Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Birdeatsbaby need your help...

In April 2009, back when I used to actually update this blog more than once every four months, Brother Pete and I went to see Birdeatsbaby at the Latest Music Bar in Brighton. I wrote about it here. It was one of the most amazing gigs I'd ever seen. There was just something incredibly refreshing about the music and the energy in the performance; it was different enough to be exciting but without alienating the audience. I wasn't really able to put it into words back then and I can't really now, but the point is they were really really good, as seen here...

They continued to be really really good. In 2011 they made this awesome video for a single on their second album, which I later screened at MovieBar...

They are still really really good. Now they sound like this...

But they need help to finish their third album. There's a Kickstarter page here. I know everyone is running Kickstarter campaigns these days and it's becoming more and more difficult to stand out, but here's why you should support this one -

- They are really, really good as mentioned above.

- You can pay the price of the album and then when they're done you actually get a copy of the album. So really you're just pre-ordering something you will probably buy one day anyway (because it's going to be awesome).

- They've been really upfront about their costs, and the fact that they are putting in half of what they need themselves shows how serious they are about this.

- They are doing really well and have passed the halfway point, so with a bit of extra help they will definitely make it!

- Did I mention that they are really really good?

So you should seriously consider heading over there and contributing to their Kickstarter, because if artists this good can't crowd-fund their work then there is seriously no hope for the rest of us.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Guest Post - Peter Regan (part two)...

Day Two- 14th April 2013

Day Two began as any normal day on a Jenny Ringo shoot begins. There were bandages, fake blood and lights in tiny cramped spaces.

We started with a scene that was eventually cut for time. Time in the film, and lack of time to create the effects needed. However all I remember was sitting on the bathroom floor, squashed up against the wall trying my hardest not to break down into laughter. I failed. How unprofessional of me.

Despite my failings, the scene was shot, and after getting the feeling back in my legs we moved on to the monsters outside ready for their close ups.

Once again the sun had got his hat on. However lighting a dark, interior corridor when you're outside is a pain in the back side unless you are the proud owner of some massive bright lights. Unfortunately I am not.

However we managed to get a happy medium and grab the shots we needed. As soon as the monsters had finished it was time to film the babies.

How does one direct babies I hear you ask? Well simply put, you don't. Instead you wave lots of things around, blow bubbles and eventually turn the TV on in a hope to distract them long enough to get the shot we need. It eventually worked and resulted in a 10 minute out-take of pure cute anarchy.

The beach was next. Originally the script called for the beach discussion to be at night. However in case this didn't work, a back-up would be required. Day time beach...no issues here. It was sunny, we got the shots, we moved on. We would be back later for the night time which came with a few surprises.

Now off to space to space for us to crank the F-stop.

Space was located in a barn. The result of a friend’s short who still had a set up for a couple of days.

Here's the original film the spaceship was constructed for...

Robot from zoneonestudios on Vimeo.

Now I'm new to filming things for myself and when told to crank the Fstop to make sure we had a smooth green screen, I couldn't help but stare blankly before nodding in agreement (something I've learnt more about with more night shoots). However we managed to get the space we needed. Everything was in focus that needed to be and we packed up and left.

And then we had to wait....

...finally it was dark.  We could now reshoot the earlier beach scene but in darkness.

"But if it's dark, how are you going to film anything?"

We had a plan. A plan involving plastic folders, LED lights and camping lanterns. A plan that gave us the desired effect or a burning magic flame. A plan that came at a deadly cost. The cost of being attacked by millions of  bugs.

Evil beach dwelling creatures that crawled up out of the pebbles to attack their prey. Had I not been tired and grumpy, some of those bugs may have survived to tell the tale of how they saw the filming of Jenny Ringo 3. However, at times I am not a patient man. It was survival of the fittest. I won.

Here's Pete not being very patient...

However had I had to face the sea fox alone, I'm sure I'd be telling a different tale. It's never a good sign, when your back is to the sea and everyone start looking over your shoulder at a "dog" coming out of the sea. Not a dog my friend, but a fox. A fox that each night rises from the briny depths to wander Worthing looking for easy prey. A Sea fox...I would guess.

