Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Funny bits

I don't know where the line is between comedy and drama, but I'll have to work it out for my new web series. Is it mostly-funny-with-serious-bits or can the serious bits be funny too? In five minute episodes its going to be difficult to get the balance right. It's a comedy, it is, and I'll have to remember that when I'm writing about...the things that are going to happen.

I suppose I'm still at that short period, at the start of filmmaking, where I can do whatever I want. In years to come there'll be people telling me I have to cut out a scene or change the tone. Right now I have complete freedom to write whatever I want, shoot it, and stick it on the internet. If it looks good to me, it goes in. Obviously there are going to be other people involved as the process goes along, but I still have the massive, luxurious freedom to do anything. Maybe I need to be controlled. We'll see.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Something new

Since I've finished my increasingly peculiar series of short films, I've been thinking about what to do next. Something new and interesting that can be watched without too much frowning. It'll be in episodes, on the internet, from my brain. The point is to develop a continuing narrative rather than my usual short bursts of oddness, to have characters with names that exist in the real world. I have a lot of it in my head already, but there's some gaps to fill in.

It won't go into any sort of meaningful production until I get back to university in September, but that does means I have all summer to write it. I'll post more pieces of vague information soon.

Friday, 26 June 2009

More Icelandic cake

After writing about Heima a few days ago, I should mention Sigur Rós' 'other' film - the music video for 'Glósóli.' It is, without any hyperbole, the best music video I have ever seen (ok, so I haven't seen many, but this is pretty good). I don't know how much input the band had with the video, but it perfectly matches the song's scale.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Very tasty Icelandic cake

After having this blog for six months, and writing about films every now and then, it's probably time to go into one of my favourites - Sigur Rós' Heima. After being mildly interested (extremely) in the band's music for a long time, the film is like some massive cherry on a very tasty Icelandic cake - or, to put it less embarrassingly, very good indeed. It's hard to describe Heima without using fluffy words like 'beautiful' and 'moving', so I won't. But there is something undefinable about the film, something that means you can watch it endlessly and still be impressed.

Essentially it's a tour film around Iceland, where the band pitch up in some field or community centre and play a song. The filming is much like the music - it's gibberish but it makes perfect sense. The camera spends more time on the landscape than the band - on rocks, grass, tractors, houses. The songs fit across these images perfectly, in all their stripped-down acoustic wonderfulness (my word). This isn't exactly a documentary, it's all designed to evoke a mood, and it does that brilliantly. For 'Glósóli' they capture the force of the landscape (waterfalls that go up? It's a funny place). In 'Gítardjamm', tracking shots of an abandoned fish factory are perfectly composed. 'Ágætis Byrjun' has a beach for no necessary reason. There's plenty of history piled on; archive footage of the locations show evidence of a far busier time for the country, creating that poignant theme they like so much. And at the same time there's the people that turn up near the middle of nowhere to watch the band.

It all ends with an extended version of 'Popplagið', an epic song that is louder than most other bands put together. This is surely Sigur Rós at the height of their powers. They'd be very brave to attempt another film.

Sunday, 21 June 2009


Iron Man isn't new, it's been out on DVD for a while, but I've decided it's topical because I've only just seen it. As far as comic book films go (so, um, Spiderman 2 and The Dark Knight) this is just below the best. It manages to be loud and stupid in a clever, entertaining way. These things live or die on the characters. If they're just hollow action puppets hitting each other in the face then there's no point. The character:explosions ratio is almost right here. I say almost because it does descend into a dull, robotic fight at the end, which is a shame because they could have done something far more interesting with these characters. Robert Downey Jr gets a lot of time with a face instead of a mask, and Gwyneth-Paltrow-or-Cate-Blanchett (I honestly don't know the difference) is mopey but alright. Is it wrong that I'd rather the climax be a conversation rather than a rocket launcher shoot out?

Also, they restrained themselves from a neat creation-of-the-suit montage. Instead Tony Stark has dialogue with helper robots that have more life in them than most action movie characters.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Film: Talk to Hoshuu

Cast: Andrew Akehurst, Helen Robbens
Written and directed by: Chris David Richards
Sound: Jodi Owens
Thanks: Samuel Adams, Hannah Brankin, Geraint Jones

Monday, 15 June 2009


I've finished editing Talk to Hoshuu. It's been a few days (or weeks) of clipping half a second off shots and correcting mistakes that nobody else would notice. The end result is just under five minutes and is definitely mildly interesting. But is it extremely mildly interesting? We'll see.

