You can read information about & watch recent personally made short film projects below, newest at the top down to the oldest at the bottom. There are currently only a small number of titles, but the list will grow in the future as more are made. Scroll down the page or use the links below to continue.
The Locations Of 'A Warning To The Curious' (1972 BBC Ghost Story For Christmas)
This is a personally shot video tour of the locations used in the British 1972 BBC TV drama A Warning To The Curious, based on the M. R. James book of the same name. It's probably my favourite of the BBC Ghost Story For Christmas TV series.
Around January of 2017, I happened upon the K-Punk Blog site detailing the author’s visit to identify & photograph a number of the locations used in filming A Warning To The Curious, all around the North Norfolk coast. I also filled in a couple of further locations from Adam Scovell's BFI Blog. As my Girlfriend asked me to choose where we go this time, we took a four-day mini-break to North Norfolk in June 2017, so I could film footage at all the shooting locations. Not for any specific reason, just because I wanted to. We stayed in a B&B in Sherringham which was roughly in the centre of the cluster of the production locations used; spread across a forty mile stretch of coastline, and drove around the locations over two of the four days. Here are the locations I visited, listed in the order they are shown in my edited footage.
Waxham Beach, east of the village of Waxham Sections of this beach appeared in 'Whistle And I'll Come To You'
Sherringham Station on the North Norfolk Railway Doubled as Seaburgh Railway Station
Shipwright's Pub on East Quay Street in Wells-Next-The-Sea Used as the inn in Seaburgh as shown on screen, now a private residence
Happisburgh Lighthouse in Happisburgh Used as the lighthouse in Seaburgh as shown on screen
St Mary The Virgin Church in Happisburgh Used as the church in Seaburgh as shown on screen
Weybourne Station on the North Norfolk Railway Doubled as Thruxton Railway Station
Holkham Beach north-west of Wells-Next-The-Sea Used as the beach and forest area where the crown is buried
The locations were pretty much as I had expected them to be based on my research beforehand. On visiting Holkham Beach, I parked in the Holkham Beach car park, which is a ways west of the nearest village of Wells-Next-The-Sea. There were two peninsulas of forest either side of the car park stretching out onto the beach. I assumed that the one on the right, nearest Wells-Next-The-Sea was used in the film, but I decided to go towards the left-hand forest first as the author of the K-Punk Blog site did not see any likely screen-matching hills (from which Paxton dug up the crown) in the right-hand forest. About half a mile round the beach/tree-line, the make-up of the forest changes to fairly flat ground, younger trees and looks nothing like that seen on screen. I backtracked and went to the right-hand forest. I lugged my camera equipment around two miles round that treeline instead, and couldn't spot any likely looking hills either. I could have gone further, right the way round to Wells-Next-The-Sea causeway, but time was getting short and I was totally knackered. That said, the film was shot nearly 50 years ago, so all it would take is for the tree-line to have moved a short distance forward or back, or erosion to change the layout a little, and suddenly that hill could never be identified.
Most of the locations were pretty quiet when I did my shooting, with the exception of Weybourne railway station which was semi-busy. I shot most of the footage of Sherringham railway station at around 6am, before it opened. I hopped the fence and started filming, then approached the first person I saw a few minutes later to ask permission, and they said that was fine. Sherringham station gets pretty packed during the day, much more so than Weybourne. Filming trains either arriving or leaving Sherringham station via the road bridge overlooking the station can be tricky. There is only one pavement; on the side which looks down onto the station. To film footage from the other side of the bridge looking out into the distance, you basically have to stand tight in to the edge of the road up against the bridge wall, and it's a fairly busy narrow road. Luckily I had no problems.
