a weekend night shoot at a disused aerodrome in Essex.

We were given great support from Take 2 and Panalux and were able to shoot on the Alexa which was incredible and exciting for me as I’d been wanting to use it for ages now but had been waiting for the right opportunity.

I’d spoken with Ollie (DP) frequently about the look of the video, referencing Nestor Almendros and Malick, specifically Days of Heaven. I’d never attempted to shoot during magic hour before but again, had always wanted to. The excitement on set of watching the sun set and rise in front of our eyes was so much fun and really adds to the romance of the whole thing.

In the end it was a really enjoyable night, not without it’s challenges (as always) including being limited to a single take for all the fireworks stuff and running out of cabling length; but I’m really proud of the video and I think conjures the bitter sweetness and romance I set out to create.

The most enduring memories of that weekend, aside from the shoot, consist of me and the ever reliable Cole ‘Bad Behaviour’ Paviour (1st AD & van driver) driving around and singing Beyonce whilst chain drinking fat coke and slapping ourselves to remain awake. In total we were up for 34 hours and we really felt it.

Once again a huge thank you to everyone that gave up their weekend for this and made it happen. All the crew including the usual suspects and the newbies, 2AM, Take 2, Panalux, Curtis Brown, Flo & Sean, all friends and families, Itasca Locations, Ignition, Big Flame and Speade and MPC for killer cutting and grading work from Johnny and James. Oh and Sis & Bill for the use of their bicycles.

After a spell on NME.com as an online exclusive, the video has been released online and on TV. You can see the video up on the band’s Youtube here or on my website over here.