It seems that night we were dead.
AKA Dan Harmon rhapsodizes on electoral politics and religion for six minutes.
AKA Diet Pepsi is better than piss.
I recently did an impro show with The RH Experience and they made this little video from the night…look at it! You don’t have to touch it, just look.
I’ve done a few of these shows & also shot a bunch of stuff with them too, I always have fun making stuff with my orange hooded chums.
Also performing on the show was my friend and regular collaborator: Jess Mandeville, who rocked the impro shit as always, and also the super funny Molly Austin from Emotistyle (whos pretty famous on the old internets). The 6 of use delivered a particularly ridiculous & awesome night of impro, I’ll go out on a limb and say it was my favourite short-form impro show I’ve ever been in. so much fun!
If you happen to been at the Edinburgh festival this year then go see the RH Live dam it!
Sh*t Londoners Never Say
i made this with my Zorbo Ironheart crew. check it out, more at youtube.com/zorboironheart
Sorry tumblr, i have be neglecting you. your still special to me. Love Mike.
It’s here! Wow that was fast. Awesome, I’m glad it’s here because 2012 is going to rock!
One year a go I started this blog, I kicked it off with a post featuring some big ideas of what I wanted to accomplish in 2011, I didn’t get most of it done but I did so much more that wasn’t planed so I guess it’s all good.
So this year my 2012 will mostly consist of 3 things:
Making a feature Film, setting up my Impro company & making the youtube sketch show “Zorbo Ironheart”.
This is all an amalgamation of all my creative experiences and everything I’ve learned over the years, just exploding on to the world in 3 different way almost at the same time. I’ll no doubt chronicle the event of each as they start taking form, and I’ll post more here too then I have been, if for no one else but myself, I think I helps. BRING IT ON 2012! And happy New Year everyone.
So in the last few weeks i have invested in a Canon 7d and some magic bits and bobs to go with it. (different lenses, a shoulder mount, etc)
This little camera and some of its DSLR brothers and sisters are currently shaking up the film & TV industry dramatically with it’s ability to shoot ridiculously awesome hd footage, interchangeable lenses and other things film makers love that we haven’t previously had in video cameras without dropping and the amount of a car.
In the last few years some feature films have been shot on the 7d. “Black Swan" and "127 Hours" had major releases both were shot on a number of different cameras including the 7d. It was great to sit in a cinema knowing this and spotting the scenes shot on the same camera I own and knowing that I have a kit good enough to make a movie shown in a cinema. It’s nuts to think Danny Boyle is making movies with something you can pick up from Currys on your local high street for less then a grand, but the proof is there, in the cinema and it looks great… except for a dude cutting his own arm off… that doesn’t look so great.
I have previous blogged about the film “Tiny Furniture" that was shot on the 7d and won a bunch awards and landed its creator, Lena Dunham a deal with H.B.O to make a show with Judd Apatow producing, and earlier this year a little indie flick called “Like Crazy” that was completely shot on the 7d was brought by Paromount for $4 million! That’s all pretty inspirational stuff to hear considering I have a feature in the works. It’s a very exciting time to be a film-maker. i’m really looking forward to using my new toys.
So my plan at the moment is:
1. make a few short films (4 maybe) as a warm up to the feature.
2. Send dvd of shorts to studios and potential investors with a copy of the feature script.
3. Make the film
4. Sell it to Paramount for 4 million. (or Film Four for 50 quid)
That all seams pretty reasonable right?
One of my fav random Vimeo films i’ve found shot on the 7D
Improvisation and filmmaking have been two of the three big interested in my life since I was a teen (the 3rd being puppetry). First time those two things merged was when I was studying theatre I formed an improv group with some friends and as well as live shows we also would make little improvised movies. And of course my film Destination Torquay didn’t have a script nor did most of The Golden Bang films
I’ve recently had two little improv films adventures. I just took part in “The Improvised Film Challenge” at the Miller as part of London Improv's residency. The night was a crazy-fun event where teams of improvisers are given a title of a film by a live audience then have just one hour to go out and create a short film then come back and show it! I was on a team with fellow improvises Dave Waller & Jinni Lyons and my filmmaking buddies George Nidi & Elliot Willams. The title we were given was “Obama’s Brain (Not)”. I wanted to make sure we did something that was somewhat cinematic with cuts, action, score, etc and not just shoot something that we could of just done on stage.
I’m quite happy with what we did given the time limit we had and certainly learned what worked and how to do it better next time. You can see what our friends from The RH Experience did with their title here
Also I’m performing in a couple of episodes of a series of improvised short films by Katy Schutte, which have been super-fun. I’ll do a post about them when they’re online and you can see what i’m talking about.