Anyway, we got through the last location shoot. We each went our separate ways, back to the safety of our houses and beds, to dream of the adventures of sea foxes and beach bugs.

We still weren't finished. There was still animation that I had to complete, the construction of a monster and trying twice to get the perfect night time shot of Brighton Pier.

This is another tale for next time...


Please vote for Jenny Ringo and the Infinite Spellbook by clicking the Tweet button under this video or by tweeting '#VMShortsVote Jenny Ringo and the Infinite Spellbook'

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Jenny Ringo and the Funhouse of the Damned...

If you haven't seen Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw turn away now because there will be spoilers ahead. Or you could just watch the film -

I'll let you in on a secret. I never intended for Jenny Ringo to be a series. When she ends up in Hell in the first film it was meant to be just that...the end.

Then I started making the second film. To justify it the writer Geraint D'Arcy and I decided that Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell would be a prequel. Haven't seen it yet? Here's the trailer -

You can see the whole film by going to www.jennyringo.com and signing up to the mailing list!

Anyway, when we were shooting it became apparent that the relationship between Jenny and Gavin had evolved from the first film and it certainly felt like it was happening after that one. So I decided to embrace the fact that it was a sequel, which meant somehow I needed to explain how Jenny escaped from Hell.

So I contacted Paul Cousins, an amazing artist I knew from back when I was writing for Night Warrior, and suggested the idea of a 5 page comic to bridge the gap between Monkey's Paw and Cabaret from Hell. This is the result (click the pages to make them go bigly)...

If you enjoyed the comic and would like to see more Jenny Ringo adventures please vote for Jenny Ringo and the Infinite Spellbook by clicking the Tweet button under this video or by tweeting '#VMShortsVote Jenny Ringo and the Infinite Spellbook'

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Guest Post - Peter Regan (part one)...

Peter Regan was one half of the two-man film crew who made Jenny Ringo and the Infinite Spellbook! Here are his memories of the shoot...

On the weekend of 13th/14th of April 2013 I shot Jenny Ringo!

Jenny Ringo and the Infinite Spell book to be more specific.

Over two days we hoped to bring to life the most ambitious Jenny Ringo film yet. A film with dinosaurs, killer clowns, hellish landscapes, 'Tron' style in game escapades and bizarre monsters from other worlds...and so we did.

Director Chris Regan and Producer Andrea Regan had strategically planned everything down to a t so we could fit everything in, so I grabbed my camera, batteries and memory cards and dived into the car to get underway.

Day One - 13th April 2013

First stop, Under-cliff.

There were a number of scenes that took place outside and it looked as though we had been blessed on this bright and sunny Saturday morning in April.

This was the first issue I had. Having an inability to see properly I need the use of spectacles to see properly. Also suffering from migraines in bright sun, I had adapted these spectacles to "react" to the harsh UV rays, creating a darker lens protecting my eyes. Had I known that this combined with reflectivity of the LCD screen on the camera, would result in an inability to see what I was filming properly, along with a lot of guess work relating to the focus, I may have re-thought my previous eyeball solution.

Anyway, we managed to get through the first few scenes well enough. The bright weather was holding up and we were still on track.

We had one final shot to make in Brighton, overlooking Madeira Drive for a giant pizza.

Unfortunately it was decided that the best place for me to film was next to a playground. Now I know I was there to film Jenny Ringo. Chris and the cast knew I was there to film Jenny Ringo. However I couldn't shake the feeling that anyone else passing by may have thought I was there to film children playing.

Luckily we got the shot we needed and moved down to Madeira Drive for close ups, and to prove to all those questioning onlookers that I was in fact making a Jenny Ringo film.

However someone still wasn't happy and the heavens began to open. With the first few drops of rain. Rain that would decide not to stop as originally forecast and later forces the well planned schedule to be reassessed and split into multiple shots.