For the most part, the shooting went off without a hitch. The weather ranged from sunny with cloudy blue skies, to suitably heavy dull cloud. While recording wild track audio at Happisburgh church, there was thunder & lighting, and then while driving on to Waxham Beach, the rain hammered down for a short period. Most of the audio I recorded, both with my camera and microphone, was all but unusable due to the windy conditions. Everything you hear in my footage is dubbed on in post-production. From the noise of the sea, the birds, even the steam trains and the wind, they're all stock sound effects. Other than that, visually perfect weather for filming. My Zoom H1 microphone did become a casualty when I left it on top of my car after filming Shipwright's Pub in Wells-Next-The-Sea. I drove off forgetting about it. It still works even though it clattered across the road at a fair speed, but the little plastic on-off switch is now missing, presumed lost forever. I can still turn it on with a paper-clip, however.
Over those two days, I got 107 shots totalling around 80mins of 1080p footage using my Sony NEX-VG10 camcorder with 35mm-lense-adaptor and a 28mm Canon old-style manual SLR lens. I did take a range of lenses, but just found the 28mm lens with its wide angle and deep depth of field, to be the quickest and most useful. I did try to properly compose a number of the shots but for the most part I opted for coverage over quality. There are a few shots in there with moiré patterns, which I'd normally catch on my 7" LCD monitor, but I simply lacked the time to properly compose and double-check each shot. Nothing there is too distracting. Once I got back home to London, I immediately started editing with Adobe Première, taking three days to craft the final 14m 15s version. I matted the 1080p 16:9 source footage into 2.35:1 widescreen. I've always preferred the look of 2.35:1, and have tended towards that in the majority of my productions to date. I used the Red Giant Magic Bullet Looks plug-in to change the colour grading to something much cooler, and a Gorilla Grain 16mm film overlay to add the grain. I made the opening and closing titles to roughly resemble those used in the original, in keeping with the 70s BBC production look of the film. While researching the musical score tracks used, I happened upon a ringostrack.com page with a complete A Warning To The Curious OST listing. The tracks listed are as follows;
György Ligeti - Atmospheres
György Ligeti - Concerto For Cello And Orchestra
Edgard Varèse - Density 21.5
Bruno Maderna - Hyperion III
György Ligeti/Hans Werner Henze - String Quartet No.2
I sourced all five classical tracks, and used the BFI DVD version of A Warning To The Curious on a Première timeline to sync-up, edit & assemble my own score, which I could then overlay my footage. On a side note, one of the tracks listed; Bruno Maderna - Hyperion III, does not seem to have been used. I edited my score from start to finish, and found I'd used all the other tracks except this one.
I'm pretty happy with the final result, and as far as I know, it's the only locations footage currently out there. Sure it could have looked better if I'd taken an extra day or two, taken the time to properly think though, compose & double-check each shot. That said, my original aim was simply to have a short edited sequence of shots from each location in isolation. Nothing too artistic; rather clean & clinical. I'd like to think my finished sequence is something more than that. Adding the original musical score certainly helped to tighten the editing up and add pacing & sequence development. I'm not intending to do anything further with this project beyond this YouTube upload, and a few Blu-ray copies for friends. If anyone is interested in getting a Blu-Ray disc of this footage, or if any media production companies are interested in licensing my footage for use in their own media projects, then please get in contact via email. The BFI six-disc Ghost Stories For Christmas box-set is currently only available on DVD, and a future Blu-ray release of these classic gems would be fantastic.
Book Of The Dead (2016 Indiegogo Campaign - Evil Dead Fanfilm)
This Evil Dead short fanfilm has been in the works for a couple of years now. The script was more ambitious than anything I'd done to date, and involves building one large & one small set and paying actors, but was beyond my financial means to fund to a sufficient level, so I decided to try and crowdfund the budget needed using IndieGoGo.
To give people an idea of the quality of the final short film, I shot the film's intro/credits sequence out of my own pocket to use as a 'trailer', and you can see that below. It's entirely new footage shot by myself, there is no footage from any of the Evil Dead Trilogy of films used anywhere in it, although there are a few closely matching shots. Copyright permission for the 'Book Of The Dead' & 'Kandarian Dagger' to be replicated & shown has been given by their copyright owner; Tom Sullivan.
