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.


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.

Choke Mate

Wow it’s been quite a few days!

On Tuesday we were kickstarters ‘project of the day’ and yesterday we were one of three projects profiled in their weekly newsletter. It has really given the project a shot in the arm and opened us up to a larger audience.

And ‘Choke Mate’ our 48 hour short film has been going down very well – which is a relief.

As promised (although a little late) here are a few behind the scenes pics and a run down of what happened.

Choke Mate: As it happened

Throughout the week we had been asking the online community to suggest the story tagline, prop, location, etc. So come Friday night we had the main elements in place

The basic premise? (Suggested by Chris Knight)

‘As an air raid siren sounds two people play chess for the last gas mask.’

We also had to have a snow globe in there and shoot it on a beach – I was hoping for a warm, sheltered house!

With those three elements in place I expanded the premise into some sort of story. Originally I wanted the film to be closer in tone to The Fitzroy but for me comedy takes an age to write. So to save time we went dark! Time is also the reason there is hardly any dialog in Choke Mate.

By Friday night – we had all the elements in place. Although I had never met the actors before or been to the location, I did have a kind of rough idea of what we wanted to make.

Friday morning at the crack of dawn – no scrap that it was about two hours before dawn we set off from London to Southend on Sea. Thankfully Mother Nature was kind to us and the weather was gorgeous, if a little nippy but then it’s December.

We were a tight crew! The two actors, the two producers (James and Liam – multi tasking to the max), Ciro (DOP) and me. Like I say tight.

When we arrived at the location the first thing we did was to scout out the beach. Luckily there were a lot of cool sections all within a few hundred meters of each other.

The actors, Ben and Anne-Sophie, changed into their costumes while we set up the first shot – Ben jumping over the beach brake.

And we were off.

We were pushed for time from the get go. Being winter we only had until 3.30pm of usable light. So we moved quickly and generally didn’t go over two takes, although there were a few shots that required more. The running in the mud at the opening of the film was one.

The actors did a great job and I can’t thank them enough. They really were thrown into it and had to spend the day sitting, lying and running on a cold wet beach. They were both stellar.

We shot right up until sunset and just managed to get the last shot in time.

To be honest I wasn’t quite sure we had managed to capture enough. But there was no time to worry about that. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then it was back to London to cut the film.

We edited until around 2am, by which time we had a rough assembly and I was shattered. We grabbed a few hours sleep and then got back to the edit. After a few hours we had a locked cut and sent it off to Tom who was doing the sound design.

Unfortunately because we had shot on the 5d the sound was rather awful. We knew this going in but because we were essentially shooting on the fly it was our best option. This meant Tom had to work some magic and create a more ‘alien’ sound-scape. He did an amazing job.

While Tom was doing the sound mix we were working on the grade, titles and a few sky replacements.  Almost exactly when I hit render Tom sent through the final mix and the film was finished. It was almost like it was planned!

So that’s how the weekend went. It was very intense but great fun. I can’t thank everyone enough for the work they put in and thank you to everyone who came up with suggestions and has shared the film.

Don’t forget to check out The Fitzroy’s kickstarter page – we’ve got just over a week left. With a bit of luck and support we just might make it!

Choke Mate

Drum roll please!

Here it is… the Mini-Fitz – a short film made in (just over) 48 hours from suggestions by our supporters and the internet at large.

Although it is set in ‘the world’ of The Fitzroy, it turned out to be tonally much darker – you have been warned.

I hope you like it.

It was a full-on weekend pulling it all together. From the writing and the shoot to the editing, grade and mix – it was hard work but great fun.

A huge thanks goes out to the actors who spent all day sitting in the wet sand, Ciro the D.P. and Tom who did the sound design and mix.

I’ll try and put up a longer blog tomorrow, going into more of the process and how the weekend went  – with some behind-the-scenes photos.


This morning we hit 50% of our target for The Fitzroy, which is brilliant! With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work we might just make it but we need your help! So thank you for all your support so far and please keep spreading The Fitzroy word!

Procrastination Corner

Hello and welcome to this week’s Procrastination Corner – a pocket-full of pennies to play with in the internet arcade.

Can Art save the Arctic? An experimental documentary. I don’t normally post crowd-funding links (seeing as we’ll be trying it soon)  but I’ve seen these guys previous work and know what they can do. Help them complete this fascinating sci-fi documentary, some great rewards too! (Link)

Beautiful short film. Light by David Parker. (Link)

Would love to live here. An Abandoned Men’s Club Is Now a Home. (Link)

Jerry Lewis pantomiming in 1961’s The Errand Boy. Pure brilliance. (Link)

The first two episodes of the very funny web series ‘All in the Method.’ The perils of being an actor! (Via @Kailester on twitter) (Link)

Some amazing photographs from the National Geographic competition. (Link)

Michael Cera is fired from Knocked Up. (Link)

And this week’s game? Not actually a game, but just as fun. Weaves Silk. (Link)