So back to Worthing we went to continue the adventures of Jenny Ringo and to Lime Café to battle the evil clowns.

It's always a bit of a struggle on films with few crew members when faced with a room full of extras. You're trying to plan a shot but also make sure everyone knows what’s happening and will be ready when the director calls “Action”.

Saying that, on this occasion there wasn't really any major difficulty. Everyone who arrived seemed quite happy chatting until it was time to get transformed into clowny evil-ness.

I don't think I'll be forgetting anytime soon, having to film close up after close up of menacing clowns, especially when it seemed it was me they were after.

Unfortunately that was where day one ended. The rain continued to pour, light was beginning to fade and we still had a couple of exteriors left. These would have to be moved to the next day. A day of monsters, babies and sea foxes...


You can see Jenny Ringo and the Infinite Spellbook here -


To vote, click the Tweet button under the video!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Jenny Ringo and the Infinite Spellbook!

Jenny Ringo and the Infinite Spellbook has been entered into this years Virgin Media Shorts contest and I could really use your votes!

I've tried to cram as much cool stuff into the 2 minute 20 second running time as possible, including dinosaurs, monsters, evil clowns, spaceships, tentacles and more!

You can check out the film here -


To vote either click the 'Tweet' button under the film, or Tweet '#VMShortsVote Jenny Ringo and the Infinite Spellbook'

As always I meant to blog a lot more during the production, and then got caught up in the actual production itself. This one was a lot of work, partly because there were so many different elements but mostly because I took on the edit myself. BUT I will be posting behind the scenes stories and some bonus video content over the course of the week so watch this space! AND I'll be unveiling the brand new Jenny Ringo website very soon!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell...

...will be released online tomorrow for anyone subscribed to the mailing list. You can subscribe at www.jennyringo.com for free. We won't spam you or send anything too annoying, I promise.

I feel like I should write a whole post about what it's been like spending the last year and a half on this film, but it's late and you could just as easily watch the trailer...

...or read one or all of the following reviews....










So please go www.jennyringo.com and subscribe to the mailing list so I can send you the link to the film, and then feel free to come back here and leave a comment - I'd love to know what you thought of it.


Saturday, 1 June 2013

Looking for reviewers for Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell...

Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell is now finished! Here's the trailer -

The full film will be released on the 18th of June but you will need to subscribe to the mailing list at www.jennyringo.com to see it.
In the meantime I'm looking for people to review the film. If you have a blog or website and you would like to review the film, just let me know and I'll send you a secret link to the full film. You can leave me a comment here or e-mail me at whatwritesatmidnight[at]gmail.com
Here's a brief synopsis -
Jenny Ringo is a witch who lives with her slacker flatmate Gavin. When a spell to help Gavin audition as a singer in a Cabaret club backfires Jenny finds herself trapped in her flatmate's body! But there are far worse surprises waiting for her in the mysterious Cabaret club where the audience feast on the souls of the performers and the MC keeps a terrifying secret in a bucket in her office. Can Jenny reverse the spell, save Gavin and defeat the demon MC before they both become lunch for the thing in the bucket?
If you do decide to review the film here are some stills you can use (photos by Kristina Sälgvik)




Saturday, 18 May 2013

Day or Night - The Results...

Read the previous post first if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

I would have left this a few more days but I could do with actually getting on with the edit. Also my voting widget went weird and stopped working so I'm counting up the results from the various comments people left for me on here and on forums and Facebook etc.

And the night shot won!

By one vote...

Night - 9
Day  - 8

This at least validates my indecisiveness as it seems to have divided everyone else too!

From reading the comments and feedback from everyone I've come to the following conclusion - the night shot is better in theory, it's just that technically the day scene looks better. This is mostly because we were on the beach at 10pm after a busy weekend of filming so we were trying to get it finished as quickly as possible. Plus we were in real danger of being eaten by weird jumping beach bugs.

This outtake just about sums it up -

I think with a little more time and preparation it would have come out better, although we were always going to be filming late at night so there was no way around that. And I'm not sure what we could've done about the beach bugs (shoot the antennae maybe?).

