Kevin Macdonald watches Choke Mate!

Last month Choke Mate was up for short film of the month on shooting people. We asked all you shooting people members to vote and you very kindly did.

NB: If you don’t know, Choke Mate was a short film we made in 48 hours during the Kickstarter campaign for The Fitzroy, partly to show what we were capable of and partly for fun. Here’s a blog of how that went!

You guys got us into the top three. Which meant we were in the final!

The prize was for Kevin Macdonald (director of Touching the Void and The Last King of Scotland) to review the three finalists and pick an overall winner.

Sadly he didn’t pick Choke Mate but just to be in the final was a great achievement and we really appreciate everyone who voted, watched and helped spread the word.

Here’s what Kevin (as I’m now calling him) said about the film.

“Again, an intriguing concept. Has a nice sense of dread and an evocative use of locations. I felt that the director/writers/actor didn’t quite convince me with the ending – why one takes the mask and the other doesn’t.”
Kevin Macdonald

Well Kevin! It’s all about self-sacrifice. You see, one of the masks is broken and he gives up the last mask for her…. I jest, of course. If he doesn’t feel we got that across then we didn’t get it across (to him).

To be fair he’s not the only one who’s not got or felt the ending. It’s not clear enough that one of the masks is broken. And that is my fault as the director. I did want to put in a closer shot of the broken mask, with a smashed eyepiece. It would have really rammed it home that the mask was broken. Unfortunately we just didn’t have time to do it.

Which actor is this?

Which actor is this?

The other thing we have learnt from feedback on Choke Mate is, that it is hard to distinguish characters when their faces are covered. Bane! This is going to be something we have to figure out for The Fitzroy.

All in all we are really chuffed that Choke Mate made it into the final. We are proud of the little film that could. Thanks again for voting for us and do leave your comments on what you think of it and if you agree with Kevin.


Indie Films Working Together?

In the previous blog ‘Sharing the Love’ we shared a few crowd-funding projects that had caught our attention and at one point I wrote this:

‘These filmmakers are using Kickstarter to help get their film onto cinema screen. If indie films can’t help each other do that, then what hope do we have trying to compete with the Hollywood marketing machine?’

I wrote it quite glibly but then it got me to thinking…. why can’t independent films work together and promote each others’ films? Why can’t we share audiences?

There is an ongoing debate at Fitzroy HQ about how indie films can stand out and compete with big budget Hollywood fare and multimillion dollar marketing budgets.

Outlets for independent film are becoming smaller and smaller. Just in the last month here in the UK, two of the largest high-street outlets, Blockbuster and HMV, have gone into administration. The Picturehouse cinema chain has also been bought out by Cineworld – they say they won’t be changing the programming to more mainstream but I find that hard to believe.

Meanwhile, the rise of online distribution means small independent films are going to find it harder to stand out. Online distribution is a huge opportunity for small films but lets be honest, i-tunes, Netflix, blinkbox, etc are not a ‘browsing experience’. You are presented with maybe 20 to 40 featured films.

The sad fact is that nowadays, unless you have already heard of an indie film, you’re probably not going to stumble across one and take a punt.

So how do indie films fight back? How do they reach a bigger audience?

One possible answer is to share audiences and cross-promote indie films.

Crowd funding and social networking really is changing how indie films are financed and for me the next natural progression is that it will change how films are promoted and distributed.

Each crowd funded film achieves two things; a budget and, possibly more importantly, an audience. These films are being made and backed by film fans, so the chances are that those backers are also going to be interested in other projects. I know I am always on the hunt for new exciting, moving, interesting films to watch and share. It’s part of being a film fan.

Heck, this isn’t a revelation; Hollywood and the studios have been doing this for decades. They promote themselves as an industry and cross-promote other films. Trailers before the start of the film are the obvious example of this. ‘If you like this film then get ready for this film’. Imagine a world where indie films and indie filmmakers do this for themselves and others.

I’m not saying this is what we should do or that it’s a magic bullet to reaching an audience. There’s definitely a lot of problems in it as an idea. But it’s an interesting idea. If low budget films are to grow and thrive then we should embrace marketing and supporting each others’ work.

One thing we have learnt from our Kickstarter campaign is the power of the internet and working together is immense. Truly anything is possible. Even taking on the ‘big boys’.

Like I said at the beginning, these are just my initial thoughts and I offer no practical advice on how indie films do this or if it’s even practical. I’m just using this blog as a sounding board. If you have any thoughts, comments ideas please share in the comments.

If you’ve made it this far why not check out the previous blog of projects we love. NB we are not formally linked with any of these projects apart from loving what they are doing.

Sharing the love.

This is a blog I’ve wanted to do for a little while now.

During our crowd-funding campaign we received a lot of love and good will – not just families, friends and strangers but also from other filmmakers and crowd-funding projects.

Well, I would like to pass that good will on wherever we can. Personally I’m a huge fan of the crowd-funding model and not just because The Fitzroy reached it’s target. I truly believe it is the start of a new model for creatives to reach, build and share with an audience. It is, without doubt, an exciting time.

So I thought I would share with you a few projects that have caught my eye recently*. Hopefully this might become a semi-regular blog? Who knows.

*Disclaimer time: I’m not personally connected to any of these projects, but I have backed them all and think they are pretty awesome.

Without further ado, here they are.

Bid For My Life

Comedian, actor and filmmaker James Hamer-Morton looks to sell his soul* and make a hilarious documentary at the same time. I think this is going to be such a blast to watch.

*I don’t think he is actually selling his soul.


We Are Monsters

A British sci-fi mutant film? Starring Doug Jones? Whats not to get excited about! These guys have been running an awesome campaign and made the amazing film PANIC BUTTON.


Borrowed Time

I love the trailer to this film – really funny and sweet.

These filmmakers are using kickstarter to help get their film onto cinema screen. If indie films can’t help each other do that, then what hope do we have trying to compete with the Hollywood marketing machine?


The Nightman of Nevermoor

An exciting short film from a phenomenally talented group of filmmakers. Seriously, check out their previous films and you’ll want to see what they do with this one – I do.


Like I say I have no involvement in any of these projects, I just think they are very cool and wanted to help spread the word.

I hope you like them as much as I do and you can give them a tweet or facebook mention and help spread the word… I wanted to put ‘spread the love’ again but was worried this would turn into a love-in.