Wednesday, 5 August 2015

2. Making A Coffin

PROPS HAVE TO BE MADE - so do points

August 2015 - We have shot the Christmas and Halloween and St Valentine's Day episodes of SHADES OF BAD, and I guess the ones we are shooting now are for next March. I have just been to the garage where there is a half hearted effort to make a cardboard coffin, and/or drink red wine.... as the coffin is not needed until next week so some more thought can go into this over another glass. You may ask why we don't put out two-a-week if we are that far in front, but I have worked on many continuous dramas and know anything can happen, plus we will need a break at some point. We know we can cope with the current output, the episodes are getting a little longer, nearer four minutes rather than three, and the titles are reduced to 16 seconds. But we still want them as short sharp bites. We have now reached enough views on YouTube to be able to do a few things, so as you end one episode it will take you to the next and jump the titles. That is a great YouTube feature for those who want to watch it on the TV and it is proper HD.

So how did the lady Doris Shades accidentally become a serial killer, who works from home? It is a rollercoaster we now can't and don't want to, step off. Doris does get worse, the shocks in Episode 9 are just the start ... in fact Doris becomes so bad she is head hunted by an agency but I have already said too much. She is bad, but that doesn't make her a bad person, and she is so Hampstead she can get away with it. As we say, white collar crime from the middle classes....  SHADES OF BAD (web) might just become your guilty pleasure, it has ours and we are enjoying it.
It was certainly nice that Episode 8 was voted number two web series in the world wide web last week, so thanks to all of you. Here is how you vote for the future episodes 
You will note you can vote for 'best episode' of the week, 'best actress' and 'best actor' ... as yet, Shades does not have an actor. Shades Of Bad was devised as a series for three mature actresses to prove they could work in a cult genre and take on themes that normally feature men. After touring an acclaimed stage show for 9 years, Jean Heard brought the idea of a web series to me. She is my wife so does not have to queue. I as you know am a film maker of quite a few years and had funded many projects and like new ideas and media. I had been listening hard at the meetings I attend with fellow members of the British Screen Advisory Council; from lectures by heads of UK broadcasting to Media Analysts from PWC the message is firm, Netflix is leading the public further and faster into web downloaded viewing. New smarter TV's later this year will help, and Jeremy Clarkson and his old Top Gear team have shoved another nail in those with Digital Denial (an official term). I did not need convincing that I needed a foot hold in this new platform.
I had previously made made movies with female leads (The Scarlet Tunic, Devil's Gate) and had just had the door closed firmly in my face on a female lead project about a female war hero who was now chair bound. The EU funding expert commented that my schedule was ridiculous  but it was  longer than I had for Bula Quo in Fiji, or the action film Freight, or the period costume drama The Scarlet Tunic with Jean Marc Barr and Simon Callow. Of the ten day episodes of Strike Back for HBO. They also said my budget was too low, and the budget I put forward was far in excess of anything I had ever had before. It seems the EU like to spend money, and take time, and think they are experts. However I was angry. It was a story that needed telling, it's release planned for the International Rio ParaOlympics was great marketing, but no.... getting money for UK film from the EU is like trying to win the Eurovision Song Contest, and it is a shame Europe is judged by many UK film makers in the way they judge us at that song contest.
So, when Jean suggested a female lead web series I was up for rocking some boats. I could have tilted a ship. My Doris, a short, slim housewife from Hampstead will take over the world; my world at least. It is just a case of when and how. I have the answers to all those questions and 82 episodes are currently written, 44 have been filmed, 29 are picture locked and in sound with one of my best friends Mark Blackledge whose son, Buster, directs.
Shades Of Bad (IMDB)  will go to story places not offered to mature actresses, but that is deliberate. It will kick against the expected. There would be no fun if it didn't, and Shades Of Bad is a very guilty pleasure. That is not to say I am on a bandwagon about 'women in film', but I am on a bandwagon about repression and arrogance within the film industry and will use the freedom of the web to it's fullest. Though the EU needs me to legally remind you we use cookies (apparently)......
So, back to the kitchen. I set a self test; the drama was to test me in how long I could keep the show interesting and in the kitchen. That seems a rather a selfish goal now for although we have achieved it far beyond targets I set myself, and could go on, as a film maker I needed to be more adventurous. So, just to prove to the EU experts how wrong they are on old fashioned methods of film making, I have devised a story that has already shot Doris in Norway and Barcelona, then off to the Vatican to ask for forgiveness from the Pope ... I haven't gone too far have I? Because it gets worse.
I need to quote "Figment" here, the little mauve dragon in Epcot. "Imagination"! Effectively we are making a soap, and I know the cameras they use to make the broadcast soaps where I used to work are interlaced 520 line cameras producing a 720 picture approx. Not even close to HD. We shoot Pro res HD raw, and mix sound like film, and the shows are fully scored. No corners are cut and as we get into the flow we will demand more of ourselves. Sure they are three minute episodes, designed like Dan Brown chapters to leave you wanting more, but we have just cut nine together into a 20 minute block. What did we learn? It worked. They are far more powerful as one, but the stylised music needs to be reduced as we look at producing long form 30 minute TV versions of the show. How that works on the phone when binge watched I do not know. How it will work on the TV I will see when I have en evening off.
So, on to the men. that best actor spot.  I can reveal we have some men joining us and you will see from a long overdue second Behind The Scenes film. Ricky Beaumont, who was a Corona Theatre school star along side Nicolas Lyndhurst who I have worked with a few times joins us for series 2. He has a pedigree as a child star that includes the film Oliver, and as an adult he runs a drama school with Lynn. He would have been in my first film The Usual Children had it not been for his Christmas show and the school, but I have got him now. He is class. Then there is a one episode guest of a police officer, and in comes my old mate James Whale. James is a radio DJ, TV presenter and actor, and we worked together on Metro Radio in Newcastle back in 1978 and on many times since. Recently I did his web radio show, it tells a few stories. My interview starts from about 29 minutes in.

There is also Manuel Martinez in series 4 .. yes, the Barcelona episodes shot out of order. But, series three has a male character coming in, and series 5 has a male character against Doris. Expect the unexpected.
So, until the next blog..... back to that coffin and the red wine.