Despite this I am still going to go ahead with the night shoot as decided by the voters! This is partly because I want to see the whole thing in context with the other scenes before making a final FINAL decision. So I may still be editing two versions and could well be asking for your help again in the next few days.

Thanks to everyone who voted and left me comments about the shots! It definitely helped me make a decision and I really appreciate the feedback.

Please sign up to the mailing list at www.jennyringo.com and/or the Facebook page for regular progress reports! 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Jenny Ringo 3 - Help needed!

I'm currently editing the third film in the Jenny Ringo series (visit www.jennyringo.com to see the first film and sign up to the mailing list for news on future adventures!)
This one is called Jenny Ringo and the Infinite Spellbook, and it's a little different. It's a lot shorter for a start. It also features dinosaurs, clowns and spaceships. And a couple of monsters.
My plan is to enter it into the Virgin Media Shorts competition, but before I can even think about doing that I need to finish editing the thing and for that I need your help!

Because it was so short I was able to experiment a bit more and filmed a few scenes a couple of different ways. One of these scenes is the main dialogue scene between Jenny and Gavin which we filmed on Worthing seafront. It was written to be set at night, but this posed a bit of a problem for a three-person crew with no money. So we improvised.
However, fearing that the night shoot wouldn't work I also filmed a daytime version.
The issue I now have is that I kind of like both of them. So I need you to help me decide which one to use.
Please forgive the sound quality and the shoddy editing - this is a very rough edit just to give an idea of how the scenes will ultimately look.
Here is the daytime version - 

Here is the nighttime version - 

Here is how you vote - 

Which version - Day or Night?

If you have any more detailed feedback I'd love to hear it! Please leave me a comment below or on the Facebook page.

And if you want to keep up to date on how it's going, sign up to the mailing list at www.jennyringo.com

Thanks for your help!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Jenny Ringo and the Funhouse of the Damned...

Ever wondered how Jenny escaped from Hell at the end of Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw? All will be revealed in the soon to be released webcomic Jenny Ringo and the Funhouse of the Damned!

Sign up to the mailing list at www.jennyringo.com and I'll let you know the moment it's available!

Oh, and I totally filmed Jenny Ringo 3. More on that to follow...

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Writing in space...

So on Saturday I was in space helping Steve Hayes and his team with their entry for the Sci-Fi London 48 Hour Film Challenge. Steve did the visual effects on Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell so I was happy to be able to return the favour. Plus I wanted to borrow his spaceship, but that's another story.

We were given a title (Robot), a line of dialogue (You only have to ask you know. Just say the word) and a prop (a mug of steaming liquid). From this we set about putting together a 5 minute sci-fi film in 48 hours. 

I say 'we' - I mostly helped with the script and shouted lines of dialogue at the actors for a day. 

And went on a mission for lunch, which is actually quite difficult to find when you're in space. 

There were three of us working on the script, initially using my car as a writers' room as the script became a series of scribbled notes that no one could read except me.

But ultimately it was a team effort and there were many moments in which we stood around doing this...

Then we filmed for eight hours. It was cold.

Then Steve and sound designer/mixer/composer Chris Upfield spent the Sunday putting it all together with magic and stuff. There had to have been a bit of magic involved anyway - I've no idea how else they could have done it in time. It took me a year to finish the post on Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell. A year. They did the same with way more effects in just 24 hours. Here's how it turned out...


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Scouting locations for Jenny Ringo 3...

Spent this afternoon looking at some potential locations for Jenny Ringo 3. I need something a bit prehistoric and something that looks a bit like Hell...

It was very cold and windy...

Have also been buying clown masks. Lots of clown masks.

And bidding on the Holy Grail on ebay.

Sign up to the mailing list at www.jennyringo.com if you want to find out what all this is about. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell poster...

Here's the new poster for Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell...

It was put together by Caroline Ryder who also appears in the film with her band Hollywood Assassins (you should check them out, they are awesome) and the photos were taken by Kristina Sälgvik (see more of her work on her website).

