Friday, 21 September 2012

From 1st place to 24th!

It all started so well! Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw was in 1st place in Shooting People's Film of the  Month competition for the first few days of the contest. It held onto a spot in the top 5 for the whole of the first week. In the second week there was a battle to stay in fifth place and though the film frequently dropped out of the top 5 we always managed to claw back enough votes to get us up there again.

But by the end of last week it had all started to go a little bit wrong. And now, half an hour before the end of the first round, the leaderboard looks like this:

That's my film, down in 24th place.

It's not a complete loss. Last month the top film in Round 1 won by around 450 stars. I figured this month would be more competitive so I decided we needed at least 500 and there were times when I wasn't sure we'd ever hit more than 250. But we made it past 500 in the end, it's just that everyone else did way better.

The film did get the most views, which means very little in the competition but it makes me smile. As a result of this and me mentioning it at every available opportunity it has also been played over 1,000 times on vimeo which was my other big target for this year (now we just need 1,000 Facebook likes and 1,000 people signed up to the mailing list).

I think the fact that it had more views than plays is the root of the problem. I think people were put off by the running time. The fact is, I know where pretty much every single one of those 505 votes came from. The majority came from people I know or have worked with or have helped out in some way or another. The rest came from people I approached directly. What we missed out on was the casual voter, because I think the casual voter clicked the link, saw that it would take 25 minutes of their time and moved on (I refuse to learn anything from this). Also, surprisingly few of my filmmaker friends are Shooting People members, which didn't help. 

But the fact that we made it so far in spite of all this is pretty amazing. I'm really grateful to everyone who checked out the film and voted and to all the people who shared the link and were almost as relentless in promoting it as I was.

The film also received some great comments which you can read in full here, below are some of the best - 

"Really liked the ending. Also, the mess in the kitchen reminds me a lot of my time at uni of course. You've nailed the layabout student to a tee with his character."

"Love this, especially the Jeff Awesome character and the musical number. Looking forward to the sequel."

"Talking washing up = awesome."

"I love this piece of work. It's funny and disturbing - but it had the potential to have been so much more intense."

"Terrific film. Great story, love the leads, excellent camera work - and very, very funny (particularly liked the chanting hippies!!)"

"It made me smile, cheered me up, amused me greatly and left me looking for more!"

"One of the best shorts I've seen in ages. Very ambitious and delivers, Jenny Ringo needs her own series!"

Overall it's been an exhausting, time-consuming and occasionally stress-inducing experience but one that was totally worthwhile for all the extra people that got to see the film because of it. 

Would I enter again?

Ask me that question when I've finished Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell. Speaking of which, I have work to do...

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Film of the Month Update!

It's been an exciting, exhausting week. The Shooting People Film of the Month leaderboard now looks like this:

Okay, so it's not as pretty-looking as when Jenny Ringo was in first place like it was at the beginning of the week, but we are still in the top 5 which means we're still in with a chance of getting through to the next round! It just needs to stay in the top 5 for the next 12 days, which is a really long time!

Hope it goes without saying at this point but if you are a Shooting People member, please click the link and give it some stars!

Competition has been fierce and at one point the film fell to 9th place and didn't look like it had much chance of getting any higher. I've spent pretty much every non-working, non-nappy-changing minute online pleading with people to vote which is probably a bit annoying now, but like Gabriel Byrne says to Albert Finney in Miller's Crossing - 'I don't ask much and I don't ask often.'

Okay, the second part of that sentence may not be true anymore, but once this competition is out of the way I promise I will get on with the business of actually making stuff again.

It's been really hard work to get this far, but pretty rewarding too. All kinds of people have seen the film now and I've had some fantastic feedback. When we were shooting Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell I made the assertion that I wouldn't even think about releasing it until the first film had been seen by at least a thousand people. This seemed an over-ambitious target and for a while I thought we would never make it, but as a result of the Shooting People competition the film has now been seen 711 times on vimeo which is fantastic! I've also seen some great films by other people and have lined up a number of them to show at MovieBar in the coming months (speaking of which, MovieBar on Monday was amazing! Standing room only, some of the best films we've screened and a wonderful audience that included my mum and dad).

The support I've had from friends and fans of the film has been incredible and I'm really grateful to everyone who has shared the link or voted for it or left a comment. It makes me wonder what we could achieve if there was a similar competition that didn't require you to be a paid member to vote, so if anyone is aware of anything like that let me know!

But it's not over yet. I still need stars to be in with a chance of winning and I'm starting to run out of contacts! If you're reading this and you're not a Shooting People member you can still help! Just share the link on Facebook and Twitter and ask if any filmmaking types you know are able to vote. The more views we get the better so please do encourage people to watch the film anyway.

I suspect this coming week is going to be even harder than the previous week so wish me luck and I'll check in with you when I can!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Jenny Ringo in Shooting People's Film of the Month!

As of right now, Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw is in first place in Shooting People's Film of the Month competition!!!

So here's how this works.

We're currently in Round 1 which is open until the 20th of September. In order to get through to Round 2 we need to stay in the Top 5 until then.

In Round 2 the votes get reset and the process starts again. If we can get into the top 3 in Round 2 this months guest judge, Danny Boyle, watches the film and gives us some feedback. He also picks a winner, but to be honest having the film seen by Danny Boyle is a big enough achievement in itself!

The only problem is only Shooting People members can vote and you have to pay to be a member. So here's what I need -

If you are a Shooting People member please vote for us by clicking this link and giving the film a star rating. Feel free to e-mail me at whatwritesatmidnight[at] telling me you've done it and I'll send you an extremely grateful message back. I'll also happily do anything I can to help you out with your own projects, which is perhaps more useful!

If you're not a member, please click the link anyway and play the film. If there's a tie, like we end up with the same amount of stars as another film, then the number of views you have becomes the deciding factor so every click helps!

Also, if you know any filmmaking people chances are they could be members so please pass on the link. Here's the link in full -

Even if you don't know anyone who's a member, you could always tweet the link anyway, just in case!

My strategy is to try to stay at the top for as long as possible in the hope of picking up a few extra stars from curious passers-by. It's going to be a massive challenge to stay in the competition. Our film is about five times longer than most of the other entries so it's a bigger ask to get strangers to watch it. Last month the films that made it through Round 1 all had around 400 stars so we've got a really long way to go yet! But I have a few more tricks up my sleeve yet and have only called in favours from a handful of the filmmakers I know so far, so I'm confident we're in with a good chance.

I'll post updates as the month goes on. If we do win I'm going to record a commentary track for the film and post it online.

Oh, and I'm still trying to get as many people signed up to the mailing list as possible. We're on 317 at the moment so edging closer to 500, at which point I'll upload the outtakes video. Please sign up at

Wish me luck!