As you know I am currently getting my act together and starting a production company and needless to say we’ll be making some improvised films (and giving ourselves a lot more then an hour to do so). I have a feature and some shorts in the works and will be looking into getting funding so I can have a budget but it will all happen regardless, I’m just going to keep making movies till someone pays me to then I’ll keep making better looking movies and not have a shitty day/night job.
I will very likely be using improv in my films in a similar way to how it is used by Adam Mckay (Anchorman, Step Brothers) Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin, Funny People) and The Duplass Brothers (Cyrus, the Puffy Chair), starting off with a written script but just using it as a blueprint and allowing the cast a lot of freedom. You want your film to be as good as possible and an actor in the moment often knows the character better then the writer and the most perfect things can fall out of their mouth that you could never of written in a million years. Improv can be beautiful and funny like that.
I feel this way gets the best results as you always get the best of both worlds, the structure of a script and the randomness of improv, it just make more work and more options for the editor, which is fine as i’m the editor. and to all the improv purists who may think differently, let me just point out that “This Is Spinal Tap” the greatest “improvised” movie of all time had a script first that got them more then half way so you can see the type of end results this way can produce.
p.s. two days ago i spent more money then i have ever spent in my life on my new fancy camera. It’s on its way to me now! lets make movies! #iheartmakingshit
A week ago Apple released Final Cut Pro X, the new version of their professional video editing software. Final Cut Pro recently has become the weapon of choice for many film-makers, features like “The Social Network”, “True Grit” and many more were editing using FCP. As a film-maker, video editor and FCP user I was very excited about the upcoming release. Early reports were looking good, it was affordable and looked like it had lots of cool new abilities that would be both massive time savers and be easier to use.
Then it was released and all hell let lose. Immediately professional video editor were angry, really angry. Thousands of blog posts, tweet, youtube videos and comments on boards all saying the same incredibly negative things, some more extreme and dramatic then other. Even Conan O’Brien joined in with the FCPX bashfest. Just put “#fcpx” into twitter right now and you find hundreds of posts in the last hour slating it. I haven’t seen good thing said yet, just a lot of hastily reactions.
Most of the hate has come from a few key needs that have not been met. Lots of cameras are not compatible with this version and the ability to cut muiti-camara events has gone completely. These are two epic problems. If you can’t get the footage off you’re camera or if it’s you’re job is to edit sports, live music or anything that needs multiple cameras then the software is unusable. These two things have alienated millions of editors around the world and completely overshadowed whats great and new with FCPX.
For all the hate online I can’t help but feel its all a little over the top and people are missing some really obvious points. I’m sorry to all my fellow cutters who are angry but one of us needs to point out that Final Cut Pro X is going to help us do what we do creatively. All the problems are fixable and the good out weighs the bad.
I’m 30, which makes me young enough to be in the first generation of filmmakers to take on Final Cut over other systems but old enough to of had the experience of hooking up two VHS’s to edit or cutting “in camera” on my High8 Handycam in 1997. I’ve shot on 8mm & 16mm film, I’ve spliced 35mm and it all comes down to something I think people have forgotten this week. We tell stories with pictures and Final Cut Pro X is going to help us do that better then Final Cut Pro 7. Everyone’s talking like we’re energisers or technicians, we’re not.
If you’re a professional video editor then you got to were you are today because of you’re creative eye and you’re skills, not because you know what every knob on this machine does but because you have a knack for using images to convey an idea, an emotion or informative. My first impression was to stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow editors like extras in ‘Braveheart’ yelling “fuck you” to “the man” but on closer inspection it’s no where near as bad as people are making out, infact it’s way better then it was. All the hate for FCPX is mostly people having an immediate and emotional reaction to change and yes it’s dramatically changed in it’s appearance and function but the problems and anger has made everyone blind to how awesome and helpful all the new toys are.
Magnetic timeline, shot audition, collapsible sequences, Colour Grading, Colour Matching, Sound editing, audio enhancements, Media Organisation, Auto Analysis, keyword, auto stabilization, built-in effects - amazing! All huge improvements on the FCP7 that are going to massively improve the end product and that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.
People have been complaining that it looks too simplistic now, well isn’t that a good thing? Again we’re not energisers or technicians, editing is an art. The easier it its to do what you do the better. Maybe you want to feel like you’re driving some magic car that only you know how to drive but it doesn’t need to be like that. Don’t worry about amateurs working out how to drive it, the good and skilled will still float to the top like always. Their cat videos will still only be seen by their 10 friends on youtube unless they turn out to be an amazing film-maker in which case I want to see their stuff.