Last week I spent an afternoon in a studio in Clapham checking out the sound mix with Adrian Townsend who is doing a fantastic job pulling everything together. It was the first time I'd seen the film with all the sound design, music and dialogue in place and it was fantastic. So many parts that I was worried wouldn't make sense seem so much clearer now. And it means we're very close to finishing the film.

Speaking of which, I am determined to screen a close-to-finished version of the film at the next MovieBar as it will be the last one I host. I'll post more about that in the next couple of weeks, but if you're in Brighton please come along - it will be on Monday 1st of April at the Caroline of Brunswick.

There is more exciting Jenny Ringo news to follow soon and if you want to be kept updated (and why wouldn't you?) I recommend either signing up to the mailing list at www.jennyringo.com or liking the Facebook page.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

It was only a pound!

I recorded a podcast with Brother Pete. We watch films that only cost £1 and then discuss whether they were worth £1 or not. It's only short and we had fun doing it. Hopefully we will do more.

It's not on iTunes yet because we haven't quite figured that out, but you can download or listen to the first episode here - 

We talk about Dark Floors - The Lordi Movie - 

Oh, and while I think of it, here's the video for Blood Red Sandman which Pete mentions in the episode...

Watch this space for news of future episodes!

Also, Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell is very close to being finished now with the grading and sound mix well on the way to being done. So naturally I've started planning Jenny Ringo 3...

As always I'm on a mission to get a few more Facebook likes and mailing list subscriptions so please check out the pages and give us some support if you have time! You'll be the first to hear about cool stuff, I promise!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Jenny Ringo in 2013...

I know my blog posts have been a bit erratic recently but I have been busy. Mostly completing Dishonored (which was a bit of a disappointment in the end), and occasionally checking in with the post-production crew on Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell to ensure we're on the right track. And we are very close to being finished! So much so that I'm hoping to be able to release a trailer soon and maybe some extra bits too. If you want to keep up to date with all this I recommend signing up to the mailing list at www.jennyringo.com

Seriously, if you're not signed up yet you should go do it right now. It's free and I promise we barely send an e-mail every month so you will hardly notice us. Plus my wife writes all the updates and she is way better at this stuff than I am. And you will be the first to find out about cool new things!

I also realise I never did an end of year round-up post, but seeing as my son Eric was born last year and he is the most awesome thing ever I couldn't really bring myself to list what films I saw as if that somehow compared.

But in case you were wondering...

Moonrise Kingdom was my favourite film of last year, followed by Cabin in the Woods and Dark Knight Rises.

Gray Matter was the best game. More than that in some ways. It was the best story I experienced, if that makes sense. I was going to do a whole blog post about it but ran out of time. My point would have been that if anyone ever tells you that video games are all about shooting people, shove a copy of Gray Matter in their stupid face and tell them it's a game about how different people deal with loss as part of an exciting and compelling storyline! Without guns!

I almost wrote a post about all the stuff I meant to blog about last year and didn't.

Like how Silent Hill: Revelation was kind of like a Lucio Fulci film, in that it felt like you were experiencing a nightmare and the fact that this dream logic extended to the narrative wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Which isn't to say I liked it, but I think most people missed the point.

Although if I learnt anything from the general reaction to Prometheus (and Dark Knight Rises for that matter), it's that most people aren't even looking for the point, or anything at all for that matter. Just something that fits into the very specific idea of the film they wanted to see.

But enough of that, or I'll end up writing 5,000 words again. I am probably going to be writing fewer blog posts about films this year unless it's something I feel needs some attention. However, if you are interested in what I'm watching I've been using Letterboxd a lot recently so you're welcome to follow me on there.

What I will be doing more of is posting more Jenny Ringo stuff, and hopefully not just here (if I ever get around to developing the website which is one of my other plans for this year). I am intending to reach my earlier goal of getting 1,000+ people signed up to the Jenny Ringo mailing list before the second film is finished. This means if you're my friend on Facebook or if you follow me on Twitter I will probably be quite annoying for the next few months but hopefully it will all be worth it in the end.