This intro/credits sequence tells little snippets of the story of the 'Book Of The Dead', how it was first found, Professor Knowby translating it at the cabin, and skimming over the events of The Evil Dead, leading into to what will be the start of the main film. It was shot using three actors (myself included) over four locations using seven mini-sets taking nine weeks from start to finish, including all the prop/set purchase & construction work. This includes sets of an archaeological dig, the Professor's desk & fireplace in the cabin, as well as little sections of the cellar and workshed too. While based around The Evil Dead, eagle eyed fans might spot that I've also borrowed some little prop/set details from Evil Dead II as well. You can see some behind the scenes production photos in the gallery below.
The full fanfilm script treats the first film; The Evil Dead, as a single event (ignoring Evil Dead II & Army Of Darkness), My film is a continuation of these original events. It's more of a scary ghost story like the first film, as opposed to the action/adventure of the second & third films, and doesn't feature any of the existing main characters from the series in the body of the film.
My previous short film; a zombie film called The Lateness Of The Hour was first written & storyboarded it back in August of 2014. It then took a few months to get all the effects & whatnot made, before I started on finding actors, crew & locations, all of which had come together by the end of January 2015. The film took eight days to shoot spread between January to May 2015, with the final edit completed on May 18th, 2015. That was nine months in total, although much of that was exterior location shooting dependent on the weather, which could only be done on weekends when everyone was free. Since most of the Evil Dead full fanfilm script takes place at night, waiting until the autumn/winter when evenings are darker and nights longer, makes shooting much simpler.
While in theory I could scrimp & save and fund the full fanfilm project out of my own pocket to the tune of a few hundred pounds, I thought I'd try and make something far more ambitious and crowdfund the project. To give people an idea, the minimum budget needed to get the script shot as envisioned would be around £2000 ($2800 USD) which is not a huge amount in terms of a film budget, but the more that is raised, the better the final result can be.
The two main areas of actual cost, are paying the actors, and building the set. My previous short; The Lateness Of The Hour, used two main actors; one from the 'Richmond Shakespeare Society' and the other from the 'Kenton Light Operatic Society', both experienced stage actors. I have designs for one large & one small set I need to construct, but making them from scratch will cost a few hundred pounds, and the more detailed it is in terms or construction or set-dressing, the more it will cost. I work in film & TV special effects so any physical effects would be more or less covered except for materials, and I also own all my own lighting, camera and sound equipment, so there would be no hire costs. Below you can see the first teaser trailer released on February 20, 2016.
Upon reaching the closing date for the IndieGoGo crowdfunding project, less than a quarter of the financial goal needed, was raised. On weighing up both sides, rather than trying to press forward with the prospect of having to supplement the project with substantial personal funds, it was put on hold and most of the money was refunded (three of the investors never replied, so if you didn't get a refund, please get in touch).
In January 2017 I decided to take the project partially forward out of my own pocket. The original 'trailer' was created as a lead-in sequence to the fanfilm, briefly re-telling the events prior & during The Evil Dead, without showing any footage from the main body of the fanfilm itself. I decided to create a new trailer consisting entirely of specially selected shots from the full fanfilm's storyboards. By 'specially selected shots', I mean smaller scale shots which could be realistically filmed without the need to build the full-size set. This trailer may eventually lead to a second attempt to raise adequate funding to shoot the whole thing, or just stand alone as a fanfilm trailer in it's own right. Either way it allows the project to move forward, and give some purpose to the number of props & set-pieces which have already been created solely for this fanfilm. you can see this new trailer below.
Shooting for the trailer was spread over January 20, to February 13, 2017, although I'd been accumulating & creating props and other assorted bits & pieces since the original intro/trailer shooting a year previous to this. Knowing that 95% of the fanfilm was set in The Evil Dead's cellar, and that I didn't have access to an area which looked remotely like that, I bought four 4ft by 8ft sections of vac-formed cellar brick panels, although in the end I only painted up and filmed with one as that was big enough to cover most of the shots I had storyboarded. Further to this, a section of the wooden cellar door was made, along with the full size wooden cellar table, and a large wooden crate, along with re-using some of the set-pieces from the original intro/trailer shoot as well. The whole trailer was shot in my small loft apartment, in a space around 8ft square, so things were a little tight at times, as you can see in the Progress Gallery Photos further down.