I'll post it here very soon.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

It's all timey-wimey

Seeing as Talk to Hoshuu is almost nearly finished, I might as well post some more ramblings. And a photo of Helen falling over to go with it.

My films seem to have a morbid fascination with time. In Talk to Hoshuu especially, time is weighty and (almost) inescapable. It all ties in with the fantasy-sort-of-realism side. I've been trying to record the sound of ticking, but failing to find a really loud clock I've had to improvise. Banging the hollow end of a piano, hitting desks, bass drums. None of these sound like ticking but they give a clock face more emphasis. Maybe too much emphasis with the bass drum - it sounded like the passing of time Michael Bay style.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

This isn't art enough

A photo from the set that closely resembles a shot from the film. These photographers know what they're doing.

Anyway, I said yesterday that I don't want the films to be philosophical, but I think that's hard to avoid. I don't approach them with any grand intentions but the end result is always different. The thought 'No, this needs more art' usually goes through my mind in the editing, along with 'This is far too coherent, needs more random images.' I'm trying to suppress the mini David Lynch inside me and create films that are understandable. Talk to Hoshuu has no such nonsense. Well, not much.

I get a bit carried away because of the themes I've chosen to work with. It's all very existential and timey-wimey (as the Doctor would say), but with an obvious fantasy side. Maybe I've taken on too much in my first shorts, it probably would have been easier to start with something purely realistic. In a way though I think these films have more in common with realism than fantasy. I'm just having a flimsy attempt at giving answers to questions people don't seem to ask. Maybe some irritated secretary does give you an interview before you're born. Maybe some maintenance person is checking you aren't making a mess. Although, maybe not. I was worried that these films would be interpreted as some sort of religious allegory. They aren't. These stories are separate. There's nothing behind them but my silly ideas.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Hoshuu is...

Here's a photo (not taken by me) from the set of Talk To Hoshuu. Hoshuu (or...Helen) is maintenance. Whenever something pops out of place in the order of the world she (it?) turns up to clean - either by restoring or erasing it. It all sounds vaguely sinister, but the film attempts to approach the subject in a half-cheerful way. It is, after all, complete fantasy. She exists in some closed-off space that lowly humans are not meant to see, maybe already existing inside their heads.

It's the same level as The Secretary from The Front Desk. I imagine there to be a whole cast of workers in this place, all with their own job. Although, seeing as this will probably be my last film on the subject, there might not be anymore. For continuity's sake I should mention that Hoshuu appeared in the The Mildly Interesting Secret of Existence, walking towards an increasingly perplexed Gruff. I hope it looks like I think about these things in advance, because, um, I don't. It's a place of complete fantasy and me making-it-up-as-I-go-along. I don't want the films to be in any way philosophical or dense, just mildly interesting.

And here's a picture of Andrew, a lowly human, looking less statuesque but still important:

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Various household appliances

In trying to develop a soundscape of wonder for Talk to Hoshuu I've started recording the sounds of various household appliances. So far I've got a lawnmower, a washing machine, a microwave, a tumble drier and an electric fan. I'm waiting for the sound of rain, but it's not raining. Yes, this is the life of a one-man production crew.

I shouldn't be mentioning this, especially not before anyone's seen the film. Whatever atmosphere it was going to have is now ruined. The lawnmower's out though. It didn't sound ethereal. It sounded like a lawnmower.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Clever Running Man saves Rome

Angels & Demons takes itself seriously. It's about solving riddles to find the antimatter hidden in Vatican City. It has a skydiving Pope. This isn't a serious film, but they still persist with the ooo-isn't-it-tense music and the frowning. It needs to be made by Disney and have Nicholas Cage in it. It should be National Treasure. In fact, behind all the explaining ('What's that Mr Langdon? It's an ancient symbol? Please explain it while avoiding the bullets.') it is Grumpy National Treasure.

A bit of character depth would have been nice. Apart from being an eager scholar and having an 'eccentric' Mickey Mouse watch, Robert Langdon has no character. He is the Clever Running Man. In the book, like all of Dan Brown's protagonists, he had some childhood trauma about being in lifts or something. That was rubbish but at least it was trying. No personal context, no flaws, no character. I don't care. He is clever though.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Everybody likes custard creams

In a bit of a change for these Mildly Interesting films, the battery life on the camera didn't go dangerously low while filming Talk to Hoshuu. The script didn't get blown off a cliff. Nobody fell into the sea. Nobody came away with any lasting damage. So yes, success. The filming is finished. If things did go wrong, if the film was in Production Hell, then this blog would be more interesting. Sorry.

Now editing commences. And there'll be photos.