Oh, and sorry it's late but happy new year!

Friday, 18 January 2013

American Mary...

So last night I saw American Mary at the Duke of York's in Brighton and since I'm forever asking people to blog about Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw (which you can see for free at www.jennyringo.com, and sign up to the mailing list for news on the sequel which is very close to being finished!) I decided it's time I wrote about someone else's film for a change.

I've never been great at plot summaries so here's the trailer...

For the first half of American Mary I was convinced I was watching the most original, relevant and genuinely shocking horror film I'd seen in a long time. The film looks amazing, Katharine Isabelle does a fantastic job portraying an incredibly complex character and there is a superb atmosphere of creepiness and dread underlining the whole first Act. What makes it work is that Mary is written and performed with just enough humanity to make her descent into madness believable and genuinely disturbing. 

The world of the film almost becomes a representation of the human body, with Mary scraping back the surface of the places and situations we recognise to reveal the blood and guts of a dark, mysterious underworld. Because we care about Mary we go on this journey with her, but the problem is that this empathy is difficult to maintain and as she becomes more and more unbalanced she pushes the audience further away. It's not just about the character not being likable, but it's more an issue over what is at stake (not much) and how she develops (after a certain point she doesn't really). As the film meandered towards an anti-climactic conclusion I couldn't help feeling a little disappointed that what I thought was an early contender for my favourite film of the year hadn't quite lived up to the potential of that amazing first half hour.

But one of the other great things about the film is that it gets under your skin and stays with you, meaning I was still thinking about it long after the credits had rolled. And at some point on the drive home it occurred to me that this isn't a film about body-modification at all. It's a film about exploitation filmmaking.

There may be spoilers ahead. Consider yourselves warned.

This is perhaps one of those situations where I'm applying too much of my own experience to a film but Mary's super-harsh lecturer reminded me of a couple of screenwriting lecturers I've been taught by in the past. So for the sake of my argument imagine that Mary is not a medical student but a film student, and her aim is to be a legitimate, respected filmmaker. Then you get the party scene which represents her chance at networking with big-time film producers. Except they're only interested in screwing her over (which could be the experience of the actual filmmakers bleeding through, or me seeing what I want to see based on my own limited experience). Suddenly she realises the industry she wants to work in is corrupt and the dream she has been working towards all those years is forever tainted.

So she tries something else. She finds a way to do the thing she wanted to do outside the system. She sells something that people want, but that will never be mainstream. She makes art that can be ugly and beautiful at the same time. She makes exploitation films.

I've mentioned a few times in the past that I love arthouse horror films; horror films with all the blood and gore and scares in place but that are ambitious and complex and ambiguous enough to make them stand out from the usual production-line genre trash. American Mary not only fits into that subgenre, I think the film itself is all about the conflict between art and genre cinema. 

And when I think about it like that I realise that it may well be an early contender for my favourite film of the year after all...



Or why Mark Kermode is right and I am wrong.

Just listened to an episode of the Kermode and Mayo podcast from a couple of weeks ago in which he reviewed American Mary, as seen here - 

Kermode essentially says that the whole film is about the objectification of the human body which is a point so obvious I can't believe I missed it. And it makes sense of all the parts I wasn't sure about. For example, the club owner in the film has recurring fantasies about Mary stripping for him, which to me seemed out of place in a feminist horror film. Surely this is celebrating the objectification of women rather than condemning it? And then I got confused so I ignored that part. But if the whole film is itself about the objectification of women then these scenes are totally relevant and necessary, because in order to understand Mary's approach to the human body we need to see how other people objectify her, even the people who know she is capable of so much more.

I think my exploitation filmmaker thesis still stands, but I think I was wrong to dismiss the parts of the film I didn't understand so quickly, and it's made me want to see the film again so I'll probably buy the DVD. Which you should do too.

And the reason I'm posting this is to show that no opinion on a film, or any kind of art, should be final.

That is all.