To keep things simple, myself and my girlfriend played the two main characters, along with a few others appearing in little insert shots too. The remaining actors were simply filled in using dubbed voices. Amy was voiced by British actress Amy Liette Hunter, and Professor Knowby by US actor Connor Keene. Once I'd tweaked Connor's recording, his voice wasn't far removed from the original screen-used recording by Bob Dorian.
Below you can see a teaser trailer which was released on January 22, 2017. This used the first few new shots I'd created, and is more of a mood piece rather than anything too informative.
On February 7, 2017, I released four screenshots from the in-production trailer to announce the project and drum up some interest, before releasing the full completed trailer a few weeks later. You can see those screenshots below.
The 2017 trailer is currently as far as this project has progressed. I may eventually try to make a second attempt to raise adequate funding to shoot the whole thing, or just leave the trailer as a stand alone fanfilm trailer in it's own right. Either way, I won't be rushing into anything for the moment. You can read an extended version of this entry, with many in-progress photos, on the Book Of The Dead - An Evil Dead Fanfilm page within the Features section.
The Evil Dead: A Superfan's Odyssey Documentary
Below you can watch a personally made extensive & detailed 58 minute documentary, covering the vast majorty of my life in terms of Evil Dead.
This documentary chronicles my journey as a British Evil Dead superfan. How seeing it changed my life, sparking an interest in making my own short films and experimenting with gore effects, leading me onto a career in special effects in film & TV.
From 1992 to 2015, this is my journey so far . . .
When I started working on this documentary around the beginning of October 2015, it was only intended to be a few brief shots of my Evil Dead collection display, along with a bit of commentary over the top, which I shot myself for the Canadian Hail To The Deadites documentary.
Once I started editing my own footage to get an idea of how Steve (HTTD Director) could cut the material together, then and filming & adding in new bits here and there over a few weeks, it got way longer than could ever reasonably be included in the few minutes allocated in his project, as well as including some material which wouldn't entirely fit with that either. I thought that there would be people out there who would be interested to see a standalone documentary. Not just Evil Dead fans, but also people interested in special effects and low budget film-making in general.
I shot over seven hours of entirely new footage, not including all my pre-existing video and photographic material, which was all edited down to the final documentary running at 58mins. It contains a lot of material which people will not have seen before, along with elaborating & expanding on some things people will, all in 1080p. If anyone is interested in a higher quality physical Blu-Ray disc version, shoot me over an email. I won't be selling this as I've used a couple of little clips of footage to which I don't own the copyright, but I'm sure a like-for-like trade can be worked out.
The Lateness Of The Hour (2015 British Short Zombie Horror Film)
Early in 2015, I directed a short British zombie horror film called The Lateness Of The Hour, which you can view below. If you're interested, please watch the film before reading the below text as it gives away most of the plot. I also created a trailer. I wanted something around 60secs long, which used some of the footage shot which wasn't used in the film, along with some footage shot specifically for the trailer, and also didn't give away any of the plot.
This was my next short film called The Lateness Of The Hour, is a special effects driven zombie horror short film. Coming up with a decent premise of a zombie film, which can be believably shot with just a few people isn't the easiest thing, I wrote a full blown zombie feature film script in 2004 but I'd have needed lots of people to make it work which was never going to happen. This script is far more humble, just needing two protagonists, and the rest were just bit parts with no speaking or acting ability required. Getting together a group of people to make a film is no easy thing, especially when you don't personally know any actors yourself. Getting people to even turn up on the day can be a task when you are unable to pay them. The two lead actors I finally got (through various intermediate people) are Toby Osmond (an actor with the Richmond Shakespeare Society), and Manveer Sahota (an actor with the Kenton Light Operatic Society). The remaining roles were filled with members of the Upton Grey Drama Society (who also voiced the car-radio skit), and the odd crewmember stand-in too. The crew consisted of myself directing & shooting, and a guy called John who was general crew/lighting/sound and some camera-work.