Another complaint is that old FCP7 projects will not open in FCPX. What? The parts from you old car don’t fit in to you’re new car? What a surprise. The old Final Cut hasn’t died. Finish the old project in the same programme you started it in then when it comes to start a new project start in the new one. It seams so obvious yet this is right up there in the top complaints. I’m very happy with the new Final Cut Pro and will be cutting all my upcoming projects with it, including a feature film later this year.
I think my point is, change is a funny thing and all problems are fixable. Creativity wins every time and we shouldn’t be so quick to steamroll negativity because it spreads like a virus, especially online. Once the first update is out and everything works how it should, I hope the angry editors will start to see the potential of all the amazing new features.
Am I wrong? I imagine if you’re reading this then you’re very likely an editor who’s been sent a link to this post. Let me know if you think I have a point or if you disagree and I’ll very likely do a follow up post.
All the best, Happy cutting,
A few months ago my friend Katy Ashworth summoned me to a meeting about helping her put together a live kids show, well, that sounds a little formal, really it was a beer in a pub & a chat. Anyone with access to a child under 6 will know Katy as the presenter of the Cbeebies show I Can Cook, but I know her from some years ago when we were both working for a certain famous mouse, “helping” some famous characters in shows. (See how carful and cryptic I was then? seriously don’t want “that company” sewing me).
Anyway, Katy wanted to make a live show and I was more then happy to help. Later that sunny afternoon in The Woodsmen in Highgate we were joined Piper Cleary, a talented musician and composer, and over the course of a few hours we came up with lots of ideas, songs and bits for the show. My biggest contribution to the show would have to be a little Monkey puppet I made called Monty. He’s is a fairly basic “live-hand” puppet kind of in the same size and style as Fozzie Bear. We met weekly to work on the show as I taught Katy about puppetry, manipulation techniques, lip-sync and such.
Early on in the creative process we actually did a crazy-fun one-off warm up show to a small audience with me playing Monty for the whole performance! Allowing Katy a co-host while we worked out a few new things and improvised our way through the show. Katy picked up the puppetry fantastically and in the last few weeks of rehearsals I had more notes on all the other sections of the show and less and less to say about the Monty as she had nailed it.
The show is made up of lot of different sections: original and classic songs, live music, physical theatre, mime, character work, and pantomimey audience interaction. It’s a very impressive thing to watch one person on a stage do so many different things and entertain for an hour solo, I imagine most TV presenters don’t have the theatrical training or talent to carry this off.
For a long time I was the only toddler to see the show but it’s now done and off on a 40-date, two shows a day tour around the country. It’s great to finally see it with an audience of kid and parents. I’m particularly happy to hear Monty getting laughs and loved by everyone as he tells a story about an adventure in the jungle with the audience doing the sound effects of the things he encounters like lions, elephants and of course pirates. The high point for me was a little girl suggesting that the pop band ”JLS” be one of the strange things Old McDonald’s farm, Katy accepted this and put it in the song along side Dinosaurs and Gruffalo.
All the rest of the sections work great and there isn’t a slow moment in the whole piece. It’s a fun little show and I’m very proud of Katy for making it happen and performing the hell out of it every time. Now this is done I have one less excuse not to be writing this film. 3 hours or 5 pages every day from now on and I’ll be done in a month and in pre-production! If you see me, hassle me about it, check I’ve writen it that day. Cheers.
more about the show : here
follow Katy on Twitter why not: here
I’ve been a bit out of the impro loop for a while. over the years i’ve ran a impro company, been a player in other companies, done a lot of sketch & impro films (Destination Torquay to name but one of many) and studied & workshopped with some of the world most famous improvisation teachers. But the last 2 years i’ve hardly done anything in this field, i’ve been crazy busy with life and such. Recently i decided i wanted to jump back on the impro horse and within a few days of me deciding this, something pretty cool happened.
Remy Bertrand, a fantastic improvisation teacher who I had done some shows and workshops with a couple of years ago, invited me to perform in a one off show called “The SlapBash” that was being put on at The Old Vic Tunnels with five diffrent improvisation companies. I figured if I’m going to come back to impro after a bit of time off I may as will do it in front of an audience.
The SlapBash was so much fun. The five companies performing were The Showstoppers, The Maydays, Music Box, Marbles and of course Friendly Fire. We stared with some warm up games an hour before the show and quickly realised that no one person had been assigned to run the performance, which at first I was a little concerned about, but turned out to be a good thing.
The show started and we were off, for the next hour and a half the five companies became one, with no solid set list we all took it in turns to host the games and at no point I can remember were all the performers on stage for a game from one company, it was always a mixed grope, and that was what made the night special for me, playing each others games, making up songs, rapping, etc. it was great to see all of the different styles coming together so affectively. I hope we all find away to do this kind of mixed show like this again, it was so much fun to jam with other players in that way.
I’ll be back doing more impro soon. i’ll be in the next Friendly Fire show and will also be popping up in a few other bits and bobs soon…I guess i should finish writing this feature film & make it first before i start taking on too many new creative endeavors or my head may well explode.
* Photo by Guilherme Zuhlke O’Connor
* More photos from The SlapBash Here
I just saw Hanna. It’s fantastic! I can’t say enough good things about this film. It took me by surprise to be honest. The trailers make it look like just another run of the mill action thriller but it really isn’t.
It’s about an ex-CIA agent Erik (played by Eric Bana) whos been hiding from the agency for years after they tried to have him killed. He is forced to raise his daughter Hanna (Saoirse Ronan- from The Lovely Bones) in the woods, cut off from civilization and trains her to be an assassin. As she gets older she becomes in need of seeing the real world but in order for them to come out of hiding she goes on a mission to kill the ruthless intelligence operative (Cate Blanchett) who Erik was running from in the first place.
It’s a pretty straightforward action premise that could easy be handled in a cheesy way but Hanna manages to be extremely thrilling and entertaining yet still intelligent and have integrity. It’s as exciting as a thriller should be and it’s action is as good as anything Hollywood has made in resent years but feels more indie and European in the best possible way.
A superb lead performance from Saoirse Ronan I’m not too surprised she has been nominated for two Oscars and is only 17! And a fantastic supporting cast (Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng). Also Tom Hollander as a sleazy, shellsute-wearing hitman leaves a huge impression with very little screen time & Special kudos to Jessica Barden as an chatty British teen who Hanna befriends on her journey, carrying almost the full comedic weight of the movie on her shoulders and runs with it fantastically with wit and sass. Think we’ll be seeing more from her in the future.
Director Joe Wright does a great job, almost giving this action adventure the tone of an art house movie. Not afraid to take his time on the quieter moments but seriously not holding back on the action or fight sequences. Beautifully shot. Plus The Chemical Brothers deliver one of the most original and inspired film scores I’ve ever heard.
Needless to say, I loved it. It’s exactly the type of film I want to make one day. Go check it out.
more info on Hanna : here
This year has set the record for the most sequels coming out. And if it’s not a sequel then it’s a “reboot” or an “adaptation”, both just fancy ways of saying “unoriginal”.
Just some of the movies in question are:
Transformers 3, Cars 2, X Men: First Class, Harry Potter 7 (part two), Mission Impossible 4, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Final Destination 5, Piranha 3D 2, Kung Fu Panda 2; The Hangover Part II, Scream 4, Spy Kids 4, Sherlock Holms 2, Fast and the Furious 5, Johnny English 2, Puss in Boots, Big Mommas House 3, Happy Feet 2, Hoodwinked 2, Paranormal Activity 3, Twilight: Breaking Dawn (Part One), Ong Bak 3, Alvin and the Chipmunks 3,Yogi Bear, Green Lantern, The Green Hornet, Cowboys & Aliens, Captain America and Thor…… holy s*** that list hurts my head.
I don’t mind the comic book adaptations. In fact I’m really looking forward to the last three films on that list. Yes these stories have been told before but not as a film so it’s fine. It’s all the dam sequels that bother me. Sequels are almost always just all the themes and ideas from the original repackaged badly with a less interesting story, and a couple of the original’s cast. They are rarely any good.
I know it’s the “business” part of show business but the reasoning behind it just seams lazy: “well this made a bit of money lets just do it again” that’s it, that simple line is the one thing that gets a sequel made. It just seams like a waste of money and time to redo something that’s been done before just in the hope that the audience who saw the first one will would go see a second.
I think that same audience would go see something original if it looked good. Last year Avatar took over 2 billion at the box office! Inception took 800 million. Two examples of original films with original stories making money. Did we learn nothing from that?
I get that we have to have sequels but does there have to be so dam many of them? Can we give the money it took to make “Fast and the Furious 5” and give it to a good filmmaker and let them do something new with it? It may be the next big hit like Inception and we already have 4 other Fast and the Furious movie that are all pretty much the same movie, we can live without a fifth. Oh and while we’re at it you can take back the Matrix sequels and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace for raping the originals we loved so much.
Come on fat cat movie studio boss. Let the creative people do something creative and stop feeding us the same old crap we’ve already seen. Except for “Teen Wolf Too” that wasn’t bad.