2015’s been a busy one. In and of itself, that isn’t anything new. However, this year’s been made that much more memorable by being that much more emotional. Ups and downs, strikes and gutters. Having never done a blog before, I thought I’d share some of those peaks and troughs.
The year kicked off with a series of back-to-back overseas shoots and the release of our music video COUNTING ALL DAYS for The Actions. A 4:3 narrative piece, I got to work with some wonderful cast members and reveled in the format.
A standout client film for me would be my ‘TAKE THE LEAD’ film for Network Rail. Shot on the Red Dragon with some lovely vintage glass, it was a very safety-conscious production, shooting on a live railway line in two-minute bursts… with a dog. It could have been a recipe for disaster, but worked due to the wonderful crew and some extensive planning. There was a bloodier early version of the piece, but it was ultimately reigned in.
This year’s really seen me hit a comfortable stride when it comes to my writing. The discipline, dedication and – most importantly – the enjoyment of writing really waltzed back into my life from March onwards and [thankfully] hasn’t faded since.
Feature-wise, TEARDROP (my big, bloody romantic thriller) has gone through several drafts and is finally the taut, terse cousin of those 70s thrillers I love so much (on a side note, I met Roisin Murphy this year whose lyrics from one of her songs helped inspire Teardrop’s finale and I blushingly blurted this out to her confused face). A first draft of my dark comedy-drama, THE CHARM, has been delivered for review and, with a few weeks downtime between gigs, I hammered out a draft of CHIMERA, a full-tilt action-horror. Wanting to write something with no sensible limit with regards to budget or logistics, I spent three weeks having the most fun imaginable.
I also broke the back of short film NEON, a long-gestating short romantic thriller that I just couldn’t nail tonally. A bold, rainswept, bloody romance, we’re now in pre-production for a February shoot and have assembled a stellar cast and crew. I can’t wait to call action on some insane visuals courtesy of Stil Williams and some mind-blowing effects work from Dan Martin (both of whom I worked with on previous short film SKIN). I’ll be writing more on that very soon.
Music video wise, our KUBRICK music video for Stig of the Dump picked up a UKMVA nomination, which wasn’t bad considering it was shot in my kitchen using live-action rear-projection. It’s also playing at 2016’s London Short Film Festival on January 12th in the category ‘Lo budget Mayhem’ and has been nominated for Best Lo-Budget Short Film.
I also shot a sweeter piece than I’m used to (while still maintaining a little grit, however) for Jack Rose’s cover of CHASING CARS. Shot by DOP Aaron Rogers on some gorgeous [different] vintage glass (sense a theme of the year here?), it’s got some lovely performances from the likes of Rosie Day and some lovely 200fps fun.
This year’s also seen me heavily rediscovering my passion for photography (Instagram here) and I have a trio of photographs being exhibited at the wonderful ZEALOUS X event beginning this week, from January 7th-17th. It’s fantastic event highlighting work from creatives across numerous fields, most of which is free to view, so I implore anyone with an interest in film, photography, art, dance and music to pop along to the Rich Mix in Shoreditch and be overwhelmed by the amount of talent on display.
In terms of life, 2015’s been emotional.
For two of my closest friends, 2015 saw in the births of their first children. As you can imagine, there’s been much merriment and joy with these new arrivals, not to mention me holding up my hands and saying “hell, no” whenever asked if I want to hold the wriggling sprogs. They don’t bounce.
This year also saw the suicide of a friend and colleague. I say friend, but said friendship was a burgeoning one and many others knew her much better. However a handful of meets, working up and down the country together, and several drunken evenings playing Cards Against Humanity and talking about films, writing and life don’t count for nothing. The saddest outtake in a strange way is the fact that her unrealized work as a writer will remain that: unrealized. The very reason we connected in the first place was based on the strength of her writing, and she was developing a feature that was truly original. Such a waste of talent reflects such a waste of life in the worst case of art mirroring life I hope I’ll ever know.
A positive of this (if there is one) is that it’s opened my eyes to not being quite so insular: to sharing my work more, to engaging with other artists and filmmakers more, to being more social and more positive. Life’s too short not to.
And speaking of short, this blog was supposed to be just that. In wrapping things up, here’s my selection of the best of 2015.
BEST FILM - Green Room
Caught at 2015’s BFI London Film Festival, it’s a taut, slow-burn thriller that turns into a stomach-churning gut-punch of a survival horror. The cinema exit smelled of chunder which gives you indication of how hardcore this film gets, but it’s the innocent hearts of its lead characters that float what – in lesser hands – could have been a wholly unpleasant 90 minutes. As it stands, Saulnier’s measured directing and keen command of pace ensures that there are enough laughs and bittersweet beats to counter the swastikas and box-cutters.
HONOURABLE MENTION - Mad Max: Fury Road.
Because it made me cry. Three times. Three fucking times.
OTHER HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Room (heartbreaking), High Rise (perfect adaptation), The Overnight (that dance), 45 Years (that final shot) The Gift and The Final Girls.
BEST ALBUM – Grimes: Art Angels
As if I couldn’t love Grimes anymore, her new album pushes her further into pseudo post-pop-princess mode with some charming and angry collaborations as well as a candidate for the year’s best song, Venus Fly, which I’ve had on loop for the better part of three months.
BEST SONG – Haelos: Dust (Unkle remix)
One of those tracks that stops you dead in the middle of the street when it peaks. Sublime. Wonderful videos from Jesse Jenkins too.
BEST COMIC BOOK – Oink: Heaven’s Butcher by John Mueller
A beautifully crafted re-release, this features some of the most beautiful artwork I have seen in a comic book. A post-apocalyptic tale of enslaved pig-people, it’s a heartbreaking journey of discovery for an escapee who transcends his enforced ignorance and embraces his fate. Wonderful.
In terms of the worst of 2015? Fantastic Four, Blackhat and freaking out Gillian Anderson by mistake. Twice. But I won’t beat myself up about that last one – one of my resolutions is to go easier on myself. And to wrap things up quicker.
As such, thanks for reading.