The effects I created for the short consisted of a retractable chef's knife, a retractable tyre iron, a recipricating machete, and various compressed-air bullet hit effects, all 100% physical effects. Both the interior and exterior shooting was done in a village called Upton Grey not far from Basingstoke, and around 45mins from London. It's completely in the countryside so was a great location, and I lived there for 7 years so I know my way around it. To really cut down the script, I used a lot of 'zombie film shorthand'. To someone who's never seen one before, some of the events will not make sense, but this is the way I wanted to go. I first wrote the script & storyboarded it back in August of 2014. It then took a few months to get all the effects & whatnot made, before I started on finding actors, crew & locations, all of which had come together by the end of January 2015. The film took eight days to shoot, as per the below diary;
January 17th 2015 (Sat) - First village visit & test shoot around exterior house location; alone
February 7th 2015 (Sat) - Exterior misc footage & scenic shots around the area of the village; alone
February 21st 2015 (Sat) - Exterior & car driving shots; Manveer/John/Myself
March 14th 2015 (Sun) - Exterior & car driving shots, including exterior house location; Toby/Manveer/John/Myself
March 15th 2015 (Sat) - Interior establishing shots around interior house location; Toby/Manveer/John/Myself
March 28th 2015 (Sat) - Interior shots around interior house location including zombie actors; Toby/Manveer/Paul/Alison/John/Myself
April 4th 2015 (Sat) - Interior misc insert shots & re-shoots filmed at house in London; Manveer/Myself/Lisa
May 3rd 2015 (Sun) - Exterior & Interior Misc insert shots & re-shoots filmed around village & interior house; Paul/Alison/John/Myself
Along with a number of days endlessly filming little insert & close-up shots in my own at home. I started editing the same day as the first batch of footage was shot back in January, and it's been progressing until the final edit was completed on May 18th, 2015. I've come along way in the last few months, I wanted this to be all physical effects with no CGI, but I found as good as I could make the physical effects on the set, I could always tweak & improve them with CGI. Filming an effect perfectly; getting the shooting angle right so the effect looks it's best, having the actor use the effect in just the right way so it looks real, getting the blood to go where you want it to, is all very easy if you have hours and infinite re-takes to work with, but if you have one or two chances to get it right before the actors start getting frustrated, the result on screen might not be all you know the effect is capable of. Case in point was the trick machete. I knew the effect could look good, but while I might be perfectly happy to saw back and fourth hard on my own face for 10mins so I can get the perfect 5-second shot, neither the actor nor the 'victim' would wear that, plus I was against the clock, so you do your best to set it up right, call action, and end up with what you end up with. Oh, also I spent years tweaking my own fake blood recipe, but for this short I decided to go with Dick Smiths blood recipe for the first time, and I can't recommend it highly enough. It's cheap to make and looks so good. I wouldn't use anything else now.
So, I found I could 'fix' and augment some of the effects to improve on them. Another example was the gunshots at the end. That whole sequence was filmed around 5pm right at the end of the last main shooting day, it was getting dark, just starting to rain, and quite windy. I set up the compressed-air squibs, blew them, and the result on screen is basically nothing. Between the wind blowing the blood spray, dim light, and the rush to get it shot without a re-take, the effect I had in the can was just about imperceptible. I needed something much bigger and more obvious, so I did the squibs in post production. While not perfect, the result is much better than the physical effect I would have been stuck with. Once I started on this route, I actually did some CGI that I'd never intended on doing originally, like adding the nuclear bomb mushroom cloud, or removing Manveer's eye after having been shot, among other bits & pieces.
In case anyone is interested, I used three main pieces of pre-existing music across the film which are listed below, along with a number of ambient tracks, music pieces & stings from the excellent PC horror game; Outlast (as well as it's follow-up Outlast: Whistleblower).
In The Bedroom OST (Track 14) North On 73
What Lies Beneath OST (Track 01) main title
Pirates Of The Caribbean OST (Track 10) On Stranger Tides
The eagle eared will also notice that the radio-skit was basically a mish-mash of lines, entirely lifted from Dawn Of The Dead '78. Well there you go. I might have a go at another film towards the end of the year, or the start of the next, but right now I got the bug out of my system!
Who Is This Who Is Coming... (2014 British Short 5min Horror Film)
In mid 2014, I directed my first recent short British ghost story called Who Is This Who Is Coming.... If you're interested, please watch the film before reading the below text as it gives away most of the plot.
Just to explain things a little, when I was younger (between 15-19) I made and worked on a number of short films with a school friend (and would rope in other school friends to play the parts), nothing major, just a collection of friends filling in various roles with no real talent or aptitude for them. I always wanted to do Evil Dead style rip-off horror films, and he would want to do though provoking dramas. Not a match made in heaven, but we worked together over a few years. Anyway once I moved to London to pursue a career in film & TV special effects, I moved away from making my own films and have toyed with going back to it ever since. I've shot my own little bits and pieces in the last 10 years (mostly special effects test footage/sequences of FX gags I've created myself), but this is my first proper short film. A little simple ghost story in the mould of the BBC Ghost Stories For Christmas series, and the first film I've created from start to finish since I came to London; coming up with an idea, writing it up, storyboarding it, shooting it, editing it, and ending up with the finished film.
This film also served another purpose; to allow me to get to grips with my new camcorder; a Sony Handycam NEX-VG10 1080p camcorder. It combines the best elements of a digital SLR camera, and a camcorder. It has interchangeable lenses (and you can get adaptors to take many types of old style 35mm camera lenses, I opted for a set of Canon FD lenses; 28mm, 50mm & 35-105mm zoom), and it has a large CCD which gives a shallow depth of field. On many cheap to mid range camcorders, you have a small CCD which means everything in the frame is in focus, things up close and things behind off in the distance, which makes the footage look cheap and nasty. You can solve this with a costly Depth-Of-Field/DOF adaptor, but this camera does it out of the box. This camera has a large CCD much like a regular SLR camera meaning you can change what's in focus. However, unlike a digital SLR, it has many camcorder functions too making it the best of both worlds. I've been really happy with it, and it cost me £850 second-hand, plus around another £300-ish on various bits including lenses, a case, and a camera rig.
I wanted to film a simple ghost story with one or two cast members, simple locations and nothing too complicated. A woman falls asleep, finds herself in a forest, finds a ring and puts in on which summons an entity which chases her. She's awoken with a start but unbeknownst to her she is still wearing the ring and the presence is now in her house. The musical score used was wholesale lifted from the PC game 'Outlast'. Anyway Who Is This Who Is Coming... served as a test, which is why there are a few poor shots in there, especially some over-exposed material. It's far from brilliant, but it is short. Some of it's a little clunky but the point was to film a range on indoor & outdoor locations, with long to extreme close-up shots with different depth-of-fields, get to grips with the camera. It's okay for what it is. One big thing I learned while filming that it's hard work to shoot without any decent film lights. if you have for instance, a bright outside window and a dim inside in the same frame, You can't get the exposure right, by that I mean something that approaches what you'd see with your own eye, either the inside is obviously too dark but the outside is right, or the inside is right but the outside window is totally over exposed to white and both look obviously wrong. To combat this I'd have needed to increase the amount of light on the inside (or reduce the light from the outside which is much harder if using natural available light, rather than a lit set). I now have a set of four 800w red-head lights (my only lighting source in this film was a table lamp with a 100w bulb!). With these I can now use filters & gels for various effects which would not have been possible previously.
This film really served as a test to work out any kinks before I started making larger scale films, like my next and most recent film; The Lateness Of The Hour